Recent Boardgames (Your Last Played Game Volume 2)

If you’ve not played it before, CITOW has a notable learning curve and can feel pretty unbalanced if players don’t understand the tactics and advantages of each of the gods – left unimpeded by the others, a player can easily run away with the victory.

You might consider planning for multiple games (even if not on the same day) so that people can get to grips with it.

(Caveat: I’m not very good at the game, and others may disagree with me : )

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My wife and I played Tyrants of the Underdark tonight, this time using the Dragon and Elemental half-decks.

I liked the Elemental Focus abilities, which are reminiscent of Legendary Marvel’s mechanics where effects trigger if you have already played a card with a given trait that turn, except even more generous as you can show a card with that focus from your hand to trigger the effect.

I won, 78 - 68, mostly due to having a more valuable deck, but also having more assassinated troops in my trophy hall. I controlled slightly more sites than she did, though she had more total control than I did, and managed to promote more points to her inner circle than I managed.

Really fun game, and I am enjoying the variability of the half-decks.

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I have tyrants waiting to be played. one day!

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That’s good to know!

Last night at Local Game Group (in our new less-quizful venue):

An early Bruno Cathala (and others) game, Jamaica. It felt… like a game from 2007 aimed at the non-Eurogame market; you roll two dice and choose the order in which they’ll happen, then you (and everyone else) chooses a card (from a hand of three) which has a first and a second action on it. Then each player in turn does those things.

There’s a very artificial system of holds (a hold can store as much of a thing as you like, but only one thing, and if you get stuff when all your holds are occupied you have to throw out the contents of a hold with a different thing in it and take this on instead) and I found it mostly a battle to survive rather than to gain anyway; for that matter, anything you can can be taken away by chance or by other players. On the other hand, the chap in our group who is most likely to win a game won this one, so it’s not just random. Not one I’m ever likely to want to play again, but not offensive.

And then The Crew, which at this point holds no real surprises.

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That was about how I felt when I played it as well (back in early 2020 I believe). I had remembered reading about it on Cardboard Children back in like 2014ish so it was a case of always wanting (a little bit) to try it. It was pretty fine. I remember almost nothing about the session of it except that I won. Not one that’s too full of memorable moments.

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Played the very enjoyable 2013 Korean print-n-play Tchu Tchu Train. You want to build long chains of track and connect stations, but you can only place if you draw the playing card that matches the space. The twist is, there’s two decks and two squares on the board for each card+suit value, and jokers come into play occasionally too. Very neat.

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Underground Cube Rails :exploding_head:

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Played Palaces of Carrara on BGA last night. First time for all of us. It was a bit confusing because we watched a teach of the second edition basic rules but BGA has the first edition advanced rules which appeared to be more brutal on scoring.

Despite that I thought it was good fun. The resources come on a wheel so they change price. It seems to be a real rush to meet scoring conditions and if you lose the race you’re pretty screwed. I’m definitely interested in trying to find a physical copy.

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I won my only game of it by rushing scoring whilst the other players were building up to bigger scores, no one noticed and failed to follow along. It’s a very interesting wrinkle.

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Gutenberg - blind bidding game. I like it as a Euro. Good juggling between short term and long term goals. First play, so not sure how I feel after more plays.

Backgammon - it’s been aeons since I played this

6Nimmt!

Gensis - more plays of Genesis. This knizia is bangin. Everyone plays tiles, and these tiles creates the areas. There’s incentives on fighting over areas and expand them, or start new ones. Excellent game!

Ponzi Scheme - a game of running your own ponzi scheme. You want to outlast the others with your shenanigans. The hidden info on the trading is tense. The looming market crash. The inevitable train wreck that your ponzi will collapse anytime soon. It’s all going up in flames, and it’s a contest on who will be the king of the ashes.

Just One - apparently, one can guess “Gothic” with just one clue: sub-culture.

