Chris Wray: What I Enjoyed Playing in September 2018

This is the September entry for my series where I post five games I enjoyed playing in the past month that I didn’t have time to do full reviews of.  As always, I limit it to five titles, of which there’s a combination of old and new games.

In case you’re interested, I also have a Geeklist going called One Sentence Reviews of Gen Con Games.  This month, I’ve also published reviews of Ultimate Werewolf Legacy and Sprawlopolis, both of which I loved.  Those were also my two most-played games of September 2018.

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Knights of Charlemagne

Designed by Reiner Knizia, Published by Playroom Entertainment

I’m a fan of the “draw and discard” genre, the most famous title of which is probably Lost Cities.  A few months ago, I asked The Opinionated Gamers for recommendations in the genre, and Larry Levy wrote back about Knights of Charlemagne, saying that he preferred it to Lost Cities.

I traded for it and played it five times this month.  And it is extremely simple, yet fun to watch unfold. Gameplay-wise, it feels a bit like Schotten Totten: you play a card, attempting to win a line of prizes in the middle, then you draw a card.  But it is easier than both Schotten Totten and Lost Cities, and it accommodates two to four players.

I think this is currently out of print, but it deserves a reprint.  I’ve played the “Knights of Charlemagne” version, but there is also a Zombie-themed version called “Hungry,” and I believe it goes by a couple of other names as well.  

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Mesozooic

Designed by Florian Fay, Published by Z-Man Games

Mesozooic is a new game from Z-Man about building a dinosaur park.  Gameplay lasts three rounds, and at the start of the round, players each draft 11 cards to go into their park.  Then they randomly put these out in a 4×3 grid, but one card will be missing. Cards score based on what is next to them, so players have a short time (about 45 seconds) to rearrange their cards in a “missing piece” puzzle format.  If you’ve never played a missing piece puzzle, you have to slide things around into the missing space to rearrange: you can’t just lift things up and put them where you want them.

I completely missed this at Gen Con, but I loved it, and I’m grateful my friend Brandon Kempf introduced me to it.  (He did a review here.)  I still don’t think it is out, but when it is released, I’ll be picking up a copy.

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Paper Tales

Designed by Masato Uesugi, Published by Stronghold Games

I’ve greatly enjoyed this card drafting game by Stronghold Games.  The game is played over four rounds, and each round, players draft 5 cards.  Four of these are put out in a 2×2 grid, with the front two cards being used for combat against neighbors, but all four having special powers and resources that can help the kingdom.  Players earn victory points by winning battles, constructing buildings, and certain other cards. It’s a fun, light game featuring drafting and city building. It harkens back to 7 Wonders, but there’s a twist here: the cards (which represent people or creatures) age, so they’ll only provide resources/benefits for a limited period of time.

The artwork is attractive, and the gameplay is clever.  I’ll have a full review later today, and Dale will be reviewing the expansion.  

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Potato Man

Designed by Günter Burkhardt & Wolfgang A. Lehmann, Published by Zoch Verlag

I played ten different trick taking games this month, and Potato Man was one of my favorites. The twist here (at least in the three and four player game) is that each suit can only be in a trick once, and the highest number wins.  The suits are tiered, so that the red suit (the highest suit) has higher numbered cards than the yellow suit (the lowest suit), but the lowest 3 yellow cards in the game can beat the highest 3 red cards. Winning a trick gets you points based on the color you won: winning with lower suits awards more points.

Potato Man is simple, to the point of being one of the easiest trick-taking games I own, but it is fun, and we played it three times this month alone.  As far as I know it has never hit U.S. shores, but you can order a copy cheap enough from Amazon Germany.

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Witch Hunt

Designed by Kyle Brockman, Published by Level 99 Games

September is my birthday month, and I had my annual big gaming event.  It turned into a social deduction party, and I got in several plays of Witch Hunt, one of my 20 favorite social deduction games.  

Witch Hunt is clearly descended from Werewolf/Mafia, so it has a lot in common with those games.  But everybody has a unique role, and there is no player elimination, because you have a role after you die, depending on your team.  Getting to help from beyond the grave is a cool addition to the game.

The game is a challenge to moderate since there is so much going on, but there’s a website that makes it easier.  

I think this is slowly catching fire on the convention scene, as the places I’ve seen it played the most have been Gen Con and Geekway to the West. 

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2 Responses to Chris Wray: What I Enjoyed Playing in September 2018

  1. @mangozoid says:

    An eclectic mix… interesting to see the proliferation of ‘easy-play’ games, rather than anything more complicated or involved… An increasing trend, it seems?

  2. Pingback: Essen 2018: Quick Thoughts on 5 Games (Mini Reviews by Chris Wray) | The Opinionated Gamers

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