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

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Gentes, Glory to Rome and Zooloretto Dice Game

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Gentes
tl;dr: Spielworxx does what it does well

This game has a nice, fresh take on both worker placement and the action point allowance system. The way it does this is that you select an action, but in stead of placing a worker, you take a tile associated with that action. You put that token on your time track together with time tokens. The amount of those depends on the action. If you have to place more than one you get a choice of multiple single ones or double ones. The double ones take up less time this turn, but stay on there for 2 turns. So do more now but less on the next turn. This creates lots of fun dilemmas.
But it's not just that. These mechanisms are integrated into a tight albeit a slightly dry engine building game where you get resources to build buildings and acquire cards to expand your abilities.
All in all: good stuff for the heavy euro lover.

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

Glory to Rome
tl;dr: great but you have to live with the luck

This game is sort of a predecessor of my all time favorite game: Race for the Galaxy. OK, that game was build on the foundations of San Juan, but it did one main thing very different: the huge amount of different, unique cards. Glory to Rome also has that, and cards that can be used in a lot of different ways. It allows players to explore a ton of different strategies over a big amount of games. Of course, just like in RftG you have to work with the cards you get and adapt your strategy accordingly. So there is a certain luck factor that you have to live with. And the buildings that can end the game early can be annoying for other players, but that's easily fixed.
I have the 4th edition that comes with the flashy colors. It's ugly as hell but it's also extremely functional. I don't think I've ever played the black box edition. It looks nicer but I'm not sure it's as clear.
In any case: good, exciting game!

Rating: 8/10
BGG scale: 8/10

Zooloretto: The Dice Game
tl;dr: fine

This game applies dice to the classic Coloretto mechanism. And it's very basic. Place dice with animals on trucks or grab trucks. Score points for grabbing animals, unless you take too many of the same kind, then you score negative points.
It's simple and effective, but in this day and age where we are flooded with dice games where you cross off things on a score sheet, this one is not one of the best. It's fine.

Rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:56 am
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Valletta and Pandemic

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Valletta
tl;dr: solid engine builder

This game is an engine building game that also has a deck building aspects. now deck building is a sort of engine building mechanism by itself, but this game also adds buildings on the table that determine what resources you can generate. The combinations of these elements works very well.
On your turn you get to play 3 of your 5 hand cards, then you refill to 5. Cards that you gain during your turn go into your hand. Both those things are small tweaks to the standard deck building stuff we're used to. They work well for this game. There's also a timer element with a meeple waling along a track, but there are other things that can end the game. I think in most games one player will build all their buildings.
Every now and then you could end up holding cards you can't use. If you're having 'build' action cards and you don't have the resources, then you'll be forced to waste your cards and actions. This can be bad and could put you at a disadvantage. Good planning advised.
I quite liked this and hope to play this again.

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

Pandemic
tl;dr: a huge success with good reason

I remember this game being announced. There was NO buzz. I was working for a distributor or Z-Man titles at the time, so I ordered just a couple of cases. I had requested pre-orders from shops, there were very few. The day the games arrived though, the game was sold out. So I contacted Zev to order more. He had sold out. He told me he had printed 3000, a very normal print run at the time. So this game went from no buzz to THE hype of the moment in no time. And it seems to still be growing, with all these variations and expansions coming out.
In any case... I've never been a fan of co-ops. And I probably never will be. I don't hate them, but I just prefer some healthy competition. That being said, I think this is still my favorite co-op (of the ones I've played, duh!). I think it has the perfect balance of amount of rules, play time and complexity for all experience levels. Most co-ops have some variation of the if-this-happens-resolve-this-random-event-card-mechanism. Pandemic kind of has that with the epidemic cards, but other games like Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island have way more of that. If feels kind of like a lame way to throw problems at the players to me. But the (sparce) way it is implemented in Pandemic is perfect. There's only a little bit of it, but the tension it creates is great.
Also, this game is pretty streamlined and usually takes less than an hour.
All in all, very good, though not my favorite.

Rating: 7.5/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Mon Aug 14, 2017 2:13 pm
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Wombat Rescue, Fuji Flush and PAX

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Wombat Rescue
tl;dr: a bit too long

A game about spreading your poop cubes for more efficient movement? What the hell? This game is just one huge open doors for lots of puns during play, so that can be fun. And the game itself is certainly not unenjoyable. You have strategically spread your poop so you can move around efficiently to get your babies home before the other players complete their four runs.
The game did outstay it's welcome a bit. The way the game is set up is that 2 babies are at equal distance from the home base, 1 is a bit further, 1 is a good amount further. Getting to that last one is pretty difficult. I think the game would be served well by removing the 3rd baby so you can go directly from the first easy ones to the difficult one. That should shave off some play time and do away with the let-me-do-the-same-thing-again that starts happening as the game goes on.
I haven't tested this though, but I think it could be a good improvement.

