A week of ups and downs, the laptop was failing, and then it wasn’t. I couldn’t get it to boot up all week, then when I finally take it to a professional, it boots right up with zero errors found, luckily the guy who looked at it didn’t charge me anything and just told me to run the diagnostics on it and let him know if anything popped up after, which nothing did. But I did manage to miss a playtest that I was horribly looking forward to on Friday while my laptop inexplicably decided it needed to run all 52 Windows updates at one time after I logged on to start playing. We’ve since rescheduled and I hope to be ready then, I hate missing something like this, makes me feel a bit unreliable. All in all though it was a good week of gaming, dusted off a couple older games that hadn’t been touched in over calendar year and played a couple of new favorites as well, and Monday brings the promise of a game night, who knows what’ll be here next week!
Yup, we’re still playing it and still having a fantastic time with it. Gabby had this one out and waiting for me on Tuesday evening after we ate dinner. I then proceeded to decimate her dino pack three games in a row, with each game getting just a little bit closer. I think I frustrated her a little bit this time around but she kept saying let’s go, and that’s a good thing, I love it when games do that to you, make you keep pushing till you play a round that you are comfortable with. AnnaBeth was helping both of us as well, so that may have been a bit of the issue for Gabby, distractions. As of this morning, JurassAttack! was sitting at a bit over $5k in funding with 6 days left to go. I’m not really sure what is slowing this one down, I would have thought with the low funding goal and the positive press that both the game and Green Couch Games has been rightfully receiving this one would have been a breeze. Kicktraq has this one projected as funding, but just barely and that worries me a little bit, I wonder if it’s just the conflux of timing(right before GenCon/Right after some BIG projects), being only a two player game that also happens to be a family weight type of game and just being a kind of niche type of theme(combating dinosaurs). I just don’t know, but if you would, give the project a look at least and see what you think, it’s just $15 with shipping for some fantastic fun.
We picked the gaming back up on Friday evening with another play of Cacao. This one was three player as we got Gabby to join Kerensa and I. This time I rode the water and cacao sales to victory scoring 63 points to 44 for Kerensa in second place. I managed to actually use a Sun Token for good use this time around and scored 12 point selling due to placement of some sales tiles. Our game went a bit long, I think I timed it at about 51 minutes according to the app I am using, I’m trying to time our games a bit more often just to see how slow we really are compared to what the boxes say. I am enjoying our plays of Cacao and while every game is different and the routes can change up, I’m really anxious to get my hands on the expansion tiles that I saw pop up on Twitter this week so we can add a bit more variability to the game, if I remember correctly one new tile was a volcano tile that can affect other players with negative points if they have workers touching it, so it can add a little bit of conflict in the game, which may be a good thing for this one. The expansion looks to be 11 modules to the game for extra variability, looking forward to this when it comes.
Despite my better judgement I asked if Kerensa and Gabby wanted to play a game of Open Sesame, Gabby was getting tired and I knew that Kerensa would excel at this one compared to me. My fears were warranted as Kerensa won this one. Open Sesame really is a fun memory game, there isn’t a lot of weight to it, the game is simply knowing when to push your luck as Ali Baba and remembering all the items when you are one of the other thieves. My problem is that I just get lost, I will forget something right in the middle of the list, but I did better than my sleep deprived child by a good long shot. I just may never beat Kerensa.
So on Saturday morning, Gabby and I decided to break out the feather dusters and play a couple games that haven’t been played in over a year, first up was the fantastic tile placement, jewel capturing game Indigo. In Indigo, from Reiner Knizia, the players are trying to guide jewels to the side of the board that they “control” by placing tiles down that have paths on them, these paths will wind around the board creating longer and longer paths that eventually take the jewel off the board and into a players scoring pile. You set up the board with one central tile in the middle of the board which holds 5 green jewels and 1 blue gem. Around the outside edge there are 6 tiles that start with 1 yellow gem on each of them. Players then in turn order place a tile and move the gem along the path that is created, think Tsuro, only you want the gem to reach the outside edge. In a two player game, each player will control three sides and will try to get the gems to exit in their spaces. Yellow gems are worth 1 point, green gems are worth 2 points and the blue tile is worth 3 points. In three player games, each player will control one exit and then share an exit with each other player, with 4 players each player shares a side with each other player. If a gem happens to go off the board where players share a spot, each player is awarded a gem of that color. The game is played until all of the gems are off the board, the players then count up their points and the highest total wins the game, in ties the tiebreaker goes to the player with the most gems. I really like Indigo and as evidenced by our plays, we reach for it over Tsuro most of the time. It doesn’t play nearly as many people, but I find it a lot more fun to play, the bigger board and seemingly more choices, even though there really may not be. 16 plays so far, and more to come I have a feeling once AnnaBeth figured out what it’s all about, she sat and watched pretty intently while we played.
