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My initial impressions on games I recently played for the first time

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Nemesis

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Nemesis
tl;dr: quite random

So I'll start off by stating the obvious: this isn't really my type of game. It's a dungeon crawl where everyone can go out on their own. You don't co-operate except that there are some common things that most people will want in most of the game. Like reaching a certain destination or having the engines work. And multiple people can win, but it's not a co-op. Everyone can loose though, if, let's say, the ship explodes or they all die.
For me this was quite frustrating. You have a personal, hidden goal. For that you will need to use certain rooms. You'll have to find those as all rooms are face down at the start. Some rooms screw you when you discover them, by giving you slime or a larva or what not. I was trying to find a room to search for items that could help me. I had to wait until the 4th room I uncovered before I could do that. By that time I had spent a lot of time trying to move (that goes slowly) and heal myself while minimizing risk. I also needed an alien corpse for my goal, and I didn't encounter an alien in any room I uncovered. I was forced to go to an alien that had entered play somewhere else. The sad thing was that before I new it, three of them were all over me and I went from unscathed (after healing) to all but dead in a single turn, and that was all down to pure random stuff happening. I know that was possible, but it wasn't that likely, and I needed to do what I did if I wanted to complete my goal.
Combat (which I never got to, even though I was the soldier) is also very random. First you choose a weapon, then you roll a die to see if you hit. If you hit, you put damage on the alien. Then you flip a card to see what his left over health is. So you can add a 5th wound, only to find out he has 6 health. Until the next time you shoot him. You flip a new cards and maybe it turns out that he actually only had 1 health. How does that work thematically? The creatures health stats just magically fluctuate drastically.
I suspect the goal cards were explained incorrectly. The way it was explained: the default is for everyone to want to survive and reach earth. Some of the hidden goal cards might be a certain destination and of course you still want to survive, but other cards might tell you to do something else, in which case the default goal still applies. So I had to send a signal and drag an alien copse to the lab, but also survive and on top of that reach earth. Someone else had a goal card that said to either reach earth or have a certain player not survive. What? So that's 2 ways of winning with a single requirement, and I had 3 requirements to be able to win? That's not fair, so it must be wrong.
In any case. This was very random. And it took us about 2 hours to play 6 rounds or so, of the maximum 15. And we didn't play slowly. It's just that usually a good amount of stuff happens on your turn and at the end of each round. I can't imagine playing the full 15 rounds. That would just last way to long with this amount of random shit going on. In fact, I found the amount of luck and chaos already too high for a game lasting 2 hours.
I can see why some people would like this, but I didn't care for this at all.

Initial rating: 6/10
BGG scale: 3/10
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Mon Dec 3, 2018 12:34 pm
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Cerebria: The Inside World and Bastille

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Cerebria: The Inside World – Origin Box
tl;dr: I think this is not for me

This is a huge game in a huge box with a ton of nice components and shit. It has a good amount of rules for all those components, but at it's core this is pretty straight forward.
On your turn you perform three actions. You can choose from the 5 actions available on the board or one of the 5 actions on your player board (if you have them available). The actions on your player board can be upgraded to become better and/or cheaper.
The main reason I think this game is not for me is that to win, you will have to do things that will block the other players. You can't just focus on doing your own thing. Also, it seemed that the main focus of the game revolves around the fortress pieces you can build (and destroy). The emphasis on these seems to indicate that many of the other things in the game don't actually matter. I understand, from reading reactions to this feeling that people who have played the game more think we should just play it more to see how wrong we are. And maybe they're right. But from what they describe, it just sounds like a lot of push and pull on the board, and that's something I usually don't care for, and I don't expect that to change my opinion on this game.
So yeah, I'm not sure how good this game is, but if it is good, it probably is not my type of game, so I don't need to explore this more.

Initial rating: 6/10
BGG scale: 4/10

Bastille
tl;dr: solid family friendly worker placement game

Players have workers with certain values. The values determine order and sometimes the impact of the action. And of course the values of the workers can be upgraded.
You advance on tracks, gather resources, hire character cards and get cards that give you points for having certain things at the end.
So this is a pretty family friendly game that does have some strategy to it. It doesn't do anything new, but it is well implemented.
The only thing I'm not sure I like, is the end of round bonus thing. You get those for having the most characters with flags on them. But it seems that once you are ahead, it's easy to stay ahead and rake in all the bonuses for the following rounds.
But maybe that's an unfounded feeling after just one play. And those bonuses aren't that huge, so maybe it's not game breaking.
So yeah, it's a solid game in it's genre, but don't expect anything new.

