One day I had really good timing and I ran into Frank West who was showing off his new game The Isle of Cats. New to me!
He was just getting off the Livestream at the BGG booth, and once I saw it, I IMMEDIATELY had to schedule a time to play this game. I saw amazing artwork and polyominoes and a boatload (get it?) of cards! I didn't really need to know more than that for me to want to play this game. We scheduled a time and I got to invite Charlotte along to play with us later that night! Michael was finishing up a booth shift, so he tagged along to play for a 4-player game.
This was the third cat game I got to learn at Origins. Cats must have been the theme of Origins this year? I am fine with that.
OMG THIS GAME IS SO CUTE! Really amazing artwork just brings me in. Thankfully, the mechanics in the gameplay are also amazing, or at least totally right up my alley.
In The Isle of Cats, you are trying to get the most points via lots of different opportunities. The two main ways to score points is by grouping the same color polyomino cats together and by public and private end-of-game scoring cards.
There are a number of phases in a round. The first phase is to collect an income of 20 fishes, which is the currency in the game. The second phase is the drafting phase. Players will get a hand of cards and select 2 and pass the rest, select 2 and pass the rest etc, until all the cards are drafted. There should probably be some hate drafting happening at this time. After you draft, you have to pay for the ones you want to keep.
Afterwards, cards will be played. If you have end-of-game scoring cards, they must be played. These cards will score based on specific cats or formations on your boat. Some are public and affect everyone, and others are private and are kept face down.
Then players will secretly bid a number of cards that have baskets and boots. The more boots you have, the earlier you go in turn order. Baskets are used to capture cats, which you will place on your boat. Cats cost a certain number of fish. There are 5 colors of cats and some white/wild cats. There is usually a reason to get one color vs another, but sometimes you will need to go for the best shape for your misshapened boat structure. On your boat, there are a number of rats that are all worth negative points if they aren't covered by cats. There are also 7 sections to your boat, and if a section isn't filled up, then you will lose points. It is unrealistic to fill your boat completely, so you have to plan accordingly.
Finally, you will get to play treasure cards. These will give you more tiles to fill in the gaps in your boat or to cover rats.
After you play the cards you wish to play, you do it all again. You play out 5 rounds which are exactly enough cards that are in the deck for a 4 player game (but with KS goals, that might change). ou can hang on to cards from round to round and save them for when you most need them. There are tons of cards, and some of them won't be bought each turn, so there's a lot of replay value.
Frank was playing with us. I am so thankful he made time to show us the game and to play a full play through. For me, the game just zipped on by. It took 90 minutes to teach and play, so it moved along really quickly. I didn't have much of a strategy. I picked out some easy end-game scoring cards so I had something to work towards. Having large groups of same-type cats was also something I could work towards as they will always score you points. Knowing when to hold cards for later rounds is really important. You might not have the fish to spend on the cats this round, so you can hang on to cards that allow you to get cats on your boat next round when you have enough fish saved up. Figuring out the timing was a challenge, but I was feeling confident in my playing abilities.
Later in the game and looking around at the other boats and the common goals, I was feeling a bit less confident. It was certainly not a guaranteed win for me. I was feeling a bit like I was in last place, even. Michael had a lot of common goals locked up and was scoring a LOT. He had a ton of hidden goals and a lot of treasures on his boat that scored points. Frank was across from me and I have no idea what he was doing, but I surmise it was amazing as he indeed won the game with 108 points. I was JUST behind him with 104 points. Michael was just behind my score and Charlotte just behind him. Frank said anything over 100 points would be considered a fairly high score. With only about 10 points separating first from last, it was a super close game with tons of different strategies.
Charlotte confessed she isn't much of a polyominoes fan but had a great time playing nonetheless. She enjoyed it quite a bit more than she initially thought! Phew! Glad it wasn't a disappointment for her!
Michael and I simply adored this game! I have not stopped thinking about it since playing it and it was my clear favorite game of the month from June. LOVED IT! I love drafting and all the different cards and tile placement. It is all very puzzly and totally right up my alley. I simply cannot wait to play this game again. This is going to be a top contender for the 2019 ranks. Easily one of the best for the year!
Charlotte was up for another game and we pulled out Kanagawa.
I had played this before but Charlotte was interested and Michael hadn't played so we went through the rules and played a quick game.
Michael read the rules since it had been a while since my last play. It was good to play again since I just got the expansion for it, and now that Michael knows the base game rules, we can easily play the expansion soon.
I was not really gaining the combos I needed or the cards I needed to make my run of seasons or different sets for the masters token. Nothing much worked out for me and Michael had them all. He literally got all the colors. He completely ran away with it and Charlotte and I sat there dumbfounded. It was a pretty quick game because of that.
This game is simply gorgeous, but each time I play, I feel I need something more. I am hoping the new expansion adds that next layer to make everything a bit more interesting. I have fun with the base game, but it feels tired by the end. I look forward to trying that Yokai expansion out next time!
The concept of Undo is cooler than the actual experience. The concept is that a bad event happens in the present time and you need to go back in time to change the circumstances that lead up to the current time so that the event doesn't happen. In this case, there was a murder that happened, so we had to go back and try to prevent the murder. You will get a varying score depending on how well you answer the questions from the timeline that you choose to visit. You might keep the result the same, make it better, or even possibly make it worse.
Playing it was enjoyable and felt different. It was cool to discuss choices with Scott and Michael. It all felt a bit easy though. There wasn't much challenge. We scored 8 out of a possible 10 points, so we had nearly the best result possible. I don't feel the need to really go back and revisit this case again to try and do better. I don't even think I am that drawn to play the other Undo games in the series.
I did have fun playing this one, and I would recommend trying it out just to experience it, but it was just okay for me. There is no real "hook" here.
The most interesting adventure game we got to try at Origins was The Crusoe Crew. New to me!
This adventure book is so unique! I love the other Van Ryder Games adventure books I have experienced, but this one is different since you are playing with other people! Each person will have their own book and different abilities. What I see in my book might not be what other people see in their books. My character was the puzzle solver, which meant that I could help solve puzzles easier than the other players. Michael was dexterous and could break down the walls. Scott was tall and could see higher and above things we couldn't. No one played as the girl who could talk to animals (I should have, SO CUTE!).
Anyway, this game is made for kids and families so we were expecting an easy ride of it. No, we completely failed. There were some hard puzzles, and man, each of our characters got trapped 3 different ways! We hardly saw any of the book too. We didn't search the beach at all. There is still so much left to explore. I am glad I have a copy of these books since I really want to go back and see how it all plays out when you do well. I want to try playing as the animal talking girl too.
There is a lot happening in Crusoe Crew and we all had a great time losing. Fun stuff!
The next night, Scott had picked up a new adventure/campaign type game that just came out from Pegasus Spiele called Adventure Island. New to me!
So this is not really a campaign game, but it is. But it's not. But it is. But it's not. There are different scenarios and you are working your way through the game and there is a progression as you go. The main problem is that it is not a campaign game because you don't retain any information from game to game. For example, if I find a compass in game one, I don't get to keep that compass in game 2. I have to find it again. But game 2 is basically a continuation of game 1. But it's not. But it is.
I think the point of resetting your inventory is so you can play with anyone at any time. However, I would rather it just be a continuation of a game, campaign style.
Scott, Michael, and I played the first 2 scenarios. We NEARLY won the first game, but the rules were so terrible, we only figured out that we lost after we revealed the ending and started trying to set up game 2.
So, the goal of the first game is to find shelter and make a fire. Well, we found a card labeled "shelter" and we made fire. YAY, we did it! No, apparently not. But we did... but we didn't. We found "unsafe shelter" which doesn't count as shelter. REALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLY bad rules. Anyway, it was painfully clear once we found the rules for scenario 2 that we were wrong about our victory. We proceeded to game 2 anyway.
Game 2 was just as difficult to navigate through and figure out. The game is near impossible to win. Everything is really dependent on where important cards are shuffled into each location deck. So we lost the second game super hard! I don't get how you can win the game if you can't hold on to the items and locations you already found from the previous games.
The whole experience just left me more angry than happy. Too many problems with the game for it to be fun. I went in fully expecting to love this game too! Or, at least, I had high hopes for it. The rules need to be more clear, I shouldn't have to rely on BGG forums for basic rules, or any rules!
I am curious if anyone has played this game and enjoyed it straight through. I don't right out hate it, but it was pretty disappointing for me. I even gave it 2 scenarios before we just had to call it quits. I think Scott and Michael felt the same way as me, unfortunately. Oh well, all the games can't be winners. Make this game a campaign game and it would improve the experience by a lot!
We ended the con on a high note with a simple and fun game of Slide Quest. New to me!
I saw this game during Essen and was super excited about it then. I am even more excited now that it is available!
Slide Quest is a dexterity game where every player controls a side of the board, which is basically a hanging platform. There is a knight figure that rolls around on the platform and needs to travel from point A to point B. The game starts out easy and gets harder and harder. There are 20 levels you can play, but each individual game is 5 levels.
There are different obstacles to overcome like dynamite and monsters. You don't want to push the dynamite over or you will blow up. You want to push the monsters into the holes in order to pass the level. There are rocks and fences that you have to maneuver around and archways that you have to pass through.
Michael took control of 2 sides of the board, and Scott and I each took control of 1 side. I wouldn't be able to control 2 sides - I can barely control 1 side! We were playing on easy mode and we only lost a few lives by falling into the holes.
I should mention there is a killer app that you can use for timers and game music. You can play the game with varying levels of difficulty, and let me tell you, easy mode is still wicked hard! I duno how you can possibly beat some of the levels in the amount of time it designates.
We tried playing with the app timer and ultimately failed because we weren't coordinated enough. We took about triple the allotted time, and even then it was a challenge. Fortunately, the app didn't scare us and we played past the timer. Haha, we definitely need to practice.
I consider playing through the 5 levels a win! So we totally won the game. Albeit there is room for improvement on style points and promptness, but we still won!
This game is so fun. I don't know why I feel stressed when playing it, but I do in a good way. I just haven't really seen a game like this, so Slide Quest definitely has the unique factor. Totally a keeper and one I look forward to playing more of!
Recap of Origins in photos! All the random pics I haven't shared yet! And of course my game haul!
All images in this post are copyrighted, owned, and controlled by Steph Hodge Photography, unless otherwise noted. Please contact me if you would like to purchase or use my images in any way. Thank you.
This is not a speed game but will play out pretty quickly. You are simply trying to get all of your pigs dirty. They start out squeaky clean and just want to be dirty. They are pigs after all.
Players will have a hand of 3 cards. On your turn, you will play a card or discard any number of cards and draw back to 3. You can play cards that dirty your pig or shelter the pig. If you play a rain card, you will clean all pigs not in a shelter. If you have a dirty pig in a shelter you can nail the door shut so other players can't attack you. You have to look out for the lightning though which will destroy the shelter.
Anyway, there are a whole bunch of cards and you will try to stop others from getting 3 dirty pigs all while trying to get your pigs nice and dirty.
I certainly didn't win the game I played. It was a 3 player game and I just could not find any dirty cards. I was discarding a bunch of cards and it just never seemed to happen for me. It was quick, but it seemed like it was taking forever. Dirty Pig has a cute idea, but I will always choose to play Happy Salmon over this one though. I think in the end there might just be too much luck for me. I am still curious about the chicken game in the same line-up. They all come in really cute animal packages.
My Friend Who Shall Not Be Named was roaming the halls and I managed to play a game with her! We sat down to learn Rivals for Catan. New to me!
I am not sure how either of us hadn't played this game before. I think she plays more games than me, which is hard to believe! I even owned this game for a time and now I own it again! Crazy how things work out.
The kid demoing the game for us was very enthusiastic. Not sure he was really a gamer but definitely had a great attitude. I don't even think he knew what BGG was, but we told him.
I didn't really know what to expect from this game. It was very much like Catan. I know, I know, shocking! You are still building up to gain points from settlements and cities and trying to get 10 points first. But you are limited to the resources you can have per location, which is interesting. It forces your hand a bit to spend and expand. There are different cards you can build and events that might happen.
My Friend Who Shall Not Be Named totally kicked my butt. She crushed it and she didn't even know how she did it. I knew how. I was rolling terribly! I made cities and I needed to expand more and gain more locations for production resources. She expanded quickly and I tried to get city points. It is definitely not good to do that too early.
There is a lot to enjoy about this game. I can see the basic cards getting a bit dull after a few plays and wanting more expansion type cards for a greater mixture. I think it really gives you a feeling of playing Catan but with only 2 players. You don't have to deal with trading and everything, which is great. Now that I own it again, I wonder if it will see the light of day. I have no idea, but I plan to hold on to it for a while longer. This is one I will look forward to playing again sometime.
While hosting the BGG Livestream at Origins, I got to play a few games on air! There was one game from The OP that we got to play the entire game on air. We played Astro Trash. New to me!
Astro Trash is a real-time game where you are rolling a few dice and activating what the dice are telling you, ultimately trying to empty your planet as fast as you can.
One die will tell you where the trash has to go, either left or right or to the center. Another die will tell you which color trash you are moving, and finally, the last die will tell you how many of that type of trash you can move.
It is as simple as that. Whoever can move all of the trash from their planet first wins!
It was super cute and high pace! I was rolling poorly at first but then managed to catch back up with some rolls that put a lot of trash on my neighboring planets. Always better to place on their planets than into the middle. I completely demolished them this time around and I had a fun time doing it!
This is a quick and simple game that I could play anytime. It is pretty silly and would make for a great family game with the kiddos. I love the bits in this game - they are so big and chunky! Cute cute cute.
One of my favorite games from Origins that I got to check out and learn was Calico. New to me!
This game is puzzley. When I say puzzley, I mean puzzle within a puzzle within a puzzle. You are patchworking these tiles into a pattern on your board to score you the most points. So many layers of scoring to consider when you place a tile on the board. You are just looking to score the most points.
The game is fairly simple for rules. You have 2 tiles in hand. On your turn, you will place one tile then draft one of the 3 face-up tiles so you have 2 in hand again. You can place the tile in any available space on your board. You will play until all spaces are filled. It is how you place the tiles that really matter.
There are 6 colors and 6 patterns in the game, and I think there are 3 tiles with each combination. Everyone will start with 3 scoring tiles on their boards that will score based on the surrounding tiles at the end of the game. That is the first puzzle. The second puzzle is where you try to make 3 of the same color tiles touch, which will gain you a button worth 3 points. The final and most complex scoring puzzle depends on the cats. They like different patterns of 3-5 matching tiles. Those kitties will score a range of points depending on how many tiles you collected of that pattern.
We were playing a 2-player game and it moved very quickly. I didn't manage to get any of the high-scoring goals, but I did get to score each of the low-scoring goals, which was better than my opponent. I completely crushed him. I was on point and collected a bunch of cats. He had a different strategy and collected a ton of buttons. I forgot they were worth 3 points each, which is something to not be overlooked but I think might be slightly less important than the other goals.
This is straight-up my type of game. It is still so fresh in prototype form, but can easily be one of the best games of the year for me. I think they will be hitting KS soon so I will be on the lookout for that. Even without the amazing artwork from Beth Sobel, I think this game would still do well, but of course, the awesome art helps draw people in by the adorable cute kitty.
Regarding the cat not actually being a "Calico" cat, I was told that the box would have been too busy, and I have to agree, it would have been too much going on. Apparently Calico is also a quilting term too? Anyway, things I have learned since playing this game.
Super excited and can't wait to play again soon!
Scott came back to the booth with a small PNP game called Medium. New to me!
Medium is a simple word game in the realm of The Mind. You only play with 2 players. One person plays a word card, and then the other plays another word card hoping to trigger a related word that might link the 2 words. After a few seconds of trying to think of a related word, the 2 players will count down from 3, then say ANY word trying to match each other.
Ready to play a round with me? OK. I will lay down the word Pie. You are going to lay down the word Turkey. Okay, think of a word that links them both. Ready? 3... 2... 1...
Spoiler (click to reveal)
If you also yelled that, then we won! If you didn't yell that, then we would take the 2 words we just yelled and have to relate those with another word. We basically have 3 chances to guess correctly. Usually, after you miss the first one, you will miss them all. The derailment is just too great.
I ended up playing this a whole lot in the BGG booth. I was showing everyone who stopped by even for a minute or 2. I even played on air a few times. It was just all around amazing fun. At first, Scott and I couldn't seem to win, but we were always so close to success. Eventually, we managed to get a few correct, but it took a long time. It wasn't surprising that Michael and I were awesome. He was saying the words that I was when Scott and I were playing. Scott was just on a different wavelength. Rob O and I were even farther off. He was just not focused or something.
It is still fun to try to play with whomever just to see what happens. One time I played a 3-player variant with Rodney and Chaz, and the clue was Cup and Nose. I clearly had the best answer but Rodney and Chaz were soooo on a different page than I was. I said "wine", as it CLEARLY should be! Well, it was clear to me. They were thinking like medical masks or something. They were more on the same wavelength.
