Saturday, 10 March 2018

#ReducingThePile November 2017 Update

Yes I know it's March 2018. At least I'm here trying to catch up. I have plenty of excuses but that's really not the point. I just hope to catch up on these and blog more in general.

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.

I got in 12 different games November, 8 of which were new to me.

Menu Masters - this game was kindly donated by Calliope games for us to play as part of the 2018 Extra Life event and that's exactly when I played it. Based on the box I wasn't expecting much from this game but it's rather solid. It's actually fairly similar to Stefan Feld's Speicherstadt. In it players are bidding to get ingredients from four different stores in order to fill recipes. The thing is that the more players who want an item the more it costs. So if three people play on the Butcher, then the last player gets the first choice but has to pay 3 coins. After they go the next player only has to play 2 coins and so on.  It's a very solid system and works well in this otherwise light filler game.

Also, Menu Masters has one of the best first player tokens ever :D

Palazzo - this is another game that was kindly donated to our Extra Life efforts. This time from Rio Grande Games. This game is number #2 in the Alea Medium Box Series. Back when I first got back into Hobby Gaming, the various Alea series' were the be all end of all good gaming. You don't hear much about them now. Which is sad as this is a very solid abstract Euro. Players are competing to build the best Palazzo through a mixture of auction, set collection and drafting. It does some neat stuff with money that reminds me of Alhambra.

Overall I enjoyed Palazzo game quite a bit but it does feel dated. It's rather dry and the theme, well there's a theme I guess. If you dig older dry Euros you will probably dig this. I know there will be fans out there.

Leaps And Ledges - this one doesn't count as getting out of my pile of shame since it wasn't mine. This was the first game I played as part of Extra Life 2018. I walked into Brimstone and saw some friends sitting in front of this rather tall very colourful tower. They were playing Leaps And Ledges.

This is a silly, quick, take that racing game with a rather impressive 'prop' for a board. Players play cards to move their collection of rubber meeple up the tower. The thing is that if you land on someone else they leap off the tower. The game ends when one player gets all their five dudes to the top of the tower.

It's fast fun and really draws a crowd.

Kingdomino - I had heard this game was good. It won a bunch of awards include the Spiel. I knew I had to check it out at some point and Extra Life proved the perfect time. I first broke this out just for my wife and I and I think we played five games in a row. it was that good. Then we recruited two more players and played four players at least three times. Since then I've played Kingdomino many times.

This is a very easy to teach tile laying game that has a surprising amount of depth. That's really the perfect filler game combination, isn't it? You can play a game in about 20 minutes, sometimes a bit longer with AP-prone players. Gameplay is drafting tiles and then using them to build a 5x5 kingdom. Each tile has one or two terrain types and you have to connect them like dominos. Points are scored for areas of the same terrain and multiplied by special crown symbols. If I had a copy in front of me I could probably teach you to play in under 10 minutes.  I can't find anything wrong with this game.

Town Center 4th Edition - I love this game. About half the people I teach this game to hate it. I've yet to show it to someone who thought it was just okay. At this point, I like teaching new people just to learn if they love it or hate it.

I first heard about this game on the Heavy Cardboard podcast where the hosts were similarly split. Town Center is a very abstract city building game. This is probably the most abstract game I've played. In it you are drafting cubes which you are placing on a grid to represent your city growing. After drafting and placing your cubes you check to see if there is growth. This is the odd, unique, hard to grasp part of this game. If residential cubes are next to enough offices they grow. Then if commercial cubes are next to enough residential cubes they grow. Now sometimes growth is good, but other times it's bad.  Urban sprawl is not a good thing in this game and you end up losing points for every cube that ends up in the suburbs. This is a game I have a hard time explaining in real life let alone here in text so I'm just going to give up now.

Town Center makes you think spatially something that is very rare in board games. Trying to figure out how things are going to grow, how to make them grow and then getting them to grow the way you want them to is rather mentally taxing. That is what I love about the game and it's what many people hate.  There is no other game that I would suggest Try before you Buy more.

Fire In The Lake - this is another one that doesn't count for my pile of shame as it was a friends copy of the game. This is my first COIN game and I have to say I'm both overwhelmed and impressed.

We played Fire in the Lake with the full four players and I played the US and I think I spent way too many of my resources helping my Vietnamese ally. This is not an easy to learn game. Even at the end of the game, I was just starting to get used to what my faction could and probably should do. I wasn't even close to figuring out what the other factions were up to or could do. 

Despite the very steep learning curve I still had a lot of trying to figure out Fire in the Lake and I'm very willing to try this one again. It seems like the kind of game that you need to play again and again to really get the full effect of what the rules are trying to do. I was very impressed by my first COIN experience and look forward to trying others in the series at some point. 

Through The Ages: A New Story of Civilization - This game has been in the top 5 on Boardgamegeek for as long as I can remember. It has taken me far too long to actually get to play it. The main reason for this is the fact that it's a long game. A very long game. Especially when you are just learning it. By long I mean five hours plus. Even once you've learned the game it doesn't get all that much quicker. I would expect an average game to take four hours.

Despite being so long Through the Ages is worth it. This is a fantastic civ building game well worthy of its spot on the BGG top list. I would say that Through the Ages is now my number one Civ game, beating out Nations and Clash of Cultures and many other games in this genre. It's not easy to teach and it takes a long time to learn but it's worth it.

Hyperborea: Light & Shadow and Promo Set - Hyperborea I have played before and enjoy quite a bit. It's a dudes on a map bag builder that's a lot more Euro than it looks. It's a hidden gem that I think many people skipped over for the very Amethrash looking theme.

Mid-November I convinced a friend to pick up the game and after one play he immediately went searching for an expansion and some promos that I did not even realize exist. It ends up they were never sold in North America and were only available right from the publisher. Well, my friend managed to get a copy and we tried it out.

This was the kind of expansion I like. It added something to the game without changing the overall feel. The addition of ruins you could explore helped reinforce the fantasy theme as did the rules for heroes. The additional tech and new cubes were okay but didn't wow me. Overall it seemed like a decent but not a required expansion. Which is a good thing since it's so hard to find and, in my opinion, overpriced for what it is.

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