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Board Games

Discussion in 'Gaming and PC Discussion' started by Ash, Mar 22, 2012.

  1. Anarchy

    Anarchy Half-Blood Prince DLP Supporter

    Dec 12, 2009
    Lizard Wizard. Reskined Racoon Tycoon with a few minor tweaks. Don’t really know how else to describe it? A bit weird, because there’s no real emphasis on anything you need to do, and the rulebook is full of ambiguities. Essentially, you get to chose how you want to have your fun, and none of the point objectives seems all that balanced towards each other. If you want to buy up all the dungeon enhancing spells, you could run the dungeon every single turn for the rest of the game. And on the other hand, it’s pretty easy to grief the table, since you can start an auction for a wizard and just never bid more than one. On top of all that, the “goods” mechanism from Racoon Tycoon is still here, but it is largely meaningless. You likely only need to sell goods 3 times, once each in the early, mid, and late games. And boy, does that mid game stretch on forever. Still a fun game, but very inconsistency with the gameplay offered, which is weird since it’s not very complex. 8/10

    Dune Imperium expansion. Adds tech tiles and some new cards. Also a couple new and replacement worker spots. Still feels themeless. Like they could reskin it as the 4 Hogwarts Houses and it would play the same. One of the new spots adds in a dreadnought ship, which is cool. There’s also tech tiles, which can easily help you run away with the game. Then there’s also the trade track. There’s effects that either let you bump up the trade track, or cash in the spots you’ve advanced (there’s 4 spots - 0,1,2,3). The trade track replaces the spice trade spots, but instead of selling 4 spice for 12 dollars or however much it is, the very first spot on the track is worth 8 dollars, so very overpowered. The game has a default max length of 10 rounds, and it was common enough for it to go all 10, but these new spots are strong enough to let you finish the game in 7 (game end is triggered when someone hits 10 points), or you can easily get 13 points and lose. I think the game is more fun now, but that fun is at the cost of a balanced game. Rating unchanged.

    Tapestry (again). I’ve played this like 4 times in the last 2 weeks now, against my will (I lost the vote several times). So I’ve got a lot of reps with all the recent expansions now. And… the game still isn’t balanced. There’s not enough depth to the game, not enough different decisions that you can make, that should result in you getting 150 points in one game, and 370 in the next. And it’s really obvious when you run away with the game, because you do a single interaction that just feels powerful or plain broken, and it all comes down to drawing the right tapestry or being dealt the right civ. And for the record, I still think it’s dogshit that you’re technically not allowed to use resources gained after your last income phase, as more than a few tapestry and civ cards (and the new art cards) produce them.

    Libertalia. Not the new version. Fun little multiplayer game. Wouldn’t go so far as to call it a party game, but it goes up to 6 players, and is a reasonable length. Played over 3 rounds, though I don’t think a 4th round would be a terrible idea. Essentially, everyone has a deck of the same 30 cards, each ranked 1-30, and each card with a 1-6 tiebreaker. Everyone is dealt the same exact set of cards every round, and each card has a power, but depending on which cards you actually use, the remainder will hold over to the next round, so you’ll end up with somewhat different hands. Each round has 6 days, where you send one of your crew (card). Low number abilities resolve first, high numbers last, but high numbers pick treasure first. Each day has an allotment of treasure, and the treasure can be good or bad, but there’s ways to get rid of bad treasure. Anyways, it was surprisingly fun. I will say that if you have a bad round it’s not really possible to come back from it, and there’s not really that many ways to interact with someone who is out ahead. 7.5/10

    Doomlings. Card tableau builder? Kinda similar to unstable unicorns (which is a game I hate), but somewhat more generic and easier (not that UU was hard. You play 1 card per turn, and at the end of your turn, you draw back up to your personal card limit. Some cards effect that. All cards have a point value. Half the cards have abilities. Cards come in 4 colors, plus a neutral, so some of the abilities or point scoring are effected by that. There's also some instants and counterspells and such. Anyways, I’ve already written more about the game than it deserves. It’s possible to learn the entire game just by reading the cheat-sheet. It was ok. 6/10

    Dixit. One of those games I’ve known about for a decade but never actually knew what it was. It’s a party clue guessing game. Not my type of game at all, but it was fun for the first time. 7/10
  2. Anarchy

    Anarchy Half-Blood Prince DLP Supporter

    Dec 12, 2009
    I had some pretty long detailed reports for some of these, but I decided I didn’t need to do a rules summary for every single game that I played.

    Canvas. A card-based set collecting game. You have three “landscapes” you need to build, using exactly 3 different art cards. Each art card consists of 2 (out of 5) colors, with each color having symbols on it (theres 4 different, and they can have 1 or 2, or a bonus point for a certain type of symbol). The cards are translucent, so you lay them on top of each other to create the art. There are a series of objects you score on, and for each objective you meet you get a medal, and the medals give you points for having multiples. Only played the game twice, but it seemed like you get better rewards for focusing on the same objectives for each art card. 7.5/10

    Hadrian’s Wall. I heard of this game coming out last year, and never really knew it referred to a Roman wall in England, I though it was some WW2 game or something. Anyways, it’s actually a lot of fun, designed by the same people who made the X of the West Kingdom games.

    Anyways, I’m not really sure the genre it is, it’s akin to a roll&write but one of the other guys called it a flip&write. Take “That’s Pretty Clever” and the concept of filling in a box with a value, and getting a reward, and putting that into super hyperdrive, and that’s what this game is. The game comes with two massive pads of player sheets, like 200 pages in each, and you use both as your personal player board, using a pencil to mark things off as you spend your resources to improve your wall, your production, your infrastructure, or your civilian projects. Highest score wins. There’s more to it than that, and there’s a lot of window dressing for the theme, but I did find it quite enjoyable because everything you do is just a massive chain. It’s a bit thinky as well, given all the different options you have. 8.5/10

    Merchants of the Dark Road. Had a massive review for this, but scraped it since it really wasn't warranted. It’s a pick up and deliver game off of kickstarter. I’m actually surprised at how many of those games I’ve played, and yet some of them still feel completely fresh, and I don’t really have anything to compare it to. Anyways, it’s player over 13 rounds, you get one action per round, a placement bonus action for using your dice, and a possible mega action for using a special dice. There’s two types of goods you deliver, items to heroes in the tavern for money (based on the bazaar pricing), or points to the outer cities, which gains you prestige. Items are stored in your wagon, which has an inventory you manipulate sort of like an ARPG. The trick with the game is that both currencies are relevant, and your final victory point score is the lowest of those two values. It creates an interesting dichotomy. 8/10

