New to you November 2011 => Best new boardgame
What new board and card games did you play in November 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.
- Are people still playing new Essen games this month? Any less-hyped games that people have now had the chance to try?
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): November 2011
New to Your Kids November 2011 - the best new games you've played with children and why
Videogames New To You November 2011
Your best gaming experience of the month and why November 11
New to you a year ago Nov 11 => Has it stood the test of time?
Games only YOU have played in November 2011
Out of the Dust, November 2011
Board Game: Quarriors!
[Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:525]
[Average Rating:6.86 Unranked]
I haven't played that much in November (not that I play much in any given month ...), but I had the chance to play two of the dice games I wanted to play the most. And I have to say I wasn't disappointed, the two games proved to be exactly what I thought they will be: nice, quick games, good to fill that gap between two games, or when you have someone over, not really gamer and you'd like to show them "a few cute games with dice". And from the two, my number one pick would be:
Quarriors! - 5 plays
I can see this game remaining in my collection for years to come. Quick to setup, quick to play, I like it better as a 4 player game, but would play it as a 2 player without any problems. And I assume the expansions will only make the game better. Got this as a present from some of my friends over on the Romanian BG Forum, so this is clearly a keeper
Elder Sign - 3 plays
Had the chance to play a friends copy and I liked this game as well. I probably liked it in the first place more than Quarriors! above, but after 3 plays I have some doubts about the replay value of the game. And by that I mean that the game seems to be easier as you start to understand what is the normal "next location" (given your items and skills) and when it is best to use the items to your advantage. And we played the variant that once ur dead, ur toasted - no second chance. I'll have to play it a few more times to make up my mind, but it's definitely a game I thoroughly enjoyed playing. And it made me feel like playing a game of Arkham Horror, which in itself should be a plus.
And the last new game for the month, I game I was looking forward with excitement to play:
Power Grid - 1 play
What a disappointment. We played a 6 player game, but it felt completely flat with the new players at the table (we were 3),and seemed more like work than fun (even though I highly enjoy Brass for the way it makes u "work", without feeling like u actually do). So a big "Mehhhhhhhhhhh" for me and I don't think I'll ever play this one again. If I want to play a good economic game, I'll crack Brass or Steam instead of this one. "23" "Let me check ...1min-counting-break... 24" "Ugh ..... pass" "25" ... no thanks!
Oh man!!!! How could I have forgot about:
Chicken Cha Cha Cha - 1 play
Now don't get me wrong, I don't think Chicken Cha Cha Cha is a better game than Power Grid. It's just that for me, this game brought much more fun playing it with my 3yo daughter, than playing Power Grid with my friends. Sorry guys, Power Grid it's not for me
That one not so much
Ohh that tickles
Not as good a month for quality as last month, though again I played 7 new to me games. No real stinkers either this month. For the second month in a row I managed to avoid games using mechanics that I don’t enjoy.
Urban Sprawl takes first place by a neck over a 4 year old game. It’s been getting some mixed reaction from BGG but I mostly enjoyed it. The event cards did not bother me too much as I felt that over the course of the game they pretty much evened out.
It was the random moves of some of the property price markers that I found hard to cope with. But I still enjoyed it and hope to play again soon. Not as good as Dominant Species but still pretty good.
I wrote a Geek list a couple of weeks ago about my favourite designers and realised that there was a Vladimir Suchy game that I had not played. So I got a copy as soon as I could. Each player is a Tax Collector for the King. But the game is better than that might make you think.
I really like that way that when you bring the taxes back to the King you can force other players to help you get extra points.
I’m still not sure what to make of Drum Roll. I played it three times and enjoyed it every time. The game looks lovely and the theme is fun. But there is absolutely nothing new here. I can’t find even a small mechanic that has not been seen anywhere else.
It also takes a bit long for what is on offer. There also does not seem to be enough cards especially the personal cards, which run out long before the end of the game.
I tend to like the idea of these big box games with loads of lovely components more than I actually enjoy playing them. More often than not the game play itself is so shallow. Now MoM is not the deepest game I have ever played and it does play a bit on rails, as the game really tells you what to do, but I did find it more immersive than the D&D games for instance. The game to me was much better at telling a story and for me that made it a much more enjoyable experience.
I enjoyed the ides of this game much more than I enjoyed the execution. That’s not to say it was a bad game, I just hoping for something more. (Though I am not sure what). It seemed a bit slow moving and the mix of cards we drew made it very hard to expand any of the species.
Still at least it was a lot quicker than it’s predecessor.
I’ve got pretty good at spotting games that were not going to be my type. I had planned to avoid this one, but I arrived at a games night quite late and this was the only game just kicking off, so I was in.
There are a lot of things in the game to admire, but I just could not past the tackling. With everything else that was going on, I found it hard to accept that the game would be won or lost on a couple of key dice rolls.
Not awful by any means, but I was right that I really did not need to play it.
I think I was just not in the mood for this one. I did not seem to take the rules in properly and just fumbled around for 30 minutes until somebody won. To be fair I probably should play it again.
Only 3 new to me games this month and my favourite is the currently hot Eclipse. I love space themed games, I love 4X games and I love Eclipse. I've played it twice so far, an initial 2 player game and then a full on 6 player game with 4 new players. The 6 player game was LONG (probably 5 hours actual game) but as I say it was almost all new players (both I and my opponent from the 2 player game were playing), everyone was trying alien races rather than Terrans and at least 1 player really shouldn't have been playing the game. He had zero clue what he was doing the entire way through and never got off of the ground, which was a shame. Anyway, I lost both times (I did fairly terribly in the 6 player game) but I loved every second of it. I really hope to get it to the table again soon and to get the playing time down. I can certainly see the 30 mins per player being accurate once everyone knows what they're doing. I currently rate Eclipse a 9 and it may end up joining Race for the Galaxy and Alien Frontiers as one of my select 10s.
I also played Panic Station a few times and enjoyed it very much. You definitely need the right group with this one but if you have it then it's one hell of a lot of fun. There's plenty of tension and paranoia with drama and (dark) comedy coming directly from the player's actions. Ideally you want 5 or 6 players rather than 4 as it works better with the higher player counts. Oh and don't forget to d/l the most recent version of the rules from the file section, they are a vast improvement on the frankly terrible rules that you get in the box.
Finally I got to try out Dungeon Petz. Man is the artwork good! Incredibly cute and thematic and just generally gorgeous. Luckily the game is good too. I admit that the rules explanation left me feeling a little overwhelmed but once I started playing it all started to make sense very quickly. I like the way the different parts of the game fit together, I love the creatures and I think that the blind bidding system is very well done. I'm a little uncertain about how much the luck of the cards will affect the outcome of the game, I think that it might be a bit too much but I'll need to play it more to be sure. Playing it more is not something that I'd have a problem with though as the game was certainly fun!
Who is bought and sold? Who is beyond the law? Who is free to choose? Who follows orders? Who salutes longest? Who prays loudest? Who dies first? Who laughs last? -Barbara Kruger
"Now a question of etiquette: as I pass, do I give you the ass or the crotch?"
This is the first time I've submitted to this fantastic list!
I'll get right down to bidness...
I'd give it 11 if I could. Far and away the best new game I've played since Agricola, Eclipse is for me a perfect or near-perfect weuro. I've played three games now, will continue to play it at every opportunity, and will buy it immediately once it's in general release. I wouldn't be surprised if it hit the gaming world like a meteor. Although I've talked to several people who have serious problems with it, I tend to think this had more to do with their fellow gamers and/or how they were playing than with the game itself.
Eclipse uses a hexagonal modular board with three types of ships (not unlike Galactic Emperor - in fact, the ships are identical). Players have several actions they can take each round, and have a set of counters on their board that they expend to take actions. Each expended token leaves a space empty that indicates how much to subtract from their income at the end of the round, so taking a lot of actions can get expensive. It's an elegant way to allow flexibility and risk-taking while rewarding efficiency. Each player board has a schematic of each ship type for upgrades, and the upgrades are where a lot of the strategy comes in. You end up responding to your likely opponents as much as trying to make great ships in their own right. It's difficult to win this without direct conflict (though someone did in one of my games), and there are ways of more or less buying veeps for those who want to turtle or go for a defensive posture (and starbases allow for those options). But it more commonly turns into a bloodbath.
