New To You August 2012 => Best new boardgame
What new board and card games did you play in August 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
Videogames New To You August 2012
New to you a year ago Aug 12 => Has it stood the test of time?
Games only YOU have played in August 2012
Your Most Played Game (and more): August 2012
New to Your Kids August 2012 - best new games you've played with your kids, and why
Your best gaming experience and why August 12
Out of the Dust, August 2012
Board Game: Hawaii
[Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:354]
♬♪♪ ♫ ♩ ♫♫♪ ♩♬♪ ♫
All reality is a game. Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance... (Iain Banks)
Good games this month!
Power Grid: Québec/Baden-Württemberg
Québec/Baden-Württemberg is a limited edition expansion for Power Grid. The maps have been available previously as promotional items, and they have just been released together. I played the Québec map a couple of years ago; it didn't impress me. The Baden-Württemberg map looked much more interesting, and this proved to be true.
There are some minor tweaks to the rules: a few "off-map" cities (i.e. Strasbourg) only become available in Step 2, and if no plants are bought at auction, the two lowest value are removed. The off-map cities are a nice addition.
There is also a more significant rule change for the Baden-Württemberg map: turn order is adjusted after power plants are auctioned, rather than before. This nearly derailed my plans for a sudden, game ending lunge- fortunately my opponents paid over the odds for their own plants!
Baden-Württemberg is a fun map to play, and the changes are enough to make it quite distinctive. This isn't the first expansion I recommend*, but it is definitely worthwhile for fans of the game.
It has been hard to find copies of Hawaii in Melbourne, and few people seem to play it. After several passes through the rulebook, and a solo session to make sure I understood what I read, I introduced the game a couple of weeks ago. There are a lot of details and many things to consider - and it's hard to teach! But perseverance is rewarded: it is an excellent game, albeit rather fiddly.
Picture courtesy henk.rolleman
Many pieces to setup prior to play.
But who builds boats in the middle of an island?
Briefly, players have five rounds to purchase tiles. Some points are scored at this time, but the majority are scored at end of game for combinations and synergies between tiles. Management of the resources used to purchase tiles is key. Through the game, economics are very tight and it is easy to go broke. In order to purchase tiles players must pay the travel cost required to reach the board element where they are available. The board is modular, with many arrangements possible - consequently there is plenty of variety between games.
There is a lot of rather fiddly setup before play can start, and packing-up is complicated too. The rules are lengthy, but clear and well set out. Hawaii is not a terribly difficult game to teach or learn, but for a Euro it is pretty complex. I would probably not use it to introduce a newcomer to gaming.
Sticheln is difficult to find in Australia, and the cost of importing such a simple cardgame has always seemed prohibitive. Nevertheless, I have always wanted to play because the rules sound deceptively simple. I was fortunate to play a three player game last week, and Sticheln is a pleasantly cruel sister to Spades. A game where you can hang opponents out to dry. It made me giggle.
But it turns out I am glad I never ordered a copy, because the printed deck is impossible for colourblind players. With three players some colours are removed from play, and this made it possible. Otherwise - no good.
If you like Hearts, or better yet Ninety-Nine, and you have normal vision, then try Sticheln.
I may well make my own copy!
Mord im Arosa
Picture courtesy yominion
Everyone looks guilty on Level 3
It was not a good idea to play Mord next to a game of Vegas Showdown.
I don't know of any game like Mord im Arosa. Players build a tapering tower out of nested boxes. There is a central hole, through which cubes may be dropped. Each box represents a floor on the Arosa Hotel. Two red cubes stand in for murder victims- they are dropped into the shaft, and players listen carefully, trying to note which floors they stop on. Then more cubes get dropped-in for each player. The idea is to successfully note where your opponents cubes are, so as to point suspicion at them, or to find your own cubes, so you can conceal evidence. Cubes are constantly added and recycled through the lift-shaft, so it gets complicated.
I was worried that cubes would fall down the hole whenever we tried to lift a floor to investigate, but we must all have surgeon hands because it didn't happen once. Much more of an issue was noise- the Vegas players were pretty quiet, all things considered, but it was still very difficult to hear the tipple-topple of tiny clues.
There isn't much strategy - "listen attentively" sums it up. But it is different, and it was fun when people made guesses that were completely wrong.
Dominant Species: The Card Game
I was very excited when DS:tCG was first announced, hoping for a card game as challenging as Dominant Species. DS is complex, has deep play and can take quite a while to finish. None of these things are true of DS:tCG. That's not really a criticism, but forewarned is forearmed.
DS:tCG is played over ten rounds. Each round is effectively one large "trick": play one card at a time, adding to a running total for each player. Highest total wins the points for this round. There are cards that zap other cards, or change the scoring slightly, or provide short-term buffs. Scores escalate and the last round features bonus cards for the players in the lead.
It is very simple. There is quite a bit of luck, and table talk and taunting is almost mandatory. Play should be fast, and I think DS:tCG outstays its welcome a little, but not much. It is an OK end-of-evening filler.
King of Tokyo
Toys. Fantastic bits, cool new dice... it's a simple game, but looks so good I almost bought a copy. The players control giant monsters that battle to live in Tokyo. Roll dice, score hits on one another, heal, gain special powers, and/or score points. King of Tokyo takes about five minutes per player, and would be perfect for teenagers. It was very good for our group of tired thirty and forty-somethings.
Original image rsolow
Property prices are ridiculous: monsters fight one another for an affordable lease.
Players roll their dice, then can elect to re-roll some or all of them twice. After three rolls they must accept what they have. This removes the all-or-nothing aspect of many similar games, and adds a little strategy (i.e. do I try to collect points this turn, or attack the other players? Silly question: kill, kill, kill!). You win by reaching 20 points, or being the last one standing.
The theme is great- wiping-out Aneirin's hitpoints is more interesting than stealing a high value worm from her. KoT is more fun than Can't Stop, but really only a step removed. Zombie Dice and Martian Dice are not as cool, but they take up less space.
Lost Temple didn't really excite me. The players are racing through the jungle to get to the eponymous Temple. Each round they change identities (?!) and get different special powers. Some of the different characters can attack the others, although character selection is by secret draft so there is a degree of randomness.
In other words, it is Citadels on a racetrack.
I like Citadels, especially with smaller player counts. Lost Temple seemed comparatively chaotic, although it was brisk to play. Another game I will play again, but I am not champing at the bit to do so.
After a year off, I returned to Gen Con this month. I met up with some friends from BGG and tried lots of new games.