Initial rating: 6.7/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Mon Nov 26, 2018 11:24 am
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Underwater Cities and the Biodome Promo

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Underwater Cities
tl;dr: great stuff

After the fantastic Abovewater Ships and some other excellent games, Suchý comes with another heavy euro that is totally up my alley.
This is a worker placement game. Each round you get to put 3 workers on an action. Each action can only be chosen one per round. The actions are grouped per color. Each time you put a worker down, you have to play a card. If the card color matches the action color, you can use the card. Otherwise you just discard it. This of course leads to lots of hard choices as the order of actions and cards has to be optimized. There is good variety of action spaces and different things to focus on (get resources, build cities for points, build factories to get income, invest in turn order...) and lots and lots of different cards that can all lead to different strategies. So there's lots to explore here.
In my first game all players pursued very different strategies and some appeared to be working better then others, but in the end the scores were within 10 points from each other, so pretty close.
I very much look forward to exploring this game more. It has a lot of depth and variety, even if it is a bit on the long side.

Initial rating: 8/10
BGG scale: 9/10

Underwater Cities: Biodome Promo
tl;dr: nice addition

This promo is really basic: whoever builds a third dome first, gets to replace a white dome with the green one, removing the need to pay upkeep for this dome. It's not a big change and doesn't have that big of an impact on the game, but it can add a bit of a race element in the first couple of rounds.
Not a must have, but a nice little addition. If nothing else, it's not one of those promos that ruins a great game.

Initial rating: 7/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Mon Nov 19, 2018 2:54 pm
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Crown of Emara and Trappist One

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Crown of Emara
tl;dr: double rondel game

I got this game without really knowing anything about it. But the price point was attractive and it looked like it could be my kind of game.
This game has a nice action selection mechanism where you have three action cards every round. You choose what order to play them in and how much movement you get with them. The movement lets you move one of your guys on one of the two boards and then you get to also perform the action of where you end your movement. There's a lot of interacting mechanisms for you to puzzle together and different strategies to pursue.
The goal is to progress both your citizen and building points. The lower of the two will be your score. And of course there are different ways to increase those points.
Most players pursued different combinations and strategies. In the end the scores were quite close. So this certainly was very interesting and there is a lot there to explore.

Initial rating: 7.3/10
BGG scale: 8/10

Trappist One
tl;dr: interesting engine builder

When I explained this game, most players felt it probably wouldn't be great but were still willing to try. After playing it, most of them felt like it would be worth trying again.
In this game you get to score points for a few different things, but while you can do everything and probably need to mix a few things, I suspect focusing on one thing is probably the way to go. But there are different things to focus on. There are a lot of points to be had by settling every planet. But having control of biocultists will also net you a nice amount. And don't forget about the shipping strategy!
In the second half of the game it started feeling a bit like a race to squeeze as many points out of what you had before the game would end. Turns are fast and it flows pretty well despite the confusing rule set.
I'm not sure yet how good this game is, but I'm looking forward to exploring it more!

Initial rating: 6.7/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Wed Nov 14, 2018 11:25 am
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AuZtralia, Brikks and 7 Wonders Leaders

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AuZtralia
tl;dr: quite chaotic, in a good way

Just like Martin's other big Lovecraftian game A Study in Emerald this game is a strategic game with a good dose of theme and chaos added to it. And just like with that game it works, even if it is something outside of my comfort zone.
The base of this game is a pretty simple network building game where you use workers to perform actions that allow you to build your network, build military units, gather resources for later use or attack monsters.
The turn order is determined by a time track and each action costs a certain amount of time. At a certain point the time marker for the monsters will have it's turn an that will trigger events like monsters waking up. And monsters that have woken up can start moving and destroying your farms
You score points for having farms, destroying monsters and some character cards you can buy also give you points.
So this game has some engine building and such, but while you are working on scoring points, you will eventually be forced to start killing the monsters. If enough of the monsters survive, they might defeat the players as they also get a score! So players have to cooperate in killing them while still trying to get more points then the others.
It is quite chaotic, but just like in A Study in Emerald it somehow works and adds a lot of fun. I look forward to playing this again.

