RSS

Category Archives: Board Games

A game that essentially provide a board to play the game or centralized it;s activity within the functionality of a board.

Top 10 Board Games in 2017

I’ve played a few 2017 release games, not many but enough for me to rank up the top 10 games. Though it’s not really justified because of the log plays and other stuffs but it’s my top 10 (from my opinion). Feel free to disagree and discuss. Here are my top 10 list in countdown order

#10. EX LIBRIS
Lets start with Ex Libris, the board game for librarians (or anyone). It is a worker placement game in the setting of arranging books in alphabetical order. The theme is unique (though not that really attractive for gamers and to be honest I also didn’t have this game on my radar at first. But once I realized that the game has different unique workers (with special abilities and unique shapes), I started to find out more. Upon research I found one unique worker that made me just “wow”! It was gelatinous cube (which unlike other wooden meeples, it is a cube made from plastic resin in a transparent green color). That made me want to get the game. I bought it though it was quite expensive for what it’s worth. Played it and turned out it’s a simple game. The goal is to build / arrange your own library of books. In order to do that you need to get the books by assigning three of your assistants to different locations. You need to arrange them based on alphabetical order, the stability of your shelf and your collection of prominent, focus and banner books. I found the game to be somewhat a race to collect books but rather multiple solitaire in form and without tense or climax. I do have some grimes about the game, though those are still acceptable.
25487370_10156127875604873_6248553094304610261_o

#09. DICE FORGE
This game is very innovative. It’s not the first that uses dice customization mechanic, it applies the same concept from older game called Rattlebones, which players can swap sides from the dice to get different effects. The dice in Rattlebones seemed like a side mechanic not the core of the game, but here they made that as the core of the game. Players will constantly roll and modify their dice. It has a very beautiful box cover (oh yes I have to mention it). The game is simple and plays rather quick (30-60 mins). On a player’s turn, all players roll dice and get resources. The active player either buy a card or buy die faces. The game ends after a number of rounds and the final scoring takes place. The dice use innovative system and have great quality materials. There are some strategies to go for in the round, most of the cards are useful and important if you can get them all compatible with your strategy. The game is very suitable for casual players, newbies and gamers alike. It would be better if they gave a small lever to remove the dice’s face, because without it, I sometimes find it difficult or hurting my fingers.
26910134_10156196683224873_4538731467921806905_o

#08. LONDON (2nd Edition)
I haven’t try the first edition but it was already on my wishlist / radar for quite a long time because of the designer alone (Martin Wallace). I like Brass and some of his games, so this one is also interesting to try. Luckily I had not get the first edition when this one was released. In my opinion, the second edition has a very artistic cover artwork, if not the illustrations on the cards are already beautiful. I like the game very much, it’s a tableau building game with a twist. When I tried it for the first time, I felt a classic Euro game within this game and it’s a very good thing. It’s been quite a while to get that classic feeling from Euro games nowadays if you know what I mean. It’s simple, has easy rules and simplified components, but the game offers depth decision making and strategies. Of course the replay values seems low due to the nature of the cards (all of them are used in a single game). I wonder if the game has randomizer system like deck building games, where not all cards are used in a game. This one definitely a keeper.
23736205_10156048857809873_2648516706418314865_o

#07. NEAR AND FAR
After Above and Below, Near and Far was one of my two anticipated games from Red Raven Games (another one is Empires of The Void II). It claims to offer more depth to the strategy and exploration aspects of the game instead the storytelling in Above and Below. I felt intrigued, Above and Below is great, it gives immersion to the game play with the storytelling aspect but that is it, it’s a bit too simple for my gamer’s soul. So having another game with the same spirit but offers more complexities and depths with different variants of game play, my expectation was high. For this game’s sake, I bought the game a bit pricey and to be honest I was a bit disappointed. Don’t take me wrong, the game is good, it’s interesting and I would still enjoy to play it in future to come. But I expected more from this one, the campaign system doesn’t really rewarding from play to play, aside from the story, players in the end just compare / tally points from all maps. Not sure there’s a connecting story from one map to another and character / player progression, though there’s a skill / talent that can be purchased, but I think it’s not that much big of a deal from scenario to another. And there’s a character progress variant, haven’t try this one, but I don’t think it offers enough to significantly increase the game play experience. But of course I like this one better than Above and Below, still offers deeper and more complex game. I like how Ryan considers the adventurers’ compatibility to be played with Above and Below.
24254775_10156070204849873_5287695750633674197_o

#06. RAJAS OF THE GANGES
For me Village was good, just good. But it didn’t leave me such impression that I should own the game. So the designers then released Rajas of The Ganges, which also gave similar visual appearance with this one, classic Euro games. At first I wasn’t really hooked on the game, but I decided to give it a try. My biggest concern was the racing mechanic. Yup, of of my most undesired mechanics in a board game, racing game. This game though it looks like the usual Euros, this one hides that racing scoundrel in those two point trackers (fame and money). Though it seems that players collecting points throughout the game, the reality is that these points are just progress. Yes the ugly truth, you try to get your two markers on the tracks meet or overlap each other in order to win. This will trigger the game end, although there’s a possibility for other players to catch up that would lead to tie breaking to determine the winner. But when finished my first play, I was hooked, not very hooked, just ok hooked. I like it, interestingly engaging and feels like Euro engine building, maybe because of the tile laying, dice rolling, worker placement and set collection aspects that overshadowing the racing element, who knows. The important thing is I feel rewarded when playing this the game, that’s what makes me to like the game. This game feels very similarly like The Voyages of Marco Polo, though it’s quite different.
23737933_10156048845364873_8170546454337876690_o

#05. PULSAR 2849
I had to include this into this list and kicked out Flatline to eleventh place. Just managed to play this game in early January and I was very surprised on how good this game is. It has very simple and common mechanic that can be find in other games, but the combination and formula make it a perfect and interesting game. The dice drafting and initiative order are brilliant, with interesting ‘exploration’ aspect in the game where you place stations throughout the the star system and claim pulsars. How the designer balanced the dice selection is so damn amazing. In general you will want high value dice, but to gain them you need to pay with energy / initiative markers. These two aspects are important and giving away loosely for higher value dice would really hurt you in turn order and energy bonus aspects. More of it, deciding which die not to take also affecting players in during action phase because players can copy the leftover die using a bonus die. Played the game back to back and even I was lost to my wife, I was so furious and couldn’t figure out how to win it, I want to play it again and again. Try with different number of players and different strategies. There are so many actions in this game, even how bad your dice are, you can always take actions. Gyrodynes are important, it’s the soul of engine building from the game. Though other things could also help you. The tech tree and goals would determine game’s objectives. The game is played in 8 rounds, with each round players will choose 2 dice per player. This means basically each player gets minimum 16 actions plus potential 8 actions from the bonus die. The implementation of the bonus die is kinda unique, since there’s a limitation that a player can only use at max a single bonus die in each round, but the source to get it and actions to use it are so many. And looking back, this game was designed by Vladimir Suchy, the man behind Shipyard (Last Will if it matters), one of our favorite games (me and my wife). For this we expected at least this could match Shipyard, and turns out, it is way better than Shipyard for me.
27164135_10156234996264873_7552254862961834520_o

#04. THE 7TH CONTINENT
Okay I had a very high hope for this one, backed the Kickstarter project of the first edition instantly. I was hooked with the storytelling concept of the game. The game is likely similar or adapt the same concept like T.I.M.E Stories, where players must figure out the case / or you might call it as scenario / puzzle to be able to finish the game (successfully). There’s an element of surprise in the game which is no longer a surprise once you finally able to experience it. Unlike T.I.M.E Stories, this game lies heavily in cards as main components while T.I.M.E Stories also involves dice roll for success check. Card laying exploration game that form the map and action cards that come into the game with hand management mechanic. There’s a push your luck element too as the success parameters for actions, which is very simple and traditional but looks quite interesting. Though once you finish / complete a curse the replay value just almost gone, the thing is that to complete one curse you need to play it several times. You will figure out where to go and what to do after consecutive plays, this gives you play logs for just one curse. And my biggest admiration to the game is the amount of story related element that was poured into the game itself. It perfectly grabs the feel of the game and how it can feel different in each play because of the ever-changing environment. Of course there are fixed things, like the map. That place will always be there forever, not gonna change from play to play. But the event or situation will be different, maybe yesterday you met a grizzly bear, today you find what’s left of that bear is only it’s corpse. I find this element to be very interesting. You wouldn’t know what lies ahead. Of course it’s not perfect, I found some flaws in the game, but it still a very good game.
21414874_10155854695019873_39352064166166043_o

