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Japanese and Taiwanese Games Played and Everyone Has a Great Time! Review for Emperor's Choice!

Steph Hodge
United States
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Well, it's no Ginkgopolis...

Hia Everyone!

Monday night brought lots of Japanese game to the table thanks to Joe H and his amazing connections.

First up was Hisashi Hayashi's new title Emperor's Choice. New to me!

Of course I wanted to play the latest and greatest from Okazu Brand! This game has a nice mix of auction and set collection for serious points!

There are 6 rounds in the game and each round there are a number of tiles pulled from the bag of tiles. They are a mix of tiles like travel, castles, walls, books, influences etc. They are pulled in sets and each player will get a set of 2-4 tiles depending on the auction and if you win you get first pick, etc.

Once the tiles are won they are placed out in front of your for potential in game scoring. They never go away unless there is a card that says to after scoring. Once the auction winner decides which set of tiles to acquire, they take their full turn. Get income based on the castles they have and they can spend the money on movement on the palace steps. Each step moved you can take either trust points for the emperor, or a different bonus like gold, tiles, warriors, etc. At the end of the game it is important to be higher up on this track to get lots of points. You may also buy a character of the imperial court to add to your bidding for the next auction, but might be used for other benefits or simply earn vp at the end of the game. Finally, you can recruit soliders for $1 each which is very important.

During the game when the tiles are drawn for the auction purpose, there might be barbarians that arise and you might have to defend against them at some point in the game with soliders and walls you build. They start off pretty weak so it would be silly to fight them you will likely win and gain few points, but later in the game when you have to defend against a lot of barbarian strength it might make sense since you will gain a lot more VP.

Once all players have collected their tiles and taken their turns respectively, we evaluate who has the most trust and second most trust with the Emperor. Whomever has the most trust gets a bonus and will score one of the scoring cards. There are 7 cards and they are all double sided and score for different things. Each bonus tile offers to score one of these cards and gains 3 points. But, one of the cards gives the option to FLIP a score card. This is great if you really don't want Joe H scoring 27 points off one card- you should flip it over and then it won't score. When you score a card, each other player gets to score the same card, so you need to make sure you pick the best card to help you score more points than any other player!

So all of the score cards do different things and you can certainly work on getting them best suited for you. Once it is scored it gets a token and can't be scored again until later. The hard part is getting noticed by the emperor and being allowed to score a card. 2 cards will always be scored each round and once 6/7 cards have been scored, the score tokens are removed and they will be available once again to be scored for a second time. All cards are scored at the end of the game as well with whatever side is face up.

Happy to have learned from Joe H who just gets it. he had gotten to play before this and was already with the rules, which was even better.

I knew the palace track was going to be important and I made a points to get up that track as best I could as I noticed Joe H was also doing the same thing. I think my biggest problem was taking the early trust scoring when it doesn't really matter and only sets you further back on the trust scale.

You really want the ability to score when you finally have things to score. The biggest scoring I could have had was taken away from me when the card was flipped over and then scored. I had 3 books and it was worth 15 points! But joe flipped it over and scored for having no books and with that the card says to BURN all of the books in play so I lost those points. It wouldn't have gotten me the win but it was sadness!

In the end, several cards would have been better for me had they been flipped over. Joe was cleaning up for the soldier card that was getting him around 27 points for his cards and number of soldiers in his possession. He had a card that was essentially wild or something. I don't know but it seemed insanely powerful or maybe broken. Joe H was using us since he knew how to play already. I don't think I liked the council card that Joe had, but I want to play again and see if we can fend him off better.

In the end Joe H won but I was getting on his tail. He was still 40 points above me at like 340 or something and I was just at 298 or so. The other guys were even further behind, but I was feeling good about how I played in general. I know things now and will play differently next time.

All in all I really enjoyed the game, and I want to play it again to see how it will hold up. Yokohama still has my heart for the moment and I would rather play that one. But I really did like this and need to play again!

