Friday, 26 May 2017

Finding Marcy

Here's What I've Been Playing This Week:

Hollywood - I've owned this kickstarted game for a fair while now. I actually bought it off gumtree and didn't back or even know about the kickstarter campaign, but when I bought it about two years ago it was still in brand new condition.  Everything was punched, but all the cards etc were still in order and it was clear Hollywood had never been played.  That's the way its remained, sat on the shelf amongst my pile of shame, its second owner in its almost four year life and still no one was willing to play it.  I'm not sure what it's lack of appeal was or why it had been relegated to the bottom of the pile, but this week I finally decided I would give it some love before I moved it onto a new owner.  That was until we played it and realized it's actually a decent game!  Not amazing, but picture a simpler version of 7 Wonders, with a movie theme that works and makes sense and you'll have a general idea of how this game plays.  With Oscars, high profile stars, producers and big box office hits - Hollywood actually has an excellent foundation for an enjoyable game, albeit with a few shortcomings with a couple of the rules.  With the use of real stars, directors and film studios, Hollywood could have a lot of mass appeal.  As it stands today it'll never be a favourite but I'm looking forward to introducing it to some new players and play counts.  Expect to see some more on this game shortly.

Welcome To The Dungeon -  Inspired by enjoying the above game off the pile of unplayed games, I decided to try another.  Welcome To The Dungeon hasn't been in the library for too long, but it didn't look to be played any time too soon. Our first try was just with two players and while we got a feel for the game, it was just OK. I'd expect play count had a lot to do with this, so again will return to the dungeon when I have 3 or 4 players to try it with.  I like the artwork, small box, easy rules and bluffing/sneaky elements of the dungeon so am sure it won't be too hard to bring this out again shortly to see if the fuss was worth the hype.

Fugitive - I didn't get a chance to continue playing through the different 2 player games in the library, but I did get to sneak in a couple games of Fugitive with another new player.  I escaped as the fugitive but lost as the marshall with one hideout to go. I should have guessed two on the last turn but decided it was a bit too risky.  In hindsight I would have won, but that's what makes the game more enjoyable! Might be easier playing as the fugitive?  Really need to add the events in and see how it changes things.

T.I.M.E. Stories: The Marcy Case - We've endeavoured to have weekly sessions of Time Stories, because we've enjoyed getting into the stories and also because it helps when you can remember what you've learnt each run.  For various reasons this hasn't really worked out and its often been 2-3 weeks before we've been able to sit down for the next run and by this time minor but important details have always been forgotten.  We were pretty sure this has been costing us and angering Bob, so we decided for the first time to try back to back sessions.  Mission accomplished.  It was our 3rd run through which seems to be fairly standard, but on the third play we managed to do everything with plenty of time to spare.  I'm not convinced this was the best way to enjoy the game as it did feel pretty rushed, but getting a winning result and solving Marcy's Case was still exciting nonetheless! We've agreed to a short purposeful break before discovering the Prophecy of Dragons where I hope we can commit to our weekly sessions a little better!

Board Games Purchased This Week:

Still Going Strong - Two previously unplayed games finally got some attention, completed another Time Stories Scenario and I didn't buy any new games.  As I've mentioned things could be like this for a little while to come still..

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Two Player Quest Continues

Here's What I've Been Playing This Week:

Escape: The Curse Of The Temple - Always a crowd pleaser so I decided to pull this out when playing with three players fairly new to board games beyond Monopoly and Cranium.  Not only was it a hit, but we actually managed to win on our second play (which for those who haven't played is a decent achievement), and definitely boosted morale for the night!  Did pick up on a few minor rule 'misinterpretations' while we were playing, but to be honest I didn't care so much as everyone got really into the zone while dice rolling through the temple.  The soundtrack is often what hooks people, and when those gongs start chiming the pressure is on! Definitely some intense fun to be had playing Escape.

Codenames - We followed our Escaping with a few rounds of Codenames.  For some reason it wasn't my night and I struggled to connect with my team giving us an overall loss after 3 rounds.  I take full responsibility for some dud clues but still as always Codenames is an easy one to explain, play and everyone always thinks they can do better.  I on the other hand knew my limit and decided to quit before we really embarrassed ourselves!

Incan Gold - The last game we played on the same night as the previous two, and once again I wasn't playing well.  Two games of Incan Gold and I ended up with no gems in my tent on not one but two games.  Yes, I push my luck too much, but once you lose a few rounds it feels like you need to come up with a big one to get back in the game.  Just had some poor luck, but again it didn't matter as its just nice introducing a few new games to some people I don't normally play games with.  All three games we played were enjoyed by everyone and they struggled picking a favourite (all three got votes..) so I'd say it was a successful night all around.