Anyway, we were just playing the few word cards we had available to us. It was awesome and a great booth game. Can't wait to see this one in the final format. It will be awesome!
I got to learn this one a few weeks prior at BGG.Spring and just loved it! I was so happy Scott brought it along for us to play. We need Jordan Draper's edition of the game ASAP!
I have yet to win this game. I didn't provide horrible clues in all these games, but I always choke. There is so much pressure to think of a good clue. I had to give a city name, so I said, New York. Do you want to play along? If you could think of one color that represents New York, what would it be? Ready?
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Of course, half of the people picked black (correct) and the other half picked red. I wasn't thinking of "The Big Apple" but I should have been. I was just thinking that EVERYONE wears all black there all the time. It was hard.
Love this game and I am determined to win it one day! #doubtit. So fun! Can't wait to play with my MA gaming family.
After hours gaming in the BGG Booth, we played a 5 player game of HexRoller.
I learned this back in April and had a good time with it. Michael helped out and taught the game to 3 others who hadn't played before. We were playing on the easier side. I think I prefer the harder side. There are more chances to make links and score higher.
Anyway, we just played the one game, and everyone basically scored the same thing. I don't know if we were all doing similar things or just happened to all get the same score of 60 points. The winning score was 63 points and literally, the 4 other players got 60, including the two of us who had played before! It was pretty insane! Tight game.
The more I play this game, the more I think it is just ok. I am still happy to play it, but ever since I picked up a copy, I haven't played it and I am not sure I will end up playing it often. So many other roll n writes are calling to me. Not sure there is enough here to keep me coming back. But I'm not giving up hope yet.
All images in this post are copyrighted, owned, and controlled by Steph Hodge Photography, unless otherwise noted. Please contact me if you would like to purchase or use my images in any way. Thank you.
I went to Origins!! I got to spend the greatest time with the greatest team that is BGG! I got to have a ton of interviews on the live stream and learn about all the upcoming game releases!
Before we were able to set up the BGG Booth on Tuesday before Origins, W. Eric Martin showed several of us how to play Super Cats. New to me!
This is a very silly game where you are trying to get all your cats to stop being lazy and become SUPER! I think there was a Thor cat and a Cat Girl cat, and of course, my favorite was Super Rainbow Cat! Anyway, you can make your cats SUPER by using hand gestures to represent values from 0-5 with your fingers. The highest unique number will get some bonus, usually making one or two cats SUPER. The first person to turn all of their cats SUPER will trigger the next phase. In the second phase, that one person is trying to defeat the robot dog machine thing and the rest of us are all trying to stop that person.
Once I saw there was a Super Rainbow Cat I was all in. It was my goal to get that kitty flipped over as fast as I could. Bribery worked... well, it was more like me begging to please let me have my rainbow cat flipped. It ended up being the only cat I flipped all game. I kept matching all the other players. WEM ended up with all his cats flipped over and so he got to fight the big dog. We ended up stopping WEM though!
It was a SUPER silly game, but it generated a bunch of laughs. I have a feeling Scott F. would enjoy this one. I could easily play it again, but I don't think it will be hitting the table anytime soon.
Mike Young had some new games to show me and I was very interested in learning Era: Medieval Age. New to me!
This is the first Roll and Build game I think I've ever seen. Of course, I was totally interested in this one ever since I heard about it. I am a fan of Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age and I knew this was in the same vein.
While there are a lot of similarities in the games, Era is much more abstract and spatial. Each round, players will roll the dice up to 3 times, like Yahtzee. If a skull is ever rolled, you have to keep that die for the end result. Depending on the number of skulls you roll, there will be a different outcome for the disaster.
Players will collect their resources and pay food costs, which is one wheat per die you have. The disaster is then handled, which might affect you or other players. Players get to spend their resources to build their town and then there is a combat check.
Each phase happens in player order, which is important because there are a limited number of buildings. When a stack of buildings runs out, no further buildings of that type are available, and after a certain number of building stacks are emptied, the game will end. It will likely be an abrupt ending too.
There are tons of different buildings. Some give you extra dice and some give you end-game scoring bonuses. They are all worth some number of points. There are walls you can build in your town, and if you enclose a region on your board with walls, you double the points of all the buildings inside the wall.
Mike was teaching 3 of us and it was a rather slow start. It was a crazy fast finish though. I think in the final round we ended up buying 3 out of 5 building stacks and boom, it was over just like that.
I don't really feel the need for player shields. We played without them and it worked just fine. I ultimately didn't care if someone had more swords than me. They would try to take my resources and I would just say no! It cost me 2 points each turn, but I didn't realize that until halfway through the game.
Turns out I should have handed over the resources since Mike ended up beating me by just 2 points. It was a rough ending. I think he went out to laminate that score sheet. I should have won!
It was an awesome game and I am so glad I got to play it! I will have to track Mike down at DTC and play it again! The big chunky building pieces are just amazing. I will have to put a wash coat of silver or something to really make them pop. They deserve a nice paint job for sure.
It will be a huge hit, I already know! Such a great game and one I look forward to playing a whole lot more!
Thanks for the pic, Deb!
Mike had one more game to show me. This one is called 5211. New to me!
Well, it is not that new to me since I played the original game called 5 Colors back at BGG.CON in November. They took that game at Plan B and just revamped it to be colorful and whimsy. I am always up for more whimsy in my life & games.
I like the name because it is in the Next Move Games line and it has to be 4 characters long. 5 = number of cards in hand, 2 = the 2 cards you play first, then you play 1 and then you play 1 more for the whole round. Whichever colors have the single highest number of cards on the table under 7 cards will get to score. If there is a tie for most then the next color down will get to score and so on.
I totally kicked some serious butt this game. I schooled them all. I was playing for the high colors to match at the end, and many times they would, which meant I could score my secondary colors and get lots of points when others weren't getting many. Totally worked in my favor.
Very simple to learn card game. Easy to play and one I could play with my family. I quite enjoyed this one and will have to pick it up. Definitely good for start-of-game-day or end-of-game-day situations. I look forward to playing it more.
Rio Grande Games always has a huge room set up to play all of these games from ages past to recent new releases. It is free to go in and play and it's just an all-around good time. I managed to try out my good friend Joe H's new game called Caravan. New to me!
I sat down to a 3 player game with a son and his dad, and they were really sharp gamers.
Had I not known Joe H designed Caravan, I would have pegged it as a game he would enjoy, which is hard to do since he has a very unique taste in games. Caravan is almost a throwback to more classic (older) designs, which is why I think camels are appropriate.
In Caravan, your objective is to gain the most points by delivering goods that are dropped in the corner of the boards to their matching delivery spaces.
On your turn, you get 4 actions. You can drop a camel in a space (2 actions required if another camel is already in that space), pick up a good, send a good from one camel to any other camel in your line of camels without a good, steal another player's good if they are on the same space as you, or simply move your camel to a new space (provided there are no goods on him).
There are 8 spaces where goods can appear, and if enough goods have been taken so there are only 4 goods left on the board, then the board automatically populates to have 8 goods on it. This will be triggered during a players turn and resolved immediately. The 4 spaces with the untaken goods on them will be bucked up to make them more attractive.
I found the most fiddly part of the game was to actually remember to put cubes on the board when we hit 4 cubes left. I was half paying attention to that and half just trying to figure out the best routes. Thankfully the son was on it and almost always ready with the bag of cubes.
Of course, as soon as I would move a camel from a loading space, a new awesome resource would show up that would have worked well with my line of camels. #typical. The father and son were both able to beat me this time. I think the kid beat me by one point! It was a close race, but I just could not get the goods delivered in a timely manner.
Pick up and delivery hasn't been a favorite mechanic of mine in the past. I am not sure I would even consider it a mechanic I like. Caravan feels more like an abstract puzzle though. It certainly plays fast enough where I could play this whenever requested. Now all I need are some googly eyes for the camels. We always need more camel games. John at Monday Night Games will be so thrilled!
Queen Games had a media night, which I think is pretty cool. They invited media guests to their booth to come play some games. I really wanted to get in a full game of Merlin with the new expansion, but I missed the boat for that. To my delight, I did get to try out Bastille. New to me!
There was a lot of huff and puff around this game and the KS for it a while back. Since it was paired up with Merlin, people just surmised it was a throw-away game. It came out at Essen and just flew right under the radar. Fortunately for me, I play everything, so I know first hand if it is a game I will enjoy.
Bastille is a medium weight euro-style game with worker placement and a bit of area control and set collection. The game is very easy to learn. You will win if you have the most points at the end.
We were playing with 4 players, all learning. You have to have 3-4 players, and I think the reasoning for that is to help initiate tension and conflict for the different spaces on the board. You will always have 3 workers but there is a location to upgrade your worker by one notch up to ranking 4. This mechanic is one of my favorites and can be found in Lancaster. It is always useful to upgrade when you can, especially in this game where the highest value in a location will gain a slight advantage.
There are a lot of actions to consider with your 3 workers. You can recruit people at a cost that is discounted by your worker value. You can look for goal cards to try to complete by the end of the game for points. You can gather defense and build up the wall. Each round there will be an evaluation for flags. Whoever has the most will gain a reward and second-most will gain a smaller reward. There is also a mid-game scoring round and an end-game scoring round which you will want to plan for.
I had a very difficult starting goal card, and it was hard to focus on anything more than that. I needed to collect 2 of each color recruitment card. Other players had easier goals, like having the most green recruitment cards. They started collecting more and more goal cards since they were feeling secure with their initial cards. I should have gone diving for other cards to try to refocus my strategy, but I wanted to get that one goal complete before starting another. By the time I went looking for other goal cards, it was too late and I missed out on some I could have scored. It was a good lesson to learn for the next time I play.
The winning score was 76 and I was tied at 63. It was rough, and I definitely needed more goal cards completed. But it was a great time nonetheless.
I have to say, Bastille was a pleasant surprise! It will now hold a space in my collection so I can play it more. There are even Queenies that can be added to change up the play a bit, which I am excited to try. I think this is a great step up from a game like T2R or Catan. Really clever, and one I hope to play a bunch more.
All images in this post are copyrighted, owned, and controlled by Steph Hodge Photography, unless otherwise noted. Please contact me if you would like to purchase or use my images in any way. Thank you.
My eye was immediately attracted to a huge game called Gridopolis Games on the top shelf of the library. New to Me!
My curious nature said I must try this game and Felix and Jan were up for this abstract game. There are actually several different games to play in the box, but we just played the basic game.
In Gridopolis, there are a lot of cool colors and plastic components that you will use to build up a huge playing board. Since the board is 3-dimensional, you really have to think outside the box. The goal is to be the last man standing (or you can play for an agreed-upon amount of time).
Each player will start the game with 6 pawns. Pawns can move in any direction - up, down, forward, diagonally, and/or sideways - as long as you do not move toward your starting row. You can jump your opponents pieces to capture them, even across multiple levels. And like in Checkers, you can continue jumping over multiple enemies as long as you do not move backwards. Unlike Checkers, you can jump your own pawns to help you go faster, but you can't combine jumping your pawns and opponents' pawns.
You can EVEN JUMP OFF THE SIDE OF THE BOARD!! This is called Kamikaze and you are essentially killing your piece if you do. It might totally be worth it to prevent another player from capturing one of your kings. All captured pieces are worth points at the end.
At any time, if a player makes it into another players' starting region, that pawn will turn into a king. Kings can move two times per turn and can move in any direction, including backwards.
You can skip your turn to expand or shrink the playing board. Each player gets three pads, two posts (to place a pad one level higher), and two blocker boxes (to eliminate a pad). There are also hyper-pads that can be used to "beam out" to another hyper-pad.
Felix was aggressive right off the bat and was after both me and Jan. Jan was eliminated relatively quickly because of it. I lost several pawns, but was trying to stay out of the way. I made the mistake of keeping my King alive instead of having one of my pawns doing a Kamikaze. So Felix was able to pick up some extra points. It was rough going for sure!
No one ended up changing the board as their action. It seems too painful to use your whole turn to expand or shrink the board, but I do like that it is an option. Your 3-level board can turn into a 4-level or 5-level board. How crazy is that!? There is a lot to explore with these possibilities.
Felix ended up winning with 8 points. I was behind with 6 and Jan had 5. It was a closer game than I expected. I can see this game going in circles if a few players just have one pawn, so setting a time cap can be a good idea.
I like that it is fairly easy to learn and wicked abstract. If you aren't a fan of the classics like Checkers, Chinese Checkers, and Chess, then I am not sure this is a game for you. It is so super hard to visualize the board in a 3-D way. It will definitely take some plays for me to get used to what a good strategy and initial play might be.
So many ways to play this game and a lot to explore still. I am excited to give this one another play soon.
Another game I was interested in learning was Franchise. New to me!
I remember learning about it last Origins and thinking it was so colorful and was one I wanted to try.
This was a reimplementation of an older title named Medieval Merchant. I've never played it, so I don't know how Franchise compares to that. Franchise certainly seems like a better theme for the mechanics.
In Franchise, timing is everything, which makes this a tricky game. You need money to travel and to secure your franchises in new cities. You have to balance that nicely with the income you receive from your franchises.
Both Felix and Jan were doing well. I was off in my own little world and I thought I would actually win because of it. The main problem with being secluded is that no one is helping you close out regions on the map. You get points for closing regions. I was about to score a TON of points on the final turn, triggering the end of the game. But Felix was able to trigger the end of the game before I could, and he ended up getting all the points.
It was a rough ending for me. Felix was so sure I would win. I might have been able to if I had focused sooner and figured out what I really needed to do. I was so all over the place in the early game and spent far too much money on poor plays. But I have learned from my mistakes and will be able to go into the next play wiser for it. Having a presence everywhere is NOT worth it!
I had fun with Franchise. I don't think it was clever enough for me to own and play frequently, but I would be happy to play again. There are so many other Queen Games that I enjoy playing more. Definitely worth checking out though.
The three of us also checked out a cute little card game called Animale Tattica. New to me!
This game reminded Felix of Tichu a bit. It is a climbing game where you are trying to get rid of all your cards. What is interesting about Animale Tattica is that each player has a unique deck of cards. There are special cards that help your hand and give you cool 1-time effects.
Since I love climbing games, I was really happy to try it out. Felix also enjoys climbing games and quite enjoyed our play. I didn't play my hand properly and Felix was gifted with 2 kings which were BOSS! I would definitely want to play again using different decks to see if any are overpowered.
I don't think Animale Tattica would get much play if I were to acquire a copy, but I certainly enjoyed myself and would easily play it again. I LOVE the artwork!! So cute!!
I was wandering around looking for some games to play and stumbled into a prototype of a recent KS game called Zoo-ography. New to me!
I hadn't heard of it, but I was drawn in by the stunning rainbow colored animals. These pieces were 3D printed and are not the final product (though I kinda like them the way they are!).
Zoo-ography is a drafting and tile laying game. Two of my favorite mechanics! You are using the tiles you draft to create a wonderful park full of animals and attractions. There are common goals to work towards to complete the best you can. The more common goals you complete, the more points you score.
The active player will draft a card from the center field and then choose to draft some animals or play a card to their parks. You can only draft animals from one region and you have to be able to store all of the animals in your park. Animals can be placed in a habitat only if they can share the habitat with all other animals. Big animals each require two watering holes and can be caged only with the same-color big animals or with small animals that are one space away on the color wheel. For example, a big red animal can be caged only with big red animals, small orange animals, or small purple animals. Small animals don't mind sharing habitats with any other small animals.
It is very important that you draft appropriate tiles for your park. You want enough enclosures to hold all your animals and you want certain attractions to help bring more guests to your park. While the game is fairly abstract, it is very easy to figure out and plan for.
In the end, it is not a high scoring game. In a 4 player game, I was tied for the win with 8 points. I thought I had been doing better, but I lost a few points for not having enough visitors in my park. The other girl and I had very different strategies but we still ended up with the same score. That was pretty cool.
Since everyone was learning, it was a wicked slow game, taking more than an hour to play. With experienced players, I could easily see playing this in 20 minutes with 2 players. Despite the slowness, I really had a great time playing Zoo-ography. I will like it a lot better without all the AP players at our table. I am very excited about the final production of this to surface. It is one that I keep thinking about, even weeks later. Definitely fits right in my wheelhouse.
I ended up finding Michael, Felix, and Jan again, and we got to play Inuit: The Snow Folk. New to me!
I have been seeing a lot of pictures of this around FB and Instagram and was so intrigued. The artwork is just stunning and that was enough to make me pull it off the library shelf to try. I love card drafting engine building games, and I hoped this would be a good one.
In Inuit, there is a flop of cards and the active player will add one to the lineup. Depending on the player's abilities, they might be able to add more. Then they will choose one type of card to draft into their village based on how many tribe members the player has assigned to that occupation. Elders draft new tribe members. Shamans add spirits or perform rites. Warriors defeat people in the lineup. Hunters trap animals. Scouts allow you to draw more cards at the start of your turn.
