Its the year of the Snake and I hope everyone has a pleasant and wonderful year! I am hoping for great things to come, improving and increasing listenership for the podcast and readership for the blog and so far its been quite a good start for me :)
I did some reshuffling and here is my boardgame collection (minus all the items which I am putting up for an auction coming next sunday (if you are interested and in Singapore, please take a look here http://www.meetup.com/Boardgames-Singapore/messages/boards/thread/31278782).
I will need to find a place to secure them when my brother and family comes over! :)
Over the last 2 weeks or so I played quite a number of games including most of the new games that I have bought from Boardgameshop.eu. Speaking of which, I must praise the shop for having an updated collection (mostly Euro games since, well they are a shop in Europe) and quite affordable shipping rates which makes the games more economical to obtain.
Now lets get on with the games I have played:
I bought this game having only read the reviews on BGG (and there wasn't must information on it yet) as also a filler for my packaged delivery to bring down postage costs. I was eager to give it a try and was I surprised at the fun I had with this little game. Phantom is a 2 player game where players are trying to scare this group of people in a haunted mansion. First player to reach 11 points wins the game. There are 4 locations in the mansion and during your turn you must activate each of them in the order that you choose. When you activate a location, you may pass or play a card. There are 2 types of cards in our hands, Ghost cards which belong to 1 of 4 types and have 1 of 6 characteristics; Place cards which may provide "scare points" as well as increase the number of ghosts that location may hold. If after you activate a location and your "scare points" meet or exceed the scare limits of a single character in that location, you would have successfully scared that person and win points based on that person's character. It is a straight forward set collecting light-medium weight game where you must decide how to position your Floor and Ghost cards in order to be able to scare and score points. There is also much player interaction in the game as there are Ghost cards which will allow you to steal an opponent's ghosts or even Floor cards. For our very first game, we came in surprisingly tight and it was down to the last character in the game to determine the winner. Both of us agree that this is a good game and would like to play it again. The card quality is matt and quite thick but that also means you should sleeve it to allow for ease of shuffling. Artwork is also not too bad. I would recommend you to try before you buy.
We played a 2 player game of Maya which have additional items like the ladders and the priest. Rules are still the same except that if you manage to combine 2 pieces of the same colours together in the same pyramid you get to place a step/ladders at the bottom of that pyramid. At the end of the game you will score 1 point if you have majority of ladders/steps in that pyramid. In addition, if you manage to complete a pyramid (all pieces are the same color), you will be able to place a priest on the top of the temple which will also give you 1 point. Its not a bad game but there are some quirks I think. For example, you may end up doing only 1 possible move during your turn but these instances probably occur nearer to the end of the game where its very hard to be able to find something to move. Fun game and a must try!
Le Havre: The Inland Port
Played another game and it still holds a lot of appeal to me. The way you need to keep looking at your opponents's board and try to predict what he is trying to do and timing your moves just right is a very fun mechanism for me. This feels quite different from a 2 player game of the base game and plays quite fast. I guess the lack of needing to feed makes this version not as stressful as the base game. I predict there will be new buildings in a future expansion (similar to Agricola All Creatures Big and Small) and I will look forward to getting it. Only problem is for people who have never played Le Havre the base game, they will find it hard to visualize why the mechanics (while streamlined from the base game) function in this manner that seems a little bit counter intuitive. For new players, be patient with it and after a few plays I am pretty sure you will be able to enjoy it like I did.
Among The Stars
We ended the night with an agility game with awesome wooden bits and a very unique component - a loopsided ball bearing. Each player will choose a card from identical decks and then simultaneously reveal the card. The player who played the highest number will go first. Each player during their turn will take an item from an identical set and place it on the space corresponding to the number he/she played. If you tip the boat (its balanced quite precariously) then you can attempt to catch the falling pieces and place them onto the board. If you fail then your turn is over and you keep all pieces that have fallen. This continues until the cards have all been played or when a player has all his/her pieces on the boat. With the introduction of cards, it does add a slight tactical decision making to the game. You want to be the next to place items when the ship has just been cleared or has very few items. If you play a card that requires you to play after someone has just put in the same space, then its very likely you will fail and have more pieces to keep. I sucked at agility games and this was no exception. Components wise this game has top notch components. So if you are into party/agility games or a light game with friends (especially when drunk), then I will recommend you to try this game out before you buy.
