For me, Day 2 was Friday – my first full day in New York. I managed to wake up at 0630 thanks to the loads of teeny bopper girls heading out super early for their dance competition at the convention center across the street. Anyways, I was pretty excited to get down to the ballroom and start playing games, so I really didn’t mind.
As I mentioned yesterday, the ballroom was really still pretty empty on Thursday, and there weren’t many early risers on Friday. Luckily, I was able to run into TauCeti Deichmann (of Sidereal Confluence Fame) and he was willing to try out a few games.
First up was Jurassic Snack, a cute two-player only game from The Flying Games. It is a Cathala design, and has the usual amount of French randomness that you would expect. Each player has his own color of diplodocci (no idea if that is the right way to pluralize diplodoccus), and starts with one in each of the four quadrants of the board. The rest of the board is covered in grass tokens, with each having a hidden action on the reverse side. There is also a T-Rex figure which loves to eat Diplodocci which can be introduced onto the board.
On your turn, you get two actions to either move one of your Diplodocci or to move the T-Rex. The vegetarian Diplodocci eat the grass tokens, and when they do, you get to perform the random action found on the back. The T-Rex loves to eat the vegetarians. The game continues until one player has no more of his Diplodocci on the board – that player loses…
Sticking with the French theme, we next played Huns from La Boite de Jeu. This is a new resource management game where you work to be the best Hun by scoring the most victory points… In this game, there are 5 different decks of cards, and each color deck also has a supply of cubes to go with it. Each round, the start player rolls the five d3 (one in each color), and then players take turns choosing a die. When they do, they then take either a number of cubes matching the number on the die or they take cards equal to the number, choosing one and discarding the rest to the bottom of the deck. Each of the five colors has a theme – blue (equipment), red (combat like), green (merchants), black (curses), yellow (end game scoring). If you choose to take cubes, you use those to fill up spaces on cards, mostly the treasure chest cards which you can also score for points.
The game continues until one of the decks is exhausted or one of the cube piles is gone. In my first few plays, the game ends a bit earlier than I expected it to, so I’ll have to adapt my strategy. I was taking more time to play more cards to build up an engine – but that’s no good if you don’t have enough time to let the engine run! It’s a pretty quick game of about 30-40 minutes, and one I’m still exploring.
By this time, some of the OG crew had finally woken up, and we got down to the business of playing some of the new releases together. First up was Broadhorns from Rio Grande – an interesting take on the pick-up-and-deliver genre. Thematically speaking, you are a broadhorn (think huge raft) owner who starts in St. Louis with a bunch of goods to deliver down the river all the way to New Orleans. Each river town has a changing set of goods that it wants, and there is a bit of a race to get to each location first.
As you travel down the river, there is always the chance that your goods will spoil along the way, and this uncertainty does make you sometimes want to drop your goods off sooner than later (for fewer VP, of course) in order to prevent losing the goods altogether.
At any point, you can say your expedition is over, and start back at the top of the board in St. Louis. However, the interesting mechanic here is that the rivertowns also can sell you some goods, so you could try to restock your broadhorn and keep selling things down the river.
The game is timed – each time a rivertown tile is completely filled with goods that it desires, a barrel is moved onto the timer track – and those spaces fill up deceivingly quick. Our whole game, including rules, took less than 90 minutes. That length is still a bit longer than I’d want for the amount of game here, but some of the length is clearly due to this being a first game for all of us.
Next up is Mafiozoo – the re-skin of Louis XIV. It’s been forever (maybe at least eight years) since I’ve played Louis XIV, so at first it was like learning a new game. However, after playing one of the four rounds, most of it came back to me in a hurry. The bottom part of the board, the twelve characters on the desk blotter, play just like Louis XIV.
If you are unfamiliar with the base game, please refer to this excellent review by fellow OG author Larry Levy….
The big difference here is the city map in the upper right of the board. These twelve locations essentially take the place of the Mission cards – you get to place meeples onto this map using the tokens that you have collected from the blotter part of the game. You get both special abilities to be used during the game as well as VP points.
Overall, it’s a nice twist, and while there probably isn’t room for both this and Louis XIV in my collection – I no longer have LXIV, and Mafiozoo reminded me how good of a game this is, and I will likely keep this for awhile.
