May 2020 turned out to be a lot like April 2020, still social distancing for the most part, but back in the office so no more working from home. It almost felt unnecessary to go back to the office after all that time working at home, but the boss likes to see bodies in the building. So we continue social distancing at work and at home for the most part. We did invite one friend over a few times this month, which I know will make some folks cringe, but I trust that this friend has been just as careful and aware as we are, so we’ve been comfortable allowing him into the home to share the dinner table and the game table. That’s not why everyone is reading though, everyone wants to know what Three Games are covering this month, well, here we go.
Stats wise, I had forty plays of twenty one different games in May, seven of those plays were new to me games. 54% of my plays were face to face, while the rest were done over on Board Game Arena, Yucata and Boiteajeux.
Exit The Game – Theft on the Mississippi
Going to try to be as spoiler free here as possible, but there may be a small thing or two that you don’t want to hear, so tread carefully, I won’t spoil anything game breaking or any of the puzzles, but just be aware I have a difficult time discussing these games without at least being specific about things.
I don’t know how many Exit titles are out there right now, this is only the second one that I have played (we played the Abandoned Cabin three years ago?). I’d put money that Dale has reviewed them all here on The OG. I won’t repeat the review of how it all works, but just know that you are given a box full of components that you have to use to work your way through an overarching puzzle. In Theft on the Mississippi a very valuable stack of papers have been stolen from our victim and our job is to interrogate the characters involved in order to figure out who the thief was. The trick is, each character will have a puzzle for you to solve before they will give you any information. At the start of the game you are given four suspects, just know there are others waiting in the wings. The game starts with a clue card and the book in hand and you are off and interrogating the passengers. You have a poster board that shows the different locations on the ship during the time of the theft, and basically you are going to be questioning them and trying to place them in the correct spot, knowing from the beginning which spot is occupied by the perpetrator. The story will evolve linearly, meaning that there is a clear beginning and a clear ending and solving them in order is important as each puzzle you solve, gives you clues to solve the next, so no matter how much you think you can break the puzzles up among the players (we played with 4), you simply cannot do that, things have to be solved in order.
Part of the Exit system is the inclusion of clue cards, you have to have them, if you were to get lost and have no clue where to progress, you’d just have to stop the game without them until you figure it all out. Each puzzle in the game, I believe there ended up being ten in this one, has a set of three clue cards. The first clue card of each puzzle will tell you what you need to have in order to progress and solve and give a little clue to how to proceed. The second one gets more in depth in telling you what you have to do, and the third one tells you the solution. If you are worried about your score at the end of the game, you want to use as few of those as possible, plus it’s just more fun if you figure it out on your own. There are puzzles however, that will probably push you to using them. We had to use clue cards on two puzzles this time around. The book will tell you to look at each puzzle and think logically, personally I think they kind of veer away from logic at times, but they almost have to I would imagine.
I think that playing the games more often will lead to a better understanding of what to look for, and where to look. From what Dale has told me, the puzzles so far have all been unique and haven’t felt like re-hashed puzzles, but I have to think that playing a couple more will lead you to get better at solving them, logically. Being able to think more like the system works will lead to you being able to solve more puzzles with fewer uses of clue cards.
I like the system and how it works in the Exit games. I don’t like the Unlock series nearly as much. The Exit series feels far more like an actual puzzle room being worked through, whereas the Unlock series feels more like a hunt and find activity. The scoring in these feel silly to me, but I understand that folks want a scoring system in place, plus I wonder if there was no scoring system, would we consider them games. I’m really happy that we played Theft on the Mississippi, it’s going to make playing The Stormy Flight and the other two titles we have sitting here a lot easier to get to the table.
A game that has been talked about a lot over the years, and honestly it’s still probably my favorite game of all time. All eleven plays of Carcassonne this month were of the online variety over on BGA. I believe that Carcassonne is a premium game over on BGA, so you’ll have to be invited or jump into a game started by a premium member, but there was never a night where I had to wait longer than two minutes for a game to start. Carcassonne plays wonderfully on BGA, the only complaint I have is that the bigger the game, the tougher it is to see the entirety of the map, and the controls for moving the map around aren’t the most reliable, at least on my homebrewed Chromebook. With the plays this month, Carcassonne joins two other games as the only games I have logged fifty or more plays of, the other two being Castles of Burgundy(98 plays) and Ginkgopolis(50 plays). Part of my obsession and love for Carcassonne is the fact that no two games will ever end up the same. WIth so many tiles and so many variations of play, it’s impossible to approach a game of Carcassonne and play it exactly as you have played it before. Yes, luck of the tile draw is a thing and yes, knowing the tile count and being able to track that is a very distinct advantage, but those are not impossible to overcome. Strategic placement of farmers can turn the game on it’s head at a moment’s notice, and I love that, and hate that at the same time.
Palaces of Carrara
Well, well, well, Board Game Arena strikes again. Long time grail game that Z-Man Games never reprinted after their tiny initial print run due to “cost”. Palaces of Carrara is a wonderful building game where you are buying bricks from a rotating market, in order to build your buildings in your area of the city to impress.The rotating market makes bricks get cheaper, the longer that they are on the market “rondel”, everytime a player takes the buy bricks action, the rondel will rotate one space. In buying the bricks you are planning on using them to build buildings in your area of the city. Each city area on your player board will only allow bricks of certain colors, so you have to carefully plan your building and the materials you buy so you can build where you want your buildings to be to better score and gain money. Scoring is triggered by the players, they have six pawns that they can use to score different things. You can score areas of the cities, but only one player can score them, so there is a bit of a race to get to those before your opponents, or you can score building types in your area of the city. Three plays online this month prompted me to finally take the plunge and pick up a physical copy, I had to get a German copy, but I managed to find it in shrink at a good price so I went for it. I look forward to many more plays, and I now have another grail title off of my grail game list and on my game table.
June is looking like it could get a bit closer to normal, if people don’t do stupid things. My oldest daughter and I are working on a Jeep at the moment and having a lot of fun in the process. Hopefully we get it road ready this coming month. Tentatively we are going to try to host a game night for about three folks and get some new stuff to the table, like Ride the Rails and a new to me title, First Class. Stay safe friends!