New to you August 2011 => Best new boardgame
What new board and card games did you play in August 2011? 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 2011
New To You MetaMetalist
New To You Geeklists - Announcement thread
Other Great Monthly Lists
Your Most Played Game (and more): August 2011
New to Your Kids August 2011 - Best New Games you've played with your children and why.
New To You August 2011 => Your best new Videogame
Your best gaming experience of the month and why August 11
New to you a year ago Aug 11 => Has it stood the test of time?
Games only YOU have played in August 2011
Out of the Dust, August 2011
A little bit of a tough pick for me.
I think I have to go with 7 Wonders, which has been a big hit in our house. I am sure it won't last forever, but right now we';re enjoying the heck out of it (especially my wife).
There were two other games that are right near the top:
The Bottle Imp which I have only played once, and at work. I found it really engaging and can't wait to play it again, unfortunately my work mates didn't love it as much as I did. Will try it out with my gaming group on Saturday (hopefully).
Railways of England and Wales which I loved, and will be picking up a copy as soon as my usual game store restocks it. I know this will become a massive hit with me when I get a chance to further explore the game.
After that, I played and enjoyed all of the following games - no duds this week!
Gloria Picktoria - Played four times this month. It's nothing flashy, but it's fun and went over well at work.
Alien Frontiers - This was great, but it also ran really long on our first (and so far) only play. I know it will improve with more plays.
Castle Merchants - It's a shame this game isn't prettier or a more interesting/unique theme, because we loved playing it, and I think it's a fine game that I'm guessing more people would have picked up otherwise.
Nottingham - Another game that was a surprise hit with us. We've only played it once, but it was fun and light. Looking forward to the next play.
Oasis - This was good, but not great. I think we played it with too few people though (only three). If we pull it out and play it again in the future with four, I am sure it would be better, though I suspect it will never be great.
Only 3 new games this month, my worst month since 2008.
Lords of Vegas rating 7, 2 plays
Good game but not a great game. Area control with dice to represent influence that you can re-roll to change things up. The fact that you can trade things and the random lots makes it look like Chinatown but my experience in two games is there is a lot less trading and a lot more waiting and hoping to get lucky. Not sure if trading will become more common with more play.
Cadwallon: City of Thieves rating 5.5, 1 play
It is fine but too light for it's length and I didn't think the theme really came through.
Letters from Whitechapel rating rating 5, 1 play
I need to give it another play to be fair but didn't like it enough for this to happen. It seemed like a less good version of Scotland Yard. If the investigators get lucky and make a good guess as to where your hideout is they will win otherwise it is pretty easy for Jack to evade most of the game.
Busy month at work, so not much gaming, and this was the only new one. It was OK, but not fabulous. Glad to have finally tried it, though.
Don't fall in love with me yet, we only recently met
The winner this month is Lost Valley, a game with Euro mechanics (somewhat reminiscent of Tikal) that doesn't forget to tell a great story. I like the setting (gold prospecting), I like the components, I like the fast-paced turns (make a move, take an action), I like the wide range of action choices and I like the diversification promoted by the upgrades you can purchase at a hefty cost. At the start of the game it seems terribly difficult to do anything but by the end we were frantically racing across the board to mine the last gold before the river froze over. Although there's not a huge amount of direct interaction, it's an immersive, laughter-filled, shared experience and I'm looking forward to my next game already. 7, with the expectation of a rise.
I played Pandemic early on in getting into the hobby, and was really impressed by the mechanics. But I soon decided I'm not a big fan of co-ops, especially after a painful game (my first win!) where we were bossed around by an experienced player. My mother-in-law picked up Forbidden Island for me in the Borders liquidation sale, so I gave it a go, and it really does merit the description of "Pandemic Lite". The mechanics are still clever (though not as clever as Pandemic), it's faster and it should work better for non-gamers. It doesn't set my world on fire, and I like the theme less, but I'm happy to have it in my collection. 6
A couple of new-to-me Knizia fillers, both with such blatantly pasted on themes that they've each been published with two different ones. Atlanteon is a palatable 2p no-luck abstract that loses more than it gains from the silly sea monsters 'theme'. And Bucket Brigade/Honeybears is one of those minimalist Knizias like Loco that would be fine with no theme at all. 6s both.
Stinker of the month: Principato. The description didn't bowl me over (renaissance Italy, individual player boards) but even that didn't prepare me for how little fun this was. The one clever idea is the action selection mechanism: each player has two action cards in front of them, which they can activate or exchange with cards in a common row in the middle. But the actions themselves are dull and repetitive, killing whatever tension this mechanic might create. In that respect, it's rather like the Speicherstadt, only the one clever idea is less clever and the dull rest of the game is more dull.
What really murders the game though, is that the two main resources are completely symmetrical. There are buildings that cost gold and make food, and there are buildings that cost food and make gold; there are soldiers who you pay with food, and soldiers you buy with gold, and so on. This makes it impossible to specialise, and the only thing driving the players to do anything differently is the two secret goals they get dealt at the beginning of the game. Our play at London on Board went on so far beyond its welcome that it became a joke and all four of us (Euro-fans to a man) subsequently rated it a 3.
Final note: last month, I narrowly picked Lords of Scotland over A Few Acres of Snow, because my one play of AFAOS wasn't enough to judge it on. After five plays of each, AFAOS is turning out to be exceptional and should have got the vote, though Lords of Scotland is holding up well as a solid filler-plus.