Biblios (7 plays): My expectations for Biblios were not terribly high. It seems to be a polarizing game, and many of my favorites are card games (Innovation, Dominion, Race, Battle Line) so it's tough for a new card game to crack the lineup. I bought the game on impulse at the CoolStuffInc booth at Gen Con, and I'm very glad that I did. It puts forth a very interesting and unique play experience from a fairly simple ruleset. For the uninitiated, a very brief overview of the 2-player game:
There are 5 colors of cards in the game, and owning majority in a given color is worth VP at the game's end (they are all worth 3 VP initially, but there are cards that let a player increase or decrease the worth of a color). Right there, it's a tug of war over a small number of objectives (see Battle Line and Magnate for examples of this mechanism - I love these games!). Anyhow, three of the colors have only 1's and 2's, while the other two colors have 2's, 3's and 4's. Also in the game are money cards and cards that let you change the VP value of a color. On your turn, you draw a card and decide whether it goes to yourself, your opponent or into the auction pile. You'll be drawing 3 cards and each location must get exactly 1 card. There's definitely a push-your-luck element in deciding which card goes where, as that 3rd card can only go in one location so you'd better hope that you're not giving a great card to your opponent or a lousy one to yourself.
Once all the cards have been handed out, players will take turns bidding on the cards in the auction pile, one at a time. You bid on cards using money cards, and you bid on money cards by discarding cards from your hand. Once auction pile is gone, you compare the value of your cards in each color and hand out VPs.
I love this game. The way the cards are assigned, the way you get to see 2/3 of the cards initially and have to try to deduce your opponent's hand is brilliant. There's no point in dominating a color if your opponent isn't bothering with it, and sometimes you can steal a few VP if your opponent is ignoring a color. The way you alter the VP value of the various colors over the course of a game sends signals too. If you drop the value of red down a couple of times, I can assume you're not bothering with it and try to keep just a couple of cards. If you bring the value of red up, I know to either not bother with it, or know that it is going to be a dogfight.
The 2-player game (the only way I've played so far) takes about 15-20 minutes. Now, I'm not familiar with Scripts & Scribes (the original version of this game) but I love the Iello release of Biblios. I like the artwork, I like the chunky dice (used to track the VP values of the colors) and I love the box - it looks like a book and it stays shut with a magnet. I can see this one staying in my collection permanently.
Dominion: Dark Ages (4 plays): I've only scratched the surface with this expansion, but so far I love it. This one is built around the trashing mechanism in Dominion - this set has cards that do things when they're trashed, cards that bring stuff out of the trash, cards that care about what's in the trash and so on. This set has its own unique feel more than any set I've played since Prosperity. It's a welcome addition to the Dominion family, even if the damned thing has finally outgrown its box. I also picked up the replacement base cards for Dominion - new treasure and victory cards with artwork on them. I felt like a sucker, but it's one of my favorite games and the new artwork is beautiful.
Seasons (1 play): I'm giving this one the benefit of the doubt. I got to demo it on Sunday afternoon at Gen Con, and was disappointed that their entire stock sold out within the first hour on Thursday. Anyhow, it's a card game with drafting, nice chunky dice and a seasonal changing element that makes some things more effective or valuable based on the current season. My demo was a 4-player game, and it had a bit much downtime for me in that configuration. Or rather, I don't much care about what my opponents are doing on their turns. I think it'll make a very nice 2-player game, though. I plan on securing a copy soon (I'll probably do an auction to fund Seasons and Trajan).
Trajan (1 play): Another game getting the benefit of the doubt after 1 play. I think it would make a better 2-player game than the 4-player game I played (sound familiar?) as the downtime was prohibitive. It's definitely a soulless Stefan Feld point salad game, but I like those and this was no exception. It definitely has a much larger rules overhead and longer playing time than his others that my wife I enjoy (Notre Dame, Castles of Burgundy). I spent my first game living in the now and grabbing every point I could at every turn. I led the entire way by quite a bit, but lost out in the endgame scoring and fell to third place. The mancala mechanism has no thematic ties to the game at all, but it's neat.
The Speicherstadt (1 play): Feld was 2-for-2 for me this month. The Speicherstadt is, at its heart, an auction game. The cards come out and players take turns placing their mans on the card they want. The twist is that the player at the front of the line must pay 1 coin + 1 coin per man behind them in line or pass. The next player in line may then choose to pay 1 + 1 per man in line or pass and so on. So getting in line behind someone drives the price up on those in front of you, but you might end up not getting the card that is up for bid. Then again, it may fall to you for 1 coin total (if you're last in line and everyone else passes). You need to be able to suss out the intentions of your opponents and play on them. I played with the expansion and liked it, my only concern is whether it works as a 2-player game.
Kolejka (1 play): Neat little Polish game about standing in line at the shops and waiting for crappy goods that might not even arrive that day. It's a set collection game where players queue up and wait for goods to be delivered, and there are cards that screw with the order and deliveries. Not something I'd play all the time, but a fine game for what it is.
Traders of Osaka (1 play): What an odd, counterintuitive little game. I mean that in a good way. There are many facets to manage in the game, and I'd invariably focus on one and forget about another and wind up floundering, trying to recover. I'm not sure how fun I find the game, and I do admire it and find it impressive.
Ascension: Immortal Heroes (1 play): This one feels like a bit of a missed opportunity for me, or like it might be more entertaining for players who don't have the full Ascension collection going on. It is MOAR CARDS and, like with Dominion, that is something I welcome in Ascension. Variety is a good thing. However, the new Soul Gem mechanism is so-so. There are effects in the game that let you draw a card from the Soul Gem deck; these cards must be used that same turn or they are banished. They are carbon copies of the cards from the older Ascension releases. Nothing special. Now, if all I owned was Immortal Heroes, or if I played with it on its own I'd be a little more psyched about the Soul Gems. I do like that they added more events with this release and that they have you keep the event cards in a separate pile - they included placeholder cards to shuffle into the big pile that tell you to replace the current event, which is kind of what we were doing with the events from Storm of Souls. Anyhow, good set.
Extrablatt (1 play): When your current amount of Blatt is insufficient, there is Extrablatt. Pretty neat game, a 20-year old German boardgame about being a newspaper editor. There's a very strong spatial element, some interesting timing (the later you get your article into your paper, the more it's worth - but only if yours is the biggest article on that topic) and some screwage in the form of placing ads in your opponents' paper or putting ducks on their articles (which somehow translates into those articles being revealed to be inaccurate). It's a 2-3 hour game and one I'm not likely to get many chances to play, so I doubt I'd ever want to own it. Still, it's pretty cool and I like theme, so I'm glad I got a chance to play it.
