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Surya's game blah blah

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

Archive for Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!

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Happy Pigs and Perry Rhodan The Cosmic League

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Happy Pigs
tl;dr: enjoyable but shallow

Get some pigs, feed them to grow and vaccinate them to keep them alive. There is some space management and managing your money (having the most of it is the goal) add some challenges to this pretty basic game.
We all enjoyed playing this, but replay value is pretty low.
We also found 4 an unfortunate number. There are 4 rounds per season, so the same player will be start player in every last round of the season. Being start player is not good so in this game, so I would suggest playing with 3 or maybe 5.

Initial rating: 6.4/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Perry Rhodan: The Cosmic League
tl;dr: fine, but why 2 player only?

This is mainly a pickup and deliver game with some cards to spice things up. It works well and I enjoyed it, but it didn't leave a big impression.
Some of the cards are a bit too powerful I think, so we opted not to use those.
The biggest question I had was: why is this only for 2 players? There's no reason you couldn't add a few more resource cards per planet so you can play with more.
All in all a decent game, but nothing special.

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Mon Nov 7, 2016 12:15 pm
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The Colonists and Piratatak

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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The Colonists
tl;dr: good, but also a bit like work

Lookout has built it's reputation on publishing heavy gamers games. This year they continue that trend with yet an other all out heavy strategy game in a huge box, with 3 rule books and more than 20 punch boards. Yep, not for the faint of heart.
But I usually like these kinds of games as long as they play well and don't take too long.
This game gives players a LOT of options. You can choose from a bunch of different eras and embassies. You can even choose how many eras to include to make the game longer or shorter.
We played the 2 first eras with 3 new players. That took us almost 2.5h. This year's other big, longer games that I've played so far, Great Western Trail and A Feast for Odin also took us that long or even a bit longer, but they didn't feel that long. And this one does feel more like work than those. I think that comes mainly from the fact that you have to perform all actions you land on. So if you need to create bricks, but to get there you need to pass over a building action, you need to make sure you have enough resources to do both those actions, even if you don't really want or need that building action. And storing resources can be challenging. And on top of that you need to manage your workers.
Everything is very interconnected and performing the simplest task requires good planning. Being efficient and accomplishing your self imposed goals requires a lot of planning.
I wouldn't say this game is heavier or more complex than the other aforementioned games, but it does feel a bit more like work and it was not as fun as those games (which, granted, both are a ton of fun).
But it certainly is intriguing and challenging, so I look forward to trying this again.
I did have the feeling that the publisher maybe went all in with rules and components because that is the market they where going for, even though making a slightly slimmer, slightly more developed game could have been better.
But still, a solid game

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

Piratatak
tl;dr: luckfest, but it doesn't take too long

Yay, another pirate game! Dear designers and publishers, if you want a game that appeals to me, don't use a pirate theme. End rant.
Oh, maybe this game wasn't aimed at me at all. In fact, I'm quite sure it wasn't. It's a light, very chaotic kids/party game.
There is some push your luck. Draw cards until you stop, or draw a pirate card and lose (most of) your turn. In the process you try to collect the 6 ship cards of your color.
What I disliked was that the 8 pirates happened to be in the first half of the deck. That can happen. The result was that the next player had an almost endless turn of drawing cards. Every other player had to just sit there and watch that player run away with the game.
I don't think this is a very good design, but it isn't the worst either. It's easy, takes only 15 minutes to learn and play and there can be some funny moments if people push their luck just a bit too far.

Initial rating: 5/10
BGG scale: 4/10
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Thu Nov 3, 2016 4:49 pm
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A Feast for Odin, La Granja No Siesta! and Hanamikoji

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
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A Feast for Odin
tl;dr: it's an Uwe game!