So, then the duster needed to be used for this one as well, it’s been since December 2013 since we’ve broke out Dominion and I know why that is. Gabby really enjoys Dominion but she doesn’t enjoy the variety, she likes to play with certain cards that she knows and has used before, for me I am exactly the opposite, I like the variety that Dominion offers, I like that if we wanted to we could never have a game with the same cards so thusly it won’t play the same way. So when Gabby suggested it, I made sure to tell her that I would play it, but the first game we were going to randomize every card and she agreed to it. We have the Big Box version of Dominion so we have the Base game, Alchemy and Prosperity in one box, on top of that we have Intrigue and Hinterlands as well so we’ve got a pretty large base grouping of cards to randomize from and we got a really different grouping the first game. Not a single card offered an extra buy and we were kind of limited with extra actions as well, so I made sure to try to focus on the victory cards that we had in the offer. I went heavy into Tunnel due to the fact that I knew Gabby would be aggressive with the Militia and then I picked up every last Silk Road which essentially sealed the win for me, 107-36 with the Silk Road scoring me 60 points due to having 24 victory cards in my hand. After that, Gabby wanted to play again, but she wanted to hand pick 6 of the cards before I got to add in a random 4. She made sure she got her Militia in there, her Market and her Grand Market and some others, we randomly got Ill Gotten Gains, Trading Post, Develop and the Duchess. This one was ugly and it took a long time to build up anything. Gabby ended up with only 18 points, she kept running out of actions on her hand so she would end up wasting cards half the time she played, I wasn’t much better but I kept picking up Duchy’s when I played a Duchess and just tried to get as many Victory cards as I could. 36 points isn’t much of a win, but I’ll take it out of that setup, only thing I can think of that I should have possibly used a bit differently is used the actual Develop card and trashed a bit more out of my hand, but I just wasn’t sure how that was worth it, but who knows. I like Dominion but it’s detractors do have points, it is utterly devoid of theme for the most part, well I shouldn’t say devoid of theme, the theme is there, it just doesn’t really make much sense with game play, but it’s fun, it’s a puzzle every game if you use different setups and I like that in games. I love figuring out that path that is going to serve me the best and get me to the win, or as close as I can get. I’ve had Dominion on the trade pile for a while now, but maybe I should pull it off the trade list and get a few more plays with it. Who knows, maybe Adventures are calling my name.
For dinner we went over to Brad and Kate’s house and I brought along some games to play, but I knew, or rather I hoped, that we’d be playing Rattlebones a bit. Brad got this a couple weeks ago for his birthday. We had played it at Geekway and quite enjoyed it so I was looking forward to playing it again with more than two players. This time we played it with four and I never did quite figure out how to best get my dice manipulated. It didn’t help that we all rolled Rattlebones way too often. Brad ran away with it for most of the game, but Kate made a strong push towards the end, but Brad scored a handful of stars to end it, winning by 17. I finished in dead last, never did even break 20 points, but like I said, I wasn’t seeing a pattern to use and I just kind of randomly stuck new sides on the die and that didn’t work out for me at all. I like this game, and I love the idea of the game with the interchangeable parts to the dice. I wonder if I even need to use a movement die after a little bit, the only reason I should is if I wanted to score stars, which do seem a bit powerful, 1 star gains you 3 points, 2 stars gains you 7 points, 3 stars gain you 11 points and 4 stars gain you 15 points. I almost wonder if you could ride the star train to a victory alone just by building a die of as many star faces as possible. But then that requires you to get that many faces for your dice. Great game that I look forward to playing more as we get more chances, really glad that this one is around and in the family.
Last but not least for the weekend was a 4 player game of Scoville. I’m really enjoying our plays of this one and hopefully we can keep getting it to the table more often in the future. This was our biggest game to date and I really think that this gets better as you increase the player count, although with increased player count comes the fact that more people will have peppers and thus you’ll realize that the game really didn’t come with enough peppers, hopefully this gets remedied whenever the upcoming expansion is put out. I’d even possibly be willing to pay extra for some extra peppers. Brad, Gabby and Kerensa joined me and we were off picking peppers. Early on I think it was pretty even all the way across, but one thing we noticed right off the bat was that paths are going to be blocked a lot more than we do in the two and three player games. Due to some late game Ghost Pepper farming and recipe fulfilling, I ran away with this one, winning with 105 points, with Kerensa and Brad coming in second with 78 points apiece. Both of them used a different strategy to get to those points, Brad switched late in the game to just selling brown peppers, he had created a little plot away from everyone else and just kept farming for brown peppers while planting brown peppers just to keep increasing their price. Kerensa was pretty strictly recipe fulfilling as I don’t think she even had one shield trophy either. I did also this game use the auction for turn order a lot more than I did other games, trying to make sure that I got to make the choice of when I got to go in turn order, sometimes I wanted to be last so I could harvest first, other times I wanted to be first so I could plant and fulfill first, that part really opened up a bit more with 4 players, at least for me. Ed Marriott and Tasty Minstrel Games definitely have a winner here with Scoville. It’s light enough rules wise that I’d be comfortable teaching it to almost anyone, regardless of level of gaming experience, yet it is pretty strategic as well.
