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

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Wildcatters and Peak Oil

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Wildcatters
tl;dr: good, rather heavy

This is quite a heavy economic euro and some actions need you to go through them a couple of times before you can remember all the steps to take and what happens when. This makes it quite hard to explain and as a result it has quite a big learning curve.
But that's OK as long as the game is good and engaging. And it is! You need to keep a lot of moving parts in mind with every move and you need to think ahead to be successful.
I think it's quite interesting that managing your own shares as a sort of money is a tricky thing all by itself. In most games you receive and sell shares that have a changing value. None of that in this game. Shares are something for you to pay for stuff but it also plays a smaller role during scoring.
Another interesting part is that you can monopolize an area and do everything for free, but the up front cost is very high. You can also work in the same area as other players and piggy back on their actions. So you're competing and working together at the same time, but this does not feel like a co-op at all!
Our first game took almost four hours, and that's quite long, but all of us were engaged all the time and it was very enjoyable. I can see this speeding up significantly on our next plays.
All in all I'm very happy I got a copy.

Initial rating: 7.5/10
BGG scale: 8/10

Peak Oil
tl;dr: not engaging

It's weird. Some games take a theme and a bunch of different, well known mechanisms and turn out great. Others take a theme and a bunch of different, well known mechanisms and turn out very meh. Unfortunately this game fell in that last category for me. There's a pretty cool WP mechanism where there can be quite a bit of competition do be able to do certain actions at certain times. There's also competition for the resources on the map, getting shares in the new startup companies... you know, stuff that is usually interesting. But for me (and Myriam, who turned out as the winner) this fell quite flat. You go through the motions and make some progress and that's all good and well, but it just didn't engage either of us. It was just a big meh-fest.

Initial ratings: 6/10
BGG scale: 5/10
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Mon Nov 20, 2017 3:21 pm
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Nusfjord and Mini Rails

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Nusfjord
tl;dr: not original, but it still works well

Another year, another big Uwe Rosenberg game. And this one has his usual ingredients: Agricola style worker placement, buildings that will help you build stuff to help you, ships to help you, forests to grow and cut down, boards that give you negative points when not covered... You know, an Uwe Rosenberg game!
This one is a bit lighter. Probably about Glass Road weight. It also plays fairly straightforward thanks to that familiar WP mechanism. But still, there are enough meaningful choices to make and strategies to explore.
I heard from quite a few people they found it too basic and not deep enough, but I quite enjoyed my one five player game that I was in. There was always healthy competition for the action spaces and buildings and scores were relatively close. So yeah, I liked it!

Initial rating: 7.3/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Mini Rails
tl;dr: nifty stuff

Each turn you either take a share (that starts at value 0) or place a disk. The value of the shares of all players of the color of that disk go up or down depending on the location the disk was placed upon. At the end of the game you only score positive points for shares in the positive range, if there was a round in which that color was the left over disk. You only score negative points for shares in the negative range if that color was never the left over disk.
This leads to a lot of little, nifty choices one must make. Because if you increase a share value too much, other people will make sure it doesn't score positive, or they'll crash the value. And at the same time they're trying to make their stuff valuable or making sure it doesn't score negative.
On top of that the disks you take determine the next rounds turn order, and that can be very important.
Yes, lots of hard choices in a small box that plays well.

Initial rating: 7/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Fri Nov 17, 2017 12:34 pm
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Noria, Mystery of the Temples and Tulip Bubble

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
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Noria
tl;dr: interesting engine builder

This game has a new, eye catching mechanism at it's core. 3 dials that can contain action tokens. The dials will rotate giving you access to certain actions at certain times. Of course you can change the actions and influence the position of the wheel. So that definitely gets lots of people interested. I must admit I got this game without really looking into it and only became aware of this when reading the rules.
In any case. The actions let you get more, upgrade, get resources, convert stuff into points... The usual stuff but all executed in a quite refreshing way. And it all fits together quite nicely.
The scoring happens on a number of different tracks with a mechanism that itself is also quite interesting. Players can influence what tracks will have what multiplier and such. Some are more expensive and harder to move up on, but they also score more.
All in all a well put together game with lots of new and different stuff. Quite an impressive debut!

