Well, it's no Ginkgopolis...
The first game I am dying to talk about is Aeon's End: Legacy. New to me!
The major problem with talking about Aeon's End: Legacy is that I really can't talk about Aeon's End: Legacy. It is a cooperative legacy campaign game that plays 1-4 players. I haven't had the chance to check out the original Aeon's End game (though I must now!) but there is an opportunity to combine the games at the end of the legacy campaign. I really don't know how to compare the games at all, but I can talk about the first couple of chapters that I have been able to experience.
In Aeon's End: Legacy, you are working with mage teammates to take on the baddie and hopefully destroy him before he destroys you. Each chapter will reveal new rules, player upgrades, different cards to put into play, etc.
The basic mechanic of the game is deck building. What makes Aeon's End: Legacy different is that you will never shuffle your deck, so you should have a good understanding of what cards are coming and when. Of course, I can't ever remember the order in which I place cards in the discard pile.
There are 9 piles of cards in the Supply that you can acquire to improve your deck, much like other deckbuilding games. To acquire cards, you will spend aether, which comes from the gems that you have in your hand. The cards you will acquire will be better gems, relics that are used to help you and your allies, and spell cards that are mostly used to destroy the enemies.
The mechanic that I probably enjoy the most so far is the turn order deck. In a 2 player game, each player and the nemesis has 2 cards that are shuffled together to form a deck. So you might have 2 turns back to back, but you might have to wait a long time before having another turn, so you really just don't know what will happen.
The spell mechanic is pretty cool, too. To cast a spell, you must first prep it to one of your breaches. You will start with 1 open one and 2 closed ones. Spells that are prepped to an open breach can be cast on any subsequent turn. To prep a spell to a closed breach, you must focus it first, which makes the breach easier to open later. Spells prepped to a closed breach must be cast the following turn.
When the Nemesis has his turn, lots of bad things will happen. There are a bunch of cards that will do lots of horrible things to the mages and to Gravehold, the city you are protecting, so you have to be prepared for the worst!
There are a few ways for us mages to lose. A mage that reaches 0 life is exhausted, and if everyone is exhausted, we lose. If Gravehold reaches 0 life, we lose. Sometimes, when the Nemesis runs out of cards, we lose.
That is the general flow of the game, and I am only going into Chapter 3!
In the first 2 chapters, we were able to win! It wasn't with flying colors at all. It was by the skin of our teeth, coming down to the final turn each time. Turn order was everything, and we both cast whatever we could prep in time. If the Nemesis had another turn, we would have lost both times. Again, super tight!
Half of the fun is in what happens between chapters. You get to experience all the new mechanics being added and all the choices to be made for upgrading your character. For me, it is so much fun getting into the game and deciding how to make my character better for the team. I get to name a few abilities and cards. I didn't know what to name my character but settled on Xyrren because the letter X is awesome. I had to restrain myself not to name him Legolas. Just look at his pic!
I am also glad I got to play 2 games before writing this review. The first game was good, but the second game hooked me. It is still set up on my table ready to go for Chapter 3. I recently saw an Instagram post from Littlepinkmeeple saying how she loved it so much and finished the campaign in 3 days. Now, that is dedication! I don't blame her either! I am very much looking forward to seeing what happens!
I quite enjoyed the game Grifters and didn't even know about Grifters: Nexus until recently. New to me!
Grifters: Nexus has stunning art. I love the different colors and the noir feeling it gives me. If you are familiar with Grifters, this game will come easily to you. It plays pretty much the same except the job cards are in a pyramid display instead of in stacks.
Your goal in Grifters: Nexus is to have the most money at the end. You do this by playing specialist cards from your hand that will give you money or more specialists. There is also a set collection element for completing jobs that will give you bonus money at the end of the game.
On your turn, you will advance all of your cards one space on your tableau. Each space represents one night, and cards have to cycle through Night 2 and Night 3 before they are discarded and returned to your hand. Then you will play one or more cards to the Night 1 space. If you play 1 card, you get to perform that card's ability. You can play multiple cards to perform an available job. Each job requires a specific mix of colors to complete. For example, you might need 2 red guys and a blue leader. If you play that mix of cards, you complete the job and activate the leader's ability.
There are a lot of different abilities and a lot of take-that in this game. You will be stealing your opponents' specialists and money, making them discard cards, etc.
This game claims to play 2 players but I would definitely suggest 3 or 4 players for more laughs and enjoyment. You really can't be too serious when playing this game. If everyone at the table thinks you are in the lead, prepare to get hammered on. It is only a 20-minute game so it's fine if you are picked on a bunch, especially if you play well in the beginning.
