f13.net General Forums => Board Games => Topic started by: ghost on December 08, 2020, 01:17:29 PM

Title: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on December 08, 2020, 01:17:29 PM
So because of COVID we have played an absolute shit ton of games.  Here are a couple of short reviews of a couple of games, maybe to help people that might be on the fence about a particular game. 

1.  Whistle Mountain (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/301255/whistle-mountain)-  this is a worker placement game with varying sized "workers", which are stylized as blimps and dirigibles.  The theming of the game is that you are building some sort of contraption in middle of a mountain range and, as you do so, you are causing the water to rise.  It's really a whacky, strange theme, and one that I don't mind, but also don't really get.  There are traditional worker placement style areas around the board in which you can dock your dirigibles and take the action, sometimes at a cost.  There are cards you can get, and play, and these can give you resources or alter where you can place your blimps.  The interesting part of the game is the central area where you are building scaffolding and "machines", i.e. variable worker placement action spots that are available to all players, on a grid.  First you have to build a scaffolding to accept the machine, then, if the machine is of the right size, you can place it on the scaffolding.  The building action in this game is interesting, because at base level, it only occurs once you have all of your blimps, or workers, out on the board.  For the retrieval step, you will take back your blimps and also do up to three build actions, with either scaffolding or machines.  So, it is similar to the Charterstone retrieval step but you actually get to do something, instead of losing your turn.  Using the machines and placing blimps in the scaffolding area is where the size of the worker comes into play.  You can either place a blimp on a machine, in which case it has to fit onto the machine, or you can place it next to the scaffolding.  Either way you can take the resources that are next to your blimp on the scaffolding, or take the action of the machines that your blimp is on or next to.  There are also meeples that are waiting in the wings to be put on the scaffolding to help build the machines, and if they help build a machine you "promote them" to obtain victory points at the end of the game.  There are also variable upgrade powers you can get to alter rules of the game, and everyone starts with a starting variable power. 

I have to say that I really, really like this game.  Worker placement has been about worn out, and I haven't really seen a game that is this unique that uses the worker placement mechanic in quite a while.  The board is really striking and the pieces are nice.  The graphic design is excellent, although overall it could have used a little bit of an art upgrade.  This is a difficult game to explain in words, but if you like euro style worker placement games, I would enthusiastically recommend this one. 

2.  Bruges (https://boardgamegeek.com/geeksearch.php?action=search&objecttype=boardgame&q=bruges)-  this is a Stephan Feld game that I have been sitting on for a while.  It is a card based game, with all of the actions being driven through the cards.  Each round you start with a hand of five cards that allow you to take 6 different actions.  Basically, each round you roll some dice of the different colors in the game (yellow, turquoise, purple, red, blue) which correspond to the colors of the cards, which are essentially suits.  These dice will dictate the value of the actions for the different card suits each game. There are generic actions you can take with the cards, such as build a canal, get money based on the dice roll, get meeple workers based on the card color, remove "threat" tokens (a weird mechanic where you accumulate tokens that might damage you if you get three of them), build a "house" (put a card in front of you facedown in preparation for buying a card, so that you can use its special power), or buy the card and play it into your tableau on top of a previously constructed house (thus giving you access to places to use your worker meeples that you accumulate or other special powers as written on the cards).  While a euro at heart, this is not really a worker placement game.  There is almost no way to interact with your opponent in this game, other than a race to get three bonus scoring tiles, but even these everyone can eventually possibly get.  There is no blocking or take that.  It is the true definition of multiplayer solitaire.  This game rather reminds me of a Dominion type deck builder in which you draw five cards at the beginning of the round and play them for effects, then repeat the next round.  The only catch is that you don't deck build, so you are stuck with the luck of the common draw deck. 

Maybe I just don't get Feld.  I like Castles of Burgundy okay.  It's not my favorite game ever, but I will play it and enjoy it when I do.  I found Roma and Arena:  Roma II to be completely bland and forgettable.  I would say that this barely qualifies as a game, although there are at least a couple of decisions to make during your turn.  It is unlikely you will be able to plan far enough ahead to feel good about the game, and thus I don't really recommend this, particularly at the exorbitant after market prices that it seems to be currently commanding.  There are so many other good games that allow you to use cards for multiple purposes that

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: eldaec on December 09, 2020, 04:22:04 AM
Bruges I liked as a simple enough euro.

It has two problems through. Without the boats expansion it is just one mechanic short of feeling right. With the boats expansion it isn't well balanced.

But I gather the remake as 'Hamburg' addresses this by incorporating boats and nerfing them a little. Also the colours of cards are now all separate decks, so you can always choose the colour you want.

I like Feld for his simpler games. Burgundy, Bruges, Bora Bora, a few others. They are decent enough to teach at a board game night and get everyone going quickly. They are beer and pretzels games but for euros. I'm not a fan if his heavier stuff like Trajan - they lack the elegance of a terra mystica or Concordia, or thematic interest of a Caverna or Food chain Magnate.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: schild on December 09, 2020, 09:14:47 AM
Since Vindication is back on Kickstarter with more Vindication, let me just go ahead and say:

No, Vindication is terrible. Don't buy it.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: Teleku on December 09, 2020, 09:36:55 AM
I can't help but feel I asked this question already, so please forgive me.  But, what was wrong with Vindication?

