September 2015 new and noteworthy

September wasn’t a bad month. I played quite a few games, and updated my Top 100 list.

Race to the North Pole is a Finnish game that debuts in Essen this year. It’s a nice little race game, where you have to get to the North Pole before the other players. The trick here is that the weather is unpredictable and storms will shift the board layout every now and then. What’s more, your hand of cards is on the board and will shift with the winds.

It’s chaotic, kind of fun, and generally pretty well made. Also very much not my cup of tea, particularly with four players. However, I’m waiting for the companion app to be released to see how that affects the game. The game is independent of the smart phone app, but the app apparently adds to the game and creates more replayability, and I’m curious to see how that works. Indifferent.

Round’o’Loot is another Finnish game from newcomer publishers Doorway Games. This pirate-themed games felt a bit pointless the first time I played it, but after a second attempt it made some more sense. It’s a really light game and at times has very few decisions to make, so most of the time the player with the best luck will win, but the rounds end in a very surprising way, which actually adds a quite a bit of tension and interest in the game. Not a particularly attractive game for those looking for serious, thinky card games, but would I rather play this or UNO? This, no doubt about it. Indifferent.

Cubingos is a reaction test puzzle for kids. There are cubes with creature halves on the sides of the cubes, and then you draw a card which shows a complete creature. Your task is to place a cube on the board so that the creature in the card is completed. Quite simple, and quite easy, so this doesn’t really work meaningfully as a game with adults and kids combined. Indifferent.

New York 1901 won the “Strategy Game of the Year” award in Finland. Considering the award is very much a mass market award, this was not a terrible choice. The game looks really good and is well-produced, the gameplay is somewhat clever, there’s a bit of mean interaction – but the whole of it doesn’t really wow me, so it’s unlikely this one’s a keeper for me. Indifferent.

Mucca Pazza won the “Children’s Game of the Year”. Not a bad game, but clearly something that works best with kids alone, with no adults involved, as the problem to solve is quite basic and doesn’t provide much for the adults. So, another kindergarten game for groups of children to play. The art is funny, though, and the basic idea of the game is solid. Indifferent.

La Granja was the first game I played in September, and what a fine choice it was. I bought it on a hazard, hoping I’d like it. It did come with good recommendations and lots of elements to like: farming theme, Glory to Rome -style multi-use cards… all in all an intriguing game. Based on one two-player game, it sure seems good, now I need some multi-player games to verify that. Suggest.

Glass Road got the first multi-player games in September, and I wasn’t disappointed. I slightly botched the card play rules for the first round (we played it more like in two-player game), but fortunately noticed it and could correct it from round two. It’s a good game, I really like the action selection through the cards and the short game length gives the game some oomph – you really need to make things happen, if you want to score points. Suggest.

I got the new edition of Carcassonne so I could make a rules explanation video for it. The new version was released in Germany last year, and finally made it to Finland. It’s… different. However, no matter how much I like the original Doris Matthäus art, I have to admit that when you put the old and the new versions next to each other, the new version looks better. It’s a lot more vivid and interesting. Perhaps it was indeed time to refresh the look of the game.

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