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New to you March 2012 => Best new boardgame
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Stockport
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What new board and card games did you play in March 2012? Please share your experiences of the games you played for the first time this month.

In order to assist with collecting Statistics from these lists, please post an entry with your chosen game of the month, and if possible please use the "insert board game" feature to add other games you mention in your entry.


New To You Metalist 2012
New To You MetaMetalist
New To You Geeklists - Announcement thread

Other Great Monthly Lists
New to Your Kids February 2012 - the best games you've played for the first time with children (and why you think so))
New to you a year ago Mar 12 => Has it stood the test of time?
Videogames New To You March 2012
Your Most Played Game (and more): March 2012
Your best gaming experience of the month and why March12
Games only YOU have played in March 2012
Out of the Dust, March 2012

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51. Board Game: Ascension: Storm of Souls [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:312] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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LOVED IT!

No new games in March made my socks roll up and down.

Liked it!



Ascension: Storm of Souls (13 plays):

The original Ascension came and went with me fairly quickly. Buying the iPad app in February rekindled my interest in the game, and my wife and I have been enjoying Storm of Souls quite a bit lately. The quick setup time helps give it a different vibe from the other deckbuilders out there. In particular, I believe it's made Thunderstone obsolete - Thunderstone's setup is so fiddly, and the game itself is so delicate and prone to breaking down. Anyhow, we're looking forward to mixing the other Ascension sets together with Storm of Souls, as my only complaint after playing several games was that I'd like a little more variety in the cards from game to game.



Cavum (1 play):

I'm a little unsure about Cavum. I can definitely see that there's something here to get. My one play was a 2-player game, and it feels like it might be at its best with 3 or 4. Even so, I can appreciate that tit-for-tat, heads-up nature of the 2-player game. I have too many underplayed games and I'm not sure when Cavum will get its time in the spotlight.

Not so sure...



Thunderstone Advance: Towers of Ruin (2 plays):

Thunderstone Advance improves on some things from the base game. First off, if you equip a Regular (the new Militia) with a Longspear (the new Dagger) you get to draw a card. That helps make the basic cards slightly less worthless. There is also a new "prepare" action you may spend your turn on: discard any number of cards and put the rest on top of your deck. Nice. There seem to be more cards that involve destroying cards from your hand; it felt like the designer wanted to make Resting (and destroying your starting Militia) less of a no-brainer. Thunderstone Advance also has level 1, level 2 and level 3 monsters - when you build the dungeon deck, you'll have weaker things near the front and stronger things near the end. Another nice touch is that you have to defeat the Thunderstone Bearer to end the game rather than just claim the Thunderstone. Nice boss fight to finish it off. The board is double-sided with different dungeon configurations on each side (the Woods has 4 ranks of monsters, but one -1 light per rank). All good things.

In spite of the improvements, the game still bogged down at times during each of my plays (a 2-player and a 4-player game). The new design feels empty and lifeless to me, too. Some of the cards have bland backgrounds that are just plain ugly (see the Longspear above - all weapons have that empty pink background). Thunderstone Advance just feels like less than the sum of its parts to me.

My buddy bought this game, and between that and my rekindled affinity for Ascension, I feel like I can safely sell/trade my old Thunderstone away.



Helvetia (1 play):

Another game that didn't quite work for us. It does some clever things, and the artwork is nice. The theme is novel. It's a game of logistical planning and making chains of production and, at one point during our game I thought "I understand this, but I'm not enjoying it." It's a nice blend of worker placement, role selection and intercourse. I wish it all the best with its new owner.



Alba Longa (1 play):

A worker placement euro with quite a bit of direct conflict. It would probably work well as 4-5 player game, but it didn't show me enough to keep it around. Neat dice, though.



Werewolf (5 plays):

I finally got to play Werewolf. I can see why people love it, but it's definitely a party game, and I'm generally not too fond of those. I very much prefer The Resistance, which has the same sort of "who can I trust/who is lying/who is guilty" thing going on, but with in-game actions and information to base things on. As opposed to Werewolf which is all talking and politicking. Seems like a game best played with good friends (though I played with strangers and had a decent enough time).

Hopeful/probable for April:



I also have an order at Boards & Bits awaiting the arrival of Dominant Species: The Card Game, Vanuatu and Kingdom Builder: Nomads. The order also includes Gosu: Kamakor and Catacombs: Horde of Vermin.
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52. Board Game: Kingdom of Solomon [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1431]
Doug Bass
United States
Winston-Salem
North Carolina
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I am surprised by the number of new games I played in March. Usually, I tend to focus on getting better at games I know and throw in a couple of new ones. I also run a local gaming group, and oftentime I'm teaching more introductory games to newer players.


Kingdom of Solomon -
My favorite of the bunch was Kingdom of Solomon, even though we messed up a few rules on our first play. I liked the worker placement aspect, especially the needing to decide exactly when to place your remaining workers to get one of the bonuses - I absolutely love games where the timing and sequencing of your actions is crucial. I wasn't as enamored with the market aspect of the game, but I did like it enough to read up on it and then buy a copy. I'm really eager to play this again.




Eminent Domain -
Not a huge fan of deck building games, but I liked this one. One thing I liked, was that actions could not be chained, unlike Dominion. The other thing was the role selection, which I like pretty well as a mechanic. Liked it well enough to play on two different occasions, and I'm glad I bought the game. Unfortunately, it didn't get played at Outer Space theme night with my gaming group, because we played a long game of...






Terra Prime -
This was the only game I played during Outer Space theme night at Camel City Gamers, our local Meetup group. Although we messed up a few rules the first 1/4 of the game and the game was very long (due to AP and learning), I enjoyed it overall and am glad I bought it. One thing I didn't like was that the pace of the game was very slow at the start and very fast at the end. Perhaps the experience will be different on subsequent plays. The game did have that feeling of "not being able to focus on everything", which was surely compounded by the fact that it was our first play. Usually, I can figure out a plan, but in this game there were extreme limitations of what your spaceship can do. For example, you have to choose between carrying more cargo or taking more actions and carrying less.



Vikings -
Vikings was the darling of the night for my gaming group's Viking theme night (appropriately enough). I believe iit was played a total of 5 times that night, with some playing it more than once (not by necessity, but by choice). I had read the rules the previous evening and thought I was ready to play, but I underestimated the importance of the blue vikings as well as the bonus from having the most boatmen. All in all, I found the game interesting, particularly the wheel that adjusts the price of tiles as they are bought, but I wasn't blown away by the game. I've played once since, but it'll probably be a while before I play again.




Infinite City -
Although this game was very abstract, I found it pretty interesting as a 6 player game. In the initial deal, I got a tile that let me place twice as well as a Power Station (or whatever the tile that protects adjacent tiles is called). I saved them for my second turn and built almost my entire strategy around it. I believe I did well because of that early draw and also because 5 out of the 6 players were new to the game, despite them "ganging up" on me for a while. I won the tie-breaker.





Mr. Jack -
Not a fan of two-player games or abstracts, so this wasn't a huge hit. The theme wasn't strongly present for me - I did feel like I was trying to escape (I played Jack), but it had nothing to do with the actual events. I think I will like Letters from Whitechapel a lot better, if I ever get the chance to play it.







Anachronism -
Good quick game, but don't have a lot to say about this one.

I played one other card game that I hated, but I don't remember the name.
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53. Board Game: Intrigue [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:1376]
Kris Verbeeck
Belgium
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It was a slow month yet I managed to get 5 new games in.

Abandon ship
Turfmaster
Beowulf : The movie boardgame
Gold!
Motorchamp
Intrigue


Gamenight one
Abandon Ship :
This is a very light and quick game that allows for some backstabbing.
Serge, who is new to our group, asked if he could borrow it as he went on vacation. I haven't heard since from him....
Serge is new to gaming and it's important to him that he can easily grasp the rules. So that he can play it with others as well. Besides me he is the only boardgame buying member and is looking to get hold of most of the games that we have played with him.
As a lighthearted filler I think it does an excellent job. 7/10

epilogue :
A couple of years back I set the record of face to face plays of Can't stop with my uncle and aunt.I am not sure if this game would have been able to overtake it because I almost don't visit them nowadyas. And I don't think it has the same durability of can't stop. But I can imagine this one being the only game we would play for a couple of nights and/ or mix it up with games of can't stop.