Cascadia - it’s okay. Not my first choice. It didn’t ask for a lot of rules faff, compare to other so-called “light” games. So, it was a breeze and wasn’t a waste of time.

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I sold this off when I wasnt into trains and stuff. I rebought it as it now sounds like a great idea. Still havent tried it yet tho

Kingdom Builder , now this was waaaaay more fun than I expected.

YESSSSSS! JOIN US…

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Had a three-player game night which I will never complain about. Nice to have the option for some lower-count games.

We started with a classic best-at-3 game, Suburbia. The public goals were Most Lakes (which went to our guest easily, as the first thing he bought was Waterfront Realty, so he was laking it up big time), Least Grey (which meant nobody wanted to buy any of the many grey tiles that came out until my wife finally pivoted to a grey strategy), and Most Blue (which was another tie - I had the most at 5 until my wife bought the PR Firm on what turned out to be, unfortunately for her, the second-to-last round).

So with most goals out of contention that left good old-fashioned “bump up income then pivot to reputation”, which I managed best with a solid mass of blues, a couple of Burg von Alspach’s and Suburbs, and investment markers.

Then we played classic Pandemic, spent too long eradicating black, let yellow get out of control, then while we were fixing that mess we got a really bad bottom-deck draw that popped off blue… after blue… after blue… :skull:

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My wife and I played Ghost Stories tonight on medium difficulty (3 Qi and no starting black Tao token). And remarkably, we won!

I died in the process of this victory, as the red monk that can double move. My board was full after Wu-Feng came out (The Forgotten Ones incarnation, 3 black resistance, all monk abilities are locked), so at the beginning of my next turn, I lost my last Qi and died. If my ability had not been locked, I could have done something about it, but oh well.

Luckily my wife had a black token, was able to get another on her first turn moving over to Wu-Feng, and on her next turn was able to exorcise him handily (rolled 2 blacks).

The game was looking really bleak for a while, with two haunted tiles and lots of ghosts. A Black Widow was on the board for a lot of turns, just because higher priority ghosts kept appearing, usually on opposite sides of the board. There was also a green tormentor out for a while, which luckily did not kill either the green board or the game through haunting.

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I’ve played a few games of Dice Realms now (3x starter set up and 1x with the first non starter set up). And I actually really like it which is great because it was a maybe small change off a £100.

Firstly I like its speed and its physicality. It doesn’t feel like doing a realm of dice at all but it does feel nice to roll the dice which are a nice chunkiness compared to their weight and chisel out crap and fill it with brass and then later gold. If the game was called Dice Spaceship and replaced wheat with “starfueldelta” it wouldn’t make a jot of difference in some sense (perhaps the thematic resonance of some of the tiles would be lost - in the way that “gardener” gets you more wheat or “almshouse” reduces your misery and there would need to be more creative solutions and a fractionally higher friction to understanding).

This definitely feels as simple in a lot of ways to original dominion where the actions on cards were probably their most basic and this must be in part down to the available physical limitations of how much information a 1cm squared disc can hold. What this means, I think, in practice is that the chains and combos are more parseable to me (an idiot) and it helps the game move at a good speed for everyone which is nice when you’re anticipating rolling your dice again.

What you sort of lose in complexity of the cards relative to a dominion you partially get back in the 3dimensional nature of how you “stock” your deck. Because it’s a little bit like playing with at least two decks of cards that you selectively weight in certain ways so that the higher probability of X on dice 1 is more likely to trigger the power of Y on dice 2 (of course none of this might happen and you have to mitigate for that too, or just don’t and hope for the best). You roll the dice enough that I think everything should show up.

So yeah it’s nice - it has a cool toy like breeziness which is weird for such an expensive game. The box says 45-60 mins which feels like the seller incorporating every second of set up so that it doesn’t seem like they’re selling you a £100 filler game - but in reality I kind of like the boldness of selling such a premium yet quick game.

