GeekGold Bonus for All Supporters: 78.22
33.3% of Goal | 27 Days Left
1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 Next » 
Games, games and more games!
We were just 6 this week. We started with The Bucket King, meant to be a quick filler while waiting for the sixth to arrive, but actually he arrived after we'd set it up and before we started, so we just dealt him in too. John made the mistake of not checking his hand before setting up his pyramid, and this meant he lost a lot of buckets early on, but then stabilised fairly well. Seb also got off to a bad start, while Simon only ever seemed to lose buckets in singles, and Sami was protecting me nicely for the early game, until he found a weakness and brought all the buckets of that colour tumbling down very rapidly. Eventually it became a three player game, with Seb, Gill and John all getting down to one bucket and going out, while the remaining three of us still had multiple buckets. Simon went next and Sami and I had a duel for our final few buckets, and I was just victorious.
John asked to play Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island, which he'd spotted last week, and I was keen to play, and Gill joined us to make a third. We played the first scenario, building a stack of wood. The early game did not go well, with us all losing quite a bit of health, and Gill as making repeated prophecies of doom, but actually we then got things set up nicely, and we did manage to win the scenario on the 11th turn - we were on 1, 2 and 2 health at the end, as we never seemed to have any spare food for Gill's healing cookery, but we made it!
The others had been playing Blue Moon City and finished at the same point, so we then joined together and played Mysterium, which was new to Sami. Sadly Seb's clues were a bit too mysterious for Gill and John, and they only found their first clues from exhausting the possibilities. In fact we all struggled a bit on the people, and all of us took about three nights to proceed, but then we were much quicker with the rooms. Sadly though John and Gill never finished their deductions before time ran out, so we didn't get to the final deduction.
Ave Caesar came next, one of Simon's H-index games. It was a remarkably tame first race, but the end of the second race was amusing, with firstly John being baulked at the start of the lap - by every single other player, effectively putting him from 2nd to 6th! However, Seb had been doing the whole second half of the race in first place, with Simon hovering just behind him, so crashed and burned on the final straight. Simon, having kept his own 6s so as not to pass him, then crashed and burned straight behind him, leaving me to fly past the pair of them and take first place! On the third race Gill decided not to baulk me at the end to try and overtake Sami, at which point I flew past the pair of them with a pair of 5s to win that race too! (And Sami still came second).
As you might imagine, this was enough for me to win the game overall, so the final choice of game was mine, and I went for Duplik. Sami and I both got full marks for our own describing, although in Sami's case it was noticeable that although he got good marks, his drawers got rather less, which worked well for him!
I had recently been contacted by another BGGer and reader of this blog who was passing through the Oxford area and wondered if we could meet up. I arranged to met Pete on Sunday afternoon at local FLGS/ game cafe Thirsty Meeples, you know - public place being the safest spot when meeting strange men and all that. Luckily he is a nice guy and didn't want to kidnap me or chop me into small pieces, at least not at first - more on that later...
After a false start with trying to work out if 2 player Hansa Teutonica was worth trying out (he'd never played it, I've only tried it once) we went with something that at least one of us knew and he showed me Above and Below. I have to fess up to having been something of a stupid snob about the Ryan Laukat games as I've not played any of them due to me not really being a fan of the art (I know, I know) and them also seeming to be too light to be worth the time. Yes, as I said, I am a fool.
Above and Below is a charming little mix of action selection crossed with a choose your own adventure storybook with a sprinkling of dice mitigation on top. I really enjoyed it, despite myself. It is pretty simple, but it's well put together and every avenue to score points seems to be viable. There isn't really a story to speak of but more a series of vignettes where you must decide which path (often literally) to take and dice rolls to achieve, this is the heart of the game it seems, whilst you could just do farming above ground you really need to go adventuring below ground to get the most enjoyment from the game.
Good stuff - I will try not to be so narrow-minded in future!
I then went and picked up a selection of new release games from the shelves and we decided to play the A Game of Thrones: Hand of the King. This is really an abstract set collection game but the GoT theme works and I adore the artwork in this one. (I had actually added this to my Christmas wishlist solely on the basis of the art!)
The game is quick playing and the challenge of taking cards that you want without leaving anything too juicy for your opponent is intersting. The assistant (they're not called that, I can't remember what though) cards that can be taken and immediately used when you take the last character of any house also offer a way to mix up the expected flow of the game (like, say, the tactics cards in Battle Line).
It's a well made little game.
Indeed the cards are very well made- you see that milkshake in the picture above, well this chump went and knocked it over shortly after taking this, splattering some of the cards and painting poor Peter's bag that was on the floor. I am cringing again as I write this - I am so sorry! The cards survived, as did the copy of Fabled Fruit that was also in the line of fire and hopefully the bag goes through the wash / scrubs clean of the milk and ice-cream. Clumsy oaf!
There was still a little time to play something else short before I needed to catch my bus and Pete his train and he retrieved his copy of Small Star Empires from his bag and we whipped through that in 20 minutes or so.
It is sort of a reverse Hey, That's My Fish!, in space. And it was quite good fun as well.
It was a nice thing to do and I hope that I can get to his small (*ahem*, boutique) The Great Indoors con next July and play some more games with him.
If ever anyone else is passing through/ visiting, by all means get in touch, play dates can be arranged, extra gamers also usually available if wished for!
Yesterday started cold and frosty, but warmed up with a visit from (Uncle) James and a kettle seemingly-perpetually on-the-boil from 11 'til 3! Alice needed to get her packing sorted - as I would be driving her to Heathrow, late afternoon, ready for her 10.30PM flight back to New Zealand (via Guangzhou) - but we were able to pause for a last bit of gaming:
Those Magnificent Men
...coming along very nicely.
Villainous Alice wins the Race...
This particular play-test was an important one: my lot are tricky when it comes to learning new games as they don't enjoy the rules explanations! You can see my quandry BUT 'MagMen' is a relatively-simple pitch: draft and play cards to get you ahead in the Practice race THEN use the drafted cards in a draw deck for the 'real' race. Alice managed to avoid filling her deck with quite as many 'Distraction' cards as the rest of us and pulled away to land in Paris as the victor, despite being almost 100% villainous - where the Hell were the good guys? Phut-phut-phutting along at the back staring dreamily at the clouds! Figurative, as well as actual, forward movement continues to be made with this prototype: think FLAMME ROUGE meets 7 WONDERS (so far).
