New to you Apr 11 => Best new boardgame
What new board and card games did you play in Apr 2011? Share your experiences of the games you played for the first time this month.
Please add your own entry to the list, even if someone has already used the game that you picked as New To You... This helps with generating the statistics for the list.
New To You Metalist 2011
New To You MetaMetalist
New To You Geeklists - Announcement thread
Other Great Monthly Lists
Your Most Played Game (and more): April 2011
New to Your Kids April 2011 - Best New Games You've Played with Kids and Why
New To You Apr 2011 => Your best new Videogame
Your best gaming experience of the month and why April 11
New to you a year ago Apr 11 => Has it stood the test of time?
I am on a Journey...
New South Wales
...to explore and discover games of all shapes and sizes regardless of colour, condition or creed
This April was truly wonderful as I got to play no less than 6 new games and got another 7 out of the dust. What’s even better is that I got to play a truly awesome game for the first game in years…
Through the Ages: A Story of Civilisation
Very rarely a game comes along that just bedazzles you with its depth, decisions and overall experience once the game is done. For me it was Through the Ages. I had read plenty about the game over the years and it just didn’t sound like me. Too long, probably too fiddly, my play group wouldn’t dig it. So when two friends asked us to play I had my doubts but was willing to give it a go.
Man was I wrong…Despite our first game taking 7 hours…(yes you read correctly) I loved every minute of it. Yet another feather in TtA’s cap is that Patty enjoyed every minute of it too and normally a 7 hour game would have her tearing at the wallpaper and burning half my collection.
No this was engaging from start to finish. The game felt like a narrative playing out before you and even if you lose (although I won) you look back on your civilization with something akin to fondness.
Now the 7 hours was largely my fault. When I don’t know a game back to front I ask a billion questions, so hats off to our two game explainers for being so patient with me. In truth I think play #2 will easily knock 2.5 hours off that time as we were being highly social as well. This play of TtA actually reminded me of playing Mahjong for a day – where the wine, cheese and biscuits flow. It’s a game where you enjoy the journey and the company of friends. This was fantastic.
So much so that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the game for a week now. I’ve had dreams about building Wonders that actually don’t exist and I can’t wait for my next play. Those same friends brought me a copy back from Melbourne less than a week after my first play – so game #2 is not far away.
I have played many a cool game in the last 10 years, but I’ve only had this feeling twice before – when I discovered Memoir ’44 and when I first discovered the new age of boardgaming back in 2000/01. I can’t say much more than that really.
This game really surprised me. My general reaction after reading the rulebook was, ‘Meh…sounds alright but probably just a quick play, review and trade kind of game’.
I was having a wrong kind of month. Condotierre is an area control game where the players are trying to gain control of key territories via the use of cards to simulate pitched battles made up of different units/personalities. The battles themselves are fairly straight forward to play out but the game is full of all sorts of subtlety. Every player can be involved in a single battle for control of a territory, so knowing when you are beaten, saving strong troops for future encounters and the overall bluff and double bluff nature of the game make for an engaging experience.
Many of the cards interact with one another and can change the relative strengths of each army fairly quickly, so you always have to be on your toes. Best of all, the game knows what it is and doesn’t outstay its welcome…usually taking between 40-60 minutes.
It’s not quite a filler but Condotierre offers plenty of engaging decisions and plays a little differently with different numbers of players. This game was underneath the trade guillotine but will be staying in my collection for the foreseeable future.
This little filler game is charming and great for families or as a social icebreaker/filler at gaming get togethers. The cards represent a variety of foods such as lettuce, tomatoes etc. The deck is split among the players and when a card is played the name of the food must be said. However, if it matches the last card played then the player must lie and say another name that the food isn’t. This starts to confuse things as the next player cannot say the name of their card if it matches the last picture on the pile or the fake name just said.
Soon enough people are getting tongue-tied (the game works best when people are only given a second or two to say a food name) and making mistakes. A mistake results in collecting the pile of cards in play and adding them to your hand. The winner is the first player to get rid of all their cards.
The game is then further complicated by the appearance of a cockroach. I can’t quite remember how that goes but you can tell by now that this is a light and silly game, more about the laughs and social interaction. My boys really liked it and at with the very low cost of the game I am likely to get a copy for BorderCon to help people feel welcome and make some new friends on the opening day.
My wife and I have been gaming with Heather & Dave for the best part of 10 years now so I was delighted to see that Heather had found a Print & Play game, printed it out and laminated it. I think it’s safe to say that she is a fully fledged gamer now.
Weilong is a simple but fun dice game that only takes 10 minutes to play at the most. Each player takes on the role of a Monk dedicated to one of the elements each round and with that dedication they get a small power. Each player then takes turns to try and role a 1-5 straight or a 5-of-a-kind. They can reroll if they roll at least one value that matches the number of their Monk. If they fail to make the combination required to win the round then they keep what dice they had and play moves on.
As soon as someone does complete a sequence, all other players score points equal to the values of their dice + the value of their Monk (generally the greater the power the more points will be earned for losing).
Each player gets to control each Monk once and at the end of the game the fewest points wins. So simple yet quite fun for a small, quick dice filler. The best part is that the game only consists of the 5 Monk cards and a set of dice – so it can be taken anywhere in your top pocket and be played on trains and flights for example.
Being something of a racing game fan, I had to try this and it wasn’t too bad. It’s weight and feel is similar to Formula Motor Racing or Snail Race in that you only have limited control. Each game requires the players to draft 5 athletes into their stable and then they compete across 5 races (1 athlete per race per person).
What sets Magical Athlete apart from those other games I mentioned are the powers that each athlete has. They are all different and it is the combination of different powers that makes for some hilarious situations but on occasion they will not gel well either and this can see the game devolve into roll and move for a single race. Thankfully each race is a 5 minute affair so it isn’t too painful.
Magical Athlete is a great example of a game that is as much fun as the people playing it. It is a beer & pretzels game really and if you approach it in the right mindset there is a lot of fun to be had. Families with young children will likely have a blast with this.
Yahtzee Hands Down Card Game
Ok the nouns Yahtzee + Hasbro are likely to turn any self respecting gamer off, but this light filler-ish style card game is actually quite good and I rank it above Monopoly Deal: The Card Game.
The players are all trying to create a hand of 5 cards to make a scoring combo. These combos consist of all the scoring options on the bottom half of a Yahtzee pad (Full House, the straights, 4 of a Kind etc). Players try to improve their hand by throwing out any number of cards and drawing that many back again. The cards are value from 1-6 but some cards feature a dice showing two faces, so either number can be used. The cards also come in 1 of 3 colours and when a combo is formed all cards generally have to be of the same colour. So there are wild cards and some numbered cards offer all 3 colours so that 3 you hold can be of a colour of your choosing to help blend in with the rest of your cards.
As soon as someone has a combo they can lay it down. As soon as a 2nd person does the same a showdown takes place. Both combos are revealed and the best scoring combo takes that combo card from the combos still on offer. The loser won’t get their combo card but they can take a chance card, which will have a value from 1-7 (with 7 being worth more than many of the combo cards – so lady luck is well and truly in play).
Players not involved in a showdown still keep their cards (the showdown players draw 5 new cards to begin the next round) so other players have a head start. This style of mechanic feels a little like modern game design, which suggests that Hasbro is at least trying to think about the games they are creating for the mass market now.