#03. LISBOA
Here is another Vital Lacerda’s games that worth to be praised. The Gallerist was the first game of this scale that made me want to collect His series, like Vinhos. Now I own three of them. Not a fan of the publisher (Eagle Gryphon Games) with their KS projects, but hey I still admire their production quality and standards and also Vital’s amazing games. Though I struggled to like Vinhos (maybe it’s because of the theme), turns out I like Lisboa. It’s not tied with The Gallerist in my opinion, but of course the number one is still Kanban. Unfortunately it’s not in the same series as Lisboa and the likes. There are so many things going on in this game. I had troubles with my first play, dissecting the rules from that rulebook. I must say that it’s not the best rulebook I ever encountered. But finally it paid my efforts full. Love the synergy of the game, the visual presentation is stunning, though it might be overwhelming to some point. This is by far the most beautiful Lacerda’s games aesthetically in my opinion. But I think it’s not really thematic. In this game, players will try to be the best influential noble who contributes efforts to rebuild the desolate city of Lisboa from the triple disasters back in the day. The game is long as usual, around 3 hours play with 4 players. It’s broken down into 2 ages where players will need to rebuild stores and public building, trade routes, relationship with prominent figures and also the church / cardinal as well as producing goods. Unlike The Gallerist, Lisboa is more focus on card plays, the tableau building by building your portfolio is really essential. There’s no worker placement mechanic as it is found in The Gallerist, though by looking at the game components, there are workers / meeples. Just like most Vital Lacerda’s games (I think all of them) the game consists of simple actions. During your turn, choose to play a card. That card can be played differently, either play the card into your portfolio or to into the Royal court. If you choose to play it into your Portfolio (tableau) you resolve the effect first and then get to choose one of the two available action, trade with the nobles or sell goods. If you choose to play it into the Royal Court, you can visit a noble’s office or sponsor an event. When visiting the noble office, your opponents may follow the action. Each action may provide certain benefits for you to gain prestige points in the bigger picture or longer run instead of short term or immediately. Player interactions are tied in the building site and ships where they will compete or look for opportunity to score and claim the best choice.
The components are definitely top notch as expected from Eagle Gryphon Games, thick card board material as a standard, nice linen finish cards and amazing-working plastic trays that hold the components inside the box, one issue thing usually occurs is that some complaint their player boards are bowed, must have something to do with the dual layer finishing.
25488113_10156127878994873_5189232137833069521_o

#02. ANACHRONY
Oh man, I love everything about this game. I own the Leader Box from KS and it’s huge as well as heavy. It’s definitely a big game, fully loaded with many great components inside. Lets just say that it is a box of delight. I was one of the backers that immediately jumped to back this KS. Mainly because it’s from Mindclash Games. I was very satisfied with their work in Trickerion. After took some research on the game I was immediately on board. I love the theme, it’s deep heavy Euro game with strong theme. Totally epic. There aren’t many games with this theme. It fulls of cool stuff like exosuit miniatures, variable player powers, interesting time travel mechanic, the use of multi-layered workers and etc.
When I unboxed the game, the box was full of good stuffs, after punched the tiles out, the card board wastes didn’t help to loosen up the contents inside the box. It’s still fully packed and heavy. I like how fierce the worker placement can be during the game, fight over resource management while need to execute your plan in timely manner in order to complete super projects and other things. There are several different strategies you can after to get most points. Some modules give more variation and different feels, such you can modify your exosuits and go explore the outer world, while more details and challenge on the timeline and having neutral exosuits that can be bought each round with different abilities. There are so many things.
16830837_10155201239314873_1270521988140449483_n

#01. GLOOMHAVEN
The one and only, Gloomhaven. I was so excited when this game launched in Kickstarter several years back, 2015 if I am not mistaken. The game is epic and full of great things. It’s weighed almost 10 kgs (9.7 kgs precisely). I fell in love with the game instantly. The main reasons are because it’s a very thematic theme, with original contents and a breakthrough of the common RPG background. You won’t find any elves or orcs or trolls here. All the characters are new and made just for this game from the scratch. The designer, Isaac Childress poured his dream, efforts, ambitions and total dedication into this game. He is practically one-man-army behind Cephalofair games. He made a new universe and it also used for another game after this one, Founders of Gloomhaven (a very different game but still within the same universe). I backed this game more like a gamble because though I really love this kind of game at heart, my wife doesn’t. She had a very skeptical opinion on the subject and constantly states her dislike but didn’t deny the opportunity to try. So with half of her feet out of the door, I pessimistically but hopeful, asked her willingness to try the game. When the game arrived (after it was delayed in post office), I was so excited, the box was huuuge, my biggest game in my collection no doubt about it. Sadly it arrived in bad condition (the box had tears all around the edges). I punched the game together with my wife and my arms felt so tired. There are so many components inside the game.
17991079_10155411893734873_6799002951247157392_n

I immediately jumped into the rulebook, learnt the game and played a campaign with my wife. I was blown away with how awesome it is. There are so many brilliant things in the game, how the combats resolved and the cards played are amazing. At first there are only a handful of characters that can be played, but as you progress through the campaign, you would unlock more new characters, not only with different abilities, but also different play styles. Though it has the same genre with other games of the same category, the game is dice-less, meaning it uses no dice in any part of the game, which commonly used by other games in the genre for combat / battle resolutions, skill checks, etc. It uses interesting deck building (sort of) for the modifier cards as the character progresses. There are lots of things going on within the game and you can say the rules are fiddly, which I think any game couldn’t evade this kind of issue while maintaining interesting and engaging game play. When players choose a scenario within a campaign they will embark to the location from the city of Gloomhaven, which there will be Road event (this could be good or bad) that in a way affecting players condition before the scenario, so there’s the element of surprise.
After that, within the scenario, players and monsters will take turns based on the initiative order decided by the cards they play. Players choose 2 cards for the round to use the top part and bottom part and decide which initiative they use to determine their character activation. Despite the game is a cooperative game, there are secret information within players, this is one of the many reasons why the game is interesting. Players cannot reveal the initiative value they choose to another, only just a hint whether it’s high or small to keep decisions more interesting and have impactful consequences. Without the full information, players’ actions are not entirely effective because the situation changes based on the turn order. Monsters also have initiative that shown as part of its Ai system. When revealing initiative, a card will be drawn from specific deck for each type of monster, this will determine the initiative value of that monster and the action that they will do on their turn. I find the monster Ai to be very clever, every type of monster has different deck, this shows how different they are based on each type characteristic. These situations come into the game more like a puzzle that players must face and solve to complete the scenario.
17634558_10155340563949873_6824170179260080300_n.jpg

Battle are amazing, aside from the ability cards that show the base value of the action, players and monster also have a modifier deck specifically designed for that character (monsters use a single modifier deck) which can be modified as the character progressed based on the character sheet. So there’s no way characters have the same deck composition. This is truly amazing because it reflects their behaviors or attack styles. In addition, each character also have personal goal, given from the beginning, that will determine their involvement within the campaign. Once that character complete that goal, that character is retired and unlocks something (events and new characters). Players must stop using that character and choose another character to continue playing. There’s an interesting approach towards the game progression in overall. Players are forced to make changes so that the game is dynamic, not only in term of general campaign but also how each scenario plays out. Characters also advance their levels by spending XP gain from scenarios. Advancing levels does mainly to increase HP and unlocking new ability cards that players can choose to keep. Higher level cards have more powerful abilities but each character has a hand size of ability cards that they can carry on a scenario. So even if they managed to unlock lots of cards, they need to choose which ones work best in a given scenario, which I think it’s very amazing! The hand size also works as timer, since in most scenarios, players will race against time, which are  their hand size. Once their hand runs out of cards, they will be exhausted and out of the scenario. Luckily in this game, you can still complete the scenario even there’s one or more player eliminated (dying or exhausted) as long as one character still remain to complete.
18157750_10155424087984873_3386032558817101954_n

I must admit, there are many amazing things about the game and the easiest way to do that is to sit down with me and let me walk you through all of it by playing the game. But the game also has its own downsides. I own the first edition and though the game is so freaking amazing, I am kinda disappointed by the weaknesses or errors happened during the first edition. The box is too thin to handle the component weigh, but I do plan to get a custom box made for this game, still waiting for possible expansions. Also the actual HP and XP trackers failed to work, so I need to get Dial tracker add-ons for it. You need to commit time and space and gaming partner to finish the whole campaign. The time it takes to set up and tear down the game is equal to play a session of medium Euro game (lol). And to end this, it beats Eclipse as my number one game of all time.

