Recently played

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Last week's plays: Mage Knight, Merchants of Venus, Inception, Noah, Myrmes, tier auf tier, Fauna, Quills, Spartacus, Terra Mystica

I have received my BGG santa's gift and its Myrmes and Friday! Both great games and what I have been looking forward to! Dicetower santa's gifts are a whee bit late (mid dec) and I am guessing its Tzolk'in as I recently bought Terra Mystica after checking if that was what he may have gotten for me :P My BGG and dicetower targets both love their games and I am especially interested to find out if my BGG target loves milestones as much as I do! Which reminds me, I should probably start working on my top 10 games for 2012 that I have played and give my opinions (if anyone is really interested :D )

Here's what I have played recently:


I manage to bring this out again recently and have a go at the 2 player FULL CONQUEST mode! It took us almost 4 hours to plow through this but to me it was quite satisfying in the end. My opponent put up quite a good challenge as I was scrambling to explore and do some conquering myself to level up and not lag behind. I did win with 132 points and it certainly felt almost epic to me. My opponent mentioned that he is still not too sure about the game and its replayability. Unfortunately I have never had the chance to play a PVP version of Mage Knight yet as it will take some considerable investment of time to understand the game and be familiar enough to start a PVP game. I am definitely looking forward to the expansion and see what it can bring to the game. Here's hoping I get to have a go at it before the end of 2012!


Ahh,.... one of the hot hot anticipated games of 2012. A friend manage to get this as his secret santa gift (So lucky!) so we could get it out and have a game. I wanted to find out if I will love it enough to keep my copy which is with my wife now in NYC. The game is light weight and can be seen as a roll and move. It is not a straight forward roll and move and there are some decisions you can make but you don't have to think about it very long. Component wise it is definitely good (as expected from FFG's games) and it wasn't too difficult to learn the game. However after playing this game, I will not be keeping my copy.. For the target audience (which are casual gamers), I think this will be a fine addition. However for more serious or avid gamers (who enjoy the heavier games), I feel that this may not be able to fulfill their boardgaming needs. Pity as I really wanted to like the game. Oh well....


I think for majority of the readers of this blog, this is something new. Inception is a card game from publishers in China and is a surprise hit with me. I attended a local Mensa meetup and was introduced to this game. Though my Mandarin is kinda sucky, picking up on the game is relatively easy and with help from the other players, I got into this game fairly quickly. You can find more details about the gameplay here but in a nutshell, 1 player is the Dream master trying to protect the main objective from the other players while trying to whittle down the deck. Dream master wins if the draw deck runs out. The other players who are not sided with the Dream master, wins if they find the objective card behind 1 of 4 vaults. There is no player elimination in the game but "dying" does make it difficult for a player as you or someone else need to spend 2 cards to "revive" you. While the fun of the game may depend on the group (the teasing and the psycho-analysing), the mechanics are simple enough to pick up and enjoy. Replayability and the fun factor is enhanced by the variety of characters in the game which players get to choose at the start of the game. It plays also from 4 to 8 and while with more players you tend to play less (because the vault maybe opened before it goes back to you again), its not too bad. I played the game 3 times and I was the dream master twice and I won all 3 games. Winner's biases aside, I did enjoy the game tremendously. It does not feel so much like a party game even though it caters for so many players. Banter and mind games are a must and thus it adds quite a bit of depth to the game. I loved the game so much that I hunted around online for a copy and found to my delight there are 2 editions of the game. Though sadly, they have not been reprinted for along time and I can only find the edition I played available online at a Hong Kong based shop. This also triggered me to explore games that are made in China/Taiwan and Hong Kong. Sadly though they are not very represented in BGG thus information can be hard to come by. But since I'll be heading there in December, I will get myself a copy. Now to translate the cards for easier play especially in office.....


I played Noah again but this time with the advanced rules and I must say they certainly added more depth to the game. You are now looking forward to hitting the magical 21 so that you can give a card to other players. Its much harder though to be able to place the same breed as the previously played card as timing is hard to master. Still its a great light game that I don't mind playing but I will prefer it with the advanced rules. Recommended!


To my pleasant surprise, I received a copy of Myrmes from my BGG Secret Santa! (Thanks Santa if you are reading this!). I have tried this online here and I did enjoy it so I couldn't wait to try it with 4 in person. It is not a difficult game to explain as the symbols and phases are marked very clearly on the board. Kudos on that. The components are also quite good except for the misprint which is talked about a lot already at BGG. Its not a big deal as long as you remind every player about the misprint. Myrmes is a worker placement and area control game (as I quickly discovered when the Blue ants occupied SO MUCH space and had a runaway victory) at its heart but even though the mechanics are not ground breaking, the theme (which is unusual and surprisingly engaging) makes the game unique and fun for me. This game is quite punishing if you start off on the wrong foot and so far I cannot see a catch-the-leader mechanism so it can have a runaway leader problem. There is no direct confrontation in the game though but the area control and objective scoring are probably the main ways in which players get to interact with each other directly. I am still playing it actively online and I hope to bring it out to the table to play a few more games but so far I am loving the game. One little gripe would be the the need for the plastic ants. They are just representative of soldiers/workers that you have and are more aesthetic than anything. Still they do help to bring the theme of the game and its just a little gripe. Still recommended!