We had, temporarily, a complete set of Boydell children in the house - come tea time - so, while I loaded the car, there was a final round of farewell hugs, kisses and tears and then me and my eldest whisked ourselves Eastwards for the 3 hour journey to the airport:
Queue for baggage deposit selfie!
Whose flight is THIS? A Robin joins us for a latte...
I maintained a jolly demeanor as we checked-in Alice's huge rucksack and paused for a perking-up coffee but there was no avoiding the goodbye; we hugged, for ages, and I kissed her head like I did when she was newborn and when she skipped through the gates at Primary school and when we left her in her student digs in Plymouth in 2013 and when we sent her off to the other side of the world last year. I watched her zig-zag the empty queue path to Customs & Security and through to Departures until I couldn't see her any more; I coughed out the lump in my chest and the tears in my eyes and trudged back to the car. Only 7 months until she comes back.
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Yup! Concealment ongoing:
Yay! I actually have Broom Service! Five days in and a first relevant Adventish gift!
Finally, a song for my heavy Yuletide heart:
As one of the many members of this site who enjoys curating their collection almost as much as playing it, I have sorted my games into a ranking based on their plays, but weighting recent plays a little more. Only games with 5+ plays are admitted. In the run to Christmas I thought I'd blog a game a day, running down the top 25 in reverse order. Happy to have you along!
Well. lies, damned lies and statistics, I guess. Basing this list on the number of plays a game has accrued is always likely to tip the balance in favour of shorter games, but there's no denying that this one got played a fair bit this year, although almost exclusively while waiting for food in some cafe or other. It is totally luck based but KT appears to have some kind of weighted set of pigs she uses while swapping them back at the end of the turn without my noticing, which is why I lose most of the time, of course.
We played this a lot when we first started gaming together, as it happened to be something I had lying around, but then it disappeared from our collection to be repurchased for the mighty sum of fifty pence, back, pre-Brexit vote, when fifty pence could actually buy you something, even if only a second-hand copy of Pass The Pigs.
Despite its almost entirely luck-driven play, it did occur to me that this game indicated a gap in our collection for a worthwhile quick-playing game, which might or might not be a dexterity game. As a consequence we have bought, played and enjoyed Flick 'em Up!, and I have tentatively asked for a copy of Push It to sit under the tree on the 25th. Elk Fest also sits on the periphery of my dexterity consciousness as well, but I have binged and purged many times before, so slowly does it on this one.
The future of Pass The Pigs in our collection depends really on what else arrives to usurp it, but I am ever hopeful, so I think it will have dropped down the list next year, although I have made rasher (I thank you!) statements...
On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I ran in to Brad Reider at The Game Table, and it reminded me that I hadn't made it out to game with the Harrisburg game group since July. I decided to go this week. As a fifth Tuesday, it was a lightly-attended game night, with just four in attendance including myself, Chris, Lawrence, and Tim who hosted. I brought a game bag that included Orléans, The Networks (I can't stop trying), Imperial Settlers, La Granja, and Terraforming Mars.
I think Victor and I may be the only members of the group who have copies of Terraforming Mars, but I know Aaron, who attends every other week, has been playing it non-stop on his alternate week Wednesday game nights at The Game Table with his work crew, and I'm sure he's raved about it to the other guys. They were all interested in trying it out for the first time.
Game: Terraforming Mars
As Chris put it, "we're all big boys" when it comes to our games, so I finally took the opportunity with this game to add in the Corporate Era cards and play with them myself for the first time. Despite having logged over ten plays of the game, it felt like that put me on even footing with the rest of the guys for this game, along with the fact that I was playing a new-to-me corporation, Helion, as well.
We didn't play with the draft rules, but I did divvy out all of the corporation cards so that each player had three to choose from. As mentioned, I went with Helion, the corporation that specializes in Heat production and can somehow alchemy heat into credits for making purchases. Chris decided he liked the sound of megacredits filling his coffers and chose to play Teractor, one of the wealthier companies. Tim went with Inventrix, whose three free cards at the start of the game must have sounded appealing, and Lawrence chose the environmentally-reponsible corporation EcoLine, whose green-thumb ability is to play Greenery tiles at a discounted Plant cost.
When I'm explaining the rules for Terraforming Mars, when I get to talking about Milestones one of the things I always seem to mention is that I've never seen any one claim the "Planner" achievement for holding 16 or more cards in hand. Now I know why; one of the great things that the Corporate Era cards add to the game is the concept that Magic players are familiar with as Card Advantage. In the base game, even with the advanced corporations in use, the only way to acquire new cards is paying for what you get during the Research phase of each generation. While there are a few spots on the board that generate "free" cards and a few Project cards that themselves will allow you to draw extra cards, these are few and far between.
Not so when the Corporate Era cards are shuffled into the deck! One of the cards I found in my starting hand was the "Inventor's Guild" (which amusingly depicts four copies of game designer Jacob Fryxelius, apparently having cloned himself). This Action card allowed me once per round to examine the top card of the deck and either purchase it or discard it (an action I think I may have misplayed at least twice by leaving the card I saw on top rather than discarding it when I decided not to buy it). This was the only card advantage card I was able to get the entire game, but Lawrence to my left had several that just straight up let him draw free cards, eventually enabling him to be the first person I ever saw claim the Planner milestone.
Lawrence also, not surprisingly since he was playing EcoLine, claimed Gardener; while Chris nabbed Terraformer as the first to hit a Terraforming Rating of 35. Chris also funded all three of the Awards, for Banker, Thermalist, and Miner. In the end, however, he only achieved first place for Miner; I tied him for Thermalist (and could have won if I hadn't spent 8 heat in the last round to boost my TR one step with one of my Action cards), and Tim beat him for Banker. Still, Chris won the game, coming in 5 points ahead of Lawrence. I came in last place, falling behind Tim by three points thanks to a final round placement of a city that he was able to beat me to thanks to player order.
I've heard many reviewers of Terraforming Mars now proclaim that they won't go back to playing without the Corporate Era cards once they'd added them to the deck, and I have to agree one hundred percent with that opinion. Now I just have to cajole my son into trying the game again with all the rules in place.
