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News Bits: 10/21/2013

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The NEWS:

Ticket to Ride joins Android 7 humble bundle [Link] I paid the recommended contribution just for the Android app. This seems like a great deal, if you like this sort of thing.

Expansion for Libertalia is under development [Link] This announcement comes at the very bottom of the BGG News post linked above. I played Libertalia for the first time at Gen Con and loved it. I’ve played several times since and love it. I’m excited to see what the designer comes up with.

Bellwether Games interviews Gil Hova (Prolix, Battle Merchants [Link] This is a great interview. The part that stands out to me is Hova’s description of games as craft rather than art. In any case, an interesting read all around. (And I really should write that Prolix review. It’s an excellent game.)

GeekInsight explores game set-up time [Link] Does a game’s setup time affect your willingness to play it? He says yes, and I agree, though for me, 7 Wonders is usually worth it. But some games that would otherwise be great lunch games have prohibitive setup times. (I’m thinking of Airlines Europe here; it’s setup time is comparable with others, but it pushes it over what would otherwise be an hour-or-so game.) I’m also reminded of the snow day when my wife and I played nine games of Agricola–just because we knew how hard it was to set up.

The Gamerdex explains different gamer breeds [Link] To commemorate a new Pokemon game’s release, Grant Rodiek (Farmageddon) put together this “Gamerdex” of different gamer types, along with their proper feeding. I don’t see myself on this list (though maybe someone else does? self-identifying may not be helpful in this context).

Last week on iSlaytheDragon [News Bits, Bruges review, Fleet review, Guide to the rondel mechanism] Coming up this week we have two reviews and two previews–one of a Kickstarter game, and another of a game slated to debut at Essen. Keep slaying!

Kickstarters of Note

  • The Uncommons board game cafe: This is to help a board game cafe get going in New York City. Various.
  • Castle Rising: This looks like an interesting economic game that’s seeking funding on Kickstarter. The art style is a little dark for my style, but that’s okay. 26 GBP.
  • Ninja Dice: Just about every theme has its own dice game. Well, now ninjas will. Really cool packaging on this one. $25.
  • Keep the Crown: This looks like a fun abstract (and Jason previewed it here). $40.
  • Star Realms: This is a deck-builder with player vs. player combat (think a deck-builder that’s similar to Magic: The Gathering). It’s also by one of the designers of Ascension, and it has gorgeous art. $25 for a two-player set.
  • 2014 gaming calendar: I don’t really use a printed wall calendar, but if I did, this would be the one to get. The photos included in it are gorgeous. $25.
  • Emu Ranchers (app): This is an app version of a game based on the Decktet system. We’ll have a preview up soon, but it looks like the development on this will be used as a toolkit to help port other games to mobile devices. Various levels.
  • Pandante: This is a new Poker-inspired game from David Sirlin (Yomi, Puzzle Strike). It has pandas, lying, and special powers. $35 (or $300 for the super fancy version).
  • Get Lucky: Kill Doctor Lucky was one of my very first hobby games, so it occupies a special place in my heart (and on my shelf). This is a shorter card game based on the board game. $20.
What We’ve Been Playing
  • Strozzi: I got this third member of Knizia’s Florentine trilogy in the recently completed math trade. Strozzi seems like a combination between Ra’s bidding mechanic and Medici’s scoring mechanic. I chose this for my birthday game this week, and while the three-player player count was not ideal, the game was still fun, and it has the potential to be awesome with more players. I’m looking forward to exploring this more.
  • Libertalia: I love this game. I got to introduce it to my sister, my brother-in-law, and my wife this weekend. At first the new players were adjusting to the strategy, but they quickly came to hold their own. The first game I won by a narrow margin, and we played another game immediately. I used my Monkey in the second round to pass off my curses, and when I used my Surgeon to bring a character back, everyone thought I chose Granny Wata. It was a surprise when, in the very last day, my wife passed me her curses with her Monkey, but I passed them right along to my brother-in-law. This final gambit gave me a 2 point lead over my wife to win the game.
  • Red Dragon Inn: My brother-in-law introduced this one to me. The premise is that the adventurers after a D&D style campaign are back at the inn sharing stories. But the players are trying to either wound or intoxify the other players to leave the tavern with all their gold. The game is a “cards-with-words” kind of game with lots of take-that. It’s not usually my bag, but we had some laughs with this, and I’d play again. (It’s very much in line with Munchkin.)
  • Get Bit: Get Bit is a super simple filler about trying to outswim a shark (or at least the other players). I taught the game to my family in about three minutes, and ten minutes (and many laughs) later, we were ready to play again immediately. This game knows what it wants to be and succeeds tremendously as a short filler game. Look for a full review soon, but I enjoy this one quite a bit.
  • Spyrium: I got this game for my birthday and have played a few times since Gen Con, but only online. I played my first face-to-face game with me teaching and setting it up. It seemed like a lot of rules to my brother-in-law, but he caught on fast. We played a full game (with teaching) in 75 minutes, and while I had a distinct advantage (experience), it was a good game still. I love this one and hope I can find other face-to-face opponents.
  • Paradise Fallen: Nothing like a little island exploration to spice up your life! I played another 2-player game with the wife. I started off strong with a few quick explorations before she got any, but then luck turned against me. I kept drawing a great number of non-exploration cards, and when I did get an Exploration card it kept being copies of islands I had already explored. With some well-place aberrations my wife also had the luck of the draw on her side and completely destroyed me. It’s an enjoyable game so far and very quick, but with 2 players luck seems to be the most important factor in winning. I’ll have to play a bit more with 3 and 4 players to see if it’s any different. Expect a review in a few weeks. (@futurewolfie)
  • Takenoko: This adorable little game hit the table a few times this week, once with just me and my wife and another with more players. Takenoko is another of those games that is pretty luck-based when you play with 2; when one player pulls ahead, there is just not enough that happens in between for the other player to catch up, especially if they’re drawing lower-point cards. Without 3 or 4 people growing bamboo and expanding the garden, you can end up spending several turns just to get a 3 point card when suddenly the other player happens to draw a 7-point card they can score almost immediately.