Final game of the night was another Japanese game called Discovery: The Era of Voyage. New to me!

This game comes in an amazingly cute wooden box full of cards and tokens. I already knew I wanted it before I played it. After playing it I can safely say I want it more!

This is a cube pusher in line with other games like Splendor or Century: Spice Road. This is a different kind of game in that you are paying for addition actions on your turn or you can simply take 2 actions and move your ship to adjoining locations anywhere in the circle of cards. Each turn you will move your ship to an adjacent space and take the action on the card, then move again, etc if you want to pay for additional moves $1, $2, $3 etc.

You may take the action at each space and fulfill the location requirement to put a compass down. If you do that then next time you visit the location you will get the 1st bonus at the location and the 2nd bonus. You can have any number of compasses on the tiles, but the first 2 are the ones that matter so you could get all 3 bonuses listed on the card.

This game is all about resource collection and conversion to try and points for the majorities on the locations in the game. You really get all of your points from the winning and second place majority on the locations. Some locations have points as a level 3 reward so there is some potential to get points in game but for the most part it is all at the end of the game.

Once one person places all of their colored compasses on the board then the game will end once the round is finished. All points are added up for 1st and 2nd place with ties being divided evenly.

It is a pretty fast game and you are building up all game to do better actions on your turn and change goods to money and money to goods in order to collect compasses on the locations. It is a very cool game, which I liked it a lot. For me it fills the same need for those other cube pushers I mentioned. It comes in a small box and I want it! It is cool since there are a bunch of other location cards and you never know what you might get each game in terms of locations.

In our game Bill was crazy AP and the game lasted like 15 minutes longer than it should. I was even cranky, but I still ended up enjoying this one a lot.

I had a pretty awesome combo at the end which secured most of my points. It ended up super close with EVERYONE tied at 9 points except Joe H who ended with 11 points. He was collecting several points in game from one location space

It was pretty wonderful game that I was very happy to play. I called dibs if Joe H ever sells it. I look forward to another play soon.

Tuesday night Ron took off for a work trip ALLLLLL week!!! I got to playing a few solitaire games of NMBR 9.

This is my 4th title where I have produced a video for teaching and demoing a game. This has proven to be the most difficult of them all. I got a bunch of new equipment and I still can't seem to get the lighting right on the game itself. seriously a working progress. I ended up shooting the video twice in effort and the first time went pretty well but I wanted to correct some things and the second video went much better but the quality was all off and it is unusable. *sigh* I just can't seem to get it right, but I am trying so hard!

The games I played for each video resulted in a score of 63 which is quite terrible! But, I am still happy for my efforts. We will see if I can finally get the video thing down! Dang it is so hard!

Wednesday night I went back to it and managed to get the perfect lighting at sundown to get good colors for the overhead shot. Basically the amazing table I shoot my photographs on is really not very good for video recording since it is so reflective. Too bad! I will have to get something to cut the shine down on. For now I am just using the back of a play mat and that is fine, not great but fine.

This game I played on Wednesday was much better and everything went according to my plan and pretty well, I am happy with the result. I ended up playing better than the Tuesday night games and got a final score of 70. Still, I have done better, but it works! happy to get it done and better than before. Thanks to the Ron for getting game a bunch of stuff. We now have a long Ether cord to hopefully get better streaming so we can do some live streaming soon!

Thursday was a great day for Fun group! Riley shows up to play games with me, he said!

I was super happy Derek also backed Oaxaca: Crafts of a Culture. New to me!

Because he backed it and there was a PnP we were able to play it. Derek went out of his way to make it a pretty awesome PnP including cool figures from the $1 store!

So this game is currently on KS and we each backed it at the $100 level, cause we are crazy. But if you see it, there are these cool Oaxaca wooden figures that are included and an awesome wooden box. I think it will just be gorgeous and I am looking forward to it.