We've been very busy with all of the holiday and other end-of-the-year activities going on right now. My fall demo schedule has kept me out of the house quite a bit, and it was nice to have a quiet night at home with my family for a change. We got to enjoy an extra family game night, something we've not been able to do for some time.
Game: Sheriff of Nottingham
I recently started a new Geeklist to keep track of whose turn it was to choose a game to play together. Years ago when our game playing was almost exclusively at home with each other, and our games collection was a lot smaller, it was much easier to keep track of who last picked out a game. We developed a rotation of youngest to oldest, and usually I could remember whose turn it was each Friday evening. In the last couple years, it has become harder and harder to remember, hence my bright idea to use BGG to facilitate this.
Examining my newly-created list revealed that our youngest son Matthew was due for a pick, and he returned from the upstairs game room with his choice in hand--Sheriff of Nottingham! This game has long been a favorite of Matthew, and the rest of us like it as well. Even after many, many plays of it, we all still find it a challenge to read each other and determine who is bluffing and who is doing business honestly in the village of Nottingham. I started out this game as the Sheriff, and decided from the the start that I just wasn't going to open anybody's bags, period. This strategy worked my first term as Sheriff, for no one had dared to try to sneak any contraband into the Market on the first round of the game.
Jonathan wound up being the "punching bag" in this game; he made poor choices both time he was Sheriff, paying out large penalties first to Matthew, then later to his mother. When Matthew became Sheriff, he caught Jonathan both times trying to sneak in bags full of nothing but contraband (you'd think he'd have learned his lesson after the first time). Jonathan's coffers were nearly empty by the time the game ended, and he'd hardly brought any goods to market either. At one point he openly declared, "I hate this game!" but later softened his stance, ruefully admitting that he still enjoys the game, but hates playing it against his younger brother who always seems to profit by him, one way or another. Matthew did indeed win the game, and not by a little, mostly thanks to the large payouts of cash he got from big brother.
Now for a fun side story: the components of Sheriff of Nottingham are pretty good. The snaps on the bags are a problem; we've had at least one break and we've replaced it with velcro patches, but we usually don't even bother to snap the bags shut; I just say the word "snap" to indicate I'm sealing the contents of my bag. The player boards are really nice, and the cardboard coins are good and chunky. We've never sleeved the cards, but they're holding up quite well after two years of ownership and fairly frequent play.
But I do have a problem with the Sheriff's cardboard standee... because it doesn't stand very well. The cross-piece of cardboard that's supposed to brace the main piece and allow the Sheriff to stand imposingly in front of the player who is currently lording it over the rest of the table fits too loosely. As a result, the Sheriff figure doesn't so much stand as lean drunkenly around the table, failing to impress anybody. It's hard to take a drunken Sheriff seriously, so I fixed it by appropriating one of the plastic standee holders from King of Tokyo for our Sheriff:
We have our copies of King of Tokyo and King of New York, along with both Power Up expansions all stuffed into a single box, so we always have more of these little doohickeys than we need for either game. Using one of them for our Sheriff standee allows him to stand tall, proud and regal while judging the merchants of Nottingham. It also lit an idea bulb over my head during this week's play of the game: wouldn't it be funny to make a Sheriff monster board and have him fight alongside Gigazaur, Captain Fish, and the rest for control of Tokyo and New York?
Is the Sheriff of Nottingham monstrous enough to compete in King of Tokyo?
Game: La Granja
One nice thing about Sheriff of Nottingham is that it can play pretty quickly, leaving plenty of time left in an evening for more gaming! It was now my turn to pick, and after my initial suggestion of The Networks was rebuffed (I keep trying), I decided to grab the #2 game from my top ten list. Time for some farming on Majorca!
Apart from Matthew, who admitted as we began that he barely remembered the rules for La Granja, this was one of the closest games we've played. Jonathan, who eventually won, completely ignored the Craft Buildings and focused entirely on Market Barrows, completing one or more nearly every round once he got his engine going. Amy and I took a more balanced tack and worked on a bit of each throughout the game. Matthew probably focused too much on the Siesta track, wanting the advantages of being first player but not using it to gain enough points when he had it. When we tallied the final scores, Jonathan's winning total was ONE point higher than mine, and Amy was only 2 points behind me. "Photo finish!"
But the best thing about this particular game was the family time. We all had a great time, laughing and joking as we played. A lot of it probably would have seemed very strange to an outside observer; we can be quite the weirdos at times, but we have fun together and it's one of the best things about sharing this hobby with each other.
The game selection for the evening fell once again to Jonathan, and he picked my favorite game! As I set up the board, I oriented it with the Crimeans facing where Amy usually sits, because she'd enjoyed playing that faction in our previous game and had said that she felt comfortable with it now that she knew how it worked. Jonathan wanted to play the Russviets, so our normal seating arrangement around the table worked for that as well. I let Matthew choose first between the remaining factions, and he wanted to play Polania again, leaving either Saxony (which would have been on the opposite side of the table from my seat) or Nordic Countries, so I decided it was time to try my hand at blue again.
Well, I fell into the Objective trap AGAIN (will I ever learn) and once more played the Nords very poorly. I didn't come in last, but I only came in ahead of Matthew by 4 points. My problem was, I decided to pursue an objective that actually worked against my faction's power. The objective required me to have a Factory card, at least 1 mech, and no more than 3 workers at the end of a turn. I believe it was the 3-worker limit that really hindered my game. The other objective (basically having one of everything including resource types) seemed out of reach, but I really should have taken one look at my objectives and decided from the start to ignore them. Instead I wound up working against my own ability for the first third of the game, and by the time I got my engine going Jonathan had ended the game.
Amy came in second, but Jonathan was nearly thirty points in the lead. He dominated us.
We finally played game two of our Seafall campaign this afternoon. I'm really liking this game so far. I know that many in the community, including some prominent voices, have expressed their dislike for the game. I have to wonder how much of that is a reaction to how different it is from the previous two Legacy board games? Seafall was the first Legacy game that I had any interest in whatsoever; the Risk dudes-on-a-map style of game and Pandemic's cooperative bent held very little to pique my interest, but a 4x euro game? I'm all over it!