    The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire. Made by the same guy who did whistle mountain and dwellings of eldervale, and you can sort of see the common influence with how you get actions on the pull back. It’s a worker placement, where you can do research, buy buildings, build powerplants, all while trying to not pollute your city too much. I found it fun, but it has a built in timer to prevent you from being able to durdle around too much. Remove the fact that a reset always removes a pollution tracker no matter what, and it’s probably a better game. 8/10

    Longshot dice game. Horse-betting roll and write based on the board game from years ago. I like roll and writes, and this is one of them. I’ve certainly played better ones. 6.5/10

    Plums. Face up, card drafting, set collecting filler game. There’s 3 phases, each phase has its own deck, each with 25 cards from 1-25, dealt out to the players (higher cards are removed if playing with lower than the max player count). In turn order, with first player being the player who played the previous highest numbered card) and going clockwise, players play a card. Those are the five cards available to draft, with new initiative based on card value ranking. The cards all have different fruits on them (there are duplicates, but no duplicate values). Same thing with pick powers. Some of them give point objectives (such as a pair, or 3 different kinds of fruit, which you can include that card in, or not), or you can steal from an opponent, get a guard dog, or get 3x “pi” boosters. Those are 1 time use cards that you can use to add 3.14 to your cards value. It actually works quite well. Anyways the game is pretty quick and enjoyable enough. 7/10

    Cascadia. Simple double drafting game. It’s played over 20 rounds. You’re creating a park I guess. Theres 5 different animals (fox, bear, salmon, eagle, elk), and each animal gets a random objective card for the game, that rewards points based on placement patterns. Like, each pair of exactly 2 bears you have gives you 2/5/9/15 points (I don’t remember the exact numbers). When you draft, you’re drafting both an animal and an environment tile as pair, and the only way to break the pair up is with an acorn. So you’re trying to match all the animal patterns, while also forming the largest connected terrain types. Simple but fun. 8/10

    Dominant Species. Bit of a meme game that I’ve managed to not play for years, but finally got brought to the table. Meme in the sense that it’s a fucking long ass complicated 6 player worker placement game. It wasn’t that bad, but it’s one of those games where the person teaching it always forgot to leave out the fine details so I got hosed a lot. That didn’t bother me, but what did was how long it takes to resolve all the worker spots, since everyone places all they’re worker pawns on the board, and they’re all resolved in order once everyone has placed. That part is extremely tedious. 7/10
  3. MonkeyEpoxy

    MonkeyEpoxy Master of Death DLP Supporter

    Aug 11, 2011
    I have to say, I haven't played any board games in over a decade, but I still love your reviews.
  4. Anarchy

    Anarchy Half-Blood Prince DLP Supporter

    Dec 12, 2009
    Brass:Birmingham. Another one of “those” games. Its existed perpetually near the top of all-time lists for years now, and we’ve never gotten around to playing it despite having access to a demo copy for years.

    None of us at the table knew how to play it, or maybe they played it once incorrectly when it first game out, so I read the rules to everyone and we gave it a go. The manual is okay, perhaps a bit worse than average. It’s not particularly long, but it’s in a strange order, such as end game scoring is in the middle and all the detail explanation of the actions is last. And a few of the rules are still sort of vague, and we ran into an edge case scenario, wondering if you can do the “scout” action on your last turn (consensus seems to be no).

    The game itself felt themeless, despite them trying their best to put in a bunch of lore into the manual. You’re essentially just building tiles on the board, and there’s 3 types of resource, of which the beer seems like the main bottleneck. The main goal overall is to just flip over more of your tiles than your opponents, and to not slack on your rail points.

    Overall, it was fun, but whether or not it is a top 10 game, I would need some more plays under my belt, but probably not.

    Questeros. Fantasy theme trick-taking game that is extremely finicky. There’s a ton of trump cards, each which has its own special ability, making it extremely rare that non-trump will ever win. They also printed the trump card abilities on a cheat sheet rather than on the card itself for some inexplicable reason. Just poorly designed overall. 3/10

    Project L. Draft card with shapes on it, collect tetris shapes to complete them, they gain points and additional tetris shapes. 7/10

    QE. Weird bidding games that relies on meta-information, meaning there’s no way you have a chance at all of doing well the first time you play. It’s a set collecting scoreboard game, plenty of them out there. Theres 15 rounds (at least in a 5 player game). There’s like 5 different countries (each player is a country), and 5 different industries, so like theres a Chinese Farm, Chinese Mine, French Farm, etc. somehow the math works out. How the bidding works is like this; current player draws a tile, reveals it. They do a starting public bid, it can literally be any number. It can be 5, 500, 5000000000 doesn’t matter. The other players than bid in secret (everything is dry-erase boards). The auctioneer then reveals who won without revealing the bid. What this means, for example, if you’re fifth player, there’s 4 bidding rounds before you, and people could be winning with bids of 10000 when the public starting bid is 5, and you would have no idea. Now the trick of it is this, whoever spent the most money overall at the end of the game automatically loses. So it’s an interesting dynamic, but the game is overall still kinda dull. 6/10

    No Thanks. Card game, where you’re trying to score as few points as possible. The deck goes from like 1 to 35, and 8 cards are removed at random and you don’t know what they are. Each card is worth face value, but “runs” are only worth what the lowest value is. You can skip a card with a token, but they’re limited, and accumulate on the card and are worth -1 each, so you have to decide when to pull the trigger and take a high point card. 6/10

    Prosperity. Tile drafting cube pusher by renier knizia, the man of a thousand games. Plays better than it looks, but my group has some worry about the replayability. Anyways, theres 4 tiles types, split into 2 groups, energy and ecology, further split 1-6 in power and cost, and further split by year, 1970 to 2030. It’s less complicated than I described it. Your player board has two sections, the main section which is where you place all the tiles you draft, and the second section that keeps track of your pollution and an energy/ecology symbol tracker. The game is all about balance, and the more powerful the building, the more powerful the cost (either energy, or ecology). Each building as a series of symbols on it, positive/negative energy/ecology, but also points, research, or cash. Tiles cost cash, and the cost either increases or decreases depending on how high your research is (the tracker goes from 1 to 6 with an increasing amount of steps per level). Your starting board has like 11-12 slots depending on if you’re playing the advanced mode or not, roughly half of them filled with started buildings with a handful of symbols. On each players turn, they reveal a tile from the stack, and read out the special symbol on it. Each player then scores that symbol on their board. If they have 1 research symbol, they bump up on one of the two tracks. If they negative energy, they either pollute or pay money. Then they take two actions and repeat. Fun, quick, easy, somehow this 8 year old game is still roughly a 7 or 8/10. Really wish there were more tiles, and perhaps tiles with dual colors on it.