That’s the face to face gaming for the week, I did get in quite a few games of Star Realms in as well this week. I stumbled a bit, ended the season at 5-6 and had dropped to level 9 4/10, but I managed to rally back to 8/10 as of this afternoon. So thank you Sarah, Jacob, Alex, Steved and others for the matchups. It was good to start slowly adding in the Gambit stuff even though I am still a bit lost when it comes to some of the ships but I’m coming around. Keep the challenges coming to VacaBCK!
Nothing new backed this week, I was tempted to back something that wasn’t even board game related (shocking) but ultimately I forgot about it and didn’t back it before the campaign ended. So all that I am currently backing is Hocus and JurassAttack!. Hocus is motoring right along at over $21k with less than 5 days to go and as mentioned earlier, JurassAttack! is struggling along, hopefully something kicks into gear this week for it and we see some big jumps in funding. That’s it, I know there are a couple games coming along that are going to be tempting, but I am going to try to stay away from Kickstarter for the most part, although I am going to be tempted quite a bit by the fast approaching re-launch of New Bedford and then Consequential. Both of which I believe are running during Gen Con in a couple weeks. So, if you are interested, keep your eyes peeled for information on both of those Kickstarter campaigns.
I really didn’t get to listen to a lot of podcasts this week, they kept me fairly busy at work with things where I needed my ears for other things, but I did listen to a couple standout ones. Heavy Cardboard covered all things Terra Mystica and ended up giving it a middle of the road kind of review. I can kind of see that from them, there really isn’t a lot of conflict or interaction, either direct or indirect with it, it’s really a game where you are trying to be as efficient as you possibly can with every turn you take. I don’t agree that it’s middle of the road though as I absolutely love Terra Mystica for a lot of the reasons they felt it a bit lacking. But I do agree with Tony though on the fact that it’s really a Medium weight game, I don’t think you can really call it heavy. They also touched on String Railway which shocked the heck out of me, glad they found it interesting as I really liked my plays of it so far. Punched & Played touched on RPGs and board gaming with a friend of theirs Anthony, who doesn’t enjoy the competitiveness of board games. Really good episode. Paul over at Gaming Rules! Continues to bring a fantastic short podcast much in the same vein as we do here, had the 2nd part of the interview with Ricky Royal as well which was a lot of fun. The Tattered Board gave what may be the only positive review of Kill Shakespeare that I have heard so far. The Brawling Brothers podcast, which is quickly moving up the queue as a must listen had a great episode discussing the Top 10 games on Board Game Geek and reviewed a game that I desperately need to get to the table soon, Dark Moon. Marty and Tony over at Rolling Dice & Taking Names once again let Rhiannon and Suzanne invade the studio for some talk about marrying one game for the rest of your gaming life. Plus they reviewed a game that is moving up my want list with a bullet, Stockpile, great episode as usual. Once again, lots of fantastic podcast listening, even during a week where I didn’t get listen to nearly as much as I would like to listen to and next week looks even more fantastic. I checked my feed a few minutes ago and I know I had at least 8 new podcasts download.
So last week, we started the GenCon 2015 Top 10 with some honorable mentions and then games 10 through 6 that I would make an effort to run to the booth and check out if I were attending GenCon this year, well this week, it’s time for numbers 5-1 since GenCon is only 11 days away.
Check out the geeklist over on Board Game Geek and let me know what you think!!!
Here’s a quick recap of 10-6
10) Artifact Inc from Red Raven Games
9) Code Names from Czech Games Edition
8) Castles of Mad King Ludwig-Secrets from Bezier Games
7) Great Dinosaur Rush from Ape Games
6) Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot from Portal Games
5) Takenoko Chibis from Antoine Bauza and Bombyx Games
Not a whole lot out there yet about this expansion to one of our favorite games here, Takenoko, so that’s partially why I’d be rushing to the booth to check it out. What we do know is that the expansion adds a female panda to the mix and baby pandas to the mix as well, the female Panda will have a model and I believe the baby pandas will be on tiles. The expansion also brings some more cards to the mix, more land tiles and some more bamboo as well. Only question is, will, or is it compatible with the Collector’s Edition box and if it isn’t, will they be releasing the expansion to fit that scale as well. I believe this one is releasing at GenCon so we should know more soon!