Ever since Agricola Uwe Rosenberg has been cranking out heavy big box after heavy big box. And they go from very good to excellent. So many people look forward to every new game and of course I always put them on my 'to try' list. I don't always buy them right away though. Caverna: The Cave Farmers I didn't get because it was based on Agricola (which I like a lot, but hardly ever play) and was very expensive. This year though I did take a chance on his new effort for some reason, but only after Asmodee was pressured into offering it at an acceptable price.
I must say I'm glad I took the chance. The amount of bits and action spaces looks daunting. But once all rules are explained, and you've played 2 rounds, everything falls into place very nicely. You can't remember what actions are available, but you can easily remember what type of actions are available and since they are grouped by type, it's easy to find an action that will work for your strategy. The question then becomes how to combine those in the most efficient way and how to deal with other people doing the actions you want to do.
Thematically I don't really get how covering up shapes on a board with resources adds up to having a feast for a deity, but that's something that doesn't bother me.
I haven't played Patchwork, so all of this was refreshing, but also familiar at the same time. You can certainly feel the Uwe DNA.

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

La Granja: No Siesta
tl;dr: great stuff

How do you convert a heavy and rather complex game like La Granja into a dice game? Well, by taking parts of it and remixing them. But Ode did a very good job retaining some of the feel of La Granja. But in the process the did manage to make a great roll-dice-mark-stuff-on-a-sheet game. It's way more complex than Qwixx of course, and the rule book is quite long, but in the end the rules are straight forward. But there are multiple strategies to pursue and adapting to the luck of the dice spices things up.
Great stuff

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

Hanamikoji
tl;dr: solid 2 player game

This game is a bit similar to games like Schotten Totten. Players want a majority control over an odd row of cards. The big twist here is how you play these cards. There are 4 actions, all of which each player has to perform once in the game. This creates a very tight space to make your moves in, and it is VERY tricky. And a round only takes 5 minutes!
Very good 2 player game indeed. If only I played 2 player more often, I would get a copy.

Initial rating: 7.2/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Tue Nov 1, 2016 11:19 am
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First Class, Automania and Codenames Pictures

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
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First Class: All Aboard the Orient Express
tl;dr: solid and refreshing

Three years ago this designer and publisher teamed up (with an other designer) to bring me my favorite game of that year, and one of my favorite train games of all time. It's also one of the most original train games I've ever played. Now they team up again for yet another original train game. You could say the way the wagons are scored is reminiscent of Russian Railroads, but the rest of the game is quite different.
The fact that you can only take 3 actions in a round is very limiting and forces you to make good decisions.
While I did very bad on this first play, I did enjoy the game quite a bit. I don't think it will ever top Russian Railroads, but it's certainly worth playing as it is not just a good game, but also quite different from most train games.

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

Automania
tl;dr: strategy game in disguise

This game is deceptively heavy. Judging from the artwork and the fact that the board looks like 1/6th of the Kanban: Automotive Revolution board, makes you think that this will be a lighter strategy game. The rules are also quite straightforward.
But once you start playing, you immediately notice that choices are hard. You need to choose what strategy to pursue, but which one is the best, and how to best achieve it?
We where all pleasantly surprised by this game. The fact that scores where very close just helped making all of it very enjoyable.

Initial rating: 7.4/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Codenames: Pictures
tl;dr: less than the sum of it's parts

This game takes Codenames and injects some of those weird images you can find in Dixit into it. Both games shine at what they do, but when put together, the result is less than the sum of it's parts. The giving of tips seems to be much easier than in vanilla codenames, and part of the joy in that game is how tricky giving good tips is.
The game is still fun and worth playing, but if you have access to the original, I would opt for that version. Unless maybe you're playing with kids.

Initial rating: 7/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Mon Oct 31, 2016 9:43 am
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The Oracle of Delphi and Honshu

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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The Oracle of Delphi
tl;dr: another solid design

Feld is a highly regarded designer by many. And with good reason if you ask me. He has put out great game after very good game. And this one just adds another game to this growing list.
I don't think many will regard this as being his best game. I think the main reason for this is that the game doesn't really offer many different routes to victory. Everyone has a set of 12 goals that are the same for every player, and how you accomplish those is very well defined. So the game comes from deciding what order you complete them in and finding the most efficient route to do so as the goal is to complete all of them.
The game has a lot of different types of components and it looks very complex if you look at that component list. But once it's set up and explained, it's actually very straight forward. And the excellent player aid clearly shows what actions are performed how.
With 2 players it seems like there's not that much competition, it's more of a race, but with more than 2 I think competition for resources and such could be very fierce. I look forward to trying that.