I fully backed the first kickstarter.  Have not yet played it.   :awesome_for_real:

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: schild on December 09, 2020, 10:12:02 AM
Search in Discord. I've gone off about it at least twice.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on December 09, 2020, 11:45:34 AM
Vindication is fine, but I think that is largely what is wrong with it.  It's got these giant miniatures and a giant box and all sorts of shit that comes with it.  It' s very expensive, and all of the "modules" that come with it are shit.  I probably like it better than Schild, but I would never recommend to buy it.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on December 10, 2020, 02:17:40 PM
1.  Gudetama:  The Tricky Egg Card Game (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/309862/gudetama-tricky-egg-card-game)-  This is a game that has the theming centered around this little egg guy that is apparently a Sanrio character.  That is the company that did Hello Kitty, it seems, but I don't know much about that stuff.  The theme is completely unnecessary for this game, and if you had the correct card counts you could play it with any numbered cards. There are cards numbered from 1-14 and each number has a variable number of cards in the deck, e.g. there are 6 seven cards and 5 one cards, for instance, and there are 63 total cards.  It is a basic trick taking game in which each round a player is dealt a hand of seven cards.  High card wins the trick.  The winner plays first in the next trick.  There are two special cards-  #14, in which the winner does not play first in the next trick, but chooses who goes first, and 1, which only has a special power in the final trick.  The final trick is where the scoring takes place.  The winner of the trick scores points based on the number of the card that they play.  So if you win the trick with a 7, you get 7 points.  That is unless someone plays a 1 card in the final trick, in which case everyone scores points based on the card that they played. 

I found this to be pretty fun.  It isn't complicated and can play up to 7 players, unlike a lot of trick taking games.  The theme is dumb.  I guess I'm old, but I don't get the egg dude.  Overall, I think this is a good diversion.  I'm not in love with trick taking games, in general, but this one I liked.  If you are a serious trick taking player, I would say try before you buy because I am certainly no expert.  Overall, I liked it. 

2. Ohanami (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/270314/ohanami)-  This is another smaller card game by the guy that did The Game, which I have not played.  In this game you are going to be drafting cards to put into "gardens" which are essentially just three columns of cards.  When you pick cards for your draft, you will take two of them and place them into your garden, or row, in numerical order from high to low.  You can play cards on either end of the column, but not in the middle.  So you have to be careful about which cards you pick to keep.  Then you will pass the rest of your hand to the left or right, depending on the round, and take new cards until the round is done.  There are three rounds in the game.  In each round, you will only score certain cards in your columns.  There are four colors of cards, blue, green, grey and pink.  In the first round you score points for the blue only.  In the second round you will score points for the blue and green.  In the last round you will score points for all of the cards. 

This was a lot of fun.  I liked it better than I expected to, based on the rulebook.  It's a light game, so don't expect anything magical, but it's probably worth the 12 bucks I spent on it.  The biggest negative, to me, is that it won't play 5 players.  You can play that many, but it makes the drafting a little wonky.  If you like lighter card games, I would say that this is a good one. 

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: Mosesandstick on December 14, 2020, 03:27:10 AM
I like the idea of this thread!

Arkham Horror: The Dunwich Legacy (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/208545/arkham-horror-card-game-dunwich-legacy-expansion) - This is the first expansion to the Arkham Horror Card Game. My partner and I really enjoyed the base set but we were disappointed with the expansion. We found the scenarios underwhelming. I think they'd be more impactful with the whole set, it just seemed like we didn't get much for our ~$30. The new investigators are interesting, but deck building is seriously limited and annoying if you only have one core set and none of the other expansions.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: eldaec on December 14, 2020, 04:33:07 AM
From what I've read on arkham I think Dunwich is the least well thought of expansion.

I tried the base game and respected it. But the theme just felt boring. Every Arkham product ffg makes feels that way to me. I keep thinking how much better they'd be with a better theme.

You could do this brilliantly with an Indiana Jones or Star wars skin

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on December 14, 2020, 08:37:49 AM
I was very enthused about my first play of the AH Card Game, but I could see that, unless they shook things up significantly, that it could get very samey.  I love the Lovecraftian theme, though, and tend to be a sucker for it.  My initial plays have been very good so far, but I'm nowhere near getting to the expansion stuff.  

My games to discuss:

1.  Beyond the Sun (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/317985/beyond-sun)-  This is a game that centers around advancement along a tech tree in a sci-fi setting.  It uses dice in an interesting manner as workers and resources, but they are rarely rolled.  You just turn the dice to the side marking what it is supposed to represent (a population, a ship, or a material).  It is, at the core, a worker placement game in which you have one worker to take an initial action each turn.  The available actions, at the beginning of the game, are only four basic actions.  As the game progresses you can unlock new actions by progressing along the tech tree, which has four levels of technologies, if you have the appropriate pre-requisites.  With the action to discover level 3 and level 2 techs, you will also have an encounter to resolve. Then you will take a secondary action, either to increase population, produce ore, or trade either ore to people or people to ore.  There is a small component of area control in which you can place outposts on planets with ships and also "colonize" those planets, taking them into your tableau so nobody else can take them from you.  There are also objectives placed at the beginning of the game that are available to everyone to complete (i.e. first level 4 tech, colonize 4 planets, etc). To win, three or four objectives, depending on the player count, must be fulfilled.  This is total objectives claimed, not per player, and you cannot skip claiming an objective, if you can do so.  Only one objective may be claimed per round.  

At its heart, this game feels very old school.  The long, skinny Power Grid sized box from Rio Grande feels old school, the limited amount of artwork feels old school, and the game progression feels old school.  But we had a lot of fun playing it.  I would go so far as to say that I feel that this was really excellent.  To me, it felt like Eclipse without the shitty combat and better scoring.  The use of the dice was not innovative, but it was very functional for this game.  Turns go super fast, so downtime was rather minimal.  I will certainly be playing this again.  