TurfMaster :
Is a horse racing game with great components. There are two movement turns. One by cards (hand management) and one by dice ( strategy : the person throwing the dice picks either one of the dice as movement points or the total)
this works great. We played the game with fences and some of us had a hard time reaching the finish line. A good mix of low and high cards is helpfull . One player did receive however a lot of highs the first round. (couldn't move because of position) a couple of times and a lot of low cards the second round (didn't reach the finish line).
I am not sure how to work around that as the different mix of cards is part of the game.
7/10


Gamenight two:

Beowulf: The Movie Board Game is a themed Kingdoms. It's a Knizia so the theme is pasted on.
I thought it was an interesting tile laying game but since we were not familiar with all the special tiles and in which era they are present we did some suboptimal moves.
The game will be played much faster as you get familiar with the tiles. A cheat sheet with the tiles in each era will be helpfull. (Note to self :"check the file section")
7/10


Gold!
Is a card game for two or three players by Michael Schacht.
It's a trick taking game and this is a little different from other games. It's a pity that the only difference in the face of the card is the colour of the number as they are impossible to differentiate in light yellow light. there are six colours and people try to score tricks by collecting three cards in the same colour. And the end of the game you make piles in each colour and count the total of points. If you have the highest total you score the highest card from that pile.
There are some variations in how to score. I don't know if I like it enough to play again. Allthough I think it has strategy optimal play with the base set of rules requires you to concentrate on two colours and have the highest card available of that colour when you score. If you can win a third colour you will surely win. Otherwise you are tied for first at least.
The variations in scoring try to work around that but it feels like it is added on to solve that problem. It doesn't feel natural.
I initially rated it 6/10 but after writing this it goes down to 5/10

Gamenight three

MotorChamp


Is a f1 race game with great components. It's from the same designer and publisher as Turfmaster. Unlike turfmaster no limitations in positions are used and no cards are used. It's a simple roll and move game.....
Each player plays a team (has two cars). It does feel like a race game with the slipstreaming allthough one car managed to slipstream three cars in one go (that was a little bit too much)
There are some limitations colourcoded (one,two or three dice rolling) and also maximum speed limits (to be used when you roll look at the spot when you are standing
There are also some fair play rules the most important being that you can use one die less.
About the limitations if the roll exceeds them by one you spin out and you can resume when passed by two other cars. We probably misplayed that and allowed the spun out car to overtake one of the passing cars the same turn.Next time no matter where he stands he will only be allowed one die. (this is more true than racing, we also add a maximum of turns to miss near the end of the game a car had to wait 8 turns...)
When your roll exceeds it by two or more however. You are out of the race.

The game should be played fast. When one player is moving his car the next player should roll and immediately start moving. This reduces the playing time by a lot. And gives a real F1 feel. You have to make quick decisions. In our race only two cars finished the racing line. One car blew up his engine in the last straight. He rolled one too many die.
After this game I had to think of speed circuit another racing game I really liked. I was going to rate this 7.5 and since I'm not sure which I prefer more I upped the ratting of speed circuit as well.
7.5/10

Intrigue

The game that destroys relationships.
I took kind of a risk by suggesting we would play this. A lot of laughter was heard and a lot of surprised faces where seen. After promises were made and guarenteed to stick with these and money was handed over either other promises were made, the promise was held or there was some serious dagger stabbing. In the end I almost managed to mess up my excellent position by backstabbing the player in last spot in favour of the player who ended only 4000 behind me. Allthough the player that ended second messed up by not thinking about throwing me out in favour of another player who ended third with a healthy 34.000 behind us.

After the game we discussed it and Alain said that in real life he was a nice fellow and he loved it that he could be someone totally different during the game...
I checked with Karl and Peter too. Two days later I asked what they thought about it . Karl answered that it wasn't too mean. It's just a game!. And Peter said that he could endure more. And that it wasn't a problem for him.
I read between the lines in Peter's response that the game was near the limit of what was likeable. He was amazed with how we played Motorchamp and said that it was played pretty strict. When you are out you are out....

somehow these three visions sum up the game pretty well.
Remember that it's just a game.
You have to be really mean.
And all other players will be very mean toward you.

I know it's impossible to win this game the next time I will play it. But I don't mind.
One more thing it's best to end the gamenight with

8.5/10
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54. Board Game: Animal Upon Animal [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:578]
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Denmark
Ebeltoft
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March presented us with 3 new games, where 2 out of 3 were in the family genre. Nonetheless, all were worthy of our attention, though perhaps not all will have the staying power required.


Number of plays: 4

My number 1 pick would have to be this dexterity game, which plays quick, allows for a wide range of players, trains eye-hand coordination and is just all-round FUN. My step-kids LOVE the game and you can just see them concentrate as they walk around the table trying to see where the piece would fit best. It works great for kids and grown-ups alike.

Highly recommended.



Number of plays: 2

My number 2 pick is a favourite with the missus, not so much with me. That said, I did enjoy me 2nd game a lot more than the first and it seems to offer some variety. I can, however, see it come up short in the long run, as the number of different strategies seem to be limited but time will tell.

I am hoping the theme and the somewhat straight forward nature of the game meanst that eventually we could introduce it to and play it with the kids.



Number of plays: 1

Another family game, which follows hot on the heels of Aquaretto, which we have enjoyed greatly. This one seems a little simpler, but has plenty of scope for expansion (we already have a few lined up), it has the same cute animals, which are adored by my step-daughter and I can see this game get a high number of repeat plays.
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55. Board Game: Evo [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:511]
Zack Stackurski
United States
Mankato
Minnesota
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Despite trying to get Manhattan Project and Alba Longa played almost all month long I only had one new to me game this month... but it was a good one!



Rating 8 after 1 play

Evo is a game I've wanted to try for a while, but its also been out of print for a while. Amusingly I figured I would get a chance pretty quickly with the new reprint out... and I did... on a friend's orginal copy laugh Evo uses my favorite auction mechanic (also seen in Homesteaders, Cyclades, Amun-Re etc) and has a kind of quirky, competitive area control scoring. Certainly a game I can recommend to anyone who likes either of those things or just the concept of evolving your own dinosaur... though make sure you fully grok the concept of climate vs. your dinos before you try to explain this one...

Normally something like this would be an instant buy for me... but I think I'm going to wait until I have a chance to play the updated version first, which I understand tightens up the auction and makes the board manuovering more vicious. I think I would like thos changes... but I already own Primordial Soup, Trias and Cyclades so thematically and mechanic wise I sort of already have this covered... but I think with better scaling and more control than PS this might be a worthy upgrade...
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56. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.15 Overall Rank:5]
Chris Marling
United Kingdom
Cambridge
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To kick off this month's little known quartet of games we have Puerto Rico. Having been a massive fan of Race for the Galaxy for a few years now, I finally got round to trading in for this classic - the game that clearly inspired it. I've managed three games so far, a 2, 3 and a 5-player game, with them all being an absolute blast. That has also taken in six different people I play with, all of who enjoyed it - a marked improvement on Carson City that I traded it for (which got a 'meh' from all the same folks). I was initially worried that the complete lack of luck and hidden elements might scare a few of them off, but everyone really got into it from the start - it's just so elegant. I'm happy to give this one a 9 so far and thoroughly look forward to giving it a hell of a lot more plays.

I also got to play my first 'real' game of Citadels, having previously played one game online versus a computer AI a year or so back. Unfortunately it was only a three-player game, which I'm sure doesn't really do the game justice, but I saw enough to know I'll be happy to play Citadels anytime in the future (it was a friend's purchase). The simplicity and nastiness make a great combination, while the deduction element adds an extra level for those who want to get a little deeper (or, in our case, who weren't too drunk to notice). A solid 7.