My excitement and enjoyment seems to be fully shared by both of my sons, but sadly my wife is not enjoying the game at all. She's playing it to humor us at this point, and finding it very dull and boring. Her scores have consistently been the lowest in each game we've played, and while she did have some unfortunate bad luck in some of her die rolls this most recent game, I have to wonder if her negative feelings about the game are in part causing her to do poorly in the game.
The funny thing is (and I can't decide if this is a great thing or a terrible one), she won't exit the game. After a similar play for her during Game One, I said that while it would be disappointing to lose her, the two boys and I could certainly continue the game as a three-player campaign if she wanted to bow out, as there are rules in place for removing (and adding) players. But she approves of the fact that I bought the game to play as a family, and is hanging onto that thought while staying in. I just don't see how many games she's going to last if she doesn't start to engage in the game more.
In our sixty-fourth episode, we mention our plans for the upcoming holiday and we talk about what we’ve been playing recently. We also review the Celtic themed area control game Inis. Then our friend Dave is back to talk about his experience at the Fantasy Flight World Championships for Android Netrunner.
This episode is sponsored by Board Game Bliss & Tasty Minstrel Games
Holiday Cheer – 1:59
Automobiles – 4:05
Play Me – 10:10
Thief’s Market – 16:42
Pokemon: The Trading Card Game – 27:41
Board Game Bliss Sponsorship – 40:15
Inis Overview – 41:38
Inis Thematic Review – 44:55
Tasty Minstrel Games Sponsorship – 1:23:39
FFG Worlds – 1:24:38
John Paul Messerly
I've been searching for the ultimate skirmish rule system for a long time. In order to narrow the search down I decided I was looking to play skirmish campaigns in the Arthurian period (with options to play mythic or historical versions of the time period).
I've been playtesting SAGA dark ages (the Arthurian suppliment isn't out yet) and SAM ( the song of Arthur and Merlin). Both have very simple but deep rule systems and both have campaign modes added in later supplements.
SAGA adds campaign rules in - the age of the wolf
SAM adds campaign rules in - Talespinner issue two
What do I like and dislike about both systems...
Song of Arthur and Merlin
SAM is bloodbowl with swords in half the time!
Scale 5-12 miniatures
Ok that sounds like a strange way to describe a skirmish wargame but just listen. There is no wound tracking... a single good hit could kill any mortal character but it rarely does. The usual result is that the winner either pushes them backwards and may follow up or they knock them down. Once knocked down they become much easier to kill. The game does this in a simpler way than bloodbowl deciding on the outcome based on odd/even results rather than using custom dice. You need to have 2x the damage output as the victim to kill outright and 3x gives a gruesome kill (causing moral tests).
The activation system is like bloodbowl in that it is "you go I go' with the chance of turnovers cutting your activations short. Each character rolls 1-3 dice to activate and can do an action for each success. A failure gives the opponent a chance to do an interrupt action and 2 failures causes a turnover.
Lastly the campaign system has injury and upgrade systems that feel right out of bloodbowl from the stat upgrades to the inevitable deaths. Yes I know mordheim had this two but the balance and speed really makes it feel more like bloodbowl.
Every action is extremely tense because of the turnover/interrupt rules. The game is rich in theme but very simple in mechanics and stats. Each character only has 2 stats... quality and combat. Characters will have special abilities that make them unique (much like bloodbowl). Another important distinction is that combat is a single roll... there is no to wound or armor save! The game does a great job of offering mythic, historical, and Hollywood versions of the setting and the campaign offers lots of interesting quests and challenges.
The combat system is very exciting and simple BUT also awkward in a way. It feels a lot like bloodbowl but is more mathy than I like. You roll a single d6 and add your combat skill plus modifiers. That's not a ton of math but because you do that every time it distracts from the epic action and mood. Mathy combat resolution is the norm but I find that it really annoys me. I ended up making these...
My solution to this is to make cards for all the characters with squares that show their strength in pips and a square to put the rolled dice... this means I don't have to hunt down the characters stats after rolling because everything is right there. While I said the resolution system is simpler than bloodbowl I prefer the bloodbowl system because you do the math (compare strength) at the start and then only look at dice results at the end. I like resolution systems were you know the result the instant you see the dice results compared to ones where you get the dice results then look up stats and modifiers to eventually learn the outcome.
While units can act both individually and in groups the group movement and activation rules feel unfinished. They work well until you try and do more complex actions like shieldwall behaviors.
Saga dark ages
SAGA is a bloody resource management game!
Scale 20-50 miniatures
Note - Saga is usually played with 28mm individual figures so SAGA and SAM will normally look almost exactly the same. They only differ in number of models. I'm using 10mm units as proxies and that makes them look like completely different styles of game. Visually they are indistinguishable from each other normally.
In a way it reminds me of the new Conan game because you are very focused on juggling limited resources dice/activations. This sounds like a big distraction from the theme of crazed Vikings hacking at each other with large axes but it really helps you to feel like a warlord instead of just a gamer.
Ok. This is also "you go I go" with a very rare chance at an interruption happening. In general you will still not get to do everything you want to in a turn because you rarely have enough activations and this gets worse as you take casualties. The resource mini game has you rolling custom dice (think bloodbowl dice again) and using the results to either activate units, use special abilities, get different custom dice results or more dice. So in order to use your epic abilities you will usually need to activate less units.
The combat is once again very simple with all troops of a certain type rolling the same number of hits and having the same armor value (this is the die result the attacker needs to hit). This makes combat very quick and there are very few modifiers to worry about. Also the resource mini game is very fun and sells the theme of warlord juggling many things under heavy time constraints.
The factions are so similar in stats that you rarely need to look anything up and the real flavor comes from the dice and the ability boards. This is brilliant and adds tons of flavor. Because of this stat simplicity and the fact that most characters have no name or personality... they are just generic warriors in special units... the campaign system takes a unique approach. Your troops (both individuals and units) don't really advance in stats or abilities. They will get replacements and new units will join but it's only the leader that changes and gets better during the game.
Much like SAM all characters only have a single hit point so there is little to no tokens or bookkeeping. The one token type necessary is the fatigue marker... more about this later.