4) Odyssey-Wrath of Poseidon from Leo Colovini and Ares Games
This one will be a demo only at GenCon, ahead of a September release, and I believe that Ares had it also at Origins this year, but I have heard little to nothing about the game from there.
In Odyssey: Wrath of Poseidon, one player takes the role of Poseidon, God of the Sea, while the others become navigators in search of the Sacred Island. Gameplay takes place on two copies of the same game board that are separated by the game box so that they are not visible to one another. The Poseidon player throws powerful storms against the Navigators, driving them off-course and confounding them so that they cannot reach the Sacred Island in time. Only Poseidon knows the real position of the ships as indicated on his copy of the game board.
The navigators must sail through endless storms, blind to all around them, trying to gather clues to their whereabouts to stay on course. They also track the position of their ships on the game board, but the positions indicated are only a best guess — and they can become increasingly inaccurate as the game progresses.
The navigators must use their wits to stay on course and reach the Sacred Island before the end of the game, while Poseidon wins by preventing them from reaching their destination.
It sounds to me like sort of a variation of Battleship with some other things going on that may actually provide some really fun gameplay. It’s a game from Ares so we know the production on it is going to be top notch fantastic.
3) Ashes-Rise of the Phoenixborn from Isaac Vega and Plaid Hat Games
This one has been all over the airwaves over the last month or so, with Isaac and Colby talking to just about anyone they can about this one and it sounds fantastic. In Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn, a two-player expandable card game, players take on the roles of Phoenixborns, demi-gods and protectors of this world. These characters are the great saviors of their civilizations. Before they came into existence, the humans were plagued by monsters like chimeras that took away their lands and forced them to live in walled-off cities. When the Phoenixborns came, they fought off the chimeras and freed the lands for humans to take over once again. Ashes promises to be the next expandable card game system from Plaid Hat Games after the success of Summoner Wars. This one seems to take a lot of it’s heart and soul from Magic: The Gathering, but it cuts out a lot of the bloat. Each player starts with a deck of 30 cards and your biggest spell or attack can go into play immediately, no waiting around for land build up in this one. Get in and get after it. As of today, the 19th of July, it was still available as a pre-order on the Plaid Hat website, but I don’t imagine that will be the case much longer. It will be available for purchase at GenCon 2015, I’ve heard no word on stock.
2) Flick ‘Em Up from Gaëtan Beaujannot and Jean Yves Monpertuis and Pretzel Games
This one has been on my radar since it was announce a few months back. A Western themed Flicking game?!?! How could anyone pass this up. This is the inaugural release from Pretzel Games, a company that wants to make it’s mark selling games that look as fantastic as they play, heirloom quality. Their first release, Flick ‘em Up, seems to be getting them off on the right foot, with a fantastic presentation to go along with fun shootout gameplay. The game is ran with scenarios where the Sheriff is trying to stop bank robbers, or escaped prisoners, or just a wild west bandit out for trouble. At $70 msrp, this one may be a bit steep, but the presentation, down to the wooden box makes it look like it’s well worth every penny.
1) Mysterium from Oleksandr Nevskiy, Oleg Sidorenko and Lillebud
Yes, yes, I know, we already have a version of Mysterium and that version is perfectly beautiful and fun to play, but Lillebud has upped the presentation a bit and taken a fantastic game and hopefully improved it a bit. They’ve added a ghost screen which looks to help the ghost keep everything a secret all while making it easier on them. The new clock is an awesome graphical addition to the game and everything I’ve seen art wise makes me really happy and confident that they’ve really improved the game. The new rules are online and available to check out, but I haven’t had a chance to read through them yet and find out if much has changed or not, or even figure out which end game they are going with. Lillebud has said they will have a few hundred copies available at GenCon this year ahead of the release scheduled for October, so you might want to hurry up and head to the Asmodee booths to try to get a copy, but you won’t get it if you aren’t there quick.
So there we go, ten games worth sprinting to get through a gaggle of board game fiends all dead set on getting the same thing as you. All 10 on this list are worthy in my mind, and I’m sure there are others that I’ve completely missed and didn’t add to the list that others would have, like La Granja, Stockpile, Lift It, Nevermore, The Village Crone(this one I regret leaving off the list), everything at the Haba booth and many many others. But that’s why there are so many voices out there that will gladly tell you all about what they saw or what they want to see.
But fret not, for those of us who can’t make it to Gen Con this year, never fear, there is something for us to do as well. The wonderful Suzanne Sheldon is putting together another fun #GenCant for everyone. There will be camaraderie and fun and games over Twitter and over on Board Game Geek. Do yourself a favor and head over to the #GenCant website. and see everything that has been put together and above all participate and enjoy our non-con!!