Zendo fan, Columbus Blue Jackets fan, Dominion Fan. These are 'permanent microbadges' to free up space on my microbadge row
Three new games in August, none of which particularly distinguished themselves. So, the deck building dice game gets the nod.
Defenders of the Realm - Pandemic-ish cooperative game with a fantasy combat theme. All the added elements just seemed to make the game last longer.
Felinia - A decent resource management game with a gratuitous anthropomorphic feline theme that adds absolutely nothing to the game.
Quarriors! - Deck building with dice instead of cards. So you have not only the randomness of the draw to deal with, you have the randomness of the dice rolling (each die has a range of powers depending on what you roll). Reasonably fun, but it won't displace my favorite deck building games any time soon.
Location: 3' from my actual position.
Played a good many this month but mostly old standbys. We still managed to get in 4 new titles.
Letters from Whitechapel tops this short list. We so very nearly had him on the second night but after that we were way way off. The angst and the carrying on it created was a ton of laughs.
MegaCorps and Kings & Things I probably enjoyed right about the same. Megacorps probably would have somewhat longer legs though. Kings and Things is an old school game and certainly feels like it but I like reliving the old days every now and then.
Zombie State: Diplomacy of the Dead Well, I never was too into the whole zombie fad thing. The technology tree seems to better reward certain paths over others so some techs go without even a short consideration. Maybe because there are no actual branches to this tree.
Board Game: Brass
[Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:15]
It was a nice month full of newer Knizias, two and a half cooperative games, a top 10 BGG game and two –leos. Pictures as usual, by myself; some more to be added soon.
So now I have larned antoher BGG Top 10 game! After one play the impression is just what I expected: I need to play it more to (possibly) appreciate it more. It's certainly a very good game; I'm just not sure it's a top 10 material - yet. 85% of the rules are something I can often say about Martin Wallace games - complex but kind of elegant - but there are some exceptions that make it a bit fiddly; also the rulebook is very confusingly written. Otherwise it seems to be a nice game with many different ways to win. We all pursued different (beginner) strategies and ended with a 6 points difference between the winner and the last player so I can'tsay any of these strategies seemed to be the only way to glory. I want to play it more until I start to feel everything.
An old and popular dexterity game and now I know why it’s loved by many. This “take away pieces, hoping the construction does not collapse” game (see Jenga, Mikado, Villa Paletti) is fun, also it teaches a lot about the basic principles of elementary physics to younger players.
Ra: The Dice Game 1x
if you like the original scoring of Ra and you like dice games then this one is for you – it’s really fine. Jokers, re-rolls and catastrophes also provide quite lots of space for strategy which is more than enough for a “you can re-roll your dice two times then use them” dice game. It’s also rather interactive, a lot more interactive than most so-called Yahtzee-style games. I’d say it’s as good, or in some aspects, even better than Roll Through the Ages which it is quite often compared to (probably because of the frozen dice that can cause catastrophe). Ra is one of my favorite Knizias but unfortunately my wife really doesn’t like it as she doesn’t really like auctions – maybe she is going to enjoy this one.
The Hobbit (2010) 1x
A nice, although not too deep family game which clearly fits in the list of Knizian linear adventure games as it’s a game where the (commonly moved) marker’s movement is controlled by playing cards. It is actually the mixture of a simple (Relationship Tightrope/Yin Yang-ish) card game used for moving the figure and a simple “roll 5 special dice to try to achieve the necessary number of symbols” dice game, with event cards added for a stronger sense of theme. It’s in the same league, maybe a bit more interesting, maybe a bit more luck-dependent than Marco Polo – unless using the special, “highest lowest” additional variant scoring rule which makes your card playing decisions more crucial and/or using the more thematic, more cooperative variant rule where everyone loses if Smaug reaches Laketown before game end. These, if taken into consideration from the beginning, add some interesting extra layer to the game.
Actually I think this game is a worthy “prequel” to Knizia’s Lord of the Rings. It is for a bit younger crowd – just like the book – and while all the mechanisms of this game are completely different from those in Lord of the Rings, it still works as a follow-up. Just like there, you have 4 adventures here with commonly used figures, collecting different symbols which are going to be neded in order to be successful – success grants you rewards in form of action cards. Just like in the Lord of the Rings, the One Ring does help you overcome the strongest enemies – with a price; you also have randomly drawn events and in case of any failure the Big Bad Monster moves in the opposite direction as the Hobbit. So it’s just the same – but everything is done differently. Very nice idea.
Mousquetaires do Roy 1x
A thematic, dice-heavy semi-cooperative game with lots of combats – by Ystari? Yes! The result is interesting: the rules are fiddly and a bit too complex for its own good just like in most Ystari games, but the game is interesting and dice rolls are so frequent that bad and good luck evens out nicely. When we played, (the player with) Milady won but the musketeers were not far from completing their mission.
Star Trek: Expeditions
Another cooperative game: It’s rather easy to have an acceptable result in the end; you need bad luck and/or weak players/beginners for the missions to fail (the game can be played in 3 difficulty levels). For a mathematican designer it’s more interesting that you are competing to have nice results: a board shows your score in the end of the game. If one of three numbers are at zero or below by the end then the mission failed; if each of them are at least at 1 you have won – still with quite bad results which are explained as some thematic stuff like “you have won but the planet has joined the Klingons and there is a civil war on the planet”. Otherwise the game is about collecting cards and stuff, moving and helping each other, and completing your missions which is done using your character powers (it’s HeroClix) and the cards/tiles you have collected to aid your die rolls. More thematic and chaotic than your usual Knizia, less thematic than your usual AT game, it wasn’t a bad experience, I rather enjoyed it – I even want to re-play it – but it’s still not that special and if story is the most important factor for you then it does not have too high replayability.