2.  Aquatica (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/283393/aquatica)-  This game is an underwater themed game with a core mechanic similar to that of Concordia.  You start with a hand of cards that allow you to do particular actions, and also four "mantas" which act as additional resources to take actions.  Each manta will have a resource on its belly, and when you use it, you flip the manta over where it will stay until recharged.  On your turn, you will discard the card you want to use into the discard pile on your turn, and take your action.  Available actions include to buy a location, conquer a location, buy a character, score locations, take back your cards and reset mantas, and so on.  The location cards, once obtained, will be slid into a slot on the player board, and will have several different resources available to use, such as money or fighting power, along the left hand side.  As you use these resources, you will slide the cards up until they reach the last available icon, which is victory points.  To score these cards, once they have reached the bottom of the card from use or other means, you will take them out of the slot and place them into a score pile.  You also may be able to obtain "wild mantas" which will have other resources you can possibly use.  There are also additional characters you can buy to augment your deck with special powers and limit the number of times you have to do a reset action.  This is another game where there are objectives that you can claim for reaching certain milestones.  You will claim these by placing one of your mantas along the objective score track, thus limiting your resources for future turns.  The game is over when the character deck runs out, the location deck runs out, or one person claims all four of the available objectives.  Most points wins, which you get by your score pile, number of character cards in hand, and objectives.

This is a neat game.  It's very similar, mechanically, to Concordia, which I love.  It's really very light, however, and while the mechanisms are cool because they allow you to get rid of having a bunch of different little resource meeples or tokens, I have some issues.  First issue is that you are going to have a hard time sleeving the cards.  This may not bug you, but I usually play with my kids, who are little germ sponges, and like to keep their greasy mitts off of the cards.  The cards are a weird size, so finding a right sized sleeve isn't going to be easy, and when you do, I doubt they will fit into the slots.  For a light game, however, I'm probably going to jump to something else, such as the next game I'm going to discuss, Wonderful World.  So it's good, I'm glad I have it, but I don't know how much we will play it.  

3.  It's a Wonderful World (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/271324/its-wonderful-world)-  This game is what I will refer to as a "cube churner".  It is one of those games in which you are getting getting grey cubes to buy a card to be able to produce yellow cubes, which will allow you to purchase a card to get green cubes, and so on.  In many ways, it is similar to Century:  Spice Road, in that cards cost cubes, then go into your possession to be able to produce other colored cubes.  The difference between this and Spice Road is that instead of having a card that goes into your hand, the card will go into a tableau for future use each turn.  Also, this is a game with drafting instead of a line of cards to buy from.  You start with a starting card that will provide a basic level of cube income.  Each round, players will be dealt a hand of 7 cards.  You will then draft one card and place it in front of you.  This will continue until you have seven cards in front of you.  Then you will decide which of those 7 cards to keep, and which of the 7 cards to recycle for a single colored cube, which will be specified on the card.  The ones you keep will be slotted for "production", meaning you can start placing cubes on them to complete.  An interesting thing about this game is how the cube production works.  There are six colors of cubes (grey, black, green, yellow, blue and red).  The red are wild and obtained only by turning in five cubes of other colors.  The grey cubes get produced first, so all grey cube icons on your starting card and in your tableau will be produced.  You will then be able to add these grey cubes to other cards that are currently in production.  So you might be able to complete a card in the grey production phase that will help you in, say, the blue production phase or the yellow production phase.  There is a level of planning here that is neat.  You do four drafting cycles in the game, along with associated production phase, and then you tally scores.  Scores are based on victory points on cards and little bonus chits you get.  Highest score wins.  

I LOVE this game.  I love drafting, and I love the way that the cube churning works in this game.  The theme is tenuous, but the artwork is excellent.  The production, overall, is very good.  This is probably going to replace all similar weighted games for me (see Aquatica, above).  I put this into a category with Splendor, Paper Tales, Gizmos, all the Century games, Aquatica, etc. that are essentially resource manipulation games.  This plays quick, is intuitive, has a little more strategy to it, and plays more players than those other games.  So for me it's a winner.  In fact, I want to play it right now.  

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on December 21, 2020, 11:33:07 AM
Barrage (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/251247/barrage)-  This is a game about building dams and extracting power, and money, from energy production.  The design is by the Italian group that has put out the T series of games (Tzolkein, Teotihuacan, etc.), Lorenzo il Magnifico, and Grand Austria Hotel.  The backbone of the game is a worker placement game.  There are three kinds of currency-  money, cement mixers, and excavators.  You use this currency in various ways.  The money is pretty straightforward.  The cement mixers and excavators are used to pay for dam stuff, such as elevations, bases, and conduits, and you will eventually get them back (in the base game) as your building wheel is turned.  The dams will accumulate water droplets, which you will then use to produce power through your apparatus.  You can only produce power at your own power plants.  You can use anyone's conduit to get water to the power plant, and you can use your dams or neutral dams.  There is a variety of ways to score, but by far the most common way to do so, and the way that will probably win you the game, is to produce power via your power plants.  To produce power requires workers, and it also allows you to complete "contracts", or scoring bonuses.  Sometimes these contracts will provide extra victory points.  There is also a way to obtain "income" victory points by uncovering spots on your player board through production of the various apparatus pieces needed to build dams.  And there are a few ways to obtain points via building of the dam pieces through advanced technology. 

I was super high on this game at first, but after about 10 plays total, there are some things that I don't really love about it.  The first is the scoring-  it is very linear.  I certainly appreciate a non-point salad type game, but there is really only one way to score enough points to win, and that is by energy production.  The scoring is 6 points for the person who produces the most energy in a round, and 2 for second place.  This happens over each of the 5 rounds.    The first/second scoring situation is, at baseline, one that I don't like.    I feel like it can accentuate runaway leader situations.  There are also bonuses for the production of energy, such as for producing conduits or bases or elevations or what have you, but you have to reach a certain energy production level to qualify for these bonuses.  At the end of the day, though, if you don't produce the energy, you won't get enough points.  To get to the point of producing energy, though, you have to have a full apparatus built, including conduit and power plant to at least a neutral dam.  To get to this point feels very plodding.  So all of this seems very negative, but I really do like the game.  It is thematic and interesting and fun.  I just feel like the choices you have to make every round feel al little bit "on rails".  There is a clear obvious choice every round for the placement of your workers.  Whether or not you have the resources to do that is the crux of the matter, and it may take you five other steps to get to where you can the critical step you need to take to score points.  I'm going to throw in the Leighwater Project expansion and see if this opens the game up a bit for some other reliable scoring options that don't require energy production. 