I think Eclipse has a few newish, rather obvious innovations like the uncovering income thing (both with resource cubes and with actions), but it just does everything I want it to incredibly well. There may be ideal ship builds, and several players who have played several times have pointed out that high-powered interceptors can kill pretty much anything, but for now, while I languish in ignorance of the perfect build, it's perfect.
1 play (aborted)
I played this at the London On Board retreat in Eastbourne (unfortunately, we couldn't finish because we had to go to dinner). I liked it a lot, perhaps not enough to buy it given the price, but it's a well-made game with a very ostentatiously innovative Mancala-like system for getting bonuses out of action selection. It's definitely a brainburner, so keep it well away from the AP-prone. The production quality is very high and while it's a worker placement game at heart, it's still a lot of fun, with varied options. Really regret not having been able to finish the game; I'll play it again in a heartbeat.
I played PAX on the second day of LoB's Eastbourne excursion, when I was well into a nasty cold. It's a card game that's trickier than many at its size and price point. You end up specializing early in certain aspects of Roman production: navy, grain, religion, etc., and it's semi-cooperative, so you're playing against the game (or a player who *chooses* to play the part of conspirator). I enjoyed my first play well enough, and would definitely consider buying it if I had £15 or whatever to spend - there's a lot of game in there, and I still haven't found a satisfactory civ-building card game. That said, Pax is really hard to figure out, and I get the feeling there's a bit of luck. I'll definitely play this again given the opportunity, though.
1 play (aborted)
If you want to be absolutely blindsided by an innocuous-seeming game, try Space Bastards (and don't even dream of playing this game with kids). A mind-melting exercise in placement on (it must be said) a far-too-small board, this feels more like Dominant Species than anything else, and though you have fewer options with each turn, the game makes up for the (only relative) lack of choices with a movement web that makes for so many possibilities with each turn that it's really hard to figure what to do. We didn't finish our game for a couple of reasons, including people just not expecting how daunting the decisions were, but I liked it. My only quibble (with half a play under my belt) is that it's really hard to put pieces on the board - you can increase your chit count by 4 total over the course of the entire game, and with area control games like this, that seems like way too few.
Well, no one will ever accuse Donald X. Vaccarino of not having a schtick. Here he employs his choose-the-gamechanging-scoring-mechanic thing to decent effect, but this still just didn't really grab me. Maybe it's the tiled board that looks a little 90s-y, or maybe it's that if someone decides to screw you, they really can, and the game makes my AP side come out with a vengeance. That said, it's not bad. I like the way it forces you to adapt to the cards you get, but that's usually possible. I won't be running out to play this, but I won't turn down a game either.
Meh. I was a huge fan of Total Recall when it came out (remember that one, kiddies?) and in some ways, Undermining is pretty much Total Recall: The Board Game. While perfectly good for a tile game where you move a drill around, score points, improve your drill, etc. until you run out of VP cards, there are a few things that annoyed me: the sheer number of tiles to be laid out on the board, the downtime when playing with five, and just the blah-ness of it all. It is pretty, though.
The very definition of a game that leaves me a little cold, this trackbuilding game from the mad doctor Knizia requires a very early sense of strategy, and in my first game, I just had no idea what I was doing. I got the feeling that even a single misplaced track could be killer, but I hadn't played it enough to see where I was going wrong. I didn't win, but I did place a strong second; I'd play it again once or twice, but I get the feeling it may fall into the broad category of games that take experience to win but that I'm not motivated to gain the requisite experience in.
One play in, I don't really feel the pull to play this again, but might if anyone else suggests it - it's not horrible and it's quick. Takes quite a few pages from Race for the Galaxy's book, turning it into a Dominiony deckbuilding game where you end up with actions you don't want gumming up your hand. Thing is, I loathe Dominion, and I don't play with many gaming newbies, so I'd just rather play Race. I'm not the constituency for this game, though. People who supported this via Kickstarter do get high production values for their money, but I'm glad I didn't.
My Turn Yet?
Aikido Northshore, Kirkland WA
Visit me at http://myturnyet.tumblr.com/
Games I Own
This has been my most anticipated game for some time, and it hasn't let me down. With less than 10 plays under my belt, I can already see that this could be in my top ten for quite a while.
I have always enjoyed the deck/pool building mechanic and really like games like Puerto Rico and Race for the Galaxy, and I find this game to be a nice amalgamation of the two.
I started going to a gaming group (so far only two others have shown up), and have learned a few other games.
A nice little card game that is a good filler. Seems simple, but can have depth, as you need to know what cards are left and what colors your opponent is holding.
There are a set number of each card and they must be played in order from lowest to highest. When the deck is depleted, the cards in each row are added and you subtract 20 THEN add multipliers, leaving you with the row score. This means that a row that has a total of 8 and 2x multipliers is (8 -20) = -12 x 2= -24 points. Big possibilities for points swing.
I enjoyed this game and look forward to playing it more. Probably not on my "To Buy" list, but on my wishlist as a "Nice to have"
Excellent game of sorting and changing positions of parts of a Tiki (Totem Pole). I put this firmly in the "My wife would play this" category. Probably a good gateway game for groups of friends that don't play games regularly as well.
This game is simple to learn. Deceptively simple. The rules are short and everyone has the same cards in hand. The object is to move the tikis up the pole to match the points card that you are dealt. Each turn you play one card to move a tiki up 1,2 or 3 spaces, move the top to the bottom, or destroy the bottom tiki. After all the cards have been played, or when there are three tiki's left, the round is over and scored.
With BGGCon, November is usually a very good month, and this November was no exception. I had roughly 60 plays of 51 unique titles, and it was a real struggle to pick the top game this month. In the end, I'm giving it to Kingdom Builder, both because it's the one I now own and because I think it will see the most tabletime of all the contenders.
New Games For November
Kingdom Builder - - A light, entertaining offering from Donald X., both my wife and I were very entertained with the game we played at BGGCon. The night we flew home, we introduced it to my son, and he gave it a resounding double thumbs up. It’s not going to win any deep strategy awards, but I think there’s more there than some give it credit for, and it leaves us entertained.
1955: The War of Espionage - - This one hadn’t even crossed my radar until BGGCon, but it was getting a bit of buzz, so I threw it on my "To Try" list. I’m really not sure what to think of it after a single play. I initially rated it an 8, but that may have been overly optimistic. I have several questions that only repeated plays would answer: is it ever better to pick a country that isn’t the USA/USSR? How much is good play rewarded vs. lucky draws? How much variety will the game really have after a few plays? I could really see it going either way with this one, so I’m left sitting on an uncomfortable fence for the time being.
2 de Mayo - - I’m not 100% sure how this ended up on my list in the first place. It was probably a casual mention on The Dice Tower or on a Geeklist, but I really don’t remember. I do know it wasn’t enough to make me ramp it to the top of the "Must Try" list. Nonetheless, when we found ourselves tired but wanting to fit in one more game one night, I saw this and figured we’d give it a go. I am definitely putting this game on my "Must Buy" list now. The hidden orders, the card play, and the mismatched sides made for a really fun, tense game that played unbelievably quickly. I’m really looking forward to exploring this one a little more.
Alcatraz: The Scapegoat - - This was one I hadn’t heard of at all, but we grabbed it to give it a go. I’m going to go on the record and say that I didn’t much care for it at all, at least with 3 players. Once 2 of us had all our requirements, the third player was doomed to just try to interfere enough to keep us from getting off the island, and it just wasn’t really fun for any of us. We voted him out of being the scapegoat to try to get some reprieve, but even that didn’t work. In the end, we escaped without him, but none of us actually cared.
