Recent Boardgames (Your Last Played Game Volume 2)

A couple of learning games of Small Islands, solo. The game has some difficulty/complexity sliders available, with six different set-ups for the automaton opponent (named Alexis after the game’s designer), and a “normal” and “advanced” game mode which makes one aspect slightly more complex; and then a not-so-hidden “expert” set of rules that you can break open once you’ve gotten good at the game (it gives you some targets to achieve before you attempt that); so it feels like it should have some decent legs.

I picked an intermediate difficulty under the “normal” game rules for my first game, and managed a win (55 points vs 48 to Alexis), and then got thumped in my next game at a slightly higher difficulty (scoring 40 vs 75).

The card-driven automaton rules are extremely easy to execute – essentially you just draw the next card from its deck, and it tells you which of the 3 available tiles to take, and where to place the tile relative to the last tile that you played. So it likes to play in the same areas as yourself, but there’s also some fuzziness to it. The desired location is given as 3 directions (in order of preference), and if you can legally place the chosen tile anywhere in one of those directions, moving outwards from the tile you last played, then that’s where the tile goes. This often means the tile will be near yours, but it can also put it across the other side of the map, so long as there’s a legal position along that line somewhere.

As the player you have some knowledge about how the AI deck was composed for each game, and the 3 tiles they will be selecting from, so you can judge whether and how risky a given move might be, based on whether or not the AI might be able to mess things up for you in its response.

Once I’d learned the game, the set-up and play time for the second game was nice and quick, which is certainly what you want from a lightweight game. The production quality is good, and the art is nice. I’m not sure the theme comes through in the gameplay, but I do like tile-laying, and I found it enjoyable. I suspect this won’t blow any minds, but I’m happy to have a tile-layer with a smooth solo opponent, and I look forward to playing it more.

It might wind up being solo-only for me, though – with multiple players I suspect I’d go for Carcassonne. (And for two players and a vaguely similar theme, I’d be keen to break out Land vs Sea if I thought that the cut-throat nature of its gameplay would go down well.) Small Islands has hidden objectives for players (you draw and choose these from cards at the start of each round), and while this largely just manifests as “variety” for solo play, it isn’t something I tend to enjoy with human opponents. I think it will mean it’s much less confrontational, though, which might be helpful information.


Personal opinion: this game is over in reasonable time*, while Carc takes forever and then has protracted end-game scoring too. I’ve enjoyed the solo mode but I liked multiplayer more.

* i.e. it ends before I get fed up with it rather than afterwards :slight_smile:

Meanwhile a bit of a personal hurdle, a teaching game of Sentinels which didn’t lose the other player. (I did run a sort of bot-Legacy to provide the third player hero; I’m afraid I find Legacy a bit dull to play.)


Yes, that’s a very good observation. Looking back on my comments about Land vs Sea I specifically noted the A.P. that the end-games of that and Carcassonne were both liable to produce, whereas Small Islands has an round-ending system which is going to go a long way to preventing that issue.

(There are four sailing ship tiles in the game – each human player has one of their own colour, but there are always four in the game – and each of the four rounds ends immediately as soon as someone plays a ship – which is also something the solo opponent may do. The game guarantees that at least 6 tiles are played in a round before anyone is permitted to play a ship, but after that you really don’t know when the round is going to end, and maybe you should get in first and finish it yourself, as there are potential bonuses to be had…)


Royal Palace - very interesting game. Might be my fave Xavier Georges game.

Guards of Atlantis II - 2 v 2 again. Awesome

Caesar’s Empire - old school game and highly interesting. Not very obvious game, except that securing the first roads from Rome is crucial as it is the best “bang for your buck” routes on route scoring. I am keen to play more to see how to counter some plays.

Catchy! - Yes. This is one of those rare Japanese trick taking games I’ve been hoarding.

Catchy! is where the game has 3 suits from 1 to 5, a joker 3 card, and a starting player card. You try to lure the cat to you (what an awesome theme!) by winning or losing tricks. If the cat is face-up, the winner of the trick lures the cat 1 space to them. If the cat is face-down, the loser lures it. Huuuuuh! THe cat switch face when both players play an odd card. And the switching happens BEFORE the cat moves. So playing that 5 card expecting to win the trick and lure the card could and does lead to the opposing player playing a 3 or a 1, switching the cat to “loser wins” and lure the cat one space to them. What a very interesting game!!

