Recent Boardgames (Your Last Played Game Volume 2)

The littlest kiddo got Pokémon: Battle Academy yesterday

Four games later I’m staying it’s not terrible. My only frame of reference for this sort of game is Magic: The Gathering and Pokémon sort of is the reverse of that.

Rather than gathering resources to get a creature/spell out. You play a creature and then power it up to attack.

There’s some nuance in retreating a Pokémon as only one can attack. But ultimately the booster pack system will kill it for me as you need specific cards to access better Pokémon.


I played Return to Dark Tower twice this weekend, once solo (2-handed, and a loss) and again with my partner (a win). We played with a random setup but drew the Empress of Ashes, which was my villain in the prior game, so a little bit of a leg up there.

Lots of tense moments throughout as the main quest required a lot of work, and the level 2 foes synergized well with the villain, making events hit hard. We were scrambling to keep skulls in the reserve for most of the back half of the game. We put a bit of an asterisk on the win after a rookie mistake lead to a fairly consequential take-back, but we didn’t feel bad for pressing on.

The suggested setup for a first game really leaves a lot to be desired, in my opinion. Now that I’ve been playing with different foe/quest/villain combos, the fun factor has really been dialed up. It’s actually kept us from trying the Alliances expansion so far, since we’re not really left wanting for much.


Magic: The Scattering?


Who would have thought that! :slight_smile:


Played the new Pocket Edition of Sunset Over Water, solo.

I really like it! It fulfils its theme completely, being a relaxing meditative solo full of gorgeous landscapes.

I did well on my first try, getting 39 points which just put me into the 2nd-highest solo score band. Getting above that will be very tricky. Lots of decisions such as “Do I get up slightly later in the day for more movement and collecting, but doing so discards the highest scoring Commission card? Do I even want the highest scoring if it takes two paintings to give me 5 points, when I could score 4 for only one painting?” (Usually no, except for the last rounds when I had an amazing looking 6 pointer but was out of early-morning planning and had to discard it, aaargh). Is that 5 worth it if it features the symbol which is my inspiration for this game, and counts as +1 points? (Maybe yes).

Several things make it relaxing: the info for the round is totally known (as well as one card which will be available next round) and towards the end the planning cards for the last 3 rounds are known ahead of time. There’s no tricks: if you earn something, it’s yours. Add in Beth Sobel art and enough randomness that one more game might give you the cards you needed, and it’s easy to go back to.

It’s not as “pocket” as previous Herbaceous pocket edition, being about twice as large and twice as heavy, more coat pocket than jeans pocket. But it’s simple enough that you could break out the multiplayer with a minimal teach and players would get a satisfying game with nice art.


Spor o Bor - Polish edition of Schotten Totten with prettiful warrior animals instead of Scottish cartoony warriors or medieval soldiers

Bus - 5 player Bus and it was fun. But I feel like it wasn’t a good decider for me if I want this game in regular rotation. More plays required


Manhattan Project: Chain Reaction - boring. Never found a game in this series that is worth my time

Das letzte Paradies - a Knizia game that was never released in English. Designed in the old old year of 1993, and archaeologists found that it is written in an ancient gaming language called… German. Luckly BGG is ever reliable with an English translation. What can we do without these nerds?

Very intriguing. Very mind bending with the pull between two directions. It’s a blind bidding game where you bid with a closed fist and then the highest bidder will win the tile but will pay with what the 2nd highest bidder had. HUH!?

Then, you have two choices, do you want to build that tile as a villa/hotel on this island paradise or as a nature preserve. Interesting decisions on either direction with shared incentives all around.

Cat in the Box - played with purple cards this time. It seems that a paradox will likely happen. I wonder if one can be a :boom::boom::boom::boom: and try to close down numbers to screw up people’s possibilities. Oh man. Oh man. I’m not sure on how feasible it is but the thought of driving people towards an earlier paradox by being a :boom::boom::boom::boom: is tantalising.

Tongiaki: Voyage to the Unknown - starting in Tonga, your Austronesian boat crew travel from island to island. It is safer to travel with as many players, reducing the risk of missing ships, but that means you end up sharing the island together. Very strong player mutualism. The game is very random push-your-luck but this is one where we all laugh a lot by travelling together and sink or screw over someone and lead their ships to their deaths.

