I am just catching up with the world of Keyforge, having recently just reviewed Age of Ascension, the second cardset for the game. Before I’ve even had a chance to grow weary of my initial four decks, I find that my tardiness to the world of Keyforge has once again put me behind the eight ball as decks for the next expansion have arrived on my doorstep!
I’m writing this up from the registration line of BGGCON this morning, the convention’s first time at this new hotel -now outside of the DFW airport (again), and after an afternoon and an evening, it’s already been a nice change, as you can walk outside to nearby restaraunts and the views are, well, not of endless tarmac.
One of the other features is that it is connected to via an underground tunnel to the Amtrak station. I mean, when you arrive by train, the hotel is right there!
The hotel is…large. I’ll talk more about it tonight, tomorrow, on Twitter, and all week. But this is a post about the second time we took the train to BGGCON so that we could play train games aboard the train.
Just got home from a fantastic weekend of gaming (Thursday evening through Sunday afternoon) with friends… enjoying a truckload of new games straight from Essen. (OK, so not really a truckload, unless it was a small hand truck being pulled by a guy on a moped. Still, 32 new games isn’t a bad weekend – especially when you get to play them with great people.)
Here’s my ‘hot takes’… organized by day. (Disclaimer – the majority of these are based on one play, though under excellent conditions with experienced gamers and a rules teacher who had read the rules ahead of time and/or played the game previously.) There are some thoughts about games I didn’t get to play at the end as well.
Welcome to the 2nd edition of Opinionated Drinkers. Now that fall is here it’s time to break out some darker, warming beers like stouts and porters. It’s also the perfect time to stay inside and play a game or three, what with it getting dark so early and all those Essen releases just crying out to be played.
NOVA LUNA, PAIRED WITH TOTAL ECLIPSE PORTER (BREWMASTER JACK, MA)
I’ll be writing a full review of Nova Luna soon, and Brandon gave you a preview a couple of days ago, so I won’t go into too much detail other than to say I am enjoying the puzzle aspects of this one and I am very glad I picked it up. It paired well with the rye porter. I am not a big fan of rye flavor in general, but it’s subtle here, and the roasty flavors balance it out. I may have also been singing Total Eclipse of the Heart during this play because I might still know all the words, but I’ll never admit to that.
THE BLOODY INN, PAIRED WITH SHALLOW GRAVE PORTER (HERETIC BREWING, CA)
We always play a thematic game on Halloween while handing out candy. For the past couple of years we’ve played Halloween for obvious reasons, but this year we decided to go with The Bloody Inn, since we had a perfectly-named beer to go with it. This game from 2015 is a card-based strategy game. You and your fellow players are farmers turned innkeepers whose business plan is to kill off your guests and steal their money; the player who steals the most money wins the game. You can read more about it in our initial preview of it here.
The Heretic Shallow Grave Porter was delicious. It was roasty, with a bit of a coffee flavor and just a touch of sweetness. It was definitely a treat.
ARKHAM NOIR CASE #2: CALLED FORTH BY THUNDER, PAIREDWITH CRIME (STONE BREWING, CA)
As a kid I played a lot of games solo, even though that is not how they were meant to be played. As an adult I can usually find someone to play with me, but I am often drawn to games with a solo option. Arkham Noir is a game designed only for one player. You can read my review of the original game here. Case #2 has the same mechanics, but adds a new story, new victims and a new twist. I’d been meaning to give it a try, and needing one more game for this post was the perfect excuse. The game holds up well and is still an enjoyable solo experience. It’s made even better by Yves Tourigny’s great art. Someday I’ll win this one on the harder setting.
The beer was interesting. It’s an ale with peppers, aged in bourbon barrels. I could taste the bourbon, but it wasn’t overly boozy, and the peppers added a little bite, but not too much. (I am an absolute wimp when it comes to hot peppery spices). It was a good beer to sip while pondering how to solve the murders.
I’ve got a few beer and game pairings in mind for my next post, but I’d love to have suggestions if you have any. I live in Massachusetts, so beers available here or nearby are most appreciated, but I will be travelling to Ohio, North Carolina and California over the next few months, so any recommendations there are welcome as well.
So last year, we did a fun thing where we asked our writers to give short comments on games as they play them, and many of our readers felt this was a great way to read about the games. These comments are often made after their first play – sure, this isn’t a great experience base to write a review, but sometimes seeing what people think about them in a rapid fashion still can help. So, here are our quick thoughts, hopefully alphabetized correctly. We plan to post this a few times during November/December, and unlike last year, we will try to continue aggregating these one-liners in a single piece. To help you distinguish what is new, any older comments will be in italics and the newest ones will be in a regular font. The most current set of comments was published Sunday November 17 – it’s starting to get quite long – I think it’s around 34 pages in my wordprocessor, with almost 300 game comments — I expect a large addition in the coming week as BGG.con happens this coming week!
I have a lot of games. A lot of games that are on my shelves, or on my table being played, that I have told myself that I want to review at some point. For one reason or another, this doesn’t always happen. My goal here on The Opinionated Gamers is that I want to get about one review out per week, but I’d like to write about more games. So I’m taking a page out of Patrick Brennan’s playbook, and we’re going to start writing about games in threes, in snapshot form. This should be a good way for readers to get to know me and my gaming tastes a bit better, and also another way for me to talk about games that I maybe don’t really want to dedicate two thousand words to. Welcome to Three Games.