Cinderella’s Dance - you can play this with a 6Nimmt copy. 2 player trick taking - which I find a bit loose categorisation due to how the game works. So you have cards from 1 to 21 and you play a card. There are no suits, so that’s it - 21 cards. When you play a card the opposing player can play a card that is 1 to 3 higher. That, or they pass. The trick keeps bouncing back and forth until a player passes. The opposing player wins the trick when one passes.

I am not sure what to think of this tbh. It seems that holding the initiative is too important that intentionally passing seems too weak of a move.

Co2: Second Chance - I like how simple this game is for a Lacerda, but I found the competitive rules to be degenerate. With 2 turns on a round for a 4 player and 3 turns for a 3 player, the first player is pretty much on a disadvantage. Same can be said on a player on a different case due to turn order issue. Pure competitive plays will mostly likely result on a hot planet (game over) and the way to do this is to concede some positions to other players for the greater good. But that results in kingmaking.

Reading the coop rules shows that it’s a “rule by committee” gameplay, which is such an utterly awful way of doing it.

Really a waste of time. It’s actually worse than Weather Machine. The latter is just your generic overcomplicated Euro shit.


Taverns of Tiefenthal

6 Nimmt

Cinderella’s Dance again. Again, the ruthlessness of the game where if you screwed up, you’re giving your opponents a lot of tricks. Idk. I need more plays to “git gud”


Just played our first game of My Li’l Everdell, a four-player one with our 8-years-old niece and 6-years-old nephew. It was an actual delight. Adorable and a nice simplified (and much quicker) version of the base game. This can easily become “My first worker-placement game”, but we’ll likely actually play it even without kids when we’re looking for something lighter and quicker than Everdell but with the same flavour.

Game ended 49 (Maryse) - 48 (me) - 30 (nephew) - 28 (niece). So very close. Nephew seemed to grok it more, but he’s a lot more games-minded than his sister, who still did very well.

Yet another winner this year!


I managed to win my learning game of For Northwood.

It’s a solo trick-taking game where you gain points by winning the exact number of tricks required by the ruler of each of 8 fiefdoms, with those requirements being a sequence from 0-7. Succeeding at the 0- or 7-trick challenges is worth 4 points; then 3 points for 1/6; 2 points for 2/5; and 1 point for 3/4. To win the game you need to score 16 points out of the possible 20, which in practice means failing in no more than 1-3 of the fiefs (depending on the fiefs you’re failing in). The higher difficulties require 18 points or a perfect 20; or you can treat the thresholds as Bronze/Silver/Gold victories. In this game I scored 17, having failed at my bid to win exactly 1 trick (the fief card which has been flipped upside down; not displaying a speech bubble or target value, and hiding its ruler).

You can tackle the fiefs in any order, deciding which one you are most likely to succeed at based on the hand of 8 cards you’ve drawn. When you win a ruler over to your cause, you slide them down to reveal their speech bubble exclaiming “For Northwood!”, which I found to be a ridiculously endearing bit of visual design.

(The entire theme is super cute and peaceful – each trick is a “conversation”; card suits represent topics; trumps are that ruler’s personal favourite subject to talk about; and the aim of the game is to convince everyone to band together for the good of the kingdom!)

To aid you in achieving your specific goals, you have four constant Allies, each of which may be used once per fief. The recommended allies for the first game provide the abilities “discard all trumps from your hand”; “draw two cards and then discard two cards”; “draw back up to eight cards”; and “swap this ruler with another one” (i.e. change trumps). That “draw back to eight” ability can dig you out of a hole when you’re not quite going to make it, but at the same time easily flip “trying to win tricks” into “trying to lose tricks”, as you’ll suddenly have many more cards to navigate than you probably wanted.

Each of the rulers also has an Ally ability, and at the start of any visit to a new fief you can choose to substitute one or more of the rulers who have previously been won over to your cause for any of your regular allies – but this is a one-time use for those rulers, after which you remove that ruler card from the game. So as the game progresses, you will have fewer choices regarding which fief to tackle next, but more choices about the prospective allies who can help you to tackle them.

