Brandon Kempf – Three Games of October

I have a lot of games. A lot of games that are on my shelves, or on my table being played, that I have told myself that I want to review at some point. For one reason or another, this doesn’t always happen. My goal here on The Opinionated Gamers is that I want to get about one review out per week, but I’d like to write about more games. So I’m taking a page out of Patrick Brennan’s playbook, and we’re going to start writing about games in threes, in snapshot form. This should be a good way for readers to get to know me and my gaming tastes a bit better, and also another way for me to talk about games that I maybe don’t really want to dedicate two thousand words to. Welcome to Three Games.

Ahhhh, my birthday month. Historically, October has been a good month to learn and play new games around here, bested only by November — thanks to Essen Spiel. This year, October was no different, but there was that typical 2020 slowdown, fewer games and more digital games — mainly one digital game.

7 Wonders Duel

7 Wonders Duel is a game that I long ago dismissed as a two player game. I bought it, we played it and then we got rid of it. I like games where the choices you make are not spelled out in front of you at all times. I mean, you can take one look at the board in 7WD and you know which choice is better to take. Reveal as few options as possible for your opponent is always an important strategy and that made me really dislike the game. So, what prompted my fifteen plays on Board Game Arena in October? Probably boredom and the need to play something different, plus the fact that they added the new expansion, Agora. The new expansion adds a wrinkle to the game, a new way to win, by controlling the Senate, really appropriate this time of year. So along with military and science, you can exert your influence over sections of the Senate which will in turn grant you favors. Along with the Senate you can also sew conspiracies which will allow you to manipulate your opponent’s influence in the Senate, hopefully to your favor. It’s a good expansion, and one that ultimately may turn me into a 7WD fan. I still have a lot of games I will reach for physically to play at two player only before reaching for 7WD, but this is a definite improvement. 

Draftosaurus

Time for a surprise. Super lightweight drafting is something that usually falls into my wheelhouse, and this is no different, but I didn’t expect to enjoy it nearly as much as I did after playing it twice. It’s super simple, you have a handful of dinosaur meeples and you choose one to place in your dinosaur park, which is completely safe, just in case you were worried. There are different segments in your park and each segment has different requirements to score. One may want three dinosaurs, one may want all different dinosaurs and everyone wants to see a T-Rex. But you can’t just place them anywhere on your turn, there is a roll of the die that tells you where you can place the dinosaur that you draft. Draftosaurus is a clever, super light drafting game that really should appeal to a lot of family gamers with younger children. This may be a game that gets a review in the coming months, we’ll just have to see. 

Tekhenu: Obelisk of the Sun

I don’t know why I keep doing this to myself. That’s a lie, I do know, I like my friends who happen to like these games, and I am always curious enough to play these “T” games. I wanted to like Tzolk’in and it’s infinite planning wheel, but ultimately came out bored. I wanted to like Teotihuacan, but ultimately felt very “solveable” especially with the basic setup. Yet, here we are, with Tekhenu and I am honestly befuddled how these things keep coming at the speed they are showing up. We played at two players, no idea if it would have felt better at a higher player count or not, but just saying that so folks can have something to throw at me when they don’t like the fact that I am going to say that this, more than any game in the series so far, seems to be just an exercise in being complicated for the sake of being complicated. You have different mechanisms for different sections and none of it made any amount of coherent sense to me. There are cards with tiny print that are annoying as all get out and just too much going on. Now, we all know I am not the market for these games, even though I do really enjoy some complex games, but Tekhenu just felt soulless and bland with complexity thrown over the top of it to make it seem more appealing to folks who love these types of “games”. I am sure a real review of this is incoming here on The OG, but color me unimpressed. 

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5 Responses to Brandon Kempf – Three Games of October

  1. You can ignore the small print on Tekhenu. It’s redundant with the iconography. Sorry it didn’t work for you. It’s been a hit with everyone I’ve played with.

    • Brandon Kempf says:

      It quite honestly may have been just me, but I did not grok the iconography very quickly at all. Now, of course this would change had we played it more than once, but that first time, the iconography didn’t work for me.

  2. huzonfirst says:

    Brandon, the basic setup for Teotihuacan is intended to be easy for the players to solve. The real game comes with the advanced setups, with the shuffling of the action areas. This definitely keeps the game from being solveable, IMO. Of course, I’m someone who *does* love these types of games, and who considers Tzolk’in to be anything but boring, so take that into account. (Although, based on my reading of the rules, your take on Tekhunu matches my initial impressions. Naturally, I want to play it before making any final judgments.)

    • Brandon Kempf says:

      Yup, everything from me on these games should come with a grain of salt, I acknowledge that I am not the intended audience. I think part of my issue with Tzolk’in is that I played it 2 player, and I played with someone who had played a lot, it was just a miserable experience from the learning to the playing, it just kept going. :)

      • I rate T’zolk’in in my top ten favorites but don’t bother getting it out unless it’s 4 players. Having little dummy workers rotating around seems to remove some of the panache. I also could see playing against an experienced player rather daunting in a first game, unless quite a bit of help/advice is provided.

        My main worry about T’zolk’in is that the skull-wheel track seems to be very powerful. It is extremely rare to see someone win without doing very well on that track. Of course, I never try to specialize in that track as I am always trying to prove my own theory wrong.. . (My one memorable non-skull win was against newer players where I managed to dominate the “god” tracks in the first scoring and remained pretty high for the final scoring…)

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