BasketBoss - - Unfortunately, we only got to try this with 2 players, and I think that definitely impacts my opinion of the game. The fact that it worked at all with 2 players says something, but I’d really like to try it with a few more players before committing to it. What it did (an auction game), it did in an interesting way (fluctuating future values) and made for some interesting decisions, but I don’t know how much table time it would end up with when there is so much else out there competing with it for play time. Nonetheless, I’m still intrigued enough to leave it on my "maybe" list.
Belfort - - This was one of the games that I was most eager to try, and it proved to be the most difficult for us to get into a game. The table was always full and generally not too far into it when we checked on it. Finally, we staked out a spot to play something light while we waited for a game to finish, then we pounced on the table. This was a really interesting take on the worker placement game, mixing worker placement (with three different worker types) with area majority (in both the city and in the number of each type of worker). This is another that goes on the "Must Buy" list after my one play. It was really entertaining, and the random guilds promise some variety in each game. My biggest complaint was that the board was so colorful, it could be hard to spot players’ workers and buildings.
The Castles of Burgundy - - This was the only other game that was on my "Absolutely Must Play" list along with Belfort, and it was fantastic! I’m really enjoying Feld’s playing around with dice in his games. Roll two dice and use them to take actions sounds very limited, but it was amazing how many action possibilities were afforded with each roll. We just had a really good time with this one too. My biggest complaint here was the iconography on the building tiles wasn’t intuitive, so we had to look each of them up as they came up. Wait, scratch that. My biggest complaint is that I seem to have a better chance of finding a unicorn than a copy of this game for purchase.
Destruct 3 - - A very light dexterity game, I think I’d classify this one as more of an activity than a game. It was entertaining for the first couple of throws of the ball (using each piece of equipment), but after that it got dull very quickly. I’m a sucker for a gimmick, but most of the time I wish they’d do a little more work adding a game to the gimmick.
Dr. Shark - - Another silly game that proves that while I’m a sucker for the idea of silly, in practice I’m generally not that big a fan. In this game, you had to draw puzzle pieces out of a bag based on shape or the texture on the reverse side, hoping to get puzzle pieces that fit together to form a picture of some spy related thing like building plans or bazookas. The game ran longer than welcome and the novelty wore off after the second time around.
Dungeon Petz - - I really wanted to like this one like I wanted to like Dungeon Lords, but I just can’t tell after one play. The production is spectacular, and the game just begs to be enjoyed, but it just seemed like work. I think repeated plays would help figure out the timing of the growing of the creature to the sale of the customer, but like Dungeon Lords, I just don’t think it would see enough table time to get that experience.
Hawaii - - Hawaii is a resource management game that has you juggling 3 separate resources - feet, shells, and mangos. Feet allow you to fish and move around the board to areas that allow you to purchase items with shells, items that will boost your income or give you points. Mangos can be used as feet or as shells, but must be used on their own - you can’t combine 3 mangos with a foot to have 4 feet for example. Each round rewards the player who has spent the most shells (and feet, if they were used to fish), with a minimum requirement to even be eligible. With your starting income reduced each round and the minimum requirement increased each round, it is a struggle to balance points with potential future income. An interesting game, but not one I feel a need to own.
JAB: Realtime Boxing - - The one BGGCon freebie that I’ve managed to try, Jab is a novel take on the speed game. There is A LOT to look for and to manage. Combos, counterpunches, knockouts, and block opportunities all offer potential plays, and I think you have to commit your focus on just one or two things to do well. You also have to distribute your punches, because of the three playing areas for your cards (head, left body, right body) only one of them will score at the end of a round. I’m not convinced that smart play will beat fast play, but a few more plays should sort that out.
King of Tokyo - - Richard Garfield’s light dice rolling game may be just a touch too light for me, and the player elimination element just kind of stinks if you’re one of the first monsters out in a 5 or 6 player game. It’s not terribly long, but with a playtime of 30 minutes, if you’re out in the first 10 minutes then you’ve got 20 minutes to kill waiting for everyone else to finish up. I had hoped it would be a good opening game for game night, but I just don’t think it’s going to see much table time.
Kingdom of Solomon - -A worker placement game with a couple of interesting ideas just didn’t really inspire me. Part of the problem was the high priest - one player took it early and held onto it for the duration of the game, and it provided her an enormous benefit - the ability to place on another players region once per turn and a big VP boost at the end of the game. Both advantages proved to be too much for the other player and I to overcome and she won handily. I’m not convinced there’s no way to beat it, but it was hard to see how to do that even discussing it after our first play. The road idea was kind of neat (where you can build roads, and when you place a worker in an area, you get that areas resource and all areas connected to it by your roads resources), but my roads were constantly ruined by - you guessed it - the high priest. It was an altogether frustrating experience, and while I think my opinion wouldn’t have been as bad without it, I can’t see being more than lukewarm on this game.
Mage Knight Board Game - - Wow! It took us 2 and a half hours to get the game set up and play through the first round in the intro scenario, but what I saw really impressed me. There was a ton of stuff going on and a million directions you could go, and it just seemed like it has all the possibility to be spectacular. I have a couple of concerns, though. The first is that combat is completely deterministic. When you attack a monster, you absolutely know if you’ll be able to beat it or not, and how much damage you will take in the process. With the exception of the summoning monsters, nothing in our limited play was random about combat at all. This makes the game less exciting than I think it
could should be, and it leads to problem two, which is it seems like the potential for AP would be HUGE in this game, especially with more than 2 players. I’m inevitably going to buy this because it offers so much I like, but the unexciting combat and especially the downtime really could kill the game for me. Again, I know my rating is higher than my pick for the month, but that's my half a play rating and the downtime really could knock that down quite a bit.
Ora et Labora - - Speaking of downtime, I did not enjoy our 3 hour game (and that was the SHORT game) of Ora Et Labora very much at all. The resource dial was an elegant fix to having to fill resource markets every turn, but the number of resources and number of buildings would mandate that this game get played regularly by a number of people to have any hope of good play, and I just didn’t enjoy it enough to commit that kind of time to it. If you like Le Havre (I didn’t), I can’t imagine you not liking this, but for me it was just blah. 3 hours of blah.
PAX - - A semi-cooperative set collection game, PAX borrows the mechanic from Biblios of card distribution. You draw three cards on your turn, one at a time. One goes into your hand, one goes into the market, and one gets buried under the deck. Cards are purchased from the market and played in sets to give you income to purchase more cards. Every turn some cards are given to Rome. At the end of the game, you must collectively beat Rome or all players lose (except the Conspirator, which is determined by one of the set majorities). If Rome is defeated, you individually score based on set majorities, and the highest score wins. If I didn’t already own Biblios, I’d be tempted to pick this up, but it’s just too similar to justify both.
Peloponnes - - This is another game that I’m sure landed on my radar thanks to some random BGG review or podcast mention, and it’s never quite floated to the top of my "to purchase" list. Having played it now, I think I’ll have to make sure this one lands on one of my next orders. Even with 2 players, the decisions were interesting and money was tight, and I can only imagine that will dramatically improve with more players. I enjoyed the mix between the auction element and the outright purchases (Buy It Now, so to speak), and watching my civilization grow and flourish was pretty rewarding, even if an ugly series of disasters reduced them to rubble by the end of the game.
Power Grid: The First Sparks - - The new Power Grid offering, I thought this one was way better than Factory Manager, which I found pretty dull. It really does feel like Power Grid light, but also just different enough to stand out on its own. Over-expanding is a little more dangerous than in Power Grid. My wife was producing 4 food, and spread out to 4 clan members. That meant she ate all her food, which left her no money to buy more hunting technology - which meant she ate all her food, and so on. We ruled that she could intentionally starve some of her people so that she could at least continue playing, but maybe there was something in the rules that addressed that situation that we didn’t know about. A warning to someone learning the game would be adequate to ensure the situation never really happened again, though. If I had a complaint on this game, it was that spent grain went back to the resource market, while all other foods (fish, mammoths, berries, etc.) went to the side of the resource market. People were continually spending the other types of food and just throwing them right back into the market.
