Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Week ending 24th Feb 2013: Hoplomachus The Lost Cities, Innovation Figures in the Sand, Taluva, Formula Motor Racing, CO2, Snowdonia, Morels, Heartland, Homesteaders, Express 01, Love Letter, Le Havre The Inland Port, Phantom, Blood Bowl Team manager, Village, Siberia The Card Game, Coup
Quite a few new games and the highlight was FINALLY being able to play CO2 again with 5 are the highlights of this session. Lets take a look!
Hoplomachus The Lost Cities
A Kickstarter game that was backed by my friend who brought it over to give it a go before deciding on the standalone expansion that is currently on Kickstarter now. This is a quick gladiatorial type of combat game where 2 players pit their heroes and armies in a bid to kill the opposing hero and win the game. This game can also be played as a solo game against various arena animals/creatures. The main focus of the game are chips which are used to indicate your unit as well as health. During your turn, you will draw from a bag containing chips of your army as well as tactics which are like spells. Then you will choose from 4 available chips to execute. It can be either a unit, in which case you "summon" the unit, place it on 1 of 6 summon points and stack a number of red chips underneath the army unit to indicate its health. It can also be a tactic chip in which case the effects of the spell is executed. This game is all about battling and gaining enough Crowd Favour points will allow your Hero to unfreeze and start to move on its own and fight as well. Turn passes from player to player until 1 player manages to kill the opponent's Hero and wins the game. It is a fast pace easy to learn game. You move close enough so that you can start to whack at someone. Combat is dependant on the dice you can roll and how many hits you have rolled. Each hit will deal 1 damage to the enemy. I won with the opponent's Hero barely even out of the gate because my unit was fast moving. The game comes with 3 different groups but replayability maybe limited because the base set of units are the same. There are some unique units to each group though and they do showcase the power and strategy that is unique to the group. Production quality is quite good as the game mat is similar to those used in the landscape map of Wings of War. Nice thick mousepad like material. Average game for me but I won't say no to playing it again.
Innovation Figures in the Sand
I have loved the base game as well as the expansion but having never been able to bring it out very often, I had to let go my copies. Innovation is quite an intriguing game to me with all the splaying and the icons and now there's an online version which seems to make the game flow much more smoothly. My friend had bought the latest expansion and thus we gave it a go. Figures essentially adds well, famous figures to the game as well as new features to the game. I won't go too much into details but the game now takes longer with all expansions added in as each player needs to have 8 achievements to win. We did not really get to use a lot of the Figures expansion features as we drew more of the previous expansion than figures. Its still quite a challenging game deciding what to go for and what to meld and I realised having a good draw of hand is quite important to progress forward and win. I am still abit meh about the game but i won't reject to another game just to make sure that is how I feel. Components wise, card art and stock are just the same as the base art. If you prefer a nicer art, do take a look at the IELLO version.
Played 3 games of this and my friend Jon mentioned about the imbalanced for the first player because he/she will have an advantage in this game. Also, since this plays quite like Chess, if other players are not diligent in blocking others, they could easily allow that opponent pull ahead. I did enjoy my games though as it forces me to think and see where I can block and still score. Perhaps this might make a better 2 player game but I have yet to try with just 2. Components are nice and the final picture looks really good with the different levels and all the nice wooden buildings. I still feel this is a good game.
Formula Motor Racing
A card game about F1 racing by GMT? Really? This has gotta be some form of joke ya? Well lo and behold, my friend had this game in his collection and we brought it out to play. It reminds me a lot of Tiki Topple. During your turn, you will play a card with which to manipulate the current standing of the race cars which are setup in 1 straight line. When the game ends, you will total up the points where your cars are positioned and whoever has the most points will win the game. So its a fast filler that is quite dependant on the cards you draw and how you play them. I think it will benefit more if, like Tiki Topple, the colors that you are aiming for are secret at the beginning. This will not make it so easy for other players to guess what colors you are and target you specifically.
Finally managed to play a 5 player game with ALL the right rules. It certainly took quite a bit of time and can be frustrating at times. Some of the issues Jon mentioned in his rant on BGG I definitely faced for example goals that do not seem fair when faced with so many players (i.e. the UN Goal objective). While you are faced with at most 12 moves in the entire game, these 12 moves will take quite a bit of time for them to finish. Having only 12 moves also severely limits what you can do in the game. Also the tech tree's powers are even more evident in a 5 player game as the player who won was maxed out in several of the tech trees AND had the leader in tech objective card. The action cards in your hands are also more important because they can give you that much needed white cube to rush in and built that power plant before another player can. So while I still love the game, I won't play it with 5. At most 4 will do for me. Time to try the Solo game and see how it fares. Still loving it and I managed to get a set of skull-like stickers to stick on my CEPs. A little pimpin' :)
Played Snowdonia Variant where players can choose which side they want to begin from and plays up to 4. I think this variant does not create as much competition because it is dependant on which side the players choose. 1 player could very well be all by himself at 1 side without much competition. So I think if I were to play Snowdonia again I will play it in its original version. Its an ok game for me and nothing fantastic as far as I can see.
Been wanting to bring this simple set collection game out for a go again as it has been some time since I played this. Its still quite a nice game but I am wondering about its replayability. There are already quite a lot of set collection type games in the market and I have quite a few of them so I am not sure, but perhaps I need a few more plays to determine its final value in my collection. One thing i realise i am disliking is how card games require you to refill the market or the central path where all the cards are by pushing the cards down and refilling from the end of the line. This is amazing tedious especially in this game where its a constant refill every turn. Luckily I sleeve my cards thus they won't wear down so fast but its a hassle to keep pushing cards down the line. I wish designers can stop this "mechanism".