Princes of Florence


Played 2 rounds of Spirit Island against Russia level 6. First up Oceans Hungry Grasp and Grinning Trickster Stirs Up Trouble freaked out the invaders. We won a fear cards victory with only 1 city on the board. Oceans drowning ability works s a cheeky counter to the Russian infantry’s cheat death ability so that helped. Also while Trickster is quite random they do have decent fear generation consistently along with a lot of ability to get out plenty of strife markers. Drew a really fun major power that added no symbols and was really deadly to everything, Spirits, Invaders, Dahan and beasts so that was entertaining to get right the timing and location. The poor Dahan ended up really endangered so the victory might be somewhat pyrrhic.

Next up Heart of the Wildfire and Sharp Fangs Behind the Leaves lost miserably. Sharp Fangs is a tough match up with Russia. The cheating death explorers really counter the fast start Fangs is after. I was doing ok until an event sucked up my store of energy that was going to power a major. I am wondering if I made a mistake not upping my card plays sooner but I don’t think I spent too long going up the power track to unlock 2 energy and 2 symbols. We lost via all the blight going out, it’s possible the other player screwed it by forgetting their 1 blight removal power with out getting their innate blight removal going. It meant on my slow turns they were unable to help out as they were limited in their placement potential without causing chains of blight cascades. Needless to say things spiralled pretty quickly. I ended up with a hand of cards that led to some turns where I couldn’t affect things too well, I think i needed to select powers taking in to account my whole hand a bit more, hopefully I can learn that for next time.


I’ve played about 15+ solo modes of Terraforming Mars recently (courtesy of the app). I am playing with prelude–without it the game is impossible–and the extra maps, some of which seem easier than others.

My win quota was abysmal and I lost the first 4 games. Then I got in 4 wins over the next 8 games. Now I am back to losing. I am usually getting close but sometimes I just didn’t get enough cards to place lakes, or I lack oxygen or heat generation. I usually fill 2 gauges and then miss the last one. Sometimes, I can see when invested too much in something (having left over titan or steel at the end of the game or extra heat). But some games just feel very disjointed. And the more I play, the more pronounced this feeling becomes because I learn the cards and know which ones would make a good combo and there is just no way to get at them. And too many cards are just too situational and some are completely invalid in solo (generating points from animals who has time for that?)

There are some cards that when I get them early enough I am almost sure I will win. Most of these have to do with the ability to use energy as an action to raise oxygen, create a lake or raise temperatures. Or drawing more cards.

I feel this is less pronounced in multiplayer as there are other strategies available to generate VP and you can probably adapt and play “off” other players’ strategies. But it exists and makes life hard for people. It’s been a while since I got to play this multiplayer. Not because of this but because my partner drowns in AP when playing and I simply have too many other games he will protest less when I put them on the table :wink:

I’ve also been losing solo-Regicide on BGA during work breaks :slight_smile:


What does “impossible” mean here?

I do not think I could win without the advantages of the prelude cards. I should have clarified that I do not mean impossible to win in general, just for me. If I meant impossible in general, I would have put a lengthy argument probably, because I know the solo mode existed before and without prelude and as such is surely winnable.

Maybe one day I will have got good enough that I might try without them.


I had a solo session of Sleeping Gods last night. First of all, the components are exquisite, I love the presentation and components, and even if the art is a bit childish in places, it does not put me off at all. I like how the different boxes have been made significantly different with just a few differences (magnet lid, shape, colour) making it easier to navigate through staff you need. It is a bit of a table hog, but I think most narrative games like this tend to be that way.

After a session, where I ran the introductory booklet and a couple more turns, I have the feeling that this is Tales from Arabian Nights version 2.0, or 3.0 even. The game is more complex on the resolution of the different events, but not too complex to make it a drag. I am liking so far the ship board, although I still haven’t used all the areas. If anything, it can be interesting to see if the set up and tidy up after each session will not put me off, but it seems like they have done their homework in the design to make it easier to keep track of things with the different shaped/coloured boxes from above.

The jury is out, but so far I am really liking it more than I expected. And I had not the highest of expectations, but definitely I was a bit hyped about it. So I am glad I invested in it and also I am glad that nobody bought it off my friend in that week period I gave it to make up my mind.


Oh, surprised to hear that. Never tried prelude, but I was under the impression it made solo more random, rather than easier.

