Friday, September 26, 2014

99) Saboteur

In this game each player is a dwarf working in the mines. Some players are trying to build tunnels to the gold whereas other players are saboteurs trying to thwart their plays. Of course everyone's identity is secret so you may figure out the hard way who each player is.

My hand
Slowly digging some tunnels

This is a good game for larger groups. It plays really quickly and is easy to teach. There is a bit of strategy although its a fairly linear game. A lot of the fun of the game is trying to figure out whether or not players are saboteurs. We ended up playing three times in a row as I've found this game tends to suck you into multiple plays.

98) Cockroach Poker

Another light, quick, fun game. In this game you pass a card face down to another player and claim its a certain insect. The player has two choices, they can call you on it saying either it is or is not what you claim it to be OR they can look at the card and then pass it to another player and claim its an insect of their choice. I had fun passing my cards and claiming every time that it was a stink bug, it really makes people start to wonder what's going on. Additionally when the odds were in my favor it was fun to have a player pick a card randomly out of my hand and make them question whether or not I actually was able to say what it was without looking.

Cute Art
6-player game
Oops, the goal is to not get these

This is a fun game to play although in the end its mostly a game of chance. I don't like that based on the odds you should (almost) always look at the card and pass it on as you have a 66% chance of not losing if you look vs. 50% chance if you challenge. I also don't like that each round has a loser who supposedly doesn't play again until only one player is left. We just played a few rounds without any consequences for losing, but I generally don't enjoy the player elimination mechanic.

97) Mascarade

This game is very similar to coup in that you have secret identities with different potential actions. On your turn you claim to have a certain character and thus do the corresponding action. Other players have a chance to challenge. Players aren't eliminated as in coup, but rather, the goal is to accumulate a certain amount of money to win.
Getting ready to start 
6-player game

We all enjoyed the game enough to play a second time. It plays rather quickly and is a good filler game. Not too much strategy, but trading (or not trading) character cards with other players adds a fun element to the game. If you like coup you'll enjoy this.

96) Through the Desert

This is a fun little game thats easy to learn. The initial set-up has each player in turn placing one of their camels on the board until all camels have been placed. Then on your turn you place two camels of your choosing next to any of your corresponding colored camels. You're collecting points along the way and scoring points at the end based on areas you've enclosed.

Team meeting before starting 
Placed and ready to conquer
Wish I had gotten more of these during the game
Board is developing

This game is really easy to learn and doesn't take too long to play. There is limited strategy involved although you do have to hedge your bets for future plays and take advantage of opportunities as they arise. The primary strategy or skill in this game is seeing those opportunities. I would recommend giving this one a try. It leaves me with the feeling that I could do better and thus want to play again, but it doesn't fill the deeper need for a more complex strategy game.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

95) Constantinopolis

In this game you're building up your own city to produce goods that will be used to fulfill orders. Of course you're earning points, collecting money, moving cubes all around, buying boats, and so much more. Thankfully, it can sound way more complex then it really is.

Just getting started 
Buildings waiting to be purchased
This ship is ready to sail
4-player game
This was a neat game. I'm glad I finally got around to playing it, but after playing I feel like I have so many other games that are better and that I would prefer to play. The main reason for this is that the game felt a bit stale about half way through. You're essentially doing the same thing over and over and it starts to get a bit old. It's really too bad because there are so many parts of this game I like, but put together it just didn't work for me.

94) The Golden City

In this game you're collecting terrain cards, which when played allow you to build houses on the board. When you build a house you'll get to perform the special action associated with that space. These special actions give immediate bonuses that help in game play or potentially allow for scoring.

Looks like a nice place to live
Bidding "wars"
End game scoring
End game board
This game may be amazing although we were all a bit baffled by it. We either played it wrong or didn't fully understand the strategy. Even in hindsight its hard to say how the game would be different on the next play. One player completely ran away with the game to the point that it wasn't even competitive. Additionally, most players didn't even build in the center (golden) city, which feels like it should be a major strategy. I'd be willing to try this again, but until then the jury is still out on this one.

93) Airlines Europe

This game has a special place in my heart as it was one of the first games that I actually spent time studying and getting good at. Oh how quickly that knowledge goes away as my most recent play will attest to. In this game you're increasing the value of different airlines by purchasing new flight routes (playing cool airplanes onto the board). Additionally, you're competing with other players to have the most stock in these airlines. There are three semi-random scoring times that pay out based on the value of each airline and who has the most stock in these airlines.

Just getting started
Cool bits
My stocks
Nearing the end

This game has great tension in trying to get one more action in before the scoring occurs. Of course if you're too greedy you'll get punished, but without a little risk you'll have trouble pulling ahead of everyone else. This game is incredibly easy to learn as there are only 4 actions to choose from on your turn, but mastering how to balance what you do when is a challenge. Great depth in strategy that comes from easy to understand rules makes for an all around great game.

92) Gonzaga

This game is a spatial challenge. Each turn you get to play a randomly selected piece on the board. You secretly choose an area of the board and the type (city or port) of hex you want to play on. Then everyone reveals what they selected, which also determines play order for that round. Very quickly the board starts to fill up and you'll need to make some tough decisions.

Individual player board
Area control
Four player game
This game was really fun and easy to pick up. It left me wanting to immediately play again as most games that require optimization and limit the amount you can accomplish do. There is great tension in whether or not you get blocked on each turn. Although if you do get blocked there so many other things to focus on and try and complete that you always have other options.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

91) Myrmes

I love ants and I love strategy games - combining the two is awesome. In this game you take on the roll of an ant colony. Inside your colony you're making new nurses, larva, workers, and soldiers as well as advancing your tech tree. As your worker ants visit the outside world they get to lay pheromones, battle other insects, and find resources.

My player board part way through turn 1 
Central shared board
Custom first player token

I love this game. It combines tons of mechanics that I like (worker placement, resource gathering, tech tree, area control) into a game with a great theme. The first game or two may be a bit tough as it can really punish players for making wrong decisions. Once you get the feel for the game things should be much smoother.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

90) Cash'n Guns (2nd edition)

This game comes with a bunch of fake guns that you get to pretend to shoot people with. Of course they don't know whether you've put a bullet in the gun this round. If someone expects a loaded gun (or guns) is pointed at them they can run away. Those who haven't run away reveal if they've actually shot someone (or more often the case loaded a blank). Anyone left standing gets a piece of the loot.

Just about sums up the game 
Ready to do some shootin
First loot offering
Final score

We ended up playing this twice in a row because we enjoyed it so much. That said, I don't think there is enough strategy to keep me wanting to come back over and over. For me, this game is best suited as a starter game that allows everyone to play something together before jumping into something with a bit more meat. It's a quick, light game with a great theme. It has a fun element of risk taking that can pay off quite nicely if done correctly. And of course those toy guns are a hoot.

89) The Castle of the Devil

This is a fun hidden identity game where you're trying to figure out who is on your team while also collecting goblets or keys for end game victory. Throughout the game you'll be trading items and battling other players. Through these actions you'll start to figure out who is on your team and make a better strategy for victory.

Who wouldn't buy this box 
Four of our six players
If you're always red sometimes you're a girl...
We found the goblets
I think our initial play is very different then future plays. We were all learning the game and thus a bit new to the strategy. Consequently we may have made decisions that were nicer then future plays could be. In this game its all about what information people have and I think players will fight to keep that information now that they understand the game better. All that to say everyone enjoyed this game and I would enjoy playing it again to see how it evolves with subsequent plays.