Yin Yang 1x
his Relationship Tightrope-rework (with acceptable graphic design at last – I have the yellow/blue Fifty Fifty edition and I just hated the look of RT) is still a very simple card game that is totally different from but feels a bit like Category 5 with fewer players. No one was amazed but it worked fine; it's an okay card game where, however large the role of luck is, it still counts a lot how good you are in card games - and the final score was just the same as the order we usually finish traditional card games when we play with these friends. Trying to find out why Category 5 is a better game I have come to the conclusion (with quertymartin’s help) that it’s because Yin Yang is like 11 Nimmt (a follow-up to 6 Nimmt aka. Category 5): these games are more sophisticated, need more interesting decisions than Category 5 do, but Category 5 is more of a party game where, unlike in Yin Yang, it’s always obvious that who got screwn when.
A new Gigamic game that has colorful, good quality cones and has some fun quality to it. But in the end it's more a psychology game than a heavy abstract and it can too easily end as a "bash the leader" game so player order & the last round is too important and the previous rounds become too unimportant in the end. I wanted to like it more buti t seemed whoever is the last player does have a rather big advantage over others. I guess/hope it’s not true as this advantage seems to be too obvious but right now I’m not convinced.
Unpublished prototype 2x
Two rule versions of a game that might be okay for educational purposes but isn’t that special or different from dozens of other games so even if it’s fair it's not a game I really want to play again.
I'm a dyed in the wool German game lover but this is really cool. I've only played the introductory 3-player scenario (twice), which limits you to movement and close combat and leaves out shooting, searching, and other rules, but even in its stripped down form it was great fun. This is not just a dice roller: the order tile mechanic allows for interesting, tough, meaningful decisions. Plus it's playable in about an hour, which agrees with my four-month old son. Really cool game, check it out!
Board Game: Dominion
[Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:30]
[Average Rating:7.78 Unranked]
My progress toward the 2014 10x10 Challenge
Only one New-To-Me this month:
Dominion - 8 plays
That's right I'm just now trying this game for the first time. I expected to like it, but the big surprise is how much my 14-year-old daughter likes it. Not to mention how good she is at it - why does she keep beating me??
I've mentioned this in another thread, but I really wish the text on the cards was larger. My wife has enough trouble reading the cards that it turns her off to the game. There's plenty of room to make the text larger.
"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." -Jack Handey
After playing 23 new games the last three months, I thought I was on an unsustainable pace. Apparently not: eleven new ones this month! Let's get to it...
Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space x1
What a fantastic, simple little game. I've been wanting to play it since Tom Vasel reviewed it many months ago. There were many rumors of it coming to US distribution, but I hadn't seen it. Then I stumbled on it sitting lonely on a rack at my FLGS. They didn't even know what it was, apparently (it was categorized as an RPG in their system).
I got it to the table near the end of the month. It started slow, though there were accusations as to who was alien and who human from the start. 10 minutes in, the first time an alien attacked and realized he had been duped by a human's false move, the game got real. People were grinning at each other in appreciation of sly play. The winner was a human who had everyone convinced he was an alien from the start. Awesome stuff.
In some ways I'm not certain why I like this game as much as I do. I don't mind the randomness, but I have had some frustrating games due to poorly balanced Creatures. It seems bizarre that a third or more of the creatures seem miscosted and yet repeated plays seem to reinforce the notion. Is it groupthink? The community raises many of the same issues. Regardless, I do like it and the coming expansion is probably an auto-buy for me; I simply must experience the improved variety (and hopefully some balance tweaks).
The first of a batch of mid-range games, enjoyment-wise. This game leads the pack through charm and uniqueness. I definitely have nothing else like it in my collection. Nevertheless it was a risky buy as I'm unlikely to get this (expensive) game to the table much. The push-your-luck elements of the game seem simple on first glance, and a solo playthrough left me worrying there wouldn't be much to it. Lo and behold, in an actual (3-player) game, this turned out to be quite gripping. There were wipeouts and gambles won and lost. In the end, the youngest player aggressively drove to the end and handily smacked his elders. Anyone interested in this game should try it, though buying blind is still chancy.
Wings of Glory / Wings of War x1
This was a funny, random game play that came from all the board game tables being full at a game day. I was invited to try this and went back to miniatures gaming for an afternoon, which I haven't done in 15 years. The game was surprisingly fun and I enjoyed the tightness of the maneuvering decisions, which have deadly consequences. It brought me back to my youth, when I played a lot of Ace of Aces. I doubt I'd ever get heavily into this though; miniatures games are still too big a commitment. It's like a lifestyle choice.
Eminent Domain x2
The game that inspired my first real review on BGG. In a nutshell, I thought it looked terrible from the rules but enjoyed it in play. I was tempted to get it even though it had little reason to be in my collection, but I probably won't since getting the promo planet cards is sketchy and that drives me nuts.
My first play of this game fell pretty flat. It was cute but there wasn't much to it. That was a three-player game. I later played a five-player game and enjoyed it quite a bit more. I'm still not sure it's essential to play even with a better player count, but it has enough charm that I'd like to try it a few more times that way. I love the simplicity of the turns and the process of trying to guess other players' spell choices is pretty fun.
Code 777 x1
The deduction in this game is tough! It made the game hard for me because I feel awkward taking long turns (I don't like making people wait) and it's simply necessary to take time to think when playing this game.
