I will be caught up! Even if I have to report on a whole freaking month (or two) at a time!!!
Both because I’m pretty far behind (surprise, surprise) and since I’ve played a few of these games at least two or more times once over this time, I’m just gonna have a huge blow-out report to cover everything I’ve played (at game night, at least) since my last, also way overdue, game night report. My commentary will be sparse and mostly just focused on games that made an impact (one way or the other), but as always, I hope it has some value for you, my faithful and valued readers…
DC Comics Deck-Building Game [BGG]
5-player DC Deck-Builder over 59 minutes is complete agony. The game isn’t absolutely terrible all the time, but it can certainly have its moments, and this was definitely one of them. And what makes it worse is that the second super-villain we faced was Parallax, who is pretty huge and hard to beat, but then the person who defeated it was able to use it to defeat at least 1 or 2 of the other super-villains, making it a total runaway leader thing where basically defeating one card won him the game (by a freaking huge margin, even). I will not be playing DC again with more than maybe 3 people… if that.
Time: 59 minutes
Score: James E 56, Norton 33, Darren 32, Tommy* 27, Kenny 27
Ratings: Norton 5, Kenny 5
Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia [BGG]
On the complete other hand, Euphoria just keeps getting better and better for me, and is probably more solid closer to the upper end of its player count. I just reviewed it in my last podcast, so I don’t need to say everything about it here, but I will touch on a few things that just keep jumping out at me.
First of all is that even though it’s pretty complex in how everything interrelates and therefore has a bit of a steep learning curve, the game is actually pretty light and quick once you have your head around it. So even 5- and 6-player games can really move and finish in less than 90 minutes if the players have any experience at all with it.
As a worker-placement game, it’s just chocked-full of innovation. The “knowledge check” mechanic alone does so much to change all the basic assumptions about growing and using your workers/dice, and it does so much more elegantly than the traditional “feed your meeples” upkeep mechanic. Players also have to decide when to retrieve their dice, which brings a whole other timing element into play, and which is made more complex by the fact that you may want to leave workers behind either due to some effect they can continue to have (such as participating in the construction of a market), because you don’t want to risk the knowledge check, and/or because you plan on “bumping” them with other dice later on to get them back that way.
And then on top of that, I also feel like there are a lot of both strategic and tactical choices that players have to make about how they will gain their Authority to win the game. Some are definitely informed by the Recruits you are dealt at the beginning of the game, but a lot are still pretty much open to any player.
Again, I’ll say even more about it soon, but for now, I’ll just leave it at the fact that I am so glad I got involved in this Kickstarter campaign and that I now own such a fun and gorgeous game.
Time: 79 and 47 minutes
Game 1: James E 10, Chip 8, Norton 8, Stacy 8, Keith 6
Game 2: Norton 10, James E 7, Chris 5
Ratings: James 8, Chip 7.5, Norton 8, Stacy 8, Keith 7, Chris 8
I had played Michael Schacht’s follow-up to this game, Africana, a month or two ago and really enjoyed it. So when I got the chance to play Valdora, I definitely wanted to give it a try. The main thing (maybe “only” thing) that the two games share is the “book” mechanic, where you have these neat little wooden pedestals that have cards on them that you flip to “turn the page” to see more cards. The implementation of this component/mechanic in both games was really cool, and I wonder if Schacht will use it again in more games.
But as much as I enjoyed “the rest” of Africana, I think that Valdora was actually a better game for me personally. More than anything, it’s a pretty simple pick-up-and-deliver game where you use the “books” to claim contracts and equipment, then go around picking up gems and dropping them off to the people who want them. I found the game to be simple enough to jump right into, but it still had some real choices to make about how you planned to make your points, such as how much you wanted to specialize in a few colors vs. generalizing in all of them (since you get points for doing both things).
As a casual/family-weight game along the lines of Ticket to Ride, I found it to be really good and fun, and I’d love to pick up a copy sometime.
Time: 56 minutes
Score: Keith* 134, Chip 92, Norton* 89, James* 86, Stacy 83
Ratings: Keith 7.5, Chip 7.5, Norton 7.5, James 6, Stacy 7.5
The other guys in my group have been raving lately about Firenze. It’s a medium-weight euro-ish game about building towers using the same little pieces from Patrician. The core of the game is a drafting mechanic where you choose from a line of cards that are each seeded with tower pieces of random colors. Each card has an ability that you can use once it’s in your hand, and of course, you also get the tower pieces on it when you take the card. The “oldest” card (furthest to the left) is free, but if you want to take a “newer” card instead, you have to place a tower piece from your supply on each card that you skip over (much like in the Race/Power draft of Small World).
Then you use these tower pieces and card powers to build towers on your player board and eventually to complete towers for points. At the end of the game, there is also a majority scoring for players who made the most towers of each particular color, as well as a number of other little scoring wrinkles here and there, which I managed to navigate pretty well to win on my first play.