Initial rating: 7.2/10
BGG scale: 8/10

Brikks
tl;dr: quite challenging

Roll and write, meet Tetris.
OK, this is not Tetris, but it's very close. Each turn, dice determine what piece you get and what it's rotation will be. You can spend energy to rotate the piece. And then you use it to play Tetris with it basically! You gain energy by covering one of the pre printed dots with a piece of the same color and, just like in Tetris, they found a way to make the long pieces rare. But you need them if you want to complete multiple rows at once, that gives you bonus points.
This was harder then I expected, but it's a fun challenge!

Initial rating: 7/10
BGG scale: 7/10

7 Wonders: Armada
tl;dr: takes away from the shine of the base game a bit

When 7 Wonders came out there was a huge hype, and everyone was saying this game was made for expansions. When 7 Wonders: Leaders came out, it just added one additional draft and one additional card to play before each round. So basically more of the same. Then they started doing other stuff. Other stuff that detracts your attention from the core mechanism a bit.
This expansion let's you develop certain tracks when you play the corresponding card type, if you have enough resources to pay for it. That in turn gives you benefits. Of course there are cards to take additional steps and stuff. And one of the tracks gives you access to a new card type that also gives you extra stuff. The first track is a new type of military and there's a kind of majority scoring. Most developed gets most points, least developed looses some points.
I think this expansion integrates quite well as it doesn't add too many new rules and most of it happens when you play your regular cards. It just gives you add-on effects and more stuff to think about and execute. So it's a bit slower and cumbersome then the base game that has such a wonderfully smooth flow to it.
So while I think this is a decent expansion that I wouldn't refuse playing with, I prefer the fast and clean base game.

Initial rating: 6.8/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Tue Nov 13, 2018 1:19 pm
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Azul Stained Glass of Sintra, Gingerbread House and Get the Cheese!

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Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra
tl;dr: doesn't flow as well

I don't know what to think of this one. The main tile selection mechanism is exactly the same as in Azul, but the placement and scoring is completely new. The big difference here is that where in Azul all tiles are of equal value until players start taking them and making their intentions clear, this game randomizes the values of tiles before the game starts and then continues to change them during the game. First there are some tiles that indicate bonus points for scoring certain colors during each round. Then there is the randomized player board. In our game one player had lots of orange, one had more orange, and I had even more orange I needed. And I needed it in the first three columns, where the most points are to be had. And orange was always in short supply. So my choice was: always take orange when I can, not taking many other things and not scoring a lot. Or skipping the orange, scoring as many other things and not scoring my most valuable columns. Neither sounded good to me.
I do like the idea of this game, and I'd like to play it more to see if I will enjoy it more on later plays, but for now I think this is a solid variant that can't quite reach the excellence of the original.

Initial rating: 7/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Gingerbread House
tl;dr: OK family game

This game lets you stack domino style tiles on a grid. You get the resources or bonus actions you cover up and you get a bonus income if you cover up two of the same type. Resources are used for completing order cards that give you points. That's basically it.
Of course the limited amount of resources you can store and the way in which you ge the bonus cards gives you some stuff to think about.
There's also this thing where you gain an end game scoring card each time you complete a level. So you want to do that as fast as possible.
It did seem like taking order cards from the stack each time was the best option. You want to complete as many of them as possible, that gives you a special joker tile that is quite powerful, so it seems like doing many small cards is preferable over doing a few high scoring ones.
I thought this game was fine, but it's nothing really new and doesn't do anything that feels especially fresh or well executed. It's what you expect it to be after hearing the rules.