As far as the game play, it is a pretty straight forward game where there are 3 rounds and each player has a set of 5 dice to roll each round. Once the dice are rolled players go around and take actions using the dice, one action at a time which an option for 2 additional actions from the cards you might have crafted.

On your turn you can use a die to gain a new card or to remove cubes to help craft and existing card in your workshop. When you use crafting as the action with a 6 you may remove cubes from all cards that are from the 6 stack. So you are trying to get combos, but you are at the mercy of the dice too. Once a card has been fully crafted it is then available for use on later turns. Maybe used once per round unless it is an on going benefit. Some are just a wild dice action to take, which is really nice for helping to craft more cards.

As it stands it is a pretty easy dice manipulation game for a filler. The deluxe copy of the game is so unnecessary, but so cool!!! I am looking forward to it.

In our game I got a card that made it when I craft using a die of value 4, I get to remove a cube from all cards in my workshop. It seemed all awesome but, of course, I never rolled a damn 4 to make it work well. I picked up some other cards to use for bonus die actions but they all came out for me too late.

Derek was cleaning up. he had a TON of cards he was able to craft and then use and use again. Totally found a working combo where I wasn't able to find a combo at all. I needed something to alter the dice in my supply. Joe was also doing well but he was forgetting to use his frog even after all of the fighting he did to acquire the frog at the beginning of the game!

It was a pretty fun time. It wasn't as fast as I promised but we were all learning, thanks to Riley for reading the rules.

In the end Derek won by 2 points over Joe, and I was like half of his points. I just didn't make it happen with the way I was rolling. Just didn't happen!! hahaha I am excited to see the different stretch goals that we are able to acquire in this kick starting campaign.

We didn't know what to play, but we decided on playing 4 player City of Spies: Estoril 1942. It is a game I wanted to try with 4 players but I kinda knew before hand that it wouldn't be the best with 4.

You only get 3 actions with a round with the 4 player rules and it is just not enough! You can't really plan out best what you will be doing and how to move your guys around.

This game I never got a working combo. I was shocked I even managed to get 3 agents in the whole game. I kept getting hosed by Riley. Jerk!Even Derek and Joe were all about screwing me up, it seemed.

Riley didn't do well in the first round, But he caught on and used his flags to really being in the win at the end of the game. He and Joe were the only one to secure an end goal, but Riley managed to tie in the other 2 so he was scoring a bunch of points.

I have to say I do like this game but I don't think it is all that great with 4 players. You can definitely accomplish more with 3 players and even more with 2p. Then it is who handled the best 6 for the end game scoring. Cool game.

The final game of the night was Taiwan Monsters Brawl. Riley took off but we gained Jared, Joe's son for a 4 player game.

I wasn't sure I could do a good job teaching it but it didn't turn out too badly. I have to say after having played with 4 players I don't think I want to play 4 players again. I think the down time is just too long. I like 3 players since there are only 3 rounds or just duel and you will be active all game.

This game went pretty well though. I was all out on attaching Jared as he was in first place every time it came around to my turn. It really is a game all about beating up the leader to try and gain those extra points.

You can't really plan for your turn since you don't know how your board will be looking or if you will even be alive to take your turn! I was K.O.ed in the first round, so yeah I was an auto setback for me. I managed to beat up Jared at one point and get 4 extra points for my win. It was enough to gain the lead, but that also put a target on my back.

Jared ended up winning the entire game because he was amazing at rolling the 1s against me and just completely destroyed me in all battles it seemed.

It was close between the rest of us but still Jared was so far off in the lead for the win. I guess I need to bring him to the casino when he is old enough.

Saturday was game day in Salem NH, and when I got there a bunch of people were lookin to play a game. We ended up playing my newly acquired Werewords.

I got to play this at the gathering and had a great time with it. I downloaded the app to my phone and it just doesn't work as well on my phone with a loud room of gamers. My phone wasn't loud enough, I should have brought my ipad or something. I will have to play with Scott since he has all of the cool toys and speakers.

