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Category Archives: Insight

Short descriptions of new games that recently just played or tried in overall.

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).
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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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.

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

 

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Essen Spiel 17 Highlight Preview Part 3

Next on our list for Essen 17 releases, some new games that come from what you might already know it before, and some do not. Without further ado, here you go.

pic3464108_mdPALACE OF MAD KING LUDWIG
After moving on from The Castle of Mad King Ludwig, Ted Alspach (One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Werewords, Werebeasts, Colony, Suburbia and etc) redesigns it to a new game with the same theme but quite different game play. Now in this game, players do not have a personal castle to build but they share the same palace and in turn placing tiles from the display into it or placing tiles to their player board. Okay, the offering mechanic is no longer used, but instead players buy tiles from the display by paying money (or swan tokens) and then place it adjacent on one of the tiles already placed. When placing a tile players get a swan token if the color match and then if the room is complete (all the entrances are connected with another room) it is scored. Players build the palace together, so there will be some take that to block opponents scoring chances. It looks fiddly with all the player tokens, flipping them on the board. So if you guys are into it, make sure check it out.
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pic3339551CENTURY SPICE ROAD
If you like Splendor, you might want to check this out. Designed by Emerson Matsuuchi, Century Spice road is an Euro with strong abstract element, where players play cards to get spice cubes and use that cubes to get more cards and eventually scoring cards. It plays very quick and simple, definitely has rules has can be explained under 5-minutes. The game is supposed to be the first part of a three series under the Century line, which those parts can be used interchangeably. The next two parts are not yet announced though. Another thing is that the game comes with plastic bowl for spice cubes. Though they also has dedicated game mat but not include in the base game (which makes the game only consists of 4 plastic bowls, cards and cubes. If you like Splendor, this might be right down your alley, or it could be better than Splendor.
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pic3767148_md-2NORIA
This is the first game from designer Sophia Wagner, which she developed together with its illustrators Michael Menzel and Klemens Franz. It sets in a steampunk world where the city is floating on the sky. This one is surely one of the most interesting games from Essen 2017, mainly because it has a new unique component called the wheel, hence the game is using it as the main mechanic, the wheel building mechanic. In the game players will have in front of them, a player board with a wheel consists of 3 rings (small, medium and large) stacked together with several disc slots on them. This component is very essential element during the game. At the start of the game, players will have only a few of the slots on their wheel equipped with action discs. There are several (8) type of actions on the game and players will try to build their wheel with the combination of these actions. Activating these discs will allow players to get some resources, take actions on the board and improve their wheels altogether to create more efficient wheel engine that they would possibly want.  As the game progresses, players will take actions differently which lead their wheels and goals to be quite different (or not) which lead them to choose differently each time they take their turns.  The goal of the game is (of course) most points by the end of game (fixed rounds based on number of players) and  this is done by multiplier from the six paths available. You move up your ambassador and work to improve the track value in order to score big. To move up in the paths you need resources (its a resource conversion game). There are different resources in the game, from the basic to more complex types, which are used to get your ambassador move up in the tracks.
I found the game to be interesting, lots of new choices, it has strong programming element in the game with all the actions on the wheel. So if you are into programming, you might like this one. I just kinda slightly disappointed with Menzel’s involvement in developing the game (expecting that he’s not just doing the art) more than just creating a visual aspect of the game which is amazing. I feel the game is a bit dry to what you expect from that kind of amazing illustrations, there’s no thematic ties with the game.
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pic3584961_md10 MINUTE HEIST: THE WIZARD’S TOWER
Lets change the menu for a bit, this time it’s a 10-minutes game, called 10 Minute Heist: The Wizard’s Tower. Its a small game of set collection, card drafting and modular board with a fantasy theme (a hint) designed by Nick Sibbicky. Players are thieves trying to steal treasures from the wizard’s tower (Fools? Well maybe there are valuable treasures inside). Players will take turns to move from room to room starting from the top floor (yes, they enter the tower from the roof). From then they will choose which room to visit and take the treasure there. On players’ turn, they either choose to haul a treasure or exit the tower. If you choose to haul, you can take a card from the same level (row) or the card below your marker is. After taking the card, move your marker on the card’s space. If there’s a power in that card, resolve it immediately (you cannot take the card if you cannot complete the power. The card taken is placed in front of you and it will be scored at the end of the game. It’s a set collection game where you will collect different number of treasure types. At the end of the game, players reveal their face down cards and do the score tiles. The game also has different modes to play, if your group needs challenge, you can do drafting with the starting light card in players’ hands. This will create tension and small deduction element whether what card your opponents choose.
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pic3485529RED SCARE
This one is a social deduction game like The Resistance with a unique twist, yeah the twist is that the game is using decoder glasses (you know, like the old style 3D movie glasses made from paper, blue and red plastic screens. You can play with 4-10 players with this game and as you can guess with that amount of players and the nature of the game, it plays quite fast (around 30 mins). So in the game, players will become the agent from Soviet or Patriot based on their alignment cards given at the start of the game. Half of the players also given decoder glasses. They also get 3 citizen cards from the draw pile. The goal of the game is to get as many as points by exonerate citizens of the same side or exonerate the opposition citizens. But the twist in the game lies on the citizen cards. The citizen cards have different settings. The cards have 2 parts, JUDGE and ID parts, and these parts also have symbol on which players can see these parts (players with decoder or without decoder). During a player’s turn that player may choose to do an action or pass. The available action is ID, TRADE or JUDGE. When taking an ID Action, that player may show their citizen cards to another player to ID. Basically they show these cards to the player that’s in opposite view ability than He is. If he’s using a decoder glass, he showed the cards to player without the glass and vice versa. This is done because there are cards with ID part having a glass or without glass icon, which means a player without a decoder glass cannot cards with ID part showing only an eye symbol. But that player can JUDGE these cards (always in the opposite situation). The player that was shown the cards to ID must identify the cards, but He may not telling the truth depends on his alignment. TRADE action can be taken by trade some of the cards in hand with someone else with the condition that the other player agree to take that trade and trade the same amount of cards. When taking a JUDGE action, players must be able to JUDGE all 3 cards on their hand, meaning if he wore a decoder glass, the 3 cards must have a JUDGE part showing a decoder icon on the. To JUGDE, that players decide whether to exonerate those 3 cards or deport. The game ends when the JUDGE markers are already used a number of times or when a player Accuse. All the judged citizen cards are scored based on their identities and the track is adjusted.  Accuse is an action taken from out of player’s turn. This may only be taken once the accuse countdown token is already revealed. The player who accuse must accuse 3 alignments, Soviet, Patriot and Unaligned (only used when there is an odd-numbered of players). If guessed correctly each alignment give 1 point to the accuser alignment, but -2 points if the guess is incorrect.The game also has a special mode that adding another element into the game, which is profession cards. These cards give players special abilities that they can use based on the requirement listed on the cards.  I am quite interested on this one and would love to try. The concept is good but not sure it really works. Since the players who wear decoder glass can peek outside the glass to know things that they shouldn’t make the game has high chance to miss. That’s why I need to try it first to make sure of this.
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pic3592167_mdCUSTOM HEROES
This game is designed by the guy who also designs Downfall (which is currently on Kickstarter right now), John D. Clair. As you can see that the title has a big Japanese characters on it instead of the English title, this is because the game is currently one of the games in AEG’s Big In Japan lineup. And I don’t really know why they place this game into this lineup since the designer himself is apparently not a Japanese, maybe the Anime thingy for the theme? Unlikely.  But anyway, let’s ignore that and go to the game. It has very interesting components (though not the first), which is plastic cards. Already used in Gloom, the card game that first using this kind of components where players stack cards on top of other cards to get different effects. The different is that players stack /overlay their cards and keep it in their hands. So the game comes with enough special sleeves that work as a carrier for stacked cards (easier to handle). In this game players will have to get rid of cards from their hand as fast as possible. While at first the game comes as trick taking game, it’s not. It’s a ladder climbing game such as Tichu or Maskmen. The starting player will start the round by playing a set of cards (can be 1 or 2 or 3 of one kind) and the next player must be able to play the same value of that set or higher. If he couldn’t, he must pass. The player wins for the turn will lead new turn. Once a player discards all cards from his hand, the round is over and deal scorings. What interesting about this game is that players can customize and modify their cards by stacking other cards into another card (inside the sleeve). This allows player to modify the value of that cards or maybe give special abilities. Quite interesting (just picture Gloom if you know that game) right? But that’s not all, since each round all cards are discarded, players will start the new round with all different cards in their hands, this might lead that your cards in previous round (the one that you modified) might be end up in other player’s hand in the next round or subsequent rounds. Player wins the game by collecting 10 points.
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Okay, enough for now. Again I need to research more.
So happy hunting for new games, until next time with more new exciting games.

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.