(also, while there are “interaction” faces the game feels super headsdown multiplayer solo with the set ups I’ve used so far)

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The more I read about this game, the more I wish it had any other form factor. It looks like a really neat sort-of Space Base-esque game, but because of the customizable-dice gimmick, it’s more expensive, more gigantic, harder to learn, less flexible, and incredibly wasteful from an environmental perspective. And you’re customizing like two dice! I would honestly be more interested if you just had two decks of six cards each, and shuffled them each turn to generate the result. Or, more practically, give each player two boards with slots for values 1-6, and then roll two colored d6 to determine the outcomes. This form factor irritates me on the same level of Chip Theory’s “waterproof everything” mentality–it doesn’t seem necessary other than as a marketable novelty, and it is catastrophically unsustainable.

Sorry, rant over! I’m glad you are enjoying the game.

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Picking up my paused game of The Dead Eye I find that I’m in better shape than I’d realised. Most notably, I’ve realised I’d misunderstood some of the rules to my considerable detriment. Upon review I now see that active parts on your rig may be spent immediately after drawing (or moving) cards – which includes before checking whether the current encounter must be resolved. I’d previously thought that the encounter resolved immediately without the chance to intervene, and that consequently one needed to pre-spend parts in anticipation of a potential failure situation, if such a failure would be critical. This is a game-changer.

Continuing from where I’d left off last time, I proceeded to successfully reach the second outpost on my very first attempt!; but then realised at the end that I’d been cheating by discarding the Tox card instead of postponing it in exchange for juice (I’d played this correctly last week, but on that occasion I’d also had a way to discard that card most of the time, and I mixed it up in my head this time). So I treated that run as null and void and made a second attempt with the same set-up… and I succeeded!

Each outpost brings its own wrinkles to the game, and one aspect was notably easier this time… I’m still not holding out high hopes for a successful first game (I’ve not looked ahead to see what outposts 3 and 4 hold in store), but it’s certainly feeling more achievable than I’d first thought (both on account of the rules correction, and also because my comprehension and tactics are improving).

Onwards I go…

Edit: Oh, wow, a victory is three outposts, not four. You start at zero, and I was just seeing the four positions on the map card and got it in my head that I had four outposts to get to (despite pretty clear numbering). So I actually have three remaining runs in which to succeed just once more. This time there are four destination cards instead of three… I presume it’ll prove to be more difficult…

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…and success! It took me two runs to get there, after making tactical errors in the first run which left me starved for options and finally out of luck.

Impressions then:

The Dead Eye is a solo deck-building game, essentially. There are 14 standard ‘core’ cards that you start every run with, and a kind of market (albeit not thematically) of two face-down piles of 5 cards each – one with ‘good’ cards (juice) and the other with ‘bad’ cards (heat) – from which you will either choose or be forced to add cards to your deck as the game progresses. If you are ever required to take a card from a pile which has been depleted, you fail the run – and as one of the 14 start cards (‘Tox’) forces you to add a card from the bad pile every time it appears, the duration of each run is limited (although the first of the three sets of ‘destination’ cards enables a card combo which can bypass the Tox event).

These two piles of 5 are dealt randomly from the 12+12 cards in the box, leaving 7 of each in ‘reserve’; and every time you end a run (success or failure) you randomly replace 1 of each with a reserve, retiring the cards that you’ve removed. Hence you can make a maximum of 8 runs in a game, and your juice/heat ‘market’ piles will be slightly different for each run, and your starting set is likely quite different from one game to the next.

Thematically, you’re traversing a sci-fi wasteland trying to get from one safe haven to the next, and the market is your remaining ‘strength’ and ‘hope’. There’s some thematic art and flavour text, but the theme feels very light to me, and I’m not convinced this is going to change.