Quarriors! - - I didn’t know it was possible to remove all the excitement from dice, but somehow this game manages to do jus that. Roll dice - don’t care. Spend dice - don’t care. Attack with your monsters - don’t care. Get attacked - don’t care. There was just absolutely nothing in this game that we cared about other than we had tried it and could forever put it back in the BGG Library. Absolutely dull.
Québec - - There’s an interesting game in this one, but between the business of the board and my 1am start time, I had trouble giving it a really fair shake. You’re putting your architects in areas that will give other people an advantage when they go there. The more people that go there, the more your architect will score at the end of the game. When he leaves all cubes go to a corner of the board to be scored later, with half of the majority’s cubes going to the next scoring section. It’s really hard to figure out how it will flow, but if you do it right, you can get the majority in the first region, take half those cubes to the second region and get the majority there, and so on through all five regions. There was lots to think about and plenty of decisions, and I just didn’t have the brain power for it that night. I’d give it another go, but I think the business of the board would really keep me from buying this myself.
The Road to Canterbury - - First of all, let me first say that my perception of this game was totally colored by the gentleman that joined us, who was a complete ass. He was my single bad playing experience at BGGCon, and he just made what might have been a relatively entertaining game into a miserable, painful experience. Now, on to the game. Let me start with the theme - spectacular! It might have been pasted on, but it really worked for the game, and it was different from the other 3 themes that seem to get used all the time. The game play itself was light and entertaining, as we led the sinners into temptation in order to sell them our indulgences, and there were some interesting decisions. A year ago I would have immediately put this on my wish list for the theme alone, but I find myself being much more judicious in my purchases these days, so I probably won’t buy it, but I wouldn’t protest if someone brought it to the table.
Village - - Yet another worker placement game, this one introduces the concept of an aging and dying work force. You literally put your workers out on the board and work them until they die. It makes for some interesting timing elements; some people jumped into end game scoring opportunities early only to see there workers wither and die before the points materialized. I wasn’t a huge fan of the way you collect resources (you take a cube from the area you’re placing your worker before he gets to do his action), but it’s not a deal breaker at all. I’d like to try it again before I buy it, but I could definitely see it being one of those impulse purchases.
Walnut Grove - - This is another game that is a near hit, but has just enough off that I don’t think it’s a must buy for me. In a round you have a tile laying mechanic, where you draw a certain number of tiles and get to keep 1 or more of them to add to your own individual player board, all in an effort to build large areas of single resources to maximize your workers’ bounty and to fence off areas for points at the end of the game. Problem one rears its head here in the form of a production problem. The fences on the tiles are really off, with many of the fences that look like they should end at the corner of the tile ending as much as a quarter inch early. Workers are then placed on those areas, collecting a number of that type of resource as there are tiles in that plot. That can all be done simultaneously and without much regard to your opponents. Then there is a single town phase in which each player will move their pawn to an unoccupied action spot of their choice, moving clockwise around the board and paying a coin when you pass each of the two ends of the board. This part was the other big flop, with it being nary impossible to have any hope of getting an action you needed. If you played the turn order to go first, the actions from the previous round were unavailable as the workers stayed there. If you played to go last, you had to hope no one else took that action. All in all, this was the most frustrating part of the game. Finally, you had to pay food to feed your workers, with that food being color coded to the worker, i.e. blue workers eat blue cubes, yellow workers eat yellow cubes. I’m not sure why you wouldn’t ask about dietary restrictions before hiring these people, but whatever. Really finally, you had to heat their homes, with certain improvements making that easier.
Zopp - - A dexterity game based loosely on soccer, I’d guess, you use a stick to shoot one of your three men (discs) at a ball (smaller red disc) in an effort to get it into your opponents goal. We didn’t really read the rules very carefully, so there may be some rules that make scoring harder, but we found it relatively easy to whack the ball and have it bounce into your opponents goal. If there are rules that preclude that, I suspect it would make the game more complicated than I’d prefer for that type of game.
New Games For November
Airlines Europe: Flight Ban - This adds just a little bit of variety to the base game with nothing very complicated. You can use the blocked routes to boost the value of one of your airlines or to screw a competing airline. I won't always use it, but it's nice to have.
Conflict of Heroes Expansion Pack: Map Board #6 – The Marsh - More Conflict of Heroes is never a bad thing.
The El Grande Expansions - We played the one with the America board and it added a nice little twist. I'd play it again, but it's not a "must play" expansion.
Mansions of Madness: The Silver Tablet - I hadn't heard great things about this one, but our one game was very entertaining. I'm glad I have it.
Neuroshima Hex! Babel13 - 2 new armies give some more variety to a game that I don't get to play enough to really need the variety, but whatever. I have dreams, and I'll be retired one day.
Small World: Tunnels - The biggest draw for me is the ability to play 6, and the fact that my son is a Small World fanatic. We played it once as a 3 player, and it worked just fine. Again, not one I'd pull out all the time, but every once in a while, sure.
Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 1 – Team Asia & Legendary Asia - One play with 3 players on the Legendary Asia side made for some tense routes. The map is very tight, and depending on how people use the mountains, a players train supply can run out very quickly. I'm looking forward to the team game.
Although I have been doing less gaming this month and more painting Space Hulk, thanks to the ongoing euro sale at The Works, I managed to play three games new to me, each of which had a lot going for them.
Hamburgum deserves first place, if only for its boldly unattractive theme and artwork. It's a rondel game of producing/trading resources to grab victory point tokens that score in various fields. So far, I've played it two and three player, and the game scaled nicely for both, with different characteristics emerging. By all accounts the game is best with 4 or 5. Interestingly for a game with zero random elements, in each of three games so far the winner has won by about 50 points, and they scored most of this lead in the closing stages. Combined with the pacey play encouraged by the rondel system, this makes for quite exciting play.
I've also bought, played, and very much enjoyed Caylus Magna Carta and Gloria Picktoria.
Six games new to me this month, and my first play of a new Dominion expansion. Four were played at the GamesFest '11 event, and another received there. (One of which came close to being my most played game for the month)
The game I was given at GamesFest. Chosen from a few because of the designer more than anything else. Some element of planning ahead is possible and if you count cards you'll find that easier than I do by a large margin. Far closer to Bohnanza than Agricola in complexity it still manages to keep my interest. Probably plays better with more players as there's more interaction but still seems okay with four.
5 The Werewolves of Miller's Hollow
I had avoided joining the games of this during each of the three prior years I've had the chance at GamesFest events, it just didn't seem like something I'd enjoy. Having played The Resistance by chance back in June and enjoying almost every game of that since I decided I would be taking part in at least one game of WereWolf this year. I'm glad I did, even though I wasn't very good at identifying the identity of anyone I had a good time in each game I played.
4 King of Tokyo
Simple rules, nice dice, monsters. This obviously isn't going to appeal to those that like heavy games with lots of strategy, but for a 30 minute game there's more than enough fun. It does tend to be won by one monster staying alive just that little bit longer than the rest instead of reaching the point count but that could be group play.
1 Ave Caesar
Played the same morning as I played Snow Tails so it may be suffering from the comparison but I much prefer Snow Tails as a race game. Possibly as there seemed to be less strategy in this, simply move as far as possible, unless you can stop in a bottleneck and block opponents. Snow Tails at least has the issue of drifting, and the possibility of trees/dents to deal with as well. The lead player being unable to play the biggest cards seems like a simple balancing mechanic, I'd have to play where that rule is remembered from the beginning to know for sure.
1 Hoity Toity
Only played with three players and I'm convinced after that one play that it requires more to play well. Many rounds of the game I played I ended up on my own and my opponents were getting in each others way. I'll definitely play it again, as long as there's more players involved, probably 5 or 6.
1 Cockroach Salad
Another of the Cockroach games, I expect that Cockroach Poker will remain my favourite. My inability to think fast enough for this is going to make the games seem unwinnable.
