Sunday, 7 May 2017

Reducing The Pile of Shame Update - April

A look at what games came out of my Pile of Shame and got to the table in April. 

This is the latest in a series of #ReducingThePile, here are links to the rest of the series so far:
#ReducingThePile Update - March
New year, new games. Further reducing the Pile(s) of Shame

April was a good month for gaming. 37 plays in of 19 different games. Here's a look at the ones that were completely new to me with a short review of each: 

Mighty Monsters - 2 plays - This one was dirt cheap on Amazon along with a bunch of other Queen games so I figured I would give it a shot. It's not bad for what I paid for it and it's simple enough I think my girls might enjoy it. Each player plays an army of monsters attacking the castle. Each round you play monsters onto the board to take part in one of the battles. At most two players can play in each battle. You don't know how hard the fight will be when you play. After everyone has two monsters up you resolve the battles from the gates to the throne room. If the combined strength of both monsters beats the defender then the owners of those monsters split the treasure. If the monsters lose though the entire siege fails and the turn ends and players have to pay to heal all monsters that are in battles that haven't resolved yet. Push your luck, co-op yet competitive reverse tower defence.

San Francisco Cable Car - 1 play - Another Queen game that was at a silly low price. This one is like an improved Tsuro. Actually, I don't see why I would ever play Tsuro again owning this. The basic mode is pretty simple with players trying to create the longest routes for all the cars in their colour. The game really shines with the advanced rules which add a Train Game style stock mechanism to the game. With these rules no players own any particular colour of cable car, instead, they buy stocks in the various colours and try to make sure the best routes are made for the colour they have invested the most in.

Raise Your Goblets - 1 play - The concept behind this game sounded awesome. It's basically the poisoned wine goblet scene in The Princess Bride but with more players. Every player has a goblet in front of them, each round they get two actions. These include adding something to the goblets, rotating them clockwise or counterclockwise, swapping your goblet with someone else's or peaking in your goblet. When you add to a goblet you have to decide if you add poison or an antidote. Once enough rounds have passed a player can call for cheer instead of taking their action. At this point everyone "drinks" by seeing what's in the goblet in front of them. More poison tokens then attitude you are dead. Each round players are randomly given another player colour as a target. You get points for staying alive, and if your target dies. Play three rounds and see who has the most points. To make thing interesting each player is assigned a role at the beginning that gives them asymmetric powers. This was good, but a bit fiddly. Three rounds we had to start over because someone spilt a goblet. Plus it's hard to add things to the goblets without someone seeing what you are adding. I love the concept but it just doesn't play out as smooth as it should. I'm thinking of investing in a lazy susan just for this game.

Junk Art - 4 plays - This has become my favourite dexterity game. The first time I played I thought it was great. The second time it was even better. The fourth time with a completely different group of people had this one cinch my top spot for dexterity game. What I love is that it's like 20 games in one box. Each game you draw three world cards. These determine what cities you will visit and each city has it's own unique way to play the game. In one city you may be building the tallest tower, in the next city, you may be getting points for having a structure build only in one colour. The next city it could be a real time build with the first person to build a tower with 10 parts winning. Each of these games is the equivalent of one standard dexterity game like Bandu. Added to that the components are top notch and are really get shapes that sometimes fit together in very interesting ways. Love Junk Art. This is a must buy if you dig this style of game.

Paris Connection - 4 plays - Did I mention there was a big sale on Queen Games. This one so far is the best of the lot. This game is fantastic. It's a heavy economic game that can be played in about half an hour. It takes the route building and stock trading elements of an 18xx game and manages to give you that feeling in about half an hour. This still blows me away. There are 6 train companies. Players start with a random selection of trains (drawn out of a bag) based on the number of players. Each train represents one stock in that company. Each turn you have two choices: either take 1-5 trains from a company and play them on the board or trade in one of your trains (behind a screen) for two trains of a different colour. Each company only has so many trains (they all have the same amount). When playing on the board you use the trains to represent routes. Every city a route touches is worth points for that company/colour. Once only one company has stocks left the game ends. Players reveal what trains/stocks they have behind their screens, then multiple the number of each to the score that colour hit during the game. The player with the most points wins. It's so simple, so easy to teach but totally scratched that stock trading economic itch.

Colony - 1 play - One of the people playing this with me called it Yahtzee meets Dominion and I don't think they are wrong. It also has a bit of Favor of the Pharaoh in it. It's a resource management engine building game where you use a lot of dice to represent your resources. Thematically the number on the die tells you what resource it represents but really you just collect sets of numbers to buy cards and add them to your tableau which either gives you more dice or lets you modify your dice so you can get the number you need to buy more cards so that you... I'm sure you get it. Each card you buy is worth points and every card can be upgraded (which requires that you roll a straight) which causes them to be worth more points and generally makes the card more effective. It's a race to a point total that varies depending on the number of players. Like Dominion, the most expensive cards are cards that do nothing but give you points. Also like Dominion, this game comes with a tonne of cards and you only play with a subset of them each game. Colony was good but not great. I was expecting more from it.