Short take-  if you like Brass, give this a shot.  It's got that same vibe, but I feel like Brass plays a lot quicker and more smoothly. 

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: schild on December 21, 2020, 01:19:34 PM
It's a Wonderful World was a top 3 game for me in 2019, behind Pax Pamir 2E and Tainted Grail.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on December 21, 2020, 02:21:06 PM
I just played my copy of Pax Pamir over the weekend.  I'm not good enough at it yet to form a real opinion, but I do feel like it might have been over a bit too quickly.  I can see why you dig it, as a MTG player.  The production is insanely good. 

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: schild on December 21, 2020, 02:25:29 PM
A Pax game can be as short as 25 minutes and as long as 2 hours. I hope you played it with more than 2. Pax Ren at 2 stomps all over Pax Pamir.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on December 21, 2020, 02:49:49 PM
With three.  Didn't seem like it would be worth a shit at 2. 

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: schild on December 21, 2020, 07:37:35 PM
It's still pretty good, better than *most* games - but crap compared to 3+.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on December 22, 2020, 12:18:47 PM
Blitzkrieg!:  World War 2 in 20 minutes (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/258210/blitzkrieg-world-war-two-20-minutes)-  This is a bag building game for 2 players in which you are drawing chits from a bag which represent ground forces, naval forces, or air forces.  You will be placing these chits on  one of 6 tracks on the board which represent the various theaters of World War 2, thus scoring points in a Twilight Struggle sort of tug of war.  There are three phases in each theater, and as you place the chits out on the board you may get a variety of bonuses for placement, including additional power for your action, alterations on the other theaters, increased technology (i.e. additional powerful chits to either put in your bag or into your hand, or removal of chits from your opponent's hand. 

I love this game.  It is truly 20 minutes, and it has a level of tension that is hard to get from a two player game.  It clearly has its bones in Twilight Struggle, and I would agree that this can be described as Twilight Struggle Lite.  This might actually be my favorite strictly two player filler.  The other choices that might come close are Jaipur and Battle Line, but I think this is better.  If you can pick up a copy and you like Twilight Struggle but don't always want to spend 2 plus hours to do it, I would recommend this filler.  It's excellent.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on December 26, 2020, 05:01:49 PM
Lost Ruins of Arnak- (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/312484/lost-ruins-arnak)  This is a hybrid worker placement/deck building game.  The production is out of this world good.  The game play is pretty basic deck building and worker placement fused together, and the trick is figuring out which combos work well together to get you bonus actions that will further your turn.  The real trick is that you only have two workers, so you have to be judicious in the actions that you take with them.  There are two types of cards that you can buy, some you get to use immediately and some go on the bottom of your deck.  The worker placement spots are pretty basic "go there, take these resources" type spaces.  There is also a research track which will allow you to gain ways to get extra actions as well as victory points.  The overall feel is somewhat akin to Clank in weight and play, with some differences that would probably be obvious. 

Despite feeling as if it had all been done before, this game meshed together very well and was pleasant to play.  I feel that it stops a fair way short of greatness, however, as it does seem a little convoluted in spots.  There are a lot of different currencies to manage and sort through, and the actions don't always make sense to do.  I will be replacing Quest for El Dorado with this, however, as it fills that Indiana Jones niche with a better, more flushed out game.  I don't know if I would recommend this if  you don't particularly like deck building, worker placement or middle to lightweight games.  It won't change your mind about any of that, I don't think. 

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on December 28, 2020, 08:21:34 AM
Xia:  Legends of a Drift System- (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/82222/xia-legends-drift-system)  Full disclosure here, this is not my kind of game, generally.  There is some euro to this, though, and I thought I might like it.  This is a "sandbox" game in which you can do several different things within the game to obtain "fame points", which are victory points, more or less, to win the game.  You can play to whatever number of fame points you'd like to make the game shorter or longer.  The Euro parts of the game include how you move your ship around the hexagonal shaped spaces.  You will spend "armament points", i.e. workers, which you place on your board to particular portions of your ship that you've built out with shields, engines, missiles and guns.  At the end of your turn you will replenish these armament points to active by using a store of energy that you can only replenish when you visit planets.  Your actions that you can do with your ship each round include moving, mining/harvesting/salvaging, shooting at other people, and completing missions.  The missions you will get at specific points on the map, and are basically cards with little tasks you can do.  There are also exploration points on the map, which will expand as you play the game.  Another way to play is to complete pickup and deliver of various colored cubes from one planet to another.  Ways to get fame points include completing missions, exploration, completing pickup and deliver trade, and completing fame point cards which will be put out as the game progresses.  In our game we didn't do a lot of shooting at each other.  I imagine your mileage out of this will vary.  I don't know if the race for victory points will be altered much once people get good shields, since you've only got a few activations per turn to do damage to things.  Also, there are some NPCs which some of the players will control throughout the game to do various things.  They will affect your game in ways that also depend on the group, I would imagine. 

My issue with this game, generally, is that I prefer to have a set length of game and then you try to maximize your victory points over that time.  I much less prefer the race to a certain victory point total to win.  The production of this game is really excellent.  The art is good, the card quality is good, the ships are cool.  Overall it is very nice.  I also don't typically like games where you battle with other players by chucking dice.  I like more deterministic style combat like in Scythe, but even then I'm not a combative player.  I suspect that if you like this sort of play, you will love this game.  Despite the aspects of this game that weren't my cup of tea, I really enjoyed playing it.  There are a lot of things is does well.  The exploration is cool.  The dice rolls can be somewhat mitigated by spending resources.  The production is excellent.  And it looks like it is back on Amazon for a reasonable price. 

