Button Shy's Wallet Games

Tom’s (absolutely superb) SUSD review of a bunch of these games has me really interested, and with a short list that I’m definitely keen to acquire.

In the comments, he ranked the ones he played thusly:

  • Food Chain Island
  • In Vino Morte
  • Sprawlopolis
  • Skulls of Sedlec
  • Tussie Mussie
  • Liberation
  • Antinomy
  • Circle The Wagons
  • Hierarchy/Avignon

Button Shy have so many more of these – are they still releasing one a month?! – so this thread is to talk about the wider collection, and especially ones which weren’t covered in that review, which you think deserve more attention.

I am very confused as to whether the games come with their mini expansions or not – for instance Tom talked about a bunch of Sprawlopolis expansion cards, and I’ve located those as independent print-and-play options at PNPArcade but the official web site doesn’t even mention them so far as I could see. Are they simply an included part of the $12 Wallet version of the game, or do they exist only as P&P options? Tom’s cards all looked like retail products to me.

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It’s possible they’re all out of stock.

Looking at Chaos Cards (a UK shop that sells Button Shy games), they list Interstate and Beaches as separate expansions, and then a pack containing Wrecktar/Points of Interest/Construction Zone.

As for other BS games, of the ones I’ve bought (yay, pandemic!) I’ve only had a chance to play Handsome so far. It’s pretty good. Quite like Letterpress (formerly Movable Type), but lighter on rules (and cards) and slightly fiddlier on scoring.

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I quite liked Hierarchy when I played it solo. Not sure how good it is as a 2-player experience.

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My favorites so far are Sprawlopolis, Tussie Mussie and Turbo Drift.

Though Turbo Drift was more or less made obsolete by Grant Howit’s Crash Pandas. They’re quite different–one’s cooperative and requires a GM, one is competitive and doesn’t. One is card based, the other isn’t.

But when it comes to silly guff and spinning out while trying to navigate obstacles with poorly suited tools, I tend to try to convince people that they want to be raccoons driving a car instead of breaking out Turbo Drift. :smiley:

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How did I manage to miss that Chaos Cards sell Button Shy games? :exploding_head:

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There is currently a reprint Kickstarter for Button Shy for which they are still determining which games will reprint and you can definitely get Sprawlopolis and Tussie Mussie as addons.

Sprawlopolis is superb. My favorite solo game ever.

I also own a German release of Circle the Wagons. It is similar to Sprawlopolis in some aspects but as a two player has not got much love here.

I haven’t played any of the others but definitely want Food Chain Island now.

My copy of Sprawlopolis is from the original Kickstarter and contains the expansions. I have recently used one of those for the first time after dozens and dozens of games. I believe the expansions are usually sold separately on the website.

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It’s a little confusing on their website but if you go to a game’s page you can choose between base game or expansions and sometimes a bundle of both.
For example, their Sprawlopolis page (Sprawlopolis – Button Shy) has options for

  • Base game - $12
  • 3 mini expansions (Wrecktar/Points of Interest/Construction Zone) - $4
  • Beaches expansion - $4
  • Interstate expansion - $4

If you want to pick up the game and the expansions, you would select the base game, add to basket, then select the expansions and add those to basket one by one.

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Sprawlopolis is fantastic, I have construction zones and wrecktar expansions from the PnP version I got. It was a while ago though, so I forget if that was a particular bundle at the time. I don’t think I specifically added them.

Circle the wagons is good fun as well, but my review of it would be pretty similar to every other opinion I’ve ever seen of it - it’s good, but sprawlopolis does the same thing, but better. It’s good to have along with sprawlopolis if you’re in the mood for playing competitively rather than co-op

Having said that, now that I’ve been given Antinomy as a Christmas present, it’s become the go-to competitive game over Circle the Wagons. I really like this one too, perfect as a wee quick but puzzley filler. I’d say the rules were a little overly jargony but it’s pretty straightforward and fun to play a few rounds of just about every time

Sorry I don’t have more experience of games outwith the ones already covered in the review

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Thanks for this. That drop-down simply didn’t exist on the page for me; but knowing that you were seeing it, I was able to investigate and figure out what the problem was!

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This is just linking to my posts in the “Recent Boardgames (Your Last Played Game Volume 2)” thread, about the various wallet games that I’ve been soloing recently. (I ought to have posted them here in the first place, but I’ve only just remembered this thread.)