Game ends when the last combo card is taken and the highest total points wins. This game like Monopoly Deal, is perfect for family beach holidays and camping trips, which is where we played it.
Anyone that knows me will be wondering why I have an FFG Bigbox fantasy themed game ranked at only 2 and a half stars? Surely this would be right up Neil’s alley?
Well I agree…it should have been. But I really disliked much of this game and couldn’t wait for it to be over. It has so many interesting elements like the resource dials that need to be carefully managed, the board is modular and it is even set in Terrinoth, a world I have much fondness for thanks to Runebound and Descent.
But for me the sum of its parts didn’t amount to much more than a poorly put together saying. Why?
Well the choice of action cards used to do things each season just seemed to obvious each year. All 4 of us seemed to be selecting the same things each turn and that made the game feel a bit one dimensional and obvious.
I really hated the combat with its card system. So many time in the game a player would get uber lucky or get shafted badly. It didn’t feel like you could plan a battle using unit strength or weight of numbers - What’s wrong with dice? And then a combat could be won by simply having more units than the enemy at the end of a battle - This took away any sort of climax for me.
Heroes felt like 1 dimensional beings. They just seem to roam the land to undertake quests but it felt like the game was played in two different realms as Heroes and Units seem to operate independent of one another.
I could go on but I won’t. Lovers of the game will punch holes in my arguments and that’s cool…but it just wasn’t for me and I even won the game, which usually helps just a little. I won’t be returning to this one any time soon.
This was an interesting game but one that didn’t quite click for me. Played in teams, each player is trying to serve a number of dishes of different colours. Various action cards are used to do so but a player can only serve out dishes on top of their plate piles. In addition if a player plays a 2-card combo that serves dishes, it works for all players, so the game is one of timing and careful ordering. It is possible to split your plate piles therefore having extra dishes on top but this will cost you cards from your hand and that means less choice in terms of the cards that can be played.
The game also allows a player to place a cover over other people’s plates so they cannot be served until the cover is removed.
It was quite clever really but if I want a partnership game I’d tend to go to Tichu.
Defenders of the Realm: Dragon Expansion
With only 1 play I won’t say too much for now. There is no doubt that the amount of variety you can bring to the Realm with this expansion is vast. New Generals that can be added in any combination, Agents of the Dark Lord can be present and act differently to normal Generals, new quests, minions change in name and how they operate. A new end game in the form of burning locations is introduced and scenarios are offered.
In many ways it feels like a toolbox expansion that allows hard core fans to tinker and try something new. It also comes at the cost of more fiddly-ness in my opinion and despite knowing the base game quite well I felt lost in my 1st play. I’m sure this will improve but I am yet to judge if the fiddly-ness and additional learning curve offered any more enjoyment over the base game. Time will tell.
Out of the Dust
Wow what a month for bringing old games back to the table and there were some crackers too that I had almost forgotten about.
Evo Out of the Dust – 5 Years 3 Months
This game (which is getting a reprint) is really fun as each player must try to help evolve their species of dinosaur and see them prosper. Land is tight so conflict with other species is certain and the climate means that only dinos that can adapt will survive.
Yspahan Out of the Dust – 2 Years 10 Months
In the wave of new dice allocation Euros we have seen since 2006, I had largely forgotten about Yspahan. Fool me as this game is a great little design that only takes half the time or less of a Kingsburg.
Sure it isn’t as meaty as Kingsburg but the decisions are engaging and it has several strategic paths to explore and enjoy.
Queen’s Necklace Out of the Dust – 4 Years 1 Month
I really do think that this is one overlooked game. Perhaps it is because of the filler-sized box but Queen’s Necklace has some solid depth to its play. The jewel creation (scoring) phase throws up gut-wrenching decisions every time and the special ability characters give the game enough variation to keep the game fresh.
Fairy Tale Out of the Dust – 2 Years 2 Months
I still really like this drafting filler card game. The scoring combos are nice and it plays so quickly…but to be fair it has had some of its shine taken away by 7 Wonders, which probably does it better…even if it takes 15-20 minutes more to play.
Settlers of Catan Out of the Dust – 2 Years 1 Month
We played this again because a new gaming mate kept reading about it on BGG but as a club we had left it behind years ago. He enjoyed the play but could see how it would have been awesome 15 years ago. But even in his estimation it was only ok compared to the other designs he has played in the last 12 months.
Rummikub Out of the Dust – 2 Years 5 Months
We played this with my mother-in-law as we had bought it for her 2 years prior. It is not a bad game with its sequence and set collection. Good for a weekend at the farm but not for gaming mates.
World of Warcraft: The Adventure Game Out of the Dust – 2 Years 11 Months
Same mate is a bit of a WoW fan so we gave him a crack at this. This game is really quite ordinary and even he agreed. It outstays its welcome by about an hour (about a 2 hour game) and in that time you don’t seem to do anything really interesting. It is a race game as you try to move through the levels of the game but it all feels rather generic. Runebound and even Talisman has this beaten any day of the week.
Board Game: YINSH
[Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:96]
This was a neat month for me. Two of GIPF NTMs, both very cool. Yinsh wins over Dvonn for just feeling much more strategic and less of a duel to see who can move last. That may just be because concepts of space, tempo, development are more 'traditional' feeling in Yinsh. Dvonn is just such a different game.
Besides those two, I also got in a new Winsome - Veld Railroads. With South African Railroads getting its release this week, I felt I needed to try its forebear before trying the redeveloped version. It was exactly as advertised: Pampas Railroads with a bunch of chrome. What surprised me was how much I appreciated the action selection mechanism. All the historical chrome aside, this mechanism is what made the game different - and possibly better - than Pampas. I can't wait to get SAR.
Then, also a late entry - I just played tonight - was Wizard Kings. Way off my radar. I played because a really good guy made a very impassioned plea on our local list to get people excited. I'm not a wargamer. Not by a long-shot. But the lighter, more streamlined games tend to strike me pretty well. I particularly enjoyed the 2v1, totally unbalanced nature of the game. Fun. Something wargames do really well that I like about abstracts: strengths and liabilities and the protection and exploitation of them. Maybe my next frontier...?
Finally, there was an Big Shot. Not a huge hit for me. A forerunner of Neue Heimat that doesn't do any of it even close to as well. Maybe with a little less luck I could enjoy it. Or with some sort of consortium bidding a la Santiago. But as is, it is a bit too much of a buck-passing fest.
♬♪♪ ♫ ♩ ♫♫♪ ♩♬♪ ♫
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)
It's been a great month...
Images courtesy tmredden & takras
It is rare that game components are too small (ahem, Red November), but Glen More manages this unusual feat. It has some of the tiniest wood cubes I have ever seen, and the tiles are printed with a miniscule font. It helps to be nearsighted. Aneirin has already replaced the cubes with animeeples.
The theme is primary production in Scotland, with a heavy emphasis on Whiskey. Excellent. Gameplay focusses on selection of new land areas (tiles) using a "you can't go back" mechanism similar to Egizia. Tile placements follow rules similar to Carcasssonne and generate production. Materials are processed by each players points-production-mechanism (their tile array) and generate victory points or improvements that score big at the end. It's a Euro!
