Recently played

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Love Letter, Escape: The Curse of the Temple, Nobelemen, Unexpected Treasures, Snowdonia, Suburbia, Mieses Karma, Libertalia, HomeStretch, Keyflower, Ginkgopolis

January is almost over! That's really fast. Lets see what I got to play :)

Love Letter
Been playing a lot of Love letter recently as I feel it is quite a good filler game, great for warming up everyone and a game that all gamers should have a copy of. The power for each character changes quite differently when its 2 players and when its 4 players. Some characters are better to have like No. 8 in 2 players because when you can compare, you will always win. Whereas for more players, you are wary of comparing as it may reveal who you are and someone can easily kick you out by playing a Number 1. Gamers who are quite experienced are also pleasently surprised by a game so simple yet can provide so much fun. A great game and I sure hope to discover more games like this where its simple to teach and learn and in all aspects is a filler type game yet provide many hours of fun.
One thing to note to my horror, I discovered quite recently that I have been playing a rule wrongly. That is the Number 1 character when played, cannot guess another player as having the same Number 1 character! I don't believe it changed a lot of game results but I guess this is an important rule which I overlooked. For those who have played this with me, I do sincerely apologise for my oversight! Oh well, time to play more of Love Letter to overwrite all the wrongly played games of the past few weeks! :p

Escape: The Curse of the Temple
A game that I have heard so much about and Jon had talked about in the podcast. We managed to break out this game for 5 players and boy was it frantic! Like what I have heard in other podcasts, I don't believe I breathed at all till the game is done. It feels like 15 - 20 mins rather than just 10 mins which is a good sign. Our first game we did not suceed though as we were running out of dice and did not have enough to beat the final challenge. Also I was playing the music through my iphone which initiallty I had thought it was loud enough but when we were playing and making a lot of noise, it did not allow us to clearly hear when the doors are closing and when the temple has collapsed. I can certainly see how the game is fun but there are many grey areas where it can lead to a tainted victory. While everyone is trying their best to be honest and play it properly, there will be cases where in the frantic moment, you thought you could unlock another player's dice when you are not even in the same room as he/she is and those few seconds to check and verify maybe costly or break your momentum. I much prefer a game where when you win, you know you won without a doubt and due to your planning (and luck) so I am guessing that when I think i won in Escape, I will wonder if i REALLY won or did someone played wrongly. I would like to try this again especially with my office group and see how it goes but I probably won't have one in my collection.

First and foremost I must rave about the components provided in this game. Its heavy and when opened i can see that it is value for money. Kudos to Tasty Minstrel for the compoennts. The number of cardboard pieces and how thick they are made me happy. The player shields are some of the biggest and sturdiest I have ever seen. In the game, you are trying to expand your estate and thus, gaining certain "resources" by doing so and using these resources erect buildings, get money, get prestige etc all of which will contribute to scoring points for you during the Masquerade Ball and during Estate scoring. An interesting aspect of the game is when end of turn is triggered. There is a queen piece which if at the end of your turn you have, then that triggers the end of turn. This creates a need to plan properly because otherwise you can get screwed when another player grabs the queen during his/her turn and ends that round and you suddenly realise you have less turns than you had expected. Gameplay wise we also found that it is not very forgiving if you make a mistake right at the beginning, it can be quite difficult to get back into the game. Also, we found cards like Cunning Stroke which allows you to place more tiles in a turn (which is vital in providing you resources and points scoring) maybe overpowered. Granted we did not play with the Men-at-arms power too much (only 2 players did), I still did have fun. i would want to have a few more plays but at least 1 player decided that its a lousy game (due to the punishing first start + overpowered card)

Unexpected Treasures
A light role selection type of games where players will first choose a card from a set of identical cards for all players and then reveal it after all players have chosen in secret and resolve. If there are any players with the same cards, they check their player order, switch and only 1 player will be active in that round. The rest will be out. Next resolve the player who has selected the robber and he/she gets to steal a number of objects from the rest of the players who are still active for that round. Then, in ascending order, players will be able to obtain a number of tokens representing goods from the middle of the table. If possible, they can resolve any number of contracts also available on the table by trading in objects that they own and corresponding to the contracts. Contracts provide you points and when all contracts have been drawn, the game ends and the player with the most points wins the game. The game has interesting art, oversized cards (not many sleeves can fit btw) and is easy to teach and play. Going against the norm (i.e. play robber when others are not) and making efficient use of the goods (i.e. not leaving any behind for robbers to steal) is key to the game. I found myself in a different rhythm with the other players and ran away with the game (outscoring by quite a bit). So there really isn't much catch-your-leader mechanism even though you can try by stealing goods but its pretty hard to guess what the leader can play as there are 6 roles to choose from. It is an average game for me and I won't say no to playing it but will not be in my collection.