Dr. Eureka - 4 plays - this one technically comes from my kid's pile of shame, but it was my first time playing so I'm including it here. This is a really fun dexterity game that's fun for all ages. Players start with three test tubes in front of them. In each are two balls of the same colour (so three colours one in each tube). Each round a card is flipped up that shows three test tubes with the balls in a certain orientation. It's then a race for each player to try to match the pattern on the card. The player who matches it first yells out Eureka! and, assuming they were correct, they take the card. The first player to collect 5 cards wins. There's one neat rule where test tubes can be placed on the table upside down that really adds a new level to this game.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Heroclix: Mouser Mayhem Starter Set - 3 plays - Winner for the longest title ever. I've been trying to get into Heroclix with my oldest daughter for a few years now. The problem is that the game has grown so much since launch that it's a huge learning curve to jump into the game now. This starter set helps with that significantly. This set includes a simple introductory version of the full Heroclix rules. Added to that it has three co-op scenarios for playing with up to four friends (actually you can even play 5 where it becomes a one vs many game). To keep things simple the game uses tokens for the bad guys so there's nothing to click there. Also, the heroes (The Turtles) have rather simple combat dials compared to many of the modern clix we already own. They only have two different sets of stats and they each only have two different sets of powers on each dial. This makes learning the powers much easier than the standard game. Full Heroclix rules are also included for those wanting to go beyond the box. Personally, right now my daughter and I are having fun just playing with the contents of this box. Lastly, this set includes the most beautifully painted Heroclix I've ever seen.

Dogs Of War - 1 play - this one is going to be hard to describe. Players are mercenaries in the middle of a Game of Thrones like a medieval power struggle. 6 different noble houses are going to war and the players need to decide who to support each year. In each of the four rounds of the game players use their money to buy soldiers, then use their generals to assign these soldiers to battle. When assigning these players need to decide which of the noble houses to support. Each round there are three fights happening and the houses involved in each is randomised every time. After all the players are out of generals to play the battles are resolved. Players get points for being on the winning side and each house gets points. At the end of the game players, multiple the amount of influence they have with each house by the number of points the house gained during the game. In that way, it plays like many train based economic games. Really this one needs more space to explain. It's a very neat game and there's a lot more to it than I indicated here. This one's heavier than it looks and very AP prone. I dig it and look forward to playing again.

Adrenaline - 3 plays - Normally a first person shooter board game wouldn't interest me but the reviews for Adrenaline have been very positive so I decided to pick it up. What was even cooler is that the copy I got from Brimstone Games even included the Chainsaw promo card. This is a very quick very well done simulation of a first person shooter in board game form. I don't think anyone can realise just how well this works until they play the game. There's something magical about the way things work together in this game. How cool the weapons are as well as how different each plays. How simple the line of sight rules are. How they figured out how to punish people for picking on one player. Everything in this game is just brilliant. I'm loving it.

New York Slice - 1 play - I have a feeling this one is going to see a lot of play around here. It's a pizza based retheme Piece O' Cake. Each round the active player builds an 11 slice pizza. They then divide that pizza into a number of servings equal to the number of players. Then each player, in turn, picks a serving which they take and place in front of them. The person who divided up the pizza picks last. This is the very seldom used: I split, you choose mechanism. Players are trying to collect sets of pizza slices with the same toppings. At the end of the game, only the players who have the most of a set get points and they get points equal to the total number of slices there are with those toppings. To keep things interesting there are special order cards that can be collected and there are special rules for pepperoni and sardine toppings. This one is light, easy to teach, fun and still pretty tactical.  dig it.

Tales & Games: The Hare & The Tortoise - 3 plays - I brought my youngest daughter with me to the FLGS to celebrate Tabletop Day this year and this was one of many games we played together. This is a very solid kids game that is just as enjoyable for adults. The game includes basic rules for playing with kids and advanced rules for people looking for more of a game. I suggest just diving in with the advanced rules. My 7-year-old had no problem figuring them out. At the start of the game, players are randomly assigned one of the animals they want to win the race. They also pick one card from their hand to place a second 'bet' on who's going to win (yes this can be the same animal). Then players play cards from their hand trying to make it so that their animal crosses the finish line fastest. The neat bit here is that each animal moves a different way. The turtle is slow and steady, the rabbit is fast but will take a break if in first, the lamb is even faster but stops at rivers to drink, the wolf can howl causing the other animals to stop for one turn and the fox is the most balanced moving almost every round. All this movement is based on card play from the players.

So there we go, 12 new to me games played in April. How many new games have you gotten to the table?

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