But one of the things that I thought was really cool was that some of the cards were actually bad for you… as in, they had negative effects or were worth negative points at the end of the game. So when these would show up in the draft, they would drift to the left and start accumulating tower pieces. Eventually, though, and despite the negative effect of the card, players would take it because the number of towers was so large that it was almost stupid not to. To me, anyway, I found it to be a really cool element that showed how that style of draft can really change the values of each item.
Time: 68 minutes
Score: Norton* 48, Stacy 44, Chip 39, Kenny 35
Ratings: Norton 7, Stacy 9, Chip 8.5, Kenny 8
Android: Netrunner [BGG]
Probably one of the reasons that I’ve had less time to write and record here on the blog lately is because I’ve been dedicating more hobby time to another pursuit. If you haven’t heard me talk about it elsewhere, I finally made the choice to seriously try out Android: Netrunner a few weeks ago. And then I decided to dive a little deeper into the game. And then I pretty much jumped into the deep end and have tried to force-feed myself as much information about it as I can.
I had been thinking about trying the game since it first came out, but one thing or another kept me from investing in it before now. But when I heard from 2 or 3 others in my group that they either had already or were currently getting into it, I went ahead and pulled the trigger. And by now, I’ve caught up and own everything currently released for the game, I’ve subscribed to a handful of Netrunner podcasts, and I’m making arrangements to play in the closest regional later in June.
So why this crazy commitment all of the sudden? First of all, it’s a really awesome game. The options and strategies of each faction are really interesting, and deckbuilding is made even more interesting by the influence rating of each identity that limits how many out-of-faction cards you can include. And on top of that, what makes it even better is the total asymmetry of the two sides: Corporation and Runner.
I don’t know how much all of y’all care to read about Netrunner, so I’ll try to keep my ongoing commentary relatively sparse and surface-level (unless you tell me that you’d like more of it). But I started off playing an NBN corp deck that focused on tagging the runner and then calling down death upon him using Scorched Earth and Private Security and other such things. So I started off picking up more data packs that supported this basic idea.
But then, as with all other collectible-style games that I’ve played before, my completeist nature kicked in. I kept seeing decks that did cool things, and I just had to have the cards I needed to build them. It’s rarely about building the “best” deck for me, but as with all games, it’s about that exploration of having all the options to do whatever I want. So that’s why I own all the cards now. And as long as I can find opponents locally, I’ll probably keep buying them as they come out for the foreseeable future.
Time: 10, 50, 49, 36, 14, 16, 30, 52, and 29 minutes
Game 1 Norton (Shaper) – Win; Kenny (Haas Bioroid) – Lose
Game 2: Kenny (Haas Bioroid) – Win; Norton (Shaper) – Lose
Game 3: Norton (NBN) – Win; Kenny (Criminal) – Lose
Game 4: Chris (Shaper/Kate) 7, Norton (NBN) 3
Game 5: Norton (Anarch/Whizzard) 7, Chris (NBN) 0
Game 6: Kenny (Jinteki) – Win; Norton (Anarch/Whizzard) – Flatlined (5pts)
Game 7: Norton (NBN) 8; Kenny (Criminal/Gabriel Santiago) 0
Game 8: Chris (Jinteki – Replicating Perfection) 8; Norton (Shaper – Kit)
Game 9: Norton (Haas Bioroid – EtF) 7; Chris (Shaper – Kate)
Ratings: Norton 9, Kenny 9, Chris 10
On the other end of the gaming spectrum, Gravwell is a cool little game that requires almost no investment to enjoy. You draft cards, choose one to play simultaneously, and then resolve them in alphabetical order. Cards either pull you towards or push you away from the nearest other ship, and with the unpredictable play order, it’s a wonderfully chaotic adventure of trying to anticipate your opponents’ moves and push yourself to the finish line.
Time: 19 minutes
Score: Chris 54+, James E 52, Norton 46
Ratings: Chris 9, Norton 7
Get Lucky [BGG]
In every way, this is Kill Doctor Lucky the card game. It drops all of the spatial “line of sight” mess that made KDL so tedious, and keeps all of the cool humor that was probably its main positive aspect. But while it’s fun to read the cards and play the start and middle of the game, it continues to have the same sort of issues that the original had at endgame. “Kill Doctor Luck Syndrome” is still largely in effect, where players can basically just shift responsibility for stopping a murder attempt to the last person in line, then leading to the actual victory coming more from when the players just happen to run out of interference cards rather than from any special skill of the winner.
But still, it was cute and clever and short enough that I am considering picking it up.