Only a couple of plays with cards from this set so far (with some Isotropic games including a card or two) and I'll probably be quite willing to have them added in. I don't know that there's anything particularly new apart from the prizes, but that did seem to have a noticeable impact.
New purchases that made it to the table this past month:
The nice thing about this game is that when an opponent makes a play that causes you to want to hit them in the face with a throwing star -- which will be every turn -- you actually have a throwing star. I already own far too many worker placement games. I don't care. This is an outstanding game, and it's simply gorgeous.
Flicking! In! Spaaaaaaaaaaaace!
Played this four player with the recommended number of victory points, could easily have played for longer. Good fun, and very tense: one missed ship flick leaves you open to a potentially nasty counter-attack.
Nice little Werewolf-style game, but without player elimination. After a couple of plays, we were getting the hang of the spies successfully sabotaging missions without it being obvious who they were, and one game came down to a tense finish where the mission team had to be voted on three times due to last-ditch plot card plays. As a spy, I was sure I'd won it, then sure I'd lost it, then finally won.
Seriously, what the hell is that thing?
Bought this to build up the party game component of the collection, but the regular group of hardcore gamers liked it plenty. 11 year old daughter immediately absconded with it and took it to school. Like most games in the Balderdash style of people-guess-what-others-have-made-up party games, it can sometimes develop into a run away leader, but everyone is having too much fun to really care.
Quick filler, evocative of No Thanks!, not bad.
Another quick filler, I've only played this with two, and it's OK, but I think it'll be better with four where the card drafting mechanic would offer more complex choices and deeper strategy. Of course, if I have four, I'd rather play Ninjato again.
Proud Balmain Board Gamer
Only one new to me this month - but a good one.
My first Kickstarter-backed game arrived on Nov 28 and I was quick to crack the shrink and give my 19-y.o. son (studying arts/language at Uni) a game. ike many, I had backed it for the theme but on reading the rules thought it sounded a bit 'meh'.
However, superb production quality and a pretty good rulebook was a good start and we quickly got stuck into it. Despite the relatively simplicity, this game turned out to be quite a brain-burner - calcuating the suprisingly large number of permutations going on.
Although a little fiddly - we lost track on the number of times we fogot to refill or put cubes on circle of sin. But much of that came down to the quick-fire nature of the turns. Our first game clocked in at just over an hour.
In the end a narrow victory to my son, but we both agreed that it was a very different and surprisingly unintuitive. A bit like King of Siam...
Nevertheless very enjoyable, and worth further plays. A solid 7.5 at the moment
CLICK THIS BEAGLE if you're looking for in-depth gameplay video run-throughs! :)
13 new games played this month. Not too shabby, considering my wife has been busy a lot of weekends getting ready for the Xmas season. I fear December may be more barren, as her work ramps up even more, but we'll get through somehow. In the meantime, from fav to least fav, all played 2p only for the 1st time in November:
Fantastic, amazing game. Game of the month for us. Not only is it a nice and meaty experience, but the theme is so rich and fertile. The perfect marriage of game mechanics and game fiction. Plus, the components are amazing, the art incredible, and (not that this would normally get a notice) the manual is hilarious.
JAB: Realtime Boxing
Wow, this was a big surprise. I ordered it as part of the Tasty Minstrel 3 game value pack, and was really ordering this for Belfort and Homesteaders (neither of which I've played yet). Didn't really care about this little "gimmick" game, and I thought it would go over like a lead balloon with my wife, who hates boxing, and has had mixed reactions to realtime games in the past (had to trade away Wok Star). But damn, she loved it. Great sense of fun, and I think she responsed so well because it really causes her to exercise her brain in a different way. She had a very hard time keeping up with my videogame-trained reflexes and multitasking, but when we took out the combo chits, so there was less to focus on, she did much better, even winning one bout. Really really surprised and happy with this one. Don't dismiss it out of hand, you might be surprised too once you try it.
Got one game of this, and it was a hoot. Smart and fun lite resource building card game. Loved the theme, loved the fantasy fulfilment of what our tasks were. Loved the "reverse victory points" gimmick. Overall sweet little package.
Great great game. I'm surprised how little love there is for this around here. Very solid euro financial empire building game, very smart systems. For 2p, I think it was more solid than Vasco da Gama. In the future, we might add a splash of "random setup" to it by each of us rolling a die to find out what our starting position of the roles (ignoring the last one, which seems kind of pointless in a 2p game).
Superb tactical battle of wits. Has any other game ever been done using this card battle system? It seems no natural and intutive, I find it hard to believe it's never been used before. Very dramatic battles, right up to the wire, great pieces, just a fantastic little game all around. And short enough that we can play 2 rounds to have a stopwatch style final scoring conclusion. Nice. A great 2nd game from the designer of K2, which we also liked quite a bit (we like this more though).
Very nice world conquering game. Especially loved the way combat works: how the aggressor will ALWAYS win, but it just takes more time, and time is a very precious commodity. Taking the action system from Thebes and applying it to a conquest game was absolutely brilliant. Thumbs up!
We had a really mixed experience with this. First of all, it's obvious that the game itself is a design, but it's severely hampered by absolutely terrible iconography and a not-so-great player aid, which compounds the problem, making what would otherwise be a fantastic little town building game much more frustrating than it should be. I think in time we'll get over the hump, but we haven't been this frustrated by graphic design of a game since Race for the Galaxy.
Another truly high quality game that in theory should have rated higher, but we just had some really core issues with it. To be fair, our first couple of attempts at playing were marred by a terrible misunderstanding or two about how to do things. But our 3rd game, where we got it all right, was very enjoyable. Very swingy, which is unfortunate, because of all the chaos introduced by the event cards, but it seemed that the chaos hit us both pretty equally. But the fact that the start player gets potentially more moves than the 2nd player seems very unfair. We might have to house rule this, but need more time to see.
Ra: The Dice Game
Very nice, and if it had been our first "yahtzee++" style game, we'd probably enjoy it more, but we've already had a lot of fun with Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age, and this didn't seem to provide enough of a new experience, so we'll just stick with that one, I reckon.
Nice game. But like everyone else, I very much worry about its longevity. If they come out with expansions, it's a total keeper. If not, then not. It's a shame though, because it's a REALLY solid deck builder, maybe better than Thunderstone. But the anaemic number of cards in the base set really holds it back, I think.
Not a bad game at all (in my book, =bad, =okay, =good, =great, and =gobsmacking), this is definitely the definition of "okay". The main thing it suffers from is lack of interaction between players, in my opinion. Why can't we use a turn to trade items if we're in the same locale? Why can't we more greatly affect the outcome of the other player when we're assisting? Seems like a really missed opportunity. I know Richard Launius would suggest we just house rule it to make it better, but I do enough game design during my day job, I don't need to be redesigning other peoples games to fix them, not when I've got limited time to play, and plenty of games that don't have shortcomings to choose from.
If we played with more than 2p, I suspect we'd enjoy this a LOT more. But the bidding systems seem to fall a little flat when there's just the two of us. Nothing wrong with it, but there's auction games that work much better 2p. Love the dice and components though. If I had a game group, this would probably be a keeper. But it's just me and Jen, so no go.
I'm sorry, this game just didn't work for us, at all. It felt like a chore, we had no real investment in the outcome of any roll. Having to constantly double check with the cards to know what it is we could do, having to contend with luck of the draw PLUS luck of the roll to acomplish anything, just meh all around. I'm surprised at the intense love for this game that others have. I'd like to think that if we had more players maybe we'd like it more, but I doubt it. I couldn't get rid of this fast enough. Nice box and dice though.
This November was very basic. None of the games I´ve played the first time is a keeper. Some are fun or small enough to stay here a little bit longer.
Urland was always on my wantlist. Recently I traded it in and despite of my worries that it is too similiar to Ursuppe (which I don´t like) we gave it a try. And we had a lot of fun with that ganme. Its not a keeper fro me , because I think it only shines with 5 players , but it was very entertaining and everyone liked it
Well this was a journey through time in some way, because this was one the first games I played when I got into gaming in 1986. The new "Kuhhandel Master" rules make the scoring more interesting, but its enough to own the former editions because the older cards and graphics are better to play with.
