It’s been a long time since I’ve written much of anything. This wasn’t necessarily some intention of mine, but one thing just led to another, and it seems like the next time I looked at the blog, it had been a freaking month since I’d even touched it. Thankfully, I haven’t stopped playing games (for the most part, anyway), it’s just been the time for writing and ‘casting about them that has disappeared lately. So, in an attempt to dig myself out of a self-imposed hole of being waaaaay behind in my game night reports, I’m going to do something a little less involved than usual…
I’ve been playing quite a bit of Marvel Legendary lately. I had sort of decided at one point that I just didn’t want to like the game, so I therefore hadn’t ever picked it up or made a serious attempt to play it, but then for an equally random and capricious reason, I grabbed it from Barnes & Noble with a coupon and gift card. And what I found is that, especially for a deckbuilder, I like it quite a lot. Between the cool synergy mechanics of the different card types and group affiliations and then the really good thematic components of the Mastermind and his Scheme (which make a huge difference in how the game plays each time), I think it hits a homerun in a lot of ways. And while playing it with 5 people is just too dern much, I’ve enjoyed it both solo and with smaller groups as well.
Android: Netrunner has continued to be my biggest obsession over the last several months. The main way I’ve been playing lately is using core-set-only decks with a few others around the game group who are also newer to the game, but I’ve also gotten in some plays with a few “regular” decks, especially my Nasir Meidan runner deck and Jinteki Personal Evolution corp deck. Even though it’s been harder to find games lately at the store, I’m still very invested in the game, and there’s really nothing else in my gaming life that is more interesting to me these days.
I was finally able to try out Lewis & Clark for the first time sometime back in September. Now, after hearing a lot about it (mostly good, but some a little more neutral), I was expecting pretty good things from it. It was just a 2-player game, so I don’t know if I got the full experience necessarily, but I had a really great time with it. The card-drafting was similar in a lot of ways to Condordia (where you build up your hand of cards, play them for actions, and then have to choose when to take a “reset” turn to get them all back), but there was actually a little more of an engine-building feel as you had to plan out how you were going to use your cards together to tackle both the water and mountain movement that you need. I haven’t run out and bought it yet, but it definitely went right onto my wishlist, and I’d certainly like to try it again sometime soon.
Even though the Kickstarter ended, I’ve continued to play some of the Pack O Game titles here and there. HUE is definitely my favorite, but GEM is really good and FLY is even pretty interesting for a really simple dexterity game as well. I’m glad that I became a backer and can’t wait to see some of the other games that I didn’t have the chance to try out yet.
I’ve wanted to play Sushi Go! for a very long time, but it wasn’t until the new Gamewright version finally came out that I got the chance. And since it hit the shelves of our FLGS, it’s been a go-to filler for our group. In fact, the store has had trouble keeping it on the shelf because it seems like everyone I know has picked up a copy. I mean, how can you argue with such adorable little sushi, especially when the gameplay itself is also pretty compelling.
Similarly, I’ve heard about Risk Express for years now, so when I saw its reimplementation (Age of War) on the shelf at Cool Stuff Inc. (during my trip to Orlando with the family), I immediately grabbed it up. So far, I’ve only played it once, though, and was moderately satisfied with it. For the light, dice-rolling conquest game that it is, it does a pretty good job. The main thing that seemed to be obviously missing, however, is the chance to gain some sort of special abilities to help you on future rolls. In fact, it was a little hard to believe that you really didn’t get any effect from conquering regions other than the points they would net you at the end of the game. But of course, if the game does well, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see something like this in an expansion sometime down the road.
The other game that I picked up from CSI was Rise of Augustus. Even with its SdJ nomination and all sorts of rave reviews, I was still a little skeptical that “gamer bingo” could really be all that good. Well, after a handful of games so far, I must attest that it is, in fact, that good. Yes, it’s simple and has a lot of luck, but it’s also fun, has a lot of interesting and meaningful decisions, and plays quickly for all of its supported player counts (which is up to 6, by the way). I really need to try this with my wife and some other casual gamers, because I can see Augustus being something that will get a lot of play with almost everyone I game with.
On the other hand, Splendor is something that has not gone over well at all in my group. In fact, it already had a pretty bad reputation before I got it, but I really wanted to try it out for myself, so I pulled the trigger anyway and bullied people into playing it with me. And while there’s certainly not anything terribly wrong with it, I also don’t see what all the crazy excitement over it is all about. Yes, there are some choices to make both strategically and tactically about how you’ll approach it, but those choices are very shallow and obvious. And then, the actual turn-by-turn play is painfully boring as everyone just sort of sits there and stares at the cards, trying to calculate which ones would be best for them to take, only to have the perfect card taken by your right-hand neighbor, making you have to start over in your mundane calculations now taking into account the new card that flopped over in its place. Again, I’m not saying that it’s terrible, and I definitely want to try this with my wife as well (mostly to see if it’s better with 2 players), but other than the nice art and incredible chips, I just don’t get all the love people have for it.
I had played different prototypes of Belle of the Ball a couple of times during its playtesting period, but was happy when it recently made its way out to Kickstarter backers. The artwork is gorgeous, the humor of the names is cute and whimsical, and the underlying game is, while light and quick, still pretty interesting.
Glass Road made an appearance recently, and I had some fun with it (winning the game, actually). It’s solid and interesting, but I also can’t help but think that the level of thinking/planning/over-analyzing in the game is a bit out of balance with the relatively light weight of the game. I’ve enjoyed my plays so far, but it’s just not the sort of game that, for me anyway, stands up and demands to be played over and over again.
Another game I’ve heard a lot about lately is Thunder Alley, so when the chance to play arose, I made sure to jump on it. The game is definitely thematic, and I really enjoyed the experience of playing out a NASCAR race. But as a game, it was pretty weak in a lot of ways as well. There’s a ton of randomness in the cards you’re dealt, and even more chaos as other players’ cardplay can drastically affect your cars. There are some choices to make, for sure, but a lot of them are pretty obvious (like trying to stay with a group rather than going on your own). I thought that the teamwork aspect, both with how you used your cars to help each other out and how you develop shifting alliances with other players, was really cool as well. But in the end, it’s mostly just an “experience game” for me that delivers on the theme but doesn’t offer a lot as a game.
And then at the last game night I attended, I got in a game of The Speicherstadt, which is one of my favorite Stefan Feld games and an amazing, tight bidding game. But I’ve talked a lot about it before…
I also got in a play of Eminent Domain that week. My intention for bringing it was to finally get the Escalation expansion to the table, but since a few others in the game weren’t very familiar with the base game, we kept it simple this time around. I went as hard as I could to set up a produce/trade cycle, and managed to eek out a win over some other players doing a lot more aggressive exploration approach.
And finally, in honor of Halloween this month, the last game I played was King of Tokyo with the Halloween expansion. Somehow or other, I managed to pull out a victory-point win as Pumpkin Jack. Trick or treat, indeed!
Whew! Now that this is all done and I’m basically caught up, hopefully I’ll be able to keep up. So stay tuned as I try to get back into the habit of doing what I love best: playing and talking about games!