Last month, I started a new series on my BGG blog where I post five games I enjoyed playing in past month. This new series come towards the end of the month or the start of the next month, and I’ll limit it to just five titles. I play a decently equal combination of old and new games, so it’ll be a nice discussion of the classics and the recent hotness. For this month only I’m posting it to the OG, in part because I was supposed to write a full review for today but fell behind after a fun-filled weekend of TurtleCon (a local weekend gaming retreat held this year in southern Missouri), and in part because this month has more new titles than I normally discuss.
What I Enjoyed Playing – February 2018
Age of Steam
This Martin Wallace classic has been on my mind a lot lately. Next month, in Kansas City, there will be a Age of Steam-themed weekend for the game’s enthusiasts. I can’t wait: an entire weekend of one of my favorite games!
Few games have the deep tension and interesting choices of Age of Steam, and I hope this is still hitting my table decades from now. I’ve never had a bad play, even if I have had games where I played badly and went bankrupt!
I was never as enthusiastic about Orleans as the rest of the hobby, but I still enjoyed it. Altiplano takes a lot of the characteristics of that previous bag builder, but I think I prefer Altiplano, which captures my attention more. I like the resource management and conversion side of the game, especially the storage mechanic, and I think the theme (and artwork) are fun, even if gameplay makes little thematic sense.
All in all, Altiplano is one of my favorite Essen 2017 releases. If you liked Orleans, I bet you’ll like this, and if not, this is probably still worth a try. Renegade should be releasing it in the US in the next few months.
Column of Fire
I have a full review coming in the next few days, but my groups and I have been enjoying this latest game based on a Ken Follet novel. I’m a huge fan of the book series — Pillars of the Earth is one of my favorite books of all time — and the games have won me over as well.
This game has a genuinely unique feel, and I’m not sure how to best categorize it. The game is nominally classified as worker placement, but it is really more about card drafting in my opinion. You don’t need to know the book at all to play and enjoy the game, and in fact, I don’t think the game captures the book particularly well. But the gameplay is cool, and this might have the single most beautiful game board I’ve ever seen.
When I read the rules, I wasn’t convinced that The Mind would work, but it does, and it is laugh-out-loud and exceptionally tense fun. In short, there are 100 cards in a deck, and the game is played over 8 or more rounds. In a given round, players get that many cards, so for example, in the fourth round players get four cards. The players must — without regard to taking turns, and without communicating — play the cards down in ascending order. The game is all about timing: if somebody just played the 35, and you hold the 37, you need to play it quickly, but if your next lowest card is 70, you should hold back a bit. You get a set number of “lives,” and you can earn more, but this is a challenge, and we haven’t beaten it yet. It harkens a bit back to “The Game,” also published by NSV.
This is going to be one of divisive games that is loved by part of the hobby and abhorred by the other part, with no middle ground. Either way, I HIGHLY recommend trying it, because it is a genuinely cool exercise.
I’ve been on a bit of a social deduction kick, but when is that not the case? Werebeasts has been a bit hit, and I recently wrote a full review on this site. As I put at the end of that review, “We’ve had a ton of fun collecting Werebeasts, and if your group loves social deduction games, I expect they will too. When I update my list of favorite social deduction games this year, Werebeasts will certainly make the cut.”