Big Five: Well this is Qwirkle the card game and in some way I like it more than the original. Its much simpler to keep the scores because you just have to get rid of your cards and it has the same "fun" factor. Easy family game with nice graphics and a good box size
When I saw the first time Pelican Cove I just wanted to play it because of the graphics. It looks great and I thought its a fun game. But its not or in some way it is. This is a brainburner in the basic version and I presume a brainmelter in the advanced version. I´m pretty sure that I´ll find the next year a copy here on a flea market, because its too tough for family.
You never heard of Eins, Zwei, Drei? Its a very old game and I only bought it because Dieter from HiG told me who are the designers of this game.(I won´t tell you, just look it up ;-) ). Ravensburger small box series , well you think you get a kids game. Yes thats correct if you like memory games. But this one is a little bit the little brother of Meisterdiebe, because you play it like the shell game in a tower. If you like memory games thats really something new.
Der Plumpsack geht um
Sherlock is another memory game. For me its the kids version of Leonardo (also by Staupe). Good game but I would say only for kids.
23 is nothing spectacular new but it works but only recommended as 4 player game, else the "holes" make it much more unpredictable.
And now the disappointments
Beep! Beep!:is another Staupe game. Here he mixed up Halli Galli and Speed. Harmless fun
Cornerstone Essential is good example how to waste good material and how to ruin an average game with a bad German rules set. No doubt about it that it works but its nothing I would like to play again.
Mogel Motteis designed by the kids of the Inka and Markus Brand. So if this is true I´m really curious when this gaming family will bring to us a Spiel des Jahres. I think its just a matter of time. Maybe Grandfather Heiner (Coach of the German World Champion Handball team 2007) will be also listed in the credits a playtester. Well now back to the game. I wanted to like it but its pure chaos, which some groups will like a lot, but I don´t. Nice Ideas, great graphics , but thats it.
I don´t get the hype about Kalimambo.I think all the fans like the compenents and some sh.. ideas of the game. But I prefer to play Hols der Geier if I wnat to play a silmutaneous action selction game which should be fun.
While many of you were at BGG.CON, I was home, opening birthday presents.
My game of the month is one of those birthday presents. It gets the nod because we've already played it twice 2p, and once 4p. It's the one I've wanted the longest, and has the best bits. Without any further ado, I give you...
I love the artwork on the cards. The permission tiles could have been a flat color; instead they each had a different line drawing, and rich colors. The dials are great. The bags have the colored strip along the top. The sheet with information about the artifacts is very cool.
I was afraid that the small cards might bother me, but since they sit on the table, they're no problem, and big cards would take up too much space. There is luck of the draw with the chits in the bags, but you can mitigate that luck, and it is only one of the ways to score points. The petite board is just the right size. It lived up to my expectations.
My only entry of a "new" new game this month. Another birthday present from Sam. I liked it much better than Dominion, though I'm not sure deckbuilding is ever going to be my favorite mechanism. I like the choices and variety you have, and you can choose what kind of strengths you add to your deck (diplomacy, speed, etc). Also, selecting space cards carries some risk, and can be dangerous - another interesting element. I think some cards might be disproportionally valued, though, as we were going along with 25 and 50 VP cards, and we were at about 225 and 275 points. Suddenly I got a card worth 200VP and the game was over. I think it should only have been 100.
The Third of my birthday presents. Reminded me a bit of Amyitis, the way you have to keep an eye on many different areas, and not let your opponent run off with points. I got a "bonus points for yellow cards" card early in the game, and managed to accumulate 6 of them, which won me the game. I've seen comments where there's not enough competition for spots with 2p, but it's plenty of competition for us. 4p might be too much blocking and conflict.
From the Thrifty Generosity Box. Simple rules and it plays large groups. Good for holiday gatherings.
Up the River was a thrift-gift from a kind geekbuddy. A simple racing game with great bits. Looking forward to trying it with more than 2p.
A sweetener from a generous geekbuddy. High quality components, as with all of Z-MAN's games.
I haven't posted to this list in a few months (due to being very busy) but I felt I needed to throw my opinion into the hat this time.
I went to bgg.con for the 2nd time, and played tons of new games, many of the newest releases. Of all of the games I played, one stood out. This game was Mage Knight. This was the only game I played at the convention that I actually felt "wow, this is a really cool game" during play. The demo'er did a great job teaching us the game at the 'booth' and the experience went as follows:
4 of us sat down to the table to learn & play the intro scenario. We were taught that each round of day/night you roll a mana pool of dice. Everyone draws from this same mana pool, and after their turn, they put the di(c)e back that they used, rerolling it. This can be labeled as cool mechanic #1. You perform your turn, using a built deck, drawing up to 5 cards, playing as many as you want (unlimited actions, but only one 'special' action that requires a mana from the pool) and then at the end discarding from your hand what you don't want for next turn, then drawing back up to 5 cards. As you gain levels & powers & skills & items/artifacts, you add them to your deck (but generally added on top of your draw deck, for instant gratification of your new acquisition). This allows you to customize your character as you see fit. Once one player's deck runs out, the round will end the following turn of that player, so you have some control over how long you have to complete your goals.
In the game, you are competing for Fame. You get fame in a wide variety of ways, and at certain fame levels, your character will level up. You can get a little fame by exploring the map, some more by fighting of roaming baddies, and even more by challenging castles/dungeons/etc. At first, I was a bit frustrated, as I was going last in a 4 player game, and everything I could reach on the first turn to gain fame was done by another player. Then I alternated turns, drawing hands without enough move to reach a baddie, or without enough attack to fight one if I was close enough. Once the map spread out enough, things got really cool. You have the option to have as much player interaction as you wish; you could completely ignore the rest of the players, block some of their key moves by going to the towns or dungeons first, or simply hunt the other players down to attack them.
When the game really started to click and the customization started to occur, the game went into another level of awesome for me. I was playing the dragon guy (not sure his name) and every time I leveled up, I had the choice of an ability that seemed pretty good, or one that seemed awesome, but also hurtful (e.g. I would get to use one of my abilities 3x, but then have to trash the card to never use it again & shrink my deck). Every time I had this option, I kept going for the strong, debilitating powers, since it was an intro game, and wouldn't go on long enough for me to worry about future rounds. At that point, I became something of a destroyer. The power went to my head, and I lost all concern for my abilities, using them up and tossing them away. I also began to disregard my crew, letting them take the damage and ignoring their wounds as I went on with my business. I even went into a temple, hired a new crew member to replace my wounded ones, and then proceeded to burn down the temple because I heard there was an item of great power inside. Everyone knew my name, as destroying the temple gained me some fame points & defeating the bad guy inside (with the help of my new crew member ) gained me some more. My item of great power I drew the next hand along with one of my multi-use/destruction cards, and I proceeded to destroy the item of great power [note, this may not have been legal, we were looking through the rulebook on this one but decided to allow it for the training game], gaining even more fame. I looked around the board for something more to quench my thirst, or something else to destroy quickly, before my fellow players have a chance to visit it.
It was at this time that the intro scenario ended & I had to come back to the real world and count up end game points. I had no idea what the points were at end game, but didn't care much, as my dragon-man already had his own victory condition in mind. It turns out that the end game points are really cool as well. It rewards the players who have excelled in certain areas. You get points for being the best leader, having the highest level crew recruited with the least wounds. Points for the destroyer of churches even (woohoo for me!). Points for the destruction of dungeons/castles. Points for having great items of power (oops!, maybe I could have held on to that goblet). Points for having mana crystals saved up at end game as well, for the most conservative Mage Knight. You get points for each of these areas, but also extra points if you were the "most" in this area, showing your domination of that aspect of the game.
OK, so at this point, I don't know if anyone is still reading this far, but if you are.... GO GET THIS GAME! It was above and beyond the best game of the bgg.con convention for me, nothing else even came close to the wow factor of this game.