Time: 25 minutes
Score: Ray* – Win; Norton*, James E*, & Chris* – Lose
Ratings: Chris 7, Norton 6
Not much to say about Cities, really. It’s a simultaneous puzzle-solving game where players use identical tiles to place in their own area to score points in different ways. It’s sort of a themed version of Take it Easy, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I really wish I had picked up a half-price copy when my FLGS had them on sale…
Time: 12 and 20 minutes
Game 1: Ray 53, Chris 48, James E* 48, Norton* 40
Game 2: Norton 65, Chris 61, Ray 59, James E 56
Ratings: Chris 8.5, Norton 7
Legacy: Gears of Time [BGG]
I traded for Legacy: Gears of Time after hearing for so long about how it was the best time-travel game ever. We played it recently, and while that statement may still be true, it also didn’t exactly hit it out of the park for us.
A lot of the mechanics were pretty clever (like the one-way time travel each turn), but it was also very chaotic and at times pretty obvious what you should do. Plus, managing the timeline and scoring was a little too fiddly for me to call it elegant. I’m certainly not writing it off completely quite yet, but it also wasn’t the revelation that I was hoping it’d be.
Time: 68 minutes
Score: Chris* 145, Norton* 106, Stacy* 87
Ratings: Chris 6, Norton 6.5, Stacy 6
Innocuous but pretty Queen game that was thoroughly forgettable…
Time: 43 minutes
Score: Norton* 67, Chip* 55, Stacy* 55
Ratings: Norton 6, Chip 6.5, Stacy 6
It’s Hanabi. We did pretty well. But we’ve all heard enough about Hanabi, so I’ll move on…
Time: 28 minutes
Score: Chris, Darren, John*, Ray, & Norton – 21 (of 25)
Ratings: Chris 9, Norton 8
Castle Ravenloft [BGG]
Okay, so I pulled this out because the D&D Adventure Game series was the Dice Tower Network Game of the Month for May. I had played a couple of solo games of it recently, but then asked if anyone at game night wanted to play it again as well. Oddly enough (especially considering that it was the first time that Michelle had been with us in probably a couple of years), two of the people (her and Kenny) who played in our very first game of Castle Ravenloft were there and joined me in playing.
We used the scenario about the zombie white dragon, and the whole point was to find the stairwell and escape. So we explored tiles, fought monsters, found the dragon, died a couple of times (but got better), and then were within just a few spaces of escaping to win when both Michelle and I died… again… without an available Healing Surge to save us. It was quite close, actually, and pretty exciting.
Time: 65 minutes
Score: Castle Ravenloft – Win; Norton, Michelle, & Kenny – Lose
Ratings: Norton 6, Michelle 8, Kenny 7
The problem is that while the game is pretty cool, it’s also very formulaic and severely lacks in real decision-making. You can listen to my latest podcast for more analysis of it, but the basic idea is that for a similar-feeling game with more tactical choice, better advancement rules, and characters with more unique and specialized play styles, the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game is trumping this in the whole cooperative fantasy adventure game genre for me right now.
Awesome filler. ‘Nuff said!
Time: 10 minutes
Score: Kenny 42, Norton 41, Michelle 36
Ratings: Norton 8
Yin Yang [BGG]
A lesser-known filler, however, is Yin Yang (aka Relationship Tightrope among other similar names). The basic idea here is that you have a hand of 9 cards from a deck numbered 1 through 50. Each trick, a score card is flipped over picturing a certain number of white and black tokens. The winner of the last trick leads a card, and everyone follows. Whoever played the highest card gets the indicated number of black tokens, and the owner of the lowest card gets the white tokens. But the cool thing is that you can’t own both white and black tokens, since they cancel out. And the whole point of the game is to end up in balance with no or as few tokens as possible.
As a very pure and elemental trick-taking game, I like it a lot. Each hand is incredibly quick, and even playing 3 or 4 hands as a larger game still only takes about 15-20 minutes.
Time: 14 (for 2 hands), 5, and 5 minutes
Game 1 (2 hands): Norton 2, Kenny 13, Michelle* 15
Game 2: Norton 2, Sceadeau* 2, Kenny 13, Michelle 16
Game 3: Michelle 0, Sceadeau 3, Norton 4
Ratings: Norton 7.5
Tribune: Primus Inter Pares [BGG]
Sometimes, despite how much you remember liking a game, you can pull it out again and still be blown away by how awesome it is. Tribune is like that. Especially with people who know how to play, it’s just so incredibly good… and quick… and fun. Mechanically, it seems so simple with just a basic worker placement to pick up cards that you can play in sets. But with the introduction of the victory condition cards and control of the factions with their powers, it just becomes so much more than what it looks like on paper. And then, to be able to finish a “long” scenario in 36 minutes is just crazy. That’s a metric crap ton of gameplay packed into a really short time.
