November 2015 new and noteworthy

November is usually the best month for me when it comes to new games. This is not unusual, as Essen games trickle to us non-visitors. This month, in order to try something new, I’ve grouped the games in three groupings: buy, play or pass. Enjoy!


Cthulhu Realms sounded like a good deal to me. Star Realms, with multiplayer capabilities included, a Cthulhu theme (yes, it’s a plus to me) and cute cartoony art? Count me in.

Turned out it was good, good enough that I’ll want to buy it. The graphic design is pretty bad, the iconography seems very confusing. Race for the Galaxy is nothing compared to this game. But I’m really looking forward to getting over that. Suggest.

The Voyages of Marco Polo is the heavy euro game of the year, it seems. It did win the DSP, and it has received some very positive buzz on the Finnish forums. I found it quite interesting. The different characters and their special powers seem quite overpowered, all in different ways, and the game seems challenging enough.

In any case, I’m interested in playing this again. That’s something, considering it’s a worker placement game. Now, the big question is, will it last more than five plays (I’m looking at you, Village and Russian Railroads – RR in particular is in a very similar niche). That’s something I’m quite eager to answer. Suggest.

Discoveries has good roots: it’s based on the very tasty Lewis & Clark. It’s a dice game, but not another Yahtzee clone. That’s always positive. This has a nice exploration vibe, gorgeous art by Vincent Dutrait and the gameplay has some interesting decisions to make.

I’m looking forward to trying this with my son, who has been my sole Lewis & Clark opponent so far. I think he’ll like this. Suggest.

Isle of Skye has a pricing mechanic and tile-laying – so it’s something like Castles of Mad King Ludwig, then? Well, not quite. This is a quicker game, and one that flows quite well, thanks to lots of simultaneous action. Everybody’s setting prices at the same time, which works quite well, and gives a pleasing challenge.

The game also has lots of scoring methods and only a small subset of those are selected in each game. This ensures a healthy dose of variability between games. Suggest.

I’ve got all of these on my shopping list. I’ll have to see what the Secret Santa is getting me, then I’ll head shopping in January to fill the gaps.


Dino Race is a family game for smaller children. My six-year-old daughter loves it. I’m not complaining: so many new children’s games are designed for only children (so they’re good in kindergartens or large families; we have just two kids, who don’t play board games together without adults), it’s refreshing to have a game that works for adults as well.

There are some unfinished parts in the game, and the scoring is unnecessarily clunky. I think the game could be developed a lot more, but as it is, it’s worth checking out if you want a quick family game for smaller kids. The game has really nice dinosaur figures as pawns and is over in about fifteen minutes. This goes to the high end of Indifferent: I’m not going to suggest this, but I won’t complain when the kids want to play this.

Heat is a small drafting game from Asmadi Games. It has a cool gangster heist theme and cool Saul Bass artwork. It’s a simple game (well, our first game was riddled with rules uncertainty; once I figured out the problems, finding answers was easy and the second game went much better) and heavy on luck, but also fun.

It’s on the Play group, because I wouldn’t go to much effort to find it – it’s not available in Finland, for example, and isn’t really worth ordering from abroad (I got mine in a math trade), but if you happen across it, give it a spin if you like drafting games. It also has a very good rule:

Some players will instinctively grab the five face down cards and look at them before drafting. You are permitted to tie these players to their chairs, while you reshuffle.

Happened at least three times in our first game… Suggest.

Merkator is a less-appreciated Uwe Rosenberg game. I’ve been on an Uwe roll recently, so when I noticed this one available for sale, I had to grab it. It’s dry as dust, a real exercise in pushing cubes, but I found it rather fascinating.

It’s still on the Play group, because I’m not sure if it’s really that good, and I want to try it with more than two players, but it does seem promising. Uwe Rosenberg is a master, I have to say, few designers have such a track record. Suggest.

M.U.L.E. was a must try game: a big Finnish game from, commodity speculation with a retro sci-fi theme… Can’t say no, even though I have never played the computer game (I’m maybe five years too young for it).

I think M.U.L.E. falls in a slightly awkward niche. It’s a wee bit heavy for a family game – the thickness of the rule book is going to stop many people – while being way too lucky and swingy for hardcore gamers. Many people dislike it, but I’ve enjoyed my two games. It’s cute, and quick enough. However, while I recommend giving it a go, it’s very much a case of try before you buy. Suggest.

Brew Crafters got my attention, when it was reviewed favorably in Spielbox and the review noted that Uwe Rosenberg (I wonder who that guy is) gave it a 9.7 rating. It’s just not possible not to be piqued by that.

Turns out the game is an interesting Agricola variant. Quite far from 9.7 really, but it’s interesting enough. It is probably too long for multiplayer games, though, and has too much English text so I can’t play it with my son, who would otherwise be excellent opponent for this. So, I wouldn’t mind owning a copy, but trying the game certainly stopped me from going out and buying it. It’s not worth the almost 70 euros asked for it; for 30 euros or so, I’d have to reconsider. So I’ll go for Suggest here, as I would suggest this given a suitable opportunity, even if I wouldn’t see much effort to make that opportunity happen.

Between Two Cities sounded like an interesting game: a simple drafting game where you build a city. It is a fine, and certainly a well-built game. In some ways maybe even too well – the different building types seem so well-balanced that the games are always very close, no matter what you do.

Well, I bought this in the hope that it’s good with the kids, and it is, it’s simple and plays fast, so I’m satisfied. The game also scales to seven players, which is nice. Suggest, but not in every situation.

Terra is the new geography version of Fauna. The rules have been streamlined a little bit, and the questions are now more diverse – the geography theme is very widely understood, there are lots of different topics covered.

This is good, a solid trivia game. I’m mostly placing this in the Play group because I don’t really expect to play this much: the trivia is still too difficult for the kids, and this is not the hottest game for the gamer group. However, I am not going to get rid of this, but instead I’ll wait a couple of years so my kids get a bit older. Suggest.


Southern Rails is a Winsome game by Harry Wu, and based on that should have no place on the Pass list. However, my initial three-player game left me wondering “is this it?” – the game seems odd and has very clunky scoring.

I’m curious enough that I’d like to play again with four or five players to see if the game gets better, but I’m afraid this might indeed be a miss. Indifferent.

Allies: Realm of Wonder is reviewed here. Not a bad little card game filler for two players, but considering that I can name a dozen better card game fillers for two players, this is just not going to get any play time. Indifferent.


Similar Posts: