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News Bits: 12/16/2013

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Another week, and here’s the NEWS:

Hanabi Extra released in Germany [Link] Bigger cards (Dixit size) and card racks. This is the kind of Hanabi Deluxe I’d be willing to shell out for. I’m not sure it’s coming to the US, though.

GeekDad discusses microgames… [LinkGeekDad discusses the newest trend in board games: microgames, games that are small on components and play time but (supposedly) deep in gameplay. I have mixed opinions on microgames. I’ve played the three big ones–Love Letter, Coup, and Council of Verona–and I found I loved one (Coup), was meh on one (Council of Verona), and didn’t like the other (Love Letter). Time will tell whether this trend continues. I do enjoy small-box games, but I typically like a little more meat than microgames allow. (I backed Coin Age, so we’ll see where that falls.)

…and so does Seth Jaffee (Eminent Domain) [LinkHere’s Seth Jaffee’s take on microgames from a much different perspective: designer and publisher (incidentally, of Coin Age).

GeekInsight discusses treatment of trackable information: open or closed? [Link] I’m a proponent of following the rules of a game, but typically I prefer closed information. Why? Although I care about games while I play and try to win, I don’t like it when games become all calculation–which, in my experience, is how open-information games typically become. (One of the reasons I like Spyrium, though, is that while all information is open, the game doesn’t bog down too much, although there is more calculation than some prefer.) Acquire is a great example of this. Once players announce which stocks they’ll purchase, stocks are closed information, only revealed when chains merge. While it’s true that I usually try to remember who has what, this gets decidedly harder as more stocks are purchased, and I enjoy the tension of wondering whether I remembered carefully. In some ways it’s a false tension–I could know this information if we played openly–but I find I’m more invested in the experience and less invested in the game (if that makes sense) when the information is closed.

The Bored GameTM ensures you’ll never be bored againTM [LinkAh, homages! These are the commercials from my youth that landed me such hits as Fireball Island and The Omega Virus and sent my young self pining after many, many others. This is excellent.

Last week on iSlaytheDragon [News Bits, Battle Line review, Iliad review, Sushi Go! review, Top ten filler games] Three reviews and a top ten list last week. This week will see three more reviews (including a nemesis review of Gravwell) as well as an announcement of our contest winner, and likely more good stuff. Keep slaying!

Kickstarters of Note

  • Stak Bots expansion: On Kickstarter is an expansion to Stak Bots. I’ve not played the game, but it looks cool, and if you have the original game, this will add more to it. 12 GBP.
  • Star Trek: Attack Wing templates: I’m not a big fan of minis games, but I know Futurewolfie likes Attack Wing. These custom upgraded templates look sweet. $44.
  • Coin Age: Coin Age is a pay-what-you-want microgame that you can play with spare change. Looks interesting, and it has blown through its stretch goals. $3 minimum.
  • Privateer: It seems in vogue these days to cancel, retool, and relaunch Kickstarter campaigns. I’m not a fan of this practice, but it seems to have worked for this pirate game, and the game does indeed look pretty cool. $55 gets the game.
  • Hold Your Breath: Another pirate game, but this time the pirates are silly. Yes, these are the same pirates from Walk the Plank and Get Bit. This time they’re trying to hold their breath the longest in the water. Looks fun and light, and the price is right. $18.
  • Pixel Lincoln: Re-election: This is an expansion to the Pixel Lincoln game (successfully funded on Kickstarter and reviewed here). $35.
  • Argent: The Consortium: This “wizard-placement” game combines Euro mechanics with variable player powers. It looks dang cool and has already passed its funding goals with almost a month left to go. $50.
  • The Game Designer’s Toolkit: This is an interesting campaign for, basically, a box of bits to help you as you design board games. I’m not sure the usefulness for this (there are usually extra bits you can commandeer from other games), but I’ll let the reader judge for him- or herself. Various prices.