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I’ve mostly been playing Skulls of Sedlec recently, and still enjoying it.

Tonight I broke out The Maiden In The Forest which I was expecting to be a potential miss based on comments I’d seen at the time I ordered (but decided to try anyway, being a dedicated solo puzzle).

I’ve only played once so far, but found it pretty disappointing. You have twelve turns in which to flip all twelve trees to their monochrome state, via one intermediate “upside-down” state – so changing each tree twice in total.

tmitf

Each turn you can flip cards in sets of 2, 3, and 4 equally-spaced cards (i.e. 4 is a ‘cross’ shape with two cards between each of the four; 3 is a triangle with three cards between each; and 2 means opposite-facing cards). You are allowed to do all three of those sets in a single turn if you can make it work, but you have constraints on what constitutes a valid set, and how you can rearrange cards (swapping card positions based on certain rules) to fit those criteria. However this means you can potentially flip up to 9 times in a single turn, and you only have to flip 36 24 times to win over 12 turns, so if things start out well you can win the game very very quickly.

After a handful of turns I only had four cards left to flip. However each turn you randomly choose a symbol you’re not allowed to touch that turn, and my next four turns were completely wasted due to being unable to manipulate any cards at all, as both of the pairs I needed to swap included the symbol I couldn’t touch. Not a fun way to pass the turns.

Finally I succeeded in drawing a different symbol and was able to arrange the cards into two opposing pairs, at which point I could use the “flip 2” action.

Despite some bad luck in the middle, I still had a few turns left when I won. The initial turns were the only interesting part of the game, after which it seemed to quickly devolve into a fairly dull crapshoot.

The artwork is quite nice, and perhaps my next game will prove me wrong, but I don’t think this one is for me.

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Well The Maiden In The Forest is an odd one, for sure. It’s definitely not an amazing game, so I would only recommend the print-and-play edition if you were intrigued enough to give it a go. I’ve played several more games, though, and it’s grown on me slightly.

The first point is that it’s very, very difficult to lose at this game (I’ve never lost, and really don’t feel like that’s any kind of boast.) It’s possible to lose – not least because the luck of the draw can cause you to burn turns without making progress – but you have so much time to get through the necessary actions that it’s fairly improbable that luck will be your downfall. The more likely way to lose is through poor planning, as you could put yourself into a position where it’s actually impossible to flip all of the cards (so part of the game is ensuring that you don’t do that); however once you’ve observed that you might do that, it’s not difficult to avoid doing.

It does engage your mind, though; at least somewhat. So the interesting question is this: So long as a puzzle makes you think, does it matter that success is almost guaranteed? Does there need to be a chance of losing to make the game worthwhile? I think this is actually ok. It’s a bit like an easy sudoku puzzle – the chances of you making an error may be very slight, but that doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable to solve.

The second weird thing ties into the fact that you can paint yourself into a corner, because I noticed that there’s a simply strategy which is guaranteed to avoid that at the cost of being slower – yet still extremely likely to succeed within the available time. I did it once, and won after 9 turns (out of 12). It was an exceptionally boring game.

More interesting is doing what I tried initially – figuring out how you can flip as many cards as possible in the first few turns, and creating some additional chaos along the way so that you still have things to puzzle out in subsequent turns. When playing this way the first 2-3 turns might be slower (i.e. relatively fun); but as the number of remaining cards dwindles, the luck factor becomes more prevalent, and the game devolves into waiting to draw the right cards (or not draw the wrong ones) in order to execute the remaining few simple moves.

The final negative is that the game is slightly fiddly to set up and play, with the circular arrangement and different kinds of card flipping (but it’s not too bad).

I really expected to have abandoned this game already, but I’m not sure any more. It’s more “a thing to do” than a great game, and yet still I feel vaguely inspired to do it some more.

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There are certainly puzzles in other fields for which this is valid – anything for which you can basically follow an algorithm rather than having to be creative (like, showing my age here, solving a Rubik’s Cube) can be a relaxing activity in itself.

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We were lucky that one of our members made some quality pnp version of these games and gave it away. Maiden was a puzzly solo game and it was fun. I don’t think it’s for me though so I gave it to a friend.

Stew is legit. Killed Welcome to the Dungeon to me with its snappy play and nice evolving group think.

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I got sucked into the SO SMALL fervor. I like having some tiny, solo-able games in my desk for interminable conference calls or some such.

