Monday, December 29, 2014

152) Gosu

In this game you're leading your hoard of goblins to defeat the other players armies. Each turn you can play a card, activate an ability, or draw cards. As the round continues you start to run out of options and once each player has passed the round ends and there is a great battle. Whomever has the most points (cards) on the board gets a point. Rounds are played until someone gets 3 points.

Fun art 
My start 
Our four player game 
Winning board

This is a fun little card game with interesting interactions and good game play. It's somewhat easy to learn and plays quite smoothly. All in all a solid game. My one complaint is that if one player has a bad draw they can be forced to pass early in a round and then is forced to sit and watch while other players continue to play. That was my experience this game although I was able to catch up (somewhat) in subsequent rounds to it did feel balanced in that regard. The other potential issue is that some colors (out of the 5 colors in the game) may be more powerful then others although I haven't played enough to know that yet. After our game I was excited about playing again so that is a good sign.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

151) Poo

There's no surprises here, when you read the name and see the box you know exactly what your getting into. Each player takes the roll of a monkey who flings poo at other players. On your turn you play a card and draw back up to five cards. Cards allow you to fling poo at other players, clean poo off of yourself, or provide special actions or abilities. Additionally, there are defensive cards that can prevent players from throwing poo and even toss it back at them. Once a player has accumulated 15 poo they are out. Last person standing wins.

Thats exactly how I felt 
My hand 
Help for everyone 
Some cards

The only redeeming value to this game is using m&m's for the poo counters. Each time you clean yourself you get a little snack and it never gets old to make fun of people for eating poo. Apart from this the game isn't that enjoyable to me. The amount of random luck is monumental. Players for the most part choose who they want to attack so if everyone gangs up on you you'll probably lose. Also, some players will draw the cards they need and others wont. Because of this the game doesn't fall that high on my list of games I enjoy.  

150) Camel Up

It's a race! There are five different colored camels vying to be first across the finish line. Each player is betting on which camel will win. There is end game scoring based on which camel wins and which lost. Additionally after each camel has moved once there is a scoring round. A player gets one action on their turn in which they can roll the dice of a random camel, take betting tokens for the round, place modifiers on the track, or place an end game bet. After each round money is paid out (or debts collected based on bad bets). All the dice are added back to the dice tower and a new round begins.

Building a dice tower 
Ready to race 
This happened 
Yellow wins! My endgame score.

This game won the Spiel des Jahres this year so it has to be good...right? Well, this game does feel a bit random, which immediately turns me off to the game. Bets are largely based on statistics and that is a good learning tool, but in the end there is too much left to random chance and you're essentially betting on a dice roll. The highlight of this game for me is that the camels can stack and carry camels that are on top of it. This can cause huge swings in the race and can make for some interesting calculations when placing a bet. The dice tower is pretty neat as well. The one drawback to the game play is the worst action by far appears to be rolling the dice. If you roll then all the players behind you have a much better chance of making the correct bet on the round winner and thus are more likely to get more points then you.

I'm really glad I got to play this game once, but it won't ever be on the top of my list to play again.

149) Pandemic Contagion

This is a fun take on Pandemic. Each player takes on the roll of a disease and attempts to infect as many cities as possible. Points are awarded throughout the game and at the end of the game based on how much of your disease you've gotten on each city. Additionally, each city has a population and when everyone in the city is diseased the city is destroyed and points are awarded. Players spend their turn evolving their disease, infecting cities, or drawing more cards to fuel future actions.

After my first turn 
Infecting different cities 
Four player game

I really enjoyed this game, but I question if the re-playability is there. I think after 5-10 plays this game may start to feel a bit stale, although this is my first play so I should reserve judgement. Some things I really enjoyed: The theme and game play mesh really well together. I also really like the mechanic of trying to be involved at least a little bit in infecting each city. Sneaking in a few extra points by placing just a few cubes can make a big difference. Finally, I really like that on your turn you want to do everything. Anything you do is beneficial and builds on itself, the trick comes down to figuring out which action will lead to the biggest benefit.

All in all a solid game that I highly recommend trying at least once.

148) Sentinels of the Multiverse

In this game all players take on the roll of a comic book hero and work together to defeat a villain. Each  player takes their turn by playing one card and activating one power. Then the terrain takes a turn by flipping a card that can be good or bad. Then the villain takes their turn by usually flipping over more enemy cards and dealing damage to some or all players. Play continues until all heros are eliminated or the villains lose, usually by taking the required amount of damage.