Then there was Wizard, a little whist-a-like I found in a charity shop (sealed) for 95p. While the game itself was, well, whist, the 95p was well spent if only for how many laughs the terrible artwork got. You can play an interesting sub game of 'guess the sex' by looking at the faces of the characters (hint: guess the opposite of what's obvious and you'll normally nail it). I'm not really sure the little extra rules add enough to the standard game of contract whist to worth forking out even 95p for, but now I've got it I'm sure wizard will get the occasional play. 6.5

Finally this month, while in Barcelona, I treated myself to a little souvenir - Exploradores, more commonly known by the less exotic title Lost Cities. I'd played this push your luck/set collection card game solo on Facebook and enjoyed it, while having heard it was a great couples game. Seeing it for less than 20 euros and with such a splendid name, while knowing it was language independent, I grabbed a copy. Luckily my girlfriend has really enjoyed our first three plays, so once again it's a keeper. We seem to have set on four rounds each match, which means it doesn't overstay its welcome while ruling out a bit of the crazy luck that can swing around. So far, I'll go with 7.5 for this one.
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57. Board Game: Small World [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:108] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Samo Gosaric
Slovenia
Ljubljana
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Changed clubs (from playing old euros with nongamers to playing newer euros with games).
A lot of new games. So many, I had to reorganize my ratings (my 6s and 7s are still overcrowded). All games are 4 player unless noted otherwise.

I WANT TO PLAY AGAIN:

1. Small World 8/10
1 play, last place.

"Do I see that hand shake?"
Image by mechaflo

Made a stupid mistake in first game - ganging up on one player, while the other two run away. Not my brightest hour. I must say I'm intrigued by the game. It feels very thinky and deeper than rules would suggest, but this is motivated by constantly changing environment and one trying to find the best response to a given situation with the army they've picked. As far as area control goes, it seems the most intuitive I've played so far: adjacency matters and you also can do army manoeuvres like defence and fast board sweeps (although it's not fighting as such). I do wonder how the game would feel with more experienced players and a bit of negotiation. One last thing: because each decision matters a lot, the game might actually be heavier (more thinky) than let's say CITOW.

2. 7 Wonders 7*/10
1 play, 6 player game with leaders. Second to last place. (Biggest army, game was won by science).

"Hmm, I think I'll go with brown. It emphasises the golden glow with my Zeus statue."
Image by ronster0

* The main reason I want to play this again is because 1 play cannot be enough to give an appropriate impression of this game as you need to know card synergies and what is in the deck in other to play well.

First impression: similar to Stone Age in that it's a nicely illustrated disguise for what is in essence spread sheet VP system. I find synergy of the cards much less interesting (set collecting) than in RFTG where it's more about what your cards DO, than what they are (VPs). But given that, it was enjoyable and need to play again.

P.S.: Why are we in euros always collecting wood and clay for buildings, why not chocolate and cinnamon for desserts?

WORKS AS ADVERTISED:

3. Jungle Speed 7/10
1 play, didn't win. Got it as a gift.

Best played in full body armor.
Image by GenX.

For anyone surprised to find it that high on my list: It's good at what it does.

What it does: adrenaline rush that can wake you up after a thinky or AP game and prepare you for another hour of gaming. It might become annoying if you played it too many times in row (one can only maintain the level of concentration required for a limited amount of time). Also might be annoying if you find a group obsessed with it.

How it does it: good graphic design. Best way to go about it if you ask me.

4. 6 Nimmt 6.5
1 round. 6 players. Didn't pick any points.

must get that hat
Image by easterly1

It a great game for a weird niche: gamer's quick party game for in between the other games.
With friends usually some more creative game will take its place (Dixit, Werewolves) and for adrenalish rush wake up Jungle Speed is better.

Genre: chaotic risk taking/bluffing (kinda).


5. Coloretto 6.5/10
2 plays (with euro nonagamers who are very fond of it), won 1

"If you think this is tense, just wait for Lost Cities..."
image by allenj82

Finally playing Coloretto made me realise what's my problem with Aquaretto that we own. Aquaretto has just too many stuff put onto what is essentially a very simple filler. In Coloretto it's easy to discern the colors other people are collecting, so your decisions are simpler and you can make them faster. In Aquaretto it's harder to distinguish what set people are collecting by a glance, plus you have to think about spacial connections in your water park and building extensions and getting money and workers and yadayada. Sure Coloretto probably has more luck as you win if you're lucky to be the only one collecting a certain colour. But it's a 15 min filler that's great with nongamers and might also be suited for people used to tradition cardgames (parents and other family members). Might pick it up once I visit Germany again.

Side effect: Aquaretto from 6.5 to 6.0

GOOD WITH SOME RESERVATIONS:

6. El Grande 6.5/10
2 plays, first time 3rd, second time tied for 1st

I know what you're thinking, but El Grande is actually that medium sized green cube on the right. The phallus thingy is your King, err...
Image by DaMilli

My first impressions were quite negative. People say it's dry and I would disagree with that, instead I would say it's opaque and contraintuitive:

1. Adjacency of two areas is mostly unimportant. Your units enter the map regardless to where your other units are (but next to the king, which I don't get). And why do you have an HQ (El Grande) if adjacency doesn't matter anyhow? And then there's 16th century Ibiza paratroopers (neat mechanic, but themewise...).
2. Bidding for turn order. I find it so unnecessary, did all old euros had this? This might be part of calling El Grande dry.
3. The action cards. You simply have to memorize them as they don't have any obvious sense (theme wise) beside making the game replayable while making it all about short term tactics.
4. Kramer's action point system in a completely tactical game = downtime, downtime and AP.

Compare this to CITOW: (1) adjacency to your present units matters when putting new units on the board; (2) Khorne goes first because He Is The Blood God!; (3) each side has its own deck suited to their strategy; (4) you have a hand of cards, so you don't start from scratch on every move you make.

Second game showed me that knowing which cards are in the deck is truly important. The game really is all about tactics and proved more fun on the second play, but I probably played it with a wrong group. If I'd played with a group that is used to bartering, negotiations and willing gang up on a leader (which the game allows to do) and wouldn't be so serious about it, I'd probably enjoy it much more (at least +1).

I found Torres much better for somewhat similar style game (No turn order nonsense, cards are simpler and in your hand for the whole turn, the spacial relations make much more sense making the whole thing is more intuitive to grasp).

The biggest negative for El grande is the existence of CITOW which does anything that bothers me with the clunky old timer more intuitively and more suited for what I want out of such a game. The game intrigues me though.

7. Stone Age 6.5/10
1 play, I won (200+ points, going for shamans and tools and above average dice rolls).

it never pays to be alone in stone age
image by haccpmonkey

As gaming experiences go, this was the most enjoyable of the new games this month. An 8/10 for sure. I'm just not convinced the game has much more room to explore and expect to find it quite samey, so I'm not eager to play it again. Also I've won. Why tarnish my perfect record?

Given how I thought I would hate this game this was a pleasant surprise. Sure everything I don't like in euros is here: the hidden sets spread sheet scoring: VP ={n*X} + {m*Y} + {o*Z} + {a^2} + B1 + B2 + ...; the bidding for actions (worker placement) with no other interaction making it a MPS.

On the other hand it's the best looking spread sheet game I've seen and enables various caveman jokes while each player peacefully goes about their business. Having a common map also helps making this MPS a tad more social. And the strategy part is good and reminds me of Power Grid - because everything is balanced the key is to go for whatever other players are not going for (though it's less obvious here). Gameplay flows smoothly (great idea of combining multiple workers on one spot to work with dice probability) as you mostly know what you'll be going for in a given turn (+ plan B and C and dump everything on D if nothing else works). I suspect repeated plays will make it less interesting and samey. So far, it's the most pleasing VP matrix I've played and probably most of it falls on the neat graphical representation.

8. Discworld: Ankh-Morpork 6.5/10
2 plays. 1 win.

I sense some trouble brewing...
Image by Bombadillo

Thought I would like it better. Maybe the problem was playing with gamers, while this seems to be a perfect nongamer game to play with friends - it's very easy to pick up and offers a hefty amount of chaos, so veterans don't have a lot (if any) advantage. The most important part of the game is everybody knowing and checking for possible victory conditions of other players, probably the game gets better after repeated plays with the same group.

My two plays were totally different. In first one my strategy was having a low profile and be as silent as possible (Lord King of Arms - I had my hand reduced to 3, so people stopped checking on me and I've won). In the second one my strategy was being loud and reporting on what everybody was doing (Captain Vimes, after blocked two players, the third one won, oh well). So this variety is a definite plus and I'm curious how playing other characters would influence my gameplay.