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2017 in Article, Board Games, Insight, Previews

 

Essen 2017 Highlights Preview – Part 2

Following the previous one, here is part two of Essen 2017 Highlights Preview. Last time I showed you some good games that you would probably like, and now I hope you would like my next picks. Without further ado, let’s start with,

pic3489147FLIPSHIPS
It’s designed by Kane Klenko (Covert, FUSE, Flatline and etc) and illustrated by Kwanchai Moriya. The game is practically Space Invaders: The Board Game. Yup, you and you partners will team up (okay it also has competitive mode) and defend the city against hordes of alien ships invasion just like the video game. What makes this game unique is that you need to flip your ships out to the outer space in order to shoot (more like a kamikaze move there) the enemies. Yes, you can flip the ship token (it’s made of cardboard in case you are wondering) from the edge of the table or they provide you with a wooden base to put your ship as a launch pad of some sort. The enemies are cards, form in rows and columns, they have different abilities. But the real deal is the mothership. The mothership is the boss, if you and your friends cannot defeat it before the deck runs out, you’re practically dead (it gives you 20 damage points). Worry not, you have plenty things to use in your disposal such as different level ships with different abilities and the game difficulties can be adjusted to players liking. In order to unlock the different levels, players need to trigger the condition, which usually from the City defense track. I think the game is very interesting, action dexterity game with nostalgic feeling where you flick ships to defeat enemy. I know like other dexterity games, it has 50/50 chance that it could be a hit or miss game. But even players with lousy flicking skill could improve with experiences and strong will. Hope you do not give up with one try if you perform badly flicking you ships. All in all, the game is super fun for friends, family and children alike.
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pic3611025_lgSANTA MARIA
The duo Eilif Svensson and Kristian Amundsen Østby are back with their latest game called Santa Maria. This game is still using the core concept from their previous games, Doodle City and Avenue. Imagine a city building game with placing tiles in grid spaces and dice placement to activate buildings in a column or row. The game plays over 3 rounds and in each turn, players will take one of the 3 available actions, expand, activate a building, activate a row/column or retire / withdraw from the round. Expand action gives you more space to work on your colony than you can use to activate. They usually produce resources or other things when activated. Players also has the choice to use an available die to activate a column or use their own blue die to activate one row. The twist is that after activating the row or column, the die used is placed on the last vacant building in that row / column. This building, cannot be activated again in subsequent turn. So players need to be careful and consider this factor in their actions. It has good variations in the game which is a plus. Plays very relatively quickly and falls into light-medium Euro category. There are a bit of set collection, resource management, tile laying, and dice placement in the game. The artworks are good and very friendly, it’s definitely worth checking out.
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pic3671706_mdALIEN ARTIFACTS
Is a new release game from Portal games. Designed by relatively new designers, Marcin Ropka and Viola Kijowska (Taste of Poland). The game take the theme of a space 4X card game. Players will have a character which gives them variable player powers and starting tableau. It is a tableau building game, with the similar feel of Imperial Settlers. Each player has a player board in the table, which separates 2 sides of their table, left and right. The left side is used to place cards that is not yet come into play (under construction or some sort) and the right side is for cards that are already built. The cards have three different types, Ships, Technology and Planets. And the unique about this game is that these cards can be used in two ways, Logistic and Operational. Logistic has an orientation of giving benefits during the game, where Operational mostly gives more ways to score points. From the logistic side, Ships increase the assembly limit, Technologies give you cool abilities while Planets gives you more extra resources. On the Operational side, ships allow players to attack Alien ships, Technologies give players more ways to score points and Planets produce resource cards. I find these flexibilities unique and can provide different strategy and ways to play. The game looks great, it has resource engine, tableau building, variable player powers and that 4X feels in it. I think they kinda look unattractive with the art direction, white dominant background with minimum icons and colors. The objects are not really standout as oppose with the white and clear background, it’s less evoking. But hey, they actually have really cool illustrations if you look closer.
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pic3443532_mdPRINCESS JING
Is a 2-players game from Roberto Fraga (Captain Sonar, DR. Eureka, Doctor Panic, Spinderella and etc). Its a nice looking deduction game / hide and seek game where one players will be the Princess Jing and other player as guards. In the story (I hope I am correct) that Princess Jing needs to escape from the palace and in order to do that, she needs to evade all the guards chasing her with the help of the pillars and her assistants. The game uses interesting mirror reflection (yes, there will be a working mirror component in the game that is used to search the princess). Players will sit in two opposite sides, and Princess Jing can hide herself behind the pillars as she moves which cannot be seen from her opponent’s side. The guards need to make a smart deduction, cover some areas to corner the princess while also placing the mirror to locate the princess. While the princess is not by herself, she has help from her assistant that will act as a decoy for the guards. The game is very unique take on deduction element while incorporating interesting component into the game which formed a nice simple hide and seek game. It plays relatively quick and simple. Sadly, the publisher (Matagot) claimed that it’s not yet ready for Essen 2017 and they only have demoes for it. So while you still have to wait to get it, maybe putting it on your wishlist would be enough to make you wagging your tail, or not.
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pic3534426_mdMINI PARK
This one comes from Taiwan BG Design (which represents SoSo games). They have nice looking titles for Essen 2017 releases and this one looks cute and attractive in such a very simple way. It’s colorful (greens and other colors). The game objective is about building park and score points from it. The game is simple, on their turn players choose whether to place a tile or a character. To place a tile, they take from the available two tiles in the display or take the top most face down tile from the draw pile. Place it adjacent with the existing tiles on the table. The roads on the tile must be connected and cannot be blocked. That player will get 1 points for each tile connected to the newly placed tile. Or they can place an available character from the display into one of the tile already in played. This is for scoring more points based on the park condition. The game comes in 2 different modes, basic and advance. As in advance mode, more complex elements are introduced into the game such as the placing character action will gives an end game scoring opportunity. And players are able to take this action a few times based on number of players while in the basic mode, only once. So the nature of the game is about building park together with other players while watching carefully when to take the action to score with a character. The characters scored differently based on different elements available on the park, while these will determine what players are after to score during the game. In short it is a racing game to score first while trying to score big. If you score too early in defense getting it before someone else, you might score small, while if you trying to hold back and score late in the game, other players might probably take that chance away. It’s an interesting game for sure, simple but creates a growing tension between players, which also gives precedence that this game has a strong take that feel since once your scoring chance is taken, your plan is blown and have to take the plan B instead. The game has a small box and everything is small, but it has some nice looking shaped wooden characters in it.
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Well enough for now, hope these nutritions fit you well to get through today. I personally waiting for Princess Jing, want to try Alien Artifacts with that cool looking card uses. Mini Park is a nice addition for what it is, and definitely getting Flipships, while still on the fence for Santa Maria concerning how the game really fit into the theme and replay value. Until next time with more new releases games straight from Essen 2017.

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.

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2017 in Article, Events, Insight, Previews

 

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Essen 2017 Highlights Preview – Part 1

I’m trying my best to cover as many games I can in the wake of Essen Spiel 2017 so you can get better preview on what games interest you more and what you should be getting.
I’m starting with part one, which covers some of the games. Be sure to check out more parts along the way after this one.

ClaimCLAIM
Okay this one is a small game, it’s a 2-players game to be exact. Claim is designed by Scott Almes (Best Treehouse Ever, Coaster Park, The Great Dinosaur Rush, etc) and consists of two different halves like For Sale or Biblios. It’s a trick taking game where players decide to play a card to win another card in display. Players with the highest suit win the round and each suit has slight abilities that matters on timing. Like any other trick taking game, the other player must follow suit if they have or use a specific card that can break the suit. After collecting the cards, they will use those cards to gain favor of the suits / factions. In the end the scoring uses majority in each faction. It plays quick and simple, and the artworks are also look very good, done by The Mico (Raiders of the North Sea, GOT Hand of The King, etc).