Rune Age x1
Dumb and repetitive. Too little card variety. Pass.
This should have been a treat, but became one of the games I find hard to rate for the month. The explanation was slow and scattered, the players were sometimes impatient and it took 3.5 hours until we had to cancel the last eighth of the game because our venue was shutting down.
All that said, I can see why it's a classic. The auctions are very cool and unique. The resource management and advancing up the development tracks feels a little "generic Euro" for me, having played so many later-designed games. I definitely want to play it again.
A Few Acres of Snow x1
My first play of the game was against someone playing their fourth play. He thought he didn't know the game well, but we learned that he had picked up much more than he realized. I got curb-stomped and it made the game less interesting for me than I had hoped. I didn't have time to explore strategy as he sieged my main city before I had even developed a cohesive deck. I need to play this again but am on the fence about buying it for myself.
I got 2/3 through this game before I picked up the rule book and noticed a couple of major rules errors given in the explanation we were given. The game played out very incorrectly as a result. I don't feel confident in my impression of the game.
I did find it intriguing though. I don't like Small World at all, but this had much more interesting ideas and decisions. The development chart has a funny way of making the game "different" each time, and I have read several criticisms of this mechanic being thin. But I found it interesting nonetheless. I kind of want the game, but don't actually know if it's fun when played right (it seems like it would be).
You want to know something? I don't think Mozart's going to help at all.
6 new games this month. Almost all were really good.
Schrille Stille: Man, the physical device in this game has got to be up there for one of the most innovative devices EVER! It's a decent enough game of bluffing and positioning. I've dreamed about this game since playing it. Oh, and I imported my own copy from Germany since (damn you, Matt).
THE REST (most liked first)
K2: A clever new racing game. The great use of limited future information really helps to make the game feel desperate. You make some crazy gambles. Well-designed game. Seems like it would have limited replayability...if it weren't for the extra weather tiles and two-sided board. Yay!
Pantheon: A pretty cool new Euro. It plays different than the rules read, in a good way. It's really about being able to chain together the god powers in meaningful ways. Very interesting turn order leveling. Box is strangely tall.
Quarriors!: Not quite as good as I hoped, but I think it may grow on me. It's a really great idea, but in execution, it adds an unpleasant level of randomness to the deck-building model. I'll have to try it a few more times, to take it as it is.
Cards Against Humanity: A really raunchy Apples to Apples clone. Hilarious, with the right group. That's probably all you really need to know about it.
Star Trek: Expeditions: Not my favorite Knizia ever. I'm an ST fan, but for some reason, the theme integration didn't do anything for me. Plus I have some real co-op boredom going on. Felt really mechanical when it should've felt engrossing. Meh.
♬♪♪ ♫ ♩ ♫♫♪ ♩♬♪ ♫
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)
During August we have managed to play a little more frequently than the last couple of months, but we have missed weeknight gaming on Tuesdays. Consequently I have not played the usual range of short fillers. I continued my evangelical efforts for Hansa Teutonica, teaching it to six new players. August also saw a welcome return of Combat Commander.
The Monash Uni club started meeting again after the examination break, and has relocated to a brilliant room in the Education Faculty. We now have funky square tables with wheels, lovely padded chairs and the room is brightly lit. Best of all, we are on the far side of campus from the amateur jazz band. I have taught most of the club how to play Paris Connection, so they are taking turns beating me. Dominion, Magic, Carcassonne and Race for the Galaxy remain the most popular options.
I have only managed four new games this month, but they are all quite interesting:
A Few Acres of Snow
A close-up of the board of a game in progress.Image courtesy thdizzyI have mixed feelings about a lot of Wallace's games; although I had heard of it, AFS was not a game I knew anything about. Fortunately a friend has a preorder copy and was terribly keen to play. Reluctantly I agreed to postpone a game of Combat Commander and we gave it a shot. Excellent choice!. Interesting, innovative, challenging... fun! I thoroughly recommend AFS for Eurogamers looking for two-player light conflict, or for wargamers wanting something lighter.
AFS uses a form of card-drafting to provide the players with variable options on their turn. There is a limited amount of starting capital with which you buy cards: additional cash is obtained through certain types of play. Cards allow money to be raised, but more frequently they are used to conduct operations against the opponent, or to found and develop settlements. Which is where the cards are used again: each settlement provides its own card: as these are drawn in subsequent rounds that location is available as a base of operations, or can be further developed, fortified, what have you. The limited predictability of the card draw forces players to be adaptable, while the deck-building aspect allows planning and provides strategic depth. I have not seen card drafting used this way before, but I'm sure there will be other games that "borrow the idea".
I have been interested in Olympos since it was first announced. As a rule I have enjoyed Ystari's games, although a couple have been very difficult to play with colourblindness (Hellooo Caylus). The production has been good, rules and design demonstrate ample playtesting and editing.
Not so much with Olympos.
It is a very good game, but it seems to have been hurried to market and component quality is lower than usual. The English rules seem to be incomplete: for example, on p7 we are told that Wonders may be paid for with "bonus tokens". Bonus tokens are not described anywhere; the rules are referring to player tokens on bonus spaces on the development board- this isn't hard to work out, but it was annoying to decode while playing, and should have been clarified before the rules were sent to printing. Similarly, on p3 there is a large picture of the game setup for play: many components are labelled with letters... but those labels are not referenced anywhere in the rules. This suggests the illustration was prepared for a different version of the rules. There are some other instances - nothing bad enough to prevent play, but not the quality I expected.