Most cards will have points on them which you will get at the end of the game. You also score points for tribe members anywhere with your color. I think it is really interesting that if another player has a tribe member with my color, I get points for it. But if I have a tribe member without my own color, I will lose points. It is probably still worth it to have tribe members of any color to boost your occupations.
I was behind all game. I focused mainly on the rituals and spirit cards and they were pretty awesome, scoring me a majority of my points. I didn't value the tribe members well enough. I really needed more members in my tribe to get better drafting abilities. I super lost because I didn't have them. I only had 53 points and the winner was Michael with 62.
There is a lot to like about this game. I am not sure it does anything new and exciting, but it is all-around enjoyable and fun to play. Simple mechanics make it easy to learn and figure out. There are even extra cards for more variance and alternate game plays. That is pretty cool. I look forward to playing this one again soon!
So many little Japanese card games I just don't know and I want to know!
This was a super cute card game that demonstrates the I-split/you-choose mechanic. You will get 7 cards and make 3 piles of 2 cards each, discarding 1. The next 2 players will get to select which set of cards they want before you get the last set. These cards must be added to your stash of cards. You are trying to get the max points from each type of fruit. Some want a lot, some want a few but not too much, and some want an exact number. All cards are clearly marked for how many points you get for a set.
It is a very simple game to play. We ended up playing a full 5-player game. It was quick, which worked out since people had another game to play right after.
It was clear that bananas were a problem. So we kept sticking the bananas with people who didn't want them. You obviously can't pick for other people, but if you can make all your stacks have bananas, players have no choice but to take them.
Everything worked out for James this time as he won by a few points. Michael was right behind him and I was right behind Michael. Jonathan and Susan were much further back with 39 each. They were screwed over with bananas.
I really enjoyed this one, and if I see it for sale in the future, I think I might have to pick it up! Very enjoyable little game.
I was trying to find games with short rules because I don't like reading rules. I spotted Glisse Glace in the library and I roped Felix and Jan into playing it. New to me!
I saw this at Essen last year and was curious about it. Very simple dexterity game with adorable penguin figures.
In Glisse Glace, you just have to shoot your disc and try to touch the little penguin's disc without knocking the penguin over. If you manage to get close enough to the little penguin, you get a positive point token. But if you knock over any penguins, you will get a token from the dad stack which can give you negative points. The game ends when one stack of tokens runs out.
It was only a 5-minute game. The dad stack ran out quickly and I had a ton of negative points. But I also managed to get some positive tokens, enough to WIN!! I had a whopping 4 points. Hahah, it was hilarious.
Cute game, but definitely not one I have to play again. Glad to have tried it.
I saw Derek and Chaz looking to play with Tom G and his soon-to-be-published Rail Pass.
Last year, I got to play this game in prototype form with Aldie. I am glad to see it got picked up for distribution and it is looking sharp now. I had a good time playing last year so I was looking forward to playing again.
Rail Pass is a real-time game that is quite puzzly. You have ten minutes to get cubes into their proper locations by loading, passing, and unloading train cars with your neighbors. There are different setups to change the difficulty, but you can also just use less time to increase the difficulty as well.
Since you are under time pressure, it is harder to concentrate and focus on simple things like the conductor rules. Your personal conductors can't travel more than one stop away, and you will lose points if he is out of his region. It is easy to forget with a timer going.
We played a 4 player game. Derek hadn't played before and Chaz played it long ago in prototype form. It was all very familiar to me, so I was ready to go.
It took longer for Tom to go over the rules than to play. We did very, very well, getting the highest-possible achievement because we scored so high. Boom, we owned it. Maybe Tom gave us too many minutes and was being generous.
It is a speedy and clever little game. Very light hearted and enjoyable for a round or two at a time. I could easily play this one any time.
Chaz and Derek had some time to spare so we settled on trying out one of the new Unlock games called Unlock! Tombstone Express. New to me!
Spoilers are short and to the point, but please don't read if you don't want to be spoilered:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
The 2 things I enjoyed in this game were the random bullets and the musical challenge.
I didn't enjoy this Unlock nearly as much as the other Unlock games I have played in the past. Overall verdict: #pass
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Well, I didn't think it was possible to find a game I hated more than Coup. Voila! I stepped into a 5-minute game called Murder on the Cosmic Express. New to me!
Normally, I stay away from social deduction games since I don't like them, but I was roped in with the "It's only 5 minutes!" line. In my world, there is always time for a 5-minute game.
In this game, everyone has a hidden role and each role will have an objective. Cool, sounds good so far. The murderer wants the murder weapons and will know what the murder weapon is. Everyone else won't know what the murder weapon is but won't want it. Everyone is dealt 2 weapons. There are pairs of several weapon types. An extra of each type is shuffled and one is randomly dealt to the middle of the table which represents the murder weapon. Everyone closes their eyes and the murderer secretly looks at the weapon card in the middle. Players open their eyes and will have a minute to trade weapon cards with others.
There is literally no incentive to trade with anyone unless you are the murderer. No one knows any information.
Maybe I just don't understand. I really hate social deduction games. I have literally nothing nice to say about this game other than I don't have to play it again. Hopefully, you like it more than I did!
Matt tried to redeem himself from roping me into playing that first failed game attempt with a new Dixit-like storytelling game called Detective Club. New to me!
Detective Club actually has a bit of A Fake Artist Goes to New York going on. The active player will write down a category and play one card that is related to that category. All other players will get to see that category except one player, who will just receive an X. That player will just have to guess based on the other cards they see. Two total cards will be played in front of each player and then players will have to tell their stories involving the category.
The scoring is wonky and works similarly to Dixit, where the active player wants to guess the person who doesn't know but not have everyone guess that person. I dunno, it was weird.
I got in a few rounds before I had to get ready for the closing ceremony. I was happy to have learned it though and had a pretty good time playing. Of course, the artwork is amazing and could easily be played with Dixit or Mysterium cards. I would definitely give this game another try if given the opportunity. It might need more of a scoring system, but just playing for funsies is cool too.
BGG Closing Ceremony!
Afterwards, Michael and I found James and Susan and we played several games starting with World Shapers. New to me!
This game is so gorgeous!! I was just glamoured by the artwork. It is so inviting and just draws me in! I love that World Shapers is a drafting game about the elements. There is even a rainbow card in the game, which I might just auto draft because... rainbow!
In World Shapers, players will be drafting a card to play from a hand of cards and then passing that hand to the next player. You will be playing cards to your tableau for their effects and for their scoring abilities at the end of the game. There are some rare gems that can be used to grab cards from a common supply when you're in a pickle, or more commonly used to upgrade a scoring card that has already been played.
It is a fairly simple game to learn, but quite difficult to figure out a proper strategy to take. I didn't have a clear route for scoring points, so I was having a hard time forming a strategy and not finding any synergy with my cards. I spent my gems too willingly, and I really needed them at the end of the game to help boost my score a bit.
As it turns out I didn't have a nice even amount of cards in my columns. Several cards were not able to score because of adjacency issues. Michael won this game with 37 points and I was LAST with 24. It was a train wreck for me, but I know what happened and I will definitely play better in the next game.
World Shapers is a simple-to-learn game with a lot more depth than first appears. I like that there is a lot to figure out in the first play. It will look great on my table and I can't wait to photograph it properly. I am always up for a drafting game and am very much looking forward to my next play!
I had heard nothing but good things about Dice Hospital so I was cautiously interested in trying it out. New to me!
I really don't like hospital-themed games, but I do enjoy dice drafting games, so I ended up giving this a chance.
The basics of the game are that your dice are your patients and you are taking them into your hospital via a drafting mechanic. These dice are all very sickly and need to be healed before you can discharge them. After you draft the dice and maybe a cool advancement or a new doc for your hospital, you will get to assign your staff to different stations to help heal the patients. You are trying to heal the dice, increasing them one pip each time you treat them. If you heal a 6 to a "7", they are considered discharged from your hospital. Dice that do not get treated during the round become more sickly and will downgrade a pip value. If you are at value 1 and need to downgrade, well, they are downgraded to the morgue. And when you lose a patient, you lose points.
It is up to you to manage your hospital. If you can discharge a bunch of patients at one time, you will get more points, so it is best to have them all go at once. You even get a bonus if you have completely cleared out your hospital at the end of a round.
I was so totally focused. I was getting the combos I needed and some good doctors. I even managed to get my hospital empty once, and those bonus points were enough to win me the game by 1 point! Wooohoo! I did something right! James was trying to recalculate his final turns to figure out what he might have been able to do better. He finally figured out a way he could have won... but it was TOO LATE!
I have to say I enjoyed this game a lot more than I thought I would. It is fun trying to manage and manipulate all the dice. There is a lot of clever planning you have to do, and timing is everything. Drafting the dice is totally important for your plans. I had a great time playing this one.
During Dice Hospital, we played the game within a game called Gameception. New to me!
I have actually had this a while and have looked at it a bunch, but never got around to trying it out. Such a crazy game. You are supposed to play over the course of a game day, scoring cards as you can. Since we were playing only during Dice Hospital, we just handed out a few cards to see if we could score any.
The cards are pretty general and will make a lot of sense at a game day. For example: "someone pulls out their phone to share a video" or "a kid interrupts the game". I happen to go to a regular game day with kids all around, so that would have been good.
James had a card that needed someone to sneeze. So Michael sneezed, and James scored. Easy peasy. I think James ended up scoring like 3 cards.
I DID manage to score my one card that said "another player complains they could have played better" - remember the end of Dice Hospital? OMG it was so funny when I revealed that on James!
Apparently, there are NINJA cards in this game that we didn't play with. With Ninja cards, you have to try to sneak a card so that another player accidentally sees the ninja. If they do, you score. That sounds super cool and I would definitely want to try that at some point.
I had a pretty good time with this and would be interested in trying it out at a game day in the future.
I saw more rainbows in the BGG library and was instantly drawn to Zoomaka. New to me!
Another zoo game in such a short time frame. I like animals in my games so it totally works for me.
Zoomaka is a small-boxed card game that is a pretty hateful set collection game. There are tons of cards in this game and half are animals and half are action cards, most of which affect other players in some way.
On your turn, you get 3 actions to try and make sets in your park with the same type of animals. You will have a bank to hold money, mostly for defending against attack cards that other players use on you. For example, if an entrance card is played in someone's park, everyone has to pay the fee to that player. If they can't, then they have to make up the difference in animals from their own park.
It actually sounds more hateful than it was, but not by much. Still, I had a pretty good time playing this game. It was fast enough where it didn't bother me that I was losing my cards to other players. I found a totally crazy card that made everyone discard their bank cards. Then I played an entrance fee and everyone had to give me many of their animals. I didn't auto win right then and there but I won a few turns later. It might come down to luck of the draw? I don't know.
I would definitely play this one again to see how it holds up. I do think there were too many action cards in the deck, but it works fine as a game. Perhaps not one I will suggest in the future though.
On the final day, we had barely enough time to play a couple of games and say bye before heading out. I was very much interested in learning Blossoms. New to me!
Blossoms was on my must-try list at Essen, and of course, there is never enough time to try everything. This is just a little 2-player push-your-luck game, so I figured Michael and I could knock it out pretty quickly on the final morning.
In Blossoms, you are simply controlling 4 flower pots, trying to add more to the flowers before trimming one flower down for points. You can keep drawing as long as you want. But if you draw a flower you can't place, you can't trim a flower and your turn is over.
Any game with push your luck is an automatic failure for me. I generally just end up busting all the time. I can't control myself! This time I actually managed to maintain a level head, stopping when I thought I just couldn't get more.
What's neat in Blossoms are the little bonus actions that help you manipulate the draws a little bit. You can spend one of your bonus actions to ignore a card that would make you bust. I used that.
While I still ended up losing this game, I didn't get a terribly low score. Michael won with 41 points and I had 31. It could have been a lot worse.
This was such a cute game, and of course, Rebel Games always produces gorgeous games and artwork to boot. I will always want to play whatever game they have next. I will be looking to add this to the collection since I think you can find it relatively cheap these days. Simple and quick fun in a 2-player game!
I was interested in playing the final Kinderspiel game called Fabulantica. New to me!
I got to finally play a game with Bethany and Aron before leaving, so that was cool. We ended up playing a 5-player game. John was kind enough to teach us even after teaching SdJ games all weekend.
The game is pretty simple: you are trying to search towers across the land for specific characters. You will use land cards to move around the map. If you find a character you're looking for, they will want you to find another character in order to complete their card. Once you complete 3 cards, then you are the winner.
You have to rely on your memory a lot. Towers are moving around the board so having that memory is handy. Needless to say, Bethany absolutely hated this game.
Fabulantica was fairly simple and I am sure kids will play it better than most adults. Michael ended up winning, and I think everyone was just happy it was over. I certainly didn't hate it as much as everyone else seemed to! I would even like to play it again, under better circumstances where everyone might not hate the game! Lol, it was cute.
Packing the car!
Final game haul pic! Yeah, I bought way too many games, but I look forward to playing them all!
Shout Out for the these amazing Iron Clays that were just on KS (final day today!). They are a perfect weight and feel just right. Love everything about them and can't wait to use them in whatever games I can going forward.
All images in this post are copyrighted, owned, and controlled by Steph Hodge Photography, unless otherwise noted. Please contact me if you would like to purchase or use my images in any way. Thank you.
I got to spend Memorial Day weekend in Dallas for BGG.Spring!
After an 11+ hour drive to Dallas, Michael and I made it and got in some late night games! We played a 4 player game of LAMA.
Of course, this game was going to be all over the con because of the recent SdJ nomination. This was the 3rd time I have played the game and, quite frankly, that is 2 times more than I would have liked.
While I love the rainbow cards, this game is just not fun for me. It has been getting compared to UNO and that is exactly it. I mean, it is the same game with fewer actions. I really don't understand the hype for it at all.
Someone won this game and it wasn't me. I really hope I don't have to play this one again.
Rusty had a PnP of Corinth that I have been wanting to try. New to me!
Corinth is a roll n write game that uses similar mechanics to those you would find in Yspahan. A bunch of dice are rolled and sorted into different rows based on their values. If you don't roll all the values 1-6, then some of the rows will not be used. Players take turns drafting a row of dice to use on their player sheets.
There are a few different paths to explore on the player sheet. You can build buildings to help you with other actions, you can try and get the set collections, or you can walk around the marketplace to gather bonuses there.
In our 3p game, I decided to go all in on the marketplace. I was getting extra dice to roll on my turn and lots of end game bonus points. I guess I did particularly well since I was pretty far in the lead at the end of the game with 71 points. Michael had 54 and Rusty had 46.
I really liked this one, but I do wonder about the replay lifespan. If the board choices were different each game, I think I would enjoy it more. I would happily play this anytime and I do hope to own it eventually. I love me some roll n writes!
Day 1 of the con found me starry-eyed in the BGG Library. There are just too many games I want to learn and play, but my first 2 choices were Dust in the Wings and Copenhagen. New to me!
I actually didn't know much about Copenhagen, other than the pretty colors and tile placement. Turns out that Copenhagen is more of a set collection game that reminded the group of Ticket to Ride.
In Copenhagen, you will draft cards from the display and add them to your hand. You will use those cards to claim building tiles to place on your building board. Ideally, you will place the tiles so that you are filling up the rows and columns of your building. You will get double points if the row or column has only windows in it. You will also get a special tile, a new skill, or a refresh of your skills if you complete a row with a shield symbol or build over a space with a shield symbol.
Super quick game, almost too quick. We played a 4 player game with rules in under an hour. You end up playing through the deck of cards 2 times, and when the stack runs out for the second time, the game is over, or if someone hits 12 points. Very fast and very low scoring game!
I was going for a middle column with all windows for some big points. It really worked well, but then I was left with a split board which was hard to plan around. Still worked in my favor as I won the game with 10 points and the tiebreaker since I was tied with Jan. Michael and Felix were tied with 8 points, so it was a close game all around.
I had a really great time playing this one. Could easily be played any time since it is so fast. I hope it runs across my table again soon! I quite enjoyed it!
(not really the game, but I just wanted all the red pieces)
Felix and Jan hadn't played Hadara and it was available to grab, so we played it.
Man, I love this game! I am definitely getting better each and every time I play it. I wonder if it is luck of the draw with purple cards though. I got a pretty decent one early and it shaped my whole strategy.
When I asked Felix if he liked 7 Wonders, he said not really, so I wasn't sure if he would enjoy this one. Turns out he really enjoyed it! Yay! I like finding games people like! But I crushed them allllllllllllll mwaahahahaha. I got 203, Michael 180, Felix 176, and Jan 144. Maybe it is my time to retire from this game. I don't think I will be able to beat that score!
No, seriously, I love this! It is another game that I could play at any time! I find it is really easy to explain too, even though Michael was doing most of the rules explanations.
Side Note: The BGG copy of this game had THE WORST card sleeves EVER. They were the wrong size and cards were facing different directions. It was a hot mess, and I hope I don't have to play that copy of the game again.
Dust in the Wings is a fairly easy abstract game where you move butterfly meeples around the board to claim scoring cards. At first, I thought the movement would be like in Five Tribes, but you never actually remove the butterfly meeples from the board. Works similarly though. You will select a square with butterflies and drop them one at a time in adjacent areas to where the previous one was placed.