pic3584297_mdMICHAEL STROGOFF
I am really excited about this one. It is based on novel adaptation from Jules Verne with the same title. In the game, players have to deliver the message of an imminent Tartar invasion over Moscow. It’s simply a racing game, player who managed to get into the destination and defeat the traitor Ivan Ogareff before He successfully invades Russia with Tartar’s army, wins the game. The game plays in rounds where each round players will take turns to do one of the possible action (advance, rest and resolve dangers) followed by the movement of the traitor. Players need to advance in order to get into the destination, but advance will force them to encounter many events in the route which usually have bad things on them. The route cards work in similar with trial cards in The Grizzled where the same danger icons cannot be present. If there are more than one icon present during this time, they have to bear the penalties where all route cards player has in their display, forcing the players to discard action cards or lose energies and flip route cards face down. Here comes the rest action where players can draw cards, recover energy or flip a face down card. The other action is resolve dangers where players need to deal with the dangers on their route cards shown in their tableau.
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MontanaMONTANA
The game is about building settlements in Montana (obvious to the max) from Rudiger Dorn (Istanbul, Karuba, Jambo, etc). So as expected it’s a Euro game, medium weight to be precise. This is another racing game, where player who manage to build all of their settlements, wins the game. In this game, players will take turns to get workers, assign those workers to get resources. Where these resources will be used to build settlement. It has modular board setup with networking in the tile laying mechanic, resource management and worker placement and a small bit of auction in the worker placement segment. What unique about this game is that there are multiple types of workers and they do different things, and the main way players to get workers is through the spinner. Yes it’s like a luck-based rondel system where players spin the arrows in the wheel and see what workers they got. The component quality is good, each player gets their own player board to manage their workers and resources (not necessary but a plus) and the visual presentation is off the chart, it is beautiful and rich of colors. It plays relatively quick and the rules are clear and simple. But the main concern is that I think it has low replay value, where players are obviously do the same thing over and over again without any significant difference in each game. The modular board during setup doesn’t help cause it just gives variation but doesn’t change the game play even a bit.
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ora01_box_leftLEGACY OF DRAGONHOLT
FFG latest game, they claimed it RPG without the need of a game master. Their new Oracle system provides the game that works without a game master, with its intuitive game play capturing immersive storytelling of a role playing game while adding the legacy mechanic inside the game. In short, they want to look cool with this new called system as it is practically a legacy game. It has character creations in it, some scenarios and mostly books full of paragraphs.
Corey Konieczka is the man behind the game, who also designed some notable games from FFG (Rune Age, Battlestar Galactica, Runewars, etc). I must say that I am interested on this one, surprisingly it still doesn’t have a listing on BGG. FFG announced it will be available in late 2017. I am not sure this will be on Essen 2017, but it’s new and was on Gen Con, so I just thought that this would be interesting to wait and look for.
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Ex LibrisEX LIBRIS
Adam P. McIver (Coin Age, Kingdom Land) new game, called Ex Libris. In this game players will become book collectors and in the event of Grand Librarian held by the city, you must show that you are the greatest one in the city. So in this game players will manage their book shelves with a series of books and score points from them. The game has worker placement mechanic where players sent the workers into places in the city in order get books that you want. In the end players will score based on the alphabetic order of their book shelves, variety and banned books.
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The game surely gets more interesting with variable player power instead of the basic mode. What more unique is that these variable player powers grant players with specific shaped worker meeples. By golly they have a gelatinous cube as a meeple (yes, it’s true). The gelatinous cube assistant meeple is in fact literally a gelatinous cube. It also has a snowman, but who can top a gelatinous cube meeple? I find the game to be quite interesting, finding and sorting stuff. But there are some detriments in the game, like aside the game has a very good range distribution of books category, nice clear category icons, beautiful artworks and flavors in it, sadly it has a bad in-game texts that hard to read. A classic mistake to place a white small texts in front of a colorful illustrations. Players will constantly check these texts to know what exactly the actions and how it works since the game play requires the routine rotation of the action tiles. And about the variable player powers, they seemed not balanced and also there are quite a bit of luck on the draw of the cards.
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pic3712277_mdCOASTER PARK
Another game from Scott Almes (Best Treehouse Ever, Claim, The Great Dinosaur Rush, etc). In this game, players build roller coaster park, the best on wins the game. The main attraction of this game is the 3D card board pieces of roller coaster. Yes, you actually build roller coaster rides from tiles. It uses the similar mechanic in The Castles of Mad King Ludwig, where the active player choose a tile and offer the tiles to other players with certain amount of value. If there’s a player interested on that tile, they pay that amount of money to the active player. If no one interested, the active player get the tile. Some tiles have different effect in scoring and at the end of the game, before scoring, players will get maximum three attempts to see if their ride is totally works or not. Yes, you will check if your coaster works or not by testing it. Each player has a marble which used as a roller coaster cart and they will let the marble slide from the top. This is a very unique take from the game, and while there’s a loop part of the coaster, it can really work to make the marble circle 360 degrees. Very interesting game indeed and of course the presentation off the chart. No one will not see this on the table.
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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.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2017 in Events, Insight, Previews

 

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A Long Write Comeback

2014 is rolling. I know that it’s been months that I haven’t had any post to this blog, and I am sorry for that. Let me make it up to you guys with this one.

It’s already a new year, 2014 is on our path. So I’m gonna write a whole lot of stuff regarding 2013 specifically about Essen 2013’s games. Yes that’s the latest hype and let see if those games live up to the hype in my book.

Essen is always an interesting annual event for me (and also for board gamers of course), the reason is simply because there are lot of new games being launched in this event. Long before it’s even coming, we all already made a list of games that we expecting in Essen. Now for Essen 2013, there are lot of games that were added into my list, some of them of course I managed to purchase. But some I only or need to try them first before making any purchase decision.

I’m gonna write a small review (more like sorts of an impression) about Essen 2013’s games that I have managed to try.

Euphoria : Build a Better Dystopia (Nov 16, 2013)
I don’t know if it’s included as an Essen 2013 game or not but it was first shown (officially) on Essen 2013 if I was not mistaken. Jamey Steigmaier is a great designer and an honorable man. His KS project of Euphoria really really a hit and I was quite disappointed for not backing his project. Anyway, I was a playtester for this game with the prototype and I was surprised that my name and my friends’ names are on the back of the rulebook. Awesome Jamey! Proud that my name was immortalized on his game’s rulebook. So it wasn’t the first for me, but at least it’s the first for the official published version of the game. When I looked at the published game, my impression was over the moon. The game’s components are exceptionally great, those beautiful shapes of wooden components, great looking custom dice sets, awesome cards and don’t forget the two-sided board with alternative color tones. Okay enough with the overkill produced components, let’s jump into the water. I guessed there were no significant game play / rules changes from the playtesting. The game has a unique dice allocation mechanic (which is attached with a nice thematic worker intelligence) along with set collection and the core mechanic of VP racing. That’s the main discussion over here, VP racing mechanic. Personally I do not like a racing game (not thematically) and Euphoria is one of those games. This is the main reason that I did not back the KS project.
In overall, the game’s goal is to be the first player to place 10 stars. Once you do that, you win the game immediately. That’s what I called sucks.
But when playing the game I was enjoying the process, though I still think that the winning condition is irritating. For me this game has a collector value and worth to have.
My score would be 7.5 out of 10. It would be 8.5 if not for the racing game.

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Russian RailRoads (Nov 22, 2013)
This one is one of my favorites of Essen’s 2013 games. Why? Well you need to feel it yourself. But I’ll try to explain it to you the best I can.
At first I was not interested on this one, the title seemed very 18XX-ish if you know what I mean. But a friend mentioned to get this game and that made me look into it. Surprisingly the visual presentation did a very good job intensifying my interest. After reading the rules, I ordered it from amazon with quite a bargain on the shipping. While waiting for my copy to arrive I tried a copy of my friend’s. The rules are simple and easy to understand, just like a simple worker placement game on the main board. But the point generators are what the main attraction on this game. These engines are lies on the player board which is consists of three Trans Siberian tracks (Vladivostok, St. Petersburg and Kiev destination) and an industry track.
During the game player will need to make lot of hard decisions to build their rail tracks and industries. Normally the game last 7 rounds. Each round players will score their progresses. What’s interesting with this game is there are lots of combination of strategies and you need to find out which ones are the best and most efficient to give you maximum points. At first the rules could be quite intimidating (I am talking about the point generators and how they work) but once you play your first game you’ll realized how easy to play this game (just like Castles of Burgundy and I know why this game is very similar). But the essence is how to get the most out of your plays. The engines are not as easy as playing the game. In order to win you need to carefully mix and match your strategies. Whether you play all three tracks, only some or with industry or maybe leave out the industry aspect at all. It’s very interesting and each turn you will have to make a decision where you should placing your worker(s), because next turn that slot wouldn’t still be available.
This game is one of my favorites and it’s easy to get this on the table often. My girlfriend likes this game just as she likes Castles of Burgundy.
My score is 9 out of 10.

