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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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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
Michelbeke
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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
Michelbeke
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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!
Belgium
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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!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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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!
Belgium
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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HOPE, Glüx and 3 Wishes

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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HOPE
tl;dr: cool movement system, challenging

Co-ops aren't really my thing. I don't dislike them, but they're not my favorite thing. But I'm always up for trying new ones that look different. Especially if they are set in space!
This game features a hex board that represents a universe made of cubes with 3 different gravity planes. The way you have to navigate these different dimensions is cool, different and a challenging puzzle. Especially since you need to make sure you are being efficient or the timing system will beat you up pretty fast.
We lost our one play but found the challenge enjoyable.

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

Glüx
tl;dr: run of the mill family friendly abstract

Ingenious and Qwirkle have shown that family friendly abstract strategy games can be fun and enjoyable for eurosnoot like me. So I'm always looking for games that fit that same niche.
This game tries to do that, and doesn't fail, but it doesn't stand out either.
It's also mostly tactical, not all that strategic.
It was OK, but nothing special

Initial rating: 6.2/10
BGG scale: 6/10

3 Wishes
tl;dr: meh

Swap some cards until you have the perfect set and declare victory. That's it, really.
I guess it works fine with kids and stuff, but for a gamer it leaves a bit to be desired.
It's not a bad design or whatever, but it's just a bit too basic.

Initial rating: 5.5/10
BGG scale: 5/10
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Sun Oct 23, 2016 11:23 am
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Order of the Gilded Compass, Kingdomino and What's Up

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
Michelbeke
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Order of the Gilded Compass
tl;dr: the same, maybe different?

I have played Alea Iacta Est twice when it came out. I don't remember much about it, but it was enjoyable, that much I do remember. Apparently I wasn't all that impressed as I only gave it a 6.5/10. I must say that I enjoyed this game as well and it did feel rather familiar, but there also where some elements that didn't ring a bell. So I guess this game is not a straight re-theme, but more a re-implementation (OK, I admit, I'm too lazy to look that up). So I enjoy the different strategies offered by the different locations that require different ways of playing the dice.

Initial rating: 6.7/10
BGG scale: 6/10

Kingdomino
tl;dr: run of the mill tile laying game

In this game players bid for 'domino' tiles and place those in their 'kingdom' to score them. But they're not really domino tiles, they're just tiles with 2 landscapes (sometimes twice the same) and you have to have at least one side of those tiles match an already present tile. You score the size of each group of identical landscapes by the amount of crowns on them. Simple and effective. And rather enjoyable. But not very deep and it doesn't really offer different paths to victory.
So fine to play a couple of times, but nothing more than that.

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

What's Up
tl;dr: memory, but as a game

I don't consider memory to be a real game. It's a memory exercise. What's Up does add just enough rules to make it into a game as it's not just memory, it's also a set collection game.
It's easy, has pleasing art and it's extremely inoffensive. It's also still memory, and that's why I didn't enjoy it that much. But it's fine, and does what it promises.

Initial rating: 6.2/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Sat Oct 22, 2016 6:00 am
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Rhodes, The Networks and Burke's Gambit

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
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Rhodes
tl;dr: better than expected

In the past The Game Master has put out some solid games, but their own titles have always fallen short from greatness. Opera initially felt really solid, but after a couple of plays a big flaw surfaced and it was a disappointment.
So my expectations for this game where not too high, but I hoped to be surprised. And I was. Of course, I've only played once, but this felt really solid. It plays well, it seems like there is room for different strategies to work.
The only thing that has me a bit worried is the way the end game snuck up on us. It's probably just a first play issue, but none of us where really prepared when it happened, and some scores where really hurt by this. But I expect this to not be an issue with repeated plays.

Initial rating: 6.9/10
BGG scale: 6/10

The Networks
tl;dr: one of the better in the genre

So far I've been mostly let down by games in which you have to make movies or television programs. But this is one of the better ones. The rules are clear and clean and the is some nice planning going on.
I must say I enjoyed playing this game.
The publisher is really proud of the graphic design and art. I can see why, it's stylized and has a distinctive style. But I'm not a fan.

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

Burke's Gambit
tl;dr: I'm not sure this game works as it should

This is a social hidden trader game where, at the start of the game, no one knows who the infected player is, and the traitor wants that infected player to survive until the end while the other players want him out. Sounds good.
The way you select actions is by taking a die from a bag and rolling it. The result tells you what action to do, but you get to choose on who you do the action. You can also re-roll if you want, except if you roll the 'get closer to earth'. If that is rolled 3 times the game ends.
In our first game the first 3 rolls where that result and the game ended before anyone knew who was what or who was infected. A game shouldn't allow this to be a possible situation.
So we tried again. In this second game someone found out I was infected and that I was the traitor. This was then confirmed by someone else. The only thing I could do to save my chances of winning was to die so the infection would jump to someone else. Then I could win as a dead player. But I never got the rolls to do that, and there was nothing I could do to stop me from losing.
So that sucked for me, but the other players didn't find it very engrossing either.

Initial rating: 3/10
BGG scale: 2/10
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Fri Oct 21, 2016 6:00 am
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Adrenaline, X nimmt! and Dice Stars

Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
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Adrenaline
tl;dr: fast paced killing spree

OK, now games with killing and stuff are not my thing. Except when they are. And this one works for me. Pick up some weapons or power. Shoot some opponents. Reload your weapon. Simple and fast. This is what the death match mode in the Doom: The Boardgame expansion should have been.
So while this is not really my genre, I had a good time playing this and would happily play again. Good design.

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

X nimmt!
tl;dr: mind bending variation

6 nimmt! has been around for over 20 years and is regarded as a classic with good reason. This game takes the same mechanism, but adds a step between the taking of cards and the adding of the cards to your score pile. And the result is great. It adds a lot of new things to keep in mind and strategically playing a low card to take a row is now a much more important aspect of the game since you not only have to look at the bull heads on the cards, but also their value.
So I would recommend this. It's different enough!

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

Dice Stars
tl;dr: Qwixx in space!

There's more and more Qwixx rip-offs and this is yet an other one. Roll some dice and cross off some stuff on a score sheet. At the end we score every item and make the total. So nothing new here, but it works great and the dice selection and the stars are a very nice touch.

Inirial rating: 6.8/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Thu Oct 20, 2016 6:00 am
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