The space where the final butterfly lands is the space you get to evaluate for the scoring cards. Some cards require specific butterfly combinations. Other cards require patterns of butterflies in the columns and rows. It is pretty easy to score something each turn.
This was less than exciting to play. I didn't really have any connection to what I was doing, or why. You can't really plan for your turn since the whole board essentially changes with each player's turn. The whole experience was fine playing it, but I am not sure I have to play it again. Nothing really grabbed me. I even think I won that game!
I saw Lincoln and asked if he wanted to learn some Kinderspiel games with me. It was my goal to learn all of the Kinderspiel games since I hadn't heard of them before the SdJ nominations. First up was Go Gecko Go!. New to me!
Go Gecko Go is a simple race game. You are rolling dice and deciding which animals to move. The bigger animals can carry little ones on their backs, so ideally, you will stack them all up and move them at the same time. There are logs in the way that will be an issue for high stacks of animals, so you will have to plan for those. The main issue with this game is that it is a roll-n-move game, and you might simply never roll a red in order to move the red animal. You are at the mercy of the dice!
There were a good 3 or 4 turns at the end of the game where I was just trying to move my red guy one more space to win, and it wasn't happening. It gave Lincoln and Christoph time to catch up, but I still managed to get that final push to win the game. I totally kicked butt!
It is a cute enough game and I could play again, but I am not rushing to find an opportunity to. I certainly don't need to own it. I like a lot of what was happening with the movements and different actions, but not enough to keep my interest for more plays. Happy to have learned it.
To my delight, this Viking game is a dexterity game! You are using a boulder to try to strike down the pins in the middle of the table. The colors you knock over will determine which player tokens will move along the docks. The docks are a track where you score points. You only score points when a player has jumped off the end of the docks, and you don't want to be the one falling into the river at the end if you can avoid it.
This is a really cute game that I could play at any time. I ended up teaching Eric the next day how to play because I liked it so much the first time. I am so very bad at it though. I am so bad in fact, that I ended the second game with 0 points. I had 0! It was rough. I probably deserved it though.
There is definitely more strategy in this game than it first appears. deceptively devious. I quite enjoyed this one and look forward to playing again sometime or maybe even owning it. Definitely my favorite of the 3 Kinder games.
Since I was flying solo for a while, I needed to pick out games I could easily figure the rules out for. I hadn't had the chance to learn Men At Work but figured I could pick that up easily enough. New to me!
I hadn't played this one yet since I wasn't sure I would enjoy it. The components are top notch, and that's really the reason I wanted to check this game out. Love those little hard hats!
Men at Work is a pretty simple dexterity game. It is not simple to place the beams and meeples on the board, but it's simple to learn. Each turn you will flip a card and perform the action by placing beams or workers. You are trying to place on the highest position on the board in order to earn rewards. You have 3 safety certificates and will lose one if you knock over the structure. The game can end if one player gets 4 awards or if all but one player loses all of their safety certificates.
The 3 of us playing were reallllllllllllllllllly bad. The structure kept getting knocked over, so the playing field wasn't getting any bigger. I think I might have been the only one to manage to get an award. But I still ended up losing because I knocked the structure over 3 times. The beams are wicked challenging to play and are very slick. They were sliding all over the place.
Anyway, I am happy to have tried it, but it is far from my favorite dexterity game. I would be fine playing it again, but it just feels a bit uninspired for me. meh.
Since One Key was in the game library, I figured the group would enjoy a game.
I convinced Felix, Jan, and Dan N. to play since it was going to be a 5-minute game. I was wrong about that. We did pretty well and then lost, but we played 3 more times.
Needless to say, this was a pretty big hit with the group. We all got to play as the master clue giver once, and we ended up winning 2 out of the 4 games.
I do think 4 games in a row is too many, but I was happy to play again. I still think I am terrible at this game -- I can never tell what people are thinking with the pictures and clues they are giving. I suppose that is half the fun.
I saw a color game on the library shelf. After I saw it was Disney themed, I had to play it. So I checked out Color Brain: Disney Edition. New to me!
Color Brain is a memory type game where you have to recall the colors from Disney films. For example, you will have to remember the colors in Tinkerbell's dress or Ursula's tentacles. Stuff like that! Very simple game where you play until a player hits 10 points.
Michael read the rules and we recruited Derek P. to play. I thought for sure I would be the best at this game! Turns out I am really unfamiliar with a lot of the recent Disney stuff and I simply had no idea or I would have really close answers but not exact ones. For example, I would think something is a teal color, so I guessed blue, but it would be green.
Anyway, Derek was amazing at this game and destroyed us in both of the games we played. There is a catch-up mechanic where you can remove some of the colors from an opponent's hand for one round. We both used it on Derek, and it didn't help us one bit! In the second game, I did slightly better, but it was still a killing. I think I had 6 points by the time Derek ended up winning.
I had a good time playing this one, but it really made me question my true Disney fandom. Maybe I just don't know as much as I thought I knew.
There were several games I reeeeeallly wanted to learn at the con, and I only got 1 of them played: Comanauts. New to me!
I was interested in trying Comanauts out to see how intense it actually was. This was supposedly the next step up in the Stuffed Fables genre. Let me tell ya, it was a big step up!
Comanauts is a cooperative campaign-style game. You are working your way through the different levels and trying to defeat the subconscious thoughts. Each player will get 3 avatars to use to try to defeat the inner demons. If an avatar fades away you will assume a new one. There are a lot of different paths to take and navigate through, but there are clues to help guide you as you find the inner child or as you defeat some of the demons.
Michael, James, and I played through the first part of the campaign to see how it would go. Turns out I picked a pretty badass avatar to begin and I never lost her. James was on his second avatar by the end, and I think Michael might have been on his second, too. I basically took SHAME down in the final stage. I had some major blows that just destroyed him. We totally won that game. We got seriously lucky working our way through some of the levels though. It could have been a lot worse.
I had a great time playing this and will definitely be on the lookout to get a copy and start the campaign again. Seemed like a lot of moving parts so it definitely takes the Stuffed Fables core and brings it to another whole level which is quite interesting. It is hard to not read ahead though! I look forward to playing more.
I saw this at Essen and was curious about it because of all the fabulous colors! That was the extent of my knowledge. LOVE the colors - they are a party for my eyes.
Festo is a pretty standard cube pusher. There is nothing overly special about this game. You are placing meeples in hopes of getting majorities and bonuses. You basically want a whole bunch of cubes to turn into food dishes. Lots of variety in the types of dishes, and you want to make different types for more points. Each round an event will be revealed, and those rules are then applied for that round.
I think it was getting to be too late at night since everyone was super AP. I was being super snappy and not really analyzing my choices because I just wanted the game to be over. I had some really lucky event cards that were in my favor. But to my surprise, I didn't demolish everyone. I felt I was in a very strong lead, when in fact, I was not! I won but only by a couple of points!
Even though the game was like 2 hours (should be 40 min), I still found enjoyment in it and I would totally play it again. Nothing really makes it stand out, but it was a solid and fun game.
Lincoln was telling me all about this one at the last BGG.CON and it has been on my mind ever since.
Match Me is a cooperative game where players have the same hand of 10 colors. There are 5 rounds, and each round the active player will give a clue corresponding to a category they are given. Each player will then select a single color from their hand of colors they think correlates to the clue given. If I have to give a clue about Movies, and I say "The Incredibles", do you think red? I would put red, but other people might think black or yellow. You won't know until the final round is complete and you reveal the answers.
This was so great playing with the full player count of 6 because there are just so many opportunities to screw up. It is awesome when you actually succeed. I played in 2 games and we epically lost both games. We were playing with Ken who was in from Japan, and there are a lot of cultural differences there, which adds an additional layer of complexity.
I had such a great time with this one though. The game seems near impossible, so I an determined to play well! I simply cannot wait for the US printing to be released called Colorful! I very much look forward to playing this again soon!
Jon knew how to play and we gathered 4 people around the device. There is only one rule in the game: Don't Be Last. When the light in the middle turns green, hit the button. If you are last, then you will get super shocked.
THIS GAME HURTS! Basically, I lost and I got majorly shocked! WTF, GAME? OW! I think I hit it too soon and it turned green and I lost. It might have just been a mind trick. I have no idea, but I am never playing this one again. TERRIBLE!
Why do people like this?! I just don't get it.
After the Storage Sale, Eric was interested in playing Amul.
YAY! I could get my revenge from our Gathering game of Amul! Eric, Michael, and I were all familiar with the game, so we could easily jump into a 3 player game! BOOM!
Okay, it wasn't as easy as BOOM. Before we could play, we had to separate the cards out according to player count. With more players, you will add in a larger variety of cards.
During setup, we forgot that we had added the small "Tea expansion". With this expansion, you either have to take out a few cards or some of the cards at the end won't get played, which means that you can't have perfect knowledge. I would prefer to play without perfect knowledge, so that totally worked for me!
Turns out I didn't get the revenge that I wanted. Apparently, Eric is just too good at this game! He won this game just like he won the first game we played with him! I was sooo very close though, just one point shy. He ended with 68 (but his PERSONAL BEST is 74).
Lots of fun playing this one and I am glad he asked us to play again! It is a super cool game, and I look forward to more plays once it is released!
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This is not a game I figured I would like, and The Gathering is a perfect place for me to try games like this. Keyforge is a 2-player competitive game where players have their own unique deck of cards. The catch with this game is that every deck of cards is totally unique. Each package will be all-encompassing for anyone to play. You can't customize your deck in any way - you get what you get. Of course, the base game will have the same base decks of cards, but every pack you buy afterward will be a unique experience.
The game is pretty straightforward. You have a hand of cards and you will place heroes into a line up in front of you that will stay there until they are killed off by the opponent. Your goal is to gather lots of aember and forge 3 keys before your opponent does.
I really hated this game in the first 3 turns. But I wanted to give it a fair shot and we were able to finish the whole game. There are some extra rules for those who really get into the game, or you can give a handicap to players who have a stronger deck since that is inevitable.
Around mid-game I was hating it less as I was piecing together what I should be doing. I think the saving grace for Keyforge is being limited to selecting only 1 out of your 3 factions to use each turn. That is truly THE interesting part of Keyforge. When you pick one faction, then you can activate all the heroes in your line up and play all of that faction's cards into play, otherwise, you can't! You might have an amazing line up of heroes but no matching types in hand, so you'll probably have to choose a different faction to use that round.
Yah I ended up losing horribly. I do think I managed to forge 2 keys though. Michael crushed it. I was just happy it was over. I ended up not hating it, but I still don't find it compelling enough to buy it or really even to play again. It was fine though. Not really my cup of tea.
I quite enjoyed Herbaceous in the past, which got me interested in this follow-up game that involves dice! The dice game gives me a similar feeling to the card game but without the same sense of urgency.
Herbaceous Sprouts is a set collecting, dice drafting game. At the start of each round, cards are placed in a drafting row. Dice are rolled and placed on each card. You will select one of the cards, then take whatever actions the card allows you to take. Finally, you will try to fill up the flower beds before the other players do.
It is all very relaxing and easy to play. With Herbaceous, there was a lot of pressure to pot my plants first and get those big points. I didn't really have that tense feeling in this game. Yes, you want to get to plant first, but you don't have a whole lot of control, since turn order matters most with the dice you get to draft. This game also felt a bit longer to me and lackluster. Beautiful production with amazing art, but it didn't grab me.
The scores were close. Mike Y won this game with 33, Michael had 31, and I had 28. Mike Y said it was his least favorite game that he learned that con. He said he still enjoyed learning and playing with us though.
I would be fine to play it again, but I don't think I am the target audience for this game.
In an effort to make Mike Y happy with an exciting roll n write, I taught him how to play Twice As Clever.
He said he didn't like roll n writes so much, so perhaps it was a poor choice. Regardless, we played, and he had a decent time. He did admit that this was his new favorite roll n write out of like 3 titles. Hey, I will take it!
I got to play this game a couple of times at the con, and I ended up winning both of the games we played. I feel pretty special, but I have played WAY too much on the app - so I have a leg up on the competition. When we taught Luke how to play, he was really excited about this game. We all had pretty high scores in the mid 200s. The pic below - that is not bad!
I love this game each and every time I play it. It ended up being my game of the month for April. LOVE IT! It could possibly be my favorite roll n write of all time. So happy to play this game whenever!
Last year I had the pleasure of playing the expansion for Keyper in prototype form. I wrote about it here: CLICK HERE! This year I wanted to play again! Richard Breese and I went head to head using this new expansion to be. Not much has changed since then so we basically just got to playing.
I can't even recall the last time I played Keyper, it was months ago! I figured I would lose wicked bad.
During our play, I discovered that there was no rule about selling sea creatures from the ship. So I gave some suggestions to Richard as to how I thought it should work. He agreed, and we gave it a try.
As it turns out, I had a crazy amount of in-game scoring because I was shipping left and right for bonus points (my favorite strategy). I had over 100 points, and Richard barely had any. So I started to wonder if my sea creature suggestion was overpowered.
I thought for sure I absolutely crushed him, but Richard had a TON of end-game points. Still, I barely won, 185 to 178, which is wicked close and leads me to believe that what I thought might be OP wasn't really all that OP.
We got some insanely high scores. Though, I don't know what a good score might be using this expansion. In the base game, it is usually like 120 or something.
It is always a great pleasure to play a game with Richard, and it's even better when I can beat him at his own game! I hope he can release the expansion by Essen this year!
As you have read, I got to play a bunch of roll n writes during this con, and Boomerang was a surprise hit for me. New to me!
We played 4 players and Nicole was kind enough to teach us. She particularly likes it as she is from Australia, which was cool to learn.
Boomerang combines 2 of my favorite mechanics: drafting and marking my player board with a writing utensil (aka draft n write). I LOVE DRAFTING CARDS! Why haven't these 2 mechanics been combined until now?? I duno, but I love it.
In Boomerang, you are trying to fill in tourist sites on your board and gain bonus points for completing territories first. Each card you draft shows a location in Australia. Cards might also display activites, wildlife, and collections. There is a lot to try and collect each round, but you want to try and focus too.
I wasn't able to get many bonus points for completing the territories first and I wasn't doing very well with the set collections either. Michael absolutely ran away with this game and scored a whopping 153 points. I was second with 124. I knew I wouldn't win, but I thought I would at least be close enough to throw stones (or a boomerang) at the winner. Nope, not even close.
Boomerang is an all-around wicked clever game and I had an amazing time playing. I have to play this game again soon! I loved it!
SUPER TOP SECRET PROTOTYPE I CAN'T TALK ABOUT NOW!
Makes me so sad that I can't tell you about how awesome this new game is - hopefully coming soon!!! It is just AWESOME! I can't wait till I can tell you more!
Oh! Wait! I CAN tell you something about it!
Spoiler (click to reveal)
It was so good, I had to play it twice.
I finally got to play a game I have had on my unplayed shelf for a while now. It's called Bukiet. New to me!
Not gonna lie, I bought it for the colors! So pretty! Luke from Portal Games joined in for a 3 player game with me and Michael. It was handy to have Luke at the table since the game was in Polish and Luke knows Polish! We did find a Polish-to-Spanish-to-English translation that we could use for most of the rules though.
Bukiet is a really simple dice drafting game where players are trying to fulfill bouquet orders for customers. If I draft a 4 yellow die then I can circle a group of 4 yellow flowers. Whites are wild and count as any color.
Customers are happy only if they get the right number and color of flowers. If you circle the wrong color flower or too few flowers, you will make the customer unhappy for -1 point for each mistake (I would be happy to have a bunch of different colored flowers, but I guess I'm not their target customer!). If you have the most unhappy customers then you will get hit with even more negative points, though if you have the least you will gain points.
Your goal is to be the fastest to circle all of a type of flower. The faster you are, the more points you get. You also want to complete flower beds for bonus points. Michael ended up winning our game with 27 points. Luke and I were nowhere near that!
Bukiet seems really simple, and I am not sure there is that much to it. I know I can play it with the family though since the rules are very easy to understand. I still love all the colors and I would be happy to play again.
Luke was interested in showing me and Michael how to play ArtSee. New to me!
Turns out I played this game in a really early prototype phase and it has changed considerably.
In Artsee, you are controlling an art gallery and you are trying to get visitors into your gallery to see all the lovely art. Each time it is your turn, you will play a card to create a gallery or expand an existing gallery. Other players will get a bonus if they have a matching color gallery. The card you play will have a left or right arrow which will look in the direction of the arrow and score for artwork of the matching color. It might be pointing to one of your own galleries or to a neighboring player's gallery.
It is a pretty easy game to pick up and play. There is no limit to the number of galleries you can have. I ran into the problem that I was trying to focus too much on expanding one gallery and other players were benefiting from my card selection and even leeching off of my nice deluxified gallery for lots of points. Other players were playing a lot more wisely and not helping me in the slightest.