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Bruxelles 1893 (Dec 13, 2013)
I planned to buy this game but I changed my mind in the last minute. I changed my purchase to Russian RailRoads instead of this one. The reason would be simple, the situation wouldn’t let me. Well, that time I could only afford one game. While I already set my target on this game, a new game (which is Russian RailRoads by the way) emerged and judging from the situation it’s easier to come by rather than Bruxelles 1893. So there you go, I missed this one. The truth is I did not regret this, it’s a fine decision. But I do not say it’s a bad game, in fact it’s good looking game. Would love to have this on my collection. The visual presentation is stunning, not main stream stunning but in a unique way. The art style followed the theme in which art nouveau is the main attention. The theme is really describing what really is from the title itself. Bruxelles is a city from Belgium which on 1893 was very profound of their art progress and style. Arts are highly regarded as great work and respected among the society. In this game players play as artists who perform arts in various mediums suchs as paintings, sculpts and also models or furnitures. Alexandre Roche was doing the artworks for the game and I must admit that his work on Bruxelles 1893 really drips Troyes style artwork (which I also love).
The game last for 5 rounds where in each, players will get their workers / assistants to help them with their works. So this is a worker placement game, nothing new here but hold that thought because there is a twist in it.
To assign a worker you must also place coins in it (with minimum one coin). You place the worker on available tile slots on the round (yes each round the first player will decide which tiles are used in a given round based on the column and row, ain’t that interesting?). After all players already placed their workers and resolve the actions, the next thing is to resolve the bids based on the total number of coins on each columns. The winner gets the card under that column. These cards can be used for instant benefit or you can place it under your player board for end game scoring upgrades.
Also there is a majority scoring on the tiles. It’s pretty unique and more of it the chart of market price are also one of a kind. You can adjust the selling price of your art in the market by adjusting the chart based on how many types of arts you have. You can choose to get more coins or more points.
It’s pretty interesting and also not very brain burning. My score would be 8 out of 10.

Madeira (Dec 14, 2013)
This game is brilliant. Hail to Nuno Sentieiro and Paulo Soledade for making such a game. It was published by What’s Your Game and I pre-ordered the game as soon as I heard that they opened the preorder on their site. €40 include international shipping was really sold me out. Instantly purchased and I waited for around 1 months to get it shipped, and 2 weeks to receive the game. I love the artwork but there were some component issues. They informed me that the first batch copies have a minor miscutting register and it would need utmost caution punching the tokens. That’s not a big deal. But what I mostly concerned about was the game box. The outer lid has severe torn on one of the edges. The reason is still unknown since the packing was exceptionally good with bubble wraps and sturdy outer box. No dent was ever found. I told them about this and they told me that they will check into this.
The components are in good quality, I love the dice and the board.
Madeira is an island that was officially discovered by Portuguese seafarers.
In this game players will need to cultivate the lands and adapt in the land’s condition. The goal is to be the player with most points. The game lasts for 5 rounds in which each round players will choose a set of dice, activate available characters with their dice and also activate buildings with their action markers. And in the end of each odd round they will score points from Crown’s request tiles they own. It does sound easy doesn’t it? But the fact says otherwise, it is one hell of a brain burning heavy euro games. It has heavy strategic and planning with moderate learning curve. One needs 45-60′ and a huge motivation to explain this game to new players (or vice versa).
Though the learning curve is ain’t as high as Brass but it’s notable to put this under consideration. The first game would totally blow you away. There are lots of elements that get in the way of the game play. So you need to learn the mixture of things while you play.
I love the game, yes it’s hard but rewarding in my opinion. The pirate aspect really adds players interaction. The dice allocation mechanic is unique. Each round players is gonna choose one set of three dice from the available sets. These preliminary phase has already put players into deep and careful planning since what you choose is not only the dice but also turn order, guild’s favor refresh and your scoring possibility as well.
This mechanic alone shows Madeira has a rich game play and challenging experience in each session. During the character phase, players will take turn to use a die (their own or even a pirate die) to activate a character. There are 5 characters available that randomly distributed into 5 fix locations on the board each round. This also gives players new experience each session.
The island is divided into 3 region (region 1 to 3) and these regions restrict the use of dice, in which random dice rolling factor can be mitigated by the use of breads. Using breads let players to break the restriction of placing a die into a region. The dice have 3 values from 1 to 3 (each value has 2 sides) and each value corresponds to the region where it can be allocated. For example you may only place a die with value 1 onto character in region 1 and a die with value 3 into any region. So this is where the bread tiles come into use, if a player want to place his die but restricted because of the value, he can pay 1 bread tile to virtually modify his die one value higher.
Once all players are already passed (they choose to pass or they cannot use any more die) the buildings are resolved in order. Players who have an action marker in a building have to pay the cost (this cost is generated for each building by a specific number minus the sum value of re-rolling all the dice used previously on the character that’s on it). They need to pay regardless they want to activate the building or not, if they do not want or cannot pay, they receive pirates token (1 pirate plus the value of re-rolled pirate die if any).
After all the buildings are resolved, the rest of the round are upkeep and cleanup. Each odd round players will score points based on their Crown’s request tiles. In round 1, they will choose one out of 2 tiles, where in round 3 they will choose 2 out of 3 tiles and in the last round they will score all their tiles (3 tiles). In the final scoring, player with the most pirates gets penalty 16 points, the second most gets penalty 8 points. This aspect really adds tension in the later rounds and also very punishing. I love the game, the components, the quality, the artworks, the strategy and decision making, the interaction and the game play. The downsides are it’s intimidating rules, complexity and duration length. My score for this game is 9 out of 10.

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Asgard’s Chosen (Dec 8, 2013)
Okay, it’s not a hit. But based on the review it has very nice feedbacks and reviews (besides the lousy component qualities). It’s an innovative deck building game with Norse mythology theme by Morgan Dontanville. I came across this game the first time through boardgamegeek.com (what else?!). I always love mythology theme with gods and such and it’s Norse mythology where you can find Thor and Loki in it. I read the game’s designer diary and it totally sold me out. I found it really interesting of what the designer think about the deckbuilding mechanic and how he wants to take it into another different level. This one might be another addition to my list of loved games but not particularly liked by others (along with Wiraqocha and Panic Station, etc). The artworks look fantastic, you can see there’s also David Cochard in the artists line up (in case you geeks did not know, he’s the artist behind Dungeon Petz and Lords artworks). The characters have great detail artworks and they decided to bring distinguished looks in each character’s level which turned out pretty awesome. This game is published by Mayfair games, which is one of the most famous board game publishers. But they delivered this game very disappointing. The components are in bad quality especially on the game box material (bad finish, thin material) and the punchboards. The tokens are easily worn out and the printed surface is easily falling off. This is very bad, big time.
The card quality is OK but not impressive, a little bit thin and flimsy.
And I do wonder why they use different size hero meeples, I can see the different shapes, but the size just didn’t cut it. The female hero meeples is cylindrical in which if the female hero was vanquished you need to place it aside and with that cylindrical shape, it’s easily to roll out.

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Okay let’s talk about the meat of the game. It’s basically a VP racing game (which is I am not personally favor at), players need to appease a number of Gods to trigger the end game and the one with most appeased Gods win the game. Each player will get a set of God cards (10 Gods to be precise) which includes Odin, Thor, Loki, Tyr, Heimdallr, Frigg, Freyja, Sif, Hel and Baldr. Each round, players will have to take turns to move their 2 heroes one by one in a set of modular boards consisting different type of terrains. Their heroes will conquest uncontrolled or controlled terrains. One of the reasons to do this is for deck manipulation / deck building. They need to diversify their controlled terrains to be able to muster new creatures available in the Tisch during muster phase. What is the ‘Tisch’? The ‘Tisch’ is a 2 rows of cards with 4 cards each. It consists of creature, town item and magic item cards. These cards will help players to appease their Gods. Creatures have their terrain affinities as well as magic and town item. In other words, in order to get them you need to control the matching terrain. For example if you want to muster a mountain creatures you need to control at least one mountain terrain. The same thing if you want to muster a town item you need to control a town.
Now let’s get down to the game play. Each round there are sequence of phases, starting from God phase in which players decide which God in their hands that they want to use it’s favor. That God card is placed in front of them and they can use the favor describes on the card. Next the Charm phase, players may use one item card that can be activated during charm phase from their hand. The next one is the Campaign phase. This is the core system of the game. Each player will take turns to move their heroes one by one. The ‘move’ action in this game means players could literally move their heroes inside their controlled territories or conquest other territory that is adjacent to theur controlled territories. So player can conquest an uncontrolled territory or an opponent’s controlled territory. When they try to conquest an uncontrolled ones they will be facing thr game mechanic, otherwise they’ll be facing the game mechanic and also the controller of that territory.
The next phase is Muster phase. This is where all the deckbuilding happens. Players may take turns to muster a card from the Tisch. These recently mustered cards are placed on the discard pile along with the cost.
The last phase is renewal phase in which players discard and draw up to 7 cards and revive their vanquished heroes.
Appeasing Gods. There are some restrictions when it comes to appeasing Gods. At all times, players can only appease one God per phase and may only doing so during their turn. Played God card during God phase cannot be appeased, they may only appease Gods from their hand.
I like the unique appeasing God and the deckbuilding mechanic. It’s very thematic and one can say it’s pretty much fiddly, to cover all those details and elements during the game. The 6 different terrains, the unique and various creatures’ abilities and the restrictions for each action. The learning curve could be quite high judging it’s not a simple deckbuilding game. In this game, to build your deck you need to plan your actions.
My score for this game would be 8 out of 10.