Did a bit of digging, and it seems Prelude is harder:

You are correct. Solo with just Prelude (and not Colonies which works to balance it out) is a lot more difficult that solo without Prelude.

12 generations is not actually enough generations for a game with just Prelude (or Prelude and Venus Next). But as 13 generations is probably too many, it is 12 ('cause it can’t be 12 and a half). And 12 is difficult. Like, after you play a lot, you’ll get better at it, but still, going from, like, 75% wins with just he base game (or base game and Venus) to, like, 25% wins with Prelude isn’t at all unusual.

This guy knows what he is talking about, based on post history. So, you are actually playing on hard mode, because of the decrease in number of generations allowed. Standard game without prelude you have 14 generations to win, and it’s quite easy if you don’t focus on points.

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Quite a few games over the last week in what has been an otherwise fairly slow month, gaming-wise:


Fantasy Realms x2, a couple of 2 player plays of this one (which I think might be the most fun way to play it?!). I do not have the expansion, and will probably wait to see if the art of the new deluxe edition is decent and maybe pick up that one and move my copy of the base game on. But yeah, Fantasy Realms is a lot of fun, but an app to handle the scoring is a must imo.

Concordia x2, two 3 player games of this with different friends, both groups opted for the Aegyptus map, no Forum this time around, but as usual included salt from Salsa (because why not?). It seems to only get more fun each time I play, and is definitely in my top 5 games of all time at this point.

Super Skill Pinball, well this was a fantastic blowout - we played on Dragonslayer, and I managed a score of 200 and something, with an early lost ball due to an unfortunate tilt, but my opponent managed to time a multiball perfectly and ended up with a ridiculous 500+ score. I also realised that I’ve been playing multiball on that table wrong - apparently it doubles coins gained for the horde as well as flat points. So that’s a thing. But even still, his score was super impressive, not sure it’ll be beaten anytime soon!

Paladins of the West Kingdom, solo play of this at medium and I lost by quite a chunk. I find running the automated player a bit more work than it’s really worth (and my solo scores have been correspondingly low so far). Much prefer it at 2 (I’ve not tried with a bigger crowd yet - I only really have a couple of friends who enjoy games this heavy, and it’s a bit long for a weeknight also, which stops it hitting the table frequently - it is excellent fun though)

Lost Patrol x2, friend brought his print and play copy of this one over and we played two games back-to-back, switching sides each time. I lost both times and kind of struggled to grasp the strategy. I much prefered the reimplementation, Crypt Hunters - seemed less ‘gamey’ and easier to pick up (though I did win that one, so that probably helps)

Isle of Skye, played this at two and confirmed that, while it still works with two, it’s definitely better with more. I also forget how straightforward it is to teach and play though (it’s really not that much of a step up from Carcassonne), so hopefully can hit the table again soon with 3+ players.

The Fox in the Forest, my wife’s tutoring has helped my play at this one enormously - beat my friend very solidly (and even managed a ‘humble’ victory one round, which I’m traditionally pretty bad at) Lots of fun.

Android Netrunner x2, one of my friends is a huge fan of this game and way into the NISEI scene, and he wanted to teach my other friend who’d only heard of the game before, so he talked us through a couple of 2 player games. Reminded me that I do still enjoy the game, though I do wish it had something like MTG’s duel decks - I could see myself picking up one or two of those if they existed, but sadly they do not.

Jaipur, got my butt kicked at this one - and I was the one to end the round both times, so felt particularly bad.

Fleet: The Dice Game, big scoring game of this with like 60+ points for fish alone, well over 100 points, my opponent did decently but couldn’t compete with my monstrous coin generating machine by the end (I actually ran out of coin track on the last round, that’s not happened before!)


Oops. I thought something was off when the first couple of games ended “early”. I had not played in a while and so I never questioned the number of generations even when 12 felt off. Thanks :slight_smile: I thought without the prelude advantages I would never get anywhere in the solo. I should have realized they would balance those out.

Maybe I will try to play a couple of games without them. I mean I have won a few games but only with good combinations of cards and corporations…


At long last we managed to meet our boardgame collecting friends for an actual boardgame night to play Ark Nova :slight_smile: They have already played a bunch of games–at least 10 during their last vacation we were told.