I super lost this game because I wasn't playing hateful enough. Michael and Luke actually tied for the win. I was much further back so I don't recall if there was a tiebreaker winner.
It was a cute game and the art is lovely. I would gladly play this one again.
The more I play it, the more I love it! And I finally got in a game with Joe R! He is always one of the hardest people to get to play a game with. Michael and Derek were both learning this game. Poor Derek had some bad allergies, but he was looking a little broken by the end of it. Always such a good sport though.
It was a bit slow going, and apparently, I am not a great explainer for this game. *shrug* I tried! I am really bad with the theme when explaining this game, so perhaps Joe should have taught it.
At the start of the game, I teased Joe about always losing, so of course, he had to go and win the game! Ohhh man he had an epic final turn. I thought Derek would come out of nowhere and just take us all down, but he didn't really get the best final round. He had it rough the first few rounds but had a really great come back in round 4 taking over the map.
All in all, it was a REALLY close game. Joe had 149, Michael had 147, I had 141, and Derek had 137. That is wicked close. It could have been anyone's game. On the plus side, I think everyone had a great time playing.
Here I am, thinking if this needs to be in my #top10 somewhere. It is THAT GOOD.
In an effort to play an average of 5 new games per day, I needed to play a couple of fast, new games, so Michael and I played a quick game of Push It. New to me!
Riley had been bringing this around to game day, and I duno why, but I missed out on playing it. That has been haunting me ever since! What the heck, Riley!?
Push It is a super fast dex game where you just need the discs and some table space. Each player has 2 discs, and they are trying to get the closest shot to the center push it disc. You get one point if you are the closest and a bonus point if you have both of your discs closer. I think it was first to 5 points wins? Or that's how we played it.
Boom! I crushed this game. I don't even think Michael scored any points. It was a skunk! Maybe I have been playing too much Crokinole. Anyway, I can see the appeal to this game. Bring it to dinner and play while waiting on food or just casually anywhere. It didn't do much for me in terms of dex games. I would always choose to play a number of other dex games over this one, but for portable games, this works well. I could easily play it again.
Dan had another game to show me called Meander. New to me!
This is a puzzle type game where you are creating a board that marbles will travel on. Each turn, you will draw and place a tile on the board trying to create pathways that work well for you and screw over the other player. Ideally, your path will make the marbles land on the other side in a scoring position. But there are dead ends and spaces where they can land that won't score you points.
I am apparently very good at this game. I was making perfect paths and ruining Dan's paths. He was not doing that to me, but he probably thought he was. All of my marbles made it to the other side with no problems! I think Dan only scored 2 out of 5.
It was a cute game and I could easily play this one again. It was harmless. I don't think it was that exciting but I enjoyed my time!
Saturday got eaten up with a lot of Flea Market time. You can see in the final haul picture (at the bottom of this blog post) that I might have gotten too many games! On the plus side, that should keep me busy for a while.
Eventually, we got to play some games, and Michael read the rules to Würfelwurst. New to me!
This is a silly little push your luck dice rolling game. On your turn, you will roll all the dice. The black dice have numbers (and one sausage) and the white dice have animals. You will keep one or more dice and then roll the rest again. Each time you roll, you must keep at least one die. You will score the number of ONE type of animal multiplied by the lowest number on your black dice. The sausages count as a 1, but if you roll all sausages, they count as a 7!! Here's the catch: you can score each of your animals only once.
Anyway, it is a cute push your luck game. Probably best with 2 players since it is a game where everyone playing will just be watching the active player. I dislike games like that since there is just a bunch of downtime and nothing I do will really affect the other players.
Michael ended up winning this game since he had a few killer rolls. It was cute though and I would be happy to play again. I won't be looking for the chance to, however.
Dan had a new party game called Hintegers. New to me!
I think there were 6 of us playing this game. The more people playing, the more fun you will have, definitely! The goal of the game is really simple: you are trying to get rid of your hand of numbered cards first. Your cards are numbered 1-10. The active player is given a choice of categories. They will select one of their cards and will give a one-word clue that relates to their number. Everyone else will choose one of their cards that hopefully matches the clue giver. Whoever matches the active player will get to discard their cards (along with the active player if at least one person guessed correctly).
Example category: Movies. I would play the number 4 card and give the clue "Fantastic". Likely that clue is too easy, because you ideally want only one other person to match your card.
I am simply terrible at this game. Not only am I bad at trivia stuff, I am also bad at math. Not entirely true, but I don't have a lot of math trivia knowledge. There is room to be clever though. I was trying to be clever with my clues, but I was more confusing than clever. I tried and I had fun, and that's what counts!
Dan won this game. I think I managed to guess 3 clues correctly, but I was in far worse shape than many people! It was a cute game and I could play again. This game is just another reminder that I swim with smart people.
We had 5 players, and Megaland was on my list to try out. New to me!
I figured this would be a mixed bag for me, and I wasn't wrong. I really enjoy push your luck games like Diamant, but they tend to outstay their welcome. This has a similar problem, or maybe our play just went too long.
I can't help myself but push too hard, so I just ultimately fail. I managed to increase my life a lot, but that doesn't get you any points. You have to build up your card engine and generate points that way, and to do that you have to leave the adventure with lots of goodies for rewards before you die. Yah, I never left the adventure soon enough and would always be defeated by the monsters.
Erik was the only sensible one in the game and would often leave the adventure early and collect the few rewards he had. Yah - that is the sign of a real winner. He absolutely crushed us. I am nearly sure I had no points at the end of the game.
It was a cute game and I like that it is available at Target. I would have LOVED this game growing up, and it makes me super happy that kids can get into gaming playing games like this. I can't say this is one I would want to play a lot, but I would be happy to play it again.
In an effort to learn some more games, I spotted a 2018 Essen release that I was interested in trying called The Tales of Ki-pataw. New to me!
I am always interested in learning Japanese games and this one looked crazy cute. Scott joined me and Michael for a 3 player game.
Not knowing much of anything about this game, I knew Scott would appreciate playing as the Capybara character. So super cute, and under almost any other circumstances I would want to play that character. However, there was a photographer girl, so I HAD to play as her.
Tales is a simple pick-up-and-deliver game where you are running around the board trying to complete goals and contracts and race to the finish. Each player will have their own objectives to complete and whoever can do that first will win. There are alternate end conditions if you partner well with other players and manage to complete it together. I think there is a bit of time traveling happening in this game, and there is a LOT of back story if you are into all that.
There are also elements of deck building that are happening here. You are using a deck of cards to move around the board and complete contracts with cards.
My goal was to visit the places and take some pics and get back to the train station. But I was a very slow, very cold, very hungry, lost little girl, and with such a small hand of cards, I found it very difficult to move around. Scott was a ravenous Capybara and wanted all the food, and he was moving really fast after he ate! His goal was to basically visit all of the locations and eat a lot. Michael was moving very quickly too. He was a time traveller from the future, and his goal was to find the most perfect eggs to eat.
Michael went straight for his objectives. I was trying to work with Scott to pull off a cooperative victory, but we kept getting in each other's way.
It was a cute game and with a few more turns I know Scott and I could have won. But Michael swept in and overtook us for the win.
There are different ways to play the game with more advanced variants, I think. I would be interested to see what the game offers. It was a cute game and pretty interesting. I love the artwork, of course.
The ice cream social was happening, and it was time for a Filler game. New to me!
Filler is a clever title, but might get lost in conversation, or perhaps easily remembered, hard to say!
This is a super light card game about filling up some pastries! All of the cards have a time stamp and players will select one card to determine the turn order. The earliest card gets to go first. There is a line up of cards each round and players will take turns filling the pastry orders. You will use cards from your hand as ingredients to take pastries from the line up of cards. What is interesting is that, when you take a card, it goes into your hand so you can immediately use it next round for filling ingredients.
You play round after round until the deck of cards is depleted. If you have no cards in your hand then you have to spend your whole turn taking all of your cards back into your hand. A lot of the cards will have end game scoring points and there are set collection bonuses to look for as well. In the end, you just add up your points.
We played a 2 player game and it was super cute. I had some killer turns which got me the win. There were a few cards that allowed you to fill another pastry order, which gave me more cards, which gave me more bonus actions. It all worked out very well for me.
I found this game to be very charming. It is light and easy to play. I like the unique starting hands and the different time stamps. It is really cute and I could play this anytime.
I didn't know much about it other than I had to play it. It is a roll n write (flip n write) game about creating a map! There are monsters that will come attacking your lands, but you are trying to map out your land the best you can to score the most points.
There are 4 scoring cards that will give everyone goals to work toward in the game. There are 4 seasons, and each season, two scoring cards will be used, so each card will be scored twice during the game (a la Isle of Skye).
Cards are pulled one at a time and players will have to draw that shape on their map. Some cards will give multiple options. Players will use the scoring card goals as a guide to place the shapes in specific spots on the map.
Each season, a monster will be shuffled into the mix. If a monster card is drawn then everyone has to pass their map to another player who will draw that monster shape on the board in the most inconvenient spot they can find in hopes that the player will take a lot of negative points or screw up their positioning for other scorings. The monster is then discarded from the game.
Each card will have a value printed on it. Once the value of the revealed cards reaches a target value, the season will be over and scoring will happen. Then the next season begins with another monster shuffled in. The person with the most points at the end of the 4th season is the winner!
I love me some multi-player solitaire games like this where really any number of people can be playing. No wonder it was a huge hit for me. I think we ended up playing this game with 6 people. I got to name my map and draw a sigil and create a cartographer name. All these things should involve colors and rainbows and apparently waffles.
We had a pretty nice game and we only ever saw one monster card show up. I ended up losing a bunch of points from that monster but I still did pretty well. There were some good points to be had from scoring complete vertical and horizontal lines, so I was working on that most of the game. I guess that ended up being a winning strategy since I managed to knock it out of the park with a 143 score. I think I left everyone else in the dust around the 120 mark. Maybe I just know how to make maps.
I simply can't wait to play this game again! I am in love! I will have to use colored pencils next time. How pretty my maps will be! I can see it now! Love love love this game!
One final quick game before we called it a night! We felt we couldn't go wrong with Quick!Quick!Quick!. New to me!
The speed is literally in the title - QUICK. It took longer to read and try to understand the rules than it did to play. Wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy too many rules for a speed tile laying game.
In Quick!Quick!Quick!, you are trying to rescue people from a disaster by placing tiles in a grid. You have to make sure all of the requirements are being met for the tiles you are placing. There is a lot going on and a lot of wishy-washy rules about storing unused tiles and small bonus tiles.
We played it, and I think I won, but I am not sure anyone really won. It was definitely not quick, or even quick enough to have "quick" 3 times in the title. I can't say I had any fun playing this one. Perhaps I should have called it a night after Cartographers.
Anyway, it was one more game to learn, which made it an even 50 New To Me games for the convention. #goalsweremet
It was such an excellent con and so many wonderful games were played and wonderful people I got to play them with. One of the best weeks of the year! Loved it!
All images in this post are copyrighted, owned, and controlled by Steph Hodge Photography, unless otherwise noted. Please contact me if you would like to purchase or use my images in any way. Thank you.
The first game I got to learn one morning was a new prototype from Bezier Games called Silver. New to me!
This game is in the vein of CABO (second edition) where you have a bunch of face-down cards and you are trying to get the lowest total value of cards among all players. Everybody will start out by looking at 2 of their cards. Each turn you will draw a card and choose to activate the power on it or swap it for another card in your line discarding the one you swap out. If you have multiples of the card you are discarding, you can discard all of the same value from your line. Because you can start getting matches and discarding those matches, it really makes for a better game than Cabo.
When you think you have the lowest total, you can call for a vote. If you have the lowest, you score 0, but if you are wrong, you score the points in your village plus 10. Everyone else scores the points in their village. The winner gets an amulet that will protect a card next round.
We played the full game of 4 rounds. I was simply terrible at it but I tried my best. It can still be attacky which isn't my favorite, but it was less harmful than Cabo. There are more actions and even some powers to help protect a card if you win the previous round.
We were playing 4 players and the guy who I didn't know ended up winning. People should have been attacking him like I was. I always seem to end up a target.
I had a pretty good time playing this one. With games like this, I think I would generally like it best playing only 1 round to make it a filler game. I would be happy to play this one again.
A game I have played before! Woooohoo! It had been a long while since my last play of it but I recalled most of the rules well enough. Michael was still learning but Toni ended up explaining it for us.
I still very much enjoy playing Krass Kariert and I am glad it is gaining in popularity. Last year it was available to play but it wasn't a hit. So weird how games come and go.
I did particularly well this game. I wasn't playing easy, I was giving all the hard punches to Mary and she kept losing her tokens for it. I managed to knock her out pretty quickly. It was over in 4 rounds because of that.
I love card games and Krass Kariert is unique enough to remain in the collection. It is great. I want to play more card games.
Looking around the room, I wanted to play a new game. I ended up finding Incubation.
This game has the cutest baby dragon art. Of course, I am attracted to the cute baby dragons - who wouldn't be!? There were no rules in the box because it was a late-stage prototype, but we were able to find Sean who taught us the game.
Incubation is a very simple set collection game. It is super simple, so it seems like it is perfect for kids to play. You roll 2 dice on your turn and collect the resources, or you can choose to reroll the dice for a different result. You are trying to hatch your baby dragons for points. When you collect resources, you have you use them or they disappear - you can't store them.
There are common goal cards you can try to claim if you hatch the matching dragons. There is a wheel where the water, fire, and gold tokens will gather for bonuses when you hatch an egg.
We ended up playing with 4 players and Carlos and Walter were super nice about it. I am not sure they wanted to play this game, but it was still good times getting to play with them.
Maybe it was my excellent rolling technique, but I managed to win this game with 60 points! Michael was second with 48 so I basically crushed them alllllllll. I am Steph Hodge, the First of Her Name, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Unburnt, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons!!! (I wish!)
Incubation was super cute, but not really one that I want to play again. I would peg it great for the families out there with smaller children. Not as much strategy here for hardcore gamers.
I don't really know the story well at all, but from what I know now I think I would have liked this game better if it were made into a fully cooperative game. The artwork had me curious to try this though, it is just stunningly beautiful.
The Scarlet Pimpernel is really a cube pusher game. You are trying to get lots of points in lots of different ways. There are several rounds and the Scarlet Pimpernel is trying to get from one location to another. You aren't working together to get him there, but individually trying to get points by helping him get there. There are a lot of moving parts, but it comes together. There is a game to be played here.
Even playing with only 3 players, I felt it was too long. I can't imagine playing with 6 players. It would just be a drag I suppose.
All game I was trying to figure out a strategy and plan for the future rounds. I did a pretty good job of it. I ended up using all my cubes and locking in majorities so my tiles wouldn't get taken away. I was placing my cubes on paths I knew he would have to take so I could capture those definite points. It all worked in my favor since I managed to win a very close game, 56 to Michael's 55 to Dan's 53.
After playing, I was a bit ho-hum on The Scarlet Pimpernel. I still don't feel like I accomplished anything, and I have no real desire to go back and play again to figure anything out. If requested in the future, it would take a lot to convince me to play again. I think it was a fine and solid game, but just not for me.
There was a new game from Matagot that I was looking to try called Dungeon Academy. New to me!
This is a speed puzzle type game. You are rolling dice in a Boggle type manner. On the dice, you will see monsters you have to defeat and potions that will help regain your life as you are going. As soon as you see the dice, you must create your enter and exit plan as fast as you can. Ideally, each path you make through the dungeon will kill off a ton of monsters. The more monsters you kill, the more points you get. But every monster will take some of your health and mana. If you are the first person to exit the dungeon, you will get first dibs at the rewards at the end of the round.
There are 4 rounds in the game. Each round you will get to score bonus for one type of monster, so you have to plan each round carefully and get the best possible bonuses you can. Players have unique abilities they can use in the game and the treasures they find will also help them along the way.
It is a pretty fast game and 4 rounds just flies by. We were playing with 4 players and it was no problem explaining the rules and playing. As the rounds go on you will incorporate different dice which might pose a question as to how to kill a dragon or what a symbol might mean, but once you play a few times to be familiar with the symbols, they won't hold the game up long.
Turns out I am a true dungeon master student. I won, but it wasn't by a lot. I won by a single point! 33 to Michael's 32. Close call! I was the slowest in each round too. You can still get a treasure being the last one to finish, so it might be more beneficial to take your time.
I had a lot of fun with this game. I have played it a few times since my initial play and with a bunch of people. Everyone has enjoyed it a lot. It makes for a good filler game and people can step in or out just to see how they can do. I look forward to when it will be released.
Mary was talking about a weird trick-taking game she played called Auf falscher Fährte. New to me!
I really wanted to try it out and I got to play it with Michael and Derek. I don't know if 4 players would be better or not, but 3 worked perfectly fine. This game is so freaking bizarre. At the start of any round, each player knows the trump color and pitches any card face-down to the stack. This stack will be a combined value that will mean either you want to have the most tricks at the end or you want to have the least amount of tricks at the end. BUT YOU DON'T KNOW THE VALUE - not until the fifth trick, anyway. You look at your hand and hope you pitch a card that will help you either collect all the tricks or not.