And it is a very, very good Euro too. As is often the case, the principal player interaction comes through blocking moves- but in Glen More these are easy to find and often quite vicious. Turns involve a lot of decisions (what tile to take, where to place it, how to use the resources) but since these choices often impact other players, everyone will be attentive and interested. The game clicks along at a good pace.
Gripes about the components aside, Glen More is an excellent game that plays briskly in less than an hour. Its box has the same small footprint as Louis XIV and Caylus Magna Carta, so it is possible to carry several top notch games easily in a small bag... game manufacturers please take note!
8 / 10
Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 - ?
Images courtesy virre & beatrix
L:WT is a card-driven game* that simulates the conflict between the United States (and allies) and Al Quaida (and affiliates). I am learning L:WT with a mate. Both of us have played Twilight Struggle, and there are many similarities which has helped simplify the process. L:WT is an asymmetric game, however, and it "feels" very different to play. Both games achieve a great sense of tension (of immanent catastrophe, perhaps), but where TS involves fairly direct confrontation, L:WT has a sense of whack-a-mole. Cells appear, the US player swats them, plots appear, the US player stops them. Eventually one side or the other gets ahead in this cycle. This makes the game sound both simple and repetitive - neither of which is true because the decision process is very complicated.
After three games, all I can really say is that I want to play the game some more. I certainly don't have a real sense of strategy. I am having a lot more enjoyment than playing TS.
*I don't think it matters whether T:WT is called a "wargame".
7/10 for now
Images courtesy Kaffedrake & EndersGame
We have wanted to try Biblios (AKA Scripts and Scribes) ever since it was recommended by Tommy Nomad. The new edition comes in a much-hyped box which is printed to look like a book. The cards are constructed from stiff, heavy board and printed with high gloss. The art is thematic, bright and attractive.
Gameplay is very fast and interesting. Players compete to have the greatest influence over five seperate "suits" at game end; the value of each suit may change during play, and there are both auction and card drafting mechanics. Biblios has been worth the wait!
Sadly, the production quality does not live-up to the game. After only one play the cards already showed significant wear, and shortly after that I discovered that one of the box corners has split. After checking inside the box I discovered that the corners are not actually glued - they are held together by the paper wrap on the outside of the box (this is glued down, but it is still only paper).
The card wear has been disguised with a black pen, but the cards absolutely have to the sleeved. And sleeved cards do not fit in the insert. Removing the insert threatens to further weaken the box corner. Grrr!
Biblios is an excellent game, especially with two players. The art is exceptional. I recommend this game: but put the cards in sleeves before playing even once, and consider gluing some reinforcement into the box!
7 ½ / 10
Images courtesy Ceryon & Toynan
Attila has seen several plays and has been a great success. It is a middleweight area control game with straightforward rules and a very attractive map – easy to teach and pleasant to look at.
The players control tribes of restless barbarians spreading from northern Europe across the crumbling remains of the Roman empire. There are six tribes controlled by all the players together. Each time a player chooses to migrate one of the tribes to a new area, he can gain influence with that tribe. Periodically there are scoring rounds where the most influential players are rewarded for their “investment” in each tribe.
I have enjoyed all my games of Attila, and I expect it to get regular play for quite some time.
7 ½ / 10
Alea Iacta Est
Images courtesy Werbaer/alea & autumnweave
An excellent dice game. Turns are quick and players are faced with interesting choices. Some of the scoring instructions for the Senate cards are poorly worded and rather hard to interpret, but this is not a major issue. More significant is the use of "matching" colours on the Province and People cards - these are very dificult for colourblind players. I modified them with small pieces of self-adhesive paper in alternative colours, which works fine.
I expect to keep playing AIE as a "long filler"; it is fast with some tension ("can I afford to wait or must I grab that benefit immediately?") and easy to teach.
Images courtesy Toynan & JohnBandettini
Merkator is my new poster-child for "Euro" - very dry, a thin veneer of theme, and many many cubes. I don't think that's a bad thing - but Merkator is an exemplar of the type.
The players take the role of 17th century merchants based in Hamburg: during the game they collect resources (cubes) and fulfil contracts to supply different map locations. Completed contracts lead to more valuable contracts, but there is a limit of five open orders which can be held at any time. Contracts in hand count for points at game end, and there are the usual bells and whistles for bonus points. There is minimal opportunity to affect other players- taking contracts or bonuses that might benefit them is about the limit. It is possible to piggyback on other players trade expeditions (this cannot be refused), so there is something to think about between your turns. Play was reasonably fast, and the decisions require enough thought to be interesting. But the game didn't really excite me- more plays required before a final decision.
Note for the colourblind: Despite the myriad of wooden cubes there is no colour-confusion because they are placed on labelled player boards - Merkator could be played with all cubes the same colour!
6 ½ /10, but this could change.
Images courtesy boenke & DaveyJJ
My first impression was that this is a beautiful game - the components are top quality, with excellent, eye-catching art and decoration. The cards are brightly illustrated (and enourmous: 65x100mm). The game is fairly light, certainly easy to teach, and plays fast. It is to long to be considered a filler, but certainly not deep. It is an ideal gateway game. Cargo Noir is very interactive: players should constantly be overbidding each other and restraining the leaders through competition; players who are used to the "gentler" ways of Euros may take a while to catch on. We will certainly continue playing Cargo Noir for the next few months: whether it becomes part of the regular rotation is hard to judge.
Images courtesy handofachlys & sroney
An abstract game from 1973, found very cheap on eBay. My copy is in good condition- the box is worn and the tiles have faded slightly, but it holds up well for a 38 year-old game. The variable board consists of an 8x8 array of tiles; start and end spaces, a couple of blanks, and the remainder each show three direction arrows (pointing orthogonally or diagonally). The game is a race from adjacent corners to their opposite corners (i.e. the ideal paths would be an X). The cleverness is the movement mechanism: you can only move according to the arrows shown under your opponent's marker (and vice versa). Setting-up the tiles to build the board is a significant part of the game.
We did not know the game well enough to employ any particular cleverness when building the board, but the race element was interesting. Tripples is not going to become part of our regular repertoire (too dry), but I enjoyed it as a change of pace.
Images courtesy Toynan & puppi
Some games simply don't work with colourblind players! Limits is a very simple card filler. Cards are one of five colours. Each round a "Limit" card is turned over- it sets the number of cards of each colour that can be played that round. Each player secretly plays a card face down - these cards modify the limits for that round. Then players take turns playing cards face up - other players challenge when they believe you have gone past the (modified) limit. It should be fun, with a nice mix of push-your-luck and memory. It becomes somewhat more challenging when you can't tell the suits apart. In fairness, Uwe Rosenberg tried to use patterns on the cards to provide alternative means to distinguish them- they were too subtle for me. But everyone had a good time.
1024x768 works just fine - Don't Wide the Site!
The Back Alley gets no respect.
Well, I played only three different games this month, two of them new...
Labyrinth Treasure Hunt was first, and while it seemed that it would be a good game for our SET-loving kids, it was way too Ricochet Robotlike.
Not that Topple was that much better, but at least it was quicker and easier on the kids.