Team guns 
Four player game
Our enemy

The best aspects of this game are the flavor and replayability. There are so many different villains and hero decks that each game can play out vastly different then the next game. Each game offers a unique puzzle that everyone must work together to figure out.

This game has three major downsides in my mind. First, is the amount of time you spend waiting for other players to take their turn. As players become more accustomed to how to play the game the turns may speed up a bit, but if you take a quick turn you can be waiting a while before your next turn comes around. The second downside is how fiddley the game is. At times its really hard to remember how all the cards interact and affect one another. They have pieces to help alleviate this, but when each card is affected by a different card (or cards) and they're all dealing damage to different players based on different conditions...well something is bound to be missed. Finally, if you don't draw the correct cards you may not have any effect on the game. My deck was all about having guns, but I didn't draw a gun until turn 4. This meant that my first three turns were inconsequential.  Doing nothing on your turn only compounds the feeling of waiting too long for everyone else on their turns.

Despite all my criticism I would recommend trying this at least once. Lots of people really love the game so it can't be all bad.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

147) Mythotopia

Deck building meets Risk in this war game. Like most deck building games each turn have five cards in hand. Each card has multiple uses allowing you to acquire new cards, build things on the board, attack, or recruit new armies. Most of these actions result in points gained or lost by players. If a player has the required number of points for victory at the start of their turn they can declare the game over and they win.

Figuring out how to play
Our four player game
Stale mate

I think this game would be really fun if you're willing to put in the time (probably at least 3 plays) to fully grasp the way this game plays. The first game is rather daunting as we were all new to the game. You start by flipping up x number of this card type and then a different number of a different card type and then 16 of the other card type, then deal out these cards....and so on. That's just the set-up and as expected with games like this it took a few turns to fully understand the consequences of what we do on our turns. The game started to flow more smoothly once we got more accustomed to the game play. Unfortunately, at the end of the game only a small part of me thought "I want to try this again" where most of me thought "I'd rather spend my time getting good at other games". But, I do think if you have a group that enjoys war games with a more euro-game feel this game is perfect and I would highly recommend it.

Friday, December 26, 2014

146) Evolution

In this game you're creating and protecting various creatures you control. This is a card driven game where you use cards for their ability or discard cards to improve your creature, activate special abilities, or even to create another creature. All your creatures start out as herbivores, but certain cards turn them into carnivores and you can start attacking (eating) other players creatures. You can only eat as much food as your population allows and food can become scarce. The player who eats the most food over the course of the game is the winner.

Upgrade options 
My first creature 
Our four player game 
End game score

I enjoyed playing this game although it didn't leave me wanting to play again. A big mechanic is destroying (eating) creatures that other players have spent time building up. I'm not a huge fan of this mechanic and often try to turtle up and hide in games such as this. I felt like in our game the balance between carnivores and herbivores was largely skewed towards the herbivores having a big advantage. I would guess that multiple plays would lead to a more balanced game as players start to learn the different abilities, but in our game the carnivores often had no other creatures to eat and were essentially worthless investments. Additionally, when a creature did become weak enough to start getting eaten, each player with a carnivore would attack that player, which felt a bit unfair that the weakest player is the one that continues to get attacked. I don't think this game is for me, but I would encourage you to give it a try for yourself as there are a number of fun interactions and mechanics that I think a lot of people would enjoy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

145) Saga

In this game you're building up armies to conquer as many of the six different lands (colors) as possible. On each turn a player may collect victory points for the lands they control. Then they must play a card from their hand and they also have the option to purchase a card to put in their hand. The game ends when one player has played all the cards from their hand. Some end game scoring happens and then the player with the most points wins.

Getting ready to start 
My hand
Our four player game

Initially this game feels like it will ever end as it seems almost impossible to get rid of all your cards, but  somehow the end always sneaks up on me before I'm ready. I really like a lot of the mechanics in this game - my favorite being the play between the game ending when you play all your cards and having to return cards to your hand when you lose control of one of the land cards. My biggest dislike of this game is that if you forget to take your points at the beginning of your turn you don't get to take them. You'd think you would always remember to take points as thats how you win, but you can get so wrapped up in planning which card you play that it just slips your mind. All in all a fun game unlike others I've played before.

