Saturday, 31 March 2018

#ReducingThePile December 2017 Update

Still catching up on these. 

This series is a look at the new to me games I play each month. I'm trying to reduce my piles of shame, thus the #ReducingThePile tag. Each post I will share the new to me games I played each month and some thoughts about each.

In December I logged 13 game plays, of 9 different games, 4 of which were new to me. It's those 4 that I will be looking at in more detail below.

Shadow Hunters - This one was new to me but wasn't off one of my piles of shame. This was a friends copy which I played at one of the Brimstone Games game nights.

Shadow Hunters is an anime-inspired social deduction game. One of those games where you are given a role card and need to determine which other players are on your side and which other players you have to eliminate. There's more of a game here than many of these style of games. Instead of just talking at the table you roll dice to move around to different locations on the board to let you do various things like pick up equipment, attack other players and/or ask loyalty based questions. Most of the deduction is through passing cards to other players and determining their faction based on their actions. A card could say something like "if you are loyal, heal one damage" - so if the player heals you know they are loyal. Note I can't remember the actual faction names.

This was okay. I'm not a big fan of social deduction games but I did enjoy Shadow Hunters more than games like Coup or Secret Hitler. It's not one I plan on picking up.

Fields of Arle - when I bought this huge heavy box I thought I was buying the next big Uwe Rosenberg game. One of those fantastic 3-5 player euro misery farming fests like Agricola or Caverna. What I did not notice is that it's two players only. I was pretty bummed about missing that key feature of the game and due to this player limit, it sat on my pile of shame for a long time.

Then my wife and I were able to get away to London for the weekend and one of the things I packed was Fields of Arle. After having to re-arrange our hotel room so that it would fit on the table we had we got in one play and loved it.

This is a big, pretty heavy, rules-heavy euro just like the Uwe games I already love, but for only two players. Unlike the smaller two-player games like Patchwork and Agricola All Creatures Big And Small, there's nothing small about this game. It's huge. Tons of cardboard. Lots of components and one of the biggest table hogs I've seen. This really is a big farming Euro for only two players.

Ghost Fighting Treasure Hunters - we got this one for the kids for X-mas and played it for the first time X-mas morning and everyone immediately fell in love.

Ghost Fighting Treasure Hunters is a Kinderspiel Des Jahres winning cooperative kids game where each player takes on the role of a kid about to enter a haunted mansion. The goal is to get in and get out with a set amount of treasure based on the number of players. The problem is that the treasure is guarded by ghosts. Each turn players get four actions to move, attack or pick up a treasure. After each player goes new ghosts spawn. Any time there would be four ghosts in a room instead the room becomes haunted (you replace the cool ghost miniatures with an even cooler haunt miniature). Once a room is haunted players with treasures can't leave and haunts can't be defeated without help.

Players are encouraged to work together both to split up the work and to gang up on ghosts and haunts. Any time there is more than one character in a room all players roll more dice to attack so it's worth traveling at least in pairs.

This is one of the best co-op games I've played. Not just co-op kids games, but co-op games overall. This is a must have to anyone with kids and if you don't have kids you may want to pick it up anyway.

Catacombs: Sands of Time - It's worth noting that I only have the first printing of the game which appears to be quite different from the current printing. The copy I have I picked up when Geektropolis closed its doors. It was a game I was curious about but didn't want to spend money on not knowing if I would like it. Now that I've played I don't feel I've wasted anything.

Catacombs is a dexterity based, one vs. many, dungeon crawl. One player plays the DM and controls the dungeon set up, and plays all the monsters, the other players each control one hero character. The game involves flipping through room cards to represent exploring the dungeon. Each room card has you set up a game board that will include some holes in it. These holes are filled with large wooden grey disks. On the board, the GM will place similar smaller discs for each monster. Then the players will place their discs at the opposite end of the board. Then, in turn, each player will get to flick their disks in order to attack or use special abilities. Most of these also involve flicking discs. For example, a ranged attack has you flick a small arrow disc. In general, if your flick hits an opponent disk it takes damage. Most monsters only take one to destroy. After all the monsters are defeated the next room card is flipped. Some rooms are not fights but rather stores where the players can buy new equipment or a healer where they can spend money to heal their characters. Eventually, if the players continue to win they get to the final card, a boss room where there's a big boss battle.

Overall Catacombs was actually way more fun than I expected. It's not the best looking game. Almost all of the art is in black and white and it looks like the kind of stuff I drew in my high school binders, but the gameplay makes up for this. It really does give that dungeon crawl feel while being a very solid flicking based dexterity game. I'm glad I picked this one up and I'm tempted to pick up one of the newer editions to see how they've improved the game.

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