Artists: Alexandr Elichev, Josh T. McDowell, and Alvaro Nebot
Playing Time: 60-120 minutes (I’ve also seen 30 minute/ player)
Photos provided by Cephalofair Games
In December of 2017, Designer Issac Childres took the #1 spot for board games on the world’s #1 board game site, www.boardgamegeek.com (BGG), with his massive “Euro-inspired tactical combat” game, Gloomhaven. Gloomhaven knocked Matt Leacock and Rob Daviau’s Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 out of the top spot and has been holding steady since.
Gloomhaven’s first kickstarter in 2015 raised over $386,000 and the kickstarter for the second printing raised nearly $4 million! The upcoming sequel to Gloomhaven, riding on the coattails of Gloomhaven’s popularity, Frosthaven broke records for crowdfunding and raised close to $13 million! To date, over 200,000 copies of Gloomhaven have been sold. That’s a lot of people owning a lot of Gloomhaven. The game has a rating of 8.8 (out of 10) on BGG with 39,366 ratings as of the printing of this article. Over 15k gamers have rated the game a perfect ‘10.’ But does the game live up to expectations?
Well, it’s that time of year, the annual struggle to figure out what to buy a gift for the special boardgamer in your life. I’ve been on both sides of this dilemma, and trust me, it’s hard to know what to get. To try to help you out, we’ve assembled a list of gifts that you can consider.
Surprisingly, we’re not going to include any games on our list. Why? Honestly, it’s incredibly hard to know what games are already in the collection, what sorts of games are preferred (or avoided), or which games might have already been owned but traded away quietly…
So rather than focus on games, we’d thought that we’d make a list of accessories and accoutrements that can be enjoyed by gamers of all kinds. There should be links for each off the recommendations. Amazon links are affiliate links for our blog.
Designer: kino (@kino211) Publisher: [none](EN Rules, JP Rules) Players: 3-4 Playing Time: 30-45 minutes Times Played:
Let Me Off is a trick-taking game that was originally submitted to kumagoro’s “Trick Taking Party” design competition in 2017. I’ve played a handful of the games that were submitted, and this is the one that most sticks out to me (though there are several of the finalists and special award winners that I haven’t had a chance to try yet.)
The games typically are playable with little more than a standard deck of cards, and, well, it’s no coincidence that I’m posting this at a time when many people are spending time with their family or will be soon, as that seems like a good time for this one.
It’s simple. Feels folksy. And has a sliver of malevolence.
The jury for the 2017 contest awarded several types of prizes, such as a grand prize and semi-finalists, which each of the jury members voted on, but there were also individual prizes handed out by some members of the jury, and Let Me Off received recognition from Taiki Shinzawa, saying, among other things, that it was among the most eccentric submitted.
While I said it is simple, and I think you’ll find it is, any description has to begin with one of its three notable eccentric twists: each player has 3 hands of cards, and two of those you share with your neighbors -one on the left and one on the right, and the third you hold traditionally.
Before we get to my new degenerate Strike strategy, here’s a brief history of the other times I’ve tried to take the analytics approach to the childhood activities of little league baseball and gym class.
To be clear, I was certainly never in little league. I think that’s a class of play that requires try outs and skill. This was more a municipal recreational league that accepted all who asked. I don’t know what age it was, but it was just at the point where the league was letting the kids pitch on their own.
But they weren’t very good. And, well, that was my whole strategy. If I swing, there’s a chance of a strike. If I don’t swing, there’s a fairly strong chance of a ball. My young mind’s conclusion? Don’t swing. Ever. My on base percentage was great! Then, inevitably, the next batter would strike out, ground out, fly out, or get out in some other way that let down the person on first base who had tried so not very hard to get there. (A teammate eventually tried to get me to swing, betting me some baseball card I very much wanted at the time. I struck out that at bat. There was at least one foul ball to redeem for the card, but I’m still waiting on him to pay up, as he claimed he was looking the other way and missed it.)
The next time was an obstacle course. In a high school gym glass, the teacher had set up 6 or 7 or 8 stations around the gym and one at a time, he would clock us as we attempted to do 10 sets of this or 15 reps of that around the gym, one after another, and your time would equate to a grade. But here’s the thing. My class was fairly late in the day. At that point word had spread about how good a certain other classmate had done, someone who a few years later would have multi-sport Division I scholarship offers and a few years after that a Super Bowl ring. So I listened carefully as the teacher explained the time penalty for each missed rep. If one of your reps was deemed incomplete, that’s a 2 second penalty instead. Or this other one is 5 seconds. Maybe “penalty” isn’t the right word, as it was a conversion. If I did 9 reps instead of 10, I’m billed 2 seconds for the rep I did not complete.
So I did the math. If I didn’t participate or attempt any of the stations, I would have a faster time than the aforementioned classmate whose time was the envy of the students around me. This teacher assigned letter grades based on how well you did, but also graded on a curve. If I recall correctly, I got an A for running a lap around the gym and not trying.
For Strike, the “best” strategy, will vary depending upon the number of dice in the arena. (It will also vary upon your goal and what you think is “best”, but let’s assume our sole goal is winning, despite that often being secondary or tertiary.) In discussing with some friends, I’ve concluded that the best strategy if there is a single die in the arena is to hurl your dice as hard as you can at the other die the arena, hoping they both exit the box.
Introduction Living at the tip of Africa has its advantages, but getting one’s hands on the latest cardboard hotness is not one of them. If I want a game from an American or European publisher I have to wait between 2 and 5 months for delivery, and postage is exorbitant. I am one of the lucky few from this continent that makes the annual pilgrimage to Essen, but this year that did not happen, and instead we had Spiel Digital, one of the better digital incarnations of the game fairs but certainly a far cry from the real thing.
Times played: 5 so far with review copy provided by Z-Man
OK, so one of the biggest conundrums I have as a review is how the heck to review games with spoilers. Part of my is bursting with excitement to tell you all about the cool things that I discovered in the game, but the rational part of me realizes that I can’t do that – because if I told you all the secrets about the game, you wouldn’t have any reason to play it yourself! This issue hasn’t come up as much in the past with legacy games – mostly because I had been avoiding them… I had had a few bad experiences with legacy games in the past, and as a result, I had been shying away from them.
However, given the changes in my gaming life this year due to the pandemic (see what I did there), I have ended up playing a lot of cooperative and legacy games with my online group. With the help of the USPS, we managed to play My City via Google Meet and we’ve worked through a few of the Andor campaigns as well. Having such positive results, I felt like I was ready to try Pandemic Legacy: Season 0. I should preface my review by making clear that I haven’t played either of the earlier two seasons, so I cannot compare this game to those older ones.