    Hagakure. Trick taking game. There’s only so many of these things I can play before I really start to hate them. 4/10

    SOON: Foundations of Rome, Ark Nova, Barrage 5p + expansion, corrosion.
  5. Anarchy

    Anarchy Half-Blood Prince DLP Supporter

    Dec 12, 2009
    Ark Nova. I haven’t seen a game this hyped in years. It’s really good. It has a dual-track score tracker system similar to Brass, and it’s about as unintelligible too, and the end game scoring is convoluted. The game play itself is pretty good.

    Each player has their own zoo that they’re building enclosures in. 5 different size enclosures for animal sizes 1-5, plus 3 special ones: aviary, reptile house, and petting zoo. You take 1 action on your turn, which is done using 1 or 5 cards (identical for everyone). These cards are at the bottom of your board, in slots 1 through 5. When you do an action, you slide that card to slot 1, and the power of the action is equal to the slot it’s in. You can buy cards, play cards, build enclosures, buy universities, etc. It does share a lot of similarities to terraforming mars with the tagging system and blue/green cards.

    Overall, despite the hype and how games never match the hype, the game is really good, and at least a 9/10.

    Corrosion. This game is pretty neat. Your actions are based on cards you start with and gain more of, but it’s not a deck builder in the same way Concordia Venus is not a deckbuilder. A turn is comprised of 4 steps: 1) maintenance, 2) main action, 3) maintenance, 4) end turn cleanup).

    In the game, you’re building machines, but the theme is they rust away unless you make then with chrome gears, which are harder to get than normal gear. The main function of the game is your wheel board, which is split into 4 quadrants, 1, 2, 3, X. The wheel rotations, so the quadrants rotate as well. Anytime you gain a gear, a 1shot or turning machine, it goes into slot 3. THen when you turn the wheel, they’re now in slot 2, then 1, then X. Every time you spin the wheel, whatever is in X gets destroyed (unless it’s an engineer).

    Theres 2 main actions you do, either playing an engineer, or spinning the wheel. The engineers are all suited with a value, like orange 1, blue two, and they all have basic action on it, such as heating 2 water, gaining a gear, getting a machine, or getting an engineer. Whatever the power of your engineer is, is what sector of your wheel it goes on. So if it’s one, you’ll get it back after 1 spin, so of course the more powerful cards have higher numbers. The gimmick to this is that other players can copy your action by playing a higher level card of the same color.

    There’s 3 types of machines. The first is a turning machine. Once you buy it, it just goes to sector 3, and it activates every time you turn the wheel. The second type is a one shot machine. Once you buy it, you have to also build it by paying the gear cost, and then once it gets to sector X, it actives and gives you something. The third type are chrome machines, which are permanent machines that go on your board (though they can get covered up), that gives you all sort of powers, some of them rule breaking.

    Overall, I don’t really have anything to compare this too, except for maybe Gizmos, as you can build an engine and get pretty large triggering chains. 9/10

    Only complaint is that the medium and small gears can be hard to differentiate on a glance, similar to the copper and gold robot situation in Maglev Metro, though not quite as bad. This could’ve been solved by differentiating the colors more, or simply by putting an S or M in the middle of the gear picture

    Shadows over camelot. Cooperative pseudo role deduction board game. Everyone is a different Knight of the Round Table who has a special ability. One of them is also traitor.

    Turns are split into two parts. First part is a bad action. You either draw a card from the bad deck, place a siege engine, or lose a life. You start with 4 life, and 12 siege engines is a loss. The cards affect the various sectors of the board. There’s saxons, picts, excalibur, grails and a couple others, and the cards generally reverse party progress.

    You get one action on your turn, but you can take a second different action at the cost of a life. Your action depends on where your at on the board. You can draw cards in camelot, place a grail, move excalibur, fight siege engines, fight dragons/picts/saxons, etc. The fighting works with a card system, as half the cards are fight cards 1-5, and you have to form poker hands 1 card at time, and the card values have to be higher than the monster powers.

    I found the game to be very dull, but it goes to 7 players which is worth something. I’ve also heard that is’ basically impossible to lose, and while we came close to losing, we didn’t. 6/10
  6. Anarchy

    Anarchy Half-Blood Prince DLP Supporter

    Dec 12, 2009
    Caylus: Older worker placement game. Combine Lords of Waterdeep and Dominant Species and Great Western Trail and you have about half of what this game is. Plays up to 5.

    There’s a long line (literally) of actions you can do, and as is typical, only one worker can be placed per spot. The actions are resolved at the end of the round, starting from the front of the line. Game ends when the big white time marker (I don’t know the actual name of it) makes it to the third era or all the final castle piece is built.

    There’s 5 types of resource cubes, pink, blue, brown, grey and gold, with pink being the most common and gold being very rare. You get them from worker placement spots, or as a favor bonus (think temple track from countless other games). Theres also spots to gain money, sell cubes for money, gain initiative, build buildings, buy points, all the usual stuff.

    The board starts with a handful of neutral buildings which can be built on top of, and then board-printed buildings which can’t be, and then a whole bunch of empty spaces that the player has to build new action spots in. Green building units are income buildings, since at the beginning of your turn, you get a base income of two dollars. Each green building increases it by 1. Then there are brown buildings, which are the next level resource producers. Then there are grey buildings, which are the final level of resource producers. Then there are prestige buildings which are just worth points, and are built on green buildings. Using another person's building gains them a point, and occasionally a resource (think lords of waterdeep).