Time Stories: The Marcy Case - Our first run through of The Marcy Case didn't go well for two reasons.  First, we lost.  It's expected, but I felt like we made some really good progress through this story and unless there's a few twists to come, it actually feels like we've got a decent chance of winning on our next try.  But the main reason it didn't go as good as I had hoped was the fact that I introduced a new player to the game who really didn't enjoy it.  It's bound to happen sometimes, but generally I've been lucky matching games to the people I'm playing with but in this case I totally misjudged incorrectly.  I tried the whole game to get them involved, making decisions, reading the text etc but it was doomed from the start and was a bit of a fail.  Regardless the three of us who played through Asylum had a good time.  My first thoughts (which I don't think is a spoiler) is that The Marcy Case is a good follow up in the Time Stories world, but its not as unique or original in the story.  There also seems to be a lack of puzzles and it played out fairly straight forward.  More action, less thinking, but still a good time.  Hope to beat it this coming week!

Mr Jack Pocket - The jury is still out on the pocket edition of Mr Jack.  The way it plays tends to lead itself towards being more of a puzzle than a game.  That's great for some I'm sure, but my thoughts are still a bit mixed.  I'll have to play it a few more times to get a better gauge on things but it seems a bit easier to win as Mr Jack, and once you figure out the formula for the puzzle it makes it pretty tough for the inspector to win.  In a way that is a bit of a positive as it's got me more excited to play the inspector and come up with a plan/strategy to counter what we keep doing as Mr Jack.

Fugitive - I didn't mention it above, but play these two games is a continuation of getting my article rating 2 player games in my collection.  I think I have 9 - not that many, but 2 player games are very important for a lot of board gamers as they can be the easiest ones to find time and people to play with.  Fugitive is sitting pretty high on the list at the moment.  Anything can happen, but it just plays well with simple rules that make sense.  The style adds to it a bit, but we've gotten past the art and play more with the mechanics mostly forgetting there is a lose story going on in the background.  It doesn't matter though as the mechanics of Fugitive are pretty strong.

Board Games Purchased This Week:

Nothing - And this time it really is nothing - not even a kickstarter! Not sure how long I'll be able to keep this up as it hasn't really had the desired effect of allowing me to play other games, but I'll give it some time just to be sure.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Things Are Looking Gloomy

Here's What I've Been Playing This Week:

Lords Of Waterdeep: This week started with a game of Lords Of Waterdeep. While it's been a month since we've played, it does feel like this one gets to the table a fair bit.  Not that I'm complaining at all because I will gladly play Lords any time its suggested.  It's just got that simple 'lets play again, I can do better' feel to it.  Managed to sneak out another win (80% win rate on this one), but it was reasonably close with us all within about 20 points.  Not sure there's much more strategy you can do than to just focus on collecting/completing quests that follow suit with your lord.  Towards the last round or two I may stray from that and go for the biggest point quests I can complete easiest, but feeling like I mostly do the same thing.  However, I still haven't added Scoundrels Of Skullport. From what I've heard the much loved expansion brings Lords to a whole new level and next time we play it will definitely be included - unless there's a new player or two.

T.I.M.E. Stories - Asylum: Hope this isn't too much of a spoiler, but realistically the first scenario is designed so you can't really do more than three runs through.  It's still always possible, but I imagine would be very rare for someone to complete a fourth run.  So it comes as no surprise that on our third run through we completed the first scenario of Time Stories and unravelled the mystery of the Asylum.  For the most part I really enjoyed my time at the Asylum, and it wasn't until the 3/4 through the 3rd run through that we realized what we had been missing not only for most of this game, but a good portion of the last time we played.  Something so simple that we overlooked cost us needless time going through the whole building and caused a bit of frustration for our group.  Once we realized our error, we didn't care and luckily were able to move on and complete the story - even if we finished dismally with a score of 4.  Yep it was pretty bad, but we feel confident of what to look for when we start the Marcy Case next and hope we can perform a bit better for Bob!

Jaipur: It's been sometime between games of Jaipur, but I've recently decided to do an article on my games designed for only 2 players.  Still a ways off that article being written as first I need to revisit all my 2 player games to be able to accurately compare them.  To kick start things we decided on a couple games of Jaipur.  This weeks play was not as amazing as I initially remembered Jaipur to be.  It's still a tidy, neat looking package of a game that can be very enjoyable - but as I've added others to the collection I don't rate it as highly as I once thought of it.  We'll see where it ends up once I've played through them all though.

