Friday, February 15, 2013
Week ending 14th Feb 2013: Geistes Blitz 2.0, CO2, Love Letter, Santa Cruz, Pamplona, Archipelago, Hanabi, Siberia the card game, Homesteaders, Taluva, Coup, Samurai the Card Game, Tzolkin The Mayan Calendar
Happy V-day people! Episode 3 of our podcast will be out this sunday so look out for it! :)
Highlight of this blogpost will be CO2! A lot of controversy with the game so lets get on with this post!
Geistes Blitz 2.0
Seeing that its Chinese New Year and we have cousins over who are still rather new to boardgaming, I brought out this party-agility game for them to try and they love it! There were a lot of cut throatness amongst siblings and relatives which is surprising. i won't go into the game details again but its sometimes surprises me how party games create that amount of fun with a lot of people at the same time. It often reminds me that not everyone derives the same sort of fun from the same activity though I probably won't expand my collection of light filler games unless they also provide some depth as well to me. Still its pretty fun game and if you play the variants (i.e. talk instead of take, talk in different language) that will make it really challenging! As of now, my aunts and grandma are having my copy and I hope they get into playing it often! :D
Ah, I am still awaiting my copy from local online store but in the meantime I am glad to have a crack at this. Even though our first game we played 1 minor rule wrong and did not rotate the start player, I think we played well and had a good time with the game. So i was raving about it to my friends about the game and to my surprise, 2 of them did not like the game at all. Jon, my podcast cohost wrote about his experiences here and, as expected, gotten quite a few comments and even got the designer's attention as well. Now much of the gripe that Jon mentioned in his post I did not experience. It could be due to the way we played. Right at the start we cleared the cards we have in hand so as to gain the benefits. This dictated how we started the game and it was only after we cleared the cards did we see what the UN objective cards were and we focused on them. That said, when I was playing the game I did keep my secret objective in mind and I think the rest did as well. We did not face the issue where we did not install a project because opponents will build the power plant. For me at least, I saw the benefit outweighed the cons so I went ahead. We did use our scientists strategically as well so it was a small deterrent for others to try to install our plans. We did not feel that the game bogged down and while its true that we had to adjust our plans according to our opponents' decisions, I could still plan strategically what I want. The technology tracks though I felt dictated too much of the game. Its silly if you ignore them as they give you several benefits and trying to chain several advancements together I think is key to playing the technology track. That said, I do wish that its has lesser impact, similar to the Temple track in Tzolkin. For example in Terra Mystica, there is no 1 single aspect of the game that is mandatory for you to win the game. There is supposedly a slight cooperative aspect of the game because we all will lose if the PSI rating is more than 500. But the game isn't so brutal like Archipelago and largely this can be managed by players already building power plants. I did win the game in the end with about 180+ points but the rest weren't that far behind. End game, the CEPs (at $8 a piece) really gave me a huge boost to win the game. So, all in all, I really enjoyed my first game, very astonished by my friends' reactions and would certainly like to try a game with them to see what could have gone wrong or perhaps they are right after all. Jury is still out on this i guess but I am not waiting till then to pimp my copy :P
Alas for such a simple game, my assumption has made an ass out of me. I reailsed I have been playing another rule wrong which is to set aside 1 card before the start of the round. That will make quite a big impact as even if you have the Guard at the end, you cannot for sure, guess your opponent's card. Playing it properly for the first time though still confirm again that I really like this game and even more than Coup. Its a simple game that is played several rounds to determine the winner and can last up to an hour if all players are playing well and guarding each other effectively. i wonder if I am up to the task of using my creative juices to retheming it my way. Lets see.
Essentially, this is a light euro style game with a worker placement mechanism. The interesting parts of this game are the 2 phases and the set of cards you choose which will determine how you can move around the map during your turn. During the 1st phase, tiles are placed facedown on the map and each player will get to play a card from the set he has chosen to place one of 3 types of buildings on the board. The sets come in unique combinations for example one may have more "road" cards while another has more "river" cards. Road cards allow you to place your building into a spot 1 road away from your existing building. River cards allow you to place your building into a spot on the same river as that which you have a building on. Amongst the card you play will also be objective cards which will score for all players. When all cards have been placed, then all players take back all their buildings, return their cards (except the objective cards), receive a new objective cards and choose a set of route cards to begin phase 2. The twist will be that all tiles that were exposed in Phase 1 will remain as it is thus players begin phase 2 with new knowledge of both the tiles and possible objectives that maybe played. Th game ends when all players have played their cards in the 2nd phase and the winner is the one with the most points. So when I played this, the initial rush seems to be to complete your objectives first before others so that only you get to score and they don't. At the same time you also want to see what others are doing so you can tap in on their objectives as well. Once the objectives are scored, then its all about finishing up by trying to claim those that give the most points. There are also bird tiles which you can obtain that give you 1-3 points at the end of the game. Not bad and cleanly designed but I don't think I will give it another play.