The recommended starter set-up has the Kings and Queens for rulers, and the Jacks for allies; but the ‘full’ game will have you randomly dealing the 4 allies and 8 rulers from a larger set of 24 cards, and so the available abilities will vary from game to game.

The cards are good quality, but there’s plenty of shuffling of the conversation cards (eight fiefs means shuffling the deck eight times during a game), so I sleeved those cards half way through, and it all just fits into the box like that. I wouldn’t attempt to sleeve the other cards (and it mightn’t work at all with heavy-duty sleeves).

I really enjoyed my first game. It immediately made sense as a trick-taker (I took one look at my very first hand and intuitively opted to try to lose all the tricks, and succeeded without using any ally abilities), and I can see that it will provide a good amount of variety with the randomisation (plus there’s a little booklet of 16 challenge scenarios). On first impression, I’m very happy to have backed this.

Game 2: I quickly lost this one by failing a 4-pointer at the outset (leaving no room for error), and then failing at the very next fief as well. D’oh. I kept playing and succeeded at the remainder, but for only 13 points in total.

I am 2 for 4. I could have had a perfect 20 points just now, but I miscounted how many more tricks I needed during my attempt at 7, and pruned my hand more aggressively than I should have, which led to me taking the exact number of tricks I’d wanted, but one fewer than I’d needed :‍)


How are the bot’s cards played into the trick? Do you just flip them over randomly from a deck? That would make it tougher if you have no guarantee that they’re going to follow suit.

You do just flip from the top of the deck, but they lead every trick. So that bit isn’t traditional, but for a solo game it feels reasonable.


We finished our Marvel Champions: Sinister Motives campaign yesterday. Spider-Man (Miles Morales) and Ghost-Spider (Gwen Stacy) successfully defeated Venom Goblin, finishing with a Reputation Score of 31.

I think that was my favourite finale since the Rise of Red Skull campaign, possibly of my favourite of all. It built up really nicely to a satisfying climax, where we were on the point of being overwhelmed just as we managed to finish off the villain, rather than the more common pattern of: we’re out-matched early on, can we stabilise in time, if yes then we build up and crush the villain by the end. At no point did it feel hopeless (unlike Ronan in Galaxy’s Most Wanted) but nor did it ever feel comfortable (unlike Loki in Mad Titain’s Shadow).


Dominant Species - wiped off the dust off my Dominant Species and had a go with it. Originally just 4 players, but people keep showing up and it turned 6 players. I cut the deck in half during setup as I know there are AP-players in the table. In hindsight it was a wise decision. I have to tell “make a decision and see what happens” several times.

Yet, it was still great. The rather random and even arbitrary turn of events made the game dramatic with some good decisions to be made. The trade-offs between specialising and diversifying is fun and the divided focus between gaining dominance and having the most cubes for scoring is fun too.

Taj Mahal - brutal 5 player game. In a way, a more rigid and precise game of Condottiere, thinking about it now. I went 2nd place a few point behind the winner as we are both doing good network connections but his are better than mine. I tried to compensate by set collecting resources, but it wasn’t enough for a win. In fact, he could have won more if he didn’t screwed up massively on one round with a sub-par placement.

6 Nimmt

Muscat - old game from 2001 and has the same shared-incentive process of Bridges of Shangri-La, but with slightly narrower decisions. Still, can’t say it was “meh”. I think it’s one of the best “new-to-me” heavy filler I’ve played this year.


Another three games of My Li’l Everdell in the books, this time just me and Maryse. I wound up losing the first one 58-55, winning the second 62-45 and losing the last one 65-64.

This remains delightful. Much simplified, of course, and for seasoned gamers, this will be a filler game (and I don’t mean that as a negative). But there’s actual strategy there to sink your teeth into, just not as deeply as for the base game.

Still very happy about the purchase.


How!? That bastard villain keeps crushing me!

Admittedly I am only at 16 rep or so, so I don’t have all the bonuses you have (nor all the penalties).


We have played Scenario 0, 1 and 2 (and set up the next one on the table) of Frosthaven which finally arrived on Thursday. My partner has been griping a little that we should be „finishing“ Gloomhaven first. My take is: the new game is exciting now and when it gets us into playing this is what we play. We can switch over to Gloomhaven any time we feel like it :slight_smile:

For now we are playing as the Banner Spear (my partner) and the Deathwalker (me). We have already added a building to the town and I am almost leveled up.