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

Honshu
tl;dr: fun, but very open

The concept of a trick-taking city building game sounded weird and intriguing. I guess you could also put it a different way, as you don't actually take the trick. It's more an auction for turn order.
After turn order is established, every player gets to take one of the played cards and add that to it's tableau. The way in which you add those has very few rules. The result is a great freedom in building your city. This resulted in me not feeling very challenged. I felt like I was winning big by not trying very hard, and that proved to be true.
So I did enjoy this, and maybe I just got lucky, but I certainly would like to play again.

Initial rating: 6.75/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Fri Oct 28, 2016 6:00 am
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Great Western Trail, Quanto and Qwirkle Cubes

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
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Great Western Trail
tl;dr: more of the same... good stuff!

This game was hyped at the show after last year's Mombasa turned out so well. It went on my radar but the western theme doesn't help. But it was clear this is a traditional, rather heavy euro, not a real cowboy gunslinger game. Good.
First, let me say that the rules where very well written and structured. I had to do very little lookup work even though there are quite some rules tied to a couple of actions or locations. It does have a lot of nested 'if' statements. If you do this action, then you check that. If that is the case, then the following might occur. If the result of that is B, than something else might happen. That kind of thing. But we had few questions and found the answers easily. And when playing, everything does make sense.
Anyway: this game is not original. Build some buildings, use some building's actions, use resources to score points... All stuff we've seen before, but it's all put together skilfully. Every turn you have to keep in mind a good number of variables and make plans for the future while still staying flexible.
I must say I really enjoyed playing this game a lot. It looks like Pfister has an other hit on his resume. Sweet.

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

Sloop
tl;dr: pfff, that's it?

I got this because the back of the box told me it was more complex than some of the other Amigo card games. And it's designed by Mike Fitzgerald. Sounded good. After reading the rules, it still sounded good. But when playing this fell flat completely. Play the card that gives you the most cards in your score pile. Usually it's pretty obvious what card you should play. There is a bit of strategy going on because you can choose to take a chance and put cards in a pre-score pile, and you're not guaranteed you can cash those points in later, but that's not nearly enough to make this game interesting.
It works, but it seems more like a tool to teach kids math than a game.

Initial rating: 5/10
BGG scale: 5/10

Qwirkle Cubes
tl;dr: the same, but a bit more random

This is very much Qwirkle, but the fact that you don't draw fixed tiles but roll cubes, does change the game in a significant way: there is no limit of 3 identical symbol/color combinations.
There is also less planning since you roll random cubes, and you get to re-roll them.
I enjoyed this, but I do think the original is slightly superior.

Initial rating: 6.8/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Thu Oct 27, 2016 6:00 am
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Ice Cool, Avenue and 3 sind eine zu viel!

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
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Ice Cool
tl;dr: great fun

At Spiel this year the published didn't cut back on putting this game out there. They had a huge booth with just this game and all tables where constantly filled.
With good reason it seems: this is a family friendly dexterity game that does allow for more advanced play. That's because the shape of the pawns allows for trick shots. Good stuff, I wouldn't mind owning a copy of this. Maybe I should have bought one!

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

Avenue
tl;dr: average Doodle City copy

I didn't dig in to this game before Spiel, so I just put it on my list because it was a route building transportation game. Turns out that that part is represented by a sheet on which you draw lines. Kind of like Doodle City. In fact, I would say this game is the same but different. It fills the exact same niche and thus there is no reason to own both. And while I didn't dislike Doodle City, I didn't feel the need to own a copy either.
Oh, the box is a bit over sized, and they didn't even include pens!