Poor Derek was getting a rough break. There is a catch-up mechanic midway through the round where the player who is losing the current hand can change up the trump color, which should help them regain some control over what is happening in the round. I like that mechanic a lot. I am not sure it helped Derek at all though. We only played a few rounds since we were going to go to dinner, but I still had a great time playing it.
Michael ended up winning with 8 points and I had 7 so it was a close one. This game immediately went on the wishlist. I think it is just a wild game and I love the uncertainty of what cards you should be playing.
This was definitely one of the weakest roll n write games that I learned during the Gathering. This is very much like Can't Stop Express and other games like it, but it just isn't as good.
You are trying to fill in the lines of numbers by combining pairs of dice. Other players will get to select one pair from the rolled dice as well to fill in the opposite side of the sheet when it is not their turn.
Anyway, there really isn't much going on for this game at all and I can't say it is a roll n write game that you should check out and play. There are just so many better games out there.
Dan ended up winning with 17 points. I was definitely last since I didn't really complete any rows that would have gotten me lots of points.
At least I played it and I don't have to play it again!
Now was the time for the epic 7 Wonders: Armada war between Me and Stefan, and Dan also joined in for a 3p game.
I should have just hung on tight to my championship title from November. I thought I had it pretty good, but I was playing for a card that didn't show up in the final round since I forgot the card distribution. Whoops! #MistakesWereMade
Stefan just ran away with the game this time. He had the best board: Alexandria for all those resources.
It was a shameful showing from me. I can't believe I played so poorly! I scored about what Dan scored! The HORROR!
I really need a rematch. We need more players next time too.
This is a new game coming from Portal Games later this year and it is pretty simple to pick up and learn. You are trying to gain resources to craft buildings and to be able to place and use those buildings on your land. You are trying to get the most points to win the game.
Players are given a board and some buildings to work on constructing. Three resource dice are rolled and then players in turn order will draft a role for the round to give them a special bonus. Bonuses might be to gain one extra worker or an extra gold for the round. A worker die is also rolled that will give you a number of workers that you can use in the round. Workers can use an available resource die or maybe harvest from the fields you have unlocked.
You are also trying to build buildings that will give you bonuses. The buildings are really what give the game character and will keep me interested in more plays.
I did get to play this game a few times and it felt like there was a dominant strategy with the 8VP building. I was able to build 4 of them. I won both games using this strategy. It wasn't even really a close finish either. I don't know if that is a dominant strategy or I just got lucky.
There is also a solo mode to this game, and with that, a set of tons and tons of unique buildings. In the basic game, you will be playing with the same buildings over and over. I am nearly sure I would get tired playing this base game over and over. What will keep me interested are those extra buildings that will offer variety in the gameplay.
I had fun with this and I want to see where it leads for future plays.
I had the pleasure of getting to try out the new expansion for Underwater Cities. New to me Expansion!
I love the base game and I was looking to play this new expansion. It was still in prototype form and there is still a lot that I didn't get to see that is in the works.
This expansion adds a bunch of new cards for each stage of the game and some new player boards. I was asked not to get into too much detail because nothing is absolutely final yet. Every player did get to start with a unique starting ability and resources, so that was an especially awesome addition to the game.
I played a 4 player game and it went on for far too long. But that's not a fault of the expansion. I told myself I would never play this game with 4 players, but it was unavoidable unless I bailed on this game. I was most interested in learning the expansion, so I stuck it out.
I was trying hard for diversity in each of my cities, but there were no special cards that helped my strategy and it wasn't enough points for me to have a winning score. I think I was in the 80s and the winning score was over 100 points.
The expansion adds a lot of cool materials, and I am very much looking forward to the released game. It is definitely going straight on the wishlist! Any fan of the base game will appreciate the expansion.
We had some time to kill so we were going to play 2p Hanabi, but Dan joined in and made it a 3 player game.
We were playing with one variant for the rainbow wild cards and it was the one that created a new suit. It wasn't the hardest variant to play with and we did pretty well. I would say we won the game, but I don't really remember our ranking. I do know we didn't blow up!
It can be a challenging game when playing with Dan. haha It was still fun though and I think I might pick up the deluxe copy since the tiles are so friggin cool! Really like that nice quality they have.
We were waiting on Derek to finish up a game so he could join us for dinner, so Dan decided it was time to try out the abbreviated game of MeM. New to me!
The quick version of how this game went was that I want to burn it. The fair version is that I promise Dan I will try the full-length version before burning it.
In MeM, there are stones in various colors and you have to basically draft stones from the board to your own personal board while matching a pattern still on the board. If 2 green stones are next to each other then you can draft 2 blue (or any 2 matching) stones and put them next to each other and be okay. There has to be a matching pattern still on the board at the end of your turn or you lose.
I lost almost immediately. This is a visual game that I was just not grasping well enough. I would try the full game, but if it is like the short game I probably won't like it. I'll make sure to have a torch handy.
Luke from Portal games was showing off some new games, and he had a copy of this, but only for a 2-player experience. Michael and I sat down and Luke taught us how to play.
There are a lot of similarities with this game and Imperial Settlers. They are individual games set in the same universe, but they are different standalone games. This is not an expansion for Imperial Settlers.
Each player will have their own faction with a unique deck of cards. One faction might have better raiding and exploring abilities, and another might be better farmers. It is pretty easy to figure out which strategy to take on if you know the game and look through your deck beforehand. However, you are not guaranteed any specific cards because all of the cards are shuffled before the game starts and you probably won't get through all of them. These cards will be played for their building costs and can be activated anytime after they are in play.
Empires of the North works in a similar way to Imperial Settlers where each player takes an action in turn until all players have passed. Players have a couple of action discs that are placed on a circular action board. Once an action disc is placed, it can be activated once more on an adjacent space. So you will have essentially 4 actions with the action discs each season, but you have to plan wisely so you know what the second action will be with each of your discs.
There is an explore action you can take that will allow you to go off and raid or settle new areas. If you are using weapons to settle, then you aren't using weapons to attack the other players. That's nice.
My deck of cards was all about harvesting and generating a lot of in-game points from my cards in play. Michael was doing an exploring strategy which gave him a ton of end game points from the places he settled and bonus cards that he managed to play.
There can be a fair amount of attacking in this game much like Imperial Settlers. Michael was mean and killed off a lot of my cards that would have given me a lot of points, making them unusable in the final round.
If I had been able to end it a round sooner, I would have crushed him! I was soooo far in the lead, but just a few points shy of being able to end it the round before. Knowing the game now, I needed to build a card earlier to help generate those few points I would have needed. In any case, he was able to win this game by just a few points. I was robbed of that win. I will have to catch him next time.
I had a great time playing Empires of the North. I do think that it works very well with 2 players, and I don't think I would enjoy it as much with more players. I like that the box will come with so many unique decks to explore. It will be a hit, I know!
Eric Martin was available to show us how to play Black Angel. New to me!
This game was my most anticipated game of the year, so of course I was eager to try it. Despite being a prototype copy, the look of this game is show-stopping. I think about 5 people stopped by our table to just look at what was happening on this board. It is stunning!
We ended up playing a 4 player game with Eric, Michael, Derek, and me. I was surprised that Eric wanted to play again after he had just taught a few others. But he did, and he ended up playing 4 games of Black Angel in 2 days since so many people wanted to play it.
The main idea is that we are robots in control of the Black Angel, a ship that is riding through space. There are aliens attacking and the ship is taking damage. We can try to repair the ship as we go, or we can send out our shuttles into space to try and collect points for completing contracts on planets. Dice will act as our workers for the actions we select.
When playing, you can feel the influences from games like Troyes with the dice mechanic and Solenia with the board-moving mechanic. There were a bunch of other new mechanics used as well. For example, each player has their own board and can buy technology tiles to fill it. Tiles are pushed in and eventually pushed out if enough are placed in that row. Columns and rows can be activated with cards from players hands to get those tiles' bonuses.
The real heart of the game lies with the dice worker placement. You are using the dice you have or paying other players to steal their dice to take actions. The actions you can take with the die depend on the die color, and the value of the die will determine the strength of the action. Yellow dice can be used to purchase technology tiles, red dice can be used to repair the ship, green dice can be used to attack the aliens, and any die can be used to explore space.
I think the hardest thing for me to understand was the exploring space action. There are a few different options you can take when you explore space, and it was hard to visualize and grasp for me. I was also having a hard time trying to figure out how to gain points. There is no real direction to take to get points. I figured I should get the tech tiles and load up on bonuses from the grid. All I wanted to do was that, but there was never a time I could do it. All of the yellow dice were very low, and the technology space was always damaged, which meant that I couldn't get the tiles with the yellow dice that were available.
Eventually, I managed to find a way to get some major points (9) and then the game was over. Black Angel reached its destination. The game could have also ended with the alien deck being emptied, so I can see that working as a major strategy, just allowing the aliens to attack. Regardless, Eric won with 31, I was 2nd with 27, and Michael 26. I don't recall Derek's score.
This is a hard game to review. Maybe my expectations were too grand to begin with. Maybe I hyped it for myself too much. I felt the mechanics were forced together, and not elegantly. I do think that if I play again, I will have a better idea on what to do, but there is still no clear path for a strategy. There can be a bit of group analysis. Black Angel is not a cooperative game, but the ship is being attacked, and you can help stop it or repair it, but why? There is not enough incentive in destroying ships or repairing locations, and worse, you're allowing your opponents to profit by enabling them to use those repaired locations.
Black Angel is a beautiful production and I know it will sell out at GenCon. I hope people will love it more than I do. For now, I am fine with it and I could play again. But I would always choose to play Troyes over this.
There was a new Stronghold game I was invited to play called Amul. New to me!
Amul is an Arabian themed drafting and set collection game. There are only 9 rounds and you get to play only 9 cards. The element of surprise is at the end when you reveal your hand of cards for scoring.
It is a pretty straight forward game that will play with up to 8 players I believe. The more players, the more cards you will have in the game. You will always play through the entire deck of cards and have an appropriate number depending on players.
There are two ways a card can be played: either by having a table icon, meaning it must be played to the table, and/or the card will have a hand icon, meaning it will be scored at the end of the game if it is still in the player's hand. Each player will have a hand of cards and will toss one face down to the middle of the table. The cards are revealed and then drafted in player order. After each player drafts a card they will play a card from their hand to their collection face up in front of them. Some will give immediate actions to draft from the marketplace or to complete a contract from the palace.
At the end of the game you get to play those final cards you have in hand and figure out who has the best score by adding all of the different cards up. There are so many different types of cards with different scoring mechanisms, but that's what makes a cool set collection game.
Since we were playing 6 players and several of us were learning, I didn't realize how valuable the military cards were. They give you priority in the later rounds for turn order. Since I was really far from the person in the lead with the military, it meant I was going essentially last in the final 3 rounds. This was detrimental. You don't want to be drafting cards late in the turn order with 6 players. I didn't get ANYTHING I was looking for. Yeah, I totally didn't win that game. Eric ended up winning, and spoiler alert, he was the one with all the military. Doh! I know better now. I need those military cards!
I'm always looking for a good drafting game, and I've found a great one with Amul. I very much look forward to playing this again sometime soon! #shouldnthavegoneforthecamel #buonocoreforpresident
Break to see the falls!
Dan had been wanting to play the final chapter for the game Woodlands for a while.
We usually find that we are teaching this game, so we usually have to play the easier levels. Turns out we were going to teach Michael, but he's pretty smart. He was fine picking it up from the final chapter.
Turns out we were playing this game all wrong from the very early chapters. The rules are ambiguous so it wasn't really our fault. It was painfully clear in the final chapter that we were playing wrong though. The "new rules" messed with my mind, so I was way outside my element.
I had too many attack cards played on me. One round, I was playing with an upside-down map, and the rules were confusing to me, so it was just a train wreck. I don't even know if I got any points! I super duper lost this game. Newbie Michael was the end winner, go figure.
What I learned from this play was that I really need to go back and play the easier levels with the alternate rules. We were just playing the game on super hard mode before, which I liked, but doesn't work in the final chapter since it is just too hard and not workable. S'all good.
I saw a stack of new prototype games from Asmodee. Since I am always looking to learn new games, I pulled out One Key. New to me!
I am a fan of Libellud games. They always have such compelling artwork. I was curious to see what they had in store with this title.
One Key is a cooperative game in which a silent cluegiver tries to get their teammates to guess the selected image by giving them clues using other image cards. Of course, the cluegiver can't talk, so the teammates have only the powers of deduction, trying to make connections when there might be none to make!
There is a snazzy app that you can download that will make fun sounds and music as you play. Definitely a clever addition and super cute to use.
When I was giving the clues, it was so hard. Derek and Michael were not on my wavelength at all. They were making connections on cards that I was not seeing and I just felt really dumb for not making those same connections. We ended up losing about halfway through the game. Whoops. We had to play again. This time I asked Michael to be the cluegiver, and Derek and I were working together to figure out the clues.
Derek was on point. I was not buying it at all, but I went with Derek's instinct and we ended up winning the game. It was pretty crazy how much Derek was on Michael's wavelength. I don't know how he did it - I was leaning a totally different direction. Goes to show I am just terrible at this game!
I had a great time playing this one though and I really look forward to playing again!
There was a lot of talk about a new prototype called Folding Space. New to me!
We found Bobby, who is one of the designers, to teach the 4 of us this game. Folding Space is a set collection, space battle game. You are trying to jump from planet to planet collecting items. If you end your movement on a planet with no one else you get to take one item. But you really want to end your movement on the same planet as another player, which will initiate a combat. The winner gets a bunch of items and the loser still gets a couple of leftover items.
The game has a folding board mechanic using boards that are similar to those found in the game Keyper. The boards in Folding Space have a bunch of icons that relate to combat cards and movement. Players use these boards to try and gain majorities of different symbols. It isn't a timed mechanic, but it really is, because when everyone else is done, they'll start the countdown, forcing you to finish quickly.
There is a space seagull that will issue a whole lot of negative points to players who really overshoot their opponent in combat, so you want your battles to be close. Otherwise, you might be sorry. This was a pretty harsh mechanic.
I just didn't feel a compelling reason to have the folding boards in this game. I was trying to hard to find the best possible solution with my folding board but it never seemed to work. I never seemed to win the majorities I was going after. I really like the folding boards in general, and I think they should be in another game that focuses more on the boards. But in Folding Space, there seemed to be too many mechanics to really make the boards worthwhile.
I ended up winning by a long shot with 48 points. I think everyone else was in the 30s. I was trying my best not to conflict with anyone. I didn't have the combat cards I would need since I wasn't winning those majorities, so I just tried to stay clear of everyone and do my own thing. It seemed to work.
For me, this game just doesn't get me excited to play. It was pretty easy to play and I can see it being a casual game for casual gamers. I just didn't feel like I had a lot of control over what I was doing or getting. It was fine and I could play again, but I am not rushing to.
The BGG Show!!
Stay Tuned for Part 3! Turns out Part 2 was too long so I needed a part 3...
All images in this post are copyrighted, owned, and controlled by Steph Hodge Photography, unless otherwise noted. Please contact me if you would like to purchase or use my images in any way. Thank you.
I had the greatest pleasure of attending The Gathering of Friends this year and played 81 games, 50 of which were new to me! There is a TON to talk about, and I hope you enjoy reading about my experiences!
I made the trek to the Gathering by a 14 hour car ride with Michael who was also driving, so I didn't have to fly and I could bring a bunch of games! On the drive, I ended up playing Tears of a Goddess with Michael. I would read out the options for him to choose and it was a pretty fast adventure. He was making all of the wrong choices and ended up not finding any of the sprouts and died pretty fast. It was really interesting to see him take a totally different path than I originally took. He had a different special ability that he was not able to utilize like he wanted to. I will have to go back and try the final specialization and see if I can do better than my first attempt.
Such a great way to pass time. I think it works really well for a car trip!
The critical first stop after check in: Cold Stone Creamery
Then so many goodie bags!
YAY! We made it to the Gathering and it was about 8 pm by the time we got to actually sit down and play some games! First up was a new Uwe Rosenberg game called Second Chance. New to me!
This is a roll n write game (flip n write) where you are trying to fill up your board. We all started with a different pattern on our boards. Each round we would flip up 2 cards for everyone to select 1 of them to use on their board. Once you get so far into completing your board, you might not be able to take either option. If this happens, you must try for your second chance by drawing the top card from the deck. If you can use that top card, then you can keep playing. Each player who takes a second chance will get a unique card. If you can't draw the second chance card pattern for your board then you are done. The player who fills their board will win or the player with the fewest empty spaces will win.
Of course, I was flipping those second chance cards left and right. The game actually ended with the deck running out of cards. I was able to fill in the majority of the grid and had the fewest leftover squares. Mwahaha, I won the first game of the con! It is always a sweet victory when I can crush Dan at his own game.
Dan had another game for me to learn which was Draftosaurus. New to me!