Technology chart during a game.Image courtesy cnidiusThe big issues are some of the components: the development board is simply a large sheet of printed and folded cardboard; sometime it will fail along the fold and split into two pieces. The territory tokens (confusing name - they show resources) are difficult to tell apart, and the icons on the development board are hard to read. But you don't really notice, because you are busy fighting for the rules, because you need to decode the development tiles (24 of them, with unhelpful icons). The game desperately needs player aids; I'm off to photocopy the relevant pages as soon as I finish here!
All of which is sad, because
Olympos is a very good game!
Olympos makes use of a time track, similar to Thebes, and a resource "availability system" to pay for developments which is akin to 7 Wonders. Players expand their territories, gaining access to resources, which in turn allow new tech to be developed. Combat is very, very simple, and has minimal impact on losers. The different technologies synergise nicely, encouraging players to explore new combos and find different strategy. There are many enticing options on your turn. Everyone has really enjoyed playing the game.
7/10, will be 8/10 with player aids!
With the Monash Uni club back in action, my regular Dominion games have restarted. Cornucopia was a priority, and did not disappoint. The new cards add some alternatives and extra excitement, and work well with cards from earlier expansions. There are one or two that seem very powerful, and might increase the luck factor if they are drawn early, but we have not really noticed this. Cornucopia was a "must buy" for me and after a dozen or so plays I am very happy.
I love Dominion: Cornucopia does not excite me quite as much as Seaside or Prosperity, but that is probably because Dominion is fighting against the law of diminishing returns. In any case, the game as a whole remains one of my absolute favourites.
During play .Image courtesy lacxoxArtus is a puzzle-like abstract that has really nothing to do with King Arthur; but I sympathise with the publisher because I can't think of any other theme that would fit better. It is sold as a 2-4 player game, and it is certainly playable by 3+, but I found the wait between turns excruciating. There is no way to plan ahead prior to your turn: the board resets quite radically as each player takes their actions. The problem is compounded because visualising the effects of your actions can be quite tricky for some players, so Artus is likely to promote slow play. There is nothing wrong with a deep, "thinky" game, but it isn't so good when players have to wait for the start of their turn to commence their planning.
Overall I found Artus quite frustrating- we actually discussed playing another game simultaneously so we would have something to do between turns. I want to try again with two players, possibly with the assistance of a chess clock: the game should be very interesting with less dead time!
5.5/10 - could change quite a bit!
EDIT: We played Artus with the "advanced" rules - I had forgotten there is a simpler version of the game.
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I've only played one game of Werewolf before and thought it was OK, but I was looking forward to trying The Resistance and it's purported improvements. I played it 3 times this month (and the spies won twice) and found that it adds just the extra bit of structure that I thought was needed to give the Werewolf idea clearer purpose and intrigue, especially for the people I play with. I rated it an 8.
Other new games this month in were:
Survive: Escape from Atlantis!: About as much fun as I could have with a game that contains so much chaos and not so much strategy. My boys loved it and I really did enjoy my plays with them. My rating: 7.5
Lords of Scotland: Underrated gem of a small Z-Man hand-management card game with some interesting decisions and plenty of opportunities to battle one`s opponents. My rating: 7
Hey Waiter!: An enjoyable, fairly light-weight card game with a unique way of putting 2 cards from your hand together to perform a specific action. The dishes made out of poker chips with stickers on them adds to the coolness factor. My rating: 7
Mr. Jack Pocket: A pleasant stripped-down deduction game that is more challenging than it may first appear. I miss the variable powers of the characters in the game, but it is still a fun experience. My rating: 6.5 with 10 plays this month.
T-Rex: A unique sort-of-trick-taking game that I think would be rated a lot higher if it wasn't quite so complex. My rating: 6.5
Rory's Story Cubes: Not much of a game, but an excellent way to stretch the imagination as you try to piece together a story where the items shown on the 9 dice actually fit together in some coherent way. An excellent activity. My rating: 5.5
Dweebies: A decent card-placement game for kids, but the cool artwork takes it a notch higher. My rating: 5
Papa Bear: A good pattern recognition game for kids. My rating: 4
Sequence: A competitive form of Bingo using playing cards, with only slightly more choices than the original. There is a sliver of mindless fun in here. My rating: 4
Alien Hotshots: A terrible old Gamewright game that takes the old card game War and makes it extra complicated for kids without being any more strategic. My rating: 2
Here's a photo from a session of Sequence with my boys:
The only new game I played in August was Innovation. I played a single game with my wife, and we both enjoyed it moderately. We are big fans of Race for the Galaxy, and I bought Innovation on a whim to challenge Race for the supremacy of our gaming time. While that might not go down, the game was fun, and only our limited gaming time of late has prevented me from getting it to the table again.
I'll cheat slightly and talk a bit about Letters from Whitechapel, which we had played once several months ago, and finally got back to the table. Our first play saw me as Jack, toying with the wife-controlled police forces. Last week we had some friends over for gaming, and I suggested we play Letters. Now I was looking to playing Jack again, but my good friend Mikkel wrestled control of him away from me (alas, scissors beat paper). The game was much more fun and very tense, and we did manage to capture Jack on the last night. On top of that, I had predicted Jack's hideout after the second night, but my fellow policemen wouldn't have any of it. Justice did, however, prevail. Certainly a game we'll play again.
A Few Acres of Snow
Fun game. Still learning the intricacies, but I like the asymmetry, the familiarity of deck building, and most importantly, a fresh take on that played out mechanic.
