Brandon Kempf – Three Games of December

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.

I think I missed a month or two in here, I’ll have to go back and look. That’s pretty fitting for 2020 though as I feel as if we all missed a lot of things thanks to the Pandemic. But with November over, changes hopefully happening here in the States in the coming month and a vaccine being rolled out, ever so slowly, things have to start to feel like they are going back to normal, right? November was skipped by me due to the fact that we just didn’t play anything new that I felt like talking about. Only fifteen total plays in November of eleven different games. Variety, yes, but just not much quantity. One of those games though, Calico, turned out to be one of my favorites of the year, and that review should be out next week. December was a bit better, my youngest daughter and I played a lot of Sugar Blast and online gaming kept me afloat otherwise. We started our My City campaign with the first three episodes and didn’t get to the next three until just a couple days ago. Thirty four plays of seventeen different games and for the first time in ages, I had more plays online than I did at a table. Holidays seem to suck the life out of gaming around here. But enough of that, let’s talk about Three Games!

Lost Ruins of Arnak

Designed by Min & Elwen

I am not going to talk a whole lot about this one. I’ve only played it one time and it took entirely too long at three players. Not the game’s fault mind you, we played and allowed ourselves to be quite easily distracted throughout the night, since it was New Year’s Eve. There are a lot of things going on that can lead to AP, but that wasn’t what happened to us, just letting you know that could be a thing. Dale gave a First Look at Lost Ruins of Arnak back in October. I somehow completely missed that he did that. He said in that review that the choices that you make will become second nature by the 2nd or 3rd round of the game and help speed things up, but I hope that they don’t become second nature, I want this to be a game where every decision is carefully thought out due to how things change. Now, I say that I enjoyed the heck out of the game in spite of the slow nature of our play, but my wife was not a fan, so plays may be hard to come by. I’m hoping that a second play at two players helps alleviate any issues she had with it but we’ll see. This very much feels like a Czech Games Edition title, for some reason as we were playing I kept thinking back to Pulsar 2849 and how much I enjoyed it, but it just had a lot going on. That all being said, we also have Dune Imperium sitting here waiting to be delved into. Seems that the later part of 2020 was a good time to release deck builders with a touch of worker placement, and I am here for it. 

Glasgow

Designed by Mandela Fernandez-Grandon

Another game that managed to get one play on the table. Glasgow is the newest two player only game from Lookout Games and it has an interesting take on city building while using some familiar mechanisms. Using the action selection tool from Patchwork each turn a player will move clockwise around the “rondel” selecting what they would like to do that turn. With the player furthest back, being the player on turn. You are either collecting resources or using the collected resources to build buildings in Glasgow, which is a shared build area. Buildings will grant points or will be factories that grant resources. When you place buildings and factories in rows or columns, you activate all other factories in that row or column, giving the player who owns them more resources. You know who owns the buildings simply by orientation when placing them. We enjoyed Glasgow, and I look forward to getting back to it, but I just don’t know if it will be able to break into the two player rotation. Glasgow feels ultimately too balanced to me, but that again was after one play, it could have just been a learning game and both of us were on the same level, but it eerily felt like I could do just about anything, short of ignoring scoring completely, and our scores would be pretty even. I realize that may be almost necessary in the two player world, but here, well, we’ll just have to play again and see. I’m surprised this one hasn’t been touched on the OG, we’ll have to remedy that if we can in the coming month or two. 

Oregon

Designed by Henrik Berg & Ase Berg

I think we did a 10 Great Games list that talked about reprints awhile back, and while it was full of the normal things that one expects from lists like that. In that list, number 20 was a game that I championed, a game that has been long out of print and long not in my collection of games because of my unwillingness to pay the extra money to own it when we could just play it online, Oregon. This being 2020, and this being the year of me saying f&#k it, I’m buying what I want, guess what I did. Yup, I finally picked up a copy of Oregon for my shelves. Oregon combines a lot of things that I love, tile placement, area control and a clever card system that drives the entire thing. I think the issue with reprinting Oregon is that it just feels like a classic HiG designed game, and I don’t know how that is going to translate to newer gamers, even though a lot of newer HiG titles still manage feel like classic HiG titles, and I love that about them. As it is though, Oregon remains a favorite of mine, and now that I own a copy, I don’t have to wait for that yearly play at Geekway to the West to get my fix of it on the table. 

Thoughts from the Opinionated Gamers

Mark Jackson: I just played my sixth game of Arnak this weekend… and I think it holds up really well. A two player game is coming in at about 75 minutes… and the solo mode (which works like a charm) is clocking in at just under an hour. And it’s just as much fun the sixth time around as it was the first time.

CGE released a new set of cards for solo play online right before Christmas, adding another level of difficulty as well as a new module to make decisions trickier. I have them printed out but haven’t used them… yet. 

On the other hand… my one play of Oregon left me cold. But glad you found a copy!

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