Only one new to me game this month: What's my Word? This game is really not at all like other word games that I like. I usually like fast, multi-player, party-like word games. This is not that at all. It is a slow, deductive, two-player word game about finding word to fit your strategy. It's really got a lot more strategy than any other word game I know, and in that way it's nice and different.
I like this game. It's very puzzle-like, but at the same time it is quite fun. It's also easy to get my wife to play it because it doesn't take a lot of effort. We can play it in our living room on couches--in fact, you could play it just about anywhere. It would definitely be a great car game.
Oh man, BARELY got this one in this month. Played it yesterday with my wife, my 6, and my 5-year-old. Absolutely awesome fun. I never got a chance to play Survive: Escape from Atlantis! when I was a kid, and that's a shame, because I'm positive I would have enjoyed it very much. I haven't seen the old version, but the new one is FANTASTIC. It's a gorgeous game to look at and really pleasing to the eye. But above all, the entire family had a great time escaping to the outer islands, pleading and begging not to be eaten by sharks, and capsizing their parents boats (grumble grumble ...) This will win Reprint of the Year, and Stronghold Games is to be commended for such great work. I rate Survive! a 7 for now, but it's one of those games that I think will grow in rating over time, opposed to drop.
Some others that came in with a high score:
2 de Mayo
I wrote a tiny bit in my blog about this one. Fantastic marriage of mechanics in a tight little quick-playing two-player game. A 7.
Tales of the Arabian Nights
Not something I would have on the table every week, but once in a blue moon this would be a blast. When everyone's in the right mood, it's a winner. A 7.
Carcassonne: The Discovery
A good implementation of Carcassonne. The only thing is, it's VERY thinky. If you like thinky and you want a beefed-up Carc, I think this would be a winner for you. For those of us that are used to the play-and-go Carcassonne style, it's a bit of a toss-up. A 6.
And now, the lower-tier:
Our family likes Dutch Blitz, and this is a variation of it. It's okay, nothing to write home about. The kids have enjoyed the plays. Make sure you are playing with the rules from the USAopoly version.
Battleground: Fantasy Warfare
Maybe I missed a few rules (completely possible with a bad rulebook) but things seemed VERY fiddly in this one. A lot of "I want to attack you and now I have to make 50 calculations" going on. I do not like that at all. Willing to try again but not feeling very optimistic at all. And I don't like the art ...
The undecided: ?
Mansions of Madness
My first play was in the cold with a bunch of half-asleep dudes and me sniffling and sneezing the entire time. My first impressions with all of that going on was NOT good. This game deserves more of a chance. Looking forward to my second try and hoping for the best. I WANT TO LIKE YOU, MANSIONS!
When asking "What would Jesus do?", remember that flipping over tables and using a whip are within the realm of possibilities.
I played 5 new to me games this month, and this is the one I liked the best. I rate it a 9. I also played Crows (rated about an 8) , Loopin' Louie (rated about a 7), Set (rated about a 5), and Macao (rated about a 4).
April was a surprisingly good "new to me" month, considering that Holy Week was in the month.
Late in the month, my pre-order copy of the second edition of Alien Frontiers arrived. Last night, we were able to play the game with a friend's first edition game that had the Mind Control Helmet added in. It's an interesting game that many are comparing to Troyes. While both are good games that use dice in interesting ways, I'm not sure that there's much more in common between the games than that. There's a bit of cooperation involved in Troyes that is clearing lacking in Alien Frontiers. The dice manipulation in Troyes is much more involved and complex than the ones that are available in Alien Frontiers. This is not to say that Alien Frontiers is a lesser game - it's just a different one. It's a vicious game that fills a different niche than Troyes and can safely co-exist in a collection. I'm looking forward to trying it again - especially on a night when my ability to roll dice is working better than it was last night! (1 play for April 2011)
Other "new to me" games for April 2011:
Pack & Stack (2 plays for April 2011). We played this early in the month - once with the wrong rules, which worked well for me, and once with the right rules which didn't go so well for me. It's an interesting game, it's not one for me.
Castle Panic (1 play for April 2011). In general, I find cooperative games to be enjoyable. Perhaps it's the old role-player in me. Perhaps it's just the fact that I like, every once in a while, to have a game where all of the players are working together towards a common goal. There was a time when new cooperative didn't come out very often. But that time has passed. New cooperative games seem to be coming out every month. So it isn't surprising that it took so long to get this one to the table. While it doesn't have the depth of Pandemic or many of the other cooperatives, Castle Panic is a quick intense cooperative game that is a lot of fun. I will be interested to see if it has any sort of staying power over time.
Mali Powstańcy: Warszawa 1944 (1 play for April 2011). There are games that appeal to me because of interesting innovative mechanics and there are games that appeal to me because of their theme. Mali Powstańcy has theme in spades, and, having spent time in the museums, churches and memorials of Warsaw, it speaks to me. The game is good, too. Unfortunately, I was the only one at the table who was favorably impressed. In the end, I traded the owner for it and I'm hoping that some other folks I play with enjoy it as much as I did.
Settlers of America: Trails to Rails (1 play for April 2011). I've been playing Settlers, and its many offspring for about as long as the game has been available. I still enjoy the game (and most of the offspring), even though I don't get to play the game very often these days. Last night, one of the locals brought the latest offspring to the table. Settlers lies under the hood, but there are some interesting changes to the system - the resource depletion, the system forcing exploration and settling to the west, the delivery mechanism, the compensation for bad die rolls and a fixed map make for a very different experience. So, how did I feel about it? In general, I like it, in spite of having a historically bad night of dice rolling (see my comments regarding Alien Frontiers above). I was completely out of contention about halfway through the two hour game, and the main weakness of the game lies in that direction - the game is long for something that can be turned by heavy turns of bad luck. I want to play it again and see if it can be shortened through repeated play.
Top Race (1 play for April 2011). There are a couple of race games that I truly enjoy - Formula Dé, for example (again - I have nights where dice hate me and nights where they love me - I'm happier when the former happens, but enjoy the game enough that it can survive even horrendous nights). Somehow, I have never tried any of Wolfgang Kramer's race games. Some friends suggested trying this out during a BSW session earlier this week. Instead of dice, there are cards which move subsets of the cars in the race. My first play showed typical rookie errors in the auctions and betting, but I had a good time. I'm looking forward to trying it again and hope to try its siblings, too.
All in all, a good month!
I got to play a decent number of new games, although most of them middle-of-the-road. The highlights were two 7/10-ers: Succession: Intrigue in the Royal Court and Haggis.
Haggis, as has oft been reported, is a 3-player climbing game that inevitably gets compared to Tichu. Having only played Tichu twice and Haggis once, I'm no authority on either, but I appreciated a lot of the differences - everyone's access to bombs, fewer special cards for simplicity and ease of teaching - but missed the key element of having a partner. In the end it's hard to prefer one to the other, each just is for a different situation, but I'm happy to have played Haggis.
Succession, on the other hand, is a quite open negotiation-based game of manipulating all sorts of favor rankings and taking whatever deals you can get. In my one play, I can attest that it lives up to its goal of being nasty: our close group of friends were at each other's throats and making enemies and alliances very soon after starting, in all of our first times playing the game. But come on, Jake assigned blame to me four times at once, and I'm the unreasonable one? In the end, the ambassador player won, since we couldn't hurt him easily enough and misjudged how hard he would be to stop - it would certainly be different next time around. This game isn't something I'd want to play all too often, but I feel like despite the unignorable randomness pervading everything, it achieved its design goals admirably and despite having many special action cards, most everything was clear and the interactions between the various special abilities weren't as convoluted as they could be. And therefore it got the slight edge above Haggis to be the new game of the month.