A Fistful of Penguins (3 plays): A light, cute little dice game. There's a strong push-your-luck element (obviously) and adorable little plastic penguins and dice. It has some tongue-in-cheek elements (a moose is worthless by itself, but a moose AND squirrel together are worth points) and neat effects with the dice; for example, at the end of the round you can score your lions OR your other animals but not both. The camels can only be scored if no lions are present. It's too mathy to be a good game for very young children, but should be a good family game once the kids get a little older.
Not so sure...
Lords of Vegas (1 play): This one is good for a light game, and there certainly are decisions to be made and risks to be managed, but it's a little too luck-based for my tastes. I'd play it again, but it's never going to be a favorite.
Kaigan (1 play): An abstract with cards and beautiful artwork, this one had some interesting stuff going on but didn't capture me. I may have been a little burned out from learning new games all day at that point.
Legacy: Gears of Time (1 play): This was the first game I demoed at the con. I like the theme (time travel + advancements throughout history) and the RftG mechanism of discarding cards to play cards (I'd like to see that more) the whole thing didn't quite come together for me. There are many aspects and elements to manage, and I kept forgetting about one detail or another which made my plans fall apart. The game felt like work for me, which is a bummer because I really wanted to enjoy it. Plans in the game seem to be very fragile, and a single loose thread could make the entire thing unravel.
Die Dolmengötter (1 play): Weird little 4-player abstract game about druids, stones and area majority. The scoring rules (and their ramifications) take some time to get your head around. Again, nothing groundbreaking for me, but an interesting game I'd try again.
Finca (1 play): This was a 2-player learning game with my wife. The game honestly didn't do much for me. It was perfectly fine, but I didn't feel any tension from it at all. Now, we were a bit tired so it may have been our mindset at the time. Was the game dull because I wasn't engaged, or was I not engaged because the game is dull? It seems like it might make a nice "first euro" sort of game for kids, so maybe I'll keep it around and teach my daughter one of these days.
Rolling Freight (1 play): Another demo at Gen Con. This one has a pick up and deliver element that is reminiscent of Steam: goods want to go to cities that match their color, you can use other players' rails but they get paid for it. You roll dice that help determine what you can do on your turn, and the routes are built by taking contract cards that come up each turn. This is one of those games that is a quality title and I probably would have loved it had I played it a few years ago, but at this point it felt like just another euro train game.
Vom Kap bis Kairo (1 play): Quick, light, highly portable little card game. Fine for what it is, but nothing special. Might be better with more players (I played the 2-player game).
Filipino Fruit Market (1 play): This was the last game I played on a day that included The Speicherstadt, Inotaizou, Die Golmengotter, Extrablatt, Black Gold and Trajan. So, while I normally like trick-taking games and could see that this one had some unique qualities, my brain was completely fried by this point and I couldn't grok the game at all. Sorry, donkey.
Didn't care for it.
Aeroplanes: Aviation Ascendant (1 play): We demoed this as a 5-player game at the Mayfair booth and were underwhelmed. You buy planes to get airports and, while you can go into the negatives there is no real penalty for doing so. The luck of the passenger draw and the ease of overbuilding someone...I dunno. Nothing about this game made me care. It had no spirit, no blood. I've been told that this game has a lot of parallels with Automobile. I hope that's not true (I own Automobile but have not played it yet).
Eclipse (3 plays): I sort of understand the love for this. I think it fills a niche for a lot of people out there, I'm just not one of them. The game's playtime combined with the randomness in it made me sort of tune out. I'm indifferent to the theme as well. Here are my comments from the last play I logged:
6-player Eclipse lasted all night. I had the Planta. I sat back, explored then defended the galaxy. Never got into a fight and ended up winning when Carl attacked Paul (who had really strong ships) and cost him 5 vp. Boring as fuck.
duck! duck! Go! (1 play): I played a 2-player demo of this, thinking it might be a nice game for our daughter. I know she'd like the ducks, I was just curious whether it would be too frustrating for her. By the end of the game, I was finding it frustrating. You're limited by the movement cards in your hand, and my stupid duck kept hitting the walls and stopping.
Hopefuls for September:
North Salt Lake
A merely so-so month, but it was saved by the first play of one standout game:
The Castles of Burgundy (1 play)
This game is part of my quest to work my wife up towards more and more complicated games. The previous game in this plan was Stone Age, which my wife adores. I picked this and Troyes up at the same time thanks to some recommendations on this very geeklist. We both enjoy the complexity and constant math of risk-reward that Burgundy has. Even if it didn't have all of the extra boards (and we have the Spielbox ones as well) it appears to have many varied possible (and well balanced) strategies open to you.
In our session I probably under-rated the Knowledge tiles, and my wife was able to focus on a Knowledge-Buildings strategy to do really well versus my Animals-Goods strategy.
We're going to enjoy exploring this one--it's superb for two. It feels a lot like a more varied Power Grid experience of strict efficiency, and I don't feel as limited by the dice rolls as I thought I would. Highly recommended. It's inexpensive too.
White Elephant (3 plays)
White Elephant: Mystery Box Promo Cards (2 plays)
Played a session of this, then mixed in the expansion for the next two. Way too simple for my taste, not a lot to the game and consequently, not a lot that one can do to affect their score. While I'm willing to play some simple games of dumb fun (see Farmageddon below), this one for me lacked the fun aspect.
A Dash of Peiper (2 plays)
The second of the Bulge games in the ATO Pocket Battles series. It's nice that a different unit mix gives this game a distinct feel from the first in the series. I keep thinking that this game is biased toward one side or the other, but I keep changing my mind in the same session. I guess that means that it's actually somewhat balanced.
The idea of using playing cards to determine turn order and activation strength (and combat results) means that you can have a lot of unpredictability and fog of war in the same game--it's an interesting feel that I've not quite gotten from another game. This series is well worth the (minimal) investment in time required to learn and play them.
Catan Scenarios: Oil Springs (1 play)
While nice to inject some variety into standard Catan (still enjoyed by my six and eight year old boys), I found this scenario to be lacking in some ways. With a 12 point goal, but diminishing resources throughout the game (if oil is used), or just plain fewer resources to work with (if the oil is only sequestered) 12 points leads to a really, really long game.
Catan: Event Cards (1 play)
The idea behind this expansion appealed to me. Some variety courtesy a couple of mild events that triggered along with a couple of the resource rolls, plus a guaranteed more perfect statistical distribution of the resource rolls. It turns out that I don't know myself very well. I didn't like either of those things. Random events just didn't impress, and often just annoyed, and I missed the unpredictability of sometimes getting a few 12s in a session, whereas each time through the deck you're only going to get one with this set. I think I'm going to trade this one away.