Sprawlopolis really is great. I misread the rules the first time, and Tom’s review helped me correct it (I didn’t know that the scoring goals also gave you a target score). That made all the difference.

Spaceshipped feels like Space Trader in a deck. It’s… fine. Ish. This would be excellent as a 52 card deck with 2-3 more game mechanics. The Button Shy constraints seem to have shaved this down too far and it ends up being mildly entertaining but swingy and luck-driven. I’m going to kick this one around a bit more, but probably won’t stay around.

Food Chain Island is underwhelming after 2 plays. The decision space is too open and the information is too inaccessible, everything in long text paragraphs. So you’ve got this huge array of possible moves, the implications of which either have to be constantly re-extracted by reading the text or stored in a huge amount of mental RAM. Made it high friction to play. But in the end, it was also somewhat easy, I got down to 2 piles on my second play.

The problem is that each animal’s ability applies to the NEXT move, not the move of that animal. So instead of having 16 or so moves, you have 16*15 possibilities.

Maybe as I memorize the animal abilities it will feel more accessible - but that said, I’m already doing pretty well at getting close to winning.

I don’t know. I think this one is underwhelming as well. This bias to upvote something due to size and cost is real, but in the end maybe they really are only just fine.

I have Liberation and Seasons of Rice on order but strongly suspect I’ve just spent way too much money on mediocre wallet games.

My advice to all is to get Sprawl and stop there.

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I agree from what I know.
I gave away Circle the Wagons.
Food Chain Island is just a bit too easy. The decision space is not that big.
Sprawlopolis is awesome and has a nice persistent crunch.

I am waiting for Seasons of Rice, Tussie Mussie, Agropolis and because it looked so pretty Death Valley.

Sprawlopolis was only just translated to German last year and it gets my „Sonderpreis bestes Solospiel 2020“

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I finally played this tonight, and was underwhelmed – sadly the decisions never felt interesting, and it took way too long to play (but wouldn’t be as bad at the supposed 30mins). It’s mostly a matter of trading your way to enough money to win, and most of the time you can see what the market is going to do for the next few turns, so the decisions are pretty much planned out for you in advance – you’re either buying low, selling high, or treading water until you can do one of those two things. The deck throws lots of random events and speed-bumps at you, and you’ll want to upgrade your ship, but I found it all a bit dull.

I had higher hopes for it, so I’d included the two mini expansions in the order. I guess I’ll try those out, but this wasn’t a great first impression unfortunately.

OTOH I have been enjoying a few games of Food Chain Island recently. It may be simple, but it’s fast, I enjoy the art, and it makes me think.

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I always have a cube at my desk at the office. It’s cute how taken by it some of the “kids” are, like it’s some mystical object. It’s a shiny, nice MoYu GTS3m speed cube—world class for like $40, why not?! I’m hardly fast in relative terms, but to your point, it’s about the pleasure of the solve at this point and it’s a great mindful fiddle object, so the smooth action (and relative silence) counts for a lot. “My office” for the last 18 months has been my house; I have several polyhedra to occupy this urge at the moment.

/Derailment

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Man, I first solved it as a way to spend time during my insomnia bouts. So that would have been high school? In college I got so tired that I learned to fall asleep. Ever since then, insomnia has been an infrequent visitor.

I’ve got an old clunky one that sticks with every turn. The top two rows are solved and the bottom is not, because I’ve forgotten one of the three moves I figured out to rearrange the bottom corners. And I’m too proud to look it up and too busy to re-solve.

It sits there taunting me literally every day.

I think I’ll get one of those better engineered ones, though. That may just entice me to dive back in.

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I’ve had a few games of Ragemore now (bottom row), and I think this one is another miss for me.

The artwork is nice, but it suggests a theme which doesn’t come through at all in the gameplay – and I don’t really notice the art while playing in any case.

The game is a balance of several aspects and you can lose the game in five different ways through having either too many or too few cards in various areas, with the difference between those states not being much (3-4 cards); so you’ll often be unable to do the thing you really wanted as it would trigger one of those ‘lose’ conditions, and you instead have to lessen the pressure somewhere in order that you’ll be able to play a card there in a later turn. There’s some set collection and hand management and attempting to acquire the right cards at the right time in order to capture other cards, but it’s also a bit fiddly and unintuitive/abstract.

You definitely have to think and plan your way through the game, but I haven’t found it particularly fun yet.

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