Run! The Bulls are coming! Based on the annual festival where cows and bulls will run against humans this game attempts to capture the feeling with a twist. You control BOTH a runner and 1 cow and 1 bull. Over 4 race maps, you will attempt to enable your runner to cross the finish line and use your cow and bull to gore/trample on your opponents' runners. The runner will always only move up to 2 spaces whereas the bull and cow have their own set of cards which are distributed to the players at the beginning of a race. Then at the beginning of each race, players will start by placing their cows and then bulls (playing cards to do so ). Finally players will place their runners and depending on where they are they will score bonus points (for being daring). Race will start and the runner/cow/bull that is furthest in front will go first. If your cow runs over another runner, they are trampled and you score 1 point. If your bull runs over another runner, they are gored and you score 2 points and the runner will not finish the race. There are also special cards which you can play that lends certain powers for example you can trip another runner that is adjacent to you. The odd thing about this game is that you can control your own bull/cow to protect your runner. That is quite a big disconnect from the theme of the game. There is quite a fair bit of blocking required from other players else a player can take advantage and win the races. After some of the cows overtake the runners or nearing the finishing line, it becomes pointless to continue as the bulls and cows often will no longer be able to prevent the runners from completing the race. At the end of 4 races, player with the most points will win the game. It is a light game and lots of laughs as we attempt to manuver our pet cow/bull to block others and we relish the opportunity to trample/gore our opponents' runners into the ground. There isn't much to strategy and its a tactical game. Components are rather good with nice thick boards and cards and nice art. The disconnect of your pet cow/bull puts me off a little.
Archipelago Solo play
Previously I had mentioned my experiences with Achipelago and how it all fell to pieces and I have never yet managed to play a single game properly. So i was eager to try out the solo game and see if its a keeper with it. The main differences are that you choose a character from the solo set which will dictate the starting setup, end game condition and points scoring conditions. In addition, during the card purchasing phase, you will need to purchase 1 card and then rotate 2. If at any time you cannot purchase you will lose. If there is a rebellion the game will also win as per the base game. First solo game i failed and lost when the game won. Second solo i got 3rd place. It seems incredibly difficult (as also mentioned in BGG) to score a gold medal for a short game. It seems that medium or longer games will play better. It becomes how well you can play the game to meet the different objectives and since the solo cards are quite different, there will be a lot of replayability. Still however its hard to prepare for the random events that may occur and thus fight against the game winning. Especially in a solo game where you are dependant on luck of draw for the cards which you can purchase and the tiles you explore. If you are unlucky, you may end up wasting several turns exploring but not being able to place the tiles or have cards which do not help you to quell rebellion. The fact that the events are also random unless you prepare at least 1 cube of each type in the domestic market and harvest a lot of discovery tokens makes this game a bit too random for my taste. At least in CO2 you know HOW to prevent the game from winning and you can work towards that. In Archipelago you can't tell and worse there are so many possible varieties that it seems way too difficult. So unfortunately, I would have loved to like this game, I don't think it has made the cut even with the solo expansion. Pity.
Co-op game! OMG why am i playing a co-op game? because the first time i played this, we had a lot of fun. Probably its because we were all quite tired and it was very late into the night when we played this. Mostly because we groaned at bad tips being given and laughed when we started forgetting previous tips or pointless tips being provided. It was quite fun then and I was fortunate enough to PnP the design that friend had done. I brought it out for my cousins to play and surprise surprise the first things that they said was "its a coop ? but i don't want to play coop!" LOL. Think it runs in the families. Anyway they tried but we did not have the same level of fun as we did previously. I have also tried it in office and the effect is same. Muted and not the same as before. Maybe i need to add liquor with this game hahahaha. In anycase, I love the rethemed game and the art is gorgeous. It will remain my unique copy :)
Siberia the card game
Following up on the base game which had some hype but seems to have died down, the card game version, plays 2-4, draws from the same artwork and the same mechanism of playing 2 of the same tokens (in this case cards) to activate the particular item. In the card game, there is a row of resources (some covered initially) that you can have access to. There are also character cards (workers, sales men etc) that you can purchase as well which give you certain benefits. Then there are action cards which you draw at least one per turn and play to obtain resources OR characters. To play the cards, you need to play 2 cards with the same symbol as the item you want to obtain or 1 card + 2 other cards of any symbol. If its resources you are attempting to obtain, how many workers you have will determine how many resource cards you can pick up. So the characters will give you certain benefits. Salesmen will increase the prices of each of the resource cards you have at the end of the game. Game ends when all resource cards have been revealed and players tally up the $ value on each of their cards (including character cards) and whoever has the most $ will win the game. Its a light set collection type of game that is quick and easy to play. Not terribly exciting I feel yet and the characters are certainly very powerful. I will need to play this with my more competitive friends and see how it goes.