Regardless, we played 2 games and the first game I was mayor AND seer, and I picked a pretty challenging clue "call of duty"- yah my mistake, and everyone thought I was the werewolf since I am terrible at being the mayor and trying to clue people in on what the word is.

So we lost the first game. In the second game I was the seer and I actually ended up guessing the word since no one was guessing panther. They guessed all other large living cats but not panther, no one was catching on. hahaha it was silly but it was good since there were even 2 wolves and they were thinking it was the other guys. hahaha So we won that game.

It was a good time! I look forward to more plays soon.

Photobomb by Derek

Right before I was leaving my house for the game day the mail lady came and brought me a game! New game from Aporta Games called Destination X. New to me!

This is a 1 vs many to try and escape to a location on display. There are a few different ways to play this depending on how many people are in the game. We had 8 and then 9 players all vs the spy who was Riley.

Since we had so many people we had a common clue stash and we had 6 locations. At any time anyone may guess where the spy has landed. Most turns happen where the active player can choose from 1 of 4 clues to ask the spy and the spy has to answer truthfully. He has a book of all of the locations but can only choose from the 6 that are on display. When the detective takes their turn they choose from a display of information cards which might include "population, religion, agriculture, elevation, etc" there is a stack of cards and each will require the spy to reveal part about his hideout. if we selected Capital, he doesn't have to reveal the name of the capital just the starting letter. Then the detectives have to either guess where he is located or guess where is not! This continues until wither we found the spy or guess incorrectly.

Since we had such a HUGE group of people, there were a ton of people who knew or could guess accurately for each subject given. There was simply no hope for Riley to ever escape. Of course I didn't know any of the answers or have any idea. Because there were so many of us all chiming in to work together, it made it nearly impossible for Riley.

In order to win the whole game you have best of 5 and play until one side either gets3 captures or 3 escapes. Riley lost 3 times in a row and that was that. The good guys won that game!

I have a feeling with fewer people this game will be a lot harder, unless you play with wicked smart people. Most of the countries we saw on display I hadn't even heard of! But, fortunately, there is a map and you can sort of deduct what it might be like. It is a super challenging game. As the spy you have a book of all of these locations with antidotes about the various locations so you can always answer truthfully.

If you play this game enough, you will really gain a lot of knowledge, that is for sure. A lot to learn in this game. I look forward to playing again with fewer people, I think it would be best if I played the spy.

Joe R had shown up and he had wanted to play Scythe for weeks now, he has been asking. He still hadn't played the expansion despite owning it for months and months.

This game I played as the black wolves, and Joe got to play with a new purple faction. We had a game of 6 players and only Jim was learning this one so it moved along at a nice clip.

I had a slow start but I found my groove. I did one upgrade to make my mechs 2 metal costing. Then proceeded to pump out the mechs. Oddly, the last mech build was +1 speed. hmm My goal cards were good and I could accomplish them with no problem. I managed to get 4 stars down before initiating any combat. it only made sense that I end the game in one swoop of 2 victories. I was last player in turn order and everyone had even amounts of turns.

When I ended it, I think it shocked many people, but, I wasn't so sure I would be winning the game, it was my best chance though.

Turned out that I got 45 points which was the best of everyone until Joe counted his pile of pennies. He ended with 53. I gave him the evil glare. He had just collected so much in game and there was not much I could do to stop it.

Great game! This was easily the best I have played with the black wolves so there is that! I am pleased! I was also shocked to hear that Derek had never played yellow before, he got hosed. hahahaa I think he might be getting tired of this game.

Star specifically asked me to bring and teach Unfair.

It is actually not that hard of a game to teach, which is nice. we played with Robots, pirates, gangsters. I definitely like the gangster deck the most. There is one card in there that is just horribly mean where you can take half of someone's money with intrusion. You have to make sure you have protection from such craziness.

