四畳半ペーパー賽系 (Four-and-a-Half Tatami Mat Galaxy) (Revisited + Scouting Diary)

Designer: Nao Shimamura (シマムラナオ)
Artist: Yamauchi Rock Boy (ヤマウチロックボーイ)
Publisher: ハレルヤロックボーイ (Hallelujah Rockboy)
Players: 1-100
Ages: 10+
Times Played: 14 on a purchased copy

This will be a sort of review of a game I first reviewed in April of 2020. I’m writing this as an updated “review” of the game (and will skip most of the detailed rules here), but there are a few things you should know before we get started.  It is scheduled today because I helped license the game for Allplay (boardgametables.com) and they are launching it on Kickstarter on Tuesday, under the new name and theme, Mind Space.  I will financially benefit if you back it.

This is my favorite roll and write game.

At first glance, it has many of the colored polyomino tropes which pervade the space, but it separates itself from the crowd for me – both in mechanics and in theme integration.

In theme, the game takes place over 12 months of college, and for each month, you’d draw one shape in your tatami door room. The shapes you can choose from are mostly the polyominoes you would expect, but they arrive on a conveyor. There are always 5 shapes available, with a 6th as a consolation prize of sorts. Each month, dice are rolled for the five colors used in the game and assigned to certain positions of the conveyor.  At the end of the month, the shape in the 5 slot is removed, the others slide down a position, and a new shape is added to the 1 slot. 

As I think about it now, I didn’t properly couch my original discussion of the game in enough of a modern sports analytical lens. There’s a certain WAR aspect to considering the 12 shapes you’ll draw during the game. For each yellow shape I draw, I’m _not_ drawing something else. What are the best food pyramid proportions of each color? It’s not that easy of course – maybe it’s 1 yellow, 1 blue, 1 red, 3 orange, and 2 purple, and 4 green. But what happens when the reality of that hits the conveyor?

In the original review, I glossed over it, but I had a friend who thought the yellow shapes were categorically never worth drawing. I’m not involved in any of the art, theming, development work, etc. that Allplay does, but occasionally a question comes back to me. They too had a question about the yellow shapes (now green, but I’m still going to call them yellow for the purposes of this article).

So I threw all of the score sheets I’ve kept into a spreadsheet and looked at the correlations between how many times shapes were drawn, the points the player earned from them, from the bonus cards, and overall scores.

The game will always give you a way to score points – even a yellow shape which doesn’t directly provide points will cover up spaces which would otherwise subtract from your score. But when I inevitably must veer off my personal ideal course, what is the swap I’m making? How do I maximize the switcheroo. Which color will get less shapes.

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Dale Yu: Review of Detective Rummy

Detective Rummy

  • Designers: Mike Fitzgerald and Ralph H Anderson
  • Publisher: Wizkids
  • Players: 2-4
  • Age: 14+
  • Time: 60-120 minutes
  • Played with review copy provided by publisher

From the Publisher: Detective Rummy is a rummy-style card game with a storytelling element revealed in a series of seven different cases. Players take the roles of detectives vying to solve the cases and gain fame.  The story begins at the legendary Rummy Detective Agency, and each case takes you to various locations to solve a crime, including the diner with the best doughnuts in town, the cozy “Quarter to 3 Bar”, a ritzy fashion emporium, the circus, the most elite jazz nightclub in town, and more.

The cases in Detective Rummy can be played in two different ways: Campaign Mode and Case Mode. In Campaign Mode, you play all seven cases in order. In Case Mode, you can play cases 2 to 6 as standalone Detective Rummy games one at a time. Since new “Game Changer” cards are discovered in each case in different orders (if at all) each time you play, cases will never resolve the same way twice. You can play both the campaign mode or the individual cases as many times as you like.

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Dale Yu: Review of Maui

Maui

  • Designers: Gregoire Largey, Frank Crittin, Sebastien Pauchon
  • Publisher: Next Move Games
  • Players: 2-4
  • Age: 8+
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Played with review copy provided by Next Move Games, 6 plays so far

Locals and tourists in Maui are heading to the beach for a chance to find a nice spot to lay their towels and enjoy the amazing view of the Hawaiian ocean. In Maui, you want to find and place beachgoers on your sand so that they create pleasing patterns, while also placing their towels close to the ocean or under the shade of trees or umbrellas to earn the most points. However, getting too close to either of these areas is risky and might ruin their plans!

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Dale Yu: Review of Mists over Carcassonne

Mists over Carcassone

  • Designer: Klaus-Jurgen Wrede
  • Publisher: Hans im Gluck
  • Players: 1-5
  • Age: 8+
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Played with review copy provided by HiG at SPIEL 2022

The short blurb from the publisher: “Mists Over Carcassonne is a co-operative version of the well-known tile-laying game Carcassonne. Working together, you place tiles and score points while trying to stop the spread of ghosts, contain haunted ground in cemeteries, and use haunted castles to your advantage. If too many ghosts are loose on the ground or you’ve collected too few points when the tiles run out, you lose the game. If you do manage to survive three days, you can adjust the difficulty level of the game to increase the challenge. Mists Over Carcassonne includes 45 meeples in two new types and 60 tiles that match the graphics of the 2021 edition of Carcassonne, and this game includes rules for how to incorporate material in a regular competitive game of Carcassonne.”

Wait…. Cooperative Carcassonne?!  Yeah, that’s right. In this game, your team of players needs to appease the restless spirits that represent the souls of the Cathars.  Many of the rules are the same as the basic version of Carcassone.  If you are unfamiliar with the original game, it will not hinder your ability to enjoy this game, it might just take you a few more minutes to get all the rules.

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Dale Yu: Review of St Patrick

St Patrick

  • Designer: Haig Tahta, Sacha Tahta Alexander
  • Publisher: Matagot
  • Players: 3-4
  • Age: 14+
  • Time: 25 minutes
  • Played with review copy provided by Matagot

St Patrick, first released as Salvage, is a simple trick-taking game that combines the fun of Hearts with the assessment of Oh Hell and the fairness of duplicate Bridge (according to the box). Everyone starts at 20 points and takes damage over the course of play. The game ends when one player reaches 0, at which time the player with the most points wins.  In the original Salvage game, an oil tanker is on fire, and you are part of a rescue team sent to deal with it. You will take damage as you put out the fires, but before the operation begins you can salvage oil as an insurance against the costs you expect to suffer.  In St Patrick, you now compete to retain the most life points by using relics to avoid snake bites.

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Bites: Singing the Praises of One of My Favorite Games (Article by Chris Wray)

When people learn I love board games, their follow up question is often what games I’d recommend. I usually utter some combination of Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, Codenames, Azul, or any of the other games on our “Play These Games First” list from a few years ago. But these days, I find myself mentioning Bites.

Designed by Brigitte and Wolfgang Ditt, Bites was originally released in 2008 by Schmidt Spiele under the name Big Points. The game was a success, earning a Spiel des Jahres nomination that year. Nonetheless, I had never played it. But in 2019, Chad Deshon, owner of BoardGameTables, told me they were going to reprint Big Points as Bites. And when my copy arrived, I instantly fell in love.

The only problem was that my copy arrived in early 2020. So I played the game a few times, then it — like many new arrivals at that time — got put on a shelf. Opinionated Gamer Brandon Kempf wrote an excellent review at the time, with all of us giving the game positive comments. My love of the game has grown these last three years, so this article is me singing the many praises of a game I’ve come to love.

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