Dominion: Black Market Promo Card (1 play)
Was it worth the trouble? Probably not in our session, which was Action poor. It still was very interesting, and if you can get a powerful card that no one else has, it's very appealing. This card at least has the benefit of changing the flavor of the game quite a bit. I'm glad that we got it.
Dominion: Envoy Promo Card (1 play)
This was very powerful in our session. Early in the game this led to effectively having lots of extra money in hand. With an +1 action-poor selection of Kingdom cards to choose from, money was an even more dominant strategy than usual, and this let one really get a head start on that strategy. I identified this, but for some reason, I got distracted by shiny things (Black Market) and my wife used the Envoy to successfully run away and win comfortably.
Dominion: Stash Promo Card (1 play)
We laid this one out with the other promos in our game, but it was never a more appealing choice to purchase than any of the other kingdom cards. So we never used it. I guess that's a review in itself, of sorts.
Farmageddon (1 play)
Simple, dumb fun. The key is apparently to never build anything that someone else could steal--only figure out ways to snag someone else's crop. This might be the first game I've played where having high point cards in hand is primarily a liability. Perhaps there's more depth to the game that would make it seem less simplistic, but I'm half-convinced that we've plumbed the depths already in our one play. I'd still play it again, I'm just not expecting anything earth-shattering from it.
Sequence (1 play)
Very luck driven (but not in a way that I would enjoy). It was mildly reminiscent of playing Go-Moku, but in a way where you only could play on a couple of the available spots, and those spots were chosen via a dice roll. Not a fan.
This month had a few good finds but again, the definite standout was Castles of Burgundy. I'm hoping to get this to the table again soon.
A great not so much for the new games for me, but playing the ones I really like for example Ora et Labora, Mage Knight, Twilight Imperium and Trajan.
Ticket to Ride: Märklin
There is an added pick-up and delivery element to the game where players are moving passengers. The rules associated with that aren’t hard even though the game takes a little longer to set up. Along with a choice of taking either longer or shorter routes it adds a lot of space for decisions. It makes the game less casual, but also more interesting. Some other maps have rules changes that don’t make that much of a change, but I think it works pretty well.
I don’t seem to be as enamored with this game as many of my friends. While it does its things pretty good it is still a cubepusher with multiple paths to victory. It seems like the game is much about timing your moves right, but also do what other players are not doing. I can’t point to things in the game that I particularly dislike, but neither can I point on things that excite me. Want to try it again and see if I miss something.
The game is about having a party of adventurers that venture between temples fulfilling goals. In a turn, you either play a card to the board (which some player can encounter later), go between temples or use the special ability on the temple you stand on. It felt pretty different, but not as exciting as I hoped it would be. There were also some lockups in our game which felt frustrating. It have the Munchkin problem where it is really hard to win the first battles (which is not necessary but advisable), but too easy at the end of the game.
Scene It? Star Trek
This is my first experience with the Scene it series. And while I did enjoy the game in good company, I don’t like trivia games where you have to have exact knowledge. I prefer games like Chronology, Fauna or Balderdash where you are making estimates or being creative. Generally I thought many of the questions were too hard. The game flowed pretty well and was quick though.
Power Grid: Russia
When experiencing a new Power Grid expansion I’m not really interested in the geography of the board, but other rules connected to the map. While the board influences the game, the same question does occur when playing any map; if I build now, how will it affect the economy in the long run.
The market for power plants has a smaller selection, but if the initiating player passes the lowest valued power plant disappears. That makes it a harder decision to pass especially if there is a reasonably good power plant for sale and speeds up the game. When we played, there was only one round in stage 2. I won by resisting the urge to buy power plants too often and saving money.
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This was a very unique month for me in that the only "new" game I played was an expansion.
Race for the Galaxy: The Brink of War - my rating: 9.5/10
Race For the Galaxy is one of my top 10 favorite games, but after being slightly disappointed with the Rebel vs. Imperium expansion, I hadn't rushed out to buy The Brink of War and even when I did, I let it sit on the shelf. Now I'm sorry I did. This expansions adds a few stand-out features:
- Prestige chips function as another way to get VPs but can also be spent for various significant advantages, and add another layer of interesting decisions. A seasoned player that was starting to get bored with the game outside of this expansion (ok, maybe that's not possible) will find plenty to make this game very exciting again.
- The prestige/search action cards are just too cool! Every player starts with a card that can be used once per game that either aids in a hyper-powered search for a card that fits a very specific category, or that can be used for a huge one-time advantage corresponding to the action chosen that round. Knowing how and when to play this is huge.
- More invitations to direct conflict. While outright war is still not going to happen (as per the expansion's title), the new cards add more chances to steal worlds away from other players.
- Great new start world cards
Board Game: Zero!
[Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:1462]
Zero! No new games in August.
Innovation. I finally tried this. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. It seemed a bit convoluted during the rules explanation, but it didn't take too long into it to understand how it works. I've found myself thinking about it ever since, which is a good sign.
My one other new game for the month was:
Anno 1503. This was definitely a Klaus Teuber design, right along the lines of what I would expect from him. It was pretty simple and easy to wrap your head around, but the implications of some of my actions didn't occur to me until a little too far down the road or I would have made some different decisions early on. I like the exploration versus building balance. I'd be happy to play it again.
This month started off with a bang. I was invited to play Virgin Queen with a bunch of really nice wargamers (are there any other kind?), most of whom I've never met before. Having not played Here I Stand before, I thought that I was in for a rough time but a few early diplomatic negotiations and lucky actions had me quickly taking the lead. This is a wonderful game that seems mostly to be about wheeling and dealing, who to trust, and when to make your move. In the 2 games that I played, the end came down to the wire, as several people were one turn away from winning. With so much going on at all times, asymmetrical powers and differnt winning conditions, there's alot to keep track of and almost no downtime. Its a great game which leaves me feeling happily exhausted afterwards.
I've read a bunch of reviews for Android. Many of them mention that the game is very thematic. They were right. This game drips theme. There's a main story arc having to do with a murder that's been committed. There's another story arc having to do with a corporate conspiracy and how it's interrelated with the corrupt politicians, local law enforcement, and the street. Then all players have their own story arcs dealing with the personalities of the characters they're portraying. It's incredible to see just how well it all meshes together. In our 3 player game, we managed to play through the game in about 2 hours and afterwards I'd felt as if I'd just participated in a Blade Runner sequel. I was left thinking about this game even days afterwards. I'm already looking forward to the next time we can get this to the table.