  • Banner Spear needs formations with allies (other players, summons or friendly characters) and my partner has been having a bit of difficulty with it at just 2. I cannot tell you much more except that every once in a while my Deathwalker gained some move from the abilities of the Spear. We have yet to see the banner on the field.
  • Deathwalker needs to place shadows or generate darkness elements to get their „engine“ going which is a bit card costly.
    • In Scenario 2 I exhausted because I had played a bit wasteful (with my 11 cards) and then had to block an attack by losing a card because with just 6 hitpoints. I once again chose the glass canon character (in Gloomy I began as Spellweaver).
    • It can be a bit difficult to get the „shadows“ going. There are very limited ways to place them in my starting deck 2 of which are a loss cards (one of which is very situational), the third a permanent effect and the last is the bottom of the permanent effect.
    • But when the shadows are placed the character can teleport between them, move them around and best of all attack through them or sacrifice them to gain movement, damage and always experience. This character gains experience really fast.
    • As far as I can tell there are 2 styles to the character: focussing on melee through the shadows or generating darkness and using ranged attacks. There is also a summons but I have not found the right moment to place it in the first 3 games.

As Gloomy, Frosty is a table hog and a beast to set up and tear down (which is perfect this Easter as we have no big meals planned at home and can leave everything on the dining table for a few days).

  • The insert that comes with it is functional enough for the cards.
  • But the huge stack of books and pamphlets and sticker maps and advent calendars are a bit of a pain. The book I need at that moment is always the one at the bottom of the stack. But the distinction between scenario and sections is done quite well so there are no accidental spoilers for later rooms anymore.
  • I‘ve made 2 foamcore helpers: a big „box“ for the maptiles and a box to keep the bagged standees sorted.
  • We are using the narration with the Foreteller app which is lovely because we can set up a room while that runs.
  • We are using the official helper app to track what the monsters do and determine initiative and monster hitpoints and status effects. We‘re probably going to track our own HP and XP in there at some point.
  • We watched the „official“ 2 hours rules video for a refresher and that was really helpful to get started again. (But I still have trouble with monster movement/focus sometimes nothing has changed in that !

  • The biggest change from Gloomy gameplay wise are the „blue“ standee holders for summons. In Scenario 1, we encountered their other use for the first time. So I think it is no spoiler: there are allied characters in the game. There is a separate ally combat modifier deck and they fight (or at least stand still) on the player‘s side. This makes for easier introduction scenarios and I am reasonably sure that it will allow for some interesting setups down the road.
  • Another change, small but significant at the start: you have to discover potions. And we have not yet found enough herbs to do so. We miss potions.
  • Building up Frosthaven… edit: building up seems a good way to gain prosperity points which is feels less random somehow despite needing those random loot materials than gaining arbitrarily from events and scenarios in Gloomy. Also: it makes thematic sense :wink: Our first building is a lumber yard where we can spend money to buy wood to build other buildings…
  • Summons movement has been changed so that when the summons has no focus it moves towards the character
  • Loot is now tokens not coins and it can be various resources as each scenario has a loot table. We like that.

Overall it‘s great. But if you do not like the Gloomhaven „system“ this is largely more of the same game. To play this one you do not need to have played Gloomhaven or Jaws of the Lion. Is it better? We have yet to find out. It has 17 new classes. New events, a new map, the town seems to be a bit more involved. Looting is fun. Way more battle goals to fail at. But it really is more of the same core game.


We had our friends over yesterday for a small Easter/birthday celebration.

Before they arrived, we played a couple games of Kingdomino, which were both won by my wife, the first 52 - 46, the second 49 - 33.

With our friends we let the birthday girl pick the games, so we started with Ethnos. We had Dwarves, Elves, Giants, Merfolk, Orcs, and Skeletons. I managed to fill up my Orc board pretty well in the first age, which put me in the lead, and I managed to hold the lead through the second age thanks to a number of decent sized bands.

So, of course, it all fell apart in the third age. I only got two bands out, as I was trying to get a fourth purple card (or Skeleton) to play a band which would let me tie for the lead there, but never drew it, and the third Dragon came out just before In could play one more small band that would have also given me a tie for third in orange and a second token on the orc board.