What We’ve Been Playing

  • Innovation: I didn’t realize it, but when I’ve not been at work, my coworkers have been playing Innovation behind my back. This is fine with me, though my copy is rarely at my desk anymore. Earlier this week, three coworkers wanted to play over lunch, and I was happy to oblige, though I suggested we try the team rules, which supposedly are for less chaotic games. It’s true that the team rules were less chaotic, but they might have stripped too much of the chaos out (or maybe I need to try them again when they’re more familiar). In any case, in our four player game, we advanced very quickly through the ages–to the point that we had emptied the 9s with only two achievements claimed. I had a big move planned on my turn that could have won us the game on score pile (drawing an 11), but my partner put some cards in our opponents’ score piles, and they were able to end it quickly on their turn. Oh well. It was still a really fun game, and I’m still ready to play more, even without expansions. (FarmerLenny)
  • Elk Fest: My BGG secret Santa gift arrived this weekend, and Elk Fest was among the loot. My wife and I decided to give this one a go (she loved the chunky wooden moose pieces). In Elk Fest you are flicking stones across the table to give your moose places to step, trying to reach the opponent’s riverbank. So, think Crokinole with a more open-ended board and with more precise, short-range shots. I won both games handily after my wife’s strong-arm flicks. This was a silly but really fun game. (FarmerLenny)
  • Parade: Parade was another game in my secret Santa gift. Parade is a fascinating game. It’s just 66 cards, numbered 0-10 in six suits. On a turn you play a card at the end of the parade. If the card has a smaller number than the length of the parade, you may have to take cards from the leftovers (if they match color or are less than/equal to the card played). Taking cards is bad. The twist is that in the final scoring, all cards are worth face value unless you have the most cards of any of the suits. Those cards are worth 1 pt instead, as long as you have the most. The first game we were just learning the ropes, and I’m not sure our plays were optimal. I inched my wife out by 2 points by judiciously collecting majorities in several suits. The second game, however, I got creamed. My “take lots of cards for majorities” strategy did not pay off. This game was fun with two, but I imagine it will be a blast with more. Seems like a late-entry candidate for my top ten filler games list. (FarmerLenny)
  • Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small: And because my wife was in a gaming mood, after Elk Fest and Parade, she was willing to give Agricola’s younger brother a go. All Creatures Big and Small is Agricola streamlined and simplified. It lacks the tension of feeding your family, and the game focuses exclusively on raising animals. I taught the rules, but my wife was pretty tired. It took us both about half of the game to catch on, but we figured it out. I won by a decent margin in the final scoring. I liked this quite a bit and am anxious to play again. My wife said it seemed like close to the same mental work involved in Agricola, and if she wanted to work that hard, she’d rather play Agricola. I think it was the tired talking at that point (this game is a lot simpler), but another play will determine this game’s fate. (FarmerLenny)
  • Ginkgopolis: This is one that has been on my radar since before it came out but it wasn’t hot in my group so I’ve only recently gotten to try it out. Let me tell you, I wish someone had insisted that I play it earlier because it is without a doubt one of the best new games that I’ve learned in the last couple of years. Let me run through the checklist: Engine building, check. Elegantly integrated mechanics (drafting, tableau building, resource management, area control), check. Simultaneous play for quick games, check. Varied scoring options, check. Plays well with different player counts, check. Fun, check. I’ve only played it twice so far (with 2 and 3 players) but I’m extremely impressed. Could this be my new favorite game? (Andrew)
  • Suburbia: Another new one that has been on my radar for quite a while. It was a two-player game and I was very impressed at how flexible the drafting felt by giving you a variety of options for when you wanted to deny your opponent a nice tile. I liked the thematic feel of the tiles and having the spatial element be important but not a brain burning optimization puzzle. In the game that we play I shunned the public goals in favor of my private one which encouraged being ahead on the reputation generation track (squares) and pushed it pretty high while maintaining good income. I later realized near the end of the game how hard it was to maintain a decent income and only achieved my goal with a last minute PR Firm. I lost because my opponent got both public goals but it was still relatively close and a fun first play! (Andrew)
  • Race for the Galaxy: The Alien Artifacts expansion is so close, I just know it. The time has finally come to start teaching some folks at work how to play this masterpiece in preparation for the expansion’s release. We have been using just the base set which is quite an adjustment for me since I am used to playing with all three expansions. I’ve enjoyed the simplicity of the base game for teaching but I’m really itching to add in Alien Artifacts soon! (Andrew)

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

Discussion2 Comments

  1. All Creatures has an interesting learning curve involved with placing your fences well so that you can maximize future build and expand actions. I found the spatial element to be more important than Agricola, perhaps that’s part of what your wife found to be difficult? You pick up on good placement patterns after a couple games so hopefully she’ll comes around. The nice thing is that once you’re experienced there’s still room for creative fence placement, especially once you add in an expansion so it’s not all scripted.

    Also, Ginkgopolis!! I can’t stop thinking about it!

    • That’s a good point: the spatial aspect is more important in ACBAS (and she has admitted at other times to find it difficult to visualize). I’m hoping to get her to try again soon, before we have to learn it over again.

      And you’ve got me actively seeking a copy of Ginkgopolis. I need to cehck it out.

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