A hotness from Essen that I wanted to try and I was glad to be able to get a game of this before deciding if I want a copy for myself. In the game players are assisting to build a railway to the top of a mountain and score points along the way. When the station at the mountain top is reached, the game ends and player with the most points will win the game. During your turn, you choose where to place one of your 2 pawns (you can get a 3rd if you own a train later during the game) and once all players have placed their pawns, in a specific order sequence, players will take actions by removing their pawns. Actions that you can do include getting resources, clearing rubble, getting cards, contribute to building of a station or purchasing a train. I initially thought that the game was kinda long but we later realised we played a rule wrongly and it should have ended in a timely manner. The game does have its own timing mechanism to ensure the game does not drag on and that is cool. Another cool aspect of the game is that there are many paths to victory but most of it involve performing actions to get resources so that you can achieve objectives from the cards that you can obtain during the game. I tried the surveyor without utilizing the train route but got distracted halfway through the game which was detrimental to me. Art and components reminded me of Walnut grove and is nice and cartoony. Not a bad game and can be played solo like Walnut grove and I may just get it for the solo aspect (yes I am now much more open to solo games and may just have a day where I play all my solo games ;p)

Another hotness from Essen that I wanted to play but did not manage to get until recently. As mentioned in previous posts, I am eagerly looking for a game that can give me the same fun and feel that I had with Simcity the video game. I think suburbia does that to an acceptable level for me. The game is easy to play and teach and essentially is obtaining a tile during your turn, place it into your borough and then resolving the tile, adjusting reputation and income and getting said reputation and income and that is the end of your turn. The game does have some progression as you go through category A buildings and end somewhere halfway through category C buildings where A buildings are your basic small town type buildings and C buildings are more advanced, expensive and powerful. So while it seems simple and easy to play, it does require some thinking and planning though not too heavy that your brain will start to smoke so I think this is a medium weight game. One fiddly aspect will be the resolution when placing a new tile because you need to check your borough if there are any benefits to be activated and check each other player's borough because there are benefits that apply to ALL boroughs in play. I wish they had extended the player board another row which includes the various "ALL" benefits and provided tokens to mark them so that players can easily see if they qualify when a new building is added anywhere. Another interesting aspect of the game is the scoring track which will penalize you by decreasing your reputation and income (which can lead to negatives) when you start to move up the track. It is a neat catch the leader mechanism which will ensure that you have established a well balanced borough before progressing further. Unfortunately it feels very much like a multiplayer solitare game and interaction amongst players is limited to the market and objectives and that's about it. I was wondering if its possible to restrict the players to a fixed sized and force players to build into each other's area and even allowing boroughs to connect to each other! I wonder if there will be an expansion like that :) Good game and I recommend.

Mieses Karma
I first heard about this game from Garrett's games and geekiness podcast and was intrigued by the theme which is Buddism, reincarnation and Karma. These 3 words also represent the main mechanisms of the game. In the game, players start off as ants and through helping other players and playing correct cards into their "lifeline", they will be able to "die" and reincarnate into better animals and ultimately back into a human again. The first player who successfully dies as a human will end the game and players then count up the points and whoever has the most points wins (usually one of the players who has reincarnated into a human). Game is light and amusing and the mechanisms of helping others to gain karma and the different powers that the animals have certainly help with the theme. I can see how this game was designed with the theme first and how the mechanisms enhance the experience of the game. For example, usually if the cards in your hand run out you will die and reincarnate. By helping others, you are giving a card away from your hand which in turn will hasten your "demise". Later animals will draw more cards when reincarnated which represents the longer lives these animals usually led and is also quite thematic. Art wise is cartoony and ok and there are little plastic buddhas which you use to keep track of your karma score. All in all, its pretty interesting and unique to me. I will want to play it a few more times just to see if there's too much luck involved. Do give this a try and see for yourself.