Initial rating: 7.3/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Mystery of the Temples
tl;dr: fine super filler

In the middle of the table are some locations with orders on them where you have to pay certain gems to score points. There are other cards that have special actions on them like exchanging gems or whatever. The point is to move around as efficiently as possible to score the most points possible.
So nothing new here, but it works fine and doesn't outstay it's welcome. So I would say it does what it sets out to do and it's quite enjoyable. Just don't expect this to set your world on fire.

Initial rating: 6.6/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Tulip Bubble
tl;dr: quite chaotic

Not to be confused with Tulipmania 1637. That's a very strange game that I always wanted to like but couldn't. This game has the same them, and the theme leads the game to also be a stock market game. That just makes sense. So you want to buy low, sell high.
The rules are quite straightforward. The selling mechanism is quite tricky as you want to make sure to dump whatever the other players are dumping as it will probably crash in value.
My problem with this game from the event cards. Those can lead to huge price hikes or crashes that can't be predicted. And every time I decided to invest big with an almost certain good outcome, one of those cards came up, decimating my pile of cash and stopping me from having any chance at all. You have to take these chances in the game to stand a chance, and to have that taken away by dumb luck just doesn't work for me. I can see how some would enjoy the tension this brings, but for me it killed the game.

Initial rating: 5.5/10
BGG scale: 4/10
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Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:26 pm
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Istanbul Das Würfelspiel, Nations Dice Game Unrest and 7 Wonders

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Istanbul: Das Würfelspiel
tl;dr: enjoyable dice game

One of the main mechanisms that makes Istanbul great and as popular as it is, is the way you have to move over the different locations and manage your disks. This dice version retains almost all elements of the game except that one. You roll the dice and get resources and money and what not that you can eventually convert into gems, like in the original. You can also build some tiles that give you permanent or one-of benefits, like in the original.
This game certainly is not as deep as the board game, but it is quite enjoyable and works well and for once we get a dice game version that is not a roll-and-write. A welcome change, even if you like those games.

Initial rating: 6.8/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Nations: The Dice Game – Unrest
tl;dr: a good addition

This game adds a bunch of new races, tiles and a new type of dice. It also adds some of those round action markers. It all adds a bit more variety and a number of new strategies to explore. But most of all: it integrates seamlessly with the original and has a very low learning curve. Everything I want from an expansion, so I'm not sorry I got this and I see no point to play the game without it.

Initial rating: 7.2/10
BGG scale: 7/10

7 Wonders
tl;dr: still a joy to play

This game was an instant hit when it came out. And it has since grown into a bit of an evergreen. The expansions have injected new life into the game every now and then but while I enjoy them, none of them have wowed me. But the base game still stands out as a great design. It plays fast, has quite easy rules but offers surprising depth strategy wise. Overall I still enjoy this game an awful lot. Maybe because I never played it to death.

Rating: 8/10
BGG scale: 8/10
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Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:07 pm
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I went to the UK and came home with a masterpiece (supposedly)

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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I was lucky enough to be invited to Anthony's birthday. I got to play a bunch of games, including one of the most enjoyable Glory to Rome games I've ever been part of. I also get to meet a bunch of very friendly people and I had the pleasure to play games with some of them.

Usually people give the birtday-person a gift. So I did. But I also got a gift in return. A copy of a game called Scandaroon! I guess someone was glad to get rid of a copy

Thanks, I'll make sure to write a review here!
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Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:08 pm
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Transatlantic, Ilôs and Harvest Dice

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Transatlantic
tl;dr: dry but I like it

Ever since Imperial any new title from Mac Gerdts has been on my radar as soon as it was announced. This game was announced over three years ago, but I guess there was some tinkering to be done to get it ready for publication. But it's here now, and that's what counts!
In this game a big part of the puzzle is what ships do you buy, when do you put them on the board, and where. And when do you ship to get more money? Or do you wait for your ship to be kicked off and have an automatic ship?
The game runs on a card mechanism that comes straight from Concordia, but the rest of the game plays very differently. I guess the main reason for that is that the cards you have don't influence the end game scoring.
It is a bit dry, but I quite enjoyed playing this and working hard to get the timing just right.