Playing with more than 2 is much better. You’ve got calculated risks you can take, and it’s more likely that someone else will be feeding elements you need to score your own points. I managed to pull out a win in the second game by effectively scoring some high point cards that got helped out by both players. (@futurewolfie)

  • Gravwell: When does this game get released to the public? I hope it’s soon because more people need to experience this fantastic game. I had a chance to teach my dad in a full 4-player game, and it was one of the most exciting/close games I’ve ever had. I’m getting significantly better at targeting players with my moves and intentionally ending up in the exact spot to mess up their plans, rather than just firing around willy-nilly and hoping I end up in a good position. Still, after multiple plays the game holds up as exciting, fast paced, and filled with laughter. In the end I was able to correctly time my last move so slingshot forward into the warp gate with the exact number of spaces for the victory! We’ll post a review closer to the game’s release, when we find out when that is. (@futurewolfie)

 

  • Twilight Imperium :This immense game is an enigma to some and an island of vast treasure to others; count me among the latter. Due to the time commitment, the last few times I’ve tried to get this game going it has sputtered and died, but this past saturday we finally got it on the table. This was my first game with only 4 players and it was pretty intense. In the early stages of the game my empire, the Embers of Muatt, ran into a lot of trouble. Several attempts to colonize planets outside of my home system were halted due to radiation, biohazards, and even troublesome natives. While others were quickly expanding and claiming the riches of the galaxy, I lost a good chunk of time and resources dealing with these problems and had a pathetic fleet and a weak empire.

Fortunately, I was able to use the Diplomacy strategy to claim planets one by one, while focusing on advancing my technology to claim a few points. Eventually I had enough resources to build a second War Sun (think: death star) and fortify my fleet with a significant number of ships. In the final rounds I was able to do what my race does best; go to war. When a strong alliance between two players crumbled as one of them made a jump for the final points to win, I was able to take advantage of the situation, turn a key political decision to my advantage thanks to a favor another player owed me from a previous political negotiation, conquer a few planets with ancient artifacts (worth points to win), and then seal the victory with my remaining resources in the final round. It was a close game, and another player was a die roll away from scoring the final points before me, but his mistakes and failures were my gain, and it was fitting that I was victorious on my birthday game.

Twilight Imperium is fantastic as always. It is a huge game with so many things you can do and so much life within its plastic pieces. We’ll have a review up this week with lots of pictures from the game on saturday.  (@futurewolfie)

I'll try anything once, but my favorite games are generally middleweight Euros.

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