Ah Habba, how nicely you make all those wooden bits for your games. Animal upon animal is a game I have played before but I was surprised they have a bigger version plus secret objectives and a dice! (or was it in the smaller version all along?) In this version that I played, some of the animals are prearranged around the board with a bridge in the middle where the crocodile starts. During your turn, you will roll a dice and that will determine from which region you can take an animal from OR take from any region (if you rolled a "?") or pick an animal already on the bridge (if you roll the Bridge symbol). If any animals drop during your placement, then you draw another secret objective card. At anytime if the makeup of the animals on the bridge matches your secret objectives, you can reveal and declare it completed. The player who has completed ALL his/her secret objectives wins the game. The wooden pieces are surprisingly slippery (or it could be late at night and we are all shaking from lack of sleep :D) and the bat pieces are the trickiest of them all. You can probably guess what happened in the picture. Not a bad party like game and certainly might be more fun if the group has been drinking ;p


Fauna is a game about animal trivial. Because of the trivial bit, it reminds me of trivial pursuit but more specialized as it deals with animal facts. During each round and in player order, players will place their cubes at certain specs of the animal in question. These specs are length of the animal, length of the tail, weight and which region this animal can be found. After all players have passed, then the details are revealed and you will score points if you are correct or adjacent to the correct answer. For 4 players, the game ends when 1 player has passed 100 points (this equates to roughly 8 animals). When i was much younger and collecting stickers (for sticker books), there was a WWF sticker book which I loved, I would have nailed this game. During that time, there were also Trump cards and one of the favorite were these animal ones which had length, weight, lifespan etc and how we played was we will deal out the cards (usually 2 players) and starting with 1 player, he will look at his top card and choose a specs. Then compare this with the other player and whoever has the highest will win. I remember the Black mamba was a favourite (not sure what the specs was) and the Elephant (for its weight). Great times... For Fauna, you can see we were trying to imagine how big or long the animal was and measuring it against our arms and the table and even Comet (my huskie was lying behind us chilling). It is definitely an educational game more so than a gamer's game and I would recommend it to teachers or parents if they want to educate their students/children about animals. 


If you have a smart phone, you would probably have come across a multitude of word games for your smart phone. I am recently playing Letterpress and I am hooked by how a simple word game has some strategic depth to it. Quills is like a word game come alive in card form. During each round, each player is dealt a fresh hand of cards and try to make words out of them in a combination which will score them the most points (in terms of cards used, the bonuses on them and if you have same colors or all different colors). During that round, you are allowed to discard 1 card to draw 1 card and/or discard 3 cards to draw 1 or 2 of any of the face up cards for your own use. Once a player has formed a word, he/she turns over a timer and the count down begins for the other players to form a word. When time is up, all players compare their words and award rankings. The rankings will determine how many chits you get during that round. The player with the least number of chits at the end of the game wins. This is certainly not a game to be played so early in the morning as brains aren't functioning. Certainly the cards being dealt to you matters. This game will also be good for educators and parents and I will also recommend a dictionary nearby to settle disputes.


Another game which I have heard a lot about and finally got my own copy to the table. Even though I am the only one out of the 4 that have watched the show, we quickly got into the spirit of the game and it seems that we were mostly having fun during the arena fighting. We were baying for blood because our coins were riding on the outcome of the matches. That being said, this game had several issues that I feel will probably not make it last in my collection.The game depends a LOT on the players to make it lively and interesting. Players who do not like direct confrontation or negotiation and scheming, plotting and outright lying will not enjoy the game. If the players aren't very familiar to each other and do not engage in banter, then for most part of the game, it can get dull and boring. That is also because the flow of the game without all the banter is just playing cards, bidding on stuff, going into arena. Then repeat until someone scores 12 influences to win. To solve this? Make sure everyone had at least watched a few episodes and some booze may help. 
The game also has a gang-up on the leader problem, similar to games like Munchkin, which can drag the game on. This can probably be mitigated but will require a longer build up time for players to have enough defenses before performing the final moves to secure the win. This problem will probably drag the game for most sessions. An alternative to this would be to have some secret objectives and thus allow for a way to declare you won the game. The game length itself is too long for the game depth that it delivers. I suspect an influence range of 1 to 7 will probably be better as you get to enjoy the full range of the game. 
During arena battles, there is no rounds limit or penalties for "bad performance" as gladiators could end up circling each other for many many rounds without the match ending. There could be a penalty such that if the match doesn't end in 5 rounds, both houses will lose influence points or the loser is the gladiator with the least health remaining. 
I would definitely want to try this game a few more times before I pass the verdict but so far it seems a possible Meh for me.


Another hotness from Essen 2012! I checked with my Dicetower santa before I made the purchase from (which was only available yesterday!) and I was so excited to bring it out yesterday. I had not really read the rules so I used the video review from my friend Joel to do like a video introduction to the game while i prepared the board. After that, we all dived in eagerly. This game reminds me a lot of Myrmes in that it is an area control game and is brutal if you start off on a wrong foot. I learnt this the hard way when I found myself all alone and couldn't do a lot because of bad decisions from the start. Half the game I had way too few options and I ended up being last in the game. 
There seems to be a catch-the-leader mechanism in the form of the 4 pillars where you can send your priest to advance on the track but I will have to play a few more times to be sure. So the game really is about finding ways in which you can place your structures onto the board in as efficient a manner as you can. You want to find a way to quickly advance to the larger buildings because not only do they give you different income later on but they may also garner you favor tiles which are very powerful. Furthermore, there is a pool of magic for you to use which provides some alternatives for certain benefits. I still don't see why Joel has mentioned this is a very neat mechanic in his video but this is only my first play and well, I cannot make a judgement call on this right now. 
There is definite replay value because of the number of races available for you to choose from and the players all did have fun and were talking about it. Now, knowing better, I will definitely want to give it a go again. Verdict pending more plays for now :)

so all in all, a great week of gaming with several new games played. I should be composing my top 10 list for 2012 soon as the year closes and the number of new games I get dwindle. 

Nah..... who am i kidding :p I am expecting a lot more new games in the coming weeks and especially when my wife comes back with my goodies from USA!


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