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: schild on December 28, 2020, 01:21:28 PM
Here's my review of Xia:
Dick around, have fun. It's the first 16 hours of an MMOG condensed down to 90 minutes. Do NOT play it and try to make it a competition. Just like, enjoy the experience.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on December 29, 2020, 08:42:53 AM
Yeah, that was sort of my feeling too.  If you play it as a game and to win, it's not going to be nearly as fun as if you just putter around and do shit.  That being said, I doubt I'll play it much.  It's just too big of a time investment. 

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: lamaros on December 31, 2020, 12:07:27 AM
Finally got around to playing TI (4).

My review: long but worth it.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on December 31, 2020, 07:47:28 AM
Can you give a general thought to the new version vs. TI 3?  I.e., would you say that it is a definitive requirement to upgrade, or is TI3 going to still give a similar experience?

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: lamaros on January 01, 2021, 02:56:55 AM
I never played TI3, this was my first game of any TI version!

I'm told it's similar, but faster, less messy. No reason to play TI3 again. The cost of getting it if you have TI3 already would be subjective to your circumstances I guess.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: Mosesandstick on January 03, 2021, 03:57:56 PM
Adventure Games - Monochrome Inc. (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/267814/adventure-games-monochrome-inc) -  A boardgame version of a choose your own adventure story, with some gameplay elements common in escape type games such as combining cards. We enjoyed it but some of the gamey elements were not well used and implemented.The replayability is also pretty limited, the main branching only occurs right at the end. Not sure if the game was worth the money. We may try another one of these, if we do we'll make sure to go for one of the better reviewed ones.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on January 05, 2021, 10:51:12 AM
Honey Buzz (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/284742/honey-buzz)-  This is a worker placement game that has an indirect spatial element.  Basically your workers allow you to take one action-  placement of a tile on the "hive" you are creating which will allow you to take actions, once an area is completed.  You will produce honey bits and also sell honey to the market and to neighboring critters that want to buy the honey.  It's pretty basic, mechanically, and most of the actions will be things that you are familiar with if you've played worker placement games.  

The production is amazingly good, the quality of the components is excellent, and the artwork is nice.  This is going to be a middle of the road weightedsort of euro-economic game.  I would say that a similar type game might be Clans of Caledonia, and Clans is overall a better game.  This game is certainly good, though, I just would prefer some other titles.  As a light economic game, I may prefer Raccoon Tycoon.   Anyway, proceed at your own risk, I would say, and try before you buy it.  

Santa Monica (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/298065/santa-monica)-  This is a game in which you are drafting cards and putting them into a tableau.  You will have meeples on the cards that you have to move around to particular cards to get points, and will get points for the spatial relationships of the cards.  Play is fairly simple.  You will get a card, put it in your tableau, then do a couple of smaller actions.  The game is over once you have put down 14 cards.  

The artwork and production of this game is nice, but the box is 8-10 times bigger than it has to be.  It is a square, Fantasy Flight sized box, which is a little ridiculous for what you get.  The art is nice, and the production, overall is pretty good.  I think that this game is a decent game, for what it is.  I like these spatial games, like Suburbia and Carcassonne, and this is a nice entry into that genre of game.  It is pretty light.  Don't expect Agricola here.  It seems like it would scale very well from 2-4.  I will probably mostly play this with 2, as with 3 or 4 I will probably pull out Wonderful World.  

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: schild on January 05, 2021, 10:54:11 AM
really just playing any damn thing, aren't ya Ghost?

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on January 05, 2021, 12:35:57 PM
I play a lot of games, for sure.  Some of them good........some not so much.   :ye_gods:

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: lamaros on January 05, 2021, 05:06:22 PM
Played Clank Acquisitions Incorporated - It's lots of fun. A good game for playing with friends who are fun to chat with, talk a bit of shit, etc. Not super competitive or anything but the narrative is good enough and the mechanisms work enough to stimulate. We've got through 4 of the 10 missions so far.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: schild on January 05, 2021, 07:21:28 PM
absolutely not a clank fan

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: lamaros on January 06, 2021, 10:14:18 PM
It's def the choose your own adventure part I'm enjoying the most.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: Mosesandstick on January 09, 2021, 07:03:19 AM
I'd like to try Clank one day, though probably going to try the deck building version first.

Santorini (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/194655/santorini) - Basically a 3-D Connect 4 using two builders with god powers. Definitely enjoying this one, it's quick and easy to set up, play and learn, but doesn't feel easy to master.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on January 11, 2021, 01:24:15 PM
Targi (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/118048/targi)-  This is a euro style worker placement game for two players.  Basically you put your guys out on the outside of a grid of cards, and where the people intersect you get to take the action of the card, or if it is a scoring card, claim the card by turning in resources.  You win by having the most points.  There are some other little things about it to make you think more, such as  a robber or bandit or something (think black meeple) which limits where you can put your workers.  Basically there are four currencies in the game that you are collecting (salt, spices, something else, gold) to buy cards to get victory points to win.  

In theory, this should be my thing.  It is a well regarded euro style two player game with mechanics that I like, such as worker placement, victory point race, and victory points. And also victory points.   :awesome_for_real: In practice, however, I found it to be complete garbage.  It is the driest of dry, and there is little actual distinction between the currencies you are collecting to buy VP cards.  The special abilities you can get over time are all sort of uninteresting.  And it goes on foreeeeeeeeeeeeeevvvvvver.  So I really disliked this, overall.  