There really isn't much depth to the game, it's all about watching over other players and trying to make something of the cards you've been given, mostly by getting rid of some as fast as you can. Overall too fluffy, might rate better if played by nongamers and even higher if friends in question are Discworld fan(atic)s. (So if you have those people around, get the game).

SOME COMPLAINTS INCLUDED:

9. Horse Fever 6/10
1 play, 4 rounds, advanced game ("normal"), finished with a tie for the splendid 3rd place.

"I sense some machinations taking place."
Image by RobyNico05

Given how much I enjoyed playing it, it's quite a low rating. That's because the winning conditions make no sense to me and left a bad aftertaste. The game is fun, engaging, hilarious and tense. The core game consists of betting money on horses and playing bonus and malus cards on different horses. It's pretty smart actually: first everybody places one bet, then they play cards which show totally different motives and then the second round of betting shows what's really going on. If you win you increase your money.

But I am lost with the victory point system which disconnect the basic idea of betting with money and obscures what is best about this game.
- If this is a betting game, then money should matter, not VPs.
- Goal cards have no connection with the rest of the game. They give you victory points for various sets (like most horses, most stables or most goal cards).
- dutch and english auction for VPs. WTF? What has this to do with the betting game?

If I play it again, I'll try to push for the family game (which simply gives you 3 points for each successful bet on a win and 1 point for each successful top 3 placing bet.), though I really liked the horse cards and their effect on bidding. There is a fun betting game hidden inside unnecessary euro ballast; the last race of the game had tension going through the roof.
The betting game I rate a 7, the euro VP sheet at 5, so it's a 6.

--------------------------------

OLDER GAMES PLAYED THIS MONTH:


With all the new stuff, it's interesting to see how do familiar games fare against all the competition.

1. Cyclades 8.5/10
Played in my new gaming club. Confirmed my previous rating. my first 5 player game.

Best game of the month. Period. My best game of Cylcades as well. So that's another period. Playing with friends the game allways felt it starts too slowly and then ends abruptly in a total chaos where somebody wins. With seasoned gamers (mostly new to the game) it was a total blast: once we went past the "omg somebody's going to win" threshold, the game didn't stop in the next 2 turns as usual, but continued for 4 or 5 very tense turns. We've seen blitzkrieg, one player using the Zeus cycling action twice (!), once by selling all his units as well, and the most quiet player won in the end. If every game of it was like this, I'd rate it as 9.5 at least. Comparing it to my latest gaming experience I must say I'm not a fan of the set up, as you don't have adjacent islands. Want to try it with Free positioning variant from the expansion to "fix" this issue.

2. Turn the Tide 8/10
a.k.a. "the sheep game". Played with friends.

There's something about it, that makes my friends ask about it. It's very simple to pick up blind bidding/double guessing type of game with a clever trick of rotating hands. Skills required are figuring out how to play each hand (you shouldn't play them the same way) and what will other people do in each situation. One of those games where simple rules enable a lot of tension and interaction (of the quiet type, but still).

3. Meuterer 8/10
Played with the euro gamers (first club). Reinforced its rating.

Haven't played it for a while as Citadels is more nongamer friendly and even here the rules explanation created only blank stares. Rules are a bit cyclical and make sense only once you play. I was reminded by just good the game can be - similar to Citadels, but with a common board (a plus for me) and a bit more back and forth (played with PnP scoring board). And it's quite thematic for an euro, particularly of that age.

4. Pandemic 7/10
Played with the euro gamers. Rating up for 0.5.

If you compare it to AH, it's dry (my previous attitude towards it), but if you play it after a Knizia and the like it feels pretty thematic, intuitive and interactive. You have to talk! About game objectives! Yay

5. Aquaretto 6/10
Played with friends. Rating down by 0.5

After playing Coloretto I realised just how bloated aquaretto is. Looks cute, but that's it. Too much AP for what should be a light game.
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58. Board Game: Lords of Waterdeep [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:28]
:C.h.r.i.s. M.c.G.o.w.a.n:
United States
Arlington Heights
Illinois
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Was able to play "8 new to me" games in March - not bad for a non-convention month.

Lords of Waterdeep I was able to get into a 5p game of this at the FLGS. I recall reading a little bit about this one due to the BGG contest and was open to trying it out. Glad I did. It is a neat resource generation into VP game with worker placement mixed in. Resources = different types of people. Very intuitive gameplay and the growing options with the buildings reminded me of Caylus. The secret end game VP bonus' are a neat twist as well. Seems to be a lot of replayability due to the different buildings (of which maybe 2/3 came out in our game) and the different quest combinations and goals of players. Look forward to many more plays of this in 2012.

GOOD

Eminent Domain I am a Tasty Minstrel fan - they support the www.gaminghoopla.com so I try to support them as well. I had not Kickstarted, nor picked this one up - but after one 3p game i think I will be. I can see where people think it is a "deck building" game, but it also has that Race for the Galaxy/Puerto Rico feel with the "roles" or shared actions per player, per turn. I can see getting a good quality 15-20 plays of this before getting tired of it.

Campaign Manager 2008 Figured I'd give this a go since it is an election year and I had acquired a copy last year in a Math Trade. I like that it is a quick 45 minute or so game and the drafting of each player's hand appeals to me. It does remove the fiddliness of 1960: The Making of the President with the electoral vote pieces. I hope that my brother in law likes this one so that we can explore the game together at the same experience level. Yucata also has a nice online adaption of this.

Miskatonic School for Girls Played this one twice. I am not a huge Cthulu fan so the theme was insignificant to me. There defintely was player interaction, BUT it appears that you poke the player to your left 9until a reverse the flow card is played) so your choices are limited. The locker cards also felt unbalanced and we made a house rule regarding one of them which others have also suggested here on the geek.

KID GAMES


RattleSnake I gave this to my 5 year nephew for Christmas and my Mom and "T" have enjoyed many plays of it. They were both very excited to see me play this one. This was the highlight of my gaming month as "T" taught me this one at our St. Patty Day get together. He loves to roll dice and he loves the magnets. It is quite neat to be taught a game by a 5 year old and then get schooled. I look forward to many more years of game playing with him and my other nieces and nephews.

Spot it! was played one week later at a Birthday Party at my brothers house. My parents and I were "playing a practice round" and lured the kids over to join as teammates. This is a neat object recognition game that plays well with all ages. There are 5 variants of games that can be played and it is quite portable. Definitely worth a look for kids.

OK - not my usual type of game


The Resistance A 15 minute version of Battlestar Galactica is probably accurate, although I have never played BG. The 2 traitors/spies in our 6 player game got outed mid game and the good guys won. I think this would be neat with groups of people - both those who know each well and even those who don't.

Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game I am not a zombie fan, nor much of an Ameritrasher, BUT this one would be great if you like either of those genres. We have had some new faces at the FLGS and this one is being brought by a few of them so I thought I'd give it a try and get to know them better. I'd normally choose a Euro over this one, BUT would play it again if I was in the right mood.

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59. Board Game: Upon a Salty Ocean [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:1900]
Mike B
Netherlands
Utrecht
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Can't tell what's wrong with BGG currently, but it's slow like monday morning.

Anyway, march was a slow gaming month as well. Only 28 plays of 23 games, 3 of them new-to-me. One of them a solo test session of a kids game I got for my little one.

Both of the 2 other games are games I didn't pick up last Essen but are on my shopping list now, and currently rank between 7 and 8 after a first play (which is pretty promising in my book)

Cité is a French building tile laying game. Didn't pick it up at last year's Essen because I thought it would just be another Eurogame. Turns out it's better than I thought. Had fun playing it, and discovered there's more interactivity than it shows on the outside. Love the 'raw materials' too. Real tiny stones and little pieces of cloth. Might be cumbersome for the usual moaners here, but I thought they were lovely and added to the atmosphere. Just not sure about the replayability factor once you figured out the best tactics. Which aren't too clear in your first game.

Upon a Salty Ocean feels a bit like 'Martin Wallace designed Puerto Rico'. Always short on money, various choices, various strategies. And just like Cité indirect interactivity as well. Had fun playing this. The fishing theme works nice with the game as well.