La Città was the middle of the pack for me. I was tasked with learning and teaching this game based on a translated ruleset found online that was thankfully quite clear, and I didn't mess up TOO bad. It unfortunately didn't feel like I expected when reading it; I anticipated that each city would develop a sort of flavor that could be fairly customized, and that the competition between nearby cities would be an interesting battle - I wanted to describe it as competitive SimCity. Instead, it felt like a lot was guesswork and being forced into whatever one or two non-terrible political cards were available. In retrospect, it shouldn't've felt all that constraining, since three of our five actions were from personal cards that allow a variety of possibilities, but we didn't even end up finishing the game, sadly. We all agreed that the game wasn't bad, and could actually be sort of fun, but it'd be hard to prefer that game to many others - we may never pull it out again. I'd assign it a 6/10.
I am lucky enough to have the two "worst" games I played this month both be 5/10s: Castle Panic and Comuni. Comuni was an uninspiring but not-bad Euro that had a few interesting ideas, like a turn consisting of either bidding or collecting from all bids you're winning, but it often felt like the designer was trying to throw in too many different things in there, giving an overall inelegant (though not unpleasant) feel. Castle Panic seemed sort of unmanageable - for us, I can't imagine anything we could've done to survive the onslaught we received, and I felt very much at the mercy of the cards I was dealt; I couldn't find ways to do anything really interesting with my hand. Add that to my general distaste for standard co-ops and even my enthusiastic friends couldn't bring me to love the game.
This size viola da gamba is like a cello with frets. I started playing at age 48.
Patrician is very simple and a lot of fun. However, you do need to be very careful that everyone plays to the right cities, or there will be a mess at the end. I also like the print-and-play expansions available on the Geek.
While 18NAC is still in prototype (and takes 8-12 hours to play), it has gone from disaster to success in one long iteration. Kudos to the designers! I can't wait for my next shot at play-testing it.
I also played Puerto Rico today for the first time. I can't say I prefer it to San Juan, but it was interesting and fun.
There must have been a moment at the beginning, where we could have said no. Somehow we missed it. Well, we'll know better next time.
Back in Florida for a few weeks, I got to get a few gaming sessions in. Unusually high quality of new games this month, the top 4 are all strong 8s/10.
Best New Game:
Isla Dorada 8/10
This is definitely a hidden gem, in my opinion one of the most under-rated games of 2010. Must-try for any Faidutti fan, I would say it ranks up there with his best. It doesn't try to be anything other than what it is, which is best described by Mr. Faidutti himself: "It’s not a sophisticated management or development game, it’s just a dynamic, fun, varied and highly interactive movement game." (For anyone interested, on Faidutti.com there is a lot of nice background info - this game has been 10-years-in-the-making!). The most fun and fresh aspect to me was the "group" movement: we all bid on where the explorers as a group go next.
This is a FunForge/FFG game, but the production quality is on par with a typical Days of Wonder game (high praise indeed), same kind of "light family game" feel to it too. Gorgeous art, which has a kind of European-style cartoony quality to it. If the gaming gods are at all just, this one should get at least an SdJ nomination this year...
Dungeon Twister 2: Prison 8/10
This was a tough call and only lost out to Isla Dorada by a hair. Ironically, though, I think DT Prison has more potential for ratings growth, as it is a deep game with high replay variability. I've only gotten a single session so far, but am loving it. Beautiful miniatures. The amount of thought they've put into the solo AI is awesome. One warning about the rules, they are missing/ambiguous on a few points so download a copy of the base game rules as well. But, I like the tutorial method of easing people into the game with scenarios of increasing complexity, nice idea.
The Black Plague has always held a morbid fascination for me so I lapped this theme right up. Short, simple role selection/area influence euro, just the right game length for the game complexity. Interesting twist of getting "stuck" with a character unless someone steals it from you, and being able to take anyone's character you want. Very nicely balanced and designed, with a dynamic game arc of increasing plague danger as the population slowly increases throughout the game. And, I like the simplicity of simply scoring survivors at the end.
Neuroshima Hex! 8/10
Loved the post-apocalyptic theme and back story. This is a hex-based spatial battle game with an appealing mix of strategy and tactics, randomness and careful planning, which feels very thematic. Each army is asymmetric, so it's fun to discover the strengths and weaknesses of your particular army. It's got an interesting rhythm of "pulses" of bloody battles throughout the game. We played with 4; because it's kind of chess-like, I think it probably would play best with 2, due to downtime.
Other Good New Games
Campaign Manager 2008 8/10
The theme was nicely integrated into the mechanics of this one. Everything from the electoral vote scoring track to the campaign issue manipulations. I haven't played 1960 or Twilight Struggle, but, I would be more into those themes and I think I would like the increased complexity. But, nonetheless I highly recommend this as an election/politics game if you want one that plays fast but thematically; one of the best I've played.
Dice Town 6/10
A wild-west themed dice game with Yahtzee, poker and liar's dice mechanics. Nicely produced with great components. I'm not really one for dice games, but if my fellow gamers are up for one, this will now be one of my top choices.
Knizia dice game very much in the vein of Can't Stop. I would prefer a game of Dice Town to this, but I'm perfectly happy to have this in the occasional rotation.
Pretty Good New Expansion
The Werewolves of Miller's Hollow: New Moon
This adds some new roles and new events. I prefer other editions of werewolf. I'm not a fan of the stylized role cards, and this expansion is even worse; I don't see how a spock hand symbolizes the guardian role. They probably save a lot of money just having the symbol on the role card, but if I were buying a copy of the game, i'd pay a little more to have the role instructions written on the card (it's a dead giveaway that you're not a villager if you go frantically looking through the rulebook after looking at your role card).
On the pro side, the roles and events spice the game up quite a bit. One example of events, we divided all players into elders and youngsters, based on age, and the youngsters had to lynch someone amongst themselves (elders were not even allowed to participate in the debate).
Board Game: Summoner Wars
[Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:219]
[Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Every Man A Wildcat!
Now when I say, "Who's the master?" You say, "Sho' Nuff!"
Summoner Wars: Guild Dwarves vs Cave Goblins
MisterMarino introduced me to this back in February, but we didn't get it on the table until April. It seems with this game, it's almost easier to jump in and play a couple of turns -- very easy to pick up as you go along.
I enjoyed it. It has a lot going for it: hand management, strategy, quick-play, and dice. I'd like to play it a lot and explore the possibilities. Still, it's funny when you attack a wall and miss -- YOU'RE FIGHTING A WALL!!!!
It's an interesting concept. It is light, but seems to grasp the concept conceptually. The big gripes on it are that it's too difficult to attack. The defender can pour more battle cards into the battle than the attacker, but that burns up his supply, and limits his ability to counter-attack or maneuver. The casualties in these wars weren't particularly high, and the battle should be a close to a stalemate, so it seems to follow it well.
I'm not sure how well this system will work for other battles (not having the robustness of Hold the Line), but for these two battles, it's a nice little game.