Notable games:
FLATLINE
We start with Flatline from Renegade Games Studio. It’s a real-time cooperative dice rolling game with the same setting of FUSE, the sequel from the same game designer, Kane Klenko. It still involves the same dice rolling mechanic as FUSE, but different implementation. In FUSE, players constantly roll their dice until they found the side they’re looking for, but in Flatline, players only roll their dice one time in each round and then allocate them to different places. At first I wasn’t really interested on the game, mainly due to its cooperative genre. But of course when I checked upon the game components, the first thing that caught my attention were the dice. No doubt the dice looked very attractive, colorful custom dice and they’re plenty. I love it, always a sucker for dice fest (especially customized). So I decided to get it and my first play was a blast (even it’s only a 2-player game). I was pessimist with the tension of the game play regarding players assign dice to many different places within a certain time limit. Before playing the game I thought it’s not a big deal and we can deal with it pretty easily, oh boy I was wrong. Okay player count does matter, with more players the game feels more chaotic because the communication between players just clash into each other. It’s fun, full of tension, lots of shouting, frustrations and totally freeze your brain from thinking straight.
23825962_10156048822379873_348089528668599238_o

Advertisements
 
4 Comments

Posted by on January 30, 2018 in Article, Board Games, Insight

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Essen 2017 Highlight Preview Part 7

Okay, it’s 2018 and still there is a long list of Essen 2017 games to be done. Have you acquired some of them? Feel free to share the new collection or discuss them here. Now lets move along to the seventh part of this long preview.

pic3736981_lgPULSAR 2849
2849 marks the beginning of an interstellar energy boom. Human finally invented new technologies that can harness or utilize the energy of pulsar for many different things. In this new dawn, players as corporations do not want to miss that chance and compete with each other to take part on this historic event by building megastructures in space. Okay, this sold me out, though I tend to avoid space sci-fi theme due to my wife’s disliking of the specific theme. My main interest honestly lies within the designer behind the game, Vladimir Suchy which designed Shipyard in the past, a game of building ships, which my wife really fond of.  So what game is Pulsar 2849? It has a round-shaped board showing a space in the galaxy with a star cluster and many planetary systems. In 8 rounds players will take turns to draft dice and allocate them to different parts of the game. There are so many actions to choose over the turns, players can move their survey ships around, develop pulsars, build energy transmission, patent technologies, and work on special projects. These are major things you do in the game, the truth is there are many other small things under this major actions you need to do. One of the interesting things in the game is the engineering and initiative tracks which run side by side depending how players want to use it. See, while drafting dice, players can choose any die but they need to pay the cost based on the median track of the available dice of that round. They need to pay the cost with their engineering or initiative. The thing is the higher the die value, the better it is. So I guess the game mitigates this issue by making the players to pay the cost, which getting a high value die is more expensive than the lesser ones. When paying the cost they can choose to move out one of their tracks (engineering or initiative) based on what die they take and its current median. Initiative will determine the turn order of next round, while engineering is like an income for energy cubes based on the position of the markers. When the game ends players score points based on their goal tiles, purple patents, claimed pulsars, leftover engineering cubes, and stations. There are so many things spread around the game and with those come so many choices to choose for. It feels like a point salad game, while you gain points based on what you do. I like how the game looks and can’t wait to try it out.
pic3816942_lg

pic3364832_lgPHOTOSYNTHESIS
This game is very interesting, you can see it only by the looks of the game set up on the table. There are card board trees, many card board trees. So the game is about the title itself, photosynthesis which is a process used by plants to convert light energy into chemical energy so that they can grow. In this game, players will be one of 4 different varieties of trees and compete to grow and spread their seeds in the sunlight. In the game players will get a player board with slots for many different size trees of their variety. There are 3 sizes of trees, small, medium and large. And players will start with 2 small trees on the board and can work to grow them and add more trees into the board. In order to grow, players need sunlight to light their trees. But the sun moves around and cast shadows. Shadowed trees cannot grow because the sunlight cannot reach it. That shadow comes from another tree blocking the sunlight, since there are different sizes, larger tree will cover the sunlight from smaller ones, making them cannot grow. In the game, players can buy trees from their player board to their supply by using light points, plant seeds around their existing trees on the game board, grow trees by using light points and collect scoring tokens by ending the life cycle of large trees. The game ends when the sun rotates 3 times and the last sun revolution counter has been drawn. I found the game has a very really simple set of rules but offers very deep tactical choice within the game. Players need to plan and take actions carefully by looking at the board situations and how opponents will act to determine what is the best thing they need to do on their turn. The components are good, it’s very nice to look at, definitely eye candy over the table. And the most important thing is it has a very nice educational value for kids (or adults alike) about how trees grow.
pic3821681_lg

pic3553913UNTOLD – ADVENTURES AWAIT
This interesting storytelling cooperative game is played using a set of Rory’s Story Cubes. For those who don’t know Rory’s Story Cubes, it’s a set of 6-sided dice with different symbols on each side (the symbol is unique one of a kind in a set). In the original game of Rory’s Story Cubes, players will roll dice and set a story from the rolled dice. It’s a loose game of storytelling. Now in this game, they took the cubes usability to a whole another level. With some rules and standard guide they create a structure needed for the dice to be used in a way that players will try to make more compelling and structured good story. Before the game starts, players will set a base story in the episode guide as a starting point and setting for their story to expand. The game also comes with character creation, a quite loose one at that. To create a character, players can use the story cubes (dice) as assistance to shape the character or do it freely and then fill out the questions on their character sheets. A character can also has special abilities along with companion or items than can helm them on the story. As most of good stories, it’s broken down to several scenes (orderly fashion), starting from A Dangerous Dilemma, The Plot Thickens, An Heroic Undertaking, The Truth Revealed and The Final Showdown. Based on these scenes players will reveal scene cards to guide them with their story. The symbols on scene cards will determine how players will use the die of their choice. Since this is a cooperative game, by the nature of this game, there will be an alpha player issue. It requires some sort of creative storytelling and imagination level from the players to create a good and interesting story that will engage them as the game goes by. So if you do not like these kind of stuff, sharing you imagination, give story ideas and like to playful with your stories, this might be not a good fit for you. It relies heavily on that part to determine the fun level of the game. There are some features for players to control (to some extent) on how the story goes, they’re given some tokens to alter the story in one way or another. Players can interrupt other player’s story with idea token (each player has two tokens), go back to the past and try to add more depth or details to the backstory using flashback token, change a die result by using a modify token and a play/pause card to pause the game to set a discussion about the story. This is not a game about winning or losing, it’s about how you build the story together and feel accomplished.
pic3622689_lg

pic3399864VIRAL
Viral is a game about virus (obviously) in a human body. Players take the role of different viruses trying to get viral points by infecting, spreading through different organs on the body. It’s a pretty unique theme, while Cytosis has a positive approach this one has negative approach. The main boars depicts a human internal organ such as brain, lungs, heart, kidneys, intestines and others divided into different zones. The game uses action selection mechanic with cards. In each round players will assign 2 pairs of cards (with each pair consists of 1 zone card and 1 action card) and then resolve the actions in turn order and discard the used cards (those cards couldn’t be used for next single round).  Players will have to spread their markers to different zones and organs to gain majority and zone controls. To control a zone, each player must have at least one marker in every organ in that zone. Some organs will have a crisis tile (depending on the number of viruses (markers) that organ has and number of players. Crisis tiles mark the organs where the body’s immune system will work. Some viruses on that organ will be removed (there also be scoring). There are also cures which based on the research track on each player. Player’s that already move into the top space on the research track will remove all of their viruses (except the ones with shield icon) from the board and reset the track back. The game uses tie breaker mechanism where players will determine which one of them win the tie breakers. So there will be a lot of tie situations on the game. The game uses vibrant color for the organs and it looks very contrast over the white background. It looks colorful and clear. But apparently I consider this overly too simple for this kind of game. I wanted more interlocking mechanics than just placing viruses and control the areas.
pic3848266_lg