I really do like the way battles unfold but it requires you to get into the Saga mindset and really focus more on the custom dice than anything else. The drawback is that the combat system can often end in draws if you don't put all your dice into custom abilities. This allows you to have epic results that aren't just the result of a lucky die roll but at the same time give little opportunity for the underdog to make a surprising comeback.
The game lacks the ability to bring much myth or magic to the game. There is an undead expansion that I plan on trying and some of the dice abilities are names after mythic characters so I guess you could treat them as literal intervention of the gods but the system lacks the ability to quest for a mythic item or in any way pursue the treasure of Britain or its mysteries.
Lastly I have to talk about fatigue. I like how it is used to punish having the same unit activate over and over again and it's great expression of how exhausting such battles were. It also adds a great little mini game where each warlord decides how to spend the opposing units fatigue. The downside is that it requires you to rest and inactivated units don't rest for free. Like I've said I like all the things fatigue adds to the game but I never find the decision to rest a fun or interesting decision. Making resting an action always forces the designer to set hard time limits that put too much emphasis on rushing through the game (imperial assault!). SAGA is designed around fatigue but I'm not convinced it's necessary... SAM would be a much less dynamic and interesting system if it had fatigue.
I've only just started playing both systems in campaign mode so it will be a while before I can say more about how well those campaigns ramp up. SAGA is definitely laser focused on the warlord while SAM allows all your characters to come alive and grow.
To me the biggest unknown is which is the more satisfying way to deal with multiple activations because these are key to epic battles. Do you punish a unit by giving them fatigue or do you have them risk a turnover.
What am I leaning towards? The storytelling in SAM is great... any character can come out of a battle as a hero with great stories to tell but while the game system is super simple and stays out of the way for the most part it still constantly reminds me that I'm playing with toy soldiers. SAGA on the other hand doesn't have the same depth of storytelling opportunities and quests but does a great job of making me feel like I am the hero leading my warbands rather than a grown man playing with toys. Honestly neither is exactly what I'm looking for but I've yet to find anything better. At this point I may try and convert some of the quests and mythic content to SAGA and see if I can make that work.
Aetius and Arthur - is the name of the upcoming SAGA supplement that will really fit the time period I'm wanting to explore. This will hopefully come out early next year and I pray that it adds these elements. I've found myself playing the Irish warlord a lot because they let you break off 2 characters from your units to act independently and this really allows you to have more named characters you care about. Hopefully we will see more of this in upcoming releases.
This is the penultimate post on how we acquired our current board games collection. We had a few of months of intense board game buying and playing between July and September, this time mainly 2-player! During this period we picked up a few games that quickly became favourites and received a LOT of plays I also have some photos of the games to break up the text in this blog post!
At the end of June we sadly said farewell to T & Lewis. The night before they were due to leave we had one final games night which concluded with an unfinished game of Burgle Bros. (my board-gaming nemesis it seems!). But, they'll be visiting again next year for our wedding so I expect we'll get in some more gaming with them then!
July was not as prolific a month for us in terms of board-game buying although we did still manage to add a few good titles to our collection.
One night I came home from work to discover a copy of Sushi Go Party! on our kitchen bench - a surprise purchase from Dan! T & Lewis had introduced us to Sushi Go! which they had picked up based on the adorable and colourful artwork.
Card-drafting is one of my favourite game mechanisms and Sushi Go Party! does it well by keeping things quite simple and fast. I love teaching it to new friends (although it does mean we haven't explored all the new card types) and it definitely makes a great gateway game! The artwork is a big selling point for this game as I don't think it would be as enjoyable if it depicted more realistic looking sushi.
So after the lovely surprise of Sushi Go Party!, I went upstairs to get changed, only to discover Carcassonne on my pillow! Yes, we were a bit late to the party, but Carcassonne quickly shot up to the top of our favourite games list (and for a while our most-played game). Tile-laying is a wonderfully simple mechanism but the placement of tiles and meeples gives you a lot to think about in terms of long-term strategy and tactics. We really enjoy it 2-player because it is much more of a tug-of-war and you have much greater control. However, I don't mind it at 3 or 4 players because it means I have to adjust my thinking and strategy, which can be a fun change-up.
We played without farmers in the first few games but now that farmers are in play there's a lot more jostling for early field dominance! Sometimes I request that we play without the river expansion because I feel like it can make farmers a bit too over-powered if placed early. Dan accuses me of always trying to muscle in on his features and blocking him instead of focusing on earning points of my own. I like to point out that marriage is all about sharing, so he should get used to it
Then, if the excitement of Sushi Go Party! and Carcassonne wasn't enough, when I went back downstairs to help Dan prepare dinner, I opened a kitchen drawer to find Jaipur staring up at me!!! Don't I have the best fiance?
Jaipur very quickly overtook Morels as our preferred 2-player set collection game. I like the colourful artwork, the relatively quick playing time and the simple choices. The game can be a bit luck-driven but I think that careful hand management and playing choices can mitigate that a lot. I really enjoy Jaipur although I think it took me a few games before I beat Dan!
Toby looking over our new purchases
We acquired Forbidden Desert because T & Lewis had bought it and gave it a good review. Since it was by the same designer as Pandemic, we thought it would be a very solid game and another option when we felt like playing a co-operative game. It certainly hasn't disappointed! It gives me a lot of the same puzzle-y feel as Pandemic but I find the set-up and play time to be a bit quicker than Pandemic. We have taught it successfully to friends and found it easier for them to pick up than Pandemic. People also love the little airship pieces! My only concern is that it may get a bit repetitive without any expansions or ways to vary the game. Still, for now we are always happy to play and hope that our little meeples escape the desert!
Dan went interstate for a work trip and brought home Haru Ichiban for me I really enjoy Bruno Cathala's games and had been interested in this one after seeing a Dice Tower review. I would probably consider this to be an abstract game as the theme is not very important to game play. I don't mind though because the artwork is pretty and the theme is perfectly agreeable
I feel quite zen while playing the game but Dan gets a bit stressed when trying to work out his moves! I won the first few games we played and Dan didn't enjoy that very much, especially because he would sometimes get close to winning but I would then prevail in the end I like the tactical game play and trying to out-think Dan when I choose which flower to play. I think it is very important to place your frogs wisely so you can get maximum benefit from them. The game doesn't take too long to play and I think we've only encountered one instance where we had a draw in one round.
