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News Bits: 2/17/2014

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Not a lot of NEWS this week, but here’s what we’ve got:

Days of Wonder to release Ticket to Ride 10th Anniversary Edition [LinkThe new edition will have an even larger board and box, new art and graphics, and five different sets of painted miniature trains stored in tins. The MSRP is $100 (!), but Ticket to Ride is still a great game.

Klaus Teuber profiled in The New Yorker [LinkAmerica’s favorite snooty magazine profiled the creator of Settlers of Catan. And it’s a good profile. It details how the game was created and how it continues to sell well. This was a great read.

James Ernest releases Cagway Bay [LinkA new print-and-play pirates miniatures game that can be played with any ship miniatures you have lying around. I like Ernest’s model, and I like his designs. So far, this looks pretty bare bones, but depending on feedback, it may become more. Stay tuned.

Settlers of Catan makes an appearance in Sochi [LinkAt least among the Canadian cross-country ski team.

Last week on iSlaytheDragon [News Bits, Sentinels of the Multiverse: Rook City review, Update on our new Reviews page, Steam Park review, Blueprints review,  9 undeniable reasons by board games are awfulLast week was a great week on the Dragon with three reviews as well as two other articles. This week will see three more reviews of recent titles and a new top ten. Keep slaying!

 Kickstarters of Note

  • Masters of the Gridiron: This is a football-themed card game with real player and team names. (I don’t know how that works, legally, but that’s not my job.) $25.
  • CMYK playing cards: I’m no graphic designer, but as someone involved in the publishing industry, I can appreciate this deck of cards. I love how the suits are gradients, gradually getting darker. 9 GBP.
  • Scoville: I’ve been watching this project develop with great interest, and now it’s here! Also, Tasty Minstrel has responded to gamer outcry and has incorporated the 5-6 player stretch goals into the base funding. (The stretch goals are now for pepper meeples and a depressed board. Erm. There’s gotta be a better way to put that.) $40.
  • Bigfoot: This is a deduction game from Scott Almes (Tiny Epic Kingdoms) about finding Bigfoot. $15.
  • Province: This is a Euro resource management microgame with a super micro price. $5.
  • Alchemy: This is a game about making potions and being a cool alchemist. (We also previewed it here.) $25.
  • Games of Art, Fantastiqa, Petite Pastiche: Eagle Games is running a Kickstarter (preorder?) for three rerelease games. These all look like decent new editions. Various pledge levels available.
  • oddball Aeornauts: Perhaps the most portable card game ever? Quick playing and fun for two players.  (Here’s our preview.) $25.
  • Kingdom Builder: Big Box: Does a Spiel des Jahres-winning game really need to be Kickstarted? Probably not, but that isn’t stopping Queen Games. The price is steep, but there are Kickstarter-exclusive player tokens, if that’s worth the extra cost/prepaying. (Also, here’s our review of the base game.) $85.
  • Mob Town: This looks like a nice, lighthearted family game…about animal mobsters. $25.
  • Lineage: The Martial Arts Strategy Game: This one looks very nice. You’re a martial arts master trying to pass on your knowledge to your student to preserve your lineage. $39.