In my play, I was kicking butt all game. I found a couple of cards that really worked well for me by advancing my cards faster than normal. Any opportunity to advance your cards faster is good so you can gain your cards back quicker. No one could really stop me until the final turn when someone stole 4 from me, which is an 8 point swing. But I still managed to win by 1 point. It was a close one!
I had a fun time playing Grifters: Nexus. Again, if you enjoyed Grifters, this will be a shoo-in for you. It can be played as a stand-alone game or mixed with the original.
Once upon a time, there was a game called Kigi, which turned into Kodama: The Tree Spirits, and now we have Kodama Duo. New to me!
I have played the other games before. I was originally drawn to Kigi for the art and beauty, and I love the mechanic of building a tree. Kodama added some extra rules and scoring cards that I wasn't too keen on. I was a bit wary of trying this one because I had such big issues with Kodama, but this has an additional designer, and I was hoping the scoring cards were more balanced.
I am always looking for 2 player games because they tend to have a low downtime ratio. And the artwork in this game is just too cute. These little tree spirits remind me of characters from a Miyazaki film. So I wanted to give this game a fair chance.
Your goal in Kodama Duo is to collect the most points. The main way is by placing branch cards, but you will also choose an end-of-season scoring card from your hand at the end of each season. At the start of each season, an event card is revealed that will change up the gameplay a little bit. You will only use 3 each game, so there is a lot of replay value.
Each turn, you will add a branch card to your tree. After you place each branch card, you will get to score for the icons on the branch that line up with the matching icons on the next lower branches. You want long lines of matching icons to score a maximum of 10 points each round.
This game has an interesting "I split/you choose" mechanic. Players alternate roles for splitting/choosing each round. Each round, 3 branch cards are dealt. The splitter will put 2 in one pile and 1 in the other. The choosing player can choose either pile and place 1 branch card in their tree. The splitting player will place 1 branch card from the other pile. Whoever had the single-card pile gets to claim a token of a matching symbol on the unselected card. This token can be placed over any other symbol on your tree, ideally connecting more of that type of symbol.
Kodama Duo is a pretty simple game to teach and play, but much harder to master. I am simply terrible at this game and the others like it. I like the cool "I split/you choose" mechanic, and of course, that mechanic was my downfall. I tended to always choose the two-card pile, so my opponent was collecting all of the tokens. The tokens were totally beneficial because you can control your paths of symbols much better.
All game I was trying to get the most points for the end-of-season cards I had. It all fell apart and I was getting only decent points for them. My opponent totally crushed me with their end-of-season cards and just killed me in the end. I got wrecked. I guess I need more experience playing Kodama Duo I haven't figured it out at all.
I had been interested in trying out Trollfjord from the Essen crop last year. New to me!
I hadn't seen much on Trollfjord since Essen, but it was still on my radar. When Rainer PiFFed it to me, I was excited to finally try it! This looks like an everyday Euro game, but there is one defining feature in this game to make it stand out among the rest: a cube tower that you get to take a gavel to! Waaaaaaaat?! You get a wooden gavel to use on a wooden cube tower to try and get the cubes to come out.
In Trollfjord, you want get your trolls onto the board and surrounding forts so you can try to claim treasure tokens from the land. Your opponents can also choose to help you with your rock extractions.
Players have to acquire a treasure next to a Level I fort, then a Level II fort, then a Level III fort, then acquire one more from any fort to trigger the end of the game. The higher the treasure value, the harder it is to claim. For example, if it has a value of 26, you must hammer out 26 cubes from the tower. The number of whacks you get to take on the tower is the number of trolls you (and your helper) have recruited for the job to a maximum of 9. So if you have 3 guys and another player helps you with 2 guys, you will get 5 whacks at the cube tower. Here's the catch - if more than X cubes of a single color comes out (except white) you will bust. X is the number of participating trolls, and in this case, it would be 5.
To attack a fort, you must be present in 2 adjoining regions next to the fort, and if another player wants to help, they also have to be in 2 adjoining regions. You can claim a treasure as soon as you whack out enough cubes. If another player was helping, they can also claim one if they can or continue whacking as long as there are whacks remaining. You can only select treasure from a region you are located in. If it is your turn, you will place your treasure in your bag in the slot that matches the fort level. If you are helping, you will place your treasure face down in your bag in the bonus area. More treasure will populate the board at the end of the turn.
The turn order works much like Thebes or Tokaido. The person furthest behind on the time track will take the next turn. What is different about Trollfjord is that a person who lands behind someone else will give everyone ahead of them a small but significant bonus.
There are 2 types of spaces to choose from on the time track. You can choose a terrain type up to 3 spaces away and then drop that many trolls into a region that matches that terrain type. Alternatively, you can choose to land of a foot space up to 3 spaces away and migrate that many trolls one space on the map (or one troll multiple spaces).
