I got to play a few new essen releases and I am excited to play the rest! Here we go with how I felt about them:
BUMM BUMM BALLON
Ok this is what it looks like. You are torturing a balloon. Your aim is to torture this poor defensless balloon who has never done anything to you but you just want to poke it and prod it and torture it. Ok its not exactly true. This is essentially Jenga with a balloon. During your turn you will roll a dice. Then depending on the number, you have to push any number of sticks as long as the total notches you pushed in equaled the number. If you burst the balloon, you lose! Its quite nerve wrecking near the end when you see how "tortured" the balloon is. The game has 1 element that is random though and that is, surprise surprise, the quality of the balloon used. The ones that came with the game were quite high quality I think thus even though most of the sticks were more than halfway in, the balloon did not burst! So, a party game, not really for my group but I can see how this can evolve into a drinking game of sorts and bursting the balloon sure will get some people shrieking and all. Fun but not what I will get for sure. Boardgame cafes should look into this though because it will be a hit with their customers.
CARCASSONNE: HUNTERS AND GATHERERS
I have never played this expansion before. Interesting variant especially with the special tiles that are rewards when you complete a mountain range that has gold symbols in it. Rivers are now more interesting because of the fishes within. I do like the greenish colors as they seem to be more pleasing to the eye. Not a bad variant. I much prefer this to the other slightly more whimsical ones like the Fairy / Dragon.
That coffee game! We were eager to get a play in and I was too to see if I would like to get it. I have heard that this game is surprisingly not as easy as it looks and I wanted to try it for myself. Rules were pretty easy to get into but the cards and symbols needed further clarifications by referring to the rules because the brief text on them were not completely clear to us. In the first brewing I have gotten myself a rainbow brew and it stayed there for almost 3/4 of the game, scoring us quite a bit of points. There is a lot of opportunity for screwage as well due to the cards and the opportunity for you to go to the same place as the leader and then choose research rather than brew. However it will take a conscientious player to keep the leader in check. I wonder how it will play with 8 though. To me it feels light-medium weight game, kinda like a ameri-trash game trying to be seen as a euro game lol. Not bad but I don't feel there is anything refreshing. Probably will need several plays to get a better feel for the game.
THE GREAT ZIMBABWE
Ah, the newest Splotter game. I already own Antiquity and while it is not getting much plays (only 1 so far), I am eager to see what improvements this latest incarnation has in store. The art is amusing to me. I mean they can use such nice art for the cards but the board and the components used on the board are kinda gaudy and weak to me. I do wish they used the same uniform art and looked more impressive playing the game. The currency used too keeps reminding people of a rhino rather than the cattle it is supposed to be. There also seems to a problem of running out of silver cattle to be used for auctioning. Other than that, there is nothing else really bad about the game. Everything else is good from here on. I love how you can choose how you want to win the game. What I meant is you can choose what benefits you want which will then configure your victory conditions. Gods/specialists/craftsmen that give you better benefits will extend your victory point which makes it harder for you to win the game. So a good choice of Gods/specialists/craftsmen is vital in the game. The auction at the beginning of each turn that will determine the turn order is also very interesting. It forces a redistribution of wealth unless you do not mind being last in the turn order which can make it very difficult for you to expand because resources would have already been used up. I love this game. It really rewards good timing and strategic placement of your monuments and craftsman and use of resources as both for your own benefit as well as blocking others. Of course it help that I won the game and helped me decide to pull the trigger to get my own copy :)
This is a print and play variant of the recent release Hanabi. Interesting co-op game because other players get to see what you have and try to advise you on what cards to play during your turn. You will also be able to choose to discard a card (to benefit others) or play a card or tell another player some information to help the entire team. Quite a lot of laughter because it was quite late into the night and we made some bad calls in providing information. Co-ops are really not my thing though and we did not win in the end. I can see why this is interesting for a team that enjoys co-ops and team building but its not for me.