I wanted to try Indonesia ever since I saw the Scott Nichols' video about it almost a year ago. The two main things I can say about this game are;
1. This is one of the most visually unappealing games I've ever played
2. This is one of the deepest economic games I've played
In this game, we are businessmen buying production and shipping companies in order to make the most money. As we ship goods to different cities they grow so in essence we're controlling the growth of our economy as well. In my opinion the most interesting aspect of the game revolves around merging companies, as you can steal other players companies by forcing mergers or get them to pay large sums of money in order to protect thier investments. The toughest decisions involve which specialties to choose, as you can specialize in several different things, including company expansion, mergers, portfolio sizes and shipping capacity. In our 4player game, we were all first time players and had no idea what the implications of our decisions were. I ended up choosing to focus on a shipping monopoly, which although was lucrative in the later rounds, didn't quite work out for me. I'll definitely play this game again, hopefully soon. Is this game worth the high price that sellers are asking? Not component-wise, but definitely game-wise. I'm really looking forward to trying out different strategies to see which ones will work for me.
Liberté is probably the exact opposite of Indonesia in terms of visual appeal. The game looks wonderful, the cards and wooden pieces are really nice, and the board looks colorful without being harsh on the eyes. Kudos to Valley Games, Inc. for their wonderful production, as usual. Liberte is a game about taking control behind the scenes of the French Revolution. You vie for power by backing the Radical, Neutral, or Royalist parties. There's alot going on in this game and it seems to get more chaotic as the game progresses. However, the game itself is not difficult to learn and flows really well after the first round or two. In our 5 player game, I found myself with an early lead after helping the Neutrals take Paris. However, my quick gain strategy didn't pan out over the long run. This is a game where if you can take the time to set yourself up for long term gains, you can move from last place to winning the game in one turn, as occurred in our game. In a weird way, it sort of reminds me of Chaos in the Old World in this aspect. After our one play, I've come to the realization that we've only scratched the surface and I'm eager to dig deeper and explore what this game offers.
Space Empires: 4X reminds me of the realtime strategy games that I've been playing on my computer since the early 1990s. It has exploration, a tech tree, resource gathering, army building, and conquering. I loved RTS on the computer, when playing against the computer. When playing against a human opponent though, there would inevitably come a tipping point in the game where one player would either destroy the opponent's main military force or production, and then would steamroll the opponent as they scrambled to catch up. Invariably, the opponent would never be able to catch up and the game would be over. In our 2player game that we played, by turn 3 my opponent was outproducing me, and most of my fleet had been destroyed by encountering danger tiles during exploration. At that point, it would have taken me another 3 turns just to rebuild my fleet to its' initial size while my oppoonent was already getting ready to build his invasion fleet. I called the game at that point, as the math just didn't work out anymore. The game left me lukewarm after one play and I don't think there's any point in my playing it 2player again. I think/hope it may shine with more players in a free floating alliance format.
I enjoy 2player games with direct conflict. Babel is definitely one of those. In the game, you're trying to build up your temples, while knocking down your oppoent. There's very much a tug-of-war going on in this game. Placing cards in colums in front of me reminded me of Lost Cities, but the cards themselves are not what scores you points for the win. Instead, the cards allow you to perform special actions that aid you or attack your opponent. These combinations of cards are where the depth of the game lies. Although my wife enjoys direct interaction games I think there may be too many subtle layers here for her to fully enjoy it. I will definitely play this game again, at least so I can redeem myslef from the beating I received.
I can understand why Battle Line is ranked in the top 100 on BGG. It's a simple to learn and relatively inexpensive card game involving poker-like patterns of cards in order to score columns. From my understanding, the older non-GMT version of the game didn't include the tactics cards that allow you to break the rules. I'm not sure I would enjoy the game so much without those cards, as they really add an extra level of strategy to the game. The way those cards work, you can't play 2 tactics cards without your opponent having played one back at you. If you play a tactic card and your opponent doesn't play one back, you can be denied from being able to play another one throughout the game. This results in some tough timing decisions. A very good, simple, filler card game.
I played 2 games of For Sale a few nights ago. We played it with 5players, the other 4 having played it before. This is a pure auction game that plays in about 15 minutes. First you use money to bid for properties of various values (1-30). Then you blind bid for sales cards (valued 0-15) using the properties that you had acquired in the previous auction round. In the end, the winner is the person with the highest amount of money and sales cards. This is a great multiplayer filler that I now prefer over No Thanks! and Pit. Simple to learn, simple to play, and just enough screwage to not make it solitaire without being nasty.
I bought Fzzzt! to fill out an order with an OLGS. I had read about it and it sounded intriguing. It's an inexpensive card game that uses both a deckbuilding and auction mechanism. It plays fairly quickly and supports up to 4 people, without the expansion. Sounds right up my alley. I finally convinced my wife to play a game of this. I have to say, I wasn't disappointed. For such a small card game, there's definitely alot to think about. On each turn, you get a limited set of cards with which to place bids on other cards. Six cards in hand and eight cards to bid on. The question becomes which cards do you really want, and which cards are you willing to give to your opponent. Add to that the hidden element of not knowing what the value of all the cards are which are up for bid, and you're left with decisions which can make an AP prone person blow a gasket. All this from one set of cards. I can't wait to try it out with more people.
This was a very light gaming month, as I spent most of it visiting family. While they enjoy boardgames, they are not into them and so only got six plays in three weeks.
Rise of Empires
My game of the month is Rise of Empires. Self described as an empire building game, it felt like an area control game with Civ elements. It's less fiddly than many games by Martin Wallace. Big plusses for the beautiful board, nice thick cardboard pieces and the relatively quick game play.
I only got a chance to play a two player learning game -- will try to get more plays in next month.
A fast-playing, brain-burning abstract for two or three players. You place your toppings then secretly decide how you want to slice the pizza. It then becomes an area majority game where you replace your opponents toppings with your own. First one to place all of their toppings wins.
After a few turns, there is a steam roller effect. This is not a big deal in a 15 minute game and with experienced players, you may have some ability to take out the leader.
Monopoly Deal Card Game
On the lighter side is this set collection/take that card game. The monopoly theme is attractive to non-gamers.
Dominion: Dark Ages
Got the newest expansion to Dominion. It features a different set of starting cards (shelters instead of estates) and lots of attack cards that add low value action cards (ruins) to your hand. In all of our games so far, no one has found a way to trash enough cards to get down a small deck. In one of the games, the winner had only four victory points.
A lot of fun, but very different.