Young Jedi CCG
I'm not big on the concept of CCGs, but I kind of liked this one. It was easy to learn out of the starter box (no booster needed to start playing), and very quick. I could easily be talked into playing it again.
It's like that puzzle you had a kid, where you slid around tiles to create the picture. Yeah -- they turned that into a game, and each of you are racing against each other, to connect 2 random points on the board with tiles that have straight lines and right angles drawn on them (like laying pipe).
The race element adds a lot of fun, plus, it's very fast, which is a big plus.
The game says, "It looks easy 'till you try it." I played it. The strategies were obvious. I played it again. It became apparent to me that you could play to a draw. I tried it. It was easy. Ho hum.
It's like a very, very, very, very, very, very light cousin to Pandemic and A Touch of Evil. It's pretty fun, though, and the random element adds much to it. With a couple of tweaks to the rules, it could become quite challenging.
Surprisingly fun. How a game so repetitive can be so fun is remarkable, but I really wish I could find a copy for my children.
Enemy in Sight
It's a light Age of Sail card/battle game. I think it's just a little TOO random to be great, but I could be talked into playing it from time to time on rare occasions. Anyway, I wasn't very impressed. I had it for a couple of years, and maybe I got my expectations too high. Whatever the case, I put mine on the trade block.
Defenders of the Realm
An Ameri-Trash version of Pandemic, so much so that I was using Pandemic terminology throughout the game (outbreak/infect). But the random element of combat and requiring cards to fight the generals is far superior to Pandemic's automatic cube removal and disease cure. It is probably too long -- to the point that the length starts making the enjoyment decrease, but that may be due to the additional dice rolling, which makes it superior to Pandemic (along with the chrome).
There is strategy, but not a lot of skill, and lots of dumb luck. Still a pretty fun filler game.
The Magic Labyrinth
Not a bad little game. Kind of cute and clever. It's really just luck-based, but it's more interesting than most luck games and is a good game to play with children.
MN - Minnesota
Kings of Israel
Slow month but high in quality.
Plays - 1.83287
Rating - 8.75 / 10
First off, I don't know what is wrong with me. The rules for Le Havre weren't bad, they were laid out well and not too long, but I kept screwing them up. The first half game or so my wife and I were playing along fine but there seemed to be no struggle with food. Or pretty much anything else. After awhile I realized that I had purchased multiple buildings with clay instead of brick. I smiled at my wife and asked if she would be ok starting over again. She fortunately said yes.
So we tried it again but we still had no difficulty getting food, not to mention surprised how long the game takes. We called it a night (night two on Le Havre) and I looked around on BGG for things I might have mixed up. Finally, I discovered I really made a big mistake. When we moved a ship, I had the person move their ship to the next spot, not next empty spot, just the next spot. So we had double the time and double the resources in the game. I coughed a couple times and asked my wife if she wanted to start over again. She put up with me and we started over again.
The third time we played the game through but I made another big mistake. I was aware that after every harvest you get another cattle if you have two or more, or another grain if you have one. But in a two player game I thought the only harvest was on the last turn. It is pretty obvious why though: It is right there on the card for two players! The last round is the only one that says "Harvest" on it...with a...line through...it. Sigh.
Regardless of my idiocy, I really like Le Havre. Like Agricola, I like the nagging need for food that changes my plans and the multitude of options with what I can do on my turn. I love games that keep adding sweeteners to choices I would not normally take until they push me over the edge and I must have it. It would be nice if there was a little more variety in the buildings, some that might never appear so I cannot always bank on them, but the layout rule works well too. I need to play this game a few more times but I think it is solidly a top 10 game for me. Pay attention to this Uwe guy, I think he might be onto something. You heard it here first!
Board Game: Nanuk
[Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:2454]
Arden Nelson Jr.
I'm glad I gave this one a try. It was a hit with my nephew and a 5th grader from church. I liked it and love the concept of it. I'm not sure about the social aspect of it as some might get feelings hurt depending on the group. Also, there doesn't seem to be a ton of depth. It is esentially a social press your luck kind of game. My Mom couldn't stand it because it brought back bad memories of wheeling and dealing in Monopoly with her family.
I'm definitely going to bring this one out again. I'd like to try it with more than 5 and see how it goes. It might help to have a place to put cards for the personal points and a place for the Doomer sayers' cards and so forth. It got a tad confusing in our game.
Board Game: Agricola
[Average Rating:8.13 Overall Rank:6]
Hegel Bessa Jorge
Nothing to see here.
The best new game of this month was Agricola. Well, it was the only new game I played this month... but it was well worth the effort of playing. I already played it six and each time I learn new things which I haven't seen before. There is a lot of variety to the game, a little luck involved in the beginning (random cards for everyone) but overall it's a pretty balanced game. I'll play a lot more and I think it is money well invested.
The box weights a lot and it's hard to organize all the bits inside. It plays well with 2 and 4 players ( although I'll probably try with 3 and 5 soon). It is heavier than another favorite of ours, Puerto Rico, but I think we'll find them about the same with a little more experience.
It is not hard at all to learn the basics and you really improve with each game. I would recommend this game to any gamer, but I'm not sure non-gamers will like it.
So surprised not to see this one on the list yet. Love this game. Have been playing it and / or thinking about it non stop since it came out. Wonderful co-op with lots of variability and dying for the expansion quests yet to come! What a wonderful game. Very well received in my group. We all give it a 10 of 10 and many have purchased their own copy after playing mine.
It's a gift...
...and a curse.
April was quite an enjoyable month of gaming. We got together with our parents several times, and did some more gaming with the teens at church. And, despite the fact that Dominion continues to roll on as our new addiction, we were able to play a number of other enjoyable games as well. And in all that I was able to get the family to try several new games and expansions. While my favorite may be a bit of a cheat (or at the very least, it lacks surprise) there were a number of other really entertaining new games crammed into April. But, of course, I must start with the obvious winner for the month...
= Dominion: Seaside - Well this wasn't totally unexpected. I mean, more Dominion is obviously going to lead to more praise from me. But what surprised me about this particular expansion is how my wife has been hooked. In fact, when we did a random draw that managed to avoid all Seaside cards, she actually asked to ditch a couple cards so we could get some Seaside involved. We really like the Duration cards, and the special cards that require the separate boards are awesome too. Rikki and I have even started getting hooked on 2-player Dominion. We don't often play 2-player games, but we're just having so much fun with the new cards that it's hard to stop. My biggest complaint is just that I see all those fun new cards and want to try them all, but I know diversifying that much isn't a good strategy. I'm probably going to wait a little and try to experience more of the cards from Intrigue and Seaside before picking up Prosperity but, even without Prosperity, Dominion is really fighting to get into my Top 2 games of all time.
= Magical Athlete - Well it's sort of a shame that this game got lumped into a month with a Dominion expansion. Most other months this fun little game would have a real shot of being the lead game in my entry. I bought this on a whim because it was inexpensive and looked funny. Who would have thought that a simple game with such simple rules could create so much entertainment and laughter? The interactions of the different characters had us on the edge of our seats several times, anxiously hoping for just the right roll to advance us to the finish line. The strategy (what little there is of it) eluded some of my family, but that didn't stop them from doing really well. And we like that kind of silly game where luck can turn the tables and give a surprising victory to anyone. I wouldn't play it all the time, but it's great for an occasional laugh. I expect it to be a perfect game for playing with the youth group as well.