My first play may have technically been last month. I can't remember. Regardless, I didn't make an entry then, and this is worth a mention. I got absolutely wrecked the first time I played this and still had a lot of fun. Figuring out how to efficiently build your area is a really cool idea.
Fun game. Different enough for me to enjoy. I wish Runewars had a similar combat mechanic!
Board Game: Dice Town Extension
[Average Rating:7.38 Unranked]
[Average Rating:7.38 Unranked]
[Average Rating:7.38 Unranked]
♫ Eric Herman ♫
I like elephants. I like how they swing through trees.
Easy choice, as it was one of only 2 new things played, and though I love Arkham Horror and the Miskatonic Horror expansion adds some good stuff, the Dice Town expansion does what seemed impossible... it took a game that I already really loved, exactly as it was, and somehow made it so that this version is now the only way I'll want to play from now on (well, I'll still play Dice Town on its own if given the chance, but I'd much prefer to use the expansion).
The expansion uses a simple concept to great effect, adding a second "prize" to each location. But along with the additional choices of what you want to go for each turn, which the second prizes make more meaningful, it also adds a lot of value to the Sheriff role. And the nice option of the Indian die is a good addition, too.
Arkham Horror: Miskatonic Horror
What can I say... I love Arkham Horror, and this is more of it, so I had to have it. This is especially meant to augment the already many expansions, and it does a good job of that. I can't say that I'm necessarily blown away by anything that's included, but it's all good for adding more variety to a game that already has a ton of variety but can always seem to use more.
I'm gonna be the next Canadian Dracula
Paris Connection reminds me of Chicago Express in a very abstract sense. Specifically one can take a train game, distill out 90% of the complexity, add in a little abstraction here or there, and somehow you are left with a game with simple rules but no goddamn idea what to do. I really like games with difficulty obtained strictly through the decisions of the game - and not from ruleset complexity.
"I didn't have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead." I think the same can be said about filler games. The best ones out there - Can't Stop, Raj, No Thanks!, Parade, For Sale, and all the others I'm forgetting have one thing in common: simplicity. Skull and Roses has the potiential to be added to the short list of good, simple games. Minimal components and a nice presentation add to this experience.
It is a hard choice to pick a best from this month's new-to-me games.
Omen: A Reign of War (2 plays) - I found this little gem in a little shop selling mostly old and used games (with less then one percent of their supply being boardgames), but this one was unplayed, and pretty cheap. So I bought it, and it didn't disappoint me. It's beautiful, the game plays well in a short time, and i see a great replayability in it.
Rune Age (1 play) - I liked it a lot, although it sometimes seemed a bit unbalanced... maybe it was just us beginners not seeing the tactics of the seemingly weaker decks.
Dungeons & Dragons: Conquest of Nerath Board Game (1 play) - I'm not a fan of Risk, but this had another layer that made it pretty enjoyable. Needless to say I'm a fantasy-fan and an RPG-geek, so the theme is quite a plus for me.
War of Honor (1 play) - I have never played Legend of the Five Rings, but I was always interested in it. Now was the chance to play it without investing a fortune, but it was a strange experience. Sometimes the rules confused us so much, that everybody consulted his next move for minutes with the one experienced player at the table. That made the game pretty slow, but I wouldn't mind giving it another go with us better prepared.
The Hobbit (1 play) - Light family game, not bad, but not that great either. I see some possible replayability issues, but I'm not sure about it yet.
Deadlands: The Battle for Slaughter Gulch (1 play) - The game is not that bad, but the rules are. I mean, they are absolutely poorly written, we had to check them again and again from time to time during the play.
Cookie Fu (1 play) - we played only the basic game with a few dice, but it was not as good as we hoped. The dice are cool, though.
Duchess of Erat
We didn't play a whole game of this one, only the first set of action cards (there are 3 sets in total). Euro game, you build farms and lands, banks and palazzos to gather resources and store them. Those resources are then used to pay your militia and condottieres and buy catapults to guard your city. There's a church where you can get favor (wild card cubes). Military strength is worth points, but you also get secret objectives that will score you points at the end of the game. In later rounds you can also buy art, which also gives points. In order to do things, you use action cards. You have 2 of them, and there is a selection of 7 in the middle of the table. As an action you can either use one of the cards you have, or exchange one of them with one on the table. At the end of the round, the leftmost card from the center row is discarded, so you can keep some cards from your opponents that way. Fun mechanism. I liked the rounds we played, and would like to try a full game. I pick this one as my favorite of this month, as it's the game I would most like to try again.
Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game
LCG, we borrowed a copy and played with single faction decks (Cthulhu vs Syndicate I think), and those seemed unbalanced. It lacked atmosphere/theme, I wasn't battling monsters, or investigating things, but rather comparing icons.
Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery
Worker placement game. Ok game, lots of choices. I wasn't in the mood for a euro that kills my dudes, so I didn't like the mechanic where soldiers can eliminate colonists.
Merchants & Marauders
We missed some rules on this one, and only one of us even tried to attack anything (he won). I'm not sure if it was because of the missed rules, but it was a bit long. Ok game.
Puzzle game, you take pieces from the center of the table and try to make a landscape with animals and volcanoes (working and non-working ones) that fits together correctly. It feels somewhat like the puzzle part of Galaxy Trucker. There's an egg timer that ticks off the time, and if you finish first you get some bonus points. Non-matching connections are -1 per wrong connection and if you have the most working volcanoes, they are -1 per tile with an active volcano on it. Every animal is 1 point. There are advanced rules that give other goals for more points, and shorten the time from 7 minutes to 6 or 5. Fun and simple game.