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

Fuji Flush
tl;dr: pretty effective

This is one of those typical simple colored-number-card games of which you can find a million. But it's also stupidly effective. It reminded me a bit of Linko!. What cards to you play when to block the other players? But in this game you can work use what other players have played to be more effective while also letting the other players profit with you. So it's a game of give and take.
Sure, there is a big luck factor. If you get all the high cards, you will probably win. But still: a good amount of fun!

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

PAX
tl;dr: pretty effective

Wow, this game is 6 years old already! But it's still worth playing if you ask me.
This is a majority game, where you want to have more of different kinds of cards than Rome. And having lots of the same kind also gives you benefits. But you also want different kinds of cards as that also gives you points. Or do you become the Primus Conspiratus and help Rome defeat the players?
This game combines a number of simple mechanisms. Everything fits together very tightly and comes together very nicely.

Rating: 7.3/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Thu Aug 10, 2017 11:13 am
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Ponzi Scheme, To Court the King and Magic Labyrinth

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Ponzi Scheme
tl;dr: well, now this is different!

How many games have a mechanism that will make sure at least one person goes bankrupt? This is the only one I know. That's actually the end game trigger: one or more players go bankrupt. This is archived by having VERY high interest rates on loans. And you need loans. Some of them are over 100% and there is no way to pay them back. So the only way you can stay in the game is by being able to lend more than you have to pay. And as the game goes on, that becomes harder and harder, because the maximum amount you can borrow can very easily be exceeded by your interest payments if you don't pay attention to how these start accumulating.
I thought this was pretty cool. None of us really had any idea of how to play, so we all just tried some stuff. I'm still not sure if you're better off going for higher amounts sooner or not.
Definitely worth a try!

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

To Court the King
tl;dr: a race to the top

This game isn't completely balanced. There are 2 or 3 players that have chance of winning until one player gets the queen, and then that person is almost certain to win. Other players might not stand a chance. But I'm fine with that, because rolling all these dice and using your abilities just is a fun puzzle, and there is still tension in what players get to the tipping point first, leaving the others behind.
So not the perfect strategic dice game, but I really quite enjoy this for what it is.

Rating: 7.3/10
BGG scale: 8/10

The Magic Labyrinth
tl;dr: good fun memory game

I'm usually shit at memory games, but if they're spacial, like this one, I do quite well.
This game has a hidden labyrinth that you're trying to explore (and remember). This being a kids game, the rules are very simple and there is a good dose of luck, but I still enjoy the challenge.

Rating: 7/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Tue Aug 8, 2017 9:29 am
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Tramways, Tower of Babel and For Sale

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Tramways
tl;dr: good, rather heavy but too many rules

I'm not sure why, but this game just has a lot of rules. It doesn't really feel like that when you're playing, that's relatively straight forward, but explaining it does take a fair amount of time. More than it should, was my feeling.
This is a route building game, and I enjoy those. There's also some pick up and deliver thing going on. A bit like Age of Steam or Railways of the World in fact.
One thing that did bother me, was that the game can be broken from the setup, and there seems to be no fix for that. I ended up only having yellow and green cards, so I could never deliver to red (for lots of points) or blue (to get cards to expand my abilities). We remedied this on the first turn by swapping one of my cards for one that gave me red, and that helped, but still, my opening cards gave me very few options.
Other than that, I think the game works fine and it's heavier than I expected.

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

Tower of Babel
tl;dr: OK majority game

So this is JAMG (just another majority game). Play some cards, get some wooden bits on the board and at certain points score for majority.
There's also a kind of set collection mechanism going on with the tokens. If you have multiple of the same kind, you score points for them. More is better. This is where the main draw from the game comes from I guess, since you can get tokens on other players turns by playing the merchant card. But if you do, they're less likely to choose you as contributing partner.
It all works well and there's some nice push and pull going on as you'd expect, but this game doesn't stand out in any way. A very average Hans in Glück game.