Star almost took 50 coins from me!!! That would have been a huge swing in the game. This game I got the casino and the huge hotel. I got to roll the dice and I think I rolled 4 or 5 each and every turn, it was quite remarkable how bad I rolled the dice. I never managed to pick up the offshore account, so that was terrible, but both Derek and Star had that and was making money each round. I wish!! I had so much income and I was not spending it fast enough on upgrades and cards. I am starting to understand this game better the more I am playing.

I certainly won the game because Derek wasn't being mean enough to me, and I was attacking mostly Star since he had the bigger ride at the time. It ended up putting Star in last place but only by like 10 points or so. I was about 80-100 points in the lead, mostly because I got a very large hotel and it got me like 80 points. On top of all of the money I had collected and other super attraction it was just a good game for me.

Had star stole my money, it would have been a bigger swing for me losing so many points, though It wouldn't have cost me the game though.

I think everyone liked the game well enough, I let Derek know he should have beaten up on me a bit more in the game to try and slow me down.

I have to say this game is definitely turning out to be better than I thought and I am greatly enjoying it. I look forward to more expansions!

I think I need to rate Orléans: Deluxe Edition higher, because I am more and more excited to play this game every week. I have been really loving both expansions and this week I had the pleasure of playing Orléans: Invasion.

I taught Riley and Meghan, and Derek already knows the game. But, we played a 4 player game and it was a great time!

The game is pretty easy to teach as the co-op version and I have been really loving it. It is SUPER challenging and I still have only ever won the game once. This game we weren't as focused. I was trying to help and voice my opinion on how things might work. I ended up worrying too much about helping others that I didn't even finish my objectives! I needed one more wool to be complete!

We were pretty far from winning this game but it still came together more than I was anticipating. We needed one more house and a few more yellow guys, $7, and several of us didn't finish our objectives. It was pretty close, and everyone had a good time playing which is what matters most!

It is always such a challenge! We had a lot of problem events and ended up with 2 plagues in a row and had to purge a lot of discs. This proved to be quite an issue for Derek and Meghan. Meghan had the assembly hall and had to get a LOT of extra discs in there so she was not even pulling enough discs towards the end of the game and really suffering from that. Derek was purging too many farmers too quickly and needed the additional workers later on in the game. A few things we could have done differently and succeeded a bit better, but overall it went pretty well even though we ended up being invaded!

Still an amazing game. I can't wait to play again!

The night was nearly finishing up but we got in a few more games. I had wanted to play Movable Type again since having played it only the one time with Ron.

I definitely like this game more with 4 players, but it is probably best with 3p.

With 4 players there were a lot of ties and there is not really a good way of breaking ties in this game. I think the official rule is to pull from the top of the deck and closest letter to A is the tie breaker. In a 2 player game it didn't happen much but in the 4 player game at least once a round it was required to do this. Maybe we all just could form words that were the same value, at the same time.

I definitely liked seeing the different cards show up and have more option and longing for a certain card that will never show up.

I felt I had more control with this many cards. What didn't happen was any player gaining the Author cards from the supply since we were always tied each round on several cards, even. In the event of a tie no one gets to take the cards.

I ended up winning one round! That was awesome! I think the word was Walled. I can't remember at this point. But winning a given round doesn't mean you will win the game. It is all about the last word you create and how many points you can score.

My final word was weak!!! I had a lot of common letters with the fear of not being able to get any word. I needed to be a bit more daring and take some higher valued cards for the final word.

Derek ended up winning since he had kept a few higher pointed cards! I even think he won with a score of 12 or something. Nothing crazy but it was mostly because no one got to take any author cards for those bonuses.

The hard part about this game is remembering to play it. It is in a super small card box which is easily not seen on a shelf of 600 games. I have to actively remember to pull it out and I will! I am having a good time with this word game!

Derek had been wanting to play Magic Maze for a while. Riley took it out and we played a couple games.

Meghan and Derek hadn't played before but Riley went through the rules and we played.

