Saturday, 24 June 2017

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

Hollywood - Finally got to introduce this to the person I thought would like it the first time I played it.  I wasn't let down either as not only did they enjoy it but they came away with a pretty decisive win - speaking of which I actually haven't managed to win Hollywood yet and not only that but I typically come dead last.  Regardless its a bit of fun, but now that I've introduced it to everyone I wanted to I don't imagine it'll be back to the table too quickly.  There's nothing wrong with the game, of course you play games to have fun and it certainly does that - but aside from a couple of neat ideas, its basically a simple version of 7 Wonders with a movie theme.  If you couldn't afford both, 7 Wonders is by far the better game with a lot more potential in its expansions, but I'm happy to have Hollywood in the library for a stress free drafting fix.  I really like the double blind auction mechanic here, where you secretly not only select a card but also have to determine how much your willing to pay for it (spending from your earnings no less, highest earnings = winner).  If someone else happens to bid on the same card as you, there's potential for you to spend your box office dollars and come away empty handed.  It works great and creates some interesting decisions so I'm surprised I've never come across this way of bidding before.  Oh and the movie of the year awards are pretty cool too.  Worth checking out if you can find it somewhere.

Ticket To Ride Europe - I haven't played this since giving it away to my sister a good year ago so it was nice to settle back in to this classic game of trains and trek across Europe.  Inviting a player to join us, who tried it about two years ago and didn't like it was always going to be a bit of a risk - but it was one that paid off in the end.  Sometimes you just need a second game before properly making up your mind and that's exactly what happened here when he tried it again.  I managed to win overall by 1 point and a close game is always a good game regardless of whether you win or not.  However, playing Ticket To Ride again has actually cost me some money.. You see I decided after playing that if I bought the 1912 expansion it'd rekindle the magic and maybe we'd start playing it more.  Well read on below to see how that went.

Board Games Purchased This Week:

Nothing New.. Yet - If you just read above before reading this then you'll know I broke my self imposed hiatus.  I just figured a small $30-$40 expansion wouldn't hurt.  The trouble is, I didn't even buy 1912, the game I was looking for.  I had been eyeing off Karuba for a while as it seems to meet a niche that I don't currently satisfy with the library I have.  I tried Carcassonne once a few years ago and forever reason I decided it wasn't for me.  Since that one bad experience I've gone off any Tile Laying games which as a result means I don't actually own one.  Why Karuba? Well mostly its had a lot of positive reviews about being an accessible game for anyone that while filled with luck also has a bit of strategy. It just sounds fun and sounds like something that'll get played which is always most important, and I didn't mention its actually the first time I've come across Karuba for sale in Australia.  The worst part and biggest problem is I didn't even stop there.  Once you start, there's always another game you need! Ah well.. Just a few little things which I'm sure you'll see here over the next couple of weeks.  Happy Days :)

Friday, 16 June 2017

Corruption Of Waterdeep

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

Time's Up! Title Recall! - We had a board game night which consisted of about 15 casual fans aged from about 12 to 60.  We split into two groups - one group spent the night playing Codenames and Boom-o while our group only managed to play to play one game.  We were going to start with Times Up, but everyone was enjoying it so we even decided to do the optional round where you need to hold a pose for your team to guess.  If you haven't played Times Up yet, its by no means a strategy game of any sort.  It is a party game similar to many other 'guessing' type games and sure feels like something you've played before when you first start.  However as the rounds progress you continue to give clues for the same 40 cards each round until the game ends.  How exactly is that fun?  Well each round the restrictions become tighter to the point you can't speak and have to do actions, or in the case of the optional fourth round can only strike a still pose while your team has their eyes closed.  It's amazing the lingo you'll create and how some simple clue can turn into the longest answer, and for anyone who stops for a look late in the game they'd be completely lost to the point they'd think everyone else was cheating.  It's deceptively a brilliant party game and one highly recommended for a light night with friends.

Scoundrels of Skullport - I can't remember exactly when I purchased this expansion to Lords of Waterdeep, but as much as I've often heard how much better it makes LoW for the most part it's been sat on the shelf untouched.  It just seemed pointless to add as I was still enjoying LoW and didn't really feel the need to complicate it and add in a bunch of new rules etc.  Well I was wrong.  It happens from time to time and I've no problem with admitting that we should have added Scoundrels of Skullport a while back.  Its the exact same game, but improved upon in basically every way!  This isn't an expansion that completely changes the base game, it merely gives what's already there so much more life.  Decisions are far more weighted, Intrigue cards were played every round multiple times and the corruption! How good is the corruption mechanic!  Its just ever so tempting to think okay I can afford to take one as I'll be able to lose it later, only to find a couple rounds later you have 5 of those pesky blue skulls sitting at your tavern!  If you like LoW then I'd highly suggest getting the expansion as it just makes for an overall better game, with new cards, new lords, new quests, new action locations and new rules that can literally be learnt in two minutes.  The game doesn't become complicated but your strategy certainly does as you can accomplish so much more.  We really enjoyed this expansion and will most likely include it for all future plays.  There is two expansions in the box, but they are minor enough that you can include both on your first play and I'd be very surprised if anyone thought Waterdeep was better without the Scoundrels!