pic3711919_lgPIONEER DAYS
This is a very simple dice drafting / allocation game from Tasty Minstrel Games. It is designed by Matthew Dunstan and Chris Marling. The game sets in a wild west frontier where players will set a journey with their wagons through the perilous Oregon trail. Life is hard in the frontier and it takes careful planning, cunning decision and perfectly timed actions to avoid disasters and complete objectives. The game lasts for 4 weeks (5 days in each week, 5 turns). In the game, players try to get points by acquiring Town folks, pairs of cattle, favor tokens, gold nuggets while avoiding take damages to their wagon. In this game players draft dice from the pool to do certain actions (Income, Action or Recruit). There are also Disasters in the game, turns out living in the frontier is not that peaceful, there are Raid, Famine, Disease and Storms. Disasters on the game are triggered based on the color of the leftover die that players didn’t pick up each round. Black die is the most dangerous of all which advance all the disaster tracks up one space while other colors only advance that particular color. I think the game is pretty simple, you pick a die and choose what to do in a turn. The drafting is a bit interesting with the disaster tracks. When choosing a die, you need to consider what will be the last die left. This will determine which disaster track would advance. The Town folks also interesting, aside from providing benefits to the players during the game, some of them also provide points generators.
pic3830118_lg

So, until next time.

 

Tags: , , , , ,

2017 in Words – My Monthly Loot Recap

Hi, it’s me at the end of 2017 and back again with a short (hopefully) summary of my 2017 gaming life. It’s been a fun ride, lots of interesting things (games) and I honestly guilty with all those whole year acquisitions. 2017 is my first year (if not 2016) of married life and it really changed the table for me. I tried to maintain my gaming sessions though it’s been significantly decreased from before. It just had to happen, none could say otherwise and I could live with that. But lets just say that I keep on clinging with at least the true nature of myself, a board gamer (fan, player, collector and enthusiast). So I’ve been recently busy with my VLOG, reviews and other things. Now the end of year will mark my next (new) step on this board game industry, hopefully things will be smooth and rewarding.
So let’s keep on talking about 2017 cause it’s still hot from the oven. I’ve been tracking my monthly loot for over 2 years or so and it’s awesome (no matter how you may see it). My collection is keep on growing (not gonna spill the bean here, let’s say I am proud and shame at the same time). But in this post I will mention exclusively for the ones in 2017.

January
Starting off 2017, January was not really that special. I only got Round House and Legends of The American Frontier which admittedly I did not enough table time for these two. Round House has nice looking mechanic of rondel action selection though it seemed lack of solid balance on the actions. While Legends of the American Frontier was a journey game where players can feel or create or play as the life of an American living on the Frontier, not an easy one I guess back then (I just recently watched A Million Ways to Die In The West). It really puts the game in the push your luck element with character building into a simple enjoy-the-game-experience rather than the game mechanic and point rewards. I could play this with my afternoon tea (if there’s such thing).
17

February
Now this was one of the best of 2017, due to my birthday and other things. I snatched a good deal of games in this month. My Anachrony Kickstarter arrived and it couldn’t get any better. My best birthday gift after The Name of The Rose and Ladies of Troyes (these two were from my wife, so both trumped any game). I like Mindclash Games, had a very pleasant and satisfying experience with Trickerion and they did the same great thing with Anachrony. The Name of The Rose had been a long overdue game from Stefan Feld that I need to have, so it was a very great thing to finally own it. It’s not like His recent games, it’s definitely unique and we all like it. My next birthday gift was Troyes expansion, which I didn’t see it coming. I am always a fan of Troyes and having the expansion is surely a great deal for me, my wife is the best! I also got Dream Home from a friend which she insisted to give me instead. Thanks to Her, she’s always the best. I also found Oceanos to be interesting but sadly it’s too simple for me. Not that I say that I didn’t have fun playing it, since any game if fun if you play it with the perfect group.
18

March
Adrenaline. Yup just one. It’s a good one. It’s an Euro but feels very different, fresh and fun. It’s an Euro disguising as Ameritrash. In the game players vie controls / majorities over the dominion of each other. Who beats the hardest to someone and else. Though it does not offer variable player powers but this offers variable weapon powers instead. Surely gonna keep this.
19

April
Gloomhaven! Yes this big bad-ass epic game finally arrived! (damn you postal office, it’s longer than it should). My long wait Kickstarter game that I backed 2 years ago finally arrived. I shared some love of my life in this game and it didn’t disappoint. It was good and I must admit that it beats Eclipse as my number one game of all time. But, hopefully Eclipse could beat it in the next 2018 with it’s second dawn edition (yes, time to burn some money for it). And what better is, my wife turned out to like the game (to my surprise). I am looking forward to finish the game (or complete) with her, enjoyed our sessions together and currently waiting for removable stickers to arrive.
21

May
We had some good games from South Korean trip. Those were Abraca…What! and H.I.D.E. I was quite surprise with HIDE, it was so damn good. Plays fast, simple and hilariously fun! Okay, it might be a silly game for some but this one rocks my boat so hard. Abraca…What is cute, simple and fun, but not spectacular. I also got Cottage Garden from a friend when she visited Europe. That time wasn’t easy to get this game here. It’s a multi player Patchwork, they said. Surely it’s way more simple, but not better. I kinda disappointed with the lack of challenge on this one, hoping Barenpark would do the job. Indian Summer also released in 2017 Essen Spiel, but I think I had enough of Uwe’s refurbish games.
20

June
This month was probably the biggest loot of the year. Sadly not my proudest loot, how can you beat April’s Gloomhaven? ”
There was Vinhos (also a belated birthday present from a friend, she’s the best!) though it’s not a Kickstarter version. I wasn’t into wine and things so hadn’t fully wrap my head into the game just yet. Oink Games invaded, I had Insiders, Fake Artist, Pyramid’s Deadline and Startups to fill the lineup. Also Strawberry trios arrived from Kickstarter, these were some of my KS disappointment, simple and filler games surely but they just didn’t click with me. I also got a great deal with CV which I had an eye for quite a long time thanks to Minions and Co. And last but not least, I managed to get my hands onto three of Hisashi Hayashi’s games, Rolling America, Emperor’s Choice and Junglila (so fulfilling).
22

July-August
Nothing! Yep, really nothing. It’s a hiatus for me, preoccupied with Gloomhaven at that moment and satisfied with it. I guess it’s a good thing (thankfully / sadly it’s just a temporary).
24

September
Back on track in September. Heavy hitter games were arriving such as Lisboa (Kickstarter edition) The 7th Continent, Dice Forge and Tales of The Arabian Nights. I bought Stronghold on impulse which up until now haven’t hit the table (guilty). The 7th Continent was a roller coaster, I enjoyed hours of it though there still hundreds of hours of it. Haven’t clear the first curse yet after 3 plays and I am ashamed of that. Lisboa doesn’t disappoint, I like it so far. Tales of The Arabian Nights offered something different in the storytelling genre and I shattered the game’s bad image from my wife’s, which is a good thing. Dice Forge is solid, clever and nice looking dice customization game and it also plays fast.
25

October
Finally I completed my Eclipse expansion with Shadow of The Rift. It’s a life achievement. Now my next life achievement is to get this game played on the table (and also get the second dawn edition and trade this edition away). I got a mixed feeling with this and whatever I feel about it, I need to get that second dawn edition, absolutely and definitely.
23116637_10155997463469873_3320355765975871126_o