Rating: 6.5/10
BGG scale: 6/10

For Sale
tl;dr: holds up

This is such a cool little game. First you use money to auction checks, then in the second half you use those checks to blind bid for properties of different values. It's so simple and effective. The fun of course comes from knowing who is holding what checks in the second half and anticipating when these might come out. Sometimes people save them for later and only crappy properties come up.
This all comes together very well in a game that will keep on hitting the table for years to come.

Rating: 7.5/10
BGG scale: 8/10
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Thu Aug 3, 2017 2:19 pm
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Clank!, Fleet Wharfside and GemBlo Q

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Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure
tl;dr: fun, light deckbuilder

This is a mixture between Dominion and an adventure game. The deck building is very standard but it does use a mix of fixed cards and a moving row of available cards. Also: some cards are not bought but defeated (like in Thunderstone).
The adventure part has you go in a dungeon, encountering obstacles, finding valuable items and making sure that you make it out on time.
There is a big luck factor in what items you turn over. If you're looking for a certain type of item and you never turn it over, tough luck.
While you play your cards, you might make noise, this makes the dragon angry, and he might hurt you because of it. So managing the amount of noise you make is an important part of the game.
This is quite enjoyable, but it is very light. This is not a deep strategic game.

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

Fleet Wharfside
tl;dr: fine

Gather resources, fulfill contracts to score points. Not new, but done well or in an interesting, different way, it can be enjoyable. This game doesn't do anything exceptional, but it does work pretty well. There is a nice balance to find with the order of doing things and timing your stuff right. When do you take new contracts? When do you score contracts, loosing the special ability they grant? Or do you simply take the resources you want now before someone else snatches them?
It all works well and is enjoyable, but no new ground is broken here.

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

GembloQ
tl;dr: the same but different

The original Gemblo wasn't that original, it took Blokus and changed it into a game with hexagons. That was an improvement, since it can be played in a balanced way with 2-6 players, where the original only works well with 4.
This game kind of takes a step back: it's Blokus with a few twists: the grid is at a 45° angle on the board, leaving some half squares at the border. It also makes the board smaller for 2 or 3 players with a way more balanced result than Blokus. And then there are these pieces that have triangle shaped half square on some sides. This is a game changer as it allows very nifty play in some situations.
So while this game doesn't change that much from the game it's based on, it does improve on Blokus in a number of important ways.
I think I still prefer regular Blokus, but this is pretty cool as well and since I only payed €6, this was an excellent deal!

Initial rating: 7.2/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Wed Jul 12, 2017 2:55 pm
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Airships, Hansa and Manila

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Airships
tl;dr: not earth shattering, but it works well

This game from the designer of Puerto Rico is nothing like that game. This is a streamlined, pretty basic, family friendly strategic dice game. It's also an engine building game. A bit like To Court the King I guess: use dice to expand your possibilities. But in this game the possibilities are a bit more basic. More dice or convert certain dice into dice of a different color. Stuff like that.
It's a dice game, so there is a good dose of luck of course, but if you choose your battles well, and build a good engine, success has a higher possibility of being the result.
I quite enjoy it, but it certainly is not a game that stands out in any manner.

Rating: 6.7/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Hansa
tl;dr: elegant

How cool is this? A trading game in which there is only one pawn for all players combined. The position where you end your turn directly influences what options the next player has. Now this means the amount of planning you can do ahead of time is limited of course, but that's not really an issue here as the options are also limited: move, buy goods, convert into points or build a trading post. This game does quite a bit with very few rules and components. Just as one would expect from Schacht of course. The result is a very tight and pretty tense game that feels neither too heavy nor too light.
Very efficient and elegant.

Rating: 7.2/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Manila
tl;dr: nice, but a bit more control would be nice

Each round players spend money to place followers in locations they hope will give them more money than they invested. Then dice are rolled and stuff happens. This can lead to pretty tense situations, but for the most part stuff is out of your control. If you're fine with that, this game can be good fun. If not, you might end up mostly frustrated.

Rating: 6.6/10
BGG scale: 6/10
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Mon Jul 10, 2017 12:29 pm
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Lorenzo il Magnifico, Condottiere and No Thanks

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Lorenzo il Magnifico
tl;dr: solid euro

This game introduces a new novel mechanism I don't remember seeing this before: dice in 3 colors are rolled. These determine the value of the 3 workers in corresponding colors for each player. And, this being a worker placement game, influences what workers can be used where, as different locations require different minimum values of workers. Of course there are ways to mitigate the luck involved. Pretty cool.
But one cool mechanism does not make a great game (there are noticeable exceptions of course). But on top of that, there is a very solid though pretty standard engine building game.
So all in all this is a solid offering. The biggest knock I have on it is that the artwork won't be to everyone's taste, and that the price is pretty high of the box contents, especially in the US reprint.