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Lewis & Clark: The Expedition (Dec 26, 2013)
I highly interested on this game but decided to give it a try before making a purchase. It’s my most anticipated game that I want to try so badly. At last I tried the game from a friend’s copy. It has beautiful awsome artworks and more than that, each player card set has different illustrations though they have the same effects, even more there is no duplicate name and illustration on all the cards. Pretty neat huh? The game is about the expedition of Lewis and Clark during the time when United State bought a portion of land from the French and decided to order an expedition to mapping the location led by Lewis and Clark. They mapped the location from the river stream, from one point to the other end. Now this historical theme might led you to think that it’s a racing game, and it was true that this is a racing game. The first player who reach the destination wins the game. This is the only reason why I hold my purchase and decided to try it first. I’ve read the rules and must admit that I was completely interested on the game play and mechanics, despite the fact that it is a racing game. Players goal is to be the first one to bring their camp to the finish line.
In this game each player will get a set of character cards, a player board and also camp & scout tokens. During their turn, players may play a card, place Indian(s) or set up camp. Playing a card must be accompanied by another face down card, Indian meeple(s) or both. The Indian symbol and meeple(s) represent strength or activation time.
With cards they will collect resources, convert resources, move scouts and other things. They can also place their Indian meeples into available spaces of powwow area on the game board. These spaces provide players with resources and upgrade options. They can also set up camp. To do this they will need to resolve left out cards in their hands and also the player board situation. These will determine where the exact space they can set up camp.
Players can also buy new cards from the available row with some cost.
While one of your aims is to collect resources for your expedition, you cannot travelling carrying heavy luggage, this is why players consider on their supply. With heavy luggage they cannot travel as quick and fast as they travel in light. So there is something that they need to consider when planning. And also, the route is getting more difficult by having 2 different kind of terrains (water and mountain). These 2 kind of terrains will slow your progress, since in order to pass through these terrain a different kind of transportation is needed, either with canoes, horses or yaks. It’s pretty much great decision making aspect to get what you after.
I like the beautifully looking components, especially the Indian meeples and also the cute tiny resource hexes (more if attached with resource stickers). Another reason that I wanted to try this first before purchasing was I also want this game to be liked by my girlfriend. I do not really want to get this game and do not get it into the table because my girl doesn’t like to play it. But luckily she said it is good. So can’t wait to get this one in my next purchase.
My score is 8 out of 10.

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Legacy: Testament of Duke de Crecy (Dec 26, 2013)
This game garnered quite a hype amongst my buddies that moment. But I did not agree. Not really interested on it and did not bother to look into it. But a friend asked me and my girlfriend to join for a session and we both liked “Why not? It’s a new game to try”. Apparently the game has similar resemblance theme and play style as Last Will, though they’re completely different in origin. In Legacy, you are the head of a family that needs to protect and preserve your bloodline for three generations (rounds). You will get married, make children of your own and get them continue your bloodline from generation to generation. This is actually a pretty interesting idea for a theme and I found that my first play was really enjoyable and fun. I felt lack of actions (only 2 basic actions in each turn) which hold you down with so many things you really want to do. Arrange marriage, make children, make friends, get a title for your family, buy an estate and such. That’s a lot to do. It’s basically a card game, as you can see mostly the components are cards, with player boards, main boards to place cards and tracking rounds, cubes and action tokens and also coins.
We’re having some difficulties to differentiate the gender of the child. I don’t see why they make the boys have a long hair, which easily create player’s confusion. Anyway it’s an ok game, with quite a lot of luck factor on the friend cards, their nationalities and also the children’s gender. It’s just not my cup of tea, though playing it the first time could be fun and enjoyable.
My score would be 7 out of 10.

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Concordia (Dec 26, 2013).
A new game from Marc Gerdts, that’s not involving rondel. Usually Marc Gerdts designs games with rondel mechanic, such as Antikke Duellum, Hamburgum and Navegador. It’s his signature, and now he’s making a game without it, interesting.
Actually I was never interested on this game at all, aside I have Antike Duellum on my wish list. A friend asked me to join and I was gladly accept it. It’s a pretty straight forward Euro with paste out theme, leaning more onto abstract side. The game uses roles and set collection with the combination of networking and resource collecting. At first each player has the same set of cards, each with a specific role. Each turn players will play a card as an action. The game ends if the last cards on the row is bought. The anatomy of a card has different part, there is the role part which describes what action the card can do, beneath it there are list of recources as cost to acquire this card. In the bottom is the end game scoring reference. In other words, players will have to choose wisely what kind of cards they need to invest in. Either they get cards for its actions or for its final scoring. The main board has a map drawn and depicts several provinces. These provinces consist of different areas and each of it’s own resource. Players also need to cover areas with their ships and colonies to get benefits while harvesting and final scoring. Surprisingly the game is quite good and it’s fun. But sometimes this could let to AP prone situation while deciding which card you want to use, since more and more you’ll get more cards, which your hand will be full of cards. It’s not like a deck building that you have to fill your hand up to some amount. In this game you take back all the cards you have into your hands after you play a specific cards, that makes you hand really really full. And also deciding what areas to get and where to go could lead to AP situation. With lots of access and randomly different recources in each game leads players to a new situation. The resource tokens have cute shapes, and the card design is so classic old roman style.
My score for this game is 8 out of 10.

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Archon: Glory and Machinations (Jan 11, 2014)
This is my new game for 2014. I should have backed this game while it’s on KS but I did not. I pretty much had a tight budget back then and also not really sure if it would be good. So I skipped the KS, but a friend of mine gave me the opportunity to buy his new sealed copy right after it’s arrived. So I did not skip it this time. The main attraction of this game is the artworks. As you know, Antonis Papantoniou did all the illustrations for the game and man he is one of the best illustrators I know. You can see his works in Drum Roll, Among The Stars and Fallen City of Karez. In this game he also uses the contrast color tone approach on his illustrations (which probably his main style). The characters on the cards are really depicting royal and prestigious feel with gears and bolts all over them. This is the thin red line, the strain that connects all of the illhstrations. The board is amazing and huge, just like Fallen City of Karez. That monstrous and gigantic illustrations of locations and places that put together into a one higly detailed big city embodied with gears element.

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In this game players need to collect the most points for 9 rounds. Each 3 rounds there will be an event and scoring. The game is quite simple, players play cards in order to place their workers into slots from locations on the game board. There are mainly 2 kind of cards, courtiers and magisters. Courtiers are basic characters and do not have special effect. While Magisters have different kind of types and effects. At the start of the game each player will have 8 Courtiers and 2 selected Magister cards in their decks. In each odd round players will need to assign 5 cards that they want to use during this round and the next. Cards for the next round are placed face down for future use. This mechanic is unique and gives you more freedom to build your hand, of course this is not a deck building game, despite you refine your deck of cards, the numver of cards are still 10 cards. Once you get a new Magister card you need to replace it with your Courtier. The flexible thing is you can replace it with Courtier card from your hand (so that newly acquired Magister can immediately be played this round) or from your discard or from your next round’s cards. Players get points from advancing their tracks on the guild hall (getting Magisters), placing Elite warrior on the 2 wall spaces that generates 1 point, build structures, collect science and arts and also collect Elite Warrior cards. There are also end game scoring from 4 level 3 structures. Though the game is good and challenging, there is some issues on one of the strategy in the game. The Roy Guard action to place Elite Warrior cards are deemed not worthy the actions and cost to be taken into account. Yes you get the protection from event, 2 points on the wall an majority from Elite Warrior cards but the actions and resources you need to complete that are almost nonsensical.
I’m gonna bring out topics about the game components, the game uses unusual colors for the playing pieces. They are all monochromatic. From white, beige, grey and black. Also the same with the resource cubes. These colors could look the same and some players reported the misidentified colors between white and beige, black and grey. This turned out to be fatal for my first play, which we identify the grey as black on one of the locations symbol. They should use different shape if they persistent with the colors. They said it’s for the color blind issue, and that’s not a bad thing, I just a bit disappointed that they did not consider other aspect as well. And also during the KS project development, they proposed an alternative art for the game board (the darker one) which could help to bring out more distinguishable look of the buildings apart ftom the background illustrations. This would surely stressed out the functionality design on the game board, but the crowd responses were critically discharge. It’s too bad though, I like the darker ones. Anyway it’s a fun game and I do not regret for having this game in my collection.
My score for this game is 8 out of 10.