Yes, Beware the Geek bringing gifts!
This one surprised me pleasantly: A much more streamlined play experience than its predecessor. Heroes and Overlord don't advance nearly as fast, which is a good thing, and certainly not least: The overlord has other objectives than "Kill the heroes". All in all a very nice design. Now: how do we get all the missions from the 1st ed converted?
Also mentioned in dispatches:
This one was also a nice surprise. I was sceptical when I first head about it, would this be another attempt to milk the Discworld license?
Well, it works very well within the theme, is an engaging area control game (both when driving at fulfilling my own victory conditions, and while trying to discern what victory conditions the other players have). The game fits its theme, but you don't need to know anything about discworld to enjoy it fully.
Power Grid: The First Sparks
The first sparks really wanted to impress me with its sturdy components and fancy animeeples, but left me feeling unfulfilled. The economic engine is simpler, in the sense that it is much easier to keep an overview of what you can afford, and what reserves you need. My caveats are: It is perhaps too easy to shut opponents out from a specific resource, and just like the original, you really should be in last position, right until the last turn, where you should explode, and overtake your opponents. end of.
Guido Van Horn
4 new games
Eat Poop You Cat
Technically I had moderated a "game" of this once before, but this is the first time I actually joined in on the festivities. Although it lacks all the qualifications to be considered a game, it is in the database, so I count it. All I really know though, is that I laughed a lot and so did everybody else.
This was an attempt to fulfill my complete initiation into the CBBS It completely did exactly what I thought it would do, drive me crazy, frustrating game that I lack the requisite skills to be good at.
In contrast to Eat Poop You Cat, this took all the fun out of that exercise and added a layer of scoring and competition and silliness that destroyed the integrity of the exercise.
Chicken Feed Stampede!
Prototype of a game group member, it exists in the database so I'll talk about it. Very fun idea and concept, there a some really clever things going on. We tested with a new rule we kind of made up on the fly, and everyone agreed that it was good. Very good game that I hope a publisher will take a serious look at.
This probably isn't the only new-to-me game from August, but it's definitely the one that stuck in my mind the most. Words cannot express how happy I was with the experience, even if playtimes tended to fall between 6-8 hours for a 3-player game (one of the players had awful analysis paralysis). The flavor text is well-written and engaging, and I find all of the game's mechanisms really enticing. Certain characters suit my playstyle better than others--I had a great time with Rachel, and would be happy to try again with Floyd, but I doubt I'll be playing Caprice again any time soon. Overall, this is the hottest game in my collection right now...if only I could get someone to play it with me!
Despite your hope, there is not even any inherent symbolism; gravity is simply a coincidence.
Continuing a sort-of trend as the "new" to me reaches back into the past, I had the chance to play Container. Five of us n00bs managed not to crash the economy. It's hard to conclude anything at all from a first game of this, really, except that I liked it and want to play again. It gave the impression of offering several paths; I chose to completely ignore production and focus on distribution. I do know that about 3/4 through the game, I started to make sense of what to bid on the island landings, and realized I'd been overbidding the whole game. It's not a closed economy, but it's "nearly closed", and it's that "nearly" that throws the valuation off. Definitely a mind bender.
I also got in two plays of First Train to Nuremberg. I enjoyed them both very much despite the fact that they were both 2p. I suspect at 3 and 4p, the board gets more crowded and constrained and the game really will shine. I was very impressed with how smoothly the game played. Thematically, I love the idea that "there's no way your rinky dink rail company can really be profitable so you need to sell off track to the big guys", and it adds a nice tension between cutting costs and retaining expansion opportunities.
"Meh" of the month was Dominant Species: The Card Game. I didn't hate it, in fact, it offered a reasonable "fun" return on time invested. What it really gave me, though, was the insight that I don't really like its older brother, Dominant Species. While I've got really strong leanings towards the theme, I've tried but just can't like the game. So it's with great relief that I'm offering it up for trade. (And I have Bios: Megafauna in the wings, unplayed, to cover the thematic loss from my collection.)
Long time NTY reader, first time poster. For a little perspective, 95% of my gaming is 2p with
with an occasional game vs. my wife and infrequently with a group.
Thinking back on August, I only recalled playing one new game; so I was a bit surprised when I checked my stats and saw that I had played five great new games!
Twilight Struggle has invaded my brain, completely eclipsing thoughts of other games. I've played the game three times and I'm eager to play more. Much of my recreational reading in August has been delving into the Cold War. Not many games have inspired me so.
Also excellent: Alhambra, one play, 2p
Excellent light game enjoyed by me and my wife. She crushed me by building a nice Alhambra with a massive wall. I thought the ghost-player worked great in adding tension to the 2p game.
Also excellent: Glen More, one play, 2p
Another game with an effective ghost-player mechanic. I felt quite inefficient playing this game, but I'm taken with it's mechanics and theme. It seems to offer a healthy amount of strategic and tactical decisions within it's 30 minute playtime.
Very good:Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon Board Game, three plays, 2-2p, 1-3p
I like high fantasy, and don't play many games with that theme, so I was pretty psyched when my friend found this at Goodwill. Awesome minis, customizable heroes, ridiculous dice rolling, and brutally hard (if you roll like we roll).
Very good:Blue Moon, five plays
I bought this with most of the decks at an auction. So far we've used the Vulca, Hoax, Flit, and Khind. I love the artwork and the way the different decks play. The game is essentially an auction using cards with special powers. I wish Knizia was still making games like this. We did find that the Khind had an extremely tough time against the Flit, maybe not all match-ups are balanced? Likely we're just too inexperienced with the decks. Looking forward to trying some of the other peoples.
A very good month for new games. Happy gaming.
A less than average month with only 24 plays of 15 games, 5 of them new-to-me and a very clear winner:
After Pablo is the perfect example of a small publisher game that has something you'll never find in a major release: Terrific themefull gameplay in a political incorrect setting. In After Pablo you take the role of a cocaine drug cartel trying to fill the void after Pablo Escobar's death. And it's done great: included are tough smuggles, (un)trustworthy resalesman, competition and warfare among players etc. So lot's of player interaction, and thematically every action makes sense. If you ever enjoyed watching a good drug related movie or series (like The Wire, Breaking Bad etc.) you really want to play this one. Both thumbs firmly up!
The next game that game closest to 'game of the month' is a short 'filler':Scripts and Scribes: The Dice Game . Anyone familiar with the regular Scripts 'n Scribes (AKA Bilios) will be playing this in a couple of minutes, and then find out the game plays a lot differently. Great stuff from Dr. Finn!