Time: 36 minutes
Score: Chris 5 (win); Norton 4, Stacy 3
Ratings: Chris 9, Norton 9, Stacy 9
Bruxelles 1893 [BGG]
The biggest new game I’ve played in the last few weeks, though, is Bruxelles 1893. It’s another worker placement game, and while much less elegant than Tribune, there’s still a lot of interesting stuff going on with it.
Basically, players are using building spaces to acquire art, sell art, get building resources, build/claim buildings (that will give them a benefit when others use them), claim person cards, and do other stuff. Each of these activities has its own little system associated with it and awards victory points in some way or other throughout the game and/or at game end.
It was a little complicated, but definitely had a lot of room to pursue different paths of which things you wanted to focus on, and from a first play at least, seemed to be pretty balanced. I don’t think I like it quite as much as Russian Railroads, but it’s probably a little heavier and certainly more complex, so it may have a greater long-term potential, actually. But for right now, I’m content to try out Stacy’s copy again before I decide if it’s something I need to add to my collection.
Time: 108 minutes
Score: Chris* 144, Norton* 137, Stacy 116, John* 108, James E* 104
Ratings: Chris 8, Norton 7.5, Stacy 7.5, John 7, James E 7.5
In the recent B&N 50% off sale, however, I did make the decision to add ROFL! to my collection. It’s a neat little party game where players bid on how few characters they can use to get a judge to guess a short phrase. And using the terms of the game, this is generally what we thought of it:
Time: 20 minutes
Score: Stacy* 10, Norton* 9, Kenny* 9, Keith* 6
Ratings: Stacy 6.5, Norton 6, Kenny 7, Keith 3.5
Other Games Played
Time: 16 and 33 minutes
Score: Kenny – 2 wins, Chris – no wins
Ratings: Kenny 8, Chris 9
Time: 26 minutes
Score: Chris – Win; Darren*, Ken*, & Tommy* – Lose
Ratings: Chris 8.5, Ken 7.5
The Great Heartland Hauling Co.
Time: 28 minutes
Score: James K* 36, Chris* 31, Stacy 31, Chip 28
Ratings: James K 7.5, Chris 7, Stacy 7, Chip 7.5
Time: 29 minutes
Score: Chris, Ken, & Tommy – 23 (of 30)
Ratings: Chris 9, Ken 9
Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts
Time: 54 minutes
Score: Chris 93, Ken 67, Tommy* 50
Ratings: Chris 9
Time: 23 minutes
Score: James K* – Win; Chris – Lose
Ratings: James K 9, Chris 9
Time: 46 minutes
Score: Chris 17, Ray* 16, Chip 15, Ken 14
Ratings: Chris 9, Chip 8.5, Ken 9
Time: 19 minutes
Score: Chris 12, Ray* 12, Darren 6
Ratings: Chris 8
Time: 92 minutes
Score: Chip* 69, Chris* 68, Stacy* 64, James E* 61, Keith* 57
Ratings: Chip 6.5, Chris 7, Stacy 6.5, James E 7, Keith 6
Ra: The Dice Game
Time: 11 minutes
Score: Ray 33, Chris 26
Ratings: Chris 8
Sentinels of the Multiverse
Time: 71 minutes
Score: Heroes (Chris – AZ, Darren – Tempest, James K – The Scholar, & Ray – Parse) – Win; Skinwalker Gloomweaver in Rook City – Lose
Ratings: Chris 10, James K 10
Score: Britt (Weyland) 7, Kenny (Criminal/Gaberiel Santiago) 4
Ratings: Britt 8.5, Kenny 8.5
Sentinels of the Multiverse
Time: 32 minutes
Score: Fright Train, Baron Blade, & Proletariat – Win; Heroes (James K – Argent Adept, Darren – KNYFE, and James E – Naturalist) – Lose
Ratings: James K 10, James E 9
Time: 75 minutes
Score: Britt – Win; Darren* – Lose
Ratings: Britt 7, Darren 7
Time: 27 minutes
Score: Chris 54, Ken 52, Darren 46
Ratings: Chris 8, Ken 7.5
Time: 29 minutes
Score: Chris, Darren, Ken, & James K – 25 (of 30)
Ratings: Chris 9
Time: 59 minutes
Score: James K 28, Stacy* 21, Chris 19, Darren 15
Ratings: Chris 8, Stacy 7
Time: 64 minutes
Score: Sceadeau 98, Chris 78, Keith* 61
Ratings: Chris 6, Keith 3
Time: 20 minutes
Score: Sceadeau 15, Chris* 10, Stacy* 7
Ratings: Sceadeau 3, Chris 5, Stacy 5
Time: 52 minutes
Score: Chris 146, John* 130, Ray* 71
Ratings: Chris 7, Ray 9
DC Deck-Building Game
Score: Darren 67, James K* 62, Ray 48
Ratings: James K 8.5
* First play for that Person