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The Capitals (Jan 18, 2014)
This is one big and expensive game. The main reason is the game weight, it’s full of building punchboard tiles all over it. The game is very similar in theme with Sunrise City, City Tycoon and Suburbia. It’s about city building. Players will control their own city and try to build it the best way they choose. After the game ends, player with the best city wins the game. There 3 rounds of scoring with 4 turns in each round. During each turn players will determine turn order and buy a building tile. Then they take action(s) activating their buildings based on their power plant level and cultural bonus.
There are different kind of building types which shown in different color background. The building has immediate effect once built and also has active or passive effect. Active effect need to be activated first to get the effect. Activation cost needs power cubes from power plants.
There are several different aspects that players need to manage, they are city fund, population, cultural, industry and public works. There are also the tourism concept that I find it interesting. Tourism lets player with the most advance on the culture track to get benefit from the tourists that came to his city. Those tourists apparently come from other (players’) cities. This is interesting, since having highest culture give the city benefit for being the most wanted place to be visited. While cities with lower cultures really do not favorable place to visit even their citizens prefer to visit another city. The benefit is in the form of a car meeple that can be used as energy cube. The advantage is the car meeple can always moving around each time you want to activate a building. So it’s more flexible and give you easy access to more buildings.
Another unique thing is the population track in correlation between the work force track. These 2 tracks must really balance. At first population has minus points up until some point. So you need to expand the city population up to at least safe level. But beware you must also manage the work force track. Good level of population is not good if the work force is not balance that could lead to potential jobless threat.
The turn order is also interesting. Players will need to pay thebturn order based on their current order. First players must pay a lot of money to maintain his turn order while of course the last player can easily take the first place if there is no one fill the position yet. In other words, first player that maintain his first position will be wasting points since $4 is worth 1 vp.
I like the game, it’s simple and easy to play. Yes it has random factor from the building tiles but it’s still manageable. You also have to be careful with your point condition. Players will start with minus points and you have to make it positive and gain as many as you can before the time is up.
My score to this game is 8.5 out of 10

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Kohle & Kolonie (18 Jan, 2014)
This is one of my favorites games of Essen 2013. A monster game of the same level as Terra Mystica (well at least the box has the same size). I was interested on the theme and the visual presentation. I wanted it but trying first would be a wise decision since this game it’s not cheap and it’s very heavy. So we’re having board gaming session last Saturday and this game is right on top of my list to play, along with Nations.
When I looked inside the box there are lots, I mean lots of components inside. The box is full with boards, tiles and wooden components. Awesome feeling for unboxing I am pretty damn sure. Each player gets their own player boards with double sided ability tiles, cubes, discs and tiles. It looks gorgeous and I love this.
Let’s get into the game play. The game has a mining theme integrated into it. Players will be a mining businessmen who buy mines, run them and take profit from them. The board is spread long to the side, depicting a map with different region separated by lines and colors. There are around 5 or 6 regions on it. Each region also has some areas with mining sites on it. The game last 5 rounds and there is a progress track on top of the board to eadily track the phase progress of each round. A disaster track that also functions as round track on the right bottom of the board. Each round players will have normally 2 actions (more if you take the bonus tile and spend an extra action tile). During these actions players may take one of available actions (they may take the same actions with all of their actions). These actions are buy a mine, deploy and move workers, place a settlement and 2 workers, train an engineer, make a steam engine. Players also has ability boards that can be placed with their workers, steam engines and engineers. These tiles have double sides with the back sides are higher level that will be available after upgraded and are integrated well with their 3 action tiles.
At the start of each round new mines will become available to purchase. These mines also gives income for the owners, and players can place up to 6 mines on their player boards. These mines also give players points based on how many mines are inside the area. Settlements also give points on how many adjacent mines owned by the player. Each round there is disaster phase, which has a unique drawing mechanic. Players who have uninsured mines will put their disc / uninsured mine into the bag along with black discs. Then 3 discs are drawn. If their discs are drawn, they need to pay the penalty and place a worker cube per drawn disc into the disaster phase (minus points for placing cubes here). The first disaster is natural disaster, which is gonna stay until the end of game (it’s effect will triggered when the beige disc are drawn). If black discs are drawn, bank will buy the lowest number of mines and the bank threshold value is added.
After income and scoring mine phase, there is consolidation phase. Each area has different consolidation round, which depicts when the mines on that area will be cobsolidated. This phase is also unique, since if there is more than 1 owner of the mines (other players and the bank itself) they will take part into consolidation bids. The winner will take control of the area and score points from it. The losers will score 2 points for each mines they have on that area.
Players also get benefit if they complete connected networks on the rails with their workers. There are 4 rails spread over the map each with different length. When players take deploy and move 2 workers, they can deploy workers into their built settlements or into available slots on their ability boards and then move the workers (on settlements) into connected stations. If it’s the first worker moved into the station players can get a bonus tile available on the station. Each player may, during his turn, upgrade his ability boards by spending coins and / or neutral workers. Upgrading ability boards mean that he turn the board into the other face side up which gives him points and also better slots. There are 3 ability boards that when upgraded will automatically flip the action tile corresponding to that ability. Action tiles that are flipped are not only the player’s but also other players. The flipped action tile has higher cost than the basic one.
I love the simple and streamline game play that the game has to offer, okay maybe it has a bit conplex on the consolidation phase but that’s it. There is many things you can do with all your 2 actions per round but I guess it’s still ok compared with Legacy. I wonder when can I added this game into my collection. Since it’s quite expensive and I even haven’t get Terra Mystica. I guess my girlfriend likes this one better than Terra Mystica. It’s one level below Terra Mystica on the heavy Euro scale.
My score would be 8.5 out of 10.

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Alright, those above were Essen 2013’s games that I tried and still lot more to come. I still haven’t try Nations, Rokoko, Glass Roads, Caverna, Patchistory, CV, Om Nom Nom, Tash-Kalar, A Study in Emerald, The Witches, Mauna Kea, Coal Baron and Rampage.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2014 in Article, Board Games, Insight

 

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Quantum Preview

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Essen 2013 is coming, and I’m about to do a preview of one of the Essen’s games listed to be released. So, what is Quantum all about? Hearing the word ‘Quantum’, most of us would think about science and such. First, let me describe the word ‘Quantum’, before getting too deep.

In short, Quantum is the minimum amount of any physical entity involved in an interaction.
But in long, here is what I got from Wikipedia:

The word “quantum” comes from the Latin “quantus,” for “how much.” “Quanta,” short for “quanta of electricity” (electrons) was used in a 1902 article on the photoelectric effect by Phillip Lennard , who credited Hermann von Helmholtz for using the word in the area of electricity. However, the word quantum in general was well known before 1900.It was often used by physicians, such as in the term quantum satis. Both Helmholtz and Julius von Mayer were physicians as well as physicists. Helmholtz used “quantum” with reference to heat in his article on Mayer’s work, and indeed, the word “quantum” can be found in the formulation of the first law of thermodynamics by Mayer in his letter dated July 24, 1841. Max Planck used “quanta” to mean “quanta of matter and electricity,” gas, and heat. In 1905, in response to Planck’s work and the experimental work of Lenard, who explained his results by using the term “quanta of electricity,” Albert Einstein suggested that radiation existed in spatially localized packets which he called “quanta of light” (“Lightquanta”).[7]

I…don’t understand. Okay, let’s stop make ourselves look more stupid than we are. So, it’s physics and enough of that. But judging by the cover, you can see the game is all about, Sci-fi theme in space? Close or not, you tell me yourself.

The game is published by Funforge, a French board games publisher which also published Antoine Bauza’s Tokaido in previous year. But this time, Quantum is not Bauza’s, it’s designed by Eric Zimmerman. The game can be played from 2 up to 4 players and was listed for 30 minutes of game play. So a quick game with heavy nuance.

Personally I just not interested on the game itself, by many aspects, one being a Sci-fi theme with planets and outer space elements. But, I did read the rules and found that the game has certain feats that provide interesting aspect on the game. So, since it’s quite simple and easy to understand I decided to make a preview for this one.

Box Cover

THE CATCH
In Quantum players compete to be the first player who place all of his Quantum cubes on the board. If one player did that, he immediately wins the game. I can safely conclude that this is a racing game (*sigh, just not my cup of tea). Anyway, let’s look on the them or background of the game. Players command their own fleet from different factions or colonies, though as far as I can see, the different factions provides no other beside the game flavor. During the game, you will take actions that will support your goal to place all of your Quantum cubes in place.

THE MANIFEST
So let’s take a pause from there and look at the components. The artworks are undoubtedly gorgeous, very stunning and perfectly representing high technology, science and space, you can thank that to the artists, Georges Bouchelaghem and Kieran Yanner.

So, what’s in the box?
You can find 24 map tiles that form the game map / board. You only use 9 maps in each game, so there are many various combination for you to try in every game (call that replay value!). Each map tile is broken down into 9 grids with a planet image on the center grid. These planets have different colors and square slots.
There are also 4 Command sheets, one for each player, 28 six-sided dice in 4 different colors acting as ships (yes, their ships are cube-shaped and I understand your confusion and amazement about how ergonomic is that, but I guess the ergo-law is not applicable in space). You will also find 28 small cubes in 4 different color, these are the so-called Quantum cubes. While we all know that the main objective is to place all of your Quantum cubes into the game board, that does not mean you can throw some of the cubes while others not looking (we all know it’s called cheating).
Cards, yes do not forget about the cards. There are 53 cards that contain 2 types of cards, Gambit and Command cards. The last are two combat dice (a simple black and white 6-sided dice).