Board Games Purchased This Week:

Doing Well - Two weeks in a row with no new purchases and got to try a new game (albeit an expansion) that I've had on the shelf for months.  Plus there's a few end of financial specials getting about so I'm pleased I've mostly been able to refrain from purchasing (okay there might be one or two games coming in the mail shortly..)

Friday, 9 June 2017

Time On Mars

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

Terraforming Mars - My newest game, and since I said I wasn't going to be buying any games for a while and broke my own pact, this game was always destined to be played right away.  Two separate nights of Terraforming Mars, two different results.  The first night I take full responsibility as I didn't read the rules clearly enough.  We/I made the huge mistake of thinking you could each only do one or two actions every generation and as a result about 2/3rds through the game we decided to not only stop producing (had run out of cubes), but we also weren't taking cards.  The game dragged, and money and cards seemed worthless.  I don't think anyone was having a particularly good time - but I knew I must have made a mistake somewhere.  A game this highly rated couldn't turn dull half way through the game.  Even with this huge error, I saw the potential and knew if I could figure out what we were doing wrong, there was still a lot of hope for mars and most specifically Terraforming Mars.  After a bit of research I found out that the mistake we made was somewhat common with groups who were all playing for the first time.  With the problem realized and fixed, we decided to come back a second night to properly play the way the designers intended.  Ahhh.. what a difference!  Everything had weight and meaning now.  Our second play through went a lot smoother with the only negative being almost a three hour game for three players.  I lost by one point based on a silly error on my very last turn - but it didn't matter.  We all enjoyed it and will definitely play again.  However, the time factor is a bit of a killer here.  I find it hard to get long games like this played often, and am hoping that the soon to come expansion with its two boards fixes this.  A side of mars that plays quicker, with faster win conditions to bring Terraforming Mars to a 1.5-2 hour game would really put this in the Must Buy category.  As it stands now its certainly one worth giving a go, and if you have the time and friends to spend a few hours together to play with - it might just become a new favourite.

Board Games Purchased This Week:

Nothing - Back to the quest to conquer more of my non played games before buying more.

Friday, 2 June 2017

One Giant Step For Mankind

This was a quieter week of board gaming while we are on a small hiatus from our T.I.M.E Stories expeditions.  We haven't set a length yet and while we are all itching to explore the Prophecy Of Dragons, we feel it'll serve us better in the long run so not to tire out the explorations.

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

Hollywood - After finally trying this game last week, this week I got the chance to introduce it to some new players.  All fans of 7 Wonders, Hollywood was enjoyed for a bit of a different twist on the card drafting genre but unanimously agreed upon that the aforementioned is the better game.  Is it worth owning both? Most likely not.  7 Wonders with its expansions come together to create an epic fast played game, where as Hollywood is more a lighter fun distraction.  There are a few nice additions including a well thought auction mechanic (most likely in other games but this is my first introduction to doing it this exact way), and of course the movie of the year award which does actually feel nice winning.  Unfortunately I'm not the best at Hollywood and finished third (out of four), but enjoy it enough that there's still one or two more people I'd like to introduce it to and can imagine the odd play in the months to come just for a bit of simple fun and variety.

Codenames - Last time I played Codenames I really felt like I failed.  Originally I considered myself half decent at this game but with my last few sessions I'm beginning to question my ability to string 3-4 word clues together.  Luck of the draw has a lot to do with this, yet somehow if your clever enough there should almost always be a way to work around this. Somehow I managed to be on the winning team for most of the night, but I can't take the credit for it this time.  People ask me about Codenames Pictures and I can't actually comment as I've never tried it. My personal thoughts are that while it may be as clever, I'm happy playing the original and feel no need to venture any further with any variations. For now anyway..

Board Games Purchased This Week:

Terraforming Mars - OK. I caved. Terraforming Mars has been sneaking its way to the top of the BGG charts and currently sits in the top 10 placed at position 8.  I haven't yet had the pleasure of taking the journey to Mars, but have read enough reviews, thoughts and impressions to think that this is a game I'd enjoy.  This week I had the opportunity to buy Terraforming Mars for $70! For those in Australia, I'm sure we'd all agree that is a bargain.  So as much as I want to show the rest of the library some love - sometimes you have to make the most of the opportunities your given! The biggest complaints with this game tend to be the poor quality components and the artwork.  If that's really all you can complain about in a game and it ticks all the rest of the boxes - I'm fairly confident I could be playing a new favorite of mine very shortly!

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..