This week’s NEWS:
SeaFall, new “Legacy” game, coming in 2014 from Plaid Hat Games and Rob Daviau [Link] I thought the idea behind Risk: Legacy was awesome (if cringe-inducing to this collector), but I don’t like the underlying game enough to give it a go. This new game looks fantastic: a 4x game set in an alternate age of discovery that remembers grudges and evolves as you play. This one I would love to try.
MeepleTown interviews Corey Young (Gravwell) [Link] Having played and enjoyed Young’s design, I appreciated his insights into his process. This is a good read.
The Opinionated Gamers discuss hidden vs. open information and designer intent [Link] Against the writer of the article, I tend to prefer hidden information, but the questions he raises are good ones. How much should gamers follow the designer’s intent in playing a game? Are house rules okay? I’ll speak to this as a reviewer: when I write a review, I make sure that I have played a game by the rules of the game as included in the game box. One place in recent memory where this was difficult for me was with Viticulture. Viticulture is a game I really enjoy, but the two-player game received a boon in a Kickstarter-exclusive expansion that was released that was agreed to make the game better. I knew this going into the two-player game…but instead, I played by the rules on the box (I had a retail edition of the game), even though adding the extra bits would have been easy enough (stealing the bullies from Carcassonne: Inns & Cathedrals). Why? Because those were the rules printed in the game. (A note on this: the second edition, I believe, will include the grande meeples, and an official errata has been released, encouraging their use in the retail edition with substitute pieces.)
The Twenty Laws of Board Games [Link] Yep.
Game boxes made better with Cthulhu [Link] I’m no fan of the Cthulhu mythos, but the work here is incredible. (I especially like the Trajan, Stone Age, and Merchants & Marauders boxes.)
Last week on iSlaytheDragon [News Bits, Martian Dice review, Dungeon Roll review, Elder Sign review, Keep the Crown preview, Guide to push-your-luck games] Lots of stuff last week. This week will see three reviews and a guide to math trades. Keep slaying!
Kickstarters of Note
- Battle Merchants: This is an economic game set in the context of a fantasy war, where players are arms dealers trying to make a profit. Interesting theme. I’m not a huge fan of the artwork, but the game below seems solid. $48.
- Lords & Ladies: I am (or used to be–we’ll see about season 4) a Downton Abbey fan, and this game looks very much in line with that series. $30.
- Fantasy Frontier: Steam airships are the new Cthulhu? Okay, maybe not. This one looks cool anyway. The artwork is phenomenal, and Gamelyn has successfully delivered other Kickstarter rewards. $45.
- Captains of Industry/City Hall: It looks like third time’s a charm for Michael Keller’s City Hall. Tasty Minstrel is offering a double feature Kickstarter campaign for Keller’s Captains of Industry (a very meaty economic Euro, from the look of it) and City Hall. City Hall is $40, Captains is $50, or both are $70. (Yes, TMG knows how to set competitive prices in their KS campaigns…)
- Shadows over the Empire: A new game from Artipia Games. As usual, the artwork is stunning. This one doesn’t look like a crowd-funding project as much as a preorder system (the game will be at this year’s Spiel). $32 gets the game shipped.
- Stack & Attack: This caveman deck-building game looks interesting (and Jason interviewed the designer here). $25.
- Drive Thru Review Gen Con 2014 coverage: Joel Eddy of Drive Thru Review is one of a very few video reviewers I watch. He does great work, and he’s raising money now to prepare for Gen Con 2014. Various pledge levels.
- Marrying Mr. Darcy: I’m a sucker for games set in literary themes. This one (as the name implies) takes place in Pride & Prejudice, and it has charming artwork to match. $30.
- King of Clubs: This looks like a simple card game, but it involves actual dancing. And it’s cheap: $12.
- Allegiance: A Realm Divided: I don’t usually like fantasy artwork, but this game is excellent. Looks like it’s definitely one for the CCG crowd, as the cards have lots of words on them. $60.
- The Uncommons board game cafe: This is to help a board game cafe get going in New York City. Various.
- 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.