Initial rating: 7.3/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Ilôs
tl;dr: nothing new to see here, move along

This game has some tile laying with an exploration aspect, but at it's heart is a resource generation system where you get to influence the value of those resources for end game scoring. It all runs on a card mechanism where you have to pay for your action cards by discarding other cards. So it has a lot of things going for it. I quite like what they were going for, but in the end the game fails to excite. It works, it's kind of enjoyable but also quite forgettable. I was hoping for more but only got middle of the road.

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

Harvest Dice
tl;dr: nothing new to see here, move along, unless you want more of the same

Roll some dice, choose where to fill in the result on a score sheet and try to do better then the other players. We've had these kinds of games coming and going for a while now, but we're still getting new ones all the time. Most of them are quite fun and very forgettable. Some, like La Granja: No Siesta, do a bit more with the concept and stand out, most don't. This one doesn't. But that doesn't take away from the fact that it's quite fun and a good filler to close out an evening or get warmed up.

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Thu Nov 9, 2017 2:32 pm
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Agra, Muse and Spoil Me Not!

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Agra
tl;dr: solid

When the guy from La Granja puts out a new game, people pay attention. Including me. The game also happens to be published in a good looking edition with nice bits. Maybe they overdid it a bit with the bits though. The large wooden bits are not only big but also not very detailed or functional. I would have preferred regular size meeples. The board is ginormous, but there is not that much dead space on it so fine I guess. The tilted display for the development tracks and stuff is WAY overdone though. Not only does it include a lot of useless cardboard, it also requires a lot of the wooden bits to have this weird angle on one side. And even with that they're still hard to put on there straight.
Also, the artwork, while pretty to look at, could have been a lot clearer in some areas. Not in the least the part with the resource conversions with arrows that are hard to see. I think they should have thought a bit more about having a nicer price point and more functional artwork and less about how amazing it looks.
But enough about components, how does it play?
This game has a pretty nice WP mechanism. Before doing your turn you can lay down some of your previous workers to get a bonus action. Then you perform an action, but you can bump other players off. And that's a good thing for those players, as they get a bonus. Unless that worker was laying down. So you can see how this leads to interesting choices. Do a bonus action now or get a bonus for being bumped?
It also seems like the game offers a bunch of different strategies to explore. Do a lot of building? Or do a lot of trading?
When I played, I didn't have a goal and I wasn't trying to win. I was just exploring a bit and focused on building, but ended up not doing that much. Still, even without trading I still managed to score quite well and surprised the other players.
I look forward to playing this again. I just wish they hadn't overdone the production and made it slightly cheaper.

Initial rating: 7.2/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Muse
tl;dr: team Dixit

One team chooses an image and a card with text to give to one of the players on the opposing team. That player has to come up with the best hint for that text for the team mate to find that image. Then the image is mixed into a pile with some other images that only the other team got to see, and a choice has to be made. Correct guess: one point. Wrong guess: one point for the opposing team.
So on the one hand you try go give the opposing team the hardest combination and if you're on the receiving end, you're just trying to come up with the best possible tip. I think it really helps to know your team mate very well.
I quite enjoyed this. It's a fun take on the genre, and the art is great.

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

Spoil Me Not!
tl;dr: not sure what to think

This game is quite interesting. It clearly allows for some very clever play. You offer a card to the other players, they make a counter offer. I played this with three. Some say it's not good with three, others prefer it with three. It certainly allows for a lot of control for the players. You can really force the hand of other players in some situations. This can lead to extreme situations where all players score nothing or negative.
So while I appreciate the cool moves this game allows and hope to explore it more, I'm not sure how much I like it. I have very mixed feelings about it.

Initial rating: 6.7/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Wed Nov 8, 2017 1:06 pm
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Indian Summer, Pile-Up Rush and Topito

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Indian Summer
tl;dr: OK puzzle game

I quite enjoyed Cottage Garden when I played it. I quite enjoyed this game when I played it. But not as much.
So you place some tiles on the board, trying to puzzle them together in the most efficient way and score bonuses where possible. Bit it just didn't have the spark Cottage Garden had for me.
But if you want more of the same but different, give it a shot. Maybe I'm wrong!