The rest wasn't bad either:
Grand Prix was more fun than I expected. This 1975 game is truly worthy of a reprint, I enjoyed it a lot more than the Formula D rehash Formel D. Each player controls 3 cars in this game, and there's no luck or dice. And yes, it's still a good tense game!
Eaten by Zombies is a fun intermediate zombiesmash game. Nothing too long or overstretched, just simple plain fun. A tense beer & pretzels game. I like it.
Das Prestel Nasenspiel is one of the simplest tile laying games I ever played. I actually like it better than Carcassonne (which I dislike a lot, but I liked this one)
When asking "What would Jesus do?", remember that flipping over tables and using a whip are within the realm of possibilities.
I know I'm late to this months NTY party, but here I go:
I played 8 new to me games in August, and I chose this game as the best. I know its not really the best GAME on this list, but I have known the designer
for almost 3 years. It was really cool to see his game get published and get to play it for the first time. It was the best gaming experience for me. Take that for what its worth.
The real entry (as far as the best game) should be Lords of Waterdeep. I really enjoyed this one. (I would rate it a 9) I also played King of Tokyo and Airlines Europe (I rate these an 8), High Noon Saloon (a 7), Fossil and A Fistful of Penguins (a 6), and Hex-A-Gon (a 3 or 4).
"Keep Summer Safe!"
Poor Friedemann Friese, I played Friday over 25 times this month, and that doesn't even make it my most played game. No, that honor goes to The City, which I played around 33 times. If Race for the Galaxy is the 400m race, this is a 50 yard sprint. Bam Bam Bam done. We play 3-5 times (in about 30-45 minutes) and then move on.
Board Game: Village
[Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:77]
I had three new games this month, and the best new boardgame was a toss up between Village and Agricola: All Creatures. I went with Village because it's got a little more meat on its bones and has a little more new and different, though if you asked me right now which one I'd rather play, I'd probably say Agricola: All Creatures.
I like the way the board conveys hints and bits of information, so that a player doesn't have to remember lots of little rules. Once I'd done it once, the set up was relatively quick and painless. The bits are high quality. The screwage was minimal, fitting our play style well. The flow of time and killing off workers was innovative, and I liked the different areas of the board giving different options. It doesn't give me a sense of building something, but it is different and interesting.
Agricola: All Creatures
Playing this, I had an appreciation of the care and attention that went into making this game. The rules are well written. The bits (including the boards) are high quality. It was obvious that someone knew what they were doing. There is some restocking housekeeping, but if you share it, it's not bad. My biggest concern is replayability, especially if playing with the same person. It doesn't have the cards of Agricola or even Loyang. I'm not sure how many plays it would take to feel like we're in a rut. Regardless, our first two plays were enjoyable, and I consider it a worthwhile purchase.
My third new game this month was Cloud 9, a thrift find not meant for 2 players, but we played it to learn the rules so that we'd be able to teach it at a future game day. We tried to make it work better with 2 by drawing 2 cards instead of 1, which helped, but with 2p you're stuck as the pilot too often and you don't have enough room to maneuver. This might be a fun filler game with 4 people. Great bits, and certainly worth a dollar.
Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre (4 plays): 8.5/10 Have played this versus 1, 2, 2, and 5 players and had a great time in each one. The art and spell names are both a lot of fun, and there is enough strategy to make it interesting for me (but easy enough to pick up on by new players - every player I played with was new to it also and most of them were new to strategy games in general). I look forward to getting this to the table a lot more next month. I'd order an expansion or buy promo cards for it in a second (if they were available for purchase).
The best play I've seen was when a game of three got down to the last two (my girlfriend at 10hp left and a colleague of hers at 1hp left). He played one card and she played three, so he went first. It was a card that gave the enemy one treasure card (she had 4) and then did 2hp damage for each treasure she had, which took her from 10hp down to 0hp with just one card played. He won with just his 1hp left. It was the best play I've seen yet with the game.
Evo (second edition) (1 play): 7/10 Just got one play of this in, and got destroyed after starting near another player who got a big advantage early on. But the player who had played the first edition version of this liked this a lot better than the earlier one. The art and theme on it are great. Glad I bought this one.
Power Grid (1 play): 7/10 My first time with this series (though I've played First Sparks once) and I came close to winning my first game. Everyone seems to be so familiar with this one that I don't have to say much more. I think this will go up once I get another play or two in with the series.
Puerto Rico (1 play): 7/10 I've played Condado on the Android, which helped get ready for this a little. Would look at getting a copy, but I don't think I'd be able to get it out to play much with new gamers. Look forward to trying it again and getting a little more used to it; I'd buy the app for it for sure if they had one for Android.
Hotel Samoa (1 play): 6/10 Played a three person game with two other new-to-it players. We messed up on a few rules, but corrected them without much loss of advantage/disadvantage. The theme was good, the game was close for two of the players, but I was out of it fairly early after losing a couple of tie breakers and ending up with nothing after the bids were submitted. I'd play it again soon. Some nice Polynesian music in the background helps.
Village (1 play): 5/10 Just one play of this and it went by pretty quickly. I made a lot of decisions without really understanding some mechanics to help speed play up (which happens a lot with me and new games), but still enjoyed it. I'm sure this ranking will go up after another play or two, but for now it's a little lower than I expected prior to playing it.
King of Tokyo (1 play): 5/10 The game went by quickly and I've got one on order, so I will get some more plays in soon, but it was just so-so this first play. It does look like something I could get new gamers to try and to understand quickly though, which will help a lot.
All my new games this month were a result of testing some stuff out for my Mom's 3rd grade class. Simple rules, quick set-up/playtime, and cheap were her main determining factors...
New Game of the Month
I'd been eye-balling the Deluxe version of this for some while because of its visual appeal, simple rules, yet legitimate strategy seem like a winner in anyone's collection. I thought that Fantasy Flight's $10 new edition seemed like a winner for my Mom. Well, when it was advertised on Amazon for around $16, that was all the excuse I needed to spring for it... to give my mom a dry run with it and all.
After recieving it, we played a single 3-player game. The game turned out to be everything I hoped it would be. It toes the line with simplicity and cute-factor for casual gamers and tactically intensity for more gamery gamers making it a excellent middle-ground for all types of people. For my Mom, it might be hair long on the set-up and playtime for her needs but mostly I think she doesn't want anything less than the cute penguins in Deluxe version. We'll see for her, but I don't plan on getting rid of my copy anytime soon...
Saw this one at the thrift store, called my Mom and she instructed me to grab it for $3. We had a family get together shortly after and this game saw almost constant play.