Lost Cities - The Card Game: As above, another two player game on the quest to rate all the ones that I own.  Two quick refresher games turned into seven, most of them being played in around 8 minutes.  Quick to play, easy to learn, but with some frustrating choices to make!  Nothing worse than playing your 10 only to draw a 9 of the same expedition.  With a decent amount of Hand and Time management, Lost Cites will most likely see itself land above Jaipur in the rankings.  If you enjoy two player games, I'd be extremely surprised if Lost Cities wasn't a hit with just about anyone.

Board Games Purchased This Week:

Pretty Well Nothing - I've said this a few times only to be drawn in by a good sale, or a shiny new game.. But this time I think I might actually mean it. I'm curbing back my purchasing as my pile of unplayed shame continues to get higher and higher.  If I add in games I've only tried once it's actually almost depressing how many games I have yet to properly play.  So this section could be blank for a few more weeks yet to come.  Technically however I did purchase one game, I'll just be waiting a while for it to arrive..

Friday, 28 April 2017

Finally Another Chance To Get My Rage On!

Here's What I've Been Playing This Week:

Boss Monster with Tools Of Hero-Kind expansion: Apparently Boss Monster is a 20 minute game.  I realize we are a little slow while learning / teaching new players, but I personally think boss monster takes almost an hour to play through.  That's not a bad thing necessarily, but don't expect a quick filler as Boss Monster could easily be a lighter main event for the night.  Adding the expansion doesn't really add too much more time to the game, just a few more things to think about and a whole lot more take-that opportunities - which is good or bad depending on who you ask.  In a way with the expansion, Boss Monster shares a lot with Munchkin and your thoughts on the aforementioned will give you an idea of whether you'll enjoy Boss Monster.  I love the nostalgic NES feel to the game and will quite happily play it, but would be just as happy to play something else as well.  This weeks three player sessions consisted of two of us destroying each other allowing the 3rd player to win by default.  Killing my opponent was fun regardless!

Blood Rage: Initially overwhelming to new players, Blood Rage actually isn't as complicated as it looks.  It's a bit like a mix of 7 Wonders and Small World, where you set out through three ages to bring the most glory to your clan (I've defaulted to the Bear Clan as my go to). Along the way you'll recruit powerful monster allies, gain the gifts of the gods and happily be destroyed by Ragnarok all in the name of glory.  I love this game and in my opinion it is a Must Buy for anyone who would be able to get it to the table with their group.  It's been a struggle with ours, but this weeks 4 player session has won over a few new fans.  It took about 10 minutes to explain and a couple poorly executed turns in the first age before everyone was up to speed with a plan of attack.  With 2 new players and a 3rd who had only played once, it took us about 2.5 hours to play through.  Now that everyone understands the basics I'm hoping for another opportunity to return to Valhalla in the near future and estimate it only taking 2 hours next time.

Board Games Purchased This Week:

Welcome To The Dungeon:
I keep telling myself that I'll stop buying board games for a little bit so I can firstly try all the games I actually own, and more importantly get to know my games properly before moving on to the next shiny new one.  Needless to say - it doesn't really happen.  This one was easy to justify.  It was inexpensive, small and it looks to be one I'd easily be able to play with a few of our groups.  I don't know a whole lot about Welcome To The Dungeon but think I get the basics and it seems like it could be a bit of fun before moving onto something else.  Besides, they recently released a sequel so it must be half decent?

I've posted this stock photo once before.. but how good do these miniatures look!

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Two Of My Smallest In The Library

A double entry into the weekly recap as I wasn't able to post anything over the easter weekend (was in Sydney!).  I'll get straight into it..

Here's What I've Been Playing The Last Two Weeks:

Mr Jack Pocket:  Spoiler alert for the board games purchased this week.  I finally own an edition of Mr Jack.  Until these last two weeks I'd actually never played any edition of Mr Jack, but had heard some decent things about it.  Mr Jack Pocket edition plays along like a puzzle more than a mystery/deduction game and I found it to be a reasonably achieved effort of a quick game to take anywhere.  From what I gather, while it uses the same 'Mr Jack' name as its counterparts, the other two editions are actually quite different.  For my tastes, I'm thinking I would have been better off with the non pocket sized travel edition but can still see myself occasionally pulling this out for some quick puzzle fun.