November
Essen 2017 was on the air and I was lucky a friend brought me back Rajas of The Ganges (not my first pick of Essen 2017 releases but it still good). InBetween is Stranger Things The Board Game and I satisfied with it. Not the best but it’s good enough, not for everyone but good for me. I also got Near and Far which aside from being quite expensive I could snatch it with the help of my friend on Monopolis Game Store. They’re awesome and you should check them out. Dogs Kickstarter arrived and it’s lovely. It has many flaws but we still love it, cause we love dogs (apparently). Flatline was a joyride, it was fun and chaotic, but firstly I got it because of those colorful custom dice.
26

December
Not the best of months since I really expecting another game to arrive. But I had to be content with these, Otys, Ex Libris and Gloomhaven 2nd printing KS fulfillement. Ex Libris was good, I like it and keeping it on my collection. Though I couldn’t justify the expensive price with it’s components, of course it has custom wooden meeples but a million for it (its surely against my logic). Gloomhaven 2nd printing fulfillment just consists of reprint rules and scenario book. I also got the solo scenarios but that’s just for the sake of completion. I also had Isaribi when a friend of mine decided to release it. It’s another addition of Hisashi Hayashi’s games into my collection. But luckily in the last minutes before the month and year ends, a good game joins into the fray, Pulsar 2849 is mine. Though I wasn’t really keen on the game due to its space exploration theme, the game designer’s was the one that redirected me back to get my hands on it. He’s the designer of Shipyard which is one of my wife’s favorite games of all time. So I jumped on board to get this one for her (its a strong alibi) even though she’s not really fond with its theme.
26063590_10156156439604873_1777565563502629395_o

It’s been a good year. Hopefully 2018 will be the same or better. There are some Kickstarter games that I am currently waiting to arrive on 2018 (Brass from Roxley, Cerebria, Roll Player and Hand of Fate: Ordeals), including the one that was late for 2017 (I am waiting for you). And what other games that I will be getting, that list is surely interesting as hell, such as Agra, Flipships, Meeple Circus, Lorenzo il Magnifico, Santa Maria, and many more. So many games to get, so little time to play them all and limited cash to spend. What an irony!

 
3 Comments

Posted by on December 31, 2017 in Article, Board Games, Events, Insight, News

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Essen 2017 Highlight Preview Part 6

We’re moving on to the sixth part. Now let’s see what I have in store for you guys in this highlight episode. New games to ponder, research, try and maybe eventually buy!

pic3382176_mdDOGS
Not sure this is also included as an Essen 2017 games but it’s new and listed as 2017, so I throw it in along. Hope it’s fine for you guys. Dogs is a very simple pick-up delivery game with worker placement game. It’s not great, it’s ok or decent. But in its defense if you like dogs or animals this would be a good choice. In this game you will own your very own kennel with a sole purpose to help stray dogs in the city (well honestly, your goal is the highest point, luckily it’s align with that noble charity work of helping dogs). In the game you will move around the city with your truck and collecting stray dogs (there are different kind of dog breeds) which then will be placed on your stalls (cage?) or infirmary if they’re unwell. After this players will take turns to assign their assistants in various places in the city, town hall to build more stalls, store to get food and medicines, vet to treat your dogs in infirmary, market to trade stuffs or fair to sell, buy or trade dogs. You must carefully plan your actions because you need to manage your kennel, give your dogs food and pay your assistant or get gas for next round. The game has a very tight money income and I think it really depends on the random draw of bonus cards (which could easily ruin your plans) and feels unnatural towards common game play in many other games. I think this brings a good and bad aspects to the game. First, the bad side is that you really depending on the bonus cards (more than the location action) and from round to round, players will mostly snipe money bonuses instead of other things, though sadly the first player will change in clockwise which is not a good incentive in this kind of rule, again if there’s a way to manipulate the turn order, it would be a good idea. The good thing is that it gives very tight and challenging aspect in the game. Money is very important in the game, it can make or break you. I find the game has a very unique feel and theme cause I love dogs, so it’s a big value for me. Aside from that, it’s an okay game of set collection and worker placement.
pic3864332_lg

pic3668630_mdOTYS
Welcome to the future water world. In Otys, players are part of the living colony above sea level called Otys where players need to retrieve the past humanity debris from the underwater remnants of a civilization drowned in order to build the future civilization. In the game players will have divers ready to get things needed to complete contracts. These divers are assigned to different depths to retrieve items, complete contracts and some. Basically it’s a programming game where you need to carefully plan the actions based on what you have and what the goals are. On player’s turn, they will choose a level and slide a key token on that level to the right and activate sponsor tiles corresponding to that level. Next they will activate the diver on that level. Then the key token is flip face down and place it on the bottom of the player board (in the left most free space of the hacker track) and the diver will be slide over to the top (resurface) and divers on top of it will move down. This will change the order of the divers based on the activated level. There are many ways to manipulate this process, by using battery tokens to re-arrange divers, or by using ‘x’ key token to manipulate the use of sponsor tiles. The divers have many effect and can also be upgraded to its advance side to give players with more improved skill than the basic side. There are lots of moving parts in the seemingly simple game play, which obviously makes the game kinda bit harder or need essential planning between actions. And it’s also a racing game to get 18 points to win the game. What funny is that recently I was attracted to several racing games which not the aspect I particularly like. But I do think this one is not purely a racing game (the end game trigger might be racing), in the end the winner is based on most points. I think the game has gorgeous artworks but unfortunately it’s not shown with a strong presence in the game. But the good thing is that the player boards have recessed slot that really works with the components. You will slide the divers often and having a well-made player board will improve the game play experience a lot.
pic3811648_lg

pic3728149_lgFALLOUT
Now this one is very interesting. The game is a board game adaptation of the video game with the same title. I think most gamers or fans have high hopes this one could do justice to the video game. It was released by FFG so the components and artworks should be top notch. I like the presentation of the game and it also boasts that every game will never be the same. Though I still don’t know how different each game will be. The game offers 4 different scenarios to play with and the characters have good quality miniatures with different abilities as well. As you know, the game has a unique setting of a post-apocalyptic world with a vintage steam punk art direction style and of course there are lots of iconic elements inside the game such as the pip boy and the VATS system, bottle caps, perks and other things. During the game players will get encounters, which is resolved with the help of other players reading the card for the active players. It’s more like Above and Below kind of game where players are presented with choices to make. They will also move around, exploring the wasteland (shown in hex map tiles put together), complete quests, trade, fight enemies and others. I like how the hex map is designed, it has beautiful (amazing) wasteland artworks but in the same time has clean and nice graphic design elements on it. One of the biggest thing in the game is that players can gain perks that give them beneficial effect throughout the game by activating / using sets of letters (forming a word “SPECIAL”) that players can collect. They also bring out the VATS on the combat dice where the damage allocation based on the targeted parts of the body. Players can die on the game, but worry not, there’s no player elimination. When they died, they will reset back (not sure where) their life (but not radiation level). Yes, there are two parameters in player’s health, life and radiation. When this two trackers meet, players die and the life track gets reseted back, but not radiation. So throughout the game the radiation level will pushing player’s life shorter. I cannot wait more goodness this game has to offer Since this is an FFG release, it should be available very soon on your friendly local game stores.
pic3900350_lg

pic3113311_lgWORD DOMINATION
Here is another game of crafting letters into word. There are few good word games, scrabble is one of them (legendary game) and others such as Paperback, Word Porters, Codenames, Hardback, Wordsy or Letter Tycoon. But not all are involving crafting letters into words, Codenames isn’t. Scrabble is good, no doubt about that as you jumped into the mind-boggling word puzzle. Your vocabulary knowledge is basically essential to excel at the game. For me, I love word games, Scrabble is a classic and I have had a good time with it in the past, but unfortunately the grid board really gives you a restraint to some extent (though it’s not particularly a bad thing for those who like it). I find the grid placement really restraining to craft letters into words, in addition with random draw of letters. Letter Tycoon is a more simplified word crafting game compared to Scrabble, but I found that the word has no real distinct value like in Scrabble. Now Word Domination is not the best, but it surely gives a gamey feeling. In this game, players will be a super villain that using letters to dominate the game to gain infamy points. Players will craft a word using a letter in their hand and letters available in the grid. The letters do not have to be adjacent and in order (which is an improvement than Scrabble for me). Crafting letters do not give players immediate points, but rather placing tokens on them. This is required if they want to claim letters. Players can claim a letter tile if there are 2 of their tokens on it, claimed letters are placed in front of players that can be passively used in future turns (exclusively can be used by the owner). But if players place their tokens in letter tiles with another player tokens, they remove the tokens back to the owners. This is area control game, where in 2 turns if you can secure the letters, you will get control over it. Players get points based on the final situation on the board, 1 point for each stolen tile and 1 additional point for each stolen tile in a group (3 or more tiles). I found the game to be quite interesting, in addition you can also play with different character abilities (and weaknesses). The downside is that the same thing with Letter Tycoon, the game doesn’t reward you with difficult word or letter values. It’s just the longer the word is, the better.
pic3666224_lg