    There’s a building spot similar to architects of the west kingdom where you build a castle in stages, and it’s important to not neglect that as its worth a bunch of points and there’s bonus favor, and this also ends the game

    The most interesting part of the game is the white disc (which I also forget the name of). There’s a marker that indicates what buildings on the line can be used, meaning the building its on, and all the ones before it, are activated. There’s a worker placement spot that lets you move it forward or backwards three spots, so you have to be careful, as the building you placed a worker on could be turned off. Or you could ensure it doesn’t.

    Lastly, there’s a village spot. Whoever passes turn first gets a dollar, and then makes everyone else's actions cost a dollar more (everyone has 6 workers, and the base cost to place a worker is 1 dollar). Then the second person to pass’s disc goes next, and increase the cost by one more, etc. The gimmick there as that when that spot is resolved, those players can pay money to move the white disc again, so if you’re last to pass, you always have the final say and turn off a couple worker spots at the cost of a couple dollars. It’s a bit mean, but it’s an interesting dichotomy, though you can kind of see it coming.

    Anyways, I had fun the couple of times I played it, and would definitely play again. 8.5/10.

    Foundations of Rome. This game is not at all what you would expect it to be. Or maybe it is. It’s the typical KS game with quite literally, hundreds of minis. It looks like an intricate Roman city builder. In a sense, that’s what it is. But disappointingly, that’s all it is. It’s a massive, expensive game, where each player gets their own tray with like 50 building miniatures in it.

    There is a chess or battleship-esque game board, in a grid from A1 to like J12 or something, and you can lop off sections based on player size. There’s a deck of cards, each card has one of those grid spots on it, and each player starts with a handful to use as their starting locations

    The game is split into a couple of eras, and on your turns, you get a single action from a handful of actions. You can buy a card from the card row, with the standard of cards being more expensive the farther down the line it is. When you do that, you place one of your building reserve markers on the indicated grid spot. You can collect money, there’s a base amount plus what you get from your buildings. Or you can place a building on one of your reserve spots

    There are 3 flavors of building in many different sizes. There are points, population, and money. There are also a bunch of sizes, anything from 1x1, 1x2, to all the various tetris shapes. The bigger buildings are more powerful, but there are fewer of them, and they are harder to get out. For example, a 1x4 needs you to own a line of 4 spots on the grid, and that might not happen until later, or someone might intentionally sabotage you. However, you can always upgrade a smaller building into a bigger one, assuming you have the spots on the grid.

    The population mechanic feels kind of arbitrary. Essentially, it’s a secondary score tracker, and at the end of each era (i think there’s 3?), whoever has the highest population gets bonus points, while everyone else, assuming they have more than 0 population, gets points of the next highest person. It’s a lot of work to end up +2 points overall, but over 3 rounds that could be all you need.

    The money buildings add to production, and the more money you have the more options you have when buying spots on the grid. Some of them also give bonus points during the scoring round, and the production turns into even further points in the final round, since you also get the money production during the scoring round.

    The scoring buildings are what the game is based around. They give you points based on the surrounding building types. So like a 1x1 will give you 1 point per 2 population in the adject buildings, while a bigger one will give a better ratio, and be able to touch more buildings. People can sort of see this coming though, and can always upgrade buildings into something completely different, and the same goes with the points building, so there’s some slight strategy.

    So yeah, overall the game feels like it’s barely a step above Sorry or Monopoly, with the usual Kickstarter miniatures price tag. It was fun, but for such a large game, it’s like 45 minutes of light strategy, which is perfect for some people. But this is totally not the kind of game I was expecting it to be (thankfully I’m not the one who bought it). 7/10

    Air baron. 25 year old tycoon sort of game. Honestly, I though this was about WW1 ace pilots, as that’s the sort of game the owner of this game would have, but it’s actually like a plane game, similar to Pan-am I guess. You start with nothing but a couple dollars, and slowly buy airports and planes.

    There’s basic mode, and advanced mode, but we only played the basic mode. The game board has like 15 different regions (“Hubs”) on it, with each hub having somewhere between 1 and 8 airports connected to it, as well as some foreign flights. Controlling the majority of the airports in a hub is “dominance of it” while controlling all of them is “control”

    On your turn, the following things happens. You determine if you’re going into wage wars or not, then you draw two tokens from the cup. Each token is what airport or hub scores money that round. Then you take your action, which you get one. You can buy an airport for the cost written on it (which is also how much money you get), then you put the token into the cup, which can now be drawn on subsequent turns. At the start of the game, the only tokens in there are the hub tokens, which scores you the high value if you have control of the whole hub, the low value if you only have dominance, and $3 if you only have an airport(s) but neither control nor dominance.

    There are also foreign flights. To buy one, you must have at least one airport in the same hub (and you lose the flight if you lose the local airports). The token also goes into the cup, and you get money when it’s pulled, and I think the high value if you control the hub. There’s also a concord you can buy (max 1 per player) that you can purchase for any foreign flight without needing a local airport, which you can never lose control of.

    There are normal jumbo jets you can buy. I think they are $10 (I’m writing this 2 weeks after I played, so I forget exactly). You can either buy them directly for an airport, which doubles the value of the airport, or you can put them in storage. There’s also a token that goes into a cup for the first 3 bought, that when pulled, gives out $5 for each plane to the plane’s owner.

    Takeover. You can stage a hostile takeover of another player’s (or even a neutral) airport. You pay normal cost for neutral, and twice the cost for another players. Then, you dice battle. Each player gets 2 dice, highest total wins, tie goes to the defender. There’s a whole bunch of modifiers. Jumbo Jets are worth +2. If you have a jet in storage, you can deploy it to the battle, so it’s possible both attacker and defender has a +2 from a jet. The losing jet goes back to storage and the winner stays in the airport. You get +1 for each hub you control that is connected to the hub (which could also be that hub you’re defending). A foreign route is worth +1 (though it might just be for the concord, I forget). Being in Wage Wars is +2 for offense, +1 for defense.