144) Bohnanza

This is set collection game that will hone your negotiation skills. At the beginning of each players turn they must plant (play) the first card and optionally the second card of their hand (card order is important). The the player flips up two cards from the draw pile and must either plant them or trade/give away these cards. Finally the player draws cards to add to the back of their hand and the next players turn begins. As you may start to notice there is a lot of player interaction through trading of cards to both get the beans you want and weed the ones you don't want out of your hand.

Our 7-player game 
One blurry coffee bean 
Quality art 
End game score

This game will always hold a special place in my heart. The people I've played with and fun times I've had playing make me partial to this game. Thus, in my biased opinion you should certainly play this game (although after playing space beans I might recommend that game over this one).

143) Caylus

This is a classic game that launched the popularity of worker placement games and is a must play for everyone (at least in my opinion). There is too much going on to give a comprehensive overview, but more generally you're collecting resources and building new locations and increasing your favor with the king and getting special actions and scoring points. All this is done through the worker placement mechanic. Needless to say there's a lot going on and its a fun challenge to try and balance everything.

Ready to start 
Should I build a house... 
...Ok, I'll build one

As you can guess from the intro I highly recommend playing this game. It is fairly in-depth and a bit complex so be prepared to put some time into your first few plays. Once you get a feel for the game you'll be impressed at how smooth the game play is and the nuances and depth that this game provides will keep you coming back for more.

142) Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small

Another version of agricola that is way better then the original. All the complications have been stripped away and you're left with a beautiful two player worker placement game where your primary goal is to breed as many animals as possible. Of course to do this you're going to need buildings and fences and resources as well as expanded farming territory.

Ready to start 
Shared central board 
Multiplying animals

This is a great two player game where you're racing to build up your farm faster then the other player. Many worker placement games have a moment of reckoning where you have to pay a price at the end of the round such as feeding your workers. I this game there is no such requirement, which means you can expand and grow and build with reckless abandon. I think that is the strong point of this game for me in that you always feel rewarded because you're always building and gaining more. And, it also has awesome ani-meeples that provide endless enjoyment. I highly recommend playing this game.

141) Morels

In this game you're collecting mushrooms as you travel through the forest. On your turn you can add cards to your hand or play cards for end game points or immediate 'money'. At the end of each players turn a card is removed from the line-up and one or two new cards are added. The goal of the game is to collect sets of the same mushroom and then cook them in a pan (playing cards from your hand). Of course there are all sorts of bonus cards that can change your hand size, give you more pans, or even count as double of a given mushroom. When you've gone through the deck once the game ends.

Ready to go mushroom hunting 
My hand 
End game scoring 
Cool artwork

I really enjoyed this game. It's very tight to the point where you're counting cards and trying to remember what is left in the deck. It's a great balance of collecting the cards that benefit you and trying to thwart the other players plans. For a two player game there is quite a bit going on and we both enjoyed this one.

140) Space Beans

This is a fairly simple drafting game that is very similar to bohnanza. The game starts with all but one person having cards in hand. The start player draws two cards then chooses as many cards in one color as they want to lay in front of them. The first color is face up, but a second color can be started face down on subsequent turns. Once the cards are played the remaining cards are passed to the player with no cards and play continues clockwise. Players can score their played cards by keeping the highest value card in their pile that does not exceed the total cards in that pile and discarding the rest.

Just as fun as it sounds 
4-player game 
Some planted space beans 
Fun artwork

I really enjoyed this game as a light starter game. It's easy to play, easy to teach and the drafting mechanic and set collection work really well together. I recommend giving this a try.

Friday, December 5, 2014

139) Hero Quest

The original dungeon crawl game. In this game there is one person who runs the game and controls all enemy units. Everyone else is playing against this one person. The game has multiple scenarios so each game will play out differently. Generally, the heros are moving around the dungeon killing enemies and searching for and attempting to complete their objective. Along the way they'll find gold and equipment that is kept from one round to the next. Gold can be spent between games to buy various items.

The box is this awesome! 
Ready to start 
Dungeon master plotting against us 
Cool pieces 
More cool pieces

All in all a fun game. My one major complaint is there is no built in clock. The movement of the heros is limited by a dice roll, but when there were no enemies on the board the heros could just cycle turns until they had the board state the way they wanted it. This can lead to some long drawn out parts in the game where the dungeon master is not doing anything. Despite this, if you like dungeon crawl games this is certainly worth a play or two.