Every card in the game is multi-use. Almost every card can be a potential ‘encounter’ with both a good and a bad outcome possible; and almost every card can be spent as ‘heat’ or ‘juice’ to influence which of those outcomes you’ll get for the current encounter. The outcomes themselves are mostly either ‘distance’ (helping you towards the next safe haven), or ‘parts’ (special abilities which largely help you to manage your current heat and juice, but which include some other special-case abilities as well).

Once they have become ‘parts’ or ‘distance’, those cards are no longer part of your deck; so you start with your standard 14 cards (7 juice, 7 heat); acquire more cards from the two piles of 5 during the game; acquire the 3-4 ‘destination’ cards for each run as your fulfil their requirements; and attempt to eliminate cards from your deck as either ‘parts’ or ‘distance’ by achieving the good outcome when that card is the current ‘encounter’. You want parts to help you manage the random elements, and you want distance in order to reach the next safe haven.

Draw too much heat and you’ll get the bad outcome; otherwise, with enough juice, you’ll get the good outcome (each encounter specifies thresholds for both). You’re always drawing heat and juice from your face-down deck – but while the 14 start cards are not distinguishable face-down, the card backs of the two piles of 5 are identifiably heat or juice; so as your deck acquires cards from those piles, you will sometimes know what you’ll be drawing next. There’s also a memory element – ‘postponing’ cards happens a lot, and this means that you return the card to your deck, face down, at the bottom. Consequently you often know what the sequence is going to be as you approach the end – and whether or not it’s going to force you into a good or bad outcome – even if the card backs are not identifiable.

It’s not bad. I’m not sure it’s great, though.

After initially thinking the game was brutally difficult, it turned out to be easy enough that I won in my first attempt, despite having played half that game under unintentionally hard house rules. There is a very easy way you can increase the difficulty, though, simply by reducing the number of allowed failures (5) to some smaller number (perhaps even zero).

Thematically, I’m reminded somewhat of The Lost Expedition. The specific gameplay mechanics are rather different, but it still feels like a similar niche – and for me, TLE (and its sibling Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth) are much more thematic games (even if I have to generate the story in my head, the TLE games give me the prompts to do that in a way that TDE does not). I’ll happily play this game again, but while TLE and JD:TCE are both staying in my collection, I’m uncertain whether or not this one will be sticking around for the long term.

It’s not a bad puzzle; I just don’t know that it has legs longer term. I’ll be genuinely interested to see how easy (or not) I find it, the next time I play…

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In fact I was sufficiently interested that I played it again, and the answer was “too easy”.

The whole game took roughly 90 minutes, which was a victory in straight sets, including the reset time in between the runs, and the time spent pandering to my cat who regularly wanted to lie all over the cards (and who has just flattened this laptop screen against the table, and is lying half on top of it : )

Of note, the middle run genuinely took only ~15 minutes, so I guess there’s something to the time on the box after all.

I think that gives me my conclusion, though. Once I’d figured out my basic strategy, there just weren’t many interesting decisions to make; and unless I still have the rules wrong and am now making things too easy (but I don’t think that’s the case), the game simply doesn’t hold enough challenge. So… into the ‘sell’ pile it goes.


Edit: From perusing BGG, a better method of actually increasing difficulty seems to be reducing the number of cards in the Strength and/or Hope piles. That would certainly make failure more likely, but I don’t think it would affect the decision making very much.

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Finished up a game of Lords of Waterdeep with my wife and her brother a little while ago. We played using the Skullport expansion, which adds the Corruption mechanic, which is really interesting.

Each Corruption token is worth negative points at the end of the game, but the value depends on how many tokens are remaining on the Corruption Board. Starts at -1 per token and maxes out at -9. And we got it that bad and would have ended the game that way if my brother-in-law had not returned one (at the cost of getting one) which changed the value to -8 per token. He had 6, so it was worthwhile for him.

I ended up winning, with just two Corruption but a heap of completed quests. My wife was in second with no Corruption, and her brother was last. Scores were 123 - 118 - 110.

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