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

Pile-Up Rush
tl;dr: OK stacking game, perfect for two

In this game 2 players are competing to stack their set of pieces as fast as possible. But not at the same time. There is a timer. The faster you go, to more pieces you can place before time runs out. If anything topples, the active player has to give up one of his pieces. First to 4 pieces of the other player wins.
Pretty basic, pretty fun. The game also plays more than 2, but I wouldn't recommend that.

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

Topito
tl;dr: OK stacking game

In this game you score points for stacking certain pieces in a certain order on a certain location. Everyone has their own secret goals and as soon as you reach one, you score it and get a new one. With 2 players you can plan ahead, but with more it could get quite chaotic I guess. But this is light, simple fun.

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Tue Nov 7, 2017 12:36 pm
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Pulsar 2849 and Alien Artifacts

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Pulsar 2849
tl;dr: fun exploration game

This game uses a kind of Yspahan style dice-action mechanism. But in this one you get punished for taking higher valued ones - the best ones in most cases.
The heart of the game is a map of the universe where players fly around, finding planets and such, getting energy... Everyone will also work and building a bit on an engine to be more efficient or flexible.
It's not as complex as some of the other games from Vladimír Suchý and it plays quite fast, but it has enough depth to satisfy me.
I quite enjoyed it and got a copy after trying. Oh, did I mention the price point is quite good for what you get?

Initial rating: 7.3/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Alien Artifacts
tl;dr: fun engine builder, not a real 4x

This was pitched as a 4x game in 1 hour. When I hear that I'm always skeptical. Even Eclipse which is the closes thing to a short 4x game, isn't a full 4x game if you ask me.
This game also has ships you can build and use to attack other planets and players. It also has a technology development mechanism. It does not have a map though, everything is done through cards.
I quite like the mechanism where you use cards for doing actions. The way it is set up leads to very quick turns and very little downtime. We had players surprised it was their turn again quite a lot.
We didn't finish in 1 hour, with 5 new players sot it did take a bit longer, but it certainly is a fast game and I quite enjoyed playing it. I look forward to playing it again soon.

Initial rating: 7/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Mon Nov 6, 2017 11:05 pm
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Cosmogenesis, Space Race and Star Cartel

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Cosmogenesis
tl;dr: super cool concept!

In this game you get to crash asteroids into each other or planets to create/grow planets or moons. How fucking cool is that? And it puts this cool concept and puts it into a game that is both thematic, not overly complex and strategic!
At the core of the game is a worker placement mechanism. Each location has a couple of items of you to pick on a first-come basis. And you can only visit each location once per round. So this obviously leads to some nice turn angst and such.
I was really pleasantly surprised by this game. Going in I didn't really know what to expect and I didn't do particularly well, but I did really enjoy playing it.

Initial rating: 7.3/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Space Race: The Card Game
tl;dr: cool card game

Now here's a cool engine builder with cards. Different cards are triggered in different ways, and chaining them to combine them efficiently is the puzzle to solve here. The basic turn structure is quite straight forward, but good planning is essential so you can set yourself up for future turns. If you know the color that was activated this round won't be activated next round, start building for next round and try and be as efficient as possible.
I quite liked playing this game. If it was slightly cheaper, I'd probably have bought a copy.
A note on the artwork: I like that they chose real people and stuff for the artwork, but I'm not a fan of the art style. The color pallet doesn't appeal to me. But that's personal taste.

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

Star Cartel
tl;dr: fine card game

In this game you grab resources from the center of the table and add them to your ship. The thing is that your ship automatically ships when you reach a certain total value. And then you have to pay the cartels part of your shipment. And the contents affect the market value of the goods. So there's a really tricky balancing act in getting the values of certain goods in your shipment just right so you get to keep the goods you want to keep for the end game scoring.
This game doesn't do anything new or special, but it works well and I quite enjoyed playing it. For €15 I would have bought a copy. For €25 I didn't.

Initial rating: 6.7/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Mon Nov 6, 2017 12:29 pm
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