= Dominion: Stash Promo Card - Trying to compare a single Dominion Promo card to other complete games seems downright silly. I have no idea where to rank this one. It is an enjoyable little card that can be used for some interesting strategies depending on the other kingdom cards involved. And it leads you to wonder if it's worth 5 coins just to have a controllable card in your deck. Grouping them together seems to be a valid strategy, but can occasionally backfire when attack cards or even the Masquerade are involved. I'm anxious to try playing a game with the Stash and the Wishing Well, because that just seems like a silly fun combo. Anyways, this is just like any other Dominion card. I enjoy playing with it, and it will always be in the mix whenever we make our random draws. The only downside is that it can slow down a person when they are in the shuffling process as they count out where exactly they want the Stash to be. If this happens when it is not their turn that is no big deal, but if it is mid-turn it can be annoying.
= Trivial Pursuit: Team Edition - I picked this up because it was still in shrink at Goodwill, and I've always enjoyed variants on the classic games. But when I broke it out with my wife's family I was a bit leery. A lot of them don't enjoy trivia games, but this one was different. Because of the style of questions we had a lot of fun. The way they give easier questions mixed with harder questions, and varying points based on difficulty, works really well. Everyone seemed to be engaged by the experience, and even people who "feel dumb" playing normal Trivial Pursuit were able to do well as part of a team in this game. It's not as good a party trivia game as Wits & Wagers, but it's certainly more fun than I expected. I'll probably pull this one out with large groups several times in the future. The only downside is the limited replayability, but since I won't play it that often, I think it will last long enough.
= SmileyFace - A nice light fluffy game, about cute little smiley faces, that helps to bring the family closer together...NOT!! This game is vicious. The mechanisms are really basic, but the special cards (appropriately named "mischief cards") throw a massive monkey wrench into the game. Suddenly people can literally steal points from other players, and there aren't that many points to go around in this game. There's even a card that basically says "if I can't have the points, no one can!" Sure it's a light simple game that you can play with anyone, but I don't think it's one you will want to play with everyone. If you have anyone in your group that will have problems with mean-and-nasty gameplay, then avoid this game like the plague. Otherwise, it's a pretty enjoyable time. I'm happy to own it, but I'll be very careful about who I try to play with.
= Handy - I'm always looking for silly games like this to play with the teens. When I got this one I thought it would be perfect. And, sure enough, it is great for a laugh or two. The teens really started laughing as the hand tree grew, and we were only playing with 4 people the first time. I'm anxious to try it with 5 or 6 just to increase the silliness. The problem is that the rules want you to keep playing this for multiple rounds, and I'm not sure if it has enough game there to keep playing again and again. It seems that one full round (until one team has run out of balls) is enough. Still the game provides exactly what I wanted and expected from it, a lot of laughter and a really fun way to pass the time. I imagine this will make regular appearances at our youth group events. Obviously the game is not intended for die-hard strategy gamers, but with families you could have a good time.
I played 2 new-to-me games in April.
Mord im Arosa was fun, if very brief. So we played it twice in a row. There is this cool tower, the listening for clues falling in the tower, and just a general sense of fun built into the game activities. And the game is brief! We played twice, with rules explanation, in 45 minutes. I suspect once you get way behind that you really are doomed. But for a 15 minute game, I can accept that.
1848: Australia was a 4-hour game, which in terms of 18xx is relatively brisk. It features a big map, but routes tended to avoid large sections of the interior, so we basically built a rind of rails around the perimeter of Australia. It is a chip off the 'ol 1830 block, but of course has a few new features:
Differing gauges in each state, "Plus" trains to cope with that, the Bank of England, the severe penalties for taking loans, and the rather draconian receivership rules. Enough changes to add flavor, but not so drastically different from 1830 so as to throw you off your horse.
Of the two new games, I'd have to say they both were minor hits for me. I'll enjoy playing Mord im Arosa as a closer at the game club, and imagine it could see significant play. 1848 is a fine train game, but it faces stiff competition from other 18xx titles, and I'm unsure how often it will be selected.
Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
That's Tim Powers' fictional Samuel Coleridge "quoting" John Milton in _The Anubis Gates_.
Another six new games for me this month, plus one expansion. As is now usual, I'll list 'em in decreasing order of enthusiasm. With the exception of the first two items (who scored very close to one another, and I broke ties based on my comprehension of the game - much better for Pampas Railroads than 1860) there aren't any ties; the rest of this list is again actually-decreasing, rather than decreasing-subject-to-some-weird-tiebreaker.
Pampas Railroads -- (1 play) _8.5_
(images by John Bohrer) & clearclaw)
Best game of the month is definitely Pampas Railroads. It feels wrong to given it a less than completely snarky award, but the best I can do is (Tie) Least impressive game presentation. Tied, naturally, with PanzerZug: another Winsome title.
The one game was quite amazing: subtle incentives; gentle leverage; charming (though not fast) pacing. Naturally, I came dead last! But I really enjoyed the experience. I'd love to have the chance to play again - I'd love to try a few different things.
1860 -- (1 play) _8.5_
(images by Werbaer & jrebelo)
Second best game - by a hair - was 1860. I'd give it the More dials and levers than one can shake a stick at award for the month. Quite unlike Pampas Railways in that the mutations aren't at all subtle; they have rather dramatic effect. But the timing of those changes is indeed subtle: it's like some weird game-space-geometric dual of the other title.
JC soundly defeated me. Soundly. He was also gracious and pleasant about it - as much as his mock BGG.reputation might lead one to expect otherwise. I tried a bunch of things - most of which failed. Some by a greater margin than others. But it was completely cool. I rank it lower than Pampas Railroad only because I think I've a better handle on the other title.
Steam -- (2 plays) _7.7_
(images by AlexYeager & reeboohin)
Third best. Greatest feeling of clockwork inevitability in a game this month. Quite unlike the 18xx experience, in fact: there I see there are possibilities - and that the priorities of those possibilities depend somewhat on the decisions that precede them. Here, there are Things That One Must Do - and the primary questions are those of order and priority. (And even then, I can't say that there was much surprise about the way things panned out.)
It's likely that feeling will decrease with more players. At least to a degree. So while I found it somewhat amusing, it's also subject to revisiting after a few more plays. It's also possible that there's a lot more dynamic range than I saw in the first couple games: playing with a different set of opponents might help too!
Final Frontier -- (1 play) _7_
(both images by TheRook)
Fourth best. (But still "good".) The So what does this chit mean? award. Yeah, one might expect that those things would be clear early on. But we were still less than completely clear on the function of some of the bits when the game was nearly over.
It's definitely amusing. Throw some of St*r Tr*k (original series, at least) into a blender with a bit of silliness, some cheesy graphics, some amusing round-robin selection mechanics and a couple more chits than one strictly needs, and you might (if particularly talented) end up with something like this. It's not serious, nor is the tie between decisions and result particularly strong. But it's got an excellent sense of story and purpose.
PanzerZug -- (1 play) _6.3_
(both images by Monkie)
Fifth best. (Down to "mostly amusing.") A Where's the mead? award winner.