    Wage Wars is the crux of the game. You select if you want to go in or out at the start of your turn. While in wage wars, you get the aforementioned roll bonus, but you also earn NO MONEY. Turn order resets ever round, so ideally you want to save up a lot of money, and/or go into wagewars if your near the end of initiative so you don’t lose out of potential earlier money, but ultimately it’s mostly just luck. Now, the trick with wage wars is that it works best if you’ve saved up a lot of money and have multiple jets waiting in storage The gimmick is that it’s a push your luck mechanic. With a normal takeover action, you only get to go once, win or lose. In wage wars, you can keep going until you lose. It’s not even a push your luck mechanic, if you have a ton of money, you can just keep going after as many airports as you want. However, it does feel really bad losing out on tens of dollars multiple rounds in a row and just rolling garbage even with a ton of modifiers.

    Game ends when one player hits a scoring threshold determined by player count. Each hub is worth a certain amount of points depending on if you dominate or control it, and then your money counts towards it as well. So there’s a bit of a balancing act where you’re essentially spending victory points to try and score more victory points if you’re successful in your takeover.

    Honestly, this game was better than I expected, especially for a 25 year old game. It dragged on a little bit as everyone made their move to push to first, but we all had fun in our first game. It’s not the most complicated game, but there’s definitely some strategy, and probably even more in the advanced mode, though obviously a fair amount of luck as well (though the game is long enough it should average out). 8.5/10

    I managed to play Ark Nova again today as well. I like it but honestly I don’t think it’s going to make my top 5 list. Just a lot of little stuff that I don’t find intuitive, or just outright annoying. Just some things that feel like last minute addendums to try and make the game work properly, but then you have an entire multipage book filled with card clarifications.
  7. Anarchy

    Anarchy Half-Blood Prince DLP Supporter

    Dec 12, 2009
    Been awhile since I've last posted, but I haven't stopped writing about them in my document.

    Star Wars: Outer Rim; Unfinished Business expansion. It’s a modular expansion (from what I was told), so you can play with what bits and bobs you want. You probably want to play with most of it.

    -extra market cards. This is a plus, as the previous market decks were small, and kinda boring. However, they’re still kinda boring, and it feels like the stuff I wish I could get just doesn’t really exist in the game. The market refresh can now be done twice on the same deck, though maybe it’s always been that way and I’ve only just noticed.

    -new characters. Always a plus.

    -new planet contacts. These are orange, and I think most of them are the playable characters that you can now get as crew members, so they’re more powerful and harder to get (or just more expensive).

    -”favor.” In an attempt to increase the social aspect of the game (and to tone down how luck based the game is), you can now haggle with other players to get temporary bonuses, such as a skill tag or combat buff. There’s also a favor disc that you can give out that can be cashed in without refusal. Overall I don’t think it really does enough and I still saw people failing some of the jobs 5 turns in a row with everything stacked in their favor.

    -ambitions. There’s like a bonus objective thing you can do so it feels like you’re playing a story rather than just collecting VP like in Xia. I kinda hated it.

    -Shortcut. There was a shortcut added to the map, so you can go from the left side all the way to the right without having to travel 30 spaces or however many. Perhaps my favorite addon to the whole game.

    Overall, it’s an improvement. However, this is a game that I’m slowly starting to dislike, and my first play with the expansion did not change that. It’s like every time I play, I hate this game 5% more than I did last time. I’m at a 70% right now. I think my main problem is that while it’s a fairly simple game, it’s really slow. Sure, my playgroup hasn’t played it 100 times and doesn't have everything memorised, but we’ve played it like 8-10 times. But the market deck is constantly changing so you’re constantly having to keep track of what’s available, and reading the jobs takes more than a few seconds, and some cards reference the card library, and then there ship cards to look at, and now there’s haggling with favors, and then when all that’s done, at the end of the turn they still have an encounter they can do, and a hard job can be like 5 parts long, and then at the end you can still roll that 25% chance of a blank and have it all be for nothing anyways. Honestly, this game isn’t that much different than the Firefly game, so I’d rather just play that.

    Russian Rails (+german rails) Interesting little worker placement game. Round timer, so it doesn’t overstay its welcome. You have several different rail lines, and your travel distance is based on your train strength, which you upgrade throughout the game. The rail lines have bonuses, some are points, some unlock other, more valuable rails. I forget the names, but theres 5 types of rails, the starter rail isn’t worth anything, but the next rail is like a point per rail, next 2 points, then 4 points, etc. The game is very generous with points, and you can end up with like 500 quite easily. There’s a few other things to keep track of, but thats the gist of it. 8/10

    Libertalia new edition. There’s a new tiebreaker mechanic called reputation, and two new loot items, a hook, which retains a ship character until your next round, and another which gives you a point and increases your reputation, and the sword is no longer just killing adjacent characters. There’s a lot of new characters as well, and there's 40 cards and I think the original only has 30. Still kinda of a basic, boring game, but passable because it plays 6. Mostly meh.

    Carcassonne. A classic. I’ve only ever played it on xbox arcade like 15 years ago, so it was nice to actually play the physical game. There was some mix up because there’s been several rules revisions. Lots of expansions too which can keep it fresh. 8.5/10

    Living forest. Recent award winner, and holy fuck is this game booooring. It’s a push your luck game, combined with a deck builder. A card gives you action strength through symbols, so the more symbols, the stronger that action. You can do 2 actions, unless you bust, in which case you get one. Main issue is that there’s only a handful of actions (buy a tree, put out fire, move, buy cards, I think, so 4?), and the turns get waaaaaay longer the longer the game goes on because you have to do a lot more counting and recounting. 6/10

    Attila. Old area control game. It’s quick and plays 5, so thats a bonus. You’re playing on a map of the mediterranean broken up into like 25 areas, and there’s 6 different colors, but they’re not player colors. There’s a prestige tracker board with a track for each color. There’s 4 scoring rounds, each round is triggered when the last battle token is placed for that round. In round 1, there’s 1 token, 2 2 tokens, 3 3 tokens, 4 4 tokens. There’s a deck full of cards of each of the six colors. On your turn, you play a card, put a meeple of that color onto the board following placement rules, then raise your prestige of the color (1 spot for 1st round, 2 for 2nd, etc). A battle happens when 5 meeples are in a spot. Then, in turn order, you can play cards from hand as reinforcements, but only if that color is in the spot. Then, whatever color has the fewest meeples loses and is removed from that spot. A battle token is placed, meaning no more meeples can be placed in that area, so they’re just there for points. If it’s the last token in a round, scoring happens. Each color is evaluated. The highest prestige in each color gets points equal to the amount of that meeples colors on the board. Second place gets points each to that amount of areas that have that colored meeple. There is some sabotage opportunity, because if you stack 5 meeples of the same color in one spot, a battle will happen and they’ll all die. The one time I played it, it was fun enough, as it’s not a typical area control game. 6/10

