Review of Expansions for Era: Medieval Age

Review of expansions for Era: Medieval Age by Jeff Lingwall

  • Designed by Matt Leacock
  • Published by Eggertspiele
  • 1-4 Players
  • Playing time: 45-60 minutes (expect longer plays than with the base game due to increased complexity, at least at first)

The Basic Idea

When the Opinionated Gamers reviewed Matt Leacock’s Era: Medieval Age some time ago, the reaction was generally lukewarm. Two OG’s rated the game “I like it” and five listed themselves as “neutral.” Although I’d been a longtime fan of the Roll Through the Ages series, I hadn’t yet played Era when the review was published. If I had, I would probably have been in the “I love it” camp. I enjoy dice games, city building, simultaneous action, games with “toy” value that a younger child can play with regardless of the rules, and sandboxy engine building. Era combined all those elements in a pretty package, and so when I finally got on board the game received quite a bit of play.

Since its release, Era has seen three mini expansions called “Collector Sets” and one major expansion called “Rivers and Roads”. The expansions generally add more: more buildings, more ways to score points, more geometry to puzzle through for optimal placement, more disasters, and so on. I very much enjoy the additional creative space opened up by the expansions, but that space comes at the price of substantial increased complexity, at least when playing with all expansions together.

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A Review of Faza

Faza

Designed by Benjamin Farahmand

Illustrated by: Scott Chantler

Published by TheFAZA.com

Impressions (after 5 plays) by Jonathan Franklin

New FAZA Box Cover
All photos in this review courtesy of the designer

As I was about to write a review of Faza, I saw a question posed on BGG, “If I like the art of Faza, is it too similar to Pandemic or Horrified to consider?” For me, this question made writing this review easier and I decided not to rehash the rules as found in a traditional review. For a rules overview, see other reviews and videos of the game. 

Faza is of the same weight as Horrified and Pandemic.  It can be played casually or with quite a bit of planning. It is a co-op with a puzzle underpinning. That said, I feel Faza is different enough to be worth consideration.  Instead of rehashing the rules, I tried to set out what I see as the major differences, which should help you figure out if it is a game for you.

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Dale Yu: Shamans

Shamans

  • Designer: Cedrick Chaboussit
  • Publisher: Studio H
  • Players: 3-5
  • Age: 10+ 
  • Time: 30-40 minutes
  • Review copy provided by Studio H

Shamans arrived on my doorstep a few weeks ago, but it took awhile to get to the table because we have a surprisingly large backlog of new games to play right now – and because our group is taking the opportunity to play some campaign games which span weeks of our game sessions.  But, we’re always up for trick taking games, and Shamans advertises itself as a trick-taker, and so I wanted to give it a try.

Per the publisher: in this game, “Shamans try to restore harmony in a world threatened by Shadows. You’ll need to pick a side.”  That’s somewhat true, as there are some times where you might get to pick – but oftentimes, you end up on the side that you were randomly assigned to…  In this game of shifting allegiances, players are assigned to either the Shamans or the Shadows.  In a 4 player game, three players are secretly assigned to be Shamans and one player is a Shadow.

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An Interview with Smoox Chen about 150BG.con

Today in Taiwan, one of my new-found favorite board game conventions is happening, 150BG.con, and I wanted to share with you some details about it from our friend, and one of the organizers of the convention, Smoox.

This is the fourth instance of the convention, which derives its name from the cost of each of the games that will be exhibited: 150 NT$!, around $5 USD.  (Even a ticket to the event costs 150 NT$!)

Last year, I was able to play one of the games released at the convention, 矩陣謎語 (Lost in the Grids), a cooperative game where players attempt to arrange square cards in a grid such that no row or column has more than one card of any suit or number. It whetted my appetite to try more of these releases!

It’s an intriguing premise, so join us below as we hear from Smoox about the background of this 5 hour convention.


What was the inspiration for starting the 150BG convention?

3 years ago Huei from Soso Studio approached me about this convention idea because he felt that a game takes so many efforts in all aspects to be ready to be released. But there are so many cool ideas that might never see the light in the public because the designers don’t have the resources to push their designs to the next step of publication. Besides that, both Huei and I are fascinated by the “500 Yen” games commonly seen in Tokyo Game Market which roughly equals to 150 NTD. So, boom! There is the 150BG.Con. 

In looking over the release list for this year, I saw a few names of designers and publishers that I recognize, like Citie Lo (A Pleasant Journey to Neko) and Soso Games (Castle Crush, Dadaocheng).  What is the range of participants?  New voices?  Established designers? A broad spectrum?

150BG.Con welcomes designers of all sorts, but mostly those who don’t mind cutting cards, applying stickers, and folding boxes for each copy of their 150-priced games. 

It’s a great chance for rookie designers to test their game ideas and learn from this “production process.” Because they have to go through not only design and playtest, but also graphic, components (with limited budget in mind!), packaging, and promotion. It’s a practice of MVP (minimum viable product) oriented project. They can kind of have a feeling about if they enjoy “game publishing” or not. Although the scale (1k MOQ vs. 20 hand made boxers) is drastically different but the mental exercise teaches you some lessons. 

For experienced designers, it’s a good way to experiment a bit on their crazy ideas or even get some feedback on their potential future releases (by making a 2-player version or Roll and Write version). 

GeGe Game Lab preparing their 150BG.Con release, 斜槓人生
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Renature (Game Review by Brandon Kempf)

  • Designers: Michael Kiesling & Wolfgang Kramer
  • Artists: Dennis Lohausen
  • Publisher: Deep Print Games & Capstone Games 
  • Players: 2-4
  • Time: 45-60 Minutes
  • Times Played: 5

“Land really is the best Art” 

                                  -Andy Warhol

Who would have thought, an area majorities game about reclaiming nature? Apparently Michael Kiesling and Wolfgang Kramer and the fine folks at the newly established Deep Print Games, that’s who. 

The premise of the game is simple, we are helping the woodland creatures reclaim a valley that has been ravaged, nature is gone and we aim to bring it back through the placement of wooden dominos with woodland creatures on them and plants to place in the areas where our woodland friends venture. While we definitely want to help the environment, we being human beings, do still have that natural urge to do it better than our fellow competitors. 

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Dale Yu: Review of Jubako

Jubako

  • Designers: Michael Kiesling, Wolfgang Kramer
  • Publisher: Ravensburger
  • Players: 2-4
  • Age: 8+
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Played with review copy provided by Ravensburger USA

In this game, players each get their own board which represents a Jubako box – that is a special sort of bento box where meals are organized.  Jubako are normally used for New Year’s Day, but thankfully, in this game, you’ll use them every day of the year.

The jubako board has a 5×5 grid in the center with some preprintedj squares on them.  There are 12 different foods in the game, and they are scattered amongst 78 different domino tiles.  These are shuffled, and each player gets a starting hand of 2 domino tiles.  The rest are placed face down on the table, and then a display of 4 domino tiles is revealed.  There is a scoring track that runs along the outer border of the player board, and you put your marker on the 0 space to start.

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