Haru Ichiban - a win to Dan
After playing Mysterium several times with friends, we pre-ordered the expansion, Mysterium: Hidden Signs pretty soon after. As with Dixit, having more cards simply adds more variety and replayability. We haven't tried mixing in Dixit cards but may do so one day if we find the need. Actually, we really need to acquire some more Dixit expansions so we might even try using the Mysterium cards in a game of Dixit! I think I prefer playing as a psychic in Mysterium. Playing the ghost is a bit lonely and I find it can be more frustrating because there's no one to consult with
I used to play Mafia quite a bit when I lived at a residential college during university so I thought The Resistance: Avalon would be well suited to that group of friends. Unfortunately, after 2 plays (with about 7 players), it didn't really receive a warm welcome with that particular group. I'm not sure what it is... perhaps because we are so new at playing we don't yet know how to bluff and deduce properly? We might have to try this with a different group of friends and see if that improves things. Otherwise I fear this game won't be hitting the table very much.
Takenoko is one of Dan's favourite games and he was devastated (genuinely!!) when Shut Up and Sit Down gave it a negative review! He had been wanting to acquire the Takenoko: Chibis expansion but it was out of stock or at exhorbitant prices for quite a long time. Eventually we bought a copy and played 2 games in a row that same day. Sadly for Dan, he lost both games to me!! I like the expansion a lot because of the rules/variants which grant you extra points for completing a set of objectives and which prevent the panda from eating the bottom segment of bamboo. I love the extra pond tile and new bamboo tiles as well!
One thing we have decided to house-rule is that if you draw the gardener's hut, you immediately place it and can draw another tile and then choose to place one of the three tiles as normal. We found that the gardener's hut wasn't being placed otherwise and yet it can be quite useful. We don't include the Chibis expansion when teaching the game to new players because I think it adds just a touch too much complexity. Toby loves to watch us play Takenoko but he really can't be trusted to keep his paws to himself!
A game of Takenoko with Takenoko Chibis!
Finally, we rounded out the month of July by acquiring a copy of Viticulture Essential Edition and pre-ordering Tuscany Essential Edition. I was very excited to play Viticulture after hearing the great reviews by Tom and Zee from the Dice Tower. I actually don't drink wine at all so the game's theme doesn't attract me particularly but I do love worker placement!!
We played 3 games in a row after buying it and I managed to beat Dan in all three games Poor boy was so disappointed after the first game because I only beat him by 1 VP and very early on in the game I played a visitor that allowed him to choose between giving me some money or losing 1 VP. Guess what he chose?
In 2-player mode, the game is quite tight because you are usually competing over the same spaces whereas with 3 or more players there's the addition of the bonus on each space plus usually more spaces open. I enjoy this game a lot and it is one that I'll happily play almost any time.
In August Dan went to Canada for a couple of weeks to attend a friend's wedding. Sadly for me I didn't have enough leave saved up at work so I had to miss the trip
While over there, Dan made sure to stop in at Starlit Citadel in Vancouver to pick up a few games for us As I've mentioned before, games in Australia can be quite expensive and some games are almost double the normal American retail price. For a while Dan had been interested in acquiring Sentinels of the Multiverse (another Dice Tower recommendation from Tom) and I had been resistant as the gameplay didn't sound that appealing to me. Well, Dan took the opportunity to purchase it from Starlit Citadel, along with a whole bunch of stand-alone expansion decks - Sentinels of the Multiverse: Chokepoint Villain Character, Sentinels of the Multiverse: The Scholar Hero Character, Sentinels of the Multiverse: Unity Hero Character, Sentinels of the Multiverse: Silver Gulch, 1883 Environment, Sentinels of the Multiverse: Miss Information Villain Character and Sentinels of the Multiverse: Ambuscade Villain Character. Phew!
Well, that certainly got us started with plenty of variety and options to play with! I was still unconvinced initially but we sat down to play our first game against Baron Blade in Megalopolis. I chose to play Wraith, Dan chose Legacy and we agreed to we would play Tachyon together. It was an exciting game as we traded back-and-forth blows with Baron Blade, were stymied by the environment and then successfully flipped and defeated him! We were both hooked after that game and it was not long before Dan (with my blessing), acquired Sentinels of the Multiverse: Rook City & Infernal Relics Expansion to increase our collection.
Sentinels has become one of my favourite games (and also one of Dan's favourites) and I think there are several reasons for that. First, I like the fact that there are a lot of female characters - both heroes and villains. I don't always play female heroes but I love having the choice to do so. Second, I feel like the game is thematic and draws you in. When Dan and I play, we get very attached to our own heroes (and argue about who should take damage in the event of a tie), we feel tension when we are playing out the villain turn and have a great sense of achievement and satisfaction when we finally defeat a villain! Third, the variety is fantastic (especially with the expansions) and each game can feel vastly different from the other games due to the mix of characters, environments and the cards which are drawn. This means we never feel bored or like we are repeating the same gameplay each time. After 50+ plays of Pandemic (with expansions), I've started to feel the game wearing out a little bit for me.
There are some negatives to the game, mainly the fiddliness of the little tokens to keep track of hitpoints and modifiers. We probably make a mistake almost every game and sometimes it's possible to rectify and other times we just have to soldier on and put a little asterisk next to the final result. Nevertheless, it's not annoying enough to affect our overall enjoyment of the game. There are also some combinations of cards that can make the game a bit of a slog and result in the game dragging out for a long time. We had one game against Plague Rat in the Pike Industrial Complex and no heroes with abilities to destroy/deal with ongoing cards and we had to forfeit the game because cards came out that converted all damage to toxic damage but made Plague Rat immune to toxic damage!
Nevertheless, I love sitting down to pick out our heroes, villain and environment to face a new Sentinels challenge and I think this game will remain in my top 10 games for a long long time!
Dan also picked up Welcome to the Dungeon which is a fun little push-your-luck filler game. We don't really have any other push-your-luck games and this is a good one because of its simple play but interesting choices. I like the game because I beat Dan the first few times we played (haha!) and I think it's just the right length of time for the kind of game it is. I think 2-player is quite strategic and you have to pay very close attention to each choice you make. I have also played it 3-player and that felt a bit more random because you have less information and are also relying on a 3rd person to pass or continue to push their luck. Overall it's a perfectly enjoyable little game and one that I'm happy to play whenever it's suggested.