A game that I manage to snag at a recent FLGS warehouse sale (first of its kind in Singapore!) This is a tile laying game with a small tech tree at the side. During your turn, you will get to lay a 2-square tile or a 1-square tile (each player begins with the same set of five 1-square tiles). When you lay the tile, you will get to score either victory points or farm points. Farm points are used in the small tech tree and if you manage to max out any of the 5 columns, you will get to score a livestock tile which gives you some points at the end of the game as well. If all of your markers are at or past a certain row where the farm pieces are, then you get to place your farm piece which will net you victory points every round and also prevent other players from scoring victory points on the fields your farm is on. Its an interesting game as you are trying to score more for yourself while at the same time blocking other players. The tech tree seems a bit odd as its possible for a player to max out a column during a turn immediately. Granted we were not very adapt at blocking each other in our first game but still to be able to do so seems odd. Once a farm is out on the board though players start to target the farms to minimise scoring per turn for that player. Components are nice and thick and functional. Art wise is a little bland but functional. Not a bad purchase for the price.
This time I had a better idea of what I am doing but the game seems to end too early when I am just getting into the grove of the game. One little nagging thing I have with games like Homesteaders is the ability for concurrent play. While I am not saying my opponents will cheat, I would like winning to be not tainted and not due to mistakes or carelessness made by opponents. Of course you can enforce such that each player takes his/her turn before the next player takes his/her turn. This will however make the game possibly unbearably long. It certain has enough buildings to allow for sufficient replayability but since all buildings are available every game, I guess it is possible for you to plan such that each game you will have the most optimal sequence of buildings to select and win the game. I will definitely want to give this a few more tries.
Sigh. I really wanted to like this game. I had thought it looked interesting enough to give it a go. Card quality is very nice and art is not too bad. However the game play with the 2nd group seems to fall very flat. It may still work with the right group but I haven't managed to find the right group. The mechanism where cards in your hand are used to purchase items and potentially they can be used as stocks or routes make it more confusing than if you were playing Glory to Rome which has similar implementation of the cards. If there were a solo variant, that may save it enough for me to keep it in my collection.
Another 2 rounds of Love Letter. Even though it seems light I enjoy it quite a bit. Somehow though I don't really feel the randomness as readily as others do. I still feel that there's some skill involved especially when you are taking the Guard. Love letter for me so far still trumps Coup.
Le Havre The Inland Port
Played 3 games of this 2 player version of Le Havre and loving it much. I still haven't managed to break the 222 barrier and I am wondering just how I can maximize my game play. I tried going by the food route but somehow along the way when your opponent starts to use your buildings your plans start to get screwed. This is also an ideal game for the iOS especially with a very good AI. I wonder if anyone out there has a good strategy can share with me?
Another game of Phantom. This time both of us stored a lot of power on both sides of the tableau and so we were trying to draw Charmer ghosts to draw the Character cards and score. Once that happens though the game went pretty fast. I managed to score my 11 points pretty fast and I won the game. The art is beginning to wear on me because its a lot of neon colors and not aesthetically pleasing. So after a few plays, its kinda unique and interesting but I doubt the replayability will keep it in my collection for long.
Blood Bowl Team manager
Another game where I was so intrigued by the theme of Warhammer that I had to grab it. So far I have YET to play it even once and i was glad to be able to table it finally. Its an interesting card game where you, as a team manager, is laying cards (up to 6 in a round to a maximum of about 5 rounds) which represent your players that are competing for highlights or a tournament for that round. When you play a player, there are certain actions associated with the player which will resolve. Once all team managers have passed, then we will check each highlight and resolve a winner. All will receive the corresponding rewards which may come in the form of Fan Points (victory points), special team cards or even Star Players which will boost your team's capabilities.
Ah, one of my favourites in 2012. I played quite a bit of this once I gotten my own copy and when i was in New York as well last year. Its been quite some time since I brought out my copy to play and boy, am I super rusty. I came in last I think and I am not amused! I used to be quite good with this game but i made some mistakes which probably cost me about 10 points. I wouldn't have won anyway but well it may have made some difference. I used to be able to score quite decently with the Travelling as my main scorer but this game was cut short by another opponent who was aiming to finish the game fast to prevent the winner from gaining too many customer tiles. Still a fun game for me but my friend wasn't too keen to keep the game anymore. Pity as I am looking forward to the expansion and the inclusion of 5 players. I wonder how that will play like.
Siberia The Card Game
Played this with 4 players this time and I am thinking its not suitable for 4. For 2 and 3 maybe but for 4 this makes the game quite hard to control and plan as most of the time, the items you want are snatched up quite quickly. A gripe that I mentioned just now with Morels however is not an issue here as you just replace those cards that were taken by drawing from the deck. There is no need to push the whole row of cards here. Phew! Still average about this game so far as it doesn't bring anything new to the table for me. May not make the cut.
2 more games of Coup! Taught this to a new player who prefers this to Love Letter. I guess inherently its in my nature to trust someone and with so little clues its hard for me to judge if a person is bluffing or not. So far ALL my challenges have been for naught and I am usually losing in the game of Coup. I did win once tonight though because of my opponent did not pay attention to the coins I have amassed which allowed me to perform a final Coup on him to win the game. So far the "beauty" of this game hasn't really shown itself to me. Lets hope I can get more games in to allow it to shine.
And so that's it, a great week of gaming! :)