T.I.M.E Stories - Asylum: Our second run through - and our second failure.  We took too long in between plays and as a result I think our lack of good memory cost us this game.  Our plan was to try and rush and just go to areas we didn't previously explore, but we forgot about things we actually needed to do to be able to properly explore which unfortunately cost us a fair bit of time.  I still loved it as much as the first time I played and desperately want to solve the case.  One member of our party unfortunately feels the opposite and will need some convincing just to finish which is a bit of a shame.  Each to their own!  Oh and we also think we got right to the end but couldn't actually figure out how to advance the game.. Hopefully it makes a bit more sense when we aren't as rushed in the third play through!

Dead Last: I either had this built up too much in my head or Dead Last works far better on paper than actually playing the game. I love the concept and figured this would be a funny, fast paced game of deception, collusion and being sneaky - but it didn't live up to my own hype.  Tried this with a new gaming group (9 Players), and while we got through a whole game the excitement only seemed to last through the initial round.  I can't really put my finger on it, but it felt repetitive, you had a good idea when to ambush as any time people had a lead they became a target and it just wasn't as fun as I hoped.  Dead Last actually nearly killed our gaming night, but we were thankfully saved by...

Ultimate Werewolf:  So after the aforementioned game fell flat, peoples moods had drifted from games.  This was actually almost a bit of a hard sell to get it started, but we played about 7 or 8 rounds before realizing it was actually getting pretty late.  Ultimate Werewolf is the game that I've not only played the most but its the game I've played with the most number of different people.  I'd say I've easily played this with 80 different people and I'm still yet to come across someone who actually hated the game.  Everyone likes it and most people seem to love it.  The #1 go to game for a decent sized group that I own in my collection and I highly recommend it.  I should mention - I've never actually tried One Night Ultimate Werewolf.  I'm sure its good, and maybe its better than the original, but I'm sticking with the tried and true.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Escape: The Curse Of The Temple: We had some friends newer to the board game scene, and this was the first game I decided to show them.  10 minutes, frantic, fairly easy to understand and of course some good fun.  I'll admit after a dozen or so plays I found Escape started to lose a bit of its appeal and we had worked out a method that seemed to work most of the time.  I bought an expansion to try and fix this problem, but I haven't even bothered to learn the expansion let alone try it.  After this session which actually was meant to be one game but turned into three (and nearly a fourth..), I'm inspired to have a closer look at the expansion for next time we try it.  I had forgotten the appeal and charm of Escape and it is actually really exciting to play for the first few times.  I'm hopeful we'll see this out again in the next month with the expansion!

Incan Gold:  After Escape we turned to Incan Gold.  I love pushing my luck, so much so that I came dead last with a giant score of zero.  Yes I pushed and pushed being last left EVERY time, but after coming up empty handed the first three rounds I just had to go big for the last two.  Clearly I'm not a good gambler and should know when to give up.  Regardless, it just makes Incan Gold even more fun when someone has pulled out just at the perfect moment and can sit back and watch the demise of their fellow explorers.  Another hit for the night, but we only played the one game.

Saboteur: An oldie but a goodie. I have Saboteur 2 in the library but even though it's rated higher and generally seen as the better game - I feel like some of the charm gets lost without the simplicity of dwarves vs saboteurs that the original has.  As a result, I stuck with plain vanilla saboteur to end the night and went three for three on board game choices.  Another game that had everyone laughing, talking, accusing, fighting and having an all around good time.  Great way to cap off the night and also my only victory (we lost all 3 games of escape!), which is always a bonus.

Board Games Purchased This Week:

Mr Jack Pocket: I've always enjoyed two player games as all you need is a friend or significant other, and you've got yourself a games night.  While many games can be played with two players or have a variant to accommodate - I tend to find games designed solely as a two player experience generally work better.  Mr Jack is one I've had my eye on for a couple of years now, but I could either never find it in Australia or found it ridiculously overpriced.  That was until I found this little treat on sale.  As I mentioned above - it wasn't really my edition of choice, but I'm sure it will find it's place in the library.

Boss Monster - Tools of Hero-Kind: Recently I've tried to shy away from expansions as I've realized with the exception of a handful, I rarely get to or want to play them.  Unless you have a group committed to a certain game that you see a fair amount of play time with, expansions can unnecessarily complicate things.  Boss Monster didn't really need an expansion for me personally, however this was not only cheap to buy but it doesn't look to complicate things too much and looks like an expansion that can be combined with the original even on your first play.  Of course I haven't tried it yet to prove that, but I'm hoping I'm right..