This game recently came out and I was very much interested in it. You get to draft amazingly cute dinosaur meeples! I see googly eyes in my future! It is cool that you can play either side of the board and get a different gaming experience.
In Draftasaurus, you will be drafting dinos into your theme park. The active player will roll the dice and everyone will have to draft a dino into an appropriate area into the park, hopefully creating the sets they are looking for. You will gain lots of points for completing those sets and regions.
I don't think I was hate drafting well enough as Dan managed to win this time, and that is just not okay. Albeit, he had played before, but it still seems wrong!
It is a fairly simple game but I quite enjoyed my time playing. I ended up buying it from Beth at the con! I can't wait to play again and grab some colorful pics!
So, more from the roll n write category, we decided on playing a couple of games of HexRoller. New to me!
The colors in this game are awesome. I wish there were really colorful dice too. There are a couple of different colored dice which don't mean anything but MAY mean something later if they do an addition or expansion for the game.
HexRoller is a fairly simple game where you are trying to complete as many regions of your board as possible. There are several small goals to work towards as you are filling in the board. Each round you will select 2 different numbers to take from the common dice roll. If there were three 4s rolled, then you would have to use all of the 4s in order to use that number. Ideally, you will fill in the different hex regions on the board and you get to score those. But you will also score for the links you make on your board.
It is a clever game and choosing the numbers to take each round is quite a challenge. It is not always wise to just take the highest values. We had to play 2 times since I did just so poorly the first time. I think Dan managed to win the first game with 71. I insisted we play again, with the alternate board and that time Michael was able to take home the victory with 54. It turns out the alternate board scores a lot less! I think the bonuses are fewer, or we all just played really badly, or we rolled badly. It was rough! I have to say I had a great time playing this one!
Dan got this game under the impression it was a light deduction game but it is really more of a pattern matching and speed game. Each turn the active player will flip over their top card and it will have 1 feature on it. That will give an alibi to the cards in the middle of the table sharing that feature. This proceeds until there are only 1 or 0 cards that don't have an alibi. You are trying to deduce the cards fast and you want to slap the card with no alibi when there are only 1 or 0 options left. The first player to claim 5 cards will win!
I thought I had this in the bag. I am still master of the speed games, for now though. I had my work cut out for me though as Joe H was able to keep my attention as we ended up tied 4 to 4 and it was a close race. I was able to secure that final card though for the win. I don't know if this game won any of the hearts of the players, but I had a good time playing. Not one I would bring out often enough to keep in a collection though.
Dan had another game for me to try called Shadow Blocks. New to me!
This is an abstract speed game. Everyone is shown an image of a card with multiple shadows. Players have to use their blocks to create a structure on their boards that will match the shadows. Each image will have 3 shadows but you will create one structure that will create all 3 shadows in order to get a point. You are trying to just complete these structures faster than the last player. 3 people will get to score each round in a 4 player game.
In our game, I thought I would win this easily. If you get ahead though, you will be handicapped with harder cards until players catch up. It was also unfair since I found a card that doesn't work. Well, we studied this card long and hard but the only "workable" solution required a zero-gravity environment. Technicalities, and I blame my loss because of that card.
It was a cute game, and I could see playing it again, but it didn't really hold my interest very long.
Over the 9 days of playing games, I managed to get in 9 games of Tichu. What more can I ask for?! I love this game and would play it daily if I could find a group to play.
On the positive side, I think I got Michael very interested in the game. We ended up being partners in all of the games and I helped train him. In general, we won 5 of the 9 games! That is awesome!! The first couple we ended up losing because I was being dramatic with my calls as usual. I was able to calm myself and hold back even when I might have wanted to call Grand. Regardless, I still called Grand a bunch since I really enjoy the challenge.
The later the game is being played, the less likely I am to call Grand. I guess my conservative side kicks in the later it is. We had some epic games and some insanely long games due to just bad hands and not scoring many points.
Here are a bunch of pics of the different hands of cards, most of which were Tichu calls. I love this game and will always want to play it!
Early the next morning I saw Dominic looking for a game to show off his new KS success Oceans. New to me!
I was hesitant to learn this one since I didn't have fond memories of Evolution. Dom assured me it was different and not as vicious of a game. I get drawn into these games for their artwork alone. I just love the look of this series and I love the ocean creature theme too.
In Oceans, you are creating species which will have up to 3 traits. You are managing a hand of cards and using those cards to upgrade your species. You will only get to feed one of your species per turn, though. What's cool is that other species might be able to trigger off of your feeding. Ideally, you will have cards that benefit from each other and they will be self sustaining. After you feed one of your species, then all of your species will reduce in life. If your species loses it's last life, the species disappears.
I felt like I had no hope to protect myself in Evolution, but in Oceans, I feel differently. Yes, there are still a lot of attacks that will happen in this game. But you can easily defend your species by upgrading their traits to have protection. I didn't have a difficult time finding the protection cards. I didn't feel like I was getting attacked a lot, and when I was attacked, it didn't seem that harmful.
There is a strong engine builder game here and so many combos to create and experiences to be had. There are many different event cards, so you will have a different game each time, considering you only use 2 each game.
There are also deep water cards that have many unique traits. I was still wrapping my brain around the entire game to really utilize the deep water cards, but I saw their value. They cost POINTS in order to play them, so they better be worth it. I didn't get any of them in play until really late in the game and by then it was already over for me. I couldn't keep up with the points the other guys were claiming each round.
There is a lot of strategy packed into this game and every choice you make really matters. This is a game I would definitely want to explore further. It is no wonder that this game did extremely well on KS so kudos to North Star for another success!
Of course, Dom was able to crush us into the ground, which he should since he has played it a couple of hundred times. I was so far in last place and was nowhere near them. I need to up my gameplay!
Michael hadn't ever played Scythe before!? Well, now was the time to correct that. We ended up playing a 5 player game. We were using Derek's awesome game with painted minis and a crazy centerpiece factory.
It had been a while since Scott and I had played, and Erik was re-learning the game, so Derek ended up teaching. Unfortunately, Michael ended up picking the blue faction. I should have reassigned him to another one because blue is the worst one of them all and I have only had a miserable time playing the game with the blue faction. It was a rough play for sure, but he was able to get the mechanics down and play the best he could.
I was playing green. I have played green before, but maybe only 1 time before. I was collecting a TON of in-game points. Scott was playing red, and he overtook the factory and tons of land. It ended up being a close race between us, and I thought I might actually win this game. Scott ended up winning with 62 and I was 59! It was a close finish for sure. It could have been anyone's game.
Love this game so much, so I hope it will get played again soon. I really miss playing it. I think all the expansions really deterred me from playing it as I am not a big fan of the expansions so much.
Lexi and Will were looking for a game and they were really interested in learning to play Chronicles of Crime. I knew Scott wanted to play this game too, so the 4 of us sat down for the first case of Chronicles of Crime: Noir.
I had played the tutorial of this game and was familiar with the different actions that were added. Since I felt the expansion really didn't change the base game that much and everyone was learning, it wouldn't matter to them which version we were playing.
It worked out pretty well. Everyone was contributing to the investigation. We were piecing the case together slowly. There were a few standstill moments trying to put the pieces in the right spaces. That is the hardest part of the game. There are no real directions and everything is really open-ended. The smallest details might be doors to the answers we need at the end.
By the time it came to solving the case, we thought we were on the right track and knew everything really well. Not so much. We only managed a score in the 50s (out of 100). We ended up reading all the answers to try and figure out what we did wrong. I still have no idea how we could have gotten some of the answers, so beats me!
I still have fun with this one, but the cases can be long and totally draining. This was definitely one of those cases. Still happy to play this game though and maybe I will get better at it! #unlikely
I had been wanting to play Subtext since my first 4-player game. This time I got to play with a full table of 8 players.
Okay, I think 8 players is too many. Having only 1 turn to be the active player is not enough. There are also fewer chances that you will get paired with the active player.
In our game, Michael ended up being paired with the active player 4 or 5 times. I never got to be. Most of the rounds had an obvious connection. I thought it would be harder to make the connections but it was still kinda easy to. I think everyone just plays too literally. Joe H was playing really abstract and just would draw a line. Is that a candy cane? Sled? Shoe? He would just respond: yep. Maybe the idea is to be very vague and not obvious about what you are drawing.
I think Joe actually ended up tied for the win that game. Being vague for the win, apparently!
I still love the game, but I think I need to find a group to play with semi-regularly and maybe it will feel different. I think 5 or 6 might be the sweet spot for this game.
It is possible I like Chili's - the restaurant. I go there frequently to get some yummy chips and salsa.
While going to dinner, there were a couple of games of The Mind that were played.
I am always happy to play The Mind, and it is so easily accessible. You can carry it anywhere and play anywhere.
Michael and I won a 2p game once, and that was easy breezy. It is always so easy to win basic Mind play with Michael.
It is more difficult when you add in Dan and Derek to the picture. We made it through Round 4 or 5 with them before the food ended up coming and we decided to eat. It was neither a win nor a loss since we didn't get to finish playing!
Sad it only ended up being 2 games of The Mind. Should have been 20!
Perhaps my favorite new game of the con and easily the biggest hit of the con was a new game called Hadara. New to me!
I missed out trying it in prototype form last year, which was probably for the better, since I would have had to wait A YEAR to play it again. This game is brilliant! Light but meaningful civ building game. The gameplay is easy to understand and there are simple steps to follow.
Hadara is played out over 3 eras. Each era has a phase A and a phase B. In phase A, players will be assigned each of the 5 colored stacks once, taking 2 cards, selecting 1, discarding 1, and proceeding to the next stack. You can either buy or sell the selected card. If you choose to buy it, you have to pay coins but will get a discount of 1 coin per card that you already have in the matching color. If you choose to sell it, you will get a few coins.
Cards that you buy will be added to your tableau. Most cards will have icons for the different resource tracks and you will adjust the tracks accordingly. The tech cards (purple) are special and have different ongoing abilities. These cards really offer you a unique position. You won't see all the cards in a game, so there will be a lot of variety each time you play.
Once all 5 stacks have been depleted, players will gain income based on their income level (yellow). Each player will have the chance to conquer villages based on their military level (red), raiding them for money or settling them for resources. Afterwards, you will have the chance to build statues based on your culture level (blue), which will give you victory points and/or resources.
Then you move into Phase B! This is when players will take turns selecting the top card from any of the discarded stacks that were made in phase A! As before, you will either buy or sell the selected card. This continues until there are no more cards in the stacks. Players will get income again and check for colonies (military) and statues (culture). In Phase B, there is a new feeding step, however. You must FEED. You will have to have enough food (green) to cover the number of cards you have in your tableau. You can't have a civ game without having to have feeding costs at some point. Cards that you can't feed must be discarded. Finally, you will have the chance to buy some medals for end game victory. Money is precious and buying these end game medals are worth it if you can afford it, but it means going into the next round with less money, and getting those extra cards in your tableau might be critical. It is tough to say which is better, but that's what makes Hadara a great game.
You do all of that 3 times and then the game is over. It moves along really quickly and you are constantly making tough choices on which cards to buy or which cards to try and hold out for.
I ended up playing 3 games over the week and 2 of those were back-to-back. We loved it so much we decided to play again!
I had some killer tech cards in the first game, and so I was expecting to see them in the second game, but not so much. I actually didn't even see those cards in the 3rd game either! One of the tech cards gave me a bonus $1 when I sold a card. I loved having that ability and so I was doing pretty well that first game. But Michael ended up winning.
I was frustratingly close to getting my final statue in the second game and was sooooo very annoyed that I couldn't make it happen. I might have actually won the second game had I been able to get that +1 blue advancement. It was a huge bummer. But Michael won the second game as well. He clearly understands how to play. I had the last laugh, however, as I won the third game a few days later.
Really loved my plays of this, and I very much look forward to playing it a lot more. It's fun to plan out in your mind that you know you want to buy a certain green card that you discarded in Phase A so you need to sell this red card for the money you will need to have. There's a lot of thinking going on but it plays so fast and smooth. The bright bold colors make me happy. It really stands out on the table and invites you to play it. I suppose the one criticism I have is the player aids. They are amazing, however, they add one small detail to the back of them that could easily have been put on the front. I don't understand that at all. Nitpicky, but someone mentioned it in ALL of the games we played.
Easily one of the best games of the year! Can't wait for more!
I need to double check my games of the month but I think I learned like 20 roll n writes. It was a non-stop roll n write fest at the Gathering and I was in heaven. We played another Uwe roll n write called Patchwork Doodle. New to me!
The games are actually pretty similar, just different mechanics on getting to a similar ending. You are trying to fill up your board with polyomino shapes. This game resembles Patchwork with the shapes all laid out in a circle. You will roll the die and this little yellow guy will move around the circle, and you will have to select one of the pieces next to him to use. It is pretty simple. There is some mid-game scoring and some bonus actions you can use to help you make it work better.
Dan was teaching the game to me and Michael as he had played it before. He was saying in his other games it was just too easy to fill in the whole grid, and they were all tied in the end. Well, that didn't happen in our game. Michael and I were going for big areas quickly, but we weren't able to fill in the complete grid by the end, so Dan actually ended up winning - slow and steady wins the race. He did fill up the board for huge end-of-game points.
This game was cute and I could play again, but nothing really wowed me about it. I think I like Second Chance better because there were more choices to be made. They are both good, but I still prefer other roll n writes though.
Oh a really big hit for me was a small card game called Ohanami. New to me!
I am actually surprised I managed to play it only 3 times. I loved it so much, I wanted to show everyone how to play! Steffen Benndorf, the designer of The Game, brings us a competitive card drafting/laying game.
In Ohanami, there are 3 rounds. At the start of the round, each player will be dealt 10 cards. You will select 2 and pass the rest, select 2 more and pass the rest, and so on. Every time you select 2 cards, you will add them into your tableau. You can have up to 3 columns of cards, and you can only add cards below the bottom-most number or above the topmost number in each column. All of the numbers must be in ascending order once they are placed though. If you play a 30 and then above it a 60, you are eliminating all of the chances to play 31-59 in that column. That might be fine if you have space in the other columns.
There is scoring after each round, but not everything will score each round. Some colors are worth more at the end and some colors are worth more the earlier you acquire them.
It is super simple and easy to play. I loved playing it the three times I got to play. It makes me happy putting all the numbers in order. Situations where you have to decide how many numbers to lock out can be interesting. Like, okay, I will lock this range of 4 numbers, that isn't so bad! But the next card you want to draft is in that range you just blocked out. #typical. I love those kinds of choices. There is a lot of memory to this game if you want to take the time to try and remember the cards you are passing.
It just so happens I won all of the games I played of this! Maybe this is a true calling for me. I think I just understand it well. Winning is not the reason I like it so much, but it is a nice boost for once. Ohanami is on the high end of favorites that I learned during the Gathering. This is on the wishlist! I need to get it!
I wonder if I could combine 2 decks and make it an 8 player game!
More from the roll n write bunch. We played a game of Rolling Ranch. New to me!
Cute animal dice. Each turn, you'll roll both dice and try to fill in your farm pens on your farm board by drawing the animal from one die on a space that matches the number from the other die. Or you can take the materials from both dice, which can help you build buildings that score you bonus points or gain you special abilities.
Turns out I was the best farmer since I managed to pull out the win in this game as well. I think the other players were just happy it was over. I am not sure this game really won anyone over. It was cute enough though.
In general, it is a pretty standard roll n write. Nothing really outstanding here, but it was good. I would, of course, play it anytime, as I would with any roll n write. I don't think it is necessarily better than others, though I did like it more than Harvest Dice.
Another game I saw being played all the time was Silver & Gold. New to me!
This is just one more roll n write I got to learn! Silver & Gold comes with little map cards that you can write on, which is super awesome! Everyone starts with 2 maps. Each round, a polyomino shape will be revealed and you have to make Xs on your maps to try and fill in the islands for points. You might get a few bonuses when you fill things in, like a free X somewhere, which is helpful for smaller areas. Every time you fill a map, you will draft a new one from a pool.
Silver & Gold is a fairly simple game to complete as many maps as you can. It is definitely one of the better games in the genre that I learned over the week, and everyone was talking about. It has a nice quality to it.
Michael ended up taking the winners title for this game but Dan was right on his tail only 3 points behind. I was like 20 points behind so it was just not happening for me. I needed to get better islands and have better luck with the polyomino cards. There is some planning to be had in this game and I had a good time playing it. Onto the wishlist it goes!
Res Arcana has been all the rage on BGG and across social media. New to me!
I had to play it before it was no longer all the rage. I honestly didn't know anything about this game going into it. I knew it was beautiful. The artwork is stunning and the bit tray is a nice touch. A very lovely production.
Res Arcana is an engine-building card game where you are trying to create combos. Acquire resources, use card abilities, attack others, and gain monuments.
You are dealt a set number of cards for the game. These cards are your deck. You will get no more and you will just have to make do with what you get. You will get to choose 1 character to play out of 2 choices. You will want to match your character's ability to your deck of cards as best you can. Your goal is to get 10 points first.