Because he'd bought two games from his own wishlist, Dan also brought home Kingsburg: To Forge a Realm for me!! I love Kingsburg - it's also one of my favourite games - and we had been unable to find the expansion in Australia initially. From all reviews we had heard that the expansion greatly improved the base game and we were very keen to try it out. The first game I think we played with all of the expansion modules thrown in and I'm pretty sure Dan beat me again. Although I love this game I seem to lose to him an awful lot
We now always play with the extended building board and usually play with the optional building rows and "role" cards. Depending on our mood we might include the events but sometimes we agree upfront that we will discard any of the punishing events because we otherwise it can be a bit harsh. I don't really like playing with the soldier tokens because I think it forces you down the path of military build-up whereas the normal King's reinforcements die-roll lets you hedge your bets a bit and hope for a high roll. Having said that, I seem to have dreadful luck when it comes to those rolls so maybe I should reconsider!!
Dan also picked up a copy of Mr. Jack - the 2016 second edition reprint because I wanted another 2-player game for our collection. This game is very think-y for me but I mostly love that! We usually play two games each time so we can swap roles. I think it is easier to play as the Inspector because you have one aim - to unmask Jack! We have found that the Inspector has won more games than Jack. In the initial games we played as Jack we would often try to escape but my first victory as Jack was a game where Dan wrongly accused an innocent character of being Jack because I didn't try to keep Jack in the dark
Although the game can be over quickly, we often get a bit of analysis-paralysis as we are working through the possibilities on our turn. I think selecting your character first usually takes the longest because you have the most number of options to try to assess. And sometimes you just have a blindspot and miss something completely obvious which makes you feel like a real doofus! We had one game where Dan (playing Jack) made a mistake when he revealed Jack's status and had to re-do his turn completely. I let him do it but if I hadn't won that game I think I would have been pretty annoyed!!
We also acquired another 2-player game for our collection - 7 Wonders Duel! This has become one of my favourite games I quite like back-and-forth type games where you are constantly reacting to the other player's choices. I think it focuses your thinking more and I prefer it because I sometimes struggle when playing games which lend themselves more to multi-player solitaire. I don't necessarily like mean take-that games (Dan might disagree haha!) but I like the challenge of keeping one step ahead of your opponent and taking actions that stymie them or reduce their options. I guess I don't like destruction of your opponent's position but I quite enjoy blocking!
Anyway, back to 7 Wonders: Duel! The first game we played I had read through the rules and taught them to Dan who hadn't really read up much on the game. The poor boy misunderstood how a Science victory is achieved and thought you needed to acquire 6 Science progress tokens, not 6 Science symbols. I'm sure I had told him, plus there are only 5 tokens put out in each game, but I think it can be confusing on the first play-through given the huge amount of information and iconography to absorb. I managed to snap up the "Law" token and end the game
In subsequent plays of the game I have won with a Military victory on one occasion (Dan was playing handicapped though because I had just lost badly to him in Carcassonne and was emotionally fragile so he didn't feel like he could attack me back with Military!) I've also won most of our games on points, yay!! Poor Dan has twice come within one step of a Military victory but on both occasions he was stymied by bad card flips and/or being just short of cash to purchase the Military card he needed. I really enjoy this game and although the set-up is a bit fiddly, I am happy to play it any time!
A more friendly game that we acquired in August is Timeline Challenge. We had 4 of the Timeline tins at this point and wanted to mix things up a little from the base gameplay. Dan has completely dominated this game each time we've played! He just has a better grasp of historical timeframes than me obviously! We haven't played this with larger groups yet but might break it out next time we have a couple of people over. It plays quite quickly in 2-player and is a nice light game with no conflict
Dan also acquired a copy of Nuns on the Run in August. He grew up in a Catholic family and went to a Catholic high school where the students could see into the nun's backyard from the school grounds. He tells me that the nuns seemed to constantly have their big white underwear drying on the line! This game tickled his fancy and conveniently filled a gap in our collection - hidden movement games. We played it 2-player once where I played as the Abbess and Prioress and managed to catch Dan once before his naughty novice snuck back to her cell!
We also took it with us when we visited interstate friends and had a 4-player game which was very good fun. Dan played as the Abbess and Prioress and was very frustrated during the initial 10-or-so turn of the game as he never saw or heard a novice during his patrols. Then it all unraveled very quickly as we novices tried to sneak back to our cells with our ill-gotten goods and Dan caught us all enough times to win the game
I find the game quite funny but I think it's very difficult to play the Abbess and Prioress as you rely on the other players to play the rules correctly and can never be certain if people have done so properly. I think the line-of-sight rules are a bit hard to decipher at times and also the gameplay is not completely intuitive so there's quite a lot of time spent checking the rule book and answering questions. I'd only play this one with larger groups on a casual basis for some light-hearted fun.
Finally, to round out August, Dan bought me the game Marrying Mr. Darcy along with its two expansions Marrying Mr. Darcy: Undead Expansion and Marrying Mr. Darcy: the Emma Expansion for our anniversary I am a big fan of the BBC TV series version of Pride & Prejudice and have actually visited the estate in the UK which served as the Pemberley facade and grounds. It does feel a bit like the game plays itself as there aren't that many opportunities for meaningful decision-making but the theme is great and it's not a lengthy brain-burner so I'm fine with the gameplay
We played this twice over the weekend when we were visiting interstate friends (the same ones who played Nuns on the Run) with 6 players and it was an absolute hit! Everyone really got into character as their heroines and put on (bad) British accents to read out the event cards. It was soooooo much fun and we were just constantly laughing and poking fun at each other when bad things happened like Mr Collins stepping on someone's toes or Caroline Bingley becoming an old maid after turning down earlier proposals. The first game resulted in about 4 old maids because everyone was a bit too eager to turn down early proposals and the second game wasn't much better with a few people falling into the same trap! I think this game is great with the right crowd of friends who know at least a little about Jane Austen/Pride & Prejudice and are happy to play along and have a laugh.