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Get The Cheese!
tl;dr: nope, doesn't work

Oh my, the designer of the excellent Trains and Yokohama can also design stinkers!
You have some cards to choose from, but you will play every card of your deck during the game. So I guess you can plan some stuff. Or maybe this is just a crap fest.
Most of the cards are played face up around the 8 cheese cards. Each cheese card tells you how many mice it can eat. But mice can be chased away by cats. And cats can be chased away by dogs. You score points for each cat and mouse you chased away and each of your mice that were fed. Sounds fun. It is not.
The problem is that there is just way too little control. If someone plays a value 2 mouse, the next player will play a cat on it if he has one. Preferably that one cat that you can play face down. Oh, no one has any idea what you're up to now! And guess what, the next played that has a dog will place it on top of the cat, there's no reason not to do it!
This game plays itself and everything is dictated by the order in which you draw the cards. It's lots of luck and chaos and it's just not interesting.

Initial rating: 4/10
BGG scale: 3/10
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Thu Nov 8, 2018 8:18 am
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Forum Trajanum, Sherlock: Tomb of the Archaeologist and The Bark Side

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Forum Trajanum
tl;dr: solid but more plays needed

If it looks like a Feld, sounds like a Feld and plays like a Feld, it's probably a Feld!
This could probably be the return to form that many have been waiting for. Don't get me wrong, I like The Oracle of Delphi and Merlin, but I also have to agree they are not grand cru Feld games as we know and love them.
This game has a very Feld like mechanism where cards let you choose from a grid of random tiles that tell you what you have to work with this turn. You can use those to develop technology to help you in the future and give you one time bonuses, you get to build and vie for position on the board while also advancing on some other tracks that give you stuff and you are also working towards completing goals each round for more points. Everything is liked to everything again and the flow is quite good.
I set myself some goals, and I knew how to get to them, but I didn't get enough points for them, so more plays are needed to develop a good strategy, but all in all I would say this is a very solid offering from Feld. I just don't think he will ever make a game that replaces Trajan for me. And that's fine. Saying that a game is less than one of my all time favorites says nothing if it is also better then many other copycats.

Initial rating: 7.2/10
BGG scale: 8/10

Sherlock: Tomb of the Archaeologist
tl;dr: fine puzzle

This cooperative puzzle solving genre where you can play the game only once is not something I seek out. But I'm willing to try everything.
This game lets payers discard or play cards with clues on them. They get negative points for playing cards that don't hold the right clues. They have limited info they can communicate about their cards.
So you play a few cards, discuss possibilities, play some more, until you have played all cards and then you start answering multiple choice questions. The more you get right, the more points you score.
This works and is not unenjoyable. Also, it will never take too long. It just doesn't set my world on fire.

Initial rating: 6.3/10
BGG scale: 6/10

The Bark Side
tl;dr: hmmmm, I don't know

Well, this game has a weird scoring system! It's ladder climbing game where every player gets to play once each hand. But you don't score points for winning a hand. Nope, you loose points for winning the last one. And then you go again until someone has lost enough points and then whoever lost the least points wins.
It gave me a very big The Great Dalmuti feeling because it's not uncommon for a player to go on a streak where once he can lead one hand, he can just force the other players hand after hand and stay in the lead until he's out. The trick is of course to keep one of your low single cards as you don't want to win the last hand.
It's not clear to me yet if there is much in the way of strategy here or if the game just plays itself, so I'm not sure what to think yet

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Wed Nov 7, 2018 9:00 am
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500

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Before Spiel I had 495 games, expansions and promos in my collection. I sold some stuff, I bought some stuff and guess what, I passed the 500 mark.

I'm not sure if this means I have too many games or if it just means there are more then 500 games that are worth owning for me. I already sold a bunch of games I like, but didn't feel the need to keep.
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Tue Nov 6, 2018 1:34 pm
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Magnastorm, Skylands and it's Queenies

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Magnastorm
tl;dr: solid

I only played two rounds of this game.