What We’ve Been Playing

  • Blueprints: Andrew reviewed the game this week, but I played for the first time over lunch on Wednesday. The game is a neat concept of using different colored dice to erect buildings to score points to win awards to win the game. But I taught it wrong (I blame baby-induced sleep deprivation!) and made the game all about scoring points. The game was less tense this way, but it was still fun. I’m looking forward to trying it again…with the proper rules in place. (FarmerLenny)
  • The Resistance: For our Friday lunch game, the coworker in charge of deciding the game chose The Resistance and Coup (he was in a bluffing mood). In our game of Resistance, we decided to use the Merlin/Assassin cards, which change the rules of the game. One resistance player (Merlin) knows who the spies are, but if the resistance wins, the assassin gets one shot to kill Merlin. If the spies kill Merlin, they still win the game. We played with six players, and I was one of the two spies. I was chosen to go on the first mission, and against conventional wisdom, I submitted a fail card, even though there were only two of us on the mission. And I never denied that I submitted the fail card. I was betting on the fact that I could discern which player was Merlin. Meanwhile, the other spy was playing the long game. He was chosen to go on the next mission (a three-person team), and passed it. On the third mission, the team leader added the player that went on the first (failed) mission with me, and my teammate failed the mission. This caused many fingers to be pointed at the new team member, with the result that no one trusted either of us who were sent on that first mission. The resistance nearly lost on failed votes, but the team leader on what would have been the fifth and final vote convinced everyone that they had to vote for his team–and he put me on it. Needless to say, we didn’t need to know who Merlin was (but we knew anyway). This was a very fun round of The Resistance, and I look forward to exploring the Merlin/Assassin roles further. (FarmerLenny)
  • Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island: After my success in the Castaways scenario, I moved on to the Cursed Island scenario, wherein the player is an exorcist trying to build five crosses on the island before the time is up. I had played this scenario two times before, and I lost miserably each time. I decided to check the BGG forums to see if I was doing something wrong, and, surprise! I was. I was adding fog markers only to explored tiles, whereas the rules say you can add them to spaces or tiles. Turns out, this makes a huge difference. I tried the scenario again this week and, well, still lost, but now I don’t think the scenario is unwinnable. Next time, Gadget. NEXT TIME. (FarmerLenny)
  • Russian Railroads: I was able to make it to my game group this week and that means a chance to actually play some longer, heavier, and possibly newer games.  I love worker placement so I’ve been looking forward to trying out Russian Railroad despite not really knowing much about it.  It is an abstracted railroad game with a relatively busy board so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  There are a lot of moving pieces and different options to choose from during the game but I found it to be surprisingly streamlined and smooth.  I pursued a pretty straightforward strategy of trying to max out points almost exclusively from the top track using doublers, the improved resource scoring, and advancing the big white resource (whatever it’s called) as far as I could get it.  It seems like it’s useful to focus exclusively on one line but I could see how you might potentially dabble in more than one for the various bonuses they provide.  I’m looking forward to playing again so I can try out a more intricate strategy and I guess because it was quite a lot of fun. (Andrew)
  • Glass Road: This game seems like a winning formula for me on paper: Resource conversion, engine-ish building, simultaneous role selection, clever little resource wheels, Uwe Rosenberg.  Granted this was only my first play (two player) but it just didn’t impress me like I was hoping it would.  The first thing that struck me as odd is there are SO MANY roles to choose from, you’re picking 5 from 15 possible roles.  I’m hoping that with experience you can better anticipate what other players will do but it seemed like there were just too many possibilities to make it worth trying.  I naturally compared this to something like Race For The Galaxy that has only 5 roles which are far easier to manage and anticipate.  I’d like to believe that with experience this could be more easily managed but I’m not convinced at the moment that it wouldn’t still be more chaotic than I’d like.  Role selection aside, if I had been more taken with the gameplay itself I may feel more urgency to play again and discover how wrong my first impressions were.  I am hoping to try it again but am on the cusp of sadly giving up on yet another Uwe release (Ora Et Labora was my last disappointment).  Anyone care to convince me that I’m wrong?  Please?  (Andrew)
  • Star Trek: Attack Wing: My wife attended a baby shower for HERSELF on saturday, so I nabbed the opportunity to have some dudes over and play some games, and Attack Wing made the table with three of us. Unlike X-Wing, there are enough factions in Attack Wing to do a 3 player free-for all, so we had a [relatively]epic klingon vs. romulan vs. federation battle. I only have a couple ships for each faction so we didn’t have huge fleets. In fact, I stuck with a tricked out Defiant captained by Sisko. This game was a wild ride with 3, and I mean that the best way possible. Shifting alliances, taunting, clever maneuvers, it was just an all-around fun experience. And my Defiant lasted almost til the end, taking out a couple enemies in the process and surviving by having Miles repair my shields, but in the end I was taking down by a large Klingon ship, who was then defeated by the last remaining Romulan. What a show, what a show. (Futurewolfie)
  • Android: Netrunner: I don’t get to play Netrunner as often as I’d like, so when there were just two of us I grabbed the opportunity. I had a new player, but he picked up the game very quickly using my runner deck.  For a while, we both had fantastic economies but weren’t drawing the cards we needed to interact. Unfortunately my Corp deck is based on laying traps to tag the runner when he makes a run, so I was waiting… waiting… waiting… until finally my opponent made a run and got himself tagged. I followed that up quickly by dumping more tags and then using those tags to wipe his credits and remove a couple resources.  That freed me up to advance my Agenda several times, and I had a special agenda that let me advance it beyond its normal target to score extra points. I sealed the victory with a card that let me advance my agenda equal to the number of tags my opponent had, but it was a fun round. (Futurewolfie)
  • Rampage: We pulled out Rampage for a last-minute game before dinner. The game seems to work as well with 3 as it does with 4, so that’s good. Okay, if you’re not familiar with Rampage, the game board depicts a city with buildings made out of literal stacks of meeples and cardboard rectangles.  You play as dragons terrorizing the city.  You flick your feet around to move, you drop your Dragon token on buildings to destroy them, and you can pick up and throw cars by clicking them and use your dragon  breath to literally try and blow things down. It’s silly fun, and it goes by very quickly. We leveled the city like maniacs and impressively only 3 meeples flew off the board! Insane! Yet, I still lost by 4 points. (Futurewolfie)

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

Discussion2 Comments

    • I wanted to love it (or even like it) so badly, believe me. I nearly bought it before even trying it out and I pretty much never do that. After feeling like Uwe’s been pushing complexity and decision space too far for my taste with Ora Et Labora and Caverna I was hoping that Glass Road would have a more manageable scope. In comparison it certainly does but for a game that I thought would be accessible due to simple rules the sheer number of role cards is overwhelming. I don’t mind a learning curve so I really hope that a second play changes my mind. I’m hesitant to believe that I’ll come around on the role selection though, I hate to make the comparison but it made me feel a bit like I did when playing Revolution! (and I despise Revolution). Being able to read other players and anticipate what they are going to do when presented with a lot of options is not something I enjoy.

      Hope you enjoy Blueprints with the correct rules. Hopefully you’ll find the decisions to be a lot more interesting this time around.

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