Finally managed to get myself a copy of this game that has been generating a lot of hype in 2012. I have played this about 6 times so far and I am beginning to warm up to the idea and concepts on how to play the game. Basically you have 2 cards face down (You can see them of course) in front of you which will represent your lives in the game. During your turn you can play an action. Whenever someone plays an action, anyone else can counter (by declaring that you do not believe the player) and if they are successful, the action is blocked. If at anytime, anyone is not successful when countering an action because they were caught bluffing, then they will lose a life by flipping over the card. If you have to reveal both cards, that means you are out of the game. The last player standing wins the game. Not a bad game but I need to get used to all the bluffing and challenging actions or basically, knowing how to read a person. Now I can see that this game is only vaguely resembling Love Letter and is a whole different animal. In Love Letter you are not bluffing so there isn't a need to think further and thus caters for the simple game that it is. In Coup there is a need to bluff and try to get away with things. This is quite dependant on the group then as if they are role playing along or cajoling others, then the game will be quite fun for everyone. So Love Letter I feel is more accessible and easier to play and Coup is quite dependant on the group of players. Both will still be in my collection and I would heartily recommend anyone to give both Love Letter and Coup a try!
My friend managed to retheme the game of Hanabi into a Christmas theme and I was eager to bring it out for my colleagues to play this co-op game. Now if you know me, I don't really like co-op games because I feel a need to compete but I had quite a lot of fun with my regular group and the original game of hanabi that I wanted to see if I can recreate the same fun and laughter we had with my other groups. What surprised me right at the start was how my colleagues all mentioned they don't want to coop! They wanted to compete! Hahahaah.... that was music to my ears :P We still manage to give it a go though and I think I manage to recreate some of the fun and face palm moments. I love how my friend manage to capture the spirit of Christmas with fantastic and creative art and I am glad to have this copy.
One of the new releases from Essen, Kemet is touted as Cyclades successor and from the same publisher as well. I had Cyclades previously and did have fun with the game so I was eager to give this a go and see just how it plays. Kemet surprised me with what it is and how different it is from Cyclades. In Kemet you are trying to be the first to score 8 points (shorter game) or 11 points (longer game) which will trigger the game end and the player with the most points wins the game. To achieve this, during your turn, you will place 1 of your action discs onto your player board to trigger an action. Things that you can do include recruiting soldiers, move your troop, earn prayer points (currency), increase your pyramid level and purchase power tiles. This actually a Euro war game with an Egyptian theme and a worker placement mechanism. The game actively encourages you to wage wars and engage in battles with your opponents as this is 1 way to gain permanent points in the game. On the board, there also 5 temple areas where you can control to gain temporary points but these areas are easily wrestled away as you can pay 2 prayer points (which is the currency of the game) to teleport to obelisks on the map and there is one located at every temple. My initial thoughts were that this is an ameri-trash game because it has nice components and even nicely washed figures which are usually staples of an ameritrash game. So I am very surprised when I realised after playing that this is a euro game that requires players to interact with each other to win the game. Art is pretty good and the components are excellent. Figures of the scorpion, snake etc (these are the "heroes" or special units of the game) are also very nicely washed and even stamped at the bottom of their bases. I am also surprised that none of the units had warped blades as they are quite small and looked fragile. The other big component are the pyramids that look like 4 sided dice. The pyramids and the levels they are at will allow you to purchase power tiles depending on the levels. They look so cool and most players will start throwing them once it is out of the box. But alas they are just used as place holders. My first game took way longer than it was supposed to be because I did not realise we all started with 10 troops thus allowing us to wage wars right from the get go. My 2nd game was way better and it was really close with all 5 of us nearing the 8 point mark and we had 1 epic final round to determine the winner.