It get's the slight advantage over Cite because I think it probably scales better with various player amounts.
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60. Board Game: Royalty [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:7233]
Randy Cox
United States
Clemson
South Carolina
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Man, the slow system has me buried on page 134 because I tried all day to get this geek list page up to no avail. Always timed out.

Anyway, I played five new games this month and the only truly good one was...

Royalty a word game where the Scrabble tiles are just cards. I don't think it's as good as Bali but it handles more players in a better manner.

Traverse is a game that sat on my shelf for about 20 years when my wife saw it and said it might be good for the kids. Not so. Our "doesn't like games with a winner" but ubercompetitive youngster did not like the end game at all or the way you could be blocked. Not a very interesting game, anyway.

Feudal is not good. Just not good.

Mhing has some potential but it suffers from "over do it"-itis. Someone took a very fine game (Rummy) and decided to throw in ridiculous scoring rules that make it fairly unpleasant. Not so bad that I wouldn't play again, but I'd prefer Rummy 500 or Gin, I'm pretty certain.

And then there is Pizza Theory, a Kickstarter project. It was clearly designed for specifically three players (the designer confirms this) and the two-player rules were thrown in and not well thought out (the designer admits at least to the first part of that statement, too). Let me tell you--don't play this game with two. Not even if you use the anchovies or any other add-on. It just doesn't work.
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61. Board Game: Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:1104] [Average Rating:6.67 Unranked]
Max Jamelli
United States
Chambersburg
Pennsylvania
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This was a pretty silly game that we played to fill out some time. I think the best part was actually saying the names of the spells we cast. It was fun enough that I picked up a copy for my brother in law.

Rated an 8.2/10




Last Train to Wensleydale


I like the fact that shipping diversity is rewarded. I like the market of expenses vs. what was shipping in the current round. I think having red and green tracks on the board takes some getting used to -- I constantly thought there were green and red players. Easiest Wallace game to learn so far for me.
Rated 7.5/10




7 Wonders: Leaders


I've played 7W before. Got to try this expansion out for the first time this month. Honestly, it didn't really add anything for me except another round. I had to look through the rule book to see what each card's power was, but it was still pretty good.
Rated 7/10



Eminent Domain

Filler like game with comparisons to Dominion and race for the galaxy.

When it was initially compared to race I cringed because I hate race. I told the group that I would try anything though, so I tried Domain. It's play was a lot smoother than race's and the mechanics and concepts made sense to me much quicker.
Rated 6.5/10

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62. Board Game: Urban Sprawl [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:800]
Patiently waiting for the zombie apocalypse...
United States
Colorado Springs
Colorado
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The Best New Board Game:

Urban Sprawl




Chad Jensen is an excellent designer. Dominant Species was brilliant and is easily one of my top ten favorite games. Combat Commander is a lot of fun! So like many here on BGG when news of US came out I was of course interested. I did not buy it in the first wave of hype, but waited and read many of the reviews. It did not meet the general fan fare that DS received and rightly so. I do not feel it is as good a game as DS, but this does not mean it is not good. I actually find myself wanting to play it more then DS currently. After my game I thought about the game a few days after playing it and that is a sign of a game I like when I find myself "thinking" about it a few days later. It does have some flaws and the biggest one for me is the downtime. One can not really plan very much because of the nature of the game mechanics. Another is the the built in "catch up" mechanic of the Contractor which ultimately leads to massive king bashing. I was actually able to cut a massive point gap and win the game because I had more money. It does have the Sim idea, but it becomes pretty abstracted after you have built the contract. I don't mind the chaotic nature of the game whereas that has received a lot of negative reviews. Regardless, I'm very glad I own and look forward to more plays and that is why US has own my Best New Board Game. I do recommend everyone to play it and play it more then once.

The Good Game:

Forbidden Island




Forbidden Island is Pandemic's little brother. It is a great filler game and quite easy to teach, learn, and play. However, this does not detract from the fun, and this little game as ample amount of that. Especially when the you are getting down to the last few turns knowing we will either be successful and fly off from Fool's Landing or become more victims of the unforgiving Forbidden Island. Another sign of a good game is after playing for the first time people want to play again immediately. Due to its short time play that is a doable thing. This is a good game.


The Good/Meh Game:

Eaten by Zombies!



As one can see I'm a big fan of everything zombie! zombie I read zombie books, watch zombie movies, play zombie games, and continually prepare for the eventual zombie apocalypse. cool So most zombie games I will at least look into and read about. When EbZ came out, I heard a ton about the box, and I will concur. The box is brilliant! Awesome concept. The art in the game is also really cool. I personally enjoy the game, and feel it is a cool twist to the deck building game. It also is quite thematic in my opinion. What makes this more of a "meh" game is most people I've introduce it to was not really liking it. My wife did not like it at all, and even my gaming friends were luke warm to it. So that is a too bad. I was hoping to find another nice filler, but I'm not sure if EbZ has hit the mark.


March was a quieter month when it comes to playing new games. Actually it was a quieter month for gaming overall for me.

Until next month...

Game on,
Randall



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63. Board Game: Mission: Red Planet [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:513]
Gareth Reynolds
New Zealand
Christchurch
Canterbury
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Six new games played during March, all played just the once apart from Mission: Red Planet.

2 Mission: Red Planet
Feels something like a cross between Citadels and Race for the Galaxy in card selection for each round. Some double think as you try and work out what your opponents might have chosen and how that could affect your choice.
Ensuring much presence on Mars seems like it should be a priority and I failed in that during both games I played. Like a lot of games knowing what is potentially in the cards (Discovery?) will lead to better play but you can still do well without knowing what's there.
It's quite likely that the theme is significantly responsible for how I view the game but this is obviously the best of the six in my opinion.

1 Condottiere
From just one game it seems the most important thing will be to know when to compete and when to bow out. I didn't seem to choose well in any of the rounds of the game I played.

1 Top Secret Spies
A hidden role game where you're trying to convince the other players you are any colour other than the colour you actually are. More than half of us were new in the game I played, and after three or four rounds at least half of us wanted to give up and play something else.

1 Knights
Very high on luck with a Yachtzee type mechanic. Might work well to kill time as there's almost no setup but in many cases I'd rather just spend the time setting up for whatever game would get played after.

1 Lancaster
Too long and involved for me to have a good grasp after just the one game, but I enjoyed my first play. I also seem to have a problem keeping end game scoring in new games, this has a bonus for getting a lot of different noble supporters and I forgot about that until the end of the game.

1 Spy Alley
Roll-and-move but with some choices when it comes to purchasing decoy items. I probably won't want to play again any time soon but I did enjoy the game I played, winning probably helped.
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64. Board Game: Battlestar Galactica [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:29]
Erin Sparks
United States
Garden City
Michigan
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Galactica wins out this month. Our first game had 2 very timid Cylons and a few rules oopsies (EQUAL TO or more than 8 for the Kobol card...) so that first game almost doesn't count. In the second game, the Cylons did better (I was one of them) and ran the fuel out just prior to the final jump. I think it does go on a jussst little long for what it is and some players were in situations where they couldn't contribute for periods of time. I think it's worth playing more to see how we do once we're more experienced. At present, it seems that Cylons who know when to be aggressive would be tough to beat. I'm interested in opinions as to how worthwhile the expansions are.

Star Trek: Fleet Captains is my other new game for March. We really enjoyed it though, as the Klingon, I think I had an easier time winning than the Federation. I'll see if it seems that way after several plays. Very interested to try with 4, too.
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65. Board Game: Principato [Average Rating:6.32 Overall Rank:2083]
William Donks
Netherlands
Sprang-Capelle
Noord-Brabant
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Fortuna 2x
Principato NEW
Power Grid - First Sparks
Railroad Tycoon
Monsterfalle 2x NEW
Friday 2x NEW
Ora et Labora NEW
Hawaï NEW
Stone Age
Dolfje Weerwolfje - The Boardgame
Chicken Cha Cha Cha
The Resistance
The Castle of the Devil NEW
Unpublished Prototype NEW
A Game of Thrones
Java
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66. Board Game: Ascension: Storm of Souls [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:312] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
James Keith
United States
Oakland
California
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The Good


Ascension: Storm of Souls - thumbsupthumbsup (5 Plays)

I've been very impressed with Ascension thus far, and Storm of Souls only furthers my fondness for it. The Events, Trophy Monsters and Fanatics add some neat variety to the game, though they do get a bit diluted if mixed in with the base game or Return of the Fallen. An excellent expansion to a great game.