The first game we used the timer 2 times and we still failed to complete our mission. We had made it past the point where people were starting to exit. It was just the basic game. It didn't go so well.

Once we switched positions for the next game and we did much better even though we needed all of the timers in the basic game. We had to have a pow wow in the second game. Derek kept forgetting he was warping power and that change in direction caused a lot of confusion and forgetfulness. We still managed to win the game though.

This was the most serious I have ever seen Derek. He is usually the happiest and brightest person in the room. I honestly thought he was hating this game. turned out he was just concentrating, I guess. But he ended up enjoying the game. That's cool, I am glad he enjoyed it.

I am definitely feeling a little burned out on Magic Maze. I am happy to play it, but I think after the 12 games I have played I am ready for harder levels and more difficult challenges. You really need a group that knows the game though in order to start with the harder levels.

Still fun times!

Final game of the night was a new Haba game Riely broke out of the shrink called Burg Klettermax. New to me!

This is a very easy roll and collect game. You roll the dice and collect the same colored meeple. If you have that colored meeple already then the next person in order gets to take it and so on. Once you collect all 5 colors you get to shoot your meeple into the castle. Where he lands you get to collect treasures!

Once someone collects 5 tiles from the castle the game ends and you count up the number of pictured treasures on the tiles to see who won!

it is a very simple game and very luck dependent because of the dice you are rolling. I think it passed my turn like 4 times where I was just waiting on a specific color and I couldn't roll it.

Super cute game and super cute meeples but over all not the best playing and lasted too long since we were all simply waiting to roll the color we needed.

And besides, Riley won, that is unacceptable.

Sunday Ron came home!! Happy father's day to all of those who fall into that category!

We did get to playing several games and we started with Sagrada.

This was Ron's pick, nice and easy. We played this game with 2 bonus cards score the best one. Turns out I scored 24 with BOTH of them, and I should have said we should score both.

Ron ended up winning this game, he managed to get 3 rows for 5 points each and I only managed 2 so all of his other negatives wasn't enough for me to take the win this time. He won by 1 single point!! damn, I really thought I had the victory this game when he wasn't able to finish his window. Boo!

Ah well, simply love this game and will always be happy to play it! So many pretty dice!

Ron told me I could pick the next game and I choose Hero Realms. I really like this game and hardly think to play it. Happy I did this time though. Ron and I played 2 games and we should have done best of 3 games since we both won 1 game each. Less than Ideal, I should have won both!

In the first game my deck was a rainbow of colors and it was clearly not the way to play, just like in SR. So Ron destroyed me that game.

In the second game I stuck to Christmas with Red and Green and it came together quite nicely, even though I had very few champions in play. But I did have a wolf! It was a great game and I blew Ron up!

We have a lot of additional packs and extensions to this game and I really want to explore those further and see how it might change up the game. We will have to do that soon, but I don't even feel like I know this deck of cards yet I have only played a limited number of games. But I really do like it a lot!

Final game of the day was a VERY fast game of Hanamikoji.

I saw recently there is an expansion coming out and I will have to have it!! But it got me thinking I should play this game again soon. We only played one round this game where I was able to win with my smart wits!

I tricked the Ron into giving me the 5s so he could keep the 4s. But he gave me the option of a set of cards and he didn't help him in either way and I took the chance on the card he choose to save and ended up winning 4 influence markers for the win in that game.

I got extremely lucky with the initial draw when I picked up 3 blue 3 and first move I did was trash 2 cards then I kept the 3rd card and then basically the rest is history. Killed it!

Mwaahahaahaha Gorgeous game and so much fun, I love it!

Video for the week, I mentioned earlier! NMBR 9!! Check it out!

New to the Collection:
Destination X

Thanks for following along! I hope you have an amazing week.

Until next week!

Happy Gaming!!!


All images in this post are copyright, owned, and controlled by Steph Hodge Photography, Unless otherwise noted.
Please contact me if you would like to purchase or use my images in anyway.
Thank you.
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