I ended up playing this with 4 players and it took a bit longer than I might have liked. It was slow going in the beginning to get all your trolls properly placed on the board. When it was my turn to finally start whacking the tower, it was totally fun. "Everything looks like a nail when you are holding a hammer," amirite? You really have to smack that tower hard if you want cubes to fall out, though other players were finding it easier to get the cubes out. I think it is better to accurately hit the tower than to hit with brute force. I just hope the tower holds out for a few more plays. Some serious indents are already happening after one playthrough.
Playing with 4 players was a good call though. You really want to have options to help other players or to get help from others when you can. Getting more whacks at the tower is always better.
In the beginning, we were hitting nice and lightly and no cubes would come out, or very few. But, as the game went on, cubes were falling out left and right. We were hitting the big treasures, I still don't know how!
I totally lost since most of the game I was off in my own world, trying to manage the treasures on my own. I didn't want to help others and I didn't want them helping me! Yah, you really don't want to tackle some of these treasures by yourself. There were a few rounds where I was just one cube short of claiming my treasure, so that was a huge setback for me!
I still had a lot of fun and will be ready for the next time I get to play Trollford. It is super cute and definitely one for the family. I do anticipate cubes being everywhere if kids are involved though. Still would be fun.
I had the opportunity to play a quick game of Robotech: Ace Pilot. New to me!
I first learned of Robotech: Ace Pilot at Origins last year, I believe. I got a quick rundown but never got to try it out. This time I got to actually play the game. It is a push-your-luck dice rolling game for 2-4 players. Your goal is to collect the most points from the enemy ships you destroy.
On your turn, you will roll 5 dice, and like Yahtzee, you can reroll dice up to 2 more times. The dice will help you acquire hero cards that will deal damage to enemies in a 3x3 grid. Each of the hero cards have different abilities and can interact well with other heroes. If you are lucky you will acquire 2 heroes on your turn to help battle the enemy ships. After a player uses a hero, that hero is out for rest of the round. After everyone has had a turn, the hero cards will reset and the start player token will rotate.
A lot of the enemies can take 1 hit for a small amount of points. Some can take as many as 5 hits before being destroyed and are worth many more points. The game will end when a number of stacks are depleted from the 3x3 grid, depending on player count.
Playing with 2 players is more my speed since the game can roll on much longer with more. There is a lot of downtime between player turns because you have to wait until one player is totally done before moving to the next. Playing with 2 players keeps it snappy and to the point. You are handing off turn order and will get a couple turns back to back, but still works nicely.
I thought I was doing well, but I still managed to lose by 7 points. I wonder if it is just luck of whoever can kill off the big ships. I seem to fight a lot of little guys but the points just aren't there for them and it doesn't seem to be enough to win. I am also pretty bad at rolling dice and I often had only one hero. That was probably my other downfall.
Robotech: Ace Pilot is a cute little game, and I would happily play it again. But I am not sure it is strong enough for me to want to request playing it.
Japanime Games has an upcoming KS for a set of 3 small-box games, and I was provided an advance copy of them to review. They are all card games that were first published by Domina Games. A recent partnership with Japanime games will allow for US distribution.
The first one I got to play 2 player and is an older-ish (2015) title called Pralaya. New to me!
I am a huge fan of the anime art style and will always be drawn to Japanese games for that reason.
Pralaya is a game where you are trying to gather the most points by collecting different relics and people scattered around a sinking island. You not only have to have the most points, but you have to get off the island too.
Each turn you will have 3 Vitality that you will spend to rescue available cards in the display. Afterwards, you will fill in the empty spaces. Most cards have no immediate effect and will just be worth points at the end. Some cards have a currency value that can be used to purchase a Veda, which grants you more Vitality, or a Dhoni, which is a boat that takes you off the island. The deck also contains water cards, which do nothing but represent the island sinking.
The game ends when all players have left the island or the island sinks and there are no more cards to gather. Players who haven't escaped by then will be out. No fear, you can buy your escape at any time, but once you leave, you can't return. The other players can keep scavenging the island for more valuables, so you don't want to leave too early but you also don't want to leave too late and miss your chance.
In the game I played, we had 5 water cards by the end of the first turn, so the island was already 1/3 sunk. It certainly makes the game interesting each time you play. I was feeling rushed since the water cards were showing up more often than not. Sooner than I imagined, we were down to 3 island spots remaining, so I decided to hop ship and escape.
I still managed to come out on top even though I escaped earlier than my opponent. I had collected a bunch of different types of cards, and I had a card that scored for having different types of cards. It was a good strategy! I ended up winning by 30 points, so about double what my opponent had.