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: Sky on January 11, 2021, 03:26:37 PM
Zombicide - Chuck Norris, Machete, and Mr T shoot some zombies. Fun.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on January 15, 2021, 01:24:06 PM
Pan Am (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/303057/pan-am)-  This is a worker placement game from Funko/Prospero Hall.  You are claiming routes on a map, Ticket to Ride or Airlines Europe style, to get points.  The game lasts for 7 rounds and you have a variable number of workers, based on the number of players (5 workers for 2 players, 4 for 3, and 3 for 5).  Each turn you have an event card which will change the game in some way.  Some interesting things about it include that you bid for some of the actions and Pan Am will buy your claimed routes as the game moves on, thus giving you an instant infusion of money, yet limiting your per turn income because you don't own the route any more. At the end of each round you are allowed to purchase Pan Am stock, which will vary each round according to the turn's event card. 

The production of this game is great, for the $25 bucks or so that I paid for it.  Sure, it could have been nicer, but it's a great value.  All in all, I would say that this is a great, entry level worker placement style game.  And it may be just a hair above entry level in complexity.  I think it's a great game, though, and if you like the mechanisms described above, I think you'll enjoy it.  For me, it may actually end up replacing Ticket to Ride (which is okay, but a decent entry game) and Airlines Europe (which I love). 

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on January 17, 2021, 05:11:31 PM
Heroes of Land, Air and Sea- (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/198830/heroes-land-air-sea)  This is a 4X game with a fantasy setting in which you have four (in a four player game) very closely connected continents in which to grow your race and do all the 4x type shit.  There is an action selection mechanism that allows for some actions to be followed by other players, such as recruiting new people or building stuff, and some actions that cannot be followed, such as marching an army or moving other units.  The exploration part of this is definitely a backseat component.  The winner is the person with the most victory points, which are earned with combat actions, and by building your army and by building towers and portions of your main keep.  With expansions there are 10 races to play, and they are all (in theory) different to play. 

The production of this game is pretty average, overall.  The miniatures are basic and a fair notch down from your Games Workshop stuff, and the majority of the components are of cardboard that you have to cobble together into buildings and vehicles.  The esthetic is nice, but it just seems like McDonald's french fries, full of carbohydrates and no real substance.  The gameplay is okay.  I feel like it should be shorter than what it is for the level of depth that it provides, but I appreciate that it isn't super rule heavy.  I guess I'm on the fence about this one.  The boxes are giant, the production is.....decent, and the gameplay is decent.  I do like it, though, but it's not a game that I think you can actually be competitive about and expect to have fun.  I don't think I recommend this one unless you can play it first.  It's too big and expensive for the risk. 

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on January 20, 2021, 10:24:47 AM
Trajan- (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/102680/trajan)  This is an older Stefan Feld game that is probably the poster child for "point salad".  It's got a mancala mechanism for taking actions, where you have additional actions if you line up the colors of the things you put into the last mancala spot.  There are essentially four mini-games.  The first involves set collection of cards.  The second involves moving a pawn around to "build buildings".  The third involves moving a pawn around to "invade territories".  The fourth involves end game goals.  Most points wins. 

This is a pretty classic euro, and honestly probably has been the inspiration of any number of otters games.  The production is pretty average, at best, and I bought the little composite tokens from the boardgame geek store that look and feel better.  It's a good game, and I did enjoy it.  That being said, it does feel very dated, and I doubt I will play this more than once or twice a year. 

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: eldaec on January 20, 2021, 01:40:49 PM
I really dislike Trajan.

Simultaneously abstract and inelegant.

Lacking in any feeling of accomplishment.

Lots of others like it though.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: schild on January 20, 2021, 01:54:16 PM
Loved Trajan when it came out. Sold it last year.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on January 20, 2021, 02:11:57 PM
Feld just seems to miss for me.  When you have designers like Alexander Pfister, Vladimir Suchy, Uwe Rosenberg, and Simone Luciani around, it's tough to recommend the Feld games.  I'm even pretty down on Castles of Burgundy, but I think I'd give it a 7. 

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on January 25, 2021, 10:14:28 AM
Maracaibo (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/276025/maracaibo)-  This is a 1700s Caribbean ship themed game with rondel mechanics from Alexander Pfister.  The rondel is different than the typical Mac Gerdts offering in that there are multiple different ways around the rondel, and the actions will change in particular locations from game to game.  There are also multi-use cards, as are typical in Pfister's games.  This is a fairly complex game, not necessarily in how the game works, but in how all the pieces fit together to score you points.  You have a ship that you can upgrade by delivering goods (cards) to spots on the rondel.  This can give you better powers or points.  You can "build" cards by paying for them and putting them in your tableau, which will also give you powers and points.  Then there are two tracks on the board which can give you points, one for exploration and one for increasing the power level of the three nations of the countries competing for control of the Caribbean in this era-  Spain, England and France.  

This is a cool game.  The integration of the parts is hard to describe in a short blurb, but overall it is easy to play and fun.  I have an issue with the game, however, and that is that you can play the game as a race as a strategy, and essentially zoom through the rondel to hit the locations that allow you to gain influence with a particular nation.  If you do this, and it is a very powerful strategy, it really shortens the game, increases the luck, and limits the amount of cool stuff that you can do with the game.  It is powerful because it effectively shortens the game for everyone involved, as once you reach the last spot on the rondel (which you may be able to do in as little as 5 turns), you will end the round.  Therefore, if you choose this strategy, you choose it for everyone.  I'm sure there is a counter, somehow, but I don't know if I see it yet.  And shortening the game really increases the luck factor involved with the cards.  If you don't get the cards that allow you to form a cohesive strategy, you will be hosed.  There will be no way to cycle through new cards effectively enough to combat the rush.  But then again, I'm left thinking about it, and how to improve my strategy.  So I guess I would recommend it.  There is a lot of good here.  