Map Tiles

SETUPS
Before any game, at least one player must prepare the game setup (often is the owner of the game). First, you need to form the space map, draw 9 out of 24 map tiles based on the number listed on the tile (the color does not matter) and place the tiles face-up on the center of the table in 3×3 layout. You can find several layouts in the rulebook for starting planet locations to be set based on number of players, but no matter how many players you still use 9 tiles in each game.

Each player then can choose a color and take the inventories that matches the color, such as Command sheet, 7 dice and 5 Quantum cubes, remember only 5 cubes not 7 (You don’t need to place yourself in more difficult situation from others, no reward for hardcore gamers). Now let’s prepare the Command sheet, by placing one die on the Research box (with 1 pip facing up) and one die on the Dominance box (also with 1 pip facing up). Place your 5 Quantum cubes in the Quantum box. Next each player determines their starting ships by rolling 3 unused dice (for this purpose you can re-roll the 3 dice once). Player with the lowest total of the 3 dice is the starting player and going clockwise the first player place one of his Quantum cubes on the starting location slot (okay, so now you only have 4 cubes left). After that, in player order each player place the 3 dice / ships on the spaces adjacent next to his starting planet (note that orthogonally adjacent not diagonally).

Game in Progress

THE MEAT
Okay, now let’s play the game. A player’s turn consists of 2 phases, Action and Advance Cards. During actions, players may take 3 available actions and use ship special abilities. There are 5 possible actions that players can take:
1. RECONFIGURE
When taking this action, you can re-roll one of your ships on the map or scrapyard. The good thing about this roll is, you can always re-roll the die if you get the same result roll. Even with this, it’s still a long shot to get what you want. Maybe you need to look at this differently, this action lets you to change your ship type other that what it is now.
2. DEPLOY
This action lets you to place a new ship from your scrapyard (if any) to any orbital positions on a planet that has your Quantum cube in it. Remember that you cannot place your 2 expansion ships in this manner, only in your scrapyard.
3. MOVE / ATTACK
You can move one of your ships on the map. A ship can only move once per turn and the distance is varied based on the ship’s type. You can attack other ship by end the ship movement in the enemy ship’s space. Ship cannot move through an obstacle (ships and planets are obstacle). The movement range is shown on the die value. A die with 1 value can move 1 space, a die with 6 value can move up to 6 spaces and so on.
4. CONSTRUCT
This action lets you to construct a Quantum cube in a planet. You may construct the cube if only you have ships in the orbital position of the planet with a value exactly equal with the planet’s number. For example you need 2 ships with the value 3 and 5 in the orbital positions of the numbered 8 planet. The hard part is the exactly factor, you need precise value of your ships to construct the cube. This is the only action that uses 2 actions out of your possible 3. Place a cube from your Command Sheet into the empty slot on the planet. And note though, you cannot construct more than 1 cube on the same planet. So this force you to go around the map to place other cubes and face conflict with other players.
5. RESEARCH
This action lets you to increase 1 value to your Research die on you command sheet. You cannot increase the die more than 6, once you increased the die value to 6, you have achieved a research breakthrough, which will be resolved during phase 2.

After a player has already taken his 3 actions, he enters the phase 2 of his turn, Advance Cards. In this phase, players get 1 card based on a research breakthrough (if any) and 1 card per quantum cube they placed during this turn. Once the player take the cards from a research breakthrough, reset the research die back into 1. The turn of that player ends and next player begins his turn.

DOMINANCE AND INFAMY
As you play the game, you will encounter combats against other players. Dominance is a measure of your  combat supremacy. When your Dominance die reached 6, you’ll get Infamy and can place a Quantum cube anywhere on the map (without Construct action). Each time you destroy an opponent’s ship, move up your Dominance die by one. Each time your ship is destroyed, move down your Dominance by 1.
After you place a Quantum cube from the Infamy effect, reset the Dominance die back to 1.

ADVANCE CARDS
There are 2 different types of Advance cards, Gambit (black backs) and Command (white backs) cards. The name ‘Gambit’ sounds cool, these type of cards has one time effect, immediately and discarded after use. While Command cards give players permanent abilities and last for the rest of the game. You can have maximum 3 active Command cards at any time. These cards are revealed face up 3 Gambit and 3 Command cards for option. Players can choose to take a card on phase 2 based on these available 6 cards.

Advance Cards

THE SHIPS
Onto the most interesting part of the game, the ships! What about the ships? Well, in this game you are playing with 6 different types of ships. These 6 types have their own advantages and purposes. Each type of the ship is known by the value of a die (from 1 to 6 pip). So, you might think that ships with high value are stronger than the lower ones, well think again. It’s the other way around. Ship with the lowest value is the strongest but moves the slowest, while ship with highest value, is the weakest but moves the fastest. Let’s take a look at the ships.
1. Battlestation, is the most powerful ship ever (in this game of course), but they move 1 space only. Special ability of this ship is STRIKE, this ability gives the ship an additional attack.
2. Flagship, can move up to 2 spaces and have a special ability of TRANSPORT, which can carry ship as it moves. It’s not just that, you can carry as many ships as ships within 1 space surrounding the Flagship. With this ability you can combine strategies with your other ships and get the game more interesting (in a way).
3. Destroyer, can move up to 3 spaces and have the ability to SWAP. Yes, as literal as it is, Destroyer can swap itself with one of your ship anywhere on the map. Ain’t that cool?
4. Frigate, can move up to 4 spaces and have a special ability called MODIFY. This ability lets the ship change into a Destroyer (3) or Interceptor (5).
5. Interceptor, can move up to 5 space and what’s cool about this ship is It can MANEUVER, travel diagonally. Yes, you can move / attack diagonally with this ship.
6. Scout, can move up to 6 spaces and has the ability to free-reconfigure itself.

Command Cards

COMBAT
Okay, once you know all the ship’s types let’s get into the combat system. The combat system is absolutely simple, involving the 2 black and white dice and two ships. Players engage in battle not more than 2 ships in each combat. The attacker rolls the black die and the defender rolls the white die. Each player involved add the result to their ships involved in the combat. The lower sum wins and the attacker breaks any tie. So this is one of the game that you want to roll for the lowest number than for the highest one.
If the attacker’s total is equal or less, the defender’s ship is destroyed. The destroyed ship is re-rolled and place it on the scrapyard. The attacker then has the option to move into the defender’s space or move back into the space from which it attacked. If the defender’s total is lower that the attacker, the attacker’s ship is not destroyed and it only move back from which it attacked. So there is no risk for an attacker if the attack is unsuccessful.

OVERALL
The visual presentation of the game looks solid and I like the artworks on the map tiles, and yes, the game box cover is very stunning. The game looks simple and yes at first, the game system is very similar to Pulsar, the game of space exploration, but way more complex. The interesting parts are the dice and the ships abilities that may affect the game play quite a bit. There are 4 factions on the game, each for each player but it’s too bad though the visual presentation of the factions have a good foundation for unique variable player powers, the truth is it’s not. So, not interested in this one, The racing game factor does turn me off.

Game Box

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2013 in Board Games, Dice Games, Euro Games, Insight

 

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Lewis and Clark – The Expedition Preview

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First thing that I need to tell you is: “No, this isn’t a Superman game with Louis Lane and Clark Kent in it!”,

The Lewis and Clark Expedition, also known as the Corps of Discovery Expedition, was the first American expedition to cross what is now the western portion of the United States, departing in May, 1804 from St. Louis on the Mississippi River, making their way westward through the continental divide to the Pacific coast.

The expedition was commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson shortly after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, consisting of a select group of U.S. Army volunteers under the command of Captain Meriwether Lewis and his close friend Second Lieutenant William Clark. The duration of their perilous journey lasted from May 1804 to September 1806. The primary objective was to explore and map the newly acquired territory, find a practical route across the Western half of the continent, and establish an American presence in this territory before Britain and other European powers tried to claim it.

The campaign’s secondary objectives were scientific and economic: to study the area’s plants, animal life, and geography, and establish trade with local Indian tribes. With maps, sketches and journals in hand, the expedition returned to St. Louis to report their findings to Jefferson.

As you can read from the description above from wikipedia, it’s a historical theme game that relive the 2 years mission of Captain Meriwether Lewis and 2nd Liutenant William Clark to explore and map the newly bought territory. And by the looks of it you all might have realize that this is a race game (personally this kind of game is not my cup of tea). The twist to this historical fact is the group is not one but many, which lead to competitive expedition. So each player will lead his / her own group of expedition to journey from St. Louis to Fort Clatsop, and the very first player who finish the expedition wins the game.

This is the first game from Cedrick Chaboussit, published by Ludonaute, which can be played by 1 up to 5 players. The game has very beautiful illustration works by Vincent Dutrait, the artist known by his works behind Augustus, Mundus Novus, Diplomacy, Shitenno, Tikal II, The Phantom Society and many more.