- Libertalia: More people showed up to the mid-week lunch game than expected, so we played Libertalia. It was awesome. I’m so glad I picked this one up in trade (even though I did not do very well in this game). I sat between two players who, regardless of the game state (i.e., who was in the lead), attacked me when they had the chance. I put together a decent combo with a potentially huge payout in the final week…but the player to my left, through the Surgeon, used his Monkey on me twice, saddling me with a total of seven cursed relics. Needless to say, I was not really in the running for this one. Still, I had a good time. (FarmerLenny)
- Rialto: This was the choice for our Friday lunch game. The player who won focused early on the doge track and buildings, which forfeited gains in the first few rounds for huge returns later in the game. I was in third place at game’s end, a respectable 20 pts behind the leader. This was a fun game, though I suspected early on that I was out of the running. (FarmerLenny)
- Zulus on the Ramparts: This is a solo game, and I got two plays in this weekend. The rules were a little dense to work their way through, and I had to reference them several times while playing, but this was a fun game. The player is trying to fend off a Zulu siege on a fort until the regiment arrives. The first game I won, but barely, and my score reflected as much. The second game I also won, but my score was even more paltry. The game seems similar to Hanabi in that it’s easy to “win,” but hard to win well. Of course, there are also advanced variants to make the game more difficult. I’ll have to try some of those. (FarmerLenny)
- Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: We finally managed to embark on our first quest (or rather, scenario) this weekend. We’re trying out the base set adventure, which had us hunting down some sort of crime boss. After a lot of setup (seriously, this game has a long setup time) we set out a-questin’ and efficiently explored a few locations. We managed to close everything nice and quickly, and when we first encountered the villain, we already had most of his escape paths blocked. Myself as the rogue teamed up with the Wizard to defeat him the first time, which ended up forcing him right into the waiting hands of our party Ranger, who was waiting on the other side of a rickety bridge. It wasn’t a difficult task, but I wouldn’t expect that from what was essentially an introductory scenario. We’re definitely interested in trying more. The coolest thing about the game is the deckbuilding aspect. Deckbuilding isn’t a primary mechanism throughout a single game, but as you play through more scenarios you earn various rewards and find better equipment that permanantly adds to your character’s deck. It’s simple but effective, and we’ll see how it evolves long-term. (Futurewolfie)
- Gunship: First Strike: In Gunship, two players square off against each other, attempting to destroy the enemy’s carrier before their own carrier is destroyed. To do this, each player has control over a deadly and versatile Gunship. In the first turn my opponent managed to completely wipe out my shields, but all I had were torpedos in hand. So I gunned straight for his carrier as quickly as I could in what essentially became a suicide run. 2 turns later I had managed to deliver 6 damage (out of 12 + 6 shields) to his Carrier with a barrage of thruster bombs and a well placed torpedo or two. Of course my Gunship had its wings blown off, all weapons damaged, and armor depleted. I managed to limp my way back to my own carrier for repairs (not before taking some hits on my engines), but I was feeling pretty good about my chances- carrier ships automatically fire at each other each turn, constantly pushing each other toward destruction. Since my carrier managed to fend of my opponents gunship and I was a few damage points ahead, I was hoping to ride out the rest of the game. Unfortunately, luck was against me and his carrier scored 2 double hits while I landed a few complete misses, and ultimately my Carrier fell first, though it was close. It’s a little frustrating how much damage occurs completely outside the player’s control, and that damage is why I lost. Expect a full review in the next couple of weeks. (Futurewolfie)
- Eclipse: FarmerLenny and I do not usually love the same games, but we finally got Eclipse to the table with both of us there. With the promise of epic space exploration and civilization for me, and economic/non-aggressive play (not to mention cubes, all the wooden cubes) for Lenny, we embarked on the journey with much hope. And we were not disappointed. The game was a long one – about 3.5-4hrs, including rules explanation, but we were all newbies – and yet we were both completely engaged the whole time. It’s definitely missing something compared to Twilight Imperium, my favorite epic space game of all time, but it is beautifully streamlined in a way that provides a lot of options and a lot of fun without ridiculously overcomplicated rules. We expanded, we explored, we exploited, and in the end Lenny beat my out by 2 points – 2 points that he took from me in a final invasion on the last turn when he defeated my defenses and removed my influence from a 2 point sector. His first and only aggressive move (which,admittedly, was in response to my invasion, which he fended off). There’s much to love, and hopefully we can get a few more plays in relatively quickly so we can get a full review out there. (Futurewolfie)
- Paradise Fallen: Paradise Fallen is a quick little Lenny (for those of you who don’t follow us every second of the day, “Lenny” is our term for very small-box games that generally fit in your pocket) about exploring some mysterious islands, harnessing their powers, and… um… winning the game. I got it to the table with my wife and went adventuring. There are a few confusing rules, an overwhelming number of icons to interpret… and a lot of cool powers you can use. My wife beat me out by managing to explore her 8th island (out of 9 total islands on the board) first, without using any of her explored island’s special powers. I had used some of mine in a bid to jump ahead in an earlier turn, but luck had not been with me. I was able to catch up with the 8th Island of my own, but the tiebreaker – most unused island power tokens – gave the game to my wife. It’s definitely a fast game, and enjoyable. We’ll see if there’s much to explore as we play more. (Futurewolfie)