It is supposed to be a fast game, but our game took a million years, or it seemed. Perhaps I should give it another try, and if it shows up, I will. I am also thinking it will be better with fewer people. I could attack people, but otherwise, it felt like a solitaire experience. I wasn't paying attention to what anyone was doing.
I am pretty sure Dave won this game since we somehow let him build up a proper engine and eventually take us over. I was just spinning and getting nowhere all game. There was nothing meaningful for me to do. This has a lot of small actions and small points. I like big actions and big points, so I was a bit disappointed.
I think I would like it better if it played out faster, which I am told it should. Maybe it takes a few games to wrap my brain around. Not sure it is my type of game though.
I didn't know much about this game other than the purple box with lots of dice. It is an abstract game where you try and gain dice to match your card patterns for points.
The dice are rolled and laid out on the board. Each turn, you will look at one row or column and grab all the dice of the same value in that line. You can place them on your cards if you have the room for them. If you can't use all the dice then they are drafted around the table for other people to use.
That is basically all there is to the game. You are trying to complete as many of these cards as you can for their points. You don't want to give dice away to other players - that only helps them. Of course, since you don't want that, it really makes for an AP prone game. With so many dice on the board, the options seem endless, and you are just staring at the board hoping to make the best play.
Everyone in my game was just like, okay is this game over yet? No one was really taking the time they should in order to find the best match for their cards, which is fine by me. I didn't know it was going to be so AP anyway.
There was just nothing special about this game at all and I have no idea who ended up winning since I just didn't care. This was just a super boring game. Happy to have tried it but I won't return to play this one any time soon.
I was ready to play another new roll n write game called Dizzle. New to me!
This was another roll n write hit of the con. I saw it being played a bunch and with good reason.
Dizzle is a dice drafting game where you try to fill in your board the best you can. You can get points by completing columns and rows and other puzzly connections on the game board.
Each round, all the dice are rolled and players will take turns drafting dice. When you draft a die it will have to go on a matching spot next to an already existing die or next to an X space if it is the first die you are drafting. If you have no legal play, you can pass for the rest of the round or try to push your luck by re-rolling all of the available dice. But if you can't make a legal play after re-rolling, then you must lose a die from your board back to the pool of dice for others to then draft away.
Of course I am just terrible at this game. I will ALWAYS choose to push my luck even if there is only 1 die available. I will never choose to stop before I must. Therefore, I always lose my dice. I am never lucky enough to roll a number I need.
I still find the push your luck mechanic very fun. When you re-roll, you are changing the dice that everyone was already planning on drafting. It is definitely an interesting strategy.
In the 2 games I played, I didn't even come close to winning. I was so far in last place. Turns out Michael won both of the games we played. Seems like he knew when to stop, or maybe he was just rolling really well!
What I really like about this game is that it comes with 4 different gameboard "levels", so you get to ramp up the difficulty as you go along. I thought the basic board was okay, and I wasn't itching to play the game a whole lot after the 1st play, but then I learned there were different levels and objectives and I really wanted to try them out. So the second game we played level 2 and I liked it a lot more.
Dizzle is now on my wishlist since I want to see how the other levels will play out. I think I will like it a lot more after a few more plays. I just have a hard time controlling myself and pushing my luck too far.
I accidentally stumbled into this one when I was searching the tables for games to play. I was like, "ohhh this looks interesting, I haven't heard about this one. Ohhh, it is by Wolfgang Warsch, of course, it is." Ridic how many games he is just pumping out!
Die Tavernen im Tiefen Thal, which translates to The Taverns in the Deep Valley, is a deck building & dice drafting game. You are trying to get the most points from the cards you are claiming. Each round you will roll dice and draft around the table. The dice will be used to serve customers for their money, which you will use to buy cards that will help your intake of customers and services. You might use the dice to upgrade your pub to do similar but permanent features. You are really trying to attract the nobles to your establishment and if you upgrade the pub then you will be gaining those customers, and the more nobles you have, the more points you will get at the end of the game.
This game is cool and comes with a bunch of modules so you can mix and match them for different experiences.
Michael and I took on very different strategies and I managed to have a KILLER turn bringing in like 6-7 nobles at one time. When you claim cards like that they are automatically added to the top of your deck which really helps your pub. Having all the nobles together is actually really great, and was a fine strategy to have on my part. I worked hard to get that one killer turn. Michael was slow and steady all the way and he managed to win 92 to my 91. Nooooooooooooooo! It was definitely a close call.
I am surprised I only got around to playing it the one time. I really wish I had been able to play it again as I really loved my first play. I screwed up a few things and I know I could have won if I played slightly differently. I can't wait to try out the game again with the different modules.
Picked out a quick game to play called Sushi Roll. New to me!
Sushi Roll is very much like the card game but more random since you are rolling dice. I like that feature, actually. On your turn, you will roll the dice in front of you, draft one, and pass the rest. There are tokens that allow you to steal dice from other players and there are re-roll tokens so you can try to complete that set you were working on. The scoring works basically the same though.
I do think if you like Sushi Go you will enjoy this one. I was glad to play twice since the first game I played was just 2 player and we were learning. Turns out we played slightly wrong - when we taught a larger group, we figured those rules out.
I did like it more with more players so I would suggest playing with more than 2 players. It can be a bit confusing with 5 players though. Whose turn is it? Are they stealing dice? Can we draft our dice yet? Our 5 player game lasted about twice as long as our 2 player game did, so I guess it is beter with 3 or 4 players.
The dice are easily the best thing about this game. BIG CHUNKY DICE! It is super cute and I am sure kids could pick it up easily. I would be happy to play it again but I won't suggest it.
Dan has been trying to get me to play Vinci for a while. New to me!
I love Small World, and I will give credit to Vinci and History of the World for paving the way for Small World. Vinci plays out similarly to Small World but it is not as elegant. But I absolutely love love love History of the World and prefer it over both Vinci and Small World.
If you know how to play Small World, you basically know how to play Vinci. In Vinci, you will get 2 faction bonuses when you draft a nation/ability so you will get that same randomness you find in Small World.
Vinci ended up longer than I would like and it is wicked ugly. By the end of my play, I was soooo over this game. Dan won pretty handily - maybe since he played before? Maybe I wasn't beating up on him hard enough? I duno, but I was just not invested in the gameplay enough to care.
This is certainly a game I never need to play again. I can't recommend it to anyone - unless you like old cardboard chits. #notforme
Dan and I had a few minutes to kill so we played a 2 player game of Pearls. New to me!
Pearls is a new, simple, set-collection card game. The bigger the sets you collect in your hand, the more points you will get and possibly bonus points as well. Nothing challenging about this game, and it is more a filler game anyway.
I am glad I got to play with Dan, because that means an easy win for me! I had some major sets that scored a lot of points and I was able to end it with basically no cards in hand. I had the right timing all around so everything was falling into place for me.
Nothing really special with this one but I am happy to play it again if requested. Not one I will request in the future though. Happy to have learned it.
There are still a few balance issues, but it will hopefully be released at Essen. They still don't know if they are going to make this an expansion or a stand-alone game. It could really be either, but having it as expansion means it wouldn't fit in the base game box with the other expansion. But this might give them an opportunity to make a BIG BOX version for it.
Anyway, the game was being called Marco Polo 2, so they are still working on the name as well. It doesn't matter to me since I wanted to play whatever HiG was showing. They never let me down with their games!
This game still feels like the original game, but there is a whole new board to explore and there is an ever-changing marketplace. There is a new resource: Jade! It is used all over the place now. Players still have hidden objectives to give them the incentive to go certain places on the map, but there doesn't seem to be as much pressure since you will just want to visit as many places as you can to get more points.
There is a new feature with the different sigils you can collect that can give you bonuses and make it easier to move from location to location, but they are working on balancing those bonuses. I am very interested to see what the final product will have.
The way you get contracts has changed from the original. In this version, some location spaces have contracts. You will receive a contract the first time you visit. Afterwards, you can use the contract action to get a contract from any location you have visited. I liked this method a whole lot better.
In my play, Michael was learning the basics to Marco Polo from scratch, which was pretty cool. Nikolai was remembering the basics of the game. We were all figuring out what might be a good path for each of us to take. Of course, there were new mechanics in the game and all-new character abilities, so we were trying to best optimize those abilities. I had an amazing jade ability. Every time I completed a contract, I got a jade, but I also got 1 VP ANYTIME I collected a jade. So I was getting tons and tons of points from collecting jade in various ways. It was awesome and possibly my new favorite character. They are all my favorites - amirite?
I think Michael had the ability to claim a location bonus every time another player collected one. So that tile you get when you first go into a location, like 2 gold or a free move or a bonus die... yeah, he would also gain those things. He was also getting an income of a jade. Dan was playing a traveler character. In the original, it is expensive to place dice but cheap to move along the routes, but in this new version, it is cheap to place dice but expensive to move along the routes. The more dice you use and the higher the values, the further you can go. I felt it was easier to move in this game than the original. Dan was having a very hard time with his character though. Nikolai was getting a TON of resources from his character ability where he got bonuses for each roll he made.
Everything seemed pretty great and I want to play with all the abilities! Our game ended in a pretty close final scoring but I managed to win with 105. Michael was right on my tail with 102! Dan and Nikolai were in the 70s. Needless to say, Michael picked up the game rather quickly and got some great combos early with his player ability.
Can't wait for this one to hit stores!
We had some time to kill before dinner so we decided to learn Pulp Detective. New to me!
I had been curious about this one since its release at Essen, I think it was. The artwork is interesting and I like trying to solve cases. I really can't say I had any fun playing this one though.
In Pulp Detective, you are given a set of victory conditions, like you might need to find 4 clues and catch the bad guy. You are using dice to match symbols on cards to get the card's bonuses. It is hard to do since you only have a single roll of the dice to try and hit all the matching symbols to secure the bonuses.
This is a solo game at heart and we were playing it 2p as a 1-player game, just alternating turns. It worked fine doing that, and there were other rules for 2p that I am not sure of at this time.
In our game, we didn't even secure 1 clue that we needed. We were really close to getting a few though. With very little luck mitigation, it was really hard to manage. We did get some bonuses which helped us get a few re-rolls, but they didn't end up helping. We tried!
It was just a huge MISS for me. Maybe other people will have better luck, but for the amount of time to learn and play the game, I wish I picked a different title.
We decided on another quick game to learn called Palm Island. New to me!
This is a small boxed solo game, but there are cards and variants to play with 2 players.
This is definitely an interesting game. You have a deck of cards you are working through over and over and over. I think you go through the deck of cards 8 times and then the game will be over.
Each card has 4 possible faces (top and bottom, front and back), but you are always looking at the top part of the card. At the start of the game, all of your cards are Level 1 cards. As you play the game, your cards can be upgraded by rotating them 180 degrees or by turning them over.
The top card of your deck is always available. Many of the cards will give you resources. When you gain resources from a card, you will turn the card 90 degrees so that the resource sticks out the side, and place the card at the back of your deck. You can have a maximum of 4 tapped resource cards. You can pay costs by untapping those resources, always keeping the resource in position in the deck. Other cards are buildings that give you more and more points as you upgrade them using the resource cards you have on tap.
Michael and I each played the solo game at the same time and compared scores. I ended up winning that game, which was awesome. It is really hard to tell how well you are doing, and there were a few times I ended up losing some resources since it hit the top of the deck and I didn't use it in time!
Palm Island worked really well playing 2p as a multi-solitaire game, and I could easily recommend this for trips. It would be a perfect game to play on a plane. There are other variants you can play with 2 players but I haven't been able to explore them yet. I will be looking to pick this up soon.
One night we spent 5 hours learning and playing the new Vital Lacerda game called Escape Plan. New to me!
I generally proceed with caution when stepping into a Lacerda game since they are usually not my jam. They often have too much going on for me to enjoy fully. But this game has an awesome theme and I've been curious to try it out. I love the idea of trying to collect all the monies and escape the town. It is a great theme and the production is TOP NOTCH.
I will start by saying that learning from the rules is hard, but once you get going, the game flow is incredibly easy, and I feel like I could go in and teach this game no problem after playing it just one time. Even with my incredibly long first play (which is usually a deterrent for me), I had a great time learning and playing this game. I know it will be a much faster game the next time I play it.
Escape Plan is played over a number of days and turns. You will basically get 9 actions in the game to do EVERYTHING you want to do. There are ways to obtain a few bonus actions, but I only managed to get 1 bonus action, giving me 10 total actions in the game. Every action matters, so plan wisely.
In Escape Plan, you are trying to get around the city to the different areas to claim as much cash as you can before you ultimately have to escape the city. If you don't end up escaping the city in time, then you automatically lose no matter how much money you've collected.
Each player will have a secret goal card that will give them values for each destination if they manage to hit those spaces and collect their rewards. Of course, there are cops roaming the streets, and to leave a location tile, you always have to evade those cops or they go shooting you in the leg. If you get shot, you might have to visit the hospital or clinic to heal up.
There are opportunities to recruit gang members that will help you evade the cops with their distractions. You will also be able to hire allies (putting them "in your back pocket") that will give you special abilities to help you evade, to move cops around, or to get places faster.
Doing bad things will increase your reputation. But reputation can end up hurting you, since players with a lower reputation can move cops closer to your location. You have to watch out for situations like that.
Despite my long play, I had a great time playing this one. We were playing with player abilities. My ability allowed me to easily break into lockers so I didn't need keys - that was awesome. I didn't use that nearly as much as I should have. I was trying to do too much too fast and it all got jumbled. I needed to really focus and I wasn't doing that so well.
I thought I was doing REALLY well and that I might win, so I was a bit sad to learn I didn't win. Michael ended up winning this game with $472,000, and I was actually not far behind with $421,000. Derek managed to grab $262,000, and Doug the Boss had $227,000. It was quite a range of scores. Michael was able to get extra money from having a bunch of allies in his back pocket. My reputation was too high, and I lost a lot of money for that.
There is definitely a lot going on in the game, but it still seems easier to teach than most Lacerda games and falls in line with Vinhos. It plays out faster than his other games too, which is nice. I learned a lot in this first play and I am eager to get it to the table again soon. I had a really great time playing and I know I will like it more and more with each play. This is a really cool game.
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I am playing catch up from a few weeks of gaming. It was my Birthday on March 12! Yay! I got to have some delicious cake!
Looking for a couple of quick fillers, I ended up teaching Fold-it to a bunch of people.
We ended up playing several rounds but not really keeping score. It was mostly used as an activity. It can be a tough game for people to wrap their brains around.
I am still happy to try and plan everything out. I certainly did the best and then demonstrated how each card was to be solved. So, playing this a bunch, you pick up a few tricks! Gets easier with time.
OMG what is happening!? I haven't played this game is sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo very long! It is as fun as I remember when the KS was first delivered to me.
NINJAS READY ROLL!!! I was going to see how long it would take me to say cute in this blog post, but I mean, this game is just so cute!! I am so happy I got to play this again.
Of course, I lost. My dice would never cooperate with me. People were stealing from me left and right. I couldn't complete a mission. I must push my luck too much or just roll very poorly. I was a very clumsy ninja.
Half of the fun of the game is naming your castle at the end. I have to say, Firestone was pretty good, but not as grand as the Purple Phallus Palace. So funny. The purple tower was named after all the purple rooms inside. We were able to stack them high! Firestone was more of a mixed bag and we had a lot of points from the sleeping chambers.
I had such a high-scoring purple palace, but my lower score of Firestone is what won me the game. It was a very well balanced game for me, for once! I was shocked since I never actually get to win this game. Always happy to give this game a whirl.
I had seen a new game called Haven at BGG.Con in Nov that I was interested in trying out. New to me!
Haven is a 2-player game and was in the play-to-win section so I wanted to give it a try. In this game, you are playing cards from your hand to try to claim lore tiles. Each of the normal cards has a lore value and a combat value. After enough cards have been played on one side of a lore tile, the cards are revealed. Whoever has the higher lore value will claim the lore tile, and whoever has the higher combat value will place a token on the map wherever that lore's elemental is. When one player has a majority of spaces around a region, they claim the region. At the end of the game, points are scored for lore tiles and for regions.
There is a lot of back and forth with the card majorities as most duel games go. This feels somewhat different because the player's decks are slightly different. There are also special cards that you can only use 1 of each turn and they will give you a bonus of some sort like counting a card as a wild type or you get to take 3 actions this turn. Different things that will give you an advantage.
The artwork is pretty great as Red Raven Games has that distinct look and feel. There was one card I had to take a picture of because I am sure the inspiration was from Princess Mononoke. It totally gave me that feeling anyway.
I totally kicked butt with the forest people. I had barely any areas on the map since I kept losing the combats. But I ended up with nearly all of the lore tokens. Even though they are all just worth 1 point, it was enough to put me about double over my opponent.
This is a game I would happily play again. I enjoyed my time trying to figure out the right time to play a card or whether I should trigger a reveal to happen. Definitely things to consider. Though I am not the biggest fan of dueling games, this is one of the better ones as well as one of the prettiest!