I haven’t play the game yet, nor see the actual copy of the game in real, so I cannot comment on the components’ quality and the real game play experience. I just have read the rulebook.

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Overall Components
The game has 1 main board, which depicts the whole area of the game (Route tracks, Journal of Encounters, Indian Village action spaces, boat and resource spaces), 5 Expedition boards (one for each player that consists of 5 boats with different specifications), 5 Scouts and Camp tokens, 12 boat tiles, 100 resource tokens in 6 types, resource badges for solo play, 9 route change tokens, 18 Indian figures and 84 Character Cards.

Playing The Game
The game plays in several turns until one player reach or beyond the finish line (which is Fort Clatsop), and that player immediately wins. Not something that I favor being a race game and all, based on my experience, race game could prove to be anti-climax based on turns and generally predictable in later turns. At first, the competition aspect could be interesting and freshly challenging but once the game progress, the players position could change the game play experience. If you’re last / left behind, it’s hard to keep up with the first and might just probably end the game right there since the positions won’t matter if you’re not winning.

The Game Board

The Game Board

Before the game starts, each player will receive an Expedition board along with his 6 starting Character cards of his color, 1 Indian figure to be placed on 4th boat of his Expedition board, Each resource token of Fur, Food and Equipment (pink, yellow and white) on the 1st boat of his Expedition board. And each player place one Scout marker and Camp token of his color on the starting place of the Route track (St. Louise).
One player setup the main board to start the game by placing cards from shuffled deck of 54 cards to the 5 spaces on the Journal of Encounter (sort these drawn card based on strength), place a number of Indian figures beside the game board as Stock based on number of players, place the resources on depicting spaces, place the boat tiles in stacks and place 1 Indian figure in the newcomer area. The game is ready to start.

On a player’s turn there are 3 parts that can be taken. One is compulsory and the others are optional:
A. Action (this is the compulsory part).
There are two types of action: Character action and Indian Village action.

  • Character Actions: By playing a character card from player’s hand into the table.
  • Indian Village Actions: There are several places in the center of the board that can be activated by Indian figure(s). These places have 2 types, a circle and semi-circle. A circle space is limited and blocking to 1 Indian figure, while a semi-circle can be activated with 1 to 3 Indian Figures.

These actions cost Strength that need to be paid. Strengths are presented by Indian symbol or figure. For actions purpose, each symbol or figure means activation. One figure can activate a single action of that character’s or village’s. I find the character’s actions interesting, which using the unique mixture of worker placement, hand management, tableau building and card driven mechanics. In order to understand the mechanic of this action, we must look into the card’s anatomy. Each of the card has 2 sides, a character image at front and strength at the back.
In the front side of a card you can find the character’s image and name, along with it’s strength, action and provided resource icon:

  1. Character’s image and name. What I like about the game is there are lot of cards with different images and names, each character is limited to one card each. So you can imagine the various characters with their own names. Pretty much cosmetics but I like it.
  2. Strength and Cost. At the upper left of the card you can find a number that represents 2 functions (recruitment cost in equipment and strength). In order to get the character card, you need to buy it from the Journal of Encounters. You have to pay a number of furs based on the spaces of that card and a number of equipment listed on the card. This value also used to represents the card’s strength. A character has a range of strength from 1 to 3. Strength is used for action’s activation.
  3. Action’s / Character’s benefit. Each card has benefit that can be activated, either by converting resources or producing resource. These symbols describe the character’s benefit.
  4. Provided resource icon. In the upper right of the card, there are an icon that the character represents / produces.

In the back side of a card you can find another use of the card, which is strength for activation purposes.

  1. Character’s strength. The same as the front side’s character strength value but shown in Indian symbol(s). Each Indian symbol counts as 1 strength for activation purpose.
  2. Provided resource icon. Just the same like the front.
  3. Recruitment discount. When buying a character card from Journal of Encounters you can get a discount by discarding a character card from your hand. This icon represents the discounted resource.
  4. Camp time reminder. No significant use.
Character Cards

Character Cards

To play a card from you hand into your playing area, you need to pay the cost in either by playing another character card (with back side showing) or using 1 up to 3 Indian figure(s) or both combination of card back and Indian figure(s). Then the action is performed as many times as the strength that activates it.

Also as mentioned above, the Village action has either a circle or semi-circle. You can only place 1 Indian on a circle and 1,2 or 3 Indian figures on a semi-circle. Like the character actions, the actions are performed as many as Indian figures placed during that turn (you do not count the previously placed Indian on semi-circle for the activation).

B. Encampment (optional)
Player can set up camp before or after taking an action in his turn. Though it’s optional but the restriction is it’s become a compulsory when a player cannot perform any action (Character or Village). When set up camp, player takes back his Indian figures from playing area, back onto his boats. And calculate how much time the player need to spend in the camp. The amount of time is equal to the sum of the required time cost on a player’s Expedition board and the number of cards left in the player’s hand. This also leads to an interesting management of your Exhibition board and cards in your hand. The time cost will move the player’s scout back in the route track and then move your camp up to your scout if the scout is up further ahead, but if it’s behind the camp, the camp do not move back. At the end, the player takes all his cards in his playing area back into his hand. On one side, having many Indian figures are good to activate actions and stockpiling resource is always good, but on the other side, this could be dangerous for your encampment phase. The time cost will get higher and it will drag your scout further back the route.

Expedition Board

Expedition Board

C. Recruitment (optional)
Player may recruit a character card from the Journal of Encounters before or after the compulsory action. To make a recruit, choose 1 available character out of 5 and pay the equipment cost and a number of furs listed on the space. Or players can discard a card to get recruitment discount.

Resource Collecting
Throughout the game, players will have to collect resources for various uses. There are several resource types on the game, these are, Wood (brown), Fur (yellow), Pink (Food), Equipment (grey). These are 4 primary resources that can be collected throughout the game. You can find these resources in badge icon and colored wooden tokens. In this aspect, the game offers interesting resource collecting mechanic. Wood can be produced from Lumberjack characters, furs can be produced from Fur trader characters, Equipment from Blacksmiths while Hunter can produce foods. To produce, player can activate a specific character from his hand to his playing area. Once performed, that player gains a number of depicted resources from the supply based on the amount of the badge icon visible in his and his neighbors playing areas multiplied by the activation strength. Pretty interesting right? It has a bit of 7 Wonders feel in it and also this make the action timing more interesting and important. The resources gained must be stored in resource boats’ free spaces. There’s one fiddly note though: players cannot discard previously stored resources to make space for excess resources produced. But player may return stored resources when the resource boats are full. I don’t get it but I am sure the designer has a good reason for this.

Resource Icons

Resource Icons

Movement
Canoe (blue) and Horse (white) are not primary resources and are essential in advancing your camp in the route track. To get these resources, players must collect pay / convert some of primary resources or with activating some recruited characters. With this we enter the topic of Movement. Scout’s Movement is the key to winning the game. Players need to move in order to reach the finish line. Movements are broken down by 3 types of terrain, which can be differentiate by the symbols listed on the route track. Those 3 terrain types are River (curvy blue lines), Mountain (grey triangle shape) and Mountain-River (combination of both). These terrains represent movement restrictions for players. In order to move, they need to pay the cost affiliated based on the terrain type. River can only be passed by using Canoes and/or Foods, while Mountain can be only be passed by Horses.
By paying 1 Food players can advance 2 river spaces, while with 1 Canoe, players can advance up to 4 river spaces. Paying a Horse let players advance 2 mountain spaces. The mountain-river terrain can be passed with either 3 of these resources.

Terrain Types

Terrain Types

Take IndiansIndians are like workers in this game. You need Indians in order to take actions and to get them you need Interpreter. Interpreter can be recruit at The Journal of Encounters when available. When taking Indians, players gather all Indian figures in the village (including the one on the Newcomer area) into the Powwow location at the center of the village. Players then take as many Indians as they want (players can take all) and place it in boats specifically for Indians. After this action, players discard the most bottom card of the Journal of Encounters and draw another character card from the deck and finally place 1 Indian figure from the stock (if any) to the newcomer area.
Another interesting part of this action is left on the timing of action, which this action resulted in vacant circle spaces on the village. Other players then can use these vacant spaces in later turns. You can feel a bit of Tzolkin or Manhattan Project in a fresh way.

OverallNow you know about how the game played, you can decide yourself how interesting this game for you. Though it’s a turn off for being a race game but I must admit that many other elements of the game did interest me to place the game into consideration. The function of cards, requirement possibilities open up a large number of strategies in the game.
For me (personally) having lots of characters, each with unique faces and names is a plus, also imagining to arrange those resource tokens in the boat’s storage (Oh the OCD in me).

Game in Progress

Game in Progress

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2013 in Insight

 

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