pic3717815_lg-2NOMADS
This game was previously known as Jeju Island (from the same designer, Gary Kim) but this one was released developed by Libellud based on that game. It follows the same principle as Jeju Island, the Mancala mechanic. Players will try to tell stories or sing a song around campfire. In turns, players will either move and listen to stories, or write a song or legend. Moving is done by distributing discs in one direction and taking a tile (it could be a story tile, a moon tile or a wild tile). All players with disc on top of the stack will take a tile if any. Or players can claim a song or legend card by paying the cost. Song tile can be claimed once (players cannot change to another card in future turns) while legend cards can be replaced with better ones for each type. The game is simple, intermediate scoring happens during full moon (moon tiles form a full moon) where players will score points based on the total of legend card and song card they have minus the existing story tiles the possess. Its basically Jeju Island but with better game play, variation and better looking artworks. The game is simple, there’s a puzzle element to some extent. Also the characters have special abilities that could break rules to give more interesting options. It is a light medium set collection game, good for casual or new entry gamers. Of course for some intermediate or heavy gamers, this might be lack of challenge for their taste.
pic3777988_lg
There you go, another 5 titles from Essen 2017. 5 more on the works. Stay tuned and subscribe for more.

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 28, 2017 in Board Games, Insight, Previews

 

Tags: , ,

Essen 2017 Highlight Preview Part 5

Next, our journey post-Essen continued with this 5th part of this highlight preview. I’ve tried Dogs in the past day, not sure it’s a valid Essen game, but it’s a Kickstarter game and just recently fulfilled by the publisher. It’s a simple game, yet we played it totally incorrect, shamefully in my defense that’s not entirely my fault. Okay let’s not ponder on it, move on to these games instead.

DeadlineDEADLINE
Deadline is a cooperative game with a setting where players are 80’s detectives who try to solve crime cases. The game comes with 12 cases to work with, with different range of difficulty, from easy, normal and hard. It also has several characters with different abilities. The game works similar like The Grizzled in term placing cards to complete objective or play cards to table that usually not good for the group. The game play works very simple, players try to complete the available clue cards by placing required symbols. Each completed clue card gives a certain amount of information about the case and what are the next clue cards available. The round ends when all players have passed or when they managed to complete all the symbols on the chosen clue. The game ends when players managed to clear all the clues or when they failed the third time to complete clue cards. This will lead to the question phase where they need to answer questions related to the case. Their answers will then cross-checked with the solution book to determine how well the players worked the case. I find the game to be a mini puzzle game that rewards players with information that relate to the case, it’s not directly related and thematically tied with the case. Thus some people do find it quite abstract.  Though the stories / cases are written well and provide interesting narrative in overall game experience. The game however has a very low replay value since when you’ve played and know the answers, there’s nothing can draw you back to replay the case aside from the mini puzzle experience or trying to improve your performance.
DSC01156

pic3710491_lgPANIC MANSION
Now this is a game with a very unique approach from the dexterity genre. In Panic Mansion, players will try to escape from the mansion (or to be in one specific spot rather than out). In order to do this, they have to try to create the situation required in the objective. Each player will get a mansion board that consists of several rooms with partitions and all the meeples needed in each objective.
The fun part is that players need to direct their marker (and/or other markers needed) to complete the objective. To do this they will shake, slide or tilt their mansion board in order the markers to move from room to room until the objective is met. It’s surely a fun, new and bizarre experience in board game design and this can be a hit or miss game for sure. At first the objective level would be very simple and easy to do, but as the game progresses, the difficulty will increase and they will have to juggle more meeples in the same time. It’s a fun family game where you can laugh and move the parts of your body around, it’s like you shake a tray in search of gold (you know what I mean?). I for one, would love to try this game, though not sure if this will find a good place in my collection or not. Quality-wise, it has good and attractive components.
pic3776719_lg-2

pic3693999-2LONDON (2nd Edition)
Though this is the second edition of a classic game with the same title, it’s published under different publisher and got a complete overhaul in the visual aspect of the game. Osprey games did a very fantastic job on this one, it’s surely a work of art. I fall in love immediately with the box cover, which gives a deluxe / collector edition feel into the game. I for one, had been waiting this (kind of) game for quite a while. Never played it, but always eager to try and own Martin Wallace’s games. I know that not all of His games are proven great but some of them are legendary games such as Brass, A Study in Emerald (first edition) and Discworld: Ankh-Morpork. So head good reviews about it and luckily haven’t own the first edition, I jumped the wagon to own this one. I must admit that it is without disappointment. I guess no such thing is perfect. It has issues on the card quality, from the linen finish and the color consistency. I found the game to be brilliant, it plays fast, has very simple rules and very quick setup. You can setup and explain the game within 10 minutes. I personally like the game, the first time I tried the game, there was this feeling of a classic Euro game. Like it’s been quite a while playing games of this genre. I found it to be satisfying, it has a very simple ruleset but offers a rich possibilities on how you play the game. I must admit, there’s a small variability in the game due to the nature of the card variations within the game. It would be great if there are more card sets come with the game but there’s a randomizer to what sets used in the game. I think it would changed the game a lot. The game is more like a card game rather than a board game. In player’s turn they will draw a card and then take an action (either play a card, buy a borough, run your city or draw 3 more cards). Also there’s a twist on how players collecting poverty cubes involuntarily, which in the same time they need to remove it for it would gives penalty in the final scoring. Also the way of card drawing is affecting the length of the game into some extent. For me this is easily a keeper mostly because of the art and Wallace’s game, the good gameplay is a plus though.
pic3847553_lg

pic3624298_mdINBETWEEN
This game is a 2-players asymmetrical game with a horror sci-fi setting which can be relate with Stranger Things TV series. It’s a small box game that can be played in 30 minutes. In the game, players will take the role of human and the creature from different dimension. The goal is to achieve one of the winning conditions, whether to raise awareness to level 6 or influence a number of characters within the game or when there is only 5 characters left in the game. It’s a very unique tug of war, where players will try to pull the characters to a side of their own. Each player will have their own deck of cards with different effects and uses. In each turn, they can choose to take one out of the 2 available actions, play a card or recharge energy. Character cards also have abilities that can be triggered and have two sides showing the two different dimensions to determine which they’re currently in. The characters can be in 2 different dimensions, shown by 2 sides of the card (human or creature dimension). When players try to influence the character, they use cards from their hands (the symbols shown on the cards) to shift the safety marker on that specific character. This process feels like a tug of war where players pulling the character back and forth to their sides. It’s a tedious process for sure and it needs high amount of patience. Though somewhat the game can move back and forth without significant progress there are some aspects that players can consider and these will affect player decisions throughout the game. They need to cleverly analyze the characters’ abilities and how they are spread out in the game. Cleverly set priority which character need to be secured first will surely gives high advantage in future turns. Observe your opponents also important to react wisely before or after their moves. The game may have slow pace, I feel this as a creeping death and slowly grow paranoia and tension, thematically fit with the theme. It’s not a game for everyone though, since the gameplay requires certain understanding, slow paced and has different feel and tone compared with other games. For me, this game fits the bill for Stranger Things card game (if not a board game) and does justice to it.
pic3859904_lg

pic3717323BATTLEFOLD
This game reimplements a game called Fold It! and adds fantasy theme to give more attractive appeal. The game uses the combination of dexterity and speed element as it core mechanic. In this game players play as characters with different class and try to win the game by achieving one of two conditions, be the last living character or be the first to resurrect their ghost character. Each player will get a piece of cloth with a 4×4 grid icons, a player board and a marker. Each round players will try to fold their cloth to follow the pattern shown on the card. This is a speed game, the first player to match the pattern may take a turn order marker in the action phase. Basically the symbols on the pattern will determine the actions for the players in the current round. The actions are move, attack, potion, shield, item and trap.
When a player health is drop to zero, he died and becomes a ghost (flip the player board). However, he’s not out of the game, he can still move around (though cannot use any other action beside move and attack). Attack also have different effects. Attack action does not give damage to the attacked players, but instead give spirit points to players for resurrect purpose. Once resurrected, the player wins the game (unless another player has won before that). The game is simple but has additional depth to the folding action in the previous game Fold It! It also has interesting plays with the characters have different abilities. It is full of pattern recognition, puzzle and speed hand coordination (maybe).
pic3818401_lg

Another 5 titles are done. Now onto the next fives.