Autumn Tokyo Game Market, which I may occasionally slip up and refer to as “Fall”, is happening next weekend, while I’ll be at BGG.CON. Thankfully, that means I’ll miss the last few days of announcements and updates, lest I find even more titles to become enamored with! I’m going to cut back and narrow what I pick up, as I still have a bit of translating and playing to catch up on, but I suppose that shouldn’t stop us from taking a look at some of the titles that I’m looking forward to trying, tracking in the distance, or simply happy to know exist.
Some of these you may be able to find for sale at Pax Unplugged in a few weeks (look for Big Cat Games’ booth; they should also have Hiktorune and Desktop HEBOCON Battle Kit). Others will be able available to play in the “First Look” area there.
I can now finally tell you about one of the more exciting meetings that I had while in Essen this year – a joint presentation between Amazon and Days of Wonder.
After a lengthy period of development, there is now an Alexa skill which will teach you and moderate your games of Ticket to Ride and Ticket to Ride: Europe! https://amzn.to/2qfTTyD
The skill can also be used to get you started with your first game. When you first use the skill (though the intro/tutorial can be skipped), Alexa will take you through the set up and rules, everything from removing the shrinkwrap, counting out the right number of trains, explaining the boards , tickets, routes, etc.
Ahhhh, fall – what a great season. The air is cool and
crisp, the leaves are turning beautiful colors, and a whole crop of new games
is arriving from Essen.. It’s also the
season of one of my favorite game conventions, Lobster Trap. Lobster Trap is a small, invite-only con held
just north of Boston. It started out as a large group of friends getting
together to play games in one friend’s art studio for a weekend and has morphed
into a 4 day, 90 person con in a hotel ballroom.
I was able to attend for three of the four days this year. Over the course of those days I played a total of 15 games (14 were unique plays) with 22 different people. Of those 15 games, 10 were new to me and 3 were games I had only played once. Here are some of my highlights.
Bob, Mark and I pulled out Maracaibo. Mark and I had given it a play the weekend before, which helped us learn it and made it easier for us to teach to Bob, since the rules are mostly clear but a little scattered. The game has a lot going on, so that’s somewhat understandable. I am really enjoying this one. We’re playing the story arc; we repeated the first chapter to catch Bob up; since much of the set-up was randomized, it didn’t feel repetitive at all, since so many elements were a little different. The rules provide a good description of how to save out the story cards, leaving the game playable in one-off mode for others. I’ll be writing a full review of this soon, so stay tuned for that.
I am a big fan of trick-taking games, and with some positive buzz on this one from some of my fellow Opinionated Gamers I was really excited to give it a try. It did not disappoint. All players are working cooperatively to complete the mission, which is a card or cards that have to be taken by a particular player or players, potentially in a particular order. There is very limited communication, so you are relying on the card shark skills of your fellow players as well as a little bit of luck. My copy is already on its way from Amazon.de, since I don’t think I can wait for the English edition to play it again.
I played a pre-release copy of this way back in April and I thought it was a fun, innovative game. For some reason I promptly forgot all about it, so I was glad to give it another try and see if it held up. It definitely did, and I will be picking up a copy. We didn’t play with the new expansion, so I cannot comment on that.
AZUL: SUMMER PAVILION
I am not a big fan of Azul in general; both of the previous versions are fine, but not something that I would seek out to play. In my opinion, this is the best of the three and I enjoyed the puzzle aspect.
ERA: MEDIEVAL AGE
I was curious to try this twist on Roll Through the Ages. It keeps some of the same elements and format, but adds 3d buildings, which lends a bit of a puzzle aspect to your planning. I enjoyed it enough to play it twice.
One of the best games that I played was Promenade. Players are art dealers, buying paintings from galleries to display in museums. It is a creative deck builder, and I really enjoyed. It has a limited printing, but it is my understanding that it has been picked up by a bigger publisher.
As always, the highlight of Lobster Trap were the people. I am so glad that I managed to get a game in with the people that I did, although there is always that feeling of disappointment about all the people I didn’t get to play with (but there’s always next year!). I say it all the time, but I am always thankful for the boardgaming hobby for giving me so many amazing friends. Whether I am sitting down to play with my closest friends or am playing with people I know more casually, I always have a good time. Boardgamers as a whole are a fabulous group of people, but the people that attend Lobster Trap are particularly special.
Spending time with friends was even more on my mind this year with the passing of my friend Adam Smiles. Adam was one of the organizers of Lobster Trap, and most years my first game of the con would be with him. You were missed, my friend, and you were remembered at every table.
Many other games were played. I also played Coloma, Deep Blue, Black Angel, Tajuto, Kerala, Babylonia, Teotihuacan Expansion, The Taverns of Tiefenthal and Humboldt’s Great Voyage.
Maracaibo saw a lot of play, as did Deep Blue, Hadara, Yukon Airways, Babylonia and Krass Kariert. Some older games saw some time at the table, too – I spotted tables with Terraforming Mars, Eclipse, Ticket to Ride, Everdell and Power Grid, to name a few.
We’re still in the middle of an unrelenting desire to explore Terraforming Mars which has seen it hit the table twice a week over the last month. Meanwhile a second Gloomhaven campaign has started, with different characters, to keep the good times rolling.
There’s a ton of quality in this selection of new games, all with high ratings. One needs to remember times like these for we set a pretty high bar here and I’m sure the dross of Essen will soon be cluttering the gaming table. Let’s hope for some rays of goodness among the too-many-games-being-released-in-hope drizzle!