For what it’s worth, I will also admit that the art was very divisive. Many people liked the new art, but almost as many found the anthropomorphic animal mobsters to be a weird theme, and almost everyone felt that the art was too dark and difficult to see/read the components.
After all that gaming, time for some lunch. Interestingly enough, most pizza places here in Niagara sell New York style pizza. While these slices weren’t exactly thin and foldable, it was a filling lunch for two pieces. (My midwestern sensibilities were a bit put out at $4 or $4.50 per slice, but whatever)
After lunch, I came back to take a selfie with Steph.
JK – actually, she had promised to show me some of the great new games from Renegade, and I had been really looking forward to trying Castell – the game about the Catalan acrobats.
This is an interesting drafting game where you draft tiles of different numbers (acrobats) and you are constantly re-organizing them into different formations. Each round you have the ability to train your troupe with a special ability – which will then given you even more flexibility in your formations.
The game pushes you in two different directions. Each round, there are one or two cities with scheduled exhibitions (you can see this at the top of the game board). If you are in the right city, you can compete here for VPs. Additionally, each of the seven cities has two special tiles that are awarded to the first person to meet the requirements in the course of the game.
It’s a lot of fun, and I really like the puzzle solving nature of the stacking and re-arranging of the acrobats. Even after a single game, this is maybe my favorite Renegade release thus far…
Next up is Rob ‘n run from pd Verlag/Rio Grande, and alpha gamer proof co-operative game. Here, one player acts as the team leader for a bunch of thieves that are trying to break into safes. The leader knows which tool cards are needed to succeed, but he can only communicate with his team members via clue cards (which give really only vague clues). The other players all play cards face-down into the stack and cannot communicate with the team about what they played; therefore, it’s super hard to quarterback here without being able to talk! A heist is successful if the players are able to get the right tools into the stack of cards, but they will fail if they put too many extraneous/un-necessary cards in there instead.
It’s not a world-beater, but a pleasant enough game that works well enough.
At this point, I had had enough of new games from around these parts, and Joe Huber and others got me into some games from Japan. First up was Too many Cinderellas, one of my favorite inductive games. Then, I got a change to play Little town builders, a game from the same designer of King of Frontier. This is a super distilled game where you collect resources to build buildings and score victory points. The game is almost too stripped down to work, but it never breaks down. (I’m thinking that Joe or JaNate will review this in the not so distant future, so I’ll leave the more detailed descriptions to them, especially as I am not too sure of a lot of the details anymore)
Then, before dinner, we were asked to help out in a little playtesting for what promises to be an awesome self-guided tour of Seattle. I probably can’t give out any more details than that at this time, but if/when this goes live, I’m surely going to write about it then…
Dinner was at a local bar which advertised its many craft beers on tap. They did have plenty of beers, but good thing they don’t really advertise their food. As it’s not much to write home about…
Thanos rising was the last game of the night, a new Marvel Universe cooperative game published that USAopoly. In this game, players team up together to roll dice to try to prevent Thanos from filling up his Power Glove of Doom (or whatever it’s called) with the power stones.
There is a three sectioned board which is surrounded by Marvel heroes which you can recruit as well as some of Thanos’ thugs which you have to also defeat along the way. In the easy game, you are racing to defeat enough bad guys before either Thanos fills up the Power Glove or Thanos kills off enough of your Hero partners. Our first game was quite close, coming down to the final roll before we lost.
And, with this game actually ending sometime in early Saturday, it’s time for me to go to bed so that I can be awoken at Too-Early-O’Clock by screaming girls yet again…
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor
Well, Broadhorns looks interesting (a bit too random?), and Jurassic Snack’s a cutie! Can’t say I’m familiar with Louis XIV or Mafiozoo, but neither stands out for me. I’ve heard some good things about Castell, but am not generally a fan of games like Rob’n’Run that don’t let you communicate with others around the table (with the exception of Codenames, probably). It’s a shame that Thanos Rising sounds like a cheap cash-in, although arguably it might bring some younger fans into the fold… lol
Thanos Rising is a perfectly reasonable design except that it takes too long for what it is.