I used to own a copy of this but sold it away to another couple who really loved it. I missed the awesome bits that came with the game so recently I bought another copy. Boy was it fun sorting the cool apple-eeples, cow-eeples, copper-eeples and steel-eeples as well as punching out all the thick thick cardboard pieces. For a game of this size and price, it sure comes with a lot of high quality bits! In the game we are all trying to build up a town and earn points and by the end of 10 rounds, whoever has the most points will win the game. At the start of each round, there will be a sort of worker placement and then income (in terms of money or goods) phase. After that, players will need to pay $1 for each worker they have. Next comes the auction phase where players will bid on up to 3 rights which will dictate what players can buy/build during that round. Finally, players will, in a certain order, purchase/build available buildings in the market to add to their town. The round will end and a new round will begin. halfway through the game, settlement buildings will be removed and new town buildings will be added to the market. last 2 rounds, only city buildings will be available in the market. There are also loans which you can take and only need to pay back at the end else they will deduct points from your score. An interesting bit about this game is the availability of a market with which you can buy/sell resources freely except every buy or sell action requires a trade chit which usually comes as a resource from a number of buildings. I don't know why but i suck at auction games. i usually don't do very well and end up over paying or losing out on it. I also am bad at managing my finances lol. Still i do enjoy the game but probably not as much as my other friends who were playing with me. I am also particularly tickled by the presence of a DUDE ranch which give points depending on how many cowboys or farm hands you have at the end of the game. Dude ranch.... I can imagine them going "Yo DuDeeeeeeee....... Wasssup.......?" lol. Try it!
An medium abstract game that has seen a recent reprint. I have heard its a pretty good game and decided to take a chance on it. Its an abstract game where you are placing tiles each turn and then placing one of 3 buildings (with certain restrictions). The game will end when a player has placed all of 2 types of buildings or when all tiles have been played. A player can be kicked out early in the game too if he cannot place any of his buildings due to the restrictions. A player can also win early if he has managed to place all 3 temples on the map. There are some restrictions as to how you place the map and how you place buildings so when you take a tile, you need to plan ahead and decide what you can do with the tile. This can lead to analysis paralysis as you are working out all the different things you can do. There can be a lot of screwage in the game because you can place tiles to block others or cover someone else's buildings so this is a highly interactive game. I had a lot of fun as its not just a pure abstract (no theme and bland) but has just that enough theme to make it a good game for me. Definitely needs more plays to have a better sense but for now is a try it for me!
Played Coup with 4 players and somehow its still not grabbing me as how Love letter has. Another player in my group as well also preferred Love Letter to Coup. Not sure if its the bluffing aspect that is throwing us off but then again I love Kakerlakenpoker which has bluffing as its main game mechanism. Maybe I need to play it with the right group to fully appreciate the game.
Samurai the Card Game
i have seen the base game being played and the plastic pieces in that game are way cooler than the ones in the card game. Also the card game requiries a lot of space to play whereas the base game limits you to a preset board. Still this abstract game is a fun one but it requires players to be aware of possible setups and try to prevent those from happening. If all players are doing their part then it should allow for an intense close game. Very fun for me.
Tzolkin The Mayan Calendar
Recently I wrote in to the publisher about my damaged board and to my pleasent surprise I have received new pieces for the entire board (instead of just that 1 piece)! Now to figure out how to take out my painted wheels to attach to the new board. I tried to see if ignoring the temple will net me the victory. I must say that while you don't need to make it the main focus, you cannot ignore it. I went on the tech track and played pretty well in my opinion. Near the end though after having accomplished it, I turned to the temple tracks to try to grab some final points to give me the victory. One of the players had his timing all wrong though so had to waste a few turns here and there just taking up his action pawns which is unfortunate. I am beginning to appreciate the "move the wheel twice" feature which is a very good screw your opponents move when timed just nice. As our spaces on the board are planned to the assumption that the wheel will only move once, you now have to pay attention to the corn on the wheel and when someone may want to take the first player and ultimately, if that person will also want to move the wheel twice. Because moving the wheel twice will screw up a lot of well layed plans and assumptions. people may now have to pay up to 3 corns to perform activities which they had planned previously and that can be a lot. The intial drafting of your starting resources is also very important as a first mistake can set you back a lot and make it costly to catch up. In this game I managed the corn i required pretty well and it was my best game so far as everything was working out for me and I was left pretty much by myself. So after more plays, I am beginning to better appreciate the game and enjoy it. Still highly recommended in my opinion!