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: lamaros on January 26, 2021, 05:25:54 PM
Got a few more games in of The King's Dilemma. I don't mind it, but it has issues. Mostly I think of two sorts. There is limited interlinking between the overall narrative and the player stories, both mechanically, and specifically. I don't know why they made so many generic options for player houses - they would have been better off just having 5, and linking those house narratives better with the overall kingdom story. There is also often a disconnect between short term goals and longer term ones (and limited information about wtf long term ones really mean), which causes players to act in inconsistent and out of character ways, no matter what decision they choose. The disparity because narrative motivations and mechanical ones is often too great. It's close to a very good game, but you need to link player and house agency in a bit closer, so you aren't as arbitrarily polarised in choices, and you need to feed players personal stories and developments as they go along, not just the kingdom ones. A few other tweaks might help (like maybe stickers for the world map to show developments there, etc) give some more player investment. As it is the balance between player agency and distinction, and overall narrative is wonky.

Eg, for outcomes they should have things that directly call out some houses, like if you've voting on something that impacts the poor "if this vote was carried by House X that house gains 1 crave, and 1 prestige", or stuff like "the leader who carried this vote gains Item X" as a sticker on their player board, and then when item X comes up again int he future they gain some bonus (or negative).

Or just do away with starting house narratives altogether, and just make the first few games have a lot of events that cause houses to pick up traits and inclinations. Solve a few of those issues all at the same time. Let the secret goals be picked up by players as they play. "First person to carry a vote around gaining knowledge picks up the discover knowledge narrative goal", etc.

Edit: The secret agendas, for example, are crap. They are too arbitrary and unthematicly integrated. No reason they should weight the scoring quite so heavily.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: schild on January 26, 2021, 07:31:27 PM
The King's dilemma is a masterpiece of a board game and mostly a role-playing game. If you don't fully buy-in as a group (as in every single person) and play your house as you envision them, you're just not really playing the King's Dilemma.

It sounds like you were too attached to the rules and not attached enough to the drama between players.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: lamaros on January 26, 2021, 10:03:55 PM
You can play lots of fun roleplaying games without needing the clunk of King's Dilemma. Just because it can work with a group of people who are all in doesn't mean it couldn't be better so it could also work with a few people need a little help along.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: schild on January 27, 2021, 08:33:48 AM
Sure, but not every game has to be for everyone. It's ok to be extremely niche to shine. There's already games (like tales of arabian nights and agents of smersh) for people that need help with this shit.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on January 28, 2021, 01:27:20 PM
Western Legends (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/232405/western-legends)-  So this is a western themed "sandbox" game where you can rustle cattle, play poker, pan for gold, and shoot at each other.  It is a fairly thematic game with some mundane tasks added on.  The rustling cattle is a pickup and deliver thing.  The panning for gold is a dice rolling deal with an "exploding dice" component.  The poker is reasonably compared to actual poker, with similar hands and mechanics.  The fighting is done with card play, with highest card winning (typical card suits) and some special power stuff added in. 

The production of this game is decent.  The art is good and the board is cool.  We played this with three players.  I expected to like it more than I did.  I like the poker hand and card management on paper, but in practice it was pretty boring.  This game just had no tension at all, to me, and would probably be better with 5 players.  Still, I think I would prefer Xia to this, and that was pretty meh for me too.  Xia is the much better game,  particularly at lower player counts. 

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: lamaros on January 28, 2021, 04:29:34 PM
Played 18Ireland a few times recently. Short review says: Unless you're super into trying every 18xx out there, give this a miss. Lots of better stuff to try instead.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: schild on January 29, 2021, 12:01:09 PM
I'm trying to find a "longish" (300m+) 18xx to own that plays well at 3-4, but besides that my plan is to only own 18Ches, 1889, 1860 and *possibly* 1849.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: lamaros on January 29, 2021, 07:02:58 PM
Played 1817 or 1822? Or 41?

49 is my favourite, but as with all things, it depends what you enjoy.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: schild on January 29, 2021, 09:47:45 PM
I err towards smaller games in general because my playgroup is more safely 3 than 4 the majority of time. The long-ish game may end up being Harzbahn 1873 which mixes in some Euro to hit 5 hours.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on February 08, 2021, 11:53:37 AM
Cloudage (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/316858/cloudage)-  This game is a lighter Alexander Pfister game that has the theme of blimps collecting resources in a postapocalyptic world.  The theme in this game is about as tenuous as in any of his games.  You are moving a blimp piece around a board to "fight" some sort of militia things in towns to get a reward (water, metal, power, or more project cards- see following descriptions).  You do the movement and fighting by drawing cards from a starting deck that you can alter a little bit over time, deck builder style.  The numbers on the cards will give you movement points or ability to fight, depending on the phase of the game.  Then, there is a building phase in which you can buy cards to improve your movement/fighting deck, improve your blimp or build "project cards", which are basically just cards you put out in a tableau to give you benefits, either ongoing, end of game, or instant.  The game goes for either 7 or 8 turns, depending on the number of players.  There is also a campaign situation, as Pfister seems to like to do in his games.

This is honestly a game that I don't know if I needed.  I tend to like Pfister's games, like Maracaibo, Newdale, and Great Western Trail.  Those are all pretty heavy entries, though, and this is a nice, middle to light weight game.  There's nothing really new with this game, but I do like it, possibly better than some of the other games in his library.  Some things to know about it-  there is almost zero player interaction.  The only interaction to speak of is taking a spot on the board where someone wants to land their blimp.  Card draws are random and hidden, so you can't game people by taking what they want.  It is an optimization puzzle with luck, and there may be more luck involved than some people will like, for this type of game.  I would give this good marks, overall, but don't necessarily recommend it unless you really like Pfister's games. 