2 de Mayo - thumbsupthumbsup (2 Plays)

I was surprised at how speedy this was for a fairly tactical experience. The special cards add some randomness but definitely spice up the proceedings. I think I will always be impressed by games that initially sound very involved but end up being very snappy, and 2 de Mayo is no exception. A neat 2 player game.





Thunderstone Advance - thumbsupthumbsup (2 Plays)

Fixes so much of the minor gripes I've had with the Thunderstone series thus far. The new base cards are a welcome change, the Prepare action really helps with future turn planning, and the graded monsters along with the Village limits really help to move the game along. My only complaint is that using an intelligent randomizer with the new cards almost makes it *too* streamlined, as the last game I played saw us cleaning house (playing on the wilderness side probably also contributed to this, as it's extra rank blew out the stats on one of our heroes with rank bonuses). Still, an excellent improvement on the current iteration of the game.





Reef Encounter - thumbsupthumbsup (1 Play)

I was fully prepared for a bunch of brain-burn with this one, but was happy to find most of its mechanics eminently graspable. The ins-and-outs of growing and eating coral (as well as controlling how much they'll be worth by games end) provide some deliciously tough decisions. It's a neat (but slightly involved) abstract with a cute theme.





BSG Express - thumbsupthumbsup (1 Play)

Very surprising to find this an excellent distillation of the base game. Replacing the skill cards with dice alters the game somewhat (the timing of rolling and submitting had to be changed to allow for plausible deniability for the traitors), but by-and-large it ports over all the tenseness, paranoia and fun of the original. Also works surprisingly well with 3, though I'm really interested to try it with 5.





San Juan - thumbsupthumbsdown (3 Plays)

Was interested in trying one of the earlier role selection games, and San Juan didn't disappoint. While a much lighter experience than RtfG or GtR, the role selection still shines through with the same crunchy decisions as in its more complex brethren. Even with the (admittedly well done) expansion cards, I'm not too sure as to it's longevity, though it remains and excellent bit of light gaming.





Mundus Novus - thumbsupthumbsdown (4 Plays)

A light trading game, while at first blush it may seem to offer some medium-weight strategic play it may disappoint with it's lack of depth. It's got some clever mechanisms and on it's own it's pretty decent super filler, but don't go in expecting intricate player interaction.

The OK


Perry Rhodan: The Cosmic League - thumbsupthumbsup (1 Play)

Merchant of Venus: The Card Game, full stop. Surprisingly viable as a two player game, and just as charming.





Power Grid: France/Italy Map - thumbsupthumbsup (1 Play)

We tried the Italy map: I liked the cleaner art design and the altered starting market made things interesting. Will need to play it with different areas chosen to see if that impacts the game (we chose all the northern provinces with cheap connecting costs for our one play).





St. Petersburg - thumbsupthumbsdown (2 Plays)

Dry as a bone, but tactically and strategically fascinating. Like San Juan, however, I wonder how many plays I might get out of it before it gets stale. Strategy seems to be fairly straightforward (once you've got a hang of the upgrades, scripted plays might become more of an issue), and while the moving parts fit together nicely, I could see myself getting tired of the game after a while.

The Meh


Marvin Marvel's Marvelous Marble Machine - thumbsupthumbsdown (1 Play)

Goofy, chaotic fun. Nothing very deep, good family fare. It's fun to build convoluted methods of marble dispersal, but those looking for a strategic game should steer clear.





The Ares Project - thumbsdownthumbsdown (1 Play)

Not my kind of game, too many wargame elements to really appeal to me, and way too fiddly. I can appreciate the design of the various mechanisms, but learning was a chore and battles were filled with too much micro-management (even for me!). I wouldn't mind it so much if it wasn't such an involved affair, but as it is it just doesn't do anything for me.
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67. Board Game: Cargo Noir [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:1143]
Guido Van Horn
United States
Othello
Washington
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6 new to me games this month.

My favorite was Cargo Noir, after first reading about this one I put it on my want to play list, and I finally got the chance to play it the other day. I had read some mixed reviews on it, and I was just a bit apprehensive. However I thought it was great. I liked the bid mechanism, but felt there was enough flexibility that you didn't get locked down. I would definitely play this again, and I'm thinking of putting this on my want to buy list.



Next was Diamant I have played several rounds of Incan Gold, but very technically I had never played this. I like the meeple drop better than the cards in Incan Gold, but I actually like the artifacts wrinkle...but this was a very good game with a group that were all into it. so


Then it was Zooloretto I have played several games of Coloretto and the game is pretty the same with a few added things and theme. Not to speak ill of anyone, but I didn't enjoy playing with the people I played with, they were much too nice and I don't think the game is best played that way, but I would play it again.



Click Clack Lumberjack

Umm, this was a blast, and I think I might pick it up, great for all ages, and just a pure game of silliness and dexterity. Sure it's all sugar and no substance, but still fun.



6 nimmt!

Ummm...yeah. I'd probably play it again...but I think the game is a little too random and infuriating to make it a staple.




The Struggle for Catan

I wished it was better, my wife loves Catan, but often we are gaming just together, and the boardgame 2 player just doesn't work very well. This was ok, and we'll probably break it out again, but there's just something missing.


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68. Board Game: London [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:171]
James Webb
United Kingdom
Canterbury
Kent
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I picked up a few games during January thanks to a Maths Trade and Cancon, and March was the first chance I had to play a couple of them.

I'd been intrigued by London last year, and as a Prisoner Of Mother England living down under I'm something of an Anglophile when it comes to game themes. I'd lived in London for a few years and, though I did actually get tired of the place, I'm a sucker for games that let me think "Ooooo! I've been there! I know that place". Also, after the 'Meh' feelings of playing Perikles and Liberté, I played Brass and fell in love with Martin Wallace.

I played two games of London in March - one three-player and one four-player. Both games came in around the 90 minute mark, and I really enjoyed it both times. Lots of game crammed into an hour and a half. After two games, this has replaced Brass as my favourite Wallace game and could possibly be in my top five.

I feel a bit bad that I enjoyed this so much, because it takes a little shine off the next game that I played...

Indonesia.

I picked up one of the few remaining copies in Australia at Cancon after posting a thread asking for recommendations for heavy economic games. After reading the rules, I wasn't sure if it was exactly the sort of thing that I was after - it seemed a bit abstract to me - but we tried a four-player game.

We didn't quite get through it all (I had to leave), but we played for about two-and-a-half hours and got into Age C. We may have been able to wrap it up within the next hour. At the end, the game got a bit fiddly, with us all trying to work out ways of maximising our sales while minimising the amount of money we'd have to pay rival shipping companies. The map is not especially user-friendly either - tokens needing to fit into provinces that are a bit too small for them; not immediately clear lines of demarcation etc. However, despite this, this is an amazing game and would have been my pick of the month if it weren't for London, and to be honest, I'm not entirely certain that I like it more than Indonesia. I'm very much looking forward to playing this again.

Other games I played this month...

Ascension: Return of the Fallen: I like Ascension: Deckbuilding Game, and this is more of the same. A good game, but nothing new.

Dust Tactics: Again, good but not outstanding. An enjoyable enough game with some sweet minis.

Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game: I may have played this in February, but I don't remember. This is a very good game; the kind of thing that will need to happen more often to stop deck-building getting any more stale than it already is. Superior to Rune Age.
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69. Board Game: Galaxy Trucker [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:86]
Alberto Casarrubios
Spain
Madrid
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This was one of the most fun game experiences I've had in a long time. The real-time Tetris-like ship building is something really original and welcome for a much needed change of pace. The race phase, although random, has a lot of fun moments when you see yours and your oponents' ships become destroyed. I really look forward to playing it again.