    Rajas of the Ganges. Worker dice placing game. There’s a board with a bunch of worker placement spots, but your dice are workers . You also have a personal board, which you collect village tiles. There’s 2 types of symbols on the tiles, one type has four buildings corresponding to your building power track, and the other is a goods type (with a value). When you build a tile (which has a dice cost, both in color and number), you get points equal to your building power of that type, and money equal to the goods (been a month so I forget the exact mechanic). On the board, there’s a market where you can get money, either a set of one each, or all of one, so if you stack up on one you can get a lot of money. There’s a river track, which you need to spend 1s, 2s, 3s to progress, and they all give you placement bonuses. Then there’s all the usual worker placement spots, ones to raise your building power, ones to give dice, ones to exchange dice for the other colors, stuff like that. There's a dual point track very similar to Ark Nova with the same scoring Really fun games as I like dice placement games, 8.5/10. (since writing this, I’ve played it again, and I now think it’s a 9/10)

    Eclipse, second play. It’s really hard going into a game knowing it’s going to be a minimum 4 hours. But we did. It’s one of those games that’s almost too simple for what you want in a game, but simultaneously too long. It’s not too complicated, but we haven’t tried the advanced play yet. I messed up the rules because I used all my action discs on the final turn, without knowing that when I conquered someone, I couldn’t place them. I thought I could just take them from my used actions by default, but no. What usually happens is last turn everyone just attacks, and it’s a bit of a clusterfuck. So what end up happening is I conquered someone completely and couldn't place any discs, and as a result, I would've been better off if I just did no actions on my last turn. Game just feels like I’m perpetually bottlenecked on everything, and if you explore and get a bad tile, you’re kinda fucked, while other people are getting free medium cruisers. So in a sense, it's unbalanced, and unintuitive, but still sort of fun.

    Vindication, second play. See above. Except the setup can be as long as the game. The game lasted an hour because people kept claiming the bonus color tokens and that was one of the end game conditions, like one guy bought all 4 of the red ones for a total of like 12 points when the next highest had 2 or 3 so there was no point in doing that at all, so it felt like we were getting griefed, accidentally, but still annoying. I won’t let one (or now, two) games taint my perception of it, but it wasn’t that fun. I like my games to actually last.

    Root. Sort of a meme game in the same vein as twilight imperium. I found it to be extremely underwhelming for the cult status it has. Each player is an animal (think Redwall) and they have their own special abilities and resources they spend to do the same handful of actions as everyone else. That’s part is pretty good. Base game has like 4 factions, and the expansions add a bunch as well as raising the player count. The map is a forest with a dozen or so designated clearing types, and each player has a unique setup. Each players turn has the same structure, but they’re done in different ways. Like, the cat gets 3 actions a turn while the vagabond is flexible, and depending on the gear you acquire along the way (though if no one is crafting and trading, it’s going to be tough.) What was underwhelming for me was the actual gameplay loop. The setup is pretty ridiculous and some of the colors have like 100 pieces and you’re just spamming them into play every turn, and the actual combat is just rolling two dice with the occasional action card. 7/10

    Mosaic: a story of civilization. There are an endless amount of civilization builder games. However, not all of them are just a reskinned Terraforming Mars, which this sort of is. Plays six, which is a huge bonus, and once everyone knows how to play, it’s not too long, and it’s not too complicated. There’s a hexagonal map of the mediterranean, broken up into 7 regions, not too special. You seed the map with like 200 chits which are placement bonuses (some are trade goods, some are instant goods, some are production bonuses). There’s a tech deck with 5 showing, a population deck with 2 showing, a city deck with 6 showing and a tax/tariff deck with 2 showing. There’s 9 wonders that you can build (no statue of zeus, but library of alexandria, the colosseum, and stonehenge). There are also civ achievements and golden age tiles which are end game points, and you should definitely keep track of which are available that game.

    Each player gets a tray full of 100 miniatures, or a bunch of cardboard tiles if you didn’t get the KS version. You also have a production board, left side is your five production tracks, a storage section at the top, and the right has your trade good slots. To start, each player places a starting city in order, while in reverse order people chose their starting leader. This is essentially your corporation as it gives you starting resources and production, and a related power. Like, the engineer gives you a bunch of stone production, a small amount of ideas, and the bonus is everytime you build a city or factory town you get a stone production. The philosopher starts with all idea production and a free tech. Each player also drafts five starting techs and play them or save them for later.

    You have 7 or 8 different actions. In no particular order; 1) production. Pick one of your three main productions, produce that and add your population. 2) Build a city. There are cards, or you can do a generic. 4 types, towns are free, cities are 4 stone and 2 population. Getting 2 population early game can be ridiculously hard, which I found out with the engineer. Cities can go anywhere, and towns have to go next to cities. Ports go in the port hexes. Building a city puts 5 or 10 dollars into the tax. 3) population. There’s different cards with different costs, like 5 food for 1 pop, 30 food for 4 pop, so early game if the expensive ones are out, it can be rough. 4) tax/tariff. Pick one of the cards, follow to the formula for the bonus money and take the tax money. They give unrest, which is negative VP at the end of the game unless you cancel it out. 5) tech. All the tech cards have tags on them, 9 different types. Some of them have tag requirements. They do tons of things, increase production, free cities, free military units, edicts, end game scoring, etc. costs 5 ideas. 6) military. A solider is 5 dollars, and by default you can make a max of two. You have to place them in a region you have a city in. You can also move soldiers into an adjacent region for a dollar each. 7) government. There are 6 government types. Different costs, different requirements, different end game scoring points. You can only have one, but I think you can buy a second and put your original back up for grabs. You can also use it to wipe one of the card offers once per game. They give point strategies 8) build a wonder. First once costs 20 stone and 5 food, each additional is +5/+5 more than the last. They give end game scoring strategy. Colossus of Rhodes gives 2 points for each city in the region, for example. Bonus) if you qualify for a golden age or an achievement, you can just take it. The golden ages are all identical, have 6 of the same tag to get 6 points. Achievements require like 15 stone production, 60 dollars, 12 population, threes a bunch.