For some reason many people are comparing this to Gaia Project. I don't get it. They're both heavy strategy game by Feuerland and both have a space theme. That doesn't mean they should be compared. I think they're very different.
There is quite an interesting action selection mechanism where you move meeples from one matrix to an other to perform actions. Actions either give you income or let you move on the board. Additionally some spaces give you bunuses, sometimes based on if you are taking income or moving. When you move you get to build structures that will give you resources and maybe points at the end of the round.
There is a storm on the board and it rotates by one step every turn. It disables all structures build in the area affected by the storm. This forces you to keep moving and building additional structures. This is also a cool mechanism that works quite well thematically.
But there's more: advisers that can help you during the game. Some of them you have to buy, others you get when you're on top of one of the 4 development tracks. And there's cards with goals you can fulfill to score points. But to do so, you have to give up stuff.
There's quite a bit going on in this game, and I certainly look forward to playing this again. But to compare it to Gaia Project? No, this is quite different and with the lack of all the races with special abilities I suspect the replay value is less extreme. But still high.
I look forward to getting a copy when this game is available again.

Initial rating: 7.3/10
BGG scale: 8/10

Skylands
tl;dr: good family game

This is a tile laying game. Each player will build their own tableau. The things you build are islands consisting of two or more tiles. But it's not just that. It's also a resource management game. Each turn players get to select one of four actions. Every player gets to join in on the fun, but the active player gets a bonus. Get tiles, get resources on completed islands, use the resources for special tiles, get points for certain resources. So the rules are quite accessible and there are enough choices to be made.
I think this is a solid family friendly tile laying game with enough interesting choices for most gamers.

Initial rating: 6.7/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Skylands Queenies
tl;dr: mostly non intrusive

These Queenies add a few new tiles but they don't really expand on the rules that much. Just mix the new tiles into the piles and you're all set to go. That's the kind of expansion I can appreciate. It integrates well and just gives you a couple more options and some more variety.
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Tue Nov 6, 2018 8:33 am
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Dice Hospital, Altiplano Traveler and Qwantum

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Dice Hospital
tl;dr: nice engine builder

I only played 4 of 8 rounds of this game.

In this game you score points for healing patients. Healing patients means increasing the value of the dice depicting them beyond 7. To do that you place workers in locations that let you increase the value of dice. That happens based on color or value. You get new patients each round. You get to hire new, more powerful workers or new locations to assign your workers to. So it's an engine builder. And it works. It doesn't do too many new things, but what it does, works. And it works quite well. And it plays fast.
This isn't a heavy strategic euro, but more of a lighter middle weight game that can be enjoyed by families as well.
I'd like to play a full game of this again in the near future.
One note on their marketing though. They have a box with premium components. That is: cubes to replace some tokens and huge, chunky, pre-painted plastic ambulances to replace cardboard tiles. Nice as these might be, it's incredible overkill if you ask me. But they have a trick to help sell this: they put a mini expansion in the box, what else? Oh, and just to push you more towards buying this: they put all the info about this expansion in the rule book for the base game!

Initial rating: 7/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Altiplano: The Traveler
tl;dr: fine, not great

In this expansion you get a bunch of new cards for the existing decks. But that's not what this is about. No. It adds a new wooden figure that travels from island to island. If you go to the island with the traveler you have a bunch of new actions to choose from. These enable new strategies. It does integrate quite well and can be ignored (also a good sign of an expansion, it doesn't change the balance of the game).
But while I quite like the way it adds elements to the game, I don't think this is a must have. It's good, there's some new things to explore, but it didn't improve the flow of the game. On the contrary. It adds a number of actions that add as a distraction from your main strategy. And while those can be put to good use, I do think it muddies up the clean design a bit.

Initial rating: 6.8/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Qwantum
tl;dr: I think this might be crap

Qwixx is the game that shot the roll and write genre into high gear. Qwinto was a solid offering in the genre and Qwantum might be the game that shows they're running out of ideas.
That's not true of course, Railroad Ink, Ganz schön clever and others clearly show the genre still has lost going for it, but it seems this game was published because they can sell it simply because of the way the box looks and not because it is good.
The problem here is that there is too much luck. You need to have increasing values on your tracks. So you try to get higher values. You should of course avoid going too high to soon, or you'll get stuck. But if you only have one possible thing to fill in, should you forgo that just not to get stuck in a later round, with no guarantee the same thing won't happen again?
In our game every player got stuck on one or two rows and no matter how many times we tried, if the dice don't cooperate, you can't make it, not even with that one re-roll you get each turn.
Too bad, they were doing so well.

Initial rating: 5.5/10
BGG scale: 4/10
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Mon Nov 5, 2018 8:50 am
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