We visited our friends interstate in September and had the opportunity to play the games mentioned above (Nuns on the Run and Marrying Mr Darcy). Both were well received and enjoyed by all! We also purchased Forbidden Desert for our friends who hosted us over the weekend at their house. We had a couple of good games with them and they later taught it to their family who also enjoyed the game. I think we also squeezed in a game of Nyet! which Dan won.
We also took time out to visit their local games store and acquired just the one game - Small World: Royal Bonus. We haven't yet played with these races and powers but I'm sure they'll just increase the fun of mixing and matching to produce strange combinations!
September was a bit of a month for expansions as we decided to acquire the first two Carcassonne expansions: Carcassonne: Expansion 1 – Inns & Cathedrals and Carcassonne: Expansion 2 – Traders & Builders. By this stage we'd played the base game over 15 times and wanted to add some more variety, plus we wanted the cloth bag that comes with Traders & Builders to hold the tiles. I think both expansions are pretty cool in terms of the the addition variety of tiles they add to the game.
A completed game - Dan is always green and I'm always blue. The purple spray bottle is our defence against Toby the meeple-eater!
I like the addition of Inns to improve road-scoring and also the Builder to help you expand and complete features more quickly. I think only having 2 cathedral tiles means they don't necessarily have a huge impact on the game, depending on when they are drawn, so I'm a bit indifferent about them. I do think it can feel mean to play them on someone else's feature but I guess it's a risk vs reward decision to make.
In terms of the other modules, I'm mostly indifferent to the pigs. I like the shape of the meeple but I don't care that much about whether they are included or not. I think the trade goods module doesn't work as well with 2 players so we sometimes choose not to play with the trade goods (but we keep the tiles included). In 2-player you are giving points to your opponent when you complete their city and the trade goods aren't always a good enough trade off to make that worthwhile. It is also quite risk with the Builder because you don't want to leave yourself one tile away from completing your city and grant your opponent a bunch of trade goods.
My least favourite expansion module is the Big Meeple because it can be a bit mean. Sharing features can be annoying but is less mean than completely stealing a feature from another player. Dan once put a cathedral into my city, then after I worked diligently to complete it, he muscled in with his Big Meeple and stole all my precious points. I might have shed a few tears after that loss which led to the handicapped 7 Wonders: Duel game. I know it's childish to cry at losing a game but I was sincerely devastated by his moves!! We had to leave Carcassonne on the shelf for a little while after that game! But don't worry, we are back to playing it now although if we aren't in a take-that mood then we leave out the Big Meeple.
We also acquired some more expansions for Sentinels of the Multiverse. Specifically: Sentinels of the Multiverse: Vengeance, Sentinels of the Multiverse: Shattered Timelines and Sentinels of the Multiverse: The Final Wasteland Environment. There's not too much to say about Shattered Timelines and Final Wasteland as they continue to add more characters and environments to our collection. We have been slowly working our way through all the new cards to give them a try and continuing to have heaps of fun!
Vengeance though is a different beast. Instead of fighting a single villain, you fight a team of villains who are individually less powerful but in combination are extremely annoying and difficult to overcome. We've been unable to defeat Ermine across 2 or 3 plays and had trouble with a few others as well. This version is much more fiddly to play and so we tend to play teams of 3 vs 3 whereas the base game we find ourselves tending to use 4 or even 5 heroes these days. I still love what Vengeance adds to the Sentinels game and will pick it when I'm in the right mood but it's not my go-to version of the game.
And finally we ended September by acquiring another 2-player game and our very first Uwe Rosenberg title - Patchwork!! Dan was a bit resistant to getting this game initially because I don't think the theme of quilting appealed to him at all. Also, the tetris-like nature of the game probably intimidated him because the *only* video console game I can beat him at (not that I play any such games really) is a tetris-like game on the Wii-U. Neither of us can figure out why I consistently win that game but there you go!
I like Patchwork a lot because it plays quickly, is pretty easy to pick up but has interesting choices and strategies. It is fairly light and we allow each other to pick up the patch to attempt to see how it fits on the board rather than having to do mental gymnastics to rotate and flip pieces so we aren't too prone to long-turns. It doesn't have a lot of direct interaction or take-that, mostly there's a little bit of blocking and perhaps some calculating what to do to maximise your own position and make it harder for your opponent.
Our very first game we both wasted a lot of time skipping ahead on the time track because we couldn't afford patches. We have since learned to be better at managing our button income though! Our first game ended with negative scores of -3 for Dan and -2 for me so I squeaked through for the win! Poor Dan, he was so sad because his quilt was much better looking than mine and he'd managed to complete a 7x7 quilt on his board. This is actually a bit of a regular occurrence in our Patchwork games. He usually produces quilts which are nicely fitted together with almost no holes whereas mine are a bit higgledy-piggledy and moth-eaten! BUT, importantly, I tend to win nevertheless hahahahaha!
Dan's first Patchwork quilt - pretty but not enough to win! Also Sentinels is lurking in the background ready to be played next
Wowee!!! As Dan would say Thanks for reading another mammoth blog post! We are nearly caught up to date now - just one post left to cover what we bought and played in October, November and this month so far!
This coming Saturday we are also venturing forth to our very first board game convention - a little one called Meeplecon which is held in Melbourne. We have no idea what to expect and are both nervous and excited! I intend to report back on our day's adventures with a future blog post with photos
Ike Clanton painted by me for Wild West Exodus
Not a lot finished this week, but I did get everyone's favorite hunter killer assassin droid painted
Base price: ~$17. (Converted; might change.)
Play time: 20 minutes.
Check it out on Kickstarter!
Full disclosure: A preview copy of this game was provided by Appauling Games. As this is a preview, I will mostly keep my comments limited to gameplay. That said, please note that final artwork and rules may change, as this is a preview of a currently unreleased game.
If you’re anything like me, then you’ve accidentally realized that you’ve committed a heinous act and left your nail clippers in your carry-on luggage and worried that you’re going to get tackled by an Air Marshal.
Or maybe that is just me. Who knows.
Anyways, Nothing To Declare is an imminent Kickstarter game with some tongue-in-cheek idea of that tension, tasking players to disguise themselves as various “stereotypical” passengers (more on that later) in a series of attempts to sneak valuable luggage onto a plane while avoiding inspections. Will you be able to get that chainsaw through security, or will you end up with literally nothing to declare?
1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 Next »