I didn't play with a Viking Helmet on. Clearly a blunder. But I did enjoy myself. This one, too, is less than completely serious. Definitely a mead-and-meat (What? You imagined beer-and-pretzels? Really? Go read the forums.) game if there ever was one. You outfit your Allied Plane and go shoot yourself up some Axis Trains and Freight Yards. If you're up for it, there's even the opportunity for some US-UK smack-talk. (Which, for the record, certainly happened.) This is one where it helps to draw random cards well and roll well. If you can master those two simple skillz, you'll win. If not - then you're left with the same random-but-entertaining result we had.
Paranoia -- (1 play) _5_
(images by JackRandom & redjack11)
Sixth/Last best new game of the month. Maybe closer to "Last" than "Sixth" in the cosmic sense. The So, will this end anytime soon? non-award.
That undersells it a bit, of course. It wasn't really interminable. It took less time than 1860. And it was definitely faster than the recovery from my ACL surgery. But after a half-hour of play, there wasn't any sense yet of advance toward the end conditions. Some of that was the group: we may have been more paranoid than strictly necessary. But, then again, if you're going to play a game called Paranoia why not embrace the experience?
We thrashed about on some missions. Some succeeded (whee!); some failed (whee!); sometimes the result didn't seem to matter much: it was more about the ambience, I think, than the result. And the ambience and theme are excellent: but that's not (quite) enough to recommend the game.
The one expansion was:
Railways of England and Wales -- (1 play) _7.7_
(images by EndersGame & Utumo)
We only played it as an expansion map to Railroad Tycoon. (Yeah; I realize there's a weird stock-game in the box too: but I haven't kept up with the forum discussion there - and wasn't able to figure out what was intended with that version given the rules that had been included (or, in fact, the rules discussions here in the first month or two after the game's release.) Give it the How was it really supposed to work, again? award.)
As an expansion map, it's pretty nice. Reasonably constraining; amusing choices; a very light ersatz-Age-of-Steam flavoured experience. Possibly lighter than strictly necessary, too: but it's quite a nice family game as a result.
In the end, thanks to my youngsters; the no-longer-on-Friday Lunch folk; the I've been diced gang; and the BAP attenders for some great games. And one not-so-great game, but I'll try not to gripe about that one here: my longsuffering wife has already endured more whining about that one than I care to admit. Oops.
April is my birthday month, and my boyfriend's as well... that means lots of new games!
Power Grid (5 plays)
We finally got to play Power Grid with more than 2, and it's pretty much everything I hoped it would be. I love how you need to always be planning ahead and thinking through how each decision affects your turn order and future prospects. I like the jockeying for board position and the fierce competition for power plants and resources. I even enjoy the constant mental arithmetic.
Best of all, my non-gamer father (who has never agreed to play Catan, Dominion, etc. despite all our efforts) consented to play with us and liked it so much he even suggested we could play it again next time. That alone made the purchase worthwhile.
Power Grid is definitely quickly becoming one of our favorites, so much so that I made my boyfriend's birthday cake Power Grid themed!
Stone Age (4 plays)
A bit lighter than I'd like ideally, but still interesting and fun, plays pretty quickly, and works quite well even with 2. The components are beautiful and I like the dice/luck aspect of gameplay.
It can be hard to gauge accurately how well you're doing in the middle of a game, since the majority of scoring is hidden until the end, but that's really a minor quibble. I see this one hitting the table pretty frequently in the future.
Twilight Struggle (3 plays)
Intense and highly thematic, Twilight Struggle boasts compelling gameplay and a lot of difficult decisions. After 3 plays I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of the depth and strategy. However, I don't actually find myself having much fun while playing, and the play time is much longer than I'm in the mood for most of the time, so I don't see a lot of this in our future. Still, I think it's a fantastic game and I'm glad to have tried it.
Archaeology: The Card Game (8 plays)
This game is a lot more fun than I would expect from a simple set collection card game, plays quickly, and is very portable too. We use poker chips to avoid having to count/add up all the sets at the end, and it works very well. The gameplay is not very deep so I imagine it'll wear out its welcome pretty quickly, but for now it's a great casual or filler game.
Catan Card Game (6 plays)
Great 2-player card game that is far superior to the Catan board game. My biggest issue with this is the long play time. I've heard that The Rivals for Catan keeps the essence of the game but plays much faster, so I'll definitely have to check that one out.
Jambo (5 plays)
I think I set my expectations a bit high after reading some raves, but this is still a fun 2-player card game that has some set collection and a lot of direct conflict.
Union Pacific (1 play)
Ticket to Ride meets Acquire, though I liked it better than Acquire and not as much as Ticket to Ride. Fun but I don't think I'd go out of my way to play it.
Diamant (3 plays)
A fun little push-your-luck filler game. Everyone enjoyed this one and wanted to play again, though for me it had lost a little bit of luster by the third play.
M (1 play)
A decent game but I didn't feel it was particularly special in any way. I'm starting to realize that I don't really care for abstracts, so that probably contributes a lot to my feelings here.
David & Goliath (2 plays)
Fast-playing trick-taking game with a clever little theme... just didn't feel particularly fun or compelling to me.
Nightfall (1 play)
I've been a bit burned out on Dominion and I was wondering if this would really renew my interest in the whole deck-building thing... but nope. It probably didn't help that nobody at our table had actually played before and we played incorrectly for most of the game. The chaining/kicker element is interesting, and it's good to be able to do something on everyone's turn rather than just your own, but ultimately the game just felt kind of flat to me and I didn't particularly care much about anything I was doing.
Citadels (1 play)
The roles and role interactions here seem very well-thought out, and I like the psychological/bluffing element of trying to guess your opponents' roles to target them (and on the flip side, selecting roles that others likely won't target.) However, the game seemed to drag on forever (~2.5 hrs for 7 players, and we'd even agreed to only play to 7 districts.) More importantly, I really disliked the assassination aspect of the game - I understand the idea and the purpose, but overall it just seemed really unfair and was beyond the level of game conflict that I'm comfortable with.
I'm glad I tried it, but I didn't like this one at all. Interestingly, both of the other women at the table hated this too, while the men seemed to like it much more.
Ever buy snakes from the Egyptian, Taffey?
Only one play of TtR: Marklin so far but at first glance I like it pretty well. As a revamp of TtR it seems to add a lot of nice decisions without bogging down the gameplay too much. It's annoying to set up though.
Such a Thing?
Interesting, thinky party game. Can cause arguments (a good and bad thing).
i got this last saturday, and have for the most part played it everyday at least once. my first impression was this game is really hard. i taught it to my wife and she plays it with me. co op goes well for us, passage through mirkwood was easy and we didn't have alot of trouble. then came journey along the anduin, that hill troll, just did us in every time. so we made a deck. it was fun going through the cards and seeing how they will play, if only you could get those cards. escape from guldur was easy until the nazgul of dol guldur got involved. definitely going to buy the expansions when they come out, and to wait on that i printed off the 2 scenarios a guy made.
printed this up and got it cut out. i was kind of hoping for a short game that i could play at lunch time during work on those slow days, but so far i have not been able to get it down to 30 min always takes me a good hour or more unless epidemic comes around it is almost a guarantee to kill me, it is a fun game a bit addictive to me since i like civ type games.