I am still not playing this well. I mean there are times where I can predict what my opponents will be playing and be able to take advantage of it. HOwever most plays I won't be able to do so and will suffer as a result. Rarely have i ever won this game :(
Still quite fun as you are trying to second guess your opponents and the powers are interesting. However with the new light filler games that kinda fulfill the need for games where subtleness and guessing of player choices, I am not sure how long this will last though. Also its amazing how pimped out components add thematic value to a game. The metal coins I gotten at GENCON 2012 for this game certainly adds a lot of theme to the game as they feel hefty and has that Chink as they collide with each other. Never underestimate how good components can help with the enjoyment of a game!

Another new release I believe from Essen that I was interested to try after hearing a few podcasts talk about this. After Long Shot, I am interested to see what other horse racing type games there are out there. I haven't had a chance to try Horse Fever yet but I gave Homestretch a try. In the game, players will draft shares for horses and then perform the first part of each race (total 4 races). They will place their betting chits on a chart in the middle of the board to denote bets they make on each horse and their placement in the upcoming race. Once done, the race will begin and that starts the 2nd phase. For the race, players will roll 2 D6 dice and decide to move the horse denoted by the sum total 2 spaces OR 1 space and then reroll again. When 3 horses have placed, the race ends and payout begins. At the start of the 2nd race, there is another opportunity for players to buy more shares and then race 2 will commence. Races 3 and 4 will just have the betting and racing phases. Once the game ends, whoever has the most money will win the game. This is a light party game which does have its share of hooting and hollaring but I think Long shot is more fun. The 2nd purchase doesn't really make sense to me and since race 3 and 4 there are no changes except for betting, they seem to just require players to roll and move the horses which seems a little redundant.Each race has special conditions to stop some horses from moving too early or provide a very big boost when they race. Though I have perhaps seen only a small fraction of the number of races available, I am not sure if there is much variety to make each race different nor interesting. Components wise the horses have engraved numbers which is better than Long Shot's stickers but otherwise the rest of the game is functional. I am not impressed with the game and this is a try before you buy type of game. I have another horse racing game called Bookmaker yet to be played so lets see how that compares to this and Long Shot.

Played with 5 players and taught to a group of 6 players who have never played this before. This is still a very good game for me as timing and observing what your opponents are doing is key to the game. I haven't reached the level where I am actively monitoring what the other players may want or what tiles they will need to activate yet as I am still largely focused on what I need to do and hoping others won't realise it before its too late. Players still seem to underestimate the power of using other players' tiles as you can utilize what other player's may have spent a lot of meeples to obtain AND block the owners themselves out from using their own tiles. I still having a lot of fun with the game and since it plays to 6, will be a definite keeper for me. I would like to try this with 2 to see how it plays though. Lets see if I get the chance to. A great game and highly recommended.

Recently heard on Garrett's games and geekiness about how they do not get the game and feel that its boring and it is very surprising to me. Mostly because so far a lot of the games they like, I do like as well thus I am astonished that they just felt it was boring and did not like this at all. While I feel that once you have the right powers established, you can get a lot of returns each round by just performing that action and it may seem runaway, it falls on the other players to perhaps follow suite and balance the advantage out. I like how you can potentially screw with other players' plans and deny them victory. This latest game though I can see how some can feel that the game is broken and doesn't really allow for strategic planning and is tactical at best. So while I do like the game, I am beginning to see some cracks in the game. Still fun to play and recommended but now will be a try before you buy for me.

With regards to the podcast, thank you so much for those who have downloaded and listened and the feedback you have provided. Episode 2 will be out in about 5 days time so look out for it. We are still thinking of interesting and unique topics to discuss and podcast about but feel free to leave comments/suggestions/feedback as we would love to hear from you out there. You can leave the comments in this blog or via geekmail at BGG or even twitter me.

Jonathan (my cohost on the podcast) will be heading to ESSEN 2013! I am quite excited for him and all the experiences he will get. This will be a first major Con for him and I hope if there are any people out there interested to help/meetup and say hi, do let him know. You can geekmail him at “jion” on BGG.

GENCON2013! I am 90% sure I will be heading to GENCON2013 again and I am so excited! I was planning to go Essen 2013 but plans change and GENCON here I come. I am excited to meet up with all the new friends I have made and met over the year and would certainly like to meet up with anyone. I will also see what I can do for the blog and podcast while I am there but 1 thing's for sure, I will be posting my pictures like how I did last year so follow me @duckizz on twitter if you want to be kept up to date on the latest and greatest at GENCON 2013!

No comments:

Post a Comment