A Few Acres of Snow
Deck building and area control/combat in one game. I didn't really like the combination. I can't really explain what the problem is, but it just didn't grab my attention I guess.
Frankfurt am Main
God's Playground (1 play) - _7_
God's Playground has the Wallace trademark all over it. It's convoluted, a little rough, and above all quirky. Even though at times it's seems he may have gone a little overboard here, the overall concept is pretty cool.
There is one part that I found disappointing: the special actions. Most of the 16 phases each turn are unchanging from round to round, but twice each turn you get the opportunity to do things differently from everyone else. Or you would if half of the options weren't unavailable and most of the rest useless to you at any particular point in time. The foreign invasions also seem a little weird at times but this is the single most grating aspect.
The dice-based combat resolution can produce major swings but in general that is something you can plan for to an extend, and it's also rare that only one player would be at the receiving end of a particularly bad result so that short-term alliances are a frequent occurence.
Times Square (2 plays) - _7_
Quick, fun, and somewhat silly little tug-of-war game. For such a simple game the rules seem a little complicated at first, but the interactions between the different pieces are what makes the game.
Yes, lucky card draws can end this game really fast but for such a short one it doesn't really matter much.
Airlines Europe (1 play) - _6_
Airlines Europe fits in somewhere in between Ticket to Ride and Chicago Express, although much closer to the former. That probably makes it a nice introduction to shareholding games.
The random availability of shares to grab and the equally random appearance of scoring rounds can have quite an impact which somewhat dilutes the value of good investment choices.
Key Harvest (1 play) - _6_
Key Harvest is clearly part of the Key series, both in appearance (which is overly busy and not particularly helpful in some places) and in theme, and while the inner workings are quite different they can't deny a certain kinship to its predecessors.
The basic idea is pretty simple: Everybody tries to build large patches of fields on a gridded board. As there is only one tile for each coordinate in the grid conflict arises when several players want to build their fields in the same area.
The market mechanism is quite charming: When you decide to grab a tile you first place it in temporary storage and fix a price for it. After that each player gets the chance to buy the tile from you for that price. If you still own the tile on your next turn you can pay the price yourself to actually place it on your landscape.
Key Harvest has 5 types of resources but apart from the beginning of the game where certain resources may be unavailable they rarely matter. Simply having more is usually much more important than having any specific type of crop which is unfortunate.
The game play is mostly tactical since any grand plans can easily be thwarted when a tile comes out at the wrong moment and gets snatched away by someone else, and it seems to run a bit longer than it should. The random events are fine and much less scathing than in Keythedral.
Letters from Whitechapel (1 play) - _6_
This is sort of the master version of Scotland Yard, at least for the detectives. They get fewer, less helpful clues, often move slower than Jack, and generally seem to stand little chance of apprehending the murderer unless they get lucky or manage to piece together a sufficiently clear picture of Jack's hideout over the course of several nights.
So there is the reason why you can't just play one or two nights right there which unfortunately means that the game runs a little longer than it should. Especially if the first nights work poorly for the detectives the remaining murders can drag out much longer than needed.
As is often the case in 1-vs-many games, playing the one, Jack, is the more interesting proposition than the detectives. Playing with more than three players (which would leave at least one player in control of a single detective only) is therefore not advisable.
Pantheon (1 play) - _5_
My first impression of Pantheon was that there is quite a lot to explain, especially taking into account that it is aspiring to be a family game. Once the game has started you'll get the hang of it quickly because it really isn't all that complicated.
Pantheon is a game of going with the flow, trying to make the best of the cards you are dealt. You can make as many plans as you like but if the Gods don't look favourably on you they will whither away more quickly than the ancient civilisations.
The luck factor is considerable. Some powers are clearly more valuable than others, and it seems that if a player gets lucky early on there is little hope to prevent a run-away leader. For a game of this length that is fairly irritating.
Dampfross (1 play) - _5_
If the game wasn't quite as long as it is it would actually be a pleasant dice roller. As it stands it just takes too long for the amount of luck from the dice rolls. You could just shorten it by playing to a lower amount of money or fewer deliveries but in that case the luck simply shifts to who connected the destinations that come up.
Which, to sum it up, means you have too much luck in the building phase (fixed by using the a single roll for all players), too much luck in the connection runs, both, or too long a game. With a little development, I'm sure something could be made of it, though.
Air Empire (1 play) - _5_
Considering its age Air Empire is a surprisingly good game even though you're mostly playing a spreadsheet. Players run airlines by purchasing planes and then using those planes to bid for contracts which hopefully earn them money.
This bid for contracts is the central game element and also the game's biggest weakness. Each turn there is one contract up for bid in two or three categories (think economy, business, freight). You can place a bid in one of those categories. The highest bidder in each category scores the contract, the losers get nothing (meaning they won't get any new income), and in addition they'll lose a percentage of their old income because they are "stagnating".
Essentially that means that a couple of unlucky bids can easily take you out of the game. Similarly, an early lead greatly facilitates scoring the more important contracts later on, thereby widening the gap.
Lords of Vegas (1 play) - _4_
The good: Lords of Vegas is a great game for mud slinging and trash talking. The bad: You'll run out of trash long before the game ends.