A pretty good month with six new games played. Four were courtesy of John Bandettini at London on Board, one was a friend's recent purchase (TtR Europe) and the other an opened early (for shame) Secret Santa gift - luckily, the one I enjoyed most was the one I now own.
I've only got to play the first tutorial scenario of Earth Reborn but wow, it's a lot of fun - I can't wait to explore the depth of this game. Having played all kinds of Warhammer as a teen (more than 20 years ago - eep!) but not having touched a miniature since, I was a little worried I'd not enjoy them. That feeling faded as soon as I opened the box - this is a 9 with 10 potential.
There's just so much to like: the modular board; the differing length of scenarios and the scenario generator; the background story and personalities, rather than nameless minis; the random element in the action tiles, plus the dice - and so much more. And the fact you flip your characters when wounded really makes you feel for them. It's just awesome - thanks again Santa!
Star Trek Fleet Captains
I'd heard good things about this, but as I'm no trekkie I was a bit worried that I'd waste the evening being bored to tears. Luckily, this is a really fun game whether you like the series' or not - in fact, if you're a fan, this is a must-try gaming experience. It took us hours to play, I had no idea about the Klingons I was championing, we lost, but I'd still not hesitate to give Fleet Captains an 8.
The game really feels epic, largely due to the steady flow of victory points picked up by completing multiple quests. Exploration is great (Civ style), with all kinds of catastrophes awaiting the over eager traveller, while combat is fast and furious and the card mechanic enjoyable (adding crew and all kinds of combat and other effects). Not a game I'd buy, but one I'm looking forward to getting to play again.
Ticket to Ride: Europe
I've had TtR and Switzerland for several years now, since I got back into the hobby, and still really enjoy them. Luckily I haven't played them to death and they really are brilliant as a gateway too, which has been proved once again this week after I picked up a copy for a previously non-gaming couple my girlfriend and I introduced to it a few weeks back. I'd never played Europe though and got my first game in November.
I would rank Europe a 7.5, the same as I rank Switzerland, just ahead of the original on a 7. I enjoyed the extra rules, although I wasn't sure about the idea of the stations before I got a feel for how tight the board was. I certainly don't feel I need to add Europe to my collection (the new six-player pairs map is another matter mind!), but again I look forward to it hitting the table again soon.
I wasn't too sure about this recent Essen release while I was playing it recently at London on Board (cheers John for teaching us - and the next two games - plus Tom and Ingrid, my fellow new players), but on the way home it was the game of the evening I found myself thinking about most. It's getting less than a 7 here right now, but I'd put it at 7.5 and hope to play again soon.
At first the game seemed pretty basic; placing/utilising workers, picking up cubes and taking tiles (the tiles in a similar way to Rattus). But as we neared the end of the game I was starting to see more depth, while turns played fast and there was a lot more to it than the under-one-hour play time might suggest. It seemed like a really interesting tactical game with a lot of player interaction, but with an original and flowery theme park/building theme.
Enjoyed this one too, but only rate it a 7 after one play, a little behind the average here at the Geek. I get the feeling that this is a game that may drop over time, as beyond a nice theme it doesn't bring anything new to the table. I guess it may become a bit of a gateway game into worker placement, a little like Stone Age, but I doubt I'd choose Drum Roll over that or many other worker placement games (although I'd happily play Drum Roll again any time, as it's fine).
The game plays in less than a couple of hours, offers a reasonable range of options each turn and has nice art and components. But everyone is trying to garner a very similar result via very similar means and it didn't feel as if there was a spread of strategies on offer, a whole lot of fun to be had, or anything really new to hold my attention beyond the initial play (in contrast to Coney Island, which I'd like another few goes at).
This is a really interesting little card game which played unlike others I'd played before, which has put it on my wishlist (although the £20 price tag is putting me off a little - it's a simple yet ingenious card game played with a custom deck and a few unnecessary dice). Biblios rates a 7.2 here, which is probably similar to where I'd rank it after a single play - if you like card games, I'd certainly recommend it.
In essence it's a set collection and bidding game, but its the way the cards are dished out that makes it interesting; each player takes it turn to draw a number of cards equal to the amount of players, plus one - one they will keep, one is put in the auction pile and the other three will go into the middle with one each then going to your opponents. There's much more to it, but if that mechanism doesn't hook you in it's unlikely the rest of it will. But seriously, check it out - great little game.
Arden Nelson Jr.
I enjoyed this game but not everyone in my group did quite as much. I'm hoping it will be given a second chance by this group or by another group. I think down time as we were learning was part of the issue. I need to be a little clearer in my teaching of the game and perhaps prepare player aids.
Burton on trent
This is probably my game of the month, one of `The Works` special offers, I have grown quite fond of the Rondel games and this works very well and I think you can clearly see its influence on Navegador. I love the way it motors along, turns come round quickly. Yet to find a way to win it yet, I think I take too many unproductive turns in a game. I need more discipline. My only complaint is that the board art is a bit amateurish, a bit at odds with the otherwise nice components. The two sided board is a nice touch.
Also played this for the first time this month, an intersting miniatures game with a lot going on. Love the components, but I worry that the depth may mean this gets left on the shelf for occasions when I have more energy. It is a heavy miniatures game and the artwork on the cards and in the rulebook is a little messy making it a bit hard to get going. You can tell its labour of love for the designer, the background is detailed and utterly bonkers.
From the heavy games to one of the lightest, really enjoyed playing this one, its a load of silly randomness but the push your luck element makes it just about okay gameplaywise. I can see this being used plenty of times as a late night filler and since I got it cheap in a charity shop I am not going to worry too much.
FAST FLOWING FOREST FELLERS
Another `The Works` bargain. A simple race game with a bit of argy bargy. It is not bad, something to get out for fun with the non gamers and the kids. Like the double sided gameboards which give you plenty of options and the components are nice such as they are.
An unusual game, only played it once so not really confident with it yet. Another bargain from `The Works`. Interesting movement of the servants to get majorities in the palace. I think that it will get occasional plays rather than any serious attention, but the art is nice and the gameplay is decent enough.
It's a "take that" boardgame, but its saloon-shaped board "terrain" overcomes the "walk up to anyone and hit them" problem of card-only games, where you can target pretty much anyone.
Of my 47 total games played for the month this encompassed 38 different titles of which 20 were new to me. 17 of these titles were played at my game playing highlight of the year – a con called Great Lakes Games.
Viva Pomplona – This is a very fun game which handles a larger numbers of players and is likely much more fun with more players. Dave V. had a copy pimped out with 3 bulls and we played with a house rule of yelling “OLE!!!!” when we flipped over the card after everyone had handled their movement. It is an interesting Kramer design where you are trying to be brave and run close to the bull, but not behind or too far out in front. There is also some pushing among runners which garners you points. A great late night con game with dice.
Belfort - I had preordered this one and was glad to get 2 plays of this at GLG. Joe and Grace taught Tom, Jay and myself this worker placement game and away we went. Tom sees the “matrix” of workers placement games very quickly and he ended up with a victory via a tiebreaker. This is one of those games that requires a lot of stickering (similar to Commands & Colors). The game board was very clear and this is a fine addition to the TMG lineup.
Wizard – A trick taking game that shines with 5p and a house rule where the dealer can not bid to bring the total to the number of tricks for that round. 60 total cards – 4 Wizards (high) and 4 “Null” cards and with 5p it went 12 rounds (one card in round one, two in round two. . . . all the way up to 12 cards in the final round). Biggest points for getting exactly your bid without going over – bidding higher is also better. It was a joy to get to play one of Grace’s favorite games and add another game to my want list.
Haggis – Another trick taking game that I had been looking forward to playing after getting my copy a few years ago. Manny call it Tichu for 2 or 3 players and I can see that similarity, BUT I found it easier to remember this game with no “dog” or “dragon” card to remember what is high/low.