    Scoring and end game. There’s 2 ways to end the game. The first is through the cards. Each of the 4 deck has an “empire scoring” card somewhere in the bottle third or half. Three of the 4 need to be drawn. Empire scoring scores all empire scoring cards (such as your government) and then you score each region by control. City and wonders are 2 points, towns and soldiers are 1 point. First place gets 3 points plus a point per city and wonder in the region. Second place just gets 2 points. Do that for every region. Alternatively, the game can end when 2 or 3 three tile piles are claimed (wonders, golden ages, achievements). Then, there’s final scoring where you get points for everything on the board, and various other stuff. On first playthrough, I found it interesting enough to want to play it again immediately (though we weren’t actually crazy enough to do that). It has a lot of the same strategical elements of TFM, where you can create your own path to victory and follow it along. Preliminary rating is a 9/10. (-edit, I’ve played 4 times now since I first wrote this, and It’s still a solid 9/10. Runs into that problem where game length is extremely variable, and an early finish through getting tiles is kind of lame for how much setup there is. Always feels like it ends too early, but with 6 players, it can still be a long chaotic game anyways)

    Planet Unknown. I’ve been seeing this float around for awhile as a pre-order, always been a bit putoff by the box art… but then I saw that it plays 6 and doesn’t take forever. It’s a tile drafting planet colonizing game. There’s a double-rowed lazy susan that you load up with polyominos of size 2-5. Each piece has two different terrains on it. Each player has a double-sized planet board, one with a standard size same as everyone, and an asymmetrical side, with a gimmick. You have a production board with 5 tracks. The start player selects the position of the lazy susan so they can get their choice, while everyone else just has to deal with the option of 2 pieces presented in front of them (picks and placing is simultaneous).

    When you place a tile, you go up on both of the corresponding tracks, assuming you place water on water. Solar panel is semi-wild. There’s game alter technologies and extra scoring opportunity cards. You also get points for completely rows and columns on your board, and from collecting meteors and lifepods with your rovers. All in all, we all enjoyed it a lot, as drafting is a fun mechanic. I just wish some of the asymmetrical sides were explained better. 9/10

    Endless Winter: paleoamericans. Another one of those games that I’ve seen up and coming for awhile, and would never buy for myself.. Like many games, its less complicated than it looks once you learn what all the symbols do, but there’s still a lot of different things going on. It’s a deckbuilding actiontaker vaguely in the same vein as Dune Imperium

    Each player has a playerboard that you unlock bonuses on as you remove pieces from it. You also have food and axe production limits. There’s 3 main sections in the game; action board, tent board, monolith board. Each player gets a chieftain which gives you a special bonus corresponding to one of the 4 different actions, which sort of serves to give a loose strategy. With the chieftain, you get 2 more meeples, so that’s 3 actions you do per round, and there are 4 rounds. Essentially you do 12 actions and you’re done, which on the surface doesn’t seem like a whole lot turns, and it’s not.

    Theres 3 parts to your turns. The first part is you play a community card, which is generally a bonus, so you’ll want to have them. The second part is all your actions, then the third part is the eclipse. End of the round you draw 5 cards, so you want to make sure you have enough cards to last 3 actions and resources as well (but theres plenty of bonuses to be gained)

    There’s 4 main actions, and a rest action. Each action has 3 parts. You have the infinite action, which you can do as many times as you have resources, the “main” action, and the bonus action which you get if you’re the first person to go there this round. There are various costs associated, axes, food, or “labor” which can be spent playing cards from hand, or more food. If you use cards, you then get their bonus actions, some of which also require you doing a specific action. Off the top of my head, the 4 actions are hunting, card getting, other card getting, and tents.

    First card getting are for your actions cards, There’s 5 different flavors, and each flavor is the same; there’s like 15 of each card available. There worth points as well. The infinite action is capped at 5, since you can get 1 of each of the 5 flavors… its really strong action as you’ll want to replace your weaker starter deck cards. One of the parts is also an “exile” card action similar to any number of other deck builders, except you get points based on how many cards you exiled and your position on the exile card tracker chart, so essentially you remove them from your deck but not the game.

    Second action is the community card spot plus getting and end game bonus rock scoring thing. If you can get a good community card and play it several times, it can be strong, and you can play more than one per turn by discarding cards. The rock gives you a scoring condition, such as have X amount of dead red animals.

    Third action is camping. The tent board is a hex tile randomized thing, and each tile has bonus, most of which happen in eclipse phase. There’s also a minor territory control aspect. You can place tents at the center and move them, and if you manage to get 3 tents next to each other , you can swap them out for a village on the vertex which is double control points and other tertiary effects. There’s also a Terra Mystica style downgrading system, but only when you acquire the bonus, so if you can a monolith you can downtrade for a card, the card for a track bump, that for an axe, axe for a food.

    Hunting. Animals give you points, or you can kill them for food. It’s set collecting. I actually won because I did a hail mary and collected a dozen animals in the last round and scored like 40 points.

    Monolith board you go to when you get the monolith bonus. Square pieces that you place and get a placement bonus. If there’s a 2x2 setup, you can place one on top and score. In the rare instance when those are in a 2x2, you can go on top again and score that layer too. You get 1 point per piece and the owners get 1 point per piece. TBH it feels like a tacked on game element.

    Eclipse happens once per round. You store cards on your third action that you want to use for the eclipse, and then everyone gets their eclipse bonuses from those cards, the tent board and player board. Whoever spend the most labor gets first on the initiative track.