Definitely a cute game, and I'm interested in playing this with more. I can see how playing with more players will change up your strategy and timing a bit. I like the added stress of trying to outwait the other players for that first boat off the island. You are pushing your luck on the timing of everything and it makes you stop and think about the choices you are making each turn.
Argoat is a game for 3-5 players. New to me!
I didn't know much about this game going in, but I did know it had pretty colors. The artwork just draws me in wanting more. There are also awesome bunny tokens that we can ride around on!
Argoat isn't about collecting points, nor is it about goats. It is about exploring and collecting knowledge. You need all 8 types of knowledge (it makes a rainbow!) and then be the first to make it to Eden. On your turn, you will move one space to an adjacent location and activate the location's ability. There is one location for each knowledge type, but there are also a variety of other locations that will help you in other ways.
Emeralds are the currency in Argoat, and you can use those emeralds in different ways. An exciting way to spend an emerald is to ride the huge bunny an extra space. There is also an item deck where you can buy cool artifacts that have special abilities. You can also spend emeralds to search one of the four Dark Forests to try to find Eden. Eden is hidden inside one of the Dark Forests, and you can spend a lot of time and emeralds to try to find Eden or just hope for the best at the end of the game.
If you move to another player's location, you can also trade with that player before you activate the location's ability. You can trade knowledge, emeralds, and the information you have about Dark Forests. There is a lot to gain from working with other people, but this mechanic is a bit of a turn off for me. I am not really one for semi-cooperative games where I am helping you and you are helping me. People were using it in our play and it was certainly helping them.
I was just doing my own thing and exploring the lands a lot. There is one location card that I put into play that allowed me to spend 2 emeralds to learn any type of knowledge. I did this action as frequently as I could afford to. Emeralds are not easy to come by, and that is why I kept exploring because you get an emerald each time you explore.
That is the strategy I tried, and it failed me. I didn't know what any of the Dark Forest cards were, and everyone else had perfect or near-perfect knowledge. So I was flying by the seat of my pants. I had all of the knowledge I needed, and I had a few turns to try to find the right Dark Forest. I picked the wrong one, of course. Had I picked correctly I would have managed a win, but it would have been a close call either way.
For the most part of it, I didn't much care for the gameplay. I am not into trading information and I don't much like a race to the finish. I do like the exploration and the different strategies to work around. While I didn't win, I still managed to come very close to winning, and everyone was doing very different things. It just felt a bit too long for me. I certainly wouldn't mind playing again, but I am just not sure it offers much of anything new.
The final game is called Miraris. New to me!
Before playing this game, I already knew it was going to be my favorite out of the 3 games. It has one of my favorite mechanics and that is simultaneous card selection. I love games with this mechanic, and the game is super quick, which really appeals to me.
In Miraris, you are trying to collect the most points. You mostly gain points by collecting the cards from a display. Every player has a hand of cards numbered 1-9. Each round, every player will select one of their cards to play. After the cards are revealed, the cards are arranged in order from lowest to highest underneath the row of cards in the display. Everyone who bid a unique amount will get to claim the card (or cards) above their bid. Players who bid the same amount as someone else will not be able to claim the card above their bid. New cards are dealt out for the next round, and some slots will have multiple cards if some players did not claim anything last round.
You are also given a choice of 3 characters at the beginning of the game. You will get to choose one of them and they will guide a strategy for you in the gameplay. Your character is kept hidden until the end of the game when everyone will reveal who chose who. These character cards will give you an additional end-of-game scoring opportunities. One character gives 4 random cards at the end of the game. Another gives a 25-point bonus if you have only 3 cards or a 50-point bonus if you have fewer than 3 cards. There is even one character that lets you win automatically if you collect all 7 types of cards. Well, that is a challenge for sure!
We were playing with 4 players and it was pretty fun. I can imagine 6 players being total chaos, which is fine for a 20-minute game. I like chaos, in fact! If the gameplay were much longer, it would be more of an issue. You can see the cards that you want, but you have to actively think about what other people might be going for and what they haven't played yet. My end-of-game bonus was 4 random cards from the top of the deck and I was very unfortunate with my draw. I think I got a 1 and three 2s. It could have been four 7s! I was just not lucky this time. I thought I might actually win since the other players kept canceling each other out. Turns out I was 9 points shy of the win. My poor draw at the end is what did me in.
I had a great time playing this. It is an attractive game that is easy to teach and play. Can be a filler for any time and now that I know the rules, it will probably be a 10-minute game. I will happily play and request this game. I look forward to my future plays.
New to the Collection:
Robotech: Ace Pilot
Aeon's End: Legacy
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