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

Condottiere
tl;dr: nah, not for me

Yeah, some games just aren't made for some people. This game is not for me.
The main mechanism is: play cards of different values. Whoever lasts the longest (has the highest value at the end of the round) wins a region. Win enough regions and win the game. The problem I have is that the game simply is too unpredictable. I guess that is what many people like about this game, but having cards that can bring a 10 point card down to 1 point and take away any chance you had at winning. Quite often you have good cards and throw everything you have into a round because it seems you can't loose only to find out that you wasted everything on nothing because of a chaotic card that you knew could come up, but you have to try something, right?
So yeah, not for me.

Rating: 4/10
BGG scale: 3/10

No Thanks!
tl;dr: still excellent fun

This game is so simple you wonder how someone can come up with it. Having so few rules and still having an engaging game, that is hard!
In any case, I just love the tension of taking risks in this game. Do I take this big card and make up for it in chips later, running the risk I can't complete a series of cards? Do I go for an other round, hoping to pry a few more chips from other players, running the risk one of them is out of chips?
This is as good as minimalist games can be.

Rating: 7.5/10
BGG scale: 8/10
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Thu Jul 6, 2017 2:20 pm
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Capital Lux, Keltis and Archaeology The Card Game

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Capital Lux
tl;dr: better than I expected

So, to start: the theme is completely pasted on. You play numbered cards in 4 different colors, that's the real theme. Doesn't bother me though, it's rather engaging.
The game is pretty basic: numbered cards in 4 colors. Either play them in front of you or in the center. The goal is to have the highest value in front of you (color majority scoring) but not to match or exceed the value of that color in the center. Playing cards in the center also lets you perform the special actions that are tied to every color.
So yeah, that is pretty basic, but it just works very well.

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

Keltis
tl;dr: solid, but I prefer Lost Cities

When this came out, I had been playing Lost Cities for a while. I like that game a lot. Getting to play that multi-player is nice, but Reiner made some changes. And in most of those cases I prefer the way Lost Cities did it.
The ability to play the cards in either order is more family friendly, but I quite like the idea of knowing that the other player will have to play in the same order as you
Playing the hand cards adds so much tension because it ups the stakes. What if you don't get the cards you need to get above 20? The punishment in Keltis for starting a new color is not nearly as big.
The addition of the stone collecting seems a bit like an afterthought.
That being said: this is still a solid game, I just don't enjoy it as much as the short, fast, clean Lost Cities

Rating: 7/10
BGG scale: 7/10

Archaeology: The Card Game
tl;dr: good, but a few cards mess it up for me

This game has some cool ideas. The different types of artifacts have different values and payoffs. There is also tension for scoring your stuff before you loose it. But that's part of my issue with this game: the impact of the thiefs and, more so, the sand storms, can be pretty big and can potentially cost you your victory.
The thief isn't that useful as for the player of that card it is not better than randomly drawing a card from the deck in most cases. The sand storm can be pretty bad when the same player keeps on drawing those. It means that player has less chance of building up something to score before loosing it (that was me in this game).
I like the basic idea behind the game, but the random factor is just a bit too high for me.

Rating: 6.3/10
BGG scale: 5/10
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Tue Jul 4, 2017 3:44 pm
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Covert and World's Fair 1893

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Covert
tl;dr: solid strategy game

Roam the board, gather intelligence and stuff, manage your cards well and solve cases. In essence this is a resource gathering and order fulfillment game, but they tried hard to give it a good amount of theme. I thought they did a reasonable job.
Also, the way in which the worker placement part works and is executed is quite effective and can give nice tension. In what order do you take your actions? You might want to do a certain action before the other players to make sure you grab something first, but that might make an other action less efficient.
I quite enjoyed playing this, but at the same time, nothing about the game blew me away. It's competently made, but it doesn't stand out, unless maybe you care for the theme.

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

World's Fair 1893
tl;dr: surprisingly good

This game looks pretty basic, and sounds very middle of the road, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Managing your cards well, going for the right majorities, using the special actions of the certain cards... It all falls into place very nicely and offers a surprisingly deep game. Now, this is no Terraforming Mars of course, but it is a good deal deeper than I expected.
It plays fast, it has simple rules and has depth. For me, this hits the sweet spot for these kinds of super fillers

Initial rating: 7/10
BGG scale: 7/10
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Tue Jun 20, 2017 1:45 pm
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