Alien Frontiers

A nice, light dice euro. I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more had I not played Kingsburg before. AF is simpler and more streamlined than Kingsburg, but also less variable. Very good game, just not spectacular. Special mention to the board and card art, which really provide the retro-scifi feel.

Mundus Novus

This game feels like a filler, but it last a tad longer than that (around 45 minutes). Anyway, the art and quality of the cards is very good, rules are simple enough to teach very easily, and the trading mechanism is original. This is a perfect coffee-time game to play while socializing.
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70. Board Game: Hansa Teutonica [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:74]
Lucian Pleianu
Romania
Cluj Napoca
Cluj
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March was a very good month for me. No less than 8 new games tried. There have been some good finds, but a couple that left me equally unimpressed. So, here we go (tough choice for the title "best new game this month", but in the end I went with ...):


Hansa Teutonica - 1 play thumbsupthumbsup



Though I only played this game once, with a couple of friends that played the game before, I thoroughly enjoyed it. So many options each turn, so few actions; a brilliant euro, if you like this type of games. Even if the options can feel overwhelming, at least over the first few turns, when you don't really understand what's what and why it will help on the long run, by the time you get past the middle of the game, it all starts to come along nicely. Love the design, would love to get this to the table more often, to see how it stand multiple plays.


Hammer of the Scots - 1 play thumbsupthumbsup



If it wasn't for Hansa Teutonica this month, HotS would have probably topped my lists on many other months. This game is all kinds of goods. It's tense, back and forth, you need to be really careful at what the other player is doing. Gotta plan your moves a few "cards" in advance, if you want to do well and not be surprised ... And my copy of the game has an interesting story to it. I've bought it a couple of years back, but haven't had anyone to play it with. When a friend asked if I don't want to sell it to him, I agreed with one condition: when he buys it, we play the game. Now, to be honest, I deeply regret selling it.


Confusion: Espionage and Deception in the Cold War - 3 plays thumbsupthumbsup



Now this is one game that is looking absolutely stunning when laid on the table. Not that this takes anything away from the game play, it only adds to it. The tactile sensations when playing the game, the pieces weight ... you need to try it to understand for yourself. I knew I'd like this game ever since I watched the first review for it - and it didn't disappoint. If only I could find someone willing to play more back-to-back games.


Animal upon Animal - 4 plays thumbsupthumbsup



Bought this one for my 4yo daughter, hoping she will like it. Well, she absolutely love it. And it's not a bad game for adults either. My wife wanted a rematch after I won the third straight game If you have a kid and think they'll be even remotely interested in board games, this one is a winner! Go grab one copy. Now!



Blue Moon - 1 play thumbsup



Only one game and we played it with a wrong set of rules (I didn't get the cards back in hand - there are some cards having a symbol which states you can get them back once the "fight" is over). I guess this will go up in ratings once I'll play it with the correct rules, it looks to be a really intriguing design.


Alea Iacta Est - 1 play thumbsup



For what this game is intended to be, I really much like it. I know, I know, I'm a sucker for dice games and that could bias my opinion, but it felt "nice" to play the game. Roll all, go for senate cards, grab a province, see if you can get some patricians ... Really liked the game. Another one that might go up with more plays. I'm always on the lookout for quick playing dice games.


Star Trek: Fleet Captains - 3 plays thumbsupthumbsdown



Mixed feelings about this one. The game miniatures look brilliant when laid on the table ... but some of them are simply stuck. Had to use a knife the remove the imperfections from the dial base to get them to move. The cards are flimsy and the location tiles could be heavy cardboard instead of the slim card stock used. And the game feels unbalanced at first, the Klingonians look to be at a heavy disadvantage. But again, this game look soooo cool, I really want to like it ... Don't know how many chances I'll give it though.

Rex: Final Days of an Empire - 1 play thumbsdown



Now this game was a huge "Meh" for me. Probably the hype got me to expect much more from it, but when sat down to play it, I didn't like it one bit. Can't point exactly why or what didn't click, but I was just happy once we got to clear the table. Could have been that we played it with a couple of rules wrongly and for that I am willing to give this game another chance, but it needs to do very well the next game, to change my mind. Oh well, can't like them all
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71. Board Game: Ora et Labora [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:44]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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After returning from a year-long trip around the world, I had lots of new games to catch up on this month.

Ora et Labora (2 plays) 7

My gift from Secret Santa last year. I had to wait until I returned home in March to even see it, let alone play it.
Similar to Le Havre, which took me a while to get into and still isn’t a favourite. Ora et Labora adds a spatial element to the game which I appreciate. As in Le Havre, you really need to know what cards are going to come up later in the game to be competitive. But OeL seemed easier to learn because even without this knowledge, you can always aim for maximising your settlements and cloister points: a more intuitive goal. It helped that I was learning along with Kate, so neither of us had the advantage of knowing what we were doing in advance. Currently enjoying this one and keen to play again.


Blood Bowl: Team Manager (1 play) 7

The theme of Blood Bowl (give or take) with the rules of Schotten-Totten (give or take). In practice, this felt like an Ameritrash Louis XIV: contest and win regions to gain special powers and VPs, rinse and repeat. I enjoyed it (although not as much as Louis XIV) and fantasy monsters wrestling over spiked balls appeals more to my gaming group than French courtly intrigue so I can see this getting more plays.


A Few Acres of Snow (1 play) 7

One play as the French. I've tried to avoid reading strategy discussions for this game so as to not spoil it for myself. Like several other Martin Wallace games where you're presented with a menu of actions to choose from, I was utterly bewildered for the first half of the game. After that, it began to dawn on me what I should have added to my deck (or not) and I regretted some of my earlier decisions but looked forward to my next play. I enjoyed this a lot but it took a good deal longer than advertised. Hopefully the playing time can be reduced with practice.

We used the first version of the rules without incorporating any of Martin’s updates and as long as it’s playing well for us under those rules, I’ll keep using them.


The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game (1 play) 6

This was on my list as a "try before buying" game and after my one play, I don’t feel the need to own it, though I’m more than happy to play occasionally with a friend’s copy. A co-operative deck-builder is a nice idea but I think each player would have to devote a good chunk of time to creating their own deck if you want to avoid that perennial problem of one player dictating strategy to the others. I’m also not keen on buying into the regular expansions which I think are necessary to avoid it becoming stale. It got the theme right and worked as a team challenge. Good, but not great.


Pictomania (2 plays) 7

Another foray into the realm of party games by Vlaada Chvatil. Essentially simultaneous Pictionary, this has gone down very well with both family and gamers. It’s the right length, it keeps everyone involved throughout and provides plenty of laughs and groans, as a good party game should. I like it.


Last Will (1 play) 6

From reading the rules, I thought this game would play a bit quicker than it did. I was expecting a game of card combos in the style of Race for the Galaxy, and maybe it will become this with multiple plays, but I’d underestimated how much decision-making is involved with the planning board. Although the theme is fun (reminiscent of not only Brewster’s Millions but also Go For Broke, which I used to enjoy as a youngster), I didn’t have illusions of it being particularly different from any other money engine game, just in reverse this time. I did pretty badly, buying too many properties that became hard to get rid of, and played very inefficiently. The top two players both had cards which allowed them extra actions and card draws, which seem to be high priorities for future games. I’m not sure you can compete without them: actions are so limited. I’m keen to try it again in order to improve on my poor performance, so I can see this getting several short-term plays but I don’t see it having much staying power in the long run.


Hanabi (3 plays) 6

It has been getting lots of buzz on the Geek so I found some Magic uncommons and made a deck to try it out. With two players, it seemed OK but I haven’t yet seen any of the mega awesome subtleties that everyone was raving about. Perhaps I need to try it with more players?

Dominion: Hinterlands (1 play) 7
A non-essential, "more of the same" expansion. It was nice enough but I have plenty of Dominion cards already.

About Time (1 play) 5.5
Party trivia game in which historical knowledge is required. Lots of random elements and some take-that plays, so not to be taken seriously. Reasonable for the sort of game it is, but felt about 30 minutes too long, and its duration is unpredictable, subject to dice rolls and how good players are at answering the questions.

Villa Paletti (1 play) 5
One of the Spiels des Jahres I hadn't played. It was OK but I’d rather play Bausack if I want a dexterity stacking game. This doesn't add much more to the genre. I can’t see myself ever playing this again, so to me it just represents one more tick on the list of SdJ games.