Brought this to the office to play during lunch time. I do so love the art on this game and if you have it, you MUST play with the stocks option because it will add a more strategic element to the game play. A good light filler and a mechanism similar to Tsuro.
Got this (by way of my wife in usa) as I have started to play more 2 player games (to play with my wife!) and have heard good things about this. 1 player will play the dragon and will win if the dragon kills all 3 dwarfs or makes the other player run out of cards. The other player will play the dwarfs and must kill the dragon before running out of cards to win. Gameplay is quite simple. During each turn, a player has 2 actions and can either draw 2 cards or play a card. Cards can be either attack or move or both. When a player is attacked, if that player has a block card in hand, that card can be played to negate the damage. Each player will have spaces on their player mat denoting the amount of damage they can receive and these are also segregated by sections which can cripple the dragon or kill off a dwarf. Light game and the dragon was killed. I will want to play as the dragon to see how it is. Seems a bit too light though. Will have to try a few more plays to see how it goes.
OMG the gaudy art. It has the same art as the original Glory To Rome and plays similar except the placement mechanism which requires clever placement to be able to maximise the number of cards you receive during taxation. Cards you receive can then be used as resources, played as land or played as buildings/actions. To win, you have to first build a church and finally a Cathedral. Its not a complicated game to get into and it does have player interaction by means of knights which can be used to steal or destroy other players' cards. It is a light-medium card game and is kinda fun. Gaudy art.... the art has to change! lol.
Ah, the highlight of the night. I have heard many good things about this and since I have gotten my copy, I am eager to give it a play (and have this taught to me without actually reading the rules :P). I love the fact that all factions play differently (similar to Chaos in the old world which I also love and still have!) and we all have such different victory conditions. More importantly, the victory conditions requires you to screw with another faction that it forces a very high level of player interaction between the players. It did take us about 3 hours to play finish with the Government player winning in the end. I played the AUC and I had 1 chance sometime in the middle of the game to win it but I blew it with a bad move. I still love this game though and the game components are awesome and high quality. The card events plays very similar to Twilight Struggle but the most innovative part I feel is the actions that can be played. The cards will determine the order of play but during a player's turn, he/she can choose to pass (perhaps the next event will be more beneficial). Depending on what you choose to play during your turn though, it can determine what the following player can do because player actions are paired in a very unique way. Great game and definitely lives up to the hype!
Oldie but a goodie. I have never managed to play with all the expansions because I am usually playing this with people whom I think are new to boardgaming. Its still a good introductory game with a lot of dice rolling. The only analysis paralysis part will be when you are trying to decide where to place your dice. It can take quite a bit of time if the player does not know what to do or there are just too many combinations/options to choose from.
RAILWAYS OF THE WORLD
Played Fleet again. I understand now that diversity is key to this game. Aim to have at least 1 of every license so you can benefit from every phase of the game. At the same time, the Shrimp license is certainly very powerful with the discount it gives. I scored 88 this time with a combination of licenses. The other 2 players who were first time players scored a respectable 50+ points and were only 4 points apart from each other. I do feel however that the replayability of this game can be limited as, pointed out by another player, it is a very straight forward game. Launch boats, fish, get cards. Repeat and rinse. I may have to bring in the kickstarter variants to see if they add some kind of variety to the game. Otherwise, after a few more plays this game may get stale for me.
I have gotten my copy of Spartacus and I cannot wait to try it. After hearing how cut throat it can be I do want to try it with my group as we can get rather cut throat even with simple card games. Though I hope also that it will not disappoint me like how Merchants and Marauders did.
I am also eager to try out the solo player for Archipelago and another play of this with all 5 players to cement what I think I feel about the game.
Andean Abyss is also another one I want to try the solo variant to see how it plays.
Finally, I (maybe foolishly! we will see :p) gotten a copy of Virgin queen. OMG the rules are quite meaty to go into but I will definitely want to have a go at this before the year ends! Wish me luck!