Friday, 7 April 2017

An Old Friend Returns To The Library

The winter flu has set in and as a result there wasn't a whole lot of gaming done this week.  Also next weeks post will be delayed as I'll be away in Sydney for the Easter long weekend and plan to update after I'm home again.  So without any more delays here's:

What I've Been Playing This Week:

Lost Cities:  Sneaking up the list on my go-to two player games, Lost Cities has quickly become a favourite. It's easy to teach, easy to understand, and its a lot of fun to play!  As I've already mentioned before, its card based so expect some luck - but there's enough simple strategies involved where you feel like you can counteract the luck with some good planning.  Love the game end mechanism which is triggered once the last card is drawn.  This creates opportunities to push for a card and drain the game clock, or slow things up a bit by drawing cards you don't actually need from the discarded pile.  I'll say it again, if you enjoy two player games seek this one out!

Splendor: One of my most played games last year that I keep defaulting to for its accessibility.  I find games like Splendor are great ones to have in the library as I know they will get played.  I could almost bring this one out to play with anyone and that's what makes it such a gem of a game. After nearly 30 plays I still haven't mastered a winning strategy and generally just react to the cards that have been drawn rather than a predetermined plan. 

Board Games Purchased This Week:

Bohnanza: Last week I mentioned this game briefly, and this week it turned up in the mail.  I gotta admit my initial impressions are a bit mixed and I'm not really that excited about this one.  I only bought it as I've heard many good things about it so I'm sure once I actually play it, I'll be happy with the purchase.  When will it get played?  To be honest, I'm not actually sure it'll be any time soon.  I normally love reading through rule books which often gets me excited to try the game, but after reading the Bohnanza rule book I'm not exactly itching to play this one.

Ticket To Ride Europe: So I have previously owned Ticket To Ride, and this version to be exact.  But I gave it away and since then have been Ticket To Rideless. With some family staying here, I realized that there's still a place for TTR in the library and after looking into Rails and Sails, I decided Europe was still the best version for me to have.  Now that the family is gone it may not get played for a while, but its nice just seeing it back on the shelf.

A Random Promo Card: I had a mysterious package this week.  Inside was a couple bags of sleeves and a random promo card (pictured below).  I couldn't for the life of me figure out what it was and I was 100% sure I didn't order the sleeves or this card.  To solve this mystery and my curiosity, I turned to Instagram where I found out it was a promo card for Burgle Bros - a game I don't actually have.  Still didn't get why it came in the mail until another fellow instagrammer mentioned that it was a bonus for backing Fugitive. It all makes sense now.. Except I have no idea what to do with this card!  Guess I'll keep it in case I ever decide to buy Burgle Bros.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Weekly Recap

March finishes with a record 46 plays across 13 games.  As we head into the cold and darker winter months I'm hoping we'll have the opportunity to top that.  Also realized this month that I'm still not quite where I want to be with the board game library, as I found it a challenge finding a game for someone.  The ultimate goal of course is to own enough games that I have something to bring to the table regardless of who is at the table.  Getting close, but still a little ways to go!

What I've Been Playing This Week:

Love Letter:  It's been a long while since we've tried to get letters to the princess, but a new player in the group helped get this one out of the back of the board game pile.  Forgot how easy it is to enjoy Love Letter's simple and quick gameplay with a dose of luck and a twist of deduction.  A great start to our board game night.

Istanbul: Only my sixth play at the Istanbul bazaar so I've yet to add in either of the expansions.  Also had two players playing for the first time, so felt it wisest to keep things simple.  I do enjoy this ruby collecting game as its simple to grasp - like most games, it sounds a lot at first until you start playing, and you feel like you can have some sort of plan.  Things can change, especially when you are relying on the Tea House and other players can interfere with the market fairly quickly, but it just creates a bit more excitement at the bazaar.

Dungeon Time: Played this again with our same original group and feel we are slowly getting better.  In nine plays we've only managed to beat the training grounds, level one and this week the level one bonus - but I feel like we have made some good progress and have a system some what figured out.  Bring on level 2!

Fugitive: A couple quick plays of this two player gem.  Still haven't felt the need to include the events or try some of the variants, but feel like they may come into play soon.  Even though the game seems well balanced, I tend to think the role of the Marshal is a bit easier to win as.

Lords Of Waterdeep:  Finished the week off with a two player round of Lords of Waterdeep. Another game that I've yet play with the expansion as still very much enjoying the base game.  Expansions are great and can really add to games, but I'm beginning to feel with the amount of games in the library that I haven't been able to play as many times as I'd like - are expansions really necessary?  They have their place, but I think I have too many and in future I may just buy for games I like that have become a little stale.  As for this weeks game of LoW - I was able to add another tick in the win column with my highest ever total of 196!  It's easier to get high scores in a two player game, but was pleased to make nearly 200!

Board Games Purchased This Week:

Nothing.  No new games yet, but theres a handful on the way including an old classic I've never played..