In essence, players (more or less randomly) earn cash in casinos they built, then spend that cash trying to take over other players' casinos. That involves throwing dice. Lots of them. In some cases there are ways to slightly alter the probabilities in your favour but even in those cases whether you are successful is mostly down to plain dumb luck.
I mean, the game almost works as a light-hearted trash talking activity. For that kind of game it goes on much too long, however, and offers too little opportunities for retaliation. It's pretty frustrating if you just sit there and don't get to do anything.
On top of that the colour choices are abysmal. Unless you have great lighting, the yellow lot markers are almost invisible, the blue and green lot markers indistinguishable, same as the brown and purple casinos, closely followed by the yellow and gray casinos. Seriously, what were they thinking?
Keltis: Der Weg der Steine Mitbringspiel (3 plays) - _4_
Der Weg der Steine takes the old and tried approach of Lost Cities and applies it to tile collecting. Which is actually much the same as card collecting, only with tiles. Heh.
Anyway, the basics are pretty much the same except that this implementation gets rid of the hand management and makes the game more random by only having one tile of each number and colour instead of two.
While that doesn't completely rid the game of decisions to make they are quite a bit less interesting than even those of its co-conspirators. A very much unneeded variation.
Lords of Vegas (4 plays)
Great fun. Kind of Settlers meets Chinatown meets Tigris & Euphrates. In Vegas. Bags of luck, obviously.
In a Pickle (1 play)
A word game placing cards to have your noun smaller or larger than an existing noun. There's a little bit of hand management in that you only want rows to complete if you've then got a chance of claiming the row by having an even larger noun card in your hand. Most energy seems to go into coming up with a plausible explanation why your card is reasonable, and criticising other players' cards. This will probably fall flat for many groups.
Dweebies (2 plays)
Simple, good looking card placement game, fun with children and non-gamers. Just not enough there for gamers, even as a light filler.
Wiraqocha (1 play)
Attractive French artwork (if a little dark & broody). Steampunk backstory. The game is a race to acheive one of three victory conditions. A landscape where hexes bring benefits. Each turn you harvest one type of resource, roll dice to dictate your possibilities this turn, move pieces to claim/conquer spaces, claim artifacts or buy building/techology cards, then harvest the other resource type.
The degree of conflict reminds me a bit of Evo - and as the game progresses, you have to balance progressing your own path to victory against acting to prevent other players from getting ahead.
Initial play was great fun. Looking forward to playing it again soon.
Heckmeck Barbecue (2 plays)
A variant of Heckmeck am Bratwurmeck / Pickomino. A good game, but the bigger box and the missing clickety-clackety tiles means this one will never get my love.
Outpost (1 play)
Economic snowballs in space. Long but engaging. I can't explain why but I rather enjoyed this, while ZvZ left me unmoved and Phoenicia left me cold. I've only played an artscow version with added cubes, so I can't comment on the original components.
On The Cards (1 play)
Prototype of an Essen 2011 release. Trick taking with random cards to dictate various aspects of gameplay (like how to deal, how the trick works, who wins, etc). Looks promising - and I aim to get a copy when it's released.
Tutto (1 play)
A faded hotel in an unfamiliar city. It's late, you've had a few drinks with new friends. We've all been there. Dicey push your luck. Don't tell me it only plays to 10. This one goes to 11, although possibly not at its best with 11. We played the Tutto - Volle Lotte version. Sophisticated, eh?
Medieval Mastery (1 play)
Single play. I'd never heard of this, and when I saw players being given special powers my heart sank a little, but I actually enjoyed it. Simple movement rules, simple combat rules, but enough to get your teeth into. Wonderfully small box, too.
Games, games and more games!
Only two new games this month, and they were both great.
Ascension: Deckbuilding Game
This had the excitement of Dominion, but unlike Thunderstone it didn't feel like lots of work to play the first time. Lighter than Dominion, but with enough in it to be really fun, and very addictive - I've only had it a week and I've already played it 5 times and am longing for another game!! Others in my group had slight concerns about replayability compared to Dominion, as it has less variety each game, but that's not a problem yet!
Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon Board Game
Didn't really feel like a new game, because I'd played Ravenloft and it just felt like more of the same, but was very good fun. As a result of this game one of the pair has gone on my buy list (hoping for it as a Christmas present if we don't get it in MathTrade first) - and my 4 year old son loved the cool monsters and rolling my dice for me, so it might not be that long before he's playing it with me!
1. Rune Age
The only game I have got out at our game club and been asked to play it again straight away, twice. We played three scenarios and somehow managed to make them all very conflict heavy which was very funny. I doubt it has the longevity of other deck builders but it makes up for that with a narrative and a sense of purpose. Very enjoyable.
Tight co-op game in which every action is important. This game hates you and wants you to fail but there is little frustration when playing. Crucially there are no meteors from the sky which crash randomly into your careful plans and wreck them. You can see what the risks are and try to mitigate against them.
3. Letters from Whitechapel
It seems pretty tough to be the investigators but that does not lessen the tension as there is no choice but to skirt around each other intimately, trying not to give too much away. Fun but I can't see it being played too often.
I love it so much that lately I had to take a vow that I won't immediately jump down the throat of everyone who disses it. My friends and I play it like there's no tomorrow.
Here's my review.
I knew I would love it, and it didn't disappoint. The only problem is that it's a two player game and as such, I can only play it with my wife, who's not a big gamer. Well, maybe once in a week...
Good game, but not something I would play every day. I would rather try Defenders of the Realm instead, which, as I heard, is very similar, but, besides the theme, it also has some twists that make it more interesting for me.