Sitting Ducks Gallery (1 play) 5
A silly filler, similar to Guillotine. In my one play I felt short-changed being the only player not to draw the "Resurrect One Duck" card. I was probably taking it too seriously.

Junior Alpha Animals (1 play) 5
A kids’ game of naming and impersonating animals. How many animals starting with X, Y or Z can you think of? It wasn’t great as children’s games go, but the younger players enjoyed it and the adults that weren’t playing got to laugh at our grunting and jumping around! I’d play it again, if required.

Reiner Knizia's Amazing Flea Circus (1 play) 4
We’ll stick the designer’s name in the title so his fans notice and buy it. Not one of his greatest designs - takes longer to explain the rules than to play. Perhaps it has hidden depths?
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72. Board Game: Kingdom Builder [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:332]
Gordon Robinson
United Kingdom
Sutton Coldfield
West Midlands
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Only 2 new to me games this month which is normally below the threshold for me to feel worthy of adding to this list but they were significant games so I'll join in

Kingdom Builder 9/10
This is just my kind of game. A clever design, I like it that you only need to learn the rules for the cards and boards in play, this makes it an easier sell to my rules averse family. It is like Dominion in this regard. The more I play the more I like. This is turning into a challenging thinker of a game that still feels light.

Rex: Final Days of an Empire 5/10
Not my thing. It takes 3 plus hours to play and it is all rather messy. Rarely does any game featuring cards and play aids with blocks of text on them work for me. The whole picking on each other AT thing doesn’t sit well with our group either. I will concede that for a once in a while 6 player romp it is fun.

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73. Board Game: Thunderstone Advance: Towers of Ruin [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:164]
Jason Birzer
United States
Burke
Virginia
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Man, it has been a weak couple of months. I played no new games last month, and only one this month.

I'm a huge fan of Thunderstone, so I had to check out Advance to see what kind of revisions they made. Personally, I think it is a mixed bag. The Regular/Longspear combo is a minor improvement, but I don't see it making Regular any less expendable than Militia. (To be fair, I'm not one who automatically destroys Militia cards and find them useful on a case-by-case basis. Same goes with Regular.)

I also continue to dislike the new card design. I feel that the monster cards are less readable than in the original. Also, the attribute text is way too small. It seemed like every time the dungeon got updated we had to carefully examine the cards.

On the plus side, the village slots and monster levels should help make better mixes. I don't think it is a replacement for the Intelligent Randomizer, but it should help. Also, the Thunderstone Shards should be a bit more useful than Iron Rations (Tho, I have often found good uses for Iron Rations in the past)

The rest is learning the cards, which takes time.
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74. Board Game: Dungeon Twister 2: Prison [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:617]
Gudjon Torfi Sigurdsson
Iceland
Isafjordur
Isafjardarbaer
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- Dungeon Twister 2: Prison

Only one new game to me this month, but such a fun game for me. I bought it solely for the solo version (hehe, get it?!), and I wasn't disappointed. Tried out the first three tutorial scenarios (playing both sides) and then I read through the fourth and fifth before I played two solo games. Both of them on easiest level (pink) and quite easy to win. In the second one I only uncovered half of the dungeon!

Dungeon Twister 2: Prison is not what could be classified as a classic dungeon crawler, but still it gives me the feeling of being a member of a party in a roleplaying game, trying to use the objects acquired to the best of your ability. In this game you've got 8 rooms face down that you can uncover during the course of the game. When they are uncovered a total of three items/characters/npc's appear in the room, and you can never be sure what mixture you get. Your object is to get 5 victory points before the game, either by slaying the npc's or exiting through the dungeon to the other side. The algorithm for the npc's behaviour is quite novel and works well, although it takes a while to grow accustomed to.

I foresee playing this one more often, it's different enough from Runebound while having a fantasy theme. I might even play it two player as well, although that might be harder to manage.
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75. Board Game: Eclipse [Average Rating:8.09 Overall Rank:10]
Paul Goodsell
United States
Hilsboro
United States
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Eclipse
I got to play Eclipse at GameStorm -- the Portland/Vancouver annual gaming convention. I like space theme and Civ/4x games in general, but was worried that this game was over-hyped -- it is already at #6 on the geek.

Well, it lives up to its hype. It is a big game that plays smoothly without a lot of down time. Good theme, different tech options seemed to balance each other out. I'll have to pick this up when a new printing becomes available.

Merchant of Venus

Continuing the space theme, I also got to play Merchant of Venus -- on a beautiful Dathkadan version from Print and Play productions. Hopefully, the reprint coming out will look as good.

The game shows its age -- the movement system in particular seems antiquated -- but it's still a good game. It might drag with a full complement of players, but with three, it seemed to move along and provide a lot of theme in a relatively light economic racing game.

Outpost

My final space themed game from GameStorm. Outpost is also a economic racing game. Add in an auction mechanic for acquiring tech to build up your economic engine and you have a fairly modern game (though it still feels dated). The biggest problem is that the game may be too mathy for many players.

Vanuatu
 

Vanuatu is the other big game from GameStorm and contended with Eclipse for best game of the month. It's a tight economic worker placement game with a lot of player interaction. Depending on your turn order and placement, you may be able to prevent other player actions -- lots of double and triple thinking your opponents. A great game.

Modern Art

Modern Art was the first of three light auction games this month and the most popular with my group. You take turns putting pieces of art (cards from your hand) up for auction. Each card will indicate the auction mechanic used for that piece. The more popular an artist is, the more it will be worth at the end of the round, where you sell your art for money. The values for each round are cumulative, so you may want to save some of your art for a later round. In the end whoever has the most money wins.

Lascaux

Lascaux was also a hit. The components are top notch with chunky pieces of abalone shell for the counters and high quality card stock and cardboard for the rest. The insert becomes a part of the game. The graphics (based on the primitive cave paintings from Lascaux) were off-putting for one person in our group, but for everyone else was an attractive feature.

The object of this game is to collect the most of each of the different animal drawings. Each card has two of six possible colors. After cards are laid out for each round, you secretly chose a color tile representing what you will bid for. Then go around in order either putting a counter into a bowl or take all of the counters from it. When you do, you place your color tile (which you secretly choose after the cards for the auction are revealed) onto a stack. Last one in the auction will get their color choice and then down through the stack till all of the cards are gone.

Overall, a good fun light filler.

Don

Don was less successful. It felt the most abstracted and we were probably too tired to take this one on when we did.

Memoir '44

Memoir 44 Played half a game during the convention, between other games. Not really enough time to form an opinion.

Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 2 – India & Switzerland

Played the India map this month (after playing Switzerland last month). This may replace TtR:NC for my favorite version. The need to create loops makes for a mad scramble to get to the cities you need -- the map felt tight with three players.

Also at game storm played an unpublished game and two RPGs.

Unpublished Prototype
Touchdown is a rummyesque card game with a light (American) football theme. Take a card and discard a card while trying to be the first to collect all cards of one color. The cards represent football plays with various points. There were also some penalties that could be played on other players. At the end of each round, you get points for one color and subtract points for others. Play eight rounds for one game. I thought this had some commercial potential, but is not a game for gamers.

Mouse Guard

Mouse Guard. In this session, we went through character creation and then played a short scenario that showed movement, combat and how characters interact with each other and the world. It seems like a good system for single sessions and/or small campaigns. Enjoyed it immensely.

The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game

Dresden Files. I had almost exactly the opposite experience with this RPG compared to Mouse Guard. The DM started with characters were about 75% done and a relatively big scenario already generated. The characters were too arch and their aspects were not integrated into the scenario. Only one of the characters earned a fate point from use of their aspects -- in a six hour game. The completion of the characters was not done interactively, so the result was that we didn't know how to play them or how to interact with other players.

The scenario was a combination of comic book fantasy and generic RPG with one major Dresden character thrown in for flavor. By the end of the session, it had become a generic fight in a dungeon, with no real interaction between the players. The pity is that all of the players were fans of the Dresden universe and at least somewhat familiar with the mechanics of the Dresden RPG. What a wasted opportunity.
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