The game certainly has some depth. The strategic possibilites opened up more and more for me with each of the seven plays I sat in on. On the downside, it still felt like tic-tac-toe with a twist and the memory element became annoying in games that lasted on the longer side. Overall, it was a solid but not particularly fun game. Should be good for my Mom's class though.
My Mom picked this out on Amazon since she said she needed more Math-y games. After she received it, we sat down for a couple games to try it out.
I found it to be a nice twist on a "speed" game. Rather than simply recognize and react; this game requires players to recognize, process, recognize again, then react. My Mom is a little slower on the adding part, especially when it's "going around the corner". I also liked having no hand limit. Ending a round could be potentially a deal breaker as it's possible to get stuck trying to get a specific number while your opponent can draw up their full pile, take their time arranging it optimally, then fire them down super fast like... It never happened in our games as games weren't all that close, but I know I might be tempted if my back were against the wall.
Board Game: Village
[Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:77]
I was delighted to get a copy of the Kinnerspiel des Jahres winner early in August from Tasty Minstrel Games. I am a huge worker placement fan and this game blew me away! With multiple paths to victory and the meeples dying off, I can see this hitting the table over and over.
The unexpected find of Gen Con had to be Morels. This little mushroom hunting game from a tiny publisher is a delight to play and a hit with my wife.
Freedom: The Underground Railroad
The other great delight from Gen Con was play testing the revised version of Conductor now known as Freedom: The Underground Railroad. The designer is in the final stages of tweaking the tension level to make the game challenging but not impossible. Our game came down to the last player's last action on the last turn for the win. You can't get much closer than that. I can hardly wait to see the final product.
I had the pleasure of working with Lisa Steenson of Gut Bustin' Games for several years at Gen Con. Her newest project, Cheap Shot:The Game of Insult Rummy was being showcased this year. It is a blast to play and very funny. The game is raising funds on Kickstarter until 9/15/2012.
Learn more about it http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gutbustingames/cheap-sho...
Awesome game. I played it twice during the past month. Once with 3 players and once with 4. I was better with 3 (less dead time plus I won ^^).
It's a really cool game with lots of possible strategies and ways to earn VPs.
Finally, a Euro with dice but not much luck :-)
If you have some sanity left...
...come and join me in the tavern I buy you a mug of beer.
I saw this at Essen 2011 and was rather intrigued. It's not really the theme that shouts out at me but I just like the idea of making a game out of this. When I saw a copy of this game with at a friends house I wanted to give it a try. While it didn't blow me away (what I wasn't expected) I do find that the game holds some interresting ideas. Not really a game to put in my collection but I would sure be up for another game.
Other new games:
Not bad but not really my kind of game. Like how it's done, will play again but nothing more.
Fun game, I do like zooloretto so I obviously like this one as well.
Not bad, but not my thing.
A very different sort of game than any I've played. A classic-feeling abstract with each piece having different movement characteristics. Each can go between zero to four spaces in eight directions - generally, the further one can go in one direction, the more limited in others. The twist in this game is that you can see how your opponents pieces move and not your own. For yours, you learn about their capabilities by testing them. The goal of the game is to get a briefcase from the middle of the board to your opponents back line. At first, I thought it would be a deduction game, but that aspect is actually quite straightforward; the true game is in finding the balance between testing your pieces and using the ones you understand to construct attacks and defenses, taking advantage of the weaknesses in your opponent's line, and bluffing the heck out of him. There are concerns about a dominant strategy in this game, but my guess is it still had considerable replay.
I don't have much to say about this one yet except that it looks very cool and is of the type of placement abstract that I typically don't go for; it seems to put more emphasis on ply analysis, tempo, and forking than space management.
I guess it was abstract month... Anyway, this is not really new to me since I had played once a while before I got into gaming more seriously. But here it is. And it was quite nice. Simple rules: add a two-space fence ( you have ten, i believe) or move you pawn one space. Winner is the first to the other side. Each player must always have at least one viable path to get there. Some surprising play pattern emerged against my five-year-old.
Age of Steam Expansion: Hungary
Got in a three- and four-player of this delight from the 2012 Winsome set. Upon opening the board, I was shocked at how small it was. And it is tight and crowded and mean. Shipping on this map must include one enemy link. So everyone starts with a two loco and is giving half away. Urbanize can be pretty brutal in that you may reurbanize a new city, and, in doing so decide whether the cubes that were there stay or go. Finally, production results in a draw of four cubes, half of which are chosen by the player to be placed directly in Budapest. It is a good map. A very good map. Perhaps one of the best for three. And maybe even better with four. About as nasty as they come.
Age of Steam Expansion: Montréal Métro
A very solid three player map with a great auction rule that keeps folks from mailing in the auctions - a typical problem with three. The government link and the modified loco action make for interesting dimension of long-term flexibility.
Thousand Islands Railway
I am a Winsome fanboy and have no fear of family games. But damn, was this a disappointment. I can only hope we played a rule wrong. Otherwise, this thing is a clunker.
I am the white void. I am the cold steel. I am the just sword.
I just joined a gaming group for the first time, so a bunch of new games got played:
Kingdom Builder -
Not too shabby - only played it once, but the fact that blocking yourself in is an effective strategy is interesting. Heavily modular setup will lead to wildly different games, and I like that.
Fury of Dracula -
SEEMED really cool, but after it was over I felt like so many of the mechanisms that made the game feel really great thematically didn't really add anything to the gameplay. I'd be willing to play again, though. Although it didn't help that three or four times we had a 50/50 shot of landing on Drac and we missed every time. I guess we could have set up better, but I'm afraid that will lead to one poor schlub being banished to Great Britain the entire game doing nothing.
Warriors and Traders -
A civ-builder game. Actually the first one I think I've ever played. I hope they're not all this convoluted and boring. I tied for first and the rulebook has no rules to resolve tiebreakers. So I just passed the win along so we could move on. The faster that HIDEOUSLY UGLY monstrosity was off the table, the better.
Chaos in the Old World -
Absolutely incredible. So much fun it's criminal. Where a lot of the theme in FoD seemed to detract or distract from the core gameplay, here it enhanced it at every turn. As corrupted gods fight over the oppressed and terminal remnants of whatever land this is, we leave behind rot, pestilence, and ruined magic in our wake. Each person has completely different goals and methods, but due to the small and ever constricting world, they are all forced into a brutal free-for-all with fighting, corruption, and betrayal reigning from on high. I tied for first in this game as well (as Tzeench, with Khorne) but this game DID have a tiebreaker, and I had less threat, so I lost. Awesome. Seriously.