Finally manage to play Copycat another Essen 2012 release. This is a euro game which borrows other games mechanisms and to weld them quite smartly into a single game. Because this is a euro game, theme wise it suffers for me. Artwork also seems a little kiddish and thus I did not appreciate it as much as others. Gameplay wise, I can see how the various game mechanisms are nicely woven together to create an intriguing game but I only got this like halfway through the game though. First thing you do is draw 5 cards from your deck. Then choose one of the cards to bid for position. That card you used is discarded. Once player order is determined, in player order, players will then place their workers on the various available cards on the board which will allow them to activate an action. Once all workers are on the map, in turn order again, players will activate these workers and perform their actions accordingly (i.e. shred card, gain money, gain VP, buy a card). Rinse and repeat till one of 2 end game conditions are triggered. While I can appreciate how these different mechanisms work together, the theme falls woefully sort for me. I think this is the case where I am quite put off by the bland art. I wouldn't mind playing it again but I am definitely passing on getting a copy for myself.
City of Horror
From all the Euro games we went into an ameritrash game and boy was it trash lol. Its primarily a negotiation game where in you are also trying to strategically move your people around the board so that you are always in a majority and thus can vote someone else's character to be eaten by the zombies. At this point our group was pretty tired and we were learning this as a new game which is not a good combination to have. During your turn, you choose a location card and then every player simultaneously reveals the card. In turn order, players must move one of their characters (each players start off with 3 in a 5 player game) to that new location. Then each location is resolved. If there are enough zombies to meet that location's requirements, then players in that room will need to vote to feed someone to the zombies (Urk!). The game ends after 5 rounds and players' characters must have the antidote for them to survive the airlift and score points. Incredibly there were only 2 players left with characters at the end and I lost by only 1 or 2 points. I think our regular group has moved on to euro games nowadays and perhaps that is why most of us weren't enjoying the game. This game is a super MEH for me!
Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island
This is another co op game which I purchased to play solo. I have read that it is a very fun thematic game therefore I pulled the trigger and wanted to see for myself. In a turn, the phases are as follows: first you draw an event card and resolve the event. If it bumps another event out (there can only be at most 2 event cards that are revealed) then you will have to perform a threat action as depicted by the event card that has been bumped out. Next you get resources depending on which tile you have set up camp on. Next phase you decide where you want to place your pawns on the various available action spaces. After that is done, you will execute the actions by visiting each action space in sequential order and using the pawns After all actions are done, if required, roll the weather dice to determine how much suffering you are subjected to. Finally, check if you are sleeping out in the open and feed yourself. A turn is done and the game repeats and will end depending on the scenario that you have chosen. So far I am having fun playing this game solo even though I have not won the scenario yet. One problem I have with the game is the way the rulebook is written as it is not very intuitive and may be unclear at times. Luckily a FAQ has been provided and this should prove helpful when I next play. I have heard that in real coop mode, the game is also as tough if not even more. I will continue to play it as a solo game and will recommend this game.
Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building game
Played another solo game of Legendary. I am intrigued with the different villans and super heroes so wanted to try a different combination. This time Magneto was threatening earth again by converting everyone into a Killbot! Rogue, Storm and Emma Frost, the 3 ladies of XMEN are tasked with stopping Magneto and to contain the killbots within the city. If 5 killbots escape, they will be able to propagate across the globe and Earth would be lost! The initial part of the game was trying my best to ensure none escape and I was defeating enemies left and right. However somewhere into 30 minutes of the game, I realise I should just focus on defeating Magento. As I have been storing up my attack power with a lot of cards, I was able to defeat Magento in 2 consecutive turns. I ended the game with 28 points. Legendary reminds me of Thunderstone but much improved. You cannot just keep building up until you are ready to face the Mastermind. Instead its a constant management of villans running amok in the city areas as well as keeping your hand lean and trim to be able to defeat the mastermind eventually. There will be expansion for this game sometime near GENCON 2013 and they will be adding 17 super heroes! SEVENTEEN! I wonder if this game though will survive in my collection till then ;p Stay tuned true believers!
So that's a wrap, a lot of typing and a lot of cool games played!