Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve written an old-fashioned session report – my writing has been focused on reviews and stuff for the blog. When I started writing about games, it was mostly session reports posted to BGG, Spielfrieks (if you remember the good-old-days of Spielfrieks before an errant click by Snoop closed the group off and pretty much started the decline of that great mailing list), or rec.games.board.
After the first extended hiatus in a long while (5 weeks off!), the group has gotten together for 3 consecutive weeks. We did have one theme night last week (the day after the SdJ awards) where we played the SdJ and Kennerspiel winners as well as nominees and previous winners. A quick recap of the titles that hit the table in that time span and some short notes on them
- Bruges – played this again for the first time since the Gathering. I still really like this, though not quite sure if I love it. It is definitely my favorite of the recent crop of Feld games as it hits the sweet spot for me on game length and game weight.
- Castle Dice – a new Kickstarter game that I picked up at Origins. It has a lot of good ideas, and a butt-ton of custom dice, but I’m not sure yet where I stand on it. I have played it a few times with the kids as well, and I will write up a full review soon.
- Hanabi – we brought this back out on the day after it won the SdJ. I can definitely see what the jury saw in it, and I think it is a deserving winner of the award. But, this game falls flat for me. First, it’s too quiet of a game. While most games allow you to socialize with the other players at the table, this game discourages any conversation outside of giving clues and answering them so that you avoid giving any extra information away. Second, the individual conventions that I’ve seen many groups develop turns me off on the game (similar to Union Pacific). We decided to simply play straight up without any conventions – and we had a good time. But, I’m not a fan of a game where someone in Group A can’t play the game with someone from Group B because each has developed their own set of rules with which to play the game. On the bright side, we all enjoyed the game and put up a respectable score of 16 without resorting to any convention on question wording, card placement/orientation, leading questions, etc. We also discovered that the game is best played with the card racks from 10 Days in the USA. Those wooden racks hold the cards up just right so that you don’t have to worry about dropping them or sneaking a peek at your cards.
- Just in Time – a new-ish puzzle game from Ravensburger. Full review to come soon. The short: a really well constructed puzzle game which does not fall victim to the runaway leader problem that most puzzle games succumb to (i.e. where being 2% faster at the puzzle leads to 90% success in the game). This game has worked well with both the gaming group as well as the family unit. One of my hits of 2013 thus far.
- Kemet – a Dudes on a Map game typical of Luke’s suggestions… Honestly, not a bad game, but not my style either. We played a starter game, only to 8 points, and we lasted thru 6 rounds before I totally acted as kingmaker and let Luke win the game (by not attacking him on the final action of that 6th round). I’ve only played it once, so it would be unfair to judge it – but in that initial play, it did seem difficult to get myself out of an early point deficit. I spent the last 3 rounds of the game in what I felt was a hopeless position point-wise. I was also not a fan of the tiles that did not have consistent placement of icons. I spent much of the game continually consulting the tiles in play because nothing was in the same place on any tile.
- Kingdom Builder + expansions ½ – we played this previous SdJ winner on our SdJ theme night. It was our first chance to break out the two expansions that I picked up at Origins, and this first play was enjoyable. I discovered the power of a well placed wagon, and the new scoring Tasks made the game slightly more complex, but not so much that it would turn away a casual gamer. The new bits fit in well with the existing base game, and are a nice addition to the system. Right now, all the boards fit into the base box (sans insert), but if there are more KB expansions, I might have to figure out a different way to store it all
- Legends of Andor – another SdJ theme night game. I am not the biggest fan of co-op games, and this game gave me a “typical” co-op experience. I had a good time, got into some interesting and humorous arguments about what the group should do, and we won the scenario (barely). We played Scenario 1, and the puzzle aspect was neat in most regards, though I can see how some gamers feel that the system is limiting. Though it looks like a hack-and-slash game, it’s really a well disguised puzzle game as the goal for the group is to figure out how to solve the scenario – each time you kill an enemy monster, the timer moves forward one space – so you are actually limited in the number of enemies you can kill. The learn-as-you-go rulebook is nice, and it was a great way to learn the game. The downside is that unless you play with exactly the same players, at times you’ll be forced to repeat the beginning scenarios, and at that point, it would be really hard to not quarterback the group as you already know the solution (or it would be sorta dull watching them figure out the solution while you tried not to interfere with their learning). I’d be happy to play it again, and it was an enjoyable way to spend an evening with my friends, but like most co-op games, I never really felt like I was playing a game – either the game was playing me, or the group was playing the game for me.
- Puzzle Me! – This one fell flat. A short 5 minute game was all we got. Not sure if we misread the rules though, so one rainy day, I’ll have to pull this back out and try it. But possibly not with my game group as I don’t know if they’d tolerate it again
- Quixx – another candidate for hit of the year for me. I’ve probably played this at least 20 times since I was introduced to it at the Gathering in April. I’m writing up a review this week (hopefully). It’s a quick dice rolling game that keeps people interested because there’s something to consider on each roll of the dice for all the players in the game. Not that my group needs fillers, but this is my current filler of choice…
- Rialto – another of the Feld 2013 cornucopia. While not my favorite Feld from the year, it is probably the one I’d most likely pull out with casual or beginner gamers. (see the review from last week for more details)
- Via Appia – one of the new Queen games that I got at Origins. I still need to play this once more to write up the review. The game uses a neat physical/dexterity mechanic to distribute building pieces, and I like the fact that it is an integral part of the game and not just a gimmick. I want to play this with the family a few times as well – this seems to be a game better suited to families as opposed to the gaming group.
- Viticulture – it passes the initial Kickstarter game test – in that we have played it once and no one complained that it sucked, which has been the case with more than half of the KS games that have landed on the gaming table. Still needs another play prior to writing a review. The boys want to play it, so maybe I’ll get a different view of it when playing with them as opposed to the gamers.
- Voluspa – a re-do of Kachina. My thoughts are unchanged from the initial version of the game.
- You Suck! The only tick-taking game in my collection. It’s a simultaneous trick game with some special abilities thrown in to make it a little more complex. Not a bad effort from Mr. Alspach, though clearly not as good as Suburbia. I’m still not a fan of the scoring in the third and final round, though my inability to win this game probably shows that the problem is me (and how I am approaching the final round) than with the game…
As you can see, mostly new stuff (after all, I had just returned from Origins) though a few oldies scattered in there. This is typical for our group, though we’ll have to see how some upcoming roster changes to the group affect the game selection…
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor
I will fully accept, “It didn’t suck” as a review of Viticulture. :) (But I’m looking forward to a full review as well–thanks Dale!)