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 27, 2017 in Board Games, Insight, Previews

 

Tags: , , ,

The Magic Lamp of Randomness

Tales of The Arabian NightsTales of The Arabian Nights Review
I just recently took the experience of both playing this game and owning it. I already heard or knew the game for quite a long time. Its quite famous among board gamer’s communities. The very distinct thing in this game is no other that the story-telling element that drives the game. The game was published around 2009 by Z-Man Games. My wife had played it one time before me, which was a bad experience from her testimonial. The persistent main issue she kept saying over and over again is the long play time. It took ages to finish (if you can finish it) and dragging the game long enough makes it pretty much a boring voyage that even Sindbad feels tormented.

But as some of my friends who like the game keep telling me that the game is best playing with 3-players, not more. Though up to 5 players is listed on the box, they all agreed that with 4 and 5-players, its not recommended due to the long downtime and game length. So putting my faith on their testimonials, I jumped into the magic carpet and tried the game with my better experienced friends on the subject. My wife liking the game is essential for my plan for this game, so if I ever get the game, she must like it cause I intend it to be a couple game at least.

dav

So the game comes with a really pretty looking game box (black background with beautiful Arabian decorations and stunning illustrated covers that involves genie and other Arabian tales. Inside, you can find some of the key components in the game which are the Book of Tales, the map board, Reaction Matrixes, player mats, cards and some punch boards for in-game tokens. The map board shows a huge world map with interesting places and the wide networks connecting them all. The center of it is Baghdad, this is where players start the game. But before that, players get a board (more of a reference) some tokens to keep track things like Wealth, Destiny and Story markers as well as Quest, Destination and Origin markers. They also get 3 random skills, drawn one by one (must be different). Then players must decide the amount of Destiny and Story points with the total of 20 (this amount can be adjusted as desired), which they kept it hidden from other players, these are their goals to win the game. The last thing before starting the game, they also draw a quest card. Each player takes turns in clockwise direction from the starting player, move from their current location (they cannot stay unless stated otherwise) based on their Wealth marker. This Wealth gives movement amount limitation in sea or land. Once a player decide to stop their movement, they draw an encounter card and resolve it. To resolve it, the encounter card shows a certain number which will be check in the Encounter book and the active player rolls a die, add the value with the location modifier and destiny modifiers if any. The result will determine the encounter, which then the active player and another player will check the matrix related to it. The active player then decide how they want to interact with that, based on the available actions listed in matrix. Once decide, they roll a destiny die and apply any modifier. The other player then check what paragraph the result is refer to and open that paragraph in the Encounter book (other player can help to do this) and read it aloud to the active player. Usually the reading will show the outcome of the encounter, though some encounters provide options or lead to another paragraph.

dav

So how the paragraphs work? They’re random and the subject of this review title. Once your fellow partner read the paragraph, you just let it flow and move on. You start with 3 skills (drawn at the start of the game) and as the game progresses you might have more. The skills might help you on your encounters, the key word is might. Yes, you enter the encounter blindly and just hope that the skills are useful. The paragraphs have a chance to have skill or treasure related to it, in which somehow may help or do the opposite. Master skills are different, they’re some sort of upgraded skills, but better in such a big time. Why? Because when you have master skills, the paragraph readers will check whether the three available paragraphs have that master skill inside and the player doesn’t need to roll the destiny die. If there is none, then roll the die. So basically master skill helps you get the best outcome from it. So your freewill and composition of your skills quite likely determine the action you will choose, though there’s no restriction at all to go nuts and feeling lucky (if it is luck) and choose whatever the hell you want to do. Once you gain the required amount of Destiny and Story points, you need to go back to Baghdad and complete an encounter there in order to win the game.

dav

Final Take
The game is a random fest, you will not know for sure what happen in your encounters. The randomness is high off the chart in this game, you think you know what to do and what will happen but in the end the game might prove you wrong. The game really focuses on the adventure / storytelling aspect, where the fun is. Your characters will have a crazy fun (or not) encounters that will shape the whole adventure in the game. So if you are okay with strong storytelling element that lead your gaming experience, this might be the game for you. It appeals more to players that really treasure the gaming experience and how the theme blends in with character’s progresses than to those who really take the final outcome as the utmost important thing out of the game.
On a side note, I do think that the components fall into more of a mediocre level, it’s kinda bit on the middle of things, not bad but not good either. Despite the beautiful game box cover, I found that the board is a bit drab (as map should be I guess) and the color tone is a bit heavy to my eyes. The cards, okay the encounter cards have illustrations, but it could have been done better with full illustrations instead of drab looking background. The quest cards is just a card with full of text pasted on it, but I guess that serves it’s purpose. Player standees, well cannot complain though, it’s just okay. In overall, this is a game where the components not really evoking how people see it visually but rather immersive to the story it provides. So if you cannot get pass through that visual boundary, maybe you can close your eyes and rely on your own imagination. In the end, I do like the game, it provides a unique gaming experience despite its huge luck factor.

dav

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 23, 2017 in Ameritrash, Board Games, Reviews

 

Tags: , ,

Essen Spiel 17 Highlight Preview Part 4

Wow, it’s already part 4 and to be honest we (or is it just me?) just moving still. There are still many, many… (I emphasize on many) new games out there need to be previewed and I am ashamed with my speed. But no good whining about good stuff, let’s savor it the best way we can and buy it eventually.

pic3646165_mdRAJAS OF THE GANGES
This game is one of the games that I got my hands into. A friend got me this directly from his Essen trip. Bless you and your games man! Okay, this game is designed by Markus and Inka Brand, the couple behind Village, La Boca, Orleans Invasion and the famous EXIT series. The box cover in this game is breathtaking, I love it very much though the font type of its title is not so much, but hey as long as its inline with the theme. The cover shows a landscape of the famous Ganges river with looming figure of the God, Kali with colorful dice in her hands. In this game, players will take the roles of Rajas / Ranis in the 16th century of India and try to expand their province in order to gain fame and riches. Player that cleverly does so that their fame and riches intertwined, wins the game. The game uses some classic mechanics with added twist. The core is a worker / dice placement game with tile laying element. Players will have a province board and a Kali statue board with one die for each color (4 colors) with 3 workers at the start of the game. Players take turns to place their workers with the possibility of spending dice or coins in several places like Marketplace, Quarry, Palace and Harbor to do different things. Players can get province tiles from the Quarry by spending money and dice to add them to their province board. Players can also get money from Marketplace based on markets that they have on their province board. Palace gives special benefits that requires the cost of die of a specific value and also the place where players can get dice or convert dice to another color. Harbor is place where players can move up their Ships on the Ganges river. I found the game to be very simple, easy to learn and setup. It has the same feel like The Voyages of Marco Polo in the aspect of dice utilization. I’ve played several times and I like it so far. It’s one of few games that has a racing feel that I actually like (Lewis and Clark is still the best though).
DSC00734