Hanabi & Ikenbana – This one had been on my radar to try before I buy and got the chance to play the cooperative firework portion of the title. Interesting game of revealing information in bits and pieces to other players so you can score points as a group without any injuries/accidents.
JAB – A real time boxing game? It actually works pretty well with there being just enough going on that you can’t track it all during game play. I’ve had games end with a KO and decided on rounds.
Q- Turn – It continues to amaze me at the number of games that exist – so many of which I have never heard of. This very compact title was nice warm up for a game night. You race from one corner of the grid and back to your home corner with disks determining what kind of movement you can make. We only played 2p and I could see 4p being rather interesting with people blocking your path more than we experienced.
Escape from Elba – Everyone is Napoleon? Yes, and experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want. What a great line from the rulebook. Basically you are collecting cards with letters to spell out certain words and get to a certain room (movement) and make a die roll to win. You gain experience points by losing battles and can also use weapons (if you’ve spelled them out) to help modify your die rolls. It played fairly quick, was a little chaotic, but resulted in many laughs – what more could you ask for.
Survive – Escape from Atlantis – I’d seen pictures of this game many times and thought – probably not my type of game. How wrong I was. This recently reprinted title was a hoot. Everyone is racing to get off the island and to a safe island (4 corners of the board) while avoiding obstacles in the water and the shrinking land before the volcano ends the game. I managed to only lose 2 meeples and they were my low point guys so I scored something like 24 points which everyone in our 5 player game was impressed with. I had some good swimmers.
Core Worlds – The 10th game on my list and my first 2011 Essen title. I enjoy the deck building genre and this one has a unique twist where you play cards and they stay out in front of you until you need them for a battle. Once they battle they go back to your individual discard stack. A defined # of rounds helps keep the amount of game play time to a minimum. Very enjoyable. We played without really knowing what the final 2 round of cards were like and now with a game under our belt we can do a little more long term planning.
Small World Underground – A solid game which adds just a little bit more complexity to the Small World game series. This one might be tougher to introduce to people to whci have not played the original and since I own the original I won’t rush out to get this one, but will play it if asked. The chit holder design is much improved and helped move the game along. Nice job on that DOW.
Martian Dice – Another TMG title. Many at my FLGS had talked highly of this dice game. I enjoy it more than Zombie Dice since there is a little more strategy and higher cutoff point for victory. If you like dice games, then you’ll like this one. Throwing 13 dice is fun.
Byzanz – An imported card game that I acquired in a MT earlier this year. A group was just starting a rules explanation and had room for one more at GLG so I promptly joined in. It’s a keeper. Interesting hand management and set collection in this one.
String Railway – A railroad game made the list An interesting concept where everyone has pieces of string and can use them to cross terrain and ‘hit” certain items to score points. The final scoring was very tight in our 3p game.
Santiago De Cuba – A not too thinky, plays quickly game title. The game choices might feel too scripted to some players. Too early to be too harsh on this title for me.
Space Station – An Essen title I had not heard much about. Reminded me a little of Galaxy Trucker where we were building ships trying to maximize what we could do to score points, but without the frenetic pulse of building in GT. The conflict was a result of player interaction rather than event cards in GT so it was not as harsh. Might try it again.
City Tycoon – We got a rule wrong and aborted the game early, but got the feel of the game. Not sure if I’ll explore it much more – depends if gamers bring this title out again.
Dungeon Fighter – A dungeon crawl with a dexterity angle added to it – that’s definitely unique. It was also a bit too funny for itself with crazy “horselike” dice rolls required and we did not last too long. I mentioned that maybe if we rolled on a “plusher” table top we might be more successful and others agreed since the table we played on was not very forgiving and sent dice bounding far, far away.
Space Maze – It was fun once, for about 30 minutes. The last 45 minutes it was a chore and I was trying to do things to end the game sooner near the end.
Maharaja – A highly rated game that I approached at the end of 4 days gaming. I was too burned out to give this one a fair shake. Not sure if I’ll play it again ever.
routes to riches very good
eminent Domain (2011)
good dafting game nice package for ships
Blue Moon City (great game
Rather late with my post this month, I was hoping to get some additional plays of some of the candidates and reflect some more on what I thought of them. But it really wasn't much of a list of good games, so the top spot, though an expansion, was never in doubt.
Railways of the World: The Card Game Expansion -
I played the base game and felt it was OK so far as it went. A good bit of luck of the draw, quite a few obvious choices turns. It was pleasant enough (and my son likes it), but it wasn't everything I hope for even in a short game.
The designers contacted me after I blogged on the game and offered to send me a copy of the expansion. I recall nearly buying it when I picked up the original game, but decided against it, so i was very happy to accept. It offers some new card types, which give you some additional options in a turn, some special end game scoring cards (the Barons) and a new way to set up the game, with distinct decks for each of the card types, so you knew that you were not just going to get more track when you really needed a city. This cuts down the luck of the draw and definitely ramps up the game as a strategic experience.
We ended up adopting a hybrid version, with the engines and track in one deck and the cities in another which we found gave a nice mix of control plus the excitement of top-decking an engine.
A really nice expansion, which really transforms the base game.
6 nimmt! -
AKA 6 Nimmt or Take 6, a game about avoiding taking the bad cards and sometimes having no choice in the matter.
Not really my cup of tea this one, just not enough control over your fate. OK if you embrace the chaos and just take the time to laugh especially at your friends when they get a pile of bad cards, but just too random for this to be a regular request. Much better filler games out there.
Time's Up! -
Actually I think I did play this quite a few years ago or a game very like it. But I didn't log the plays then, so not sure. Have also played the Title Recall version. I liked that one better, but this still gave some good laughs. Our main trouble was not knowing the people (all the answers are people). Somehow that was less of an issue with the titles. Perhaps it is there is something more evocative in a title of a movie, even if you don't know that movie, whereas a name is just a series of letters stuck together.
So this was OK but we'd take Title Recall over it.
BANG! Dodge City & BANG! High Noon -
I played a lot of the original game when it first came out. I may have played some of the High Noon events as well, but never logged it. But we decided to revisit Bang, along with these two new-to-some-of-us expansions. Bang! encapsulates the kind of game where people play their cards and then someone wins. It does have the ability to create those moments you remember, so it is to be commended for that - there was even one in this game where I as Sheriff, having lost my Vice early, went on a volcanic-fuelled rampage and killed all my foes in a single turn. But it is equally prone to the anticlimax. So I might see it once in a while, but then will be happy to be done with it for a good while.
Oh the expansions: High Noon adds these events which change the rules for a turn and are mostly annoying or limiting. Didn't care for their addition at all. The Dodge City adds some new characters and a new card type all of which are more of the same kind of thing but a little different so will freshen up the game if you're bored of the base game.
Nicolai Broen Thorning
November was a quiet month for us on the new games front with only 2 potential games. One was a prototype, the other a revised/ new edition of a favourite game of ours and also a prototype.
Isla Tetra 2 is a 2 player puzzle game with a bit of survival thrown in for good measure, hand-management and strategy. As players are sole surviviors on a remote island far from civilization, they strive to make if off the island before the other player. In order to make it, they do have to fashion all sorts of clever equipment of bits and pieces scavenged on the beaches of the island. If you venture inland you run the risk of dangerous animals, hostile natives or getting struck by lightning. There are also exotic birds to be find, timber and vines and other rewards.
The game plays in around 1 hour, it has a wealth of paths to take, different upgrades make for very diverse strategies and there seems to be no win-all strategy, but good hand management and proper execution will win the game.
Wagon Trader is a game by Christopher Rama Rao, to be published by Cambridge Games Factory, hopefully in 2013. It is a worker placement, pick-up and deliver type game with a number of layers built into it. The setting is the old west and players compete for goods, farms, guns and horses in order to become the best Wagon Trader in Dodge City. You ship goods, earn favours and work your way towards the goal, while battling bandits and sneaky competitors.
It is a fun game, very brain intense for our session with a lot of different aspects to it, but also seemingly different strategies. I am eagerly following this and hope to get a few more games played to provide input in the process.