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: Goldenmean on February 08, 2021, 01:53:08 PM
I agree with the broad strokes of everything ghost said, but man, Cloud Age is as close as I've come to just straight up hating one of Pfister's designs. Probably because I'm one of those people who really doesn't want to see more luck in a game and Cloud Age's only really novel mechanic is that the tableau of city cards are contained in card sleeves with cloud stickers on them which semi-obscure the card. All cards give all of the resources, but they give them in proportion to how much of that resource is visible on the card, and you can only pick one resource, so you can play a little guessing game of "Well, I can see a big patch of orange sticking out from under that cloud, so I bet it's either the first or second most prevalent" or "Well, I see a wrench icon in that patch of grey resource, so I know if I take that, I'm guaranteed to get a bonus even if there isn't actually much grey on the full card". It's... I don't know, it's new I guess, but I didn't find it very interesting. Other than that, yeah, it's a light optimization game with a whole bunch of output randomness. It's not like he's incapable of doing lighter games. I love Isle of Skye, but Cloud Age is in an uncanny valley of thinky enough to make the luck elements really annoying for me.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on February 09, 2021, 01:29:20 PM
Blackout Hong Kong has been the game of Pfister's that I hate the most.  There was nothing about it that I liked, from the upside down, giant player boards to the black hole of a theme.  I'm a bit on the fence about Pfister's games currently.  There is just too much luck in his games for what they are.  Generally, his games require you to cycle through a lot of cards in the deck to produce a viable strategy, and that is never easy.  In Maracaibo you seem almost better off to forget the cards, generally, and just hit heavy on the combat actions. 

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: Goldenmean on February 09, 2021, 09:15:37 PM
Blackout Hong Kong has been the game of Pfister's that I hate the most.  There was nothing about it that I liked, from the upside down, giant player boards to the black hole of a theme.  I'm a bit on the fence about Pfister's games currently.  There is just too much luck in his games for what they are.  Generally, his games require you to cycle through a lot of cards in the deck to produce a viable strategy, and that is never easy.  In Maracaibo you seem almost better off to forget the cards, generally, and just hit heavy on the combat actions. 

I've had some absolute blow-out games of Maracaibo from a heavy card play strategy, but we haven't played it a ton, and it's a very weird game to talk about in a vacuum because the tempo of the game is so determined by the players. I think card play strategies would suffer from shorter games, so it's possible that more experienced opponents would have been able to see that happening and just race to end the game early and make that not a terribly viable strategy. Who knows.

I did enjoy Maracaibo though, but largely I agree that his recent output has been subpar. The big box version of Newdale was fine, but nothing terribly special. I like Blackout:HK, but yeah, the theme was a mess, the board was ugly as hell, and most of its good parts had already been seen in Mombasa. Great Western Trail was definitely the high water mark and he's been trending downwards since, but man, that was such an incredibly high water mark that it's hard for me to hold his more recent "meh" stuff against him too much.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on February 11, 2021, 12:05:49 PM
Yeah, I can tell you from experience that a rush strategy in Maracaibo doesn't necessarily guarantee you a victory, but it really forces the strategy for everyone in the game to the combat track.  I think that this bugs me in games, quite a bit, the situation where if someone picks a strategy in a game that has multiple viable strategies, that becomes the dominant strategy for the game.  I guess you could call that "balance", but it's not quite that since everyone still has the same opportunity to win. 

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on February 26, 2021, 12:45:34 PM
Songbirds (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/212765/songbirds)-  I bought this because it looked like it might be a decent filler.  You basically have five rows and columns that you are playing cards into to try and have one of the four suits be available to score points at the end of the game.  You end up with one card in your hand, and you score the points for that suit. 

Summary-  shite.  Avoid.  Go with Arboretum instead, which is also questionable, really. 

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: schild on February 26, 2021, 03:00:15 PM
Songbirds (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/212765/songbirds)-  I bought this because it looked like it might be a decent filler.  You basically have five rows and columns that you are playing cards into to try and have one of the four suits be available to score points at the end of the game.  You end up with one card in your hand, and you score the points for that suit. 

Summary-  shite.  Avoid.  Go with Arboretum instead, which is also questionable, really. 

Thought you were talking about this: https://johnbattle.itch.io/songbird

And was *extremely* confused.

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on March 01, 2021, 01:40:54 PM
Forgotten Waters- (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/302723/forgotten-waters)  This is a pirate themed game from Plaid Hat Games, I believe their first effort after Colby Dauch bought the company back from Asmodee.  This is an app assisted game with a semi-cooperative situation where you are sailing around doing small tasks as you attempt to complete a larger overall mission.  Each person will act as the gunner or the first mate or the boatswain or quartermaster or what have you.  The draw for this is supposed to be story telling, and the app and book will provide you with some goofy stuff that you can laugh at.  Of note, there is a pirate name generator on the back of the rulebook, so you can come up with interesting and fun names for your characters, like Murderbones McMuffins.  Basically, it is an action selection game with some dice rolling for skill checks.  There is a little bit of turn order importance, since some actions are required, and you may be stuck doing one of the required actions if you go last.  There are 5 scenarios in the base game which will take between 2 and 4 hours to complete. 

I think that this game is way too long for what you get out of it.  It is basically in the realm of "flip a card and roll a dice", just with an app instead of cards to flip.  The stories are okay, but I certainly don't think the narratives are strong enough to keep the game interesting for me.  In the end, there just isn't much game here.  Contrast this to Chronicles of Crime, which seems very interesting to me, and has even less "game" to it.  One caveat-  this may be a good activity with kids.  Mine like it, but we haven't played everything yet. 

Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: ghost on March 01, 2021, 02:46:43 PM

Thought you were talking about this: https://johnbattle.itch.io/songbird

And was *extremely* confused.


Title: Re: Short game reviews
Post by: Mosesandstick on March 16, 2021, 02:57:38 PM
Escape Tales: Low Memory (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/282291/escape-tales-low-memory) - The second game in the Escape Tales series. We really enjoyed starting this one but the ending and final puzzles were a big letdown. The story is a stronger element, with some more creative ways of tying in the story to the escape room format. While it's initially interesting the ending is disappointing, mainly because it fails to tie the choices and narrative in the 3 different acts together coherently. The puzzles are also mixed, with more reliance on "pixel peeping" on the cards and some really annoying and abstruse puzzles.