pic3582920_mdTHE CLIMBERS
Okay we head on to an abstract game. In this game you will try to climb a pile of wooden blocks as high as you can and get rid of your opponents. So the game comes with lots of different size wooden blocks with different colors on one side. These colors represent player colors. Before the game starts, players need to arrange the wooden blocks to a single pile (in any way they want) of course with certain requisites. Players take turns to move their climber from the bottom to the top of the blocks. To do this they can move up a level (shown by their climber’s “neck” level), if above this limit, they cannot climb it. Each player also given a pair of ladders, one small and one large. These ladders can be used once each to help them climb onto blocks that are higher than them. And also a blocking stone that can help them hinder their opponents for a single turn. But as it’s not enough, players also can only climb / move onto a block with the surface of their colors or neutral (beige wooden color). If I recall correctly, this game uses player elimination, since it’s possible that players can out of their movement. In this case they are out of the game. The game is actually not a new game, the listing page on BGG suggests it’s from 2008. I found the rules are very straightforward and easy. And the components are wooden blocks (so I expect it would be heavy) and can make a spectacle on top of the table. So if you like tactical movement with tolerance of abstract theme and a small direct conflict to block others, this might be good for you to check out.
pic3759587

pic3489123_mdFLATLINE: A FUSE AFTERSHOCK GAME
This is a sequel game of FUSE, designed by the same designer, Kane Klenko. As you know, in FUSE, players work together to defuse a bomb, this time the bomb exploded and players need to save the casualties. They work in the medic bay of the (broken and crashed maybe) space ship just barely getting the equipment running to save the critically injured or dying due to severe explosion. Unlike FUSE, this game has more components (it has bigger box and definitely heavier) and meatier. In this game, players get their own dice (by colors) and there will be an exact number of rounds (8 rounds) in which they need to save all the patients before the last round or they lose. In the game one player will be assigned as the Chief Medical Officer, who will keep things up based on the round breakdown. The first one is to remove a round marker and draw cards. These cards are (yes) bad for the players. There are two types of card, orange (stat) and blue (emergency) cards. When they’re drawn, they’re placed separately based on colors. Then the CMO roll the emergency dice to determine which emergency cards are active. Then they discuss the plan this round. Okay before move on to the next phase I want to explain about the board. There are 4 sick bays (medical pods if you like) to hold the patient tiles (a different number of players determines how many tiles that players need to save). And in the center, there’s a dial with 4 connectors, with each of them connected to a sick bay. After the discussion, the CMO will start the timer (one minute) and players roll their dice and assign them all into various spots. Once the one minute time is over, players must stop distributing dice. Okay, not only to cure the patients, but also different places such as the cards and recharging stations (there are two of them on the board). These recharging stations can bring back one round (delay the game) but there are only 2 of them. The different color cards have 2 different effects. Orange cards must be solve in that round, if not they’re placed on fail space and a number of failed cards can make the players lose the game. Blue cards in the other hand, is not as devastating as that but when triggered they can hurt players quite bad. And the bad news is that there can be 2 rows of 6  blue cards present in the game (and that’s a crowd). Treating the patients is as simple as assigning dice based on the symbol, but this must be done in inline fashion (they must clear it line by line). The other restriction is that who to place the dice, must be one player only, 2 or more or each player. This will surely keep the players busy with their dice allocation. When this hit the bottom, players can also use cards from Triage (cleared orange cards have their good effects) or submit a die to have all players the option to re-roll their dice, but the die locked in it for the rest of the game (also its limited to submit a die here). And about the connector, once a patient has all lines covered up, they are removed and the effect column that connected with the connector will take effect (black means nothing, green means good effect and red is the opposite). These connectors are set up in a way that each patient’s tab will get connected differently with each other, this adds another element to consider about timing to clear the patients. I played this game for several times, with 2, 3 and 4 players and these plays were memorably fun and crazy, lots of hilarious and chaotic moments. I guess it’s not that easy as it looks, to assign dice among players. As people say, “more minds, more problems”, can’t argue to that. But I must say that the game is beatable, we beat it once with 4 players, though it’s just in training mode. But amidst all that, the sole thing that drawn me into getting this game is the dice, the custom dice. Yes, I am a sucker for it. I love the colorful custom dice, period.
pic3689988_lg
pic3606262_mdMEEPLE CIRCUS
Okay lets head on to a dexterity game. In this game, your motor skill will be tested. In Meeple Circus, players need to pile up meeples and the likes in order to get points. There are different shape of meeples, from basic meeples, animals and different objects. Players will do a great performance with 2 rehearsals (3 acts). In each Circus acts, players will go through a preparation,  presentation, evaluation and end phase. In the preparation phase each player takes turn to take a component tiles and act tile (in the order they choose). After that players must show to their best what the public demands with their acrobats and other components, yes you stack ’em up! Of course there are some restrictions, you need to stack them inside your circus ring, place it on their side (not lay it down) except barrels and beams and all components on the ground must carry at least one other components. Players do this against time and other players. The time is from an application with circus music themed (very fun and lively), once the music stop, they must stop. In evaluation players will gain applauses by their presentations through public demands, acrobat meeples and speed bonus tokens. Public demand cards are somewhat like objectives that player can follow through to get points (these cards have different categories shown by different colors and each act will have different cards available). Next are acrobat meeples, which have 3 different types of acrobats, beginners (blues), intermediates (yellows) and experts (reds) and they score points differently, interestingly it’s thematic in some way. The beginners score points as long as they touch the ground, while the intermediates score points as long as not touching the ground. Now the experts have very unique and interesting scoring mechanism. Experts score by using a custom designed ruler (provided from the game). They score based on their heights. Higher they’re the bigger the points are. The second rehearsal (act 2) works similar with the first one with small difference, there are guest stars that can give points in specific ways. The great performance has some changes, speed tokens are not used, double points from guest stars and each challenge will give points when completed. I think its a simple dexterity game, you can find similar games in this genre such as Animal Upon Animal, Rhino Hero and others. But in this one, they managed to make it interesting both in terms of theme and game scoring, totally well done. This is definitely on my must have list.
pic3811460_lg
pic3718275_mdAZUL
This one is one of the most stunning (if not beautiful) games released in Essen 2017. Azul is an abstract game with a very loose theme of aesthetic decor ceramic tiles originated in Alhambra palace, in southern Spain, called Azulejos. It was introduced by the Moors to King Manuel I when he visited. The king was mesmerized and awestruck that He began to order His architects to redecorating His palace in Portugal. In this game, players will be the King’s architects and try to decorate the walls of the palace. Each player will get a player board and the goal of the game is to be the player with most points after the game ends (which is triggered when a player successfully complete a horizontal line in their player board.). The gameplay sounds simple, in a player’s turn, the player takes tiles of the same color from either the factory display or center of the table and place them on one of their pattern lines. When all players already take tiles, next they place the tiles onto their 5×5 wall grid from the pattern lines and scores. The basic mode has a pre-definitive pattern shown on the grid, while on the back side of the board, there’s a blank grid (a variant, as expected for this kind of game). Scoring is unique, players will score the row and column of each tile placed. Players get one point for each tile currently exist in the same row and column line of the placed tile, and this is done separately between row and column. But the twist is that those points will be deducted with the tiles laying on the floor lines. More tiles, the negative points are bigger, so this put a huge consideration to the player’s choice when taking tiles. I found the game to be pretty unique, complex in the outside while the real thing is quite simple and pretty much 5 minutes rules explanation. This game required a great knowledge and plan further because the pieces placed going to affect subsequent turns greatly. I am not a big fan of an abstract game, but this one surely caught my attention due to its beautiful components, thanks God they didn’t go with card board tiles, that would be so lame. The tiles are gorgeous, beautiful, stunning and amazing (I am out of words), the game visual presentation is out of the chart, its an aesthetically work of art. I found it quite unnecessary for the score track in each player board, a single score track for all players would be more suitable since players can observe others and it surely mitigates the chance to knock or slide player markers off their place.

pic3813632_lgpic3819057_lg
I included two photos of Azul, in my defense, the game is worth it. So this has to end and I need to prepare with the next list. It’s been slow but I hope you can understand, since I also has couple of new games coming (though sadly not all of them are Essen releases). Also shamefully, my game review posts have been pending due to a lot of things (this is one of them). So until next time, with part 5.

Disclaimer: all of the images shown are taken from boardgamegeek.com and the credits go the owners, I do not have the rights for all the images.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 23, 2017 in Article, Board Games, Events, Insight, Previews

 

Tags: , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: