July 2015 new and noteworthy

Another fine month of gaming. Next month will see some downward trend, as the summer holidays are over and the school year starts. No more morning games, on most mornings…

Dale of Merchants: This is very current, as the game was involved in a Kickstarter campaign that ran for the July. I’m happy to note the campaign was a success, collecting slightly over $20k of funding, when $14k was necessary for publishing. Hooray! I’m very happy, as the game is really good. I got a print-and-play copy of it, and I’ve enjoyed the game a lot. I expect it to see 20 plays or so before the game is even released. Suggest.

Prototype PnP version of Dale of Merchants, funny Finnish game currently in Kickstarter. #kickstarter #boardgame #boardgames

Kuva, jonka Mikko Saari (@mikkosaari) julkaisi

1846: One of the highlights of July was two games of 1846, played with just week apart. Both three-player games, I managed to end up last and second. I’d like to see more of this kind of repeat play. 1846 is a fine game, and this already made it sure it was a good idea to buy a new copy of the game. Both games included a newbie and two other players with little experience, yet we managed to play both in just three hours or so. Suggest.

Another fine game of 1846. PRR ran 5 and 7/8 for 80 in the end. #boardgames #boardgame #18xx Kuva, jonka Mikko Saari (@mikkosaari) julkaisi

The Game: I had to try this Spiel des Jahres nominee with an un-googleable name, since it can be played with a 6 Nimmt deck (it’s just cards 2–99, really). Clever thing, reminds me a bit of Hanabi, as this too is a co-op game where you build card stacks. Here you have to build two stacks from 1 to 100 and two from 100 to 1. Every turn, you must play two cards, and you can play more. The stacks must follow the direction, with one exception: you can leap exactly ten numbers in the wrong direction, so in a descending pile, you can play 45, 44, 54, 52, 62 and so on. Clever, simple, but not really my cup of tea. Probably won’t play again, unless my son asks me to. Indifferent.

Imperial Settlers: I had heard nice things about this game, so I got a used copy. It had to wait a while, but I managed to get the cards translated in Finnish. Since the game seems to me to be mostly a two-player game, I thought this is something I’ll play with my son.

The game turned out to be a bit of a hit, we’ve already played four games (once with each nation, of course). It’s a fun game: I like the way you can combine different things, come up with ways to get more resources and get lots of things done in just five rounds. It’s a bit long, it takes us almost an hour to play, but generally it’s worth it. Suggest.

Makings of a Roman civilization in Imperial Settlers #boardgame #boardgames

Kuva, jonka Mikko Saari (@mikkosaari) julkaisi

Toc Toc Woodman: I’ve only played this twice so far, but this is certainly a silly game. Build a tree with plastic tree parts, then use a plastic axe to knock out bark pieces from the tree? Also, the lumberjacks score points for collecting bark, but get heavy penalties for actually collecting some wood? That doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. But the game is fun – not Coconuts fun, but fun nevertheless. Suggest.

The Little Prince: Make Me A Planet: This tile-laying game is based on the famous book (though apparently not famous enough), and like the book, it seems like something for the kids, but actually might be better for adults. This game is quite simple: build a planet from 16 tiles, 12 of which contain scoring features and 4 of which contain scoring rules that determine your points, with the goal being to maximise your scoring by matching the features with the rules. The tile distribution is simple, yet entertaining: starting player draws n tiles from one of the piles, picks one and then chooses who gets to choose next. That player picks one and passes the turn to someone else. The last player to pick is the next starting player. Of course, the turn order generally tends to be manipulated in a way that makes people get the tiles they need the least. That can get slightly nasty. Suggest

I built a planet for Little Prince! #boardgames #boardgame Kuva, jonka Mikko Saari (@mikkosaari) julkaisi

Port Royal: I played this a while ago and didn’t enjoy the game at all. Now that I got the Finnish version, I gave it another go, and it was better. Not my favourite game, but something I can actually volunteer to play. That’s something. I think we might have played the game a bit wrong the first time. I’m not a huge fan of the push-your-luck element in the game. Indifferent.

Glass Road: I’ve been on the roll with Uwe Rosenberg games, so getting Glass Road wasn’t a hard choice. This was advertised as a Rosenberg conversion engine game that doesn’t take long to play. It sure is pretty swift, a two-player game doesn’t take much longer than 30 minutes. However, it’s not the overall length that is short, it’s the internal game length: it’s just four rounds. That isn’t a lot, and the game feels really short and constricted. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you won’t be doing much in this game. My first game left me a bit dumb-founded, but in the second game, we did much better, as things started to make sense.

What’s really important here is the fact my son managed to beat me in our second game! That has never happened in Agricola, At the Gates of Loyang, Agricola: ACBAS, Le Havre: Inland Port or Fields of Arle. Glass Road has a bigger luck element – it’s a game where in order to win, you have to play well and things need to fall your way. That’s fine with me. Suggest.

Resource wheel from Glass Road, what a clever idea. #boardgames #boardgame

Kuva, jonka Mikko Saari (@mikkosaari) julkaisi

Quartermaster General: This light WWII game for six players got good buzz from the GCL Amoeba folks, so I thought I’d give it a go. I don’t really have particularly good six-player games in my collection. This is a simple war game, so simple that the units don’t even move, for example. To expand, you need to build new armies, and make sure they’re being supplied. Every turn, you get to play one card: build an unit, battle something, improve your situation with status cards, play response cards for future use and so on. Just one little thing! Each of the six nations have different capabilities: Germans and the US have lots of status cards that give them extra power, while Japanese have lots of sneaky responses and so on. It’s all quite clever, plays quickly and looks really good. Suggest.

Fighting the Second World War with Quartermaster General. Italy is not doing well… #boardgames #boardgame

Kuva, jonka Mikko Saari (@mikkosaari) julkaisi

Spyfall: This game is all talk. Some people hate that, and I’m not a huge fan of the genre either, but this game is… clever. Players are people in a setting – say, submarine, space station, zoo, embassy, school, hospital, something like that – except for one, who is spy. Spy doesn’t know the setting. She tries to find out what the setting is, while other players must out the spy.

The game is played by asking questions. “What do you see when you look around?”, “When was the last time you went home?”, whatever comes to mind. It’s a balancing act: the spy needs to blend in, while the other players must ask questions that are specific enough to be hard to answer correctly, without giving out the location.

We had just four players, which means it’s pretty hard for the spy to survive. I was really happy to survive twice as a spy. A nerve-wracking game, but in a very curious way. Suggest.

Mondo: Der rasante Legespaß: This is a new, smaller version of Mondo. Create small 3×3 islands from the tiles as quickly as you can, then score for animals, completed landscapes and avoiding mistakes. Simple and entertaining, a nice filler – after all, the timer makes sure the three rounds don’t last more than 12 minutes plus couple of minutes for scoring. Also, the four-minute timer is way too much, it can be reduced to three minutes without problems, and most people should manage two minutes without much stress. Indifferent.

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