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

3 sind eine zu viel!
tl;dr: one of those sweet, tricky Amigo card games

The Amigo card game line is extensive and goes from excellent to pretty lame. This one fits more towards the better end of the scale.
You play cards and put them in lines, a bit like in 6 nimmt!. But you always can slide in between. The way in which you take cards depends on how many cards are in the row and where in the row it fits.
Once you get the cards, you are trying to get 1 or 2 cards of each color, but not 3, because that's bad. So timing your cards is very tricky.
If you get too many pairs early on, you will start losing them fast as you take more cards, requiring you to get even more of those colors to make up for the loss.
Good stuff, this is the way I like my Amigo card games.

Initial rating: 6.8/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Wed Oct 26, 2016 6:00 am
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Kepler-3042, Capital and Mondrian

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Kepler-3042
tl;dr: my kind of game!

A pure euro with a space them? Bring it on! I love it when space exploration games are more about exploration and colonising than about space battles. And there's none of that! So far, so good.
The game needs to be interesting of course and this game tries that by a 3x3 grid of actions. Next to each row and column are pictured bonus actions you can take when doing an action in that row or column. Those don't come cheap though as you have to burn one of your resource cubes to perform them, and your supply of cubes is VERY limited.
So the action system is pretty cool and the limited cube pool does force you to clearly plan every single action.
So yeah, I liked this quite a lot when I tried it. I wonder what different strategies are there to be explored, which is why I don't give it an even higher score.
During my play on Sunday at Spiel, I suddenly got up, wondering how many they had left. I was just in time and actually snatched the last copy! 3 other people in my group where disappointed as they also wanted a copy. At least they can play mine

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

Capital
tl;dr: average city building game

Tile laying city building games usually go on my radar. So did this game. In this case it combines drafting with the tile laying.
It works fine. The different elements of the city score in their own distinct way, leading to nice choices to be made, and unique buildings with special abilities spice things up a bit more.
I think, depending on what tiles you get, different strategies are probably possible, but one play is too early to say for sure.
But in the end it works fine but doesn't offer anything we haven't seen before, in better games.

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

Mondrian: The Dice Game
tl;dr: enjoyable dexterity dice game

In this game the way you roll the dice and where the dice land is a part of game play.
You're trying to collect cards with colors on them and at the end of the game you score majorities.
Pretty simple but also pretty effective. I wouldn't mind playing this again. A perfect game for rounding out an evening of gaming.

Initial rating: 6.7/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Tue Oct 25, 2016 6:00 am
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Fabled Fruit, Brides & Bribes and Ominoes

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Fabled Fruit
tl;dr: pretty basic with a fun twist

This is a worker placement game where you gather resources that you can turn into VPs. We've seen this many times before. The fun twist is that the action spaces are printed on the cards that you turn into VPs. So you cycle through those and can even keep the ones from the end of the last game to start from where you left out.
That's a fun twist, but the game itself isn't all that special. It works very well though.

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

Brides & Bribes
tl;dr: solid design, not for me

When I got the first part of this explanation it sounded like a solid area control WP type of game. Then the action resolution was explained. And that's where I lost interest. Play this action to block the player, play this action to counteract the block, steal from that player... That doesn't fit my eurosnoot tastes. But I must admit that the game plays well and that the design seems pretty solid.
Disclaimer: I only played 2 rounds of the game.

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

Ominoes
tl;dr: enjoyable dice game

Roll a die, place it on the board. If you create a set of 4 adjacent dice of your or a neutral color, you score them. Very simple, but also very effective.
So I enjoyed it, but it's not very deep and there's not much to explore.
A nice filler to finish the evening with.

Initial rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Mon Oct 24, 2016 6:00 am
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More Spiel stuff

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
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Michelbeke
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I think next year I'll have to wear a custom shirt that makes it clear what games I like.

This year I got a cold pitch for a game that went like this

Quote:
Do you want to loose your friends and conquer the world?


No thanks, I'll hold on to my friends, I told him. That's exactly the opposite of what I'm interested in hearing about a game
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Sun Oct 23, 2016 2:57 pm
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