    There’s more to it… but I found it to be a bit ponderous and finicky. I like how there’s different strategies you can do, but they’re pretty obvious and handfed. Not a game I’d go too far out of my way to replay. 8/10

    Verdant. New hotness, I guess. It’s to Cascadia to what Lizard Wizard is to Racoon Tycoon. I found it kind of tedious. You only have 13 turns, but on every turn you pick a tile pick a card, place a card, place a tile, do bonus actions, calculate leafs, refill card, refill tile, refill greenthumbs. I was exhausted after playing it. 7/10
  8. Anarchy

    Anarchy Half-Blood Prince DLP Supporter

    Dec 12, 2009
    Weather Machine. Designed from the same guy who did On Mars, meaning very complex. I first saw this game in pre-design, getting ready to launch on kickstarter really early on in the pandemic, and it finally got shipped out a few weeks ago. It a well-oiled, finally crafted, tight resource management, worker placement game. Honestly, explaining how the game works would take like 2k words So I’ll just say it’s a 10/10

    Magnate. City development game. You buy land, build buildings, attract tenants, collect rent, all while hedging your bets against when you trigger the market collapse, afterwhich everything is forcesold off for basically nothing. You can sort of tell when it’s going to happen, and when one person starts selling off, everyone should, because it’s sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy when it happens. 8/10

    Hellenica: The Story of Greece. 7 player game, which is basically why we got it. It’s a 3.5x city-building game set in greece, with the .5x being exploration. The building action mechanic is pretty fun. The battle mechanic is kinda boring - it reminds me of 1775, just dice depending on the troop type and quality, highest number rolled wins. There’s random events that spawn mystical beasts, which we got 0 of in our playthrough, so thats kind of a fail. There’s also objective cards to trigger the end game, and those aren’t particularly interesting. And there's god powers, which have weird timing and the manual (which is meh) basically just says do your best with. Slightly underwhelming in play, overwhelming with mechanics stuff in, 7.5/10

    Hamlet. Village builder tile placer. Fairly straightforward game, but it’s fun. You get 2 workers to start, but can get more (which you should probably focus on first). All the production places create shared resources which other players can cash in, which is neat. Felt a bit short, as the goal is to build the church which isn’t too difficult. 8/10

    Carnegie. Didn't hear about this game until a bunch of people did end of year rankings and had it at the top, and it’s amazing. Worker placement business empire game. You expand your company, gain new recruits, increase your transportation network and build new cities across the country. The R&D and production aspects of the game are very good. It’s fairly complex, but the rules themselves are very straightforward, no edge-case stuff like there is in Hellenica. The resource management is a bit loose, which is fine, because even if you get skunked out of an action, it’s not the end of the world and it’s not too hard to get everything done that you need to get done. Maybe if everyone is more experience and can be more aggressive with the chosen action (first player chooses the action everyone does in the round), then it can be cutthroat, but the basic strategy seems straight forward. In two plays, I’ve noticed that movement is undervalued, and no one builds new departments past their first, but both times the donation board ended maxed so I’m not sure if that means anything. 10/10
  9. Quiddity

    Quiddity Headmaster

    Apr 14, 2014
    New Zealand
    My copy of Frosthaven arrived ten days ago. My partner and I have played four scenarios plus the tutorial-esque scenario with a friend. So far, I'd give it an 8/10 - definitely improves on Gloomhaven in several key features, interesting mechanics and a more balanced card pool, and a lot clearer and sharper instructions.

    My one complaint would be that the addition of an Outpost phase (meta-scale town-building) and additional resources has added complexity and time without really paying off in interesting decisions. But we will see how the season develops.
  10. Fenraellis

    Fenraellis Chief Warlock

    Dec 29, 2007
    In the Comfy Chair
    I finally got the opportunity to play my copy of Aeon Trespass: Odyssey, which arrived about a month and a half ago. I had to travel for a little over a month, then went back to work almost immediately after I returned. It's the game I've been most eager for among those I've ordered.

    It's a boss battler with at least half of the game being the narrative campaign and map exploration portion. The setting is a sort of post-apocalyptic (in that the Gods were killed by Primordial beings) Ancient Greece. The players control characters referred to as Argonauts, who themselves 'pilot' (after a fashion, through a sort of neuro-link) 30~40 foot tall Titans that are tamed/controlled by helmets, and engage in combat with the massive (several times the size of Titans) Primordials. The narrative is mostly focused on the journey of the city-ship Argo, rather than the individual Argonauts, but you do also have an emergent narrative regarding discovered memories. The Argonauts were found on the ship by other people, and were in something similar to cryo-sleep before they were awoken in response to the Primordial threat.

    There are significant narrative and exploratory split potentials right from your first decisions in the main Cycle. I'm not counting the Learn to Play prologue, but it does also have you make choices, with relatively more minor impacts.

    Anyway, while it's certainly a beast to unpack and organize, and I've barely dipped my toes into the campaign (on Day 7 of up to 80 days for Cycle 1 of the 3 Cycle Core box), I've been enjoying it quite a bit. Not something I would recommend beyond 2-3 players for most groups, though, due to the potential of early character death (or rather, Titan death, as the Argonaut characters that 'pilot' them are rarely at risk of also dying) in the combat encounters.

    I won my first couple of fights, albeit with multiple Titans near death, but made a tactical retreat in my third battle, after two Titans died and the others were likely one attack from being killed (and they both had circumstances that would have made their deaths more punishing). I did take a mock turn after I retreated, and it turns out I would have won if I had not retreated, but oh well.

    In the end it seems it was well worth the two year wait. It will take dozens of hours to complete the campaign, though.
    The few people (only 3, so far, since it delivered to people in early to mid December) on the discord server that have finished it, reported at least 125~150+ hours, and that 125 (126) hour person didn't really delve into the optional side content available.

    A 10/10 for me so far, but I could understand some consternation due to the unfortunate need to come up with your own storage solutions for tokens, and if you sleeve more than just the shuffled cards, they won't fit into core insert. I just got a set of cheap jewelry boxes, which perfectly fit the tokens with two boxes, and fit into the game box without issue. I'll use the extra boxes (it was a set of 8) for the Cycle 4 & 5 content when it delivers, and for their next game, Kingdoms Forlorn. The latter of which is a more character-focused narrative, and an evolution of their enjoyable combat system.

    I have a particular fondness for narrative campaign games, though, and may have too many on the way, though. I say "too many" in the context of time it would take to play through them with other people. If I only played weekly (well... mostly weekly, knowing plans fall through), I probably have close to a decade of games. I've already accepted that I will have to pick some to play solo, even if I prefer experiencing these games with others, if I want to get through them in anything approaching a reasonable time frame.
    ... then again, a decade is only a decade, right?
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2023