Birthday girl won with 95, my wife and I tied at 90, and our friend’s husband brought up the rear with 64. If I had been able to play that last band, I would have had the win. Stupid dragon!

We followed this up with Quacks of Quedlinburg and used the Herb Witches expansion for the first time. We used the old set 2 books, but added the large pumpkin and locoweed, the overflow bowl (which was never needed), and the witches, of course.

My wife jumped out to an early lead, as I exploded on the first round and we had a fortune teller card which let her pick any size 2 chip for her bag, giving her a leg up on the rest of us. She kept winning the bonus die, I think for all but one round, and was able to move her droplet forward on most of her rolls.

I blew up three or four times total, including the final couple of rounds, which was not helpful. Despite that, I did have a decent score at 56. But that was only good enough for third place. Birthday girl was second with 60, her husband last at 53, and my wife won with a whopping 90!

One caveat, I messed up how one of the witches worked, so we all got VP for any blue, purple, or size 2, 4 or 6 chips we had, when it was supposed to be only counting chips in your bag at the end of a round, so all our scores are inflated a bit. I know my wife got 24 of her points from that, but everything else was legit, so her actual score was likely in the low 70’s range, which is still great.


With my family coming round tomorrow, my partner and I decided to relax and play 2 games of Quacks of Quedlinburg this evening. They were… rough. It’s to be expected that in a game full of random draws that if you play long enough you’ll inevitably have a game where your luck is terrible. My luck in both of today’s games was so bad that it actually made them a bit miserable to play. I usually find comedy in losing due to bad luck, but by the second game my partner didn’t even derive any pleasure from beating me.

In the second game, I managed to draw all white chips in 3 of the first 4 rounds. In round 5 we got the fortune teller card that increases the pot size to 9. I drew the following - W2, W1, W1, W1, W1, R1, W2, W3 (and the red 1 would only have given a bonus if it was drawn before any of the white 1 chips). By the end of round 5 I had only drawn 3 non-white chips in total, despite having a bag full of them.

Today’s experience has genuinely taken Quacks from a game that I thought I’d never sell to one that may not survive the year. Also, when you’re 8 rat tails down and the leading player’s still comfortably outscoring you, you realise that the supposed rubber-banding in this game is virtually non-existent. (Despite what Matt says, it’s nothing like Mario Kart).


I agree, the rat tails look nice but rarely make much difference. I haven’t had a Quacks game like that, but clearly that it can go that way isn’t great.


That’s why I refuse to play Quacks again. Push your luck games only work for me if everyone is pulling from the same luck pool. Diamante or Celestia essentially. And the rat tails have never been a valid catch up mechanism, they’re essentially a placebo.


Been testing out my new solo gaming table in the new house tonight with a retry of Marvel Champions - the tutorial scenario. It’s a nice game that I’m enjoying more the second time, close to Sentinels of the Multiverse which I love, but closer to Arkham Horror LCG with which it shares most mechanics. Definitely will play more of this although I really don’t need another LCG obsession in my life.

The solo game area worked out nicely too! Cosy but not cramped!


My wife and I played Isle of Skye this afternoon. It was a really close game, but I squeaked out the win, 65 - 64.


My husband and I have played a lot of Frosthaven since it arrived here. We set it up on our game table and played it until my family arrived from out of state for a week. Put it away while they were here so we could play games and build puzzles with them, then once they left Frosthaven was back out and hasn’t been put away since. Assuming I haven’t missed tracking a game in my app, we’re at 22 games played and almost at the end of the first year on the game calendar. My husband is on his third character, maybe about half way to retiring. I got a bad deal on my first life goal so finally retired my first character tonight and created my second that I’ll play for the first time in our next game.

I’m loving all the town aspects and upgrades there. Sometimes it’s been frustrating not being able to do something I know should be possible because we don’t have the right stuff yet (e.g. enhance cards until you stumble on the ways), but it all fits with the theme of the new outpost settlement being a bit rugged and the discovery process is fun. We just unlocked a building associated with a net icon capturing pets and I’m excited to see how that plays out. Having two different ways of accessing items (buying vs crafting) seems a little arbitrary at times, but it works I guess.