It was really strange getting taught a game. Obviously, when we play their games they teach them. But it’s been sooo long. The teach took a good long while but playing the game is easy enough. We also got a few tips on strategy that they have already learned and I don’t mind. I practiced enough standing on my own foot with the actions as it was. I kept asking if cards were any good all the time. Why waste an opportunity to grok a good game faster…

I came in 2nd after our host who had a run of card luck that was unusual he said. It is to be expected that he wins games we play, so nothing unusual there. My partner came in last of 4. And the only thing that remained unclear after the first few rounds was who was going to be 2nd and 3rd. Both other spots were obvious quite soon. This frustrated my partner even more.

Interestingly, there were a lot of take that cards with poison and “würgen” and while I got to a good start my partner immediately wrecked me by playing one in the first round and I was the only one who had already played a big enough creature to get “hit” by it. Our hosts claimed that this was quite unusual, in their normal games a) maybe one or two of these cards get played and b) nobody does so many conservation projects or gets all their workers for the “Verband” action.

Lovely game, I wish I had a reason to buy it. But yesterday cemented the fact that my partner hates modern Euro games (I need to listen to the SVWAG segment on “efficiency euros” again). And I think Ark Nova does not have a solo mode. Maybe with the aquarium expansion he might like it?

I think comparisons with Terraforming Mars are well-founded. There is a striking similarity in the card play. I also really enjoyed the action selection mechanism that is was lifted from Civilization: A new Hope (or is it dawn :wink: ).

Overall an enjoyable experience even if I found downtime between turns a bit long when playing with four. I would love to play again, but I rarely visit our friends without my partner and he was not having a good time. And it is a game that runs too long for someone who doesn’t have a good time. It is sad because our friends love those kinds of games (and so do I) and it is really one of my best opportunities to play those.


Yes, even an official one I think.


You are not helping :stuck_out_tongue:
Thanks though. I believe our hosts mentioned something on the cards was “solomode only”… I was just still a bit sad that my partner had no fun at all which was so bad he spent like 20 minutes explaining to us how he didn’t have fun and how he hated all boardgames–I know he doesn’t, it is just one type of boardgames. This type. But I think I need to explain to our friends.


I’ve been making use of my new dedicated gaming table in my office, but I’ve been lax in talking about it.

Merchant’s Cove x5 –

I picked up a secondhand copy of Merchant’s Cove a month or two ago, anticipating the new kickstarter campaign as a good way to pick up additional content for the game if I end up liking it.

I do like it. But it’s not a great game. It’s really a mediocre game. But, then, why play it 5 times? I’ll tell you why: because it’s a cool system to sink your brain into; and also I played each of the base game merchants once, but the Captain twice because I lost the first time. Each of the different merchants plays a completely different minigame; but at the end of the day (and the round), all goods produced are fungible. I make a “small red” good for sale and my opponent makes a “small red” good for sale? The game ignores everything about how that good was made and makes them identical for the purpose of selling to the incoming adventurers.

I’ve only played the game solo against the Peddler AI/bot. But I will tell you that multiplayer play would be fairly solitaire in its execution. The only point you rub up against other people is the turn order clock and placing incoming adventurers on different boats to influence what goods will be available for sale and at what price. The latter part, the placement of adventurers on boats, is deeply athematic as far as I can tell, but without it Merchant’s Cove wouldn’t really be a game at all. I think this level of incidental player interaction is good enough for a casual game like this.

I would never go out of my way to try to show Merchant’s Cove as a good game or force it upon seasoned gamers that expect direct interaction between players, but I am going to introduce it to my partner because I think she would really like it and we tend to like soft/minimal player interaction games when playing 2-player.

I’m still undecided if I’m going to back the new Kickstarter. The prices seem about on par with current OGS pricing, so it would really come down to the KS extras that are included. I’ll do another analysis of the campaign closer to it’s end date to see what all will be coming along with the big box expansion for backers.

Petrichor Collector’s Edition –

This one is a long overdue Kickstarter reward that has been languishing on my shelf for a while. I love the aesthetic and the chill nature of the setting/theme. The components are just lovely.

However, the solo AI is a dirty cheat.

I played one game against the AI and was clearly out of the running for points by the last round due to the way the AI places votes on the weather events and etc etc etc – while writing this I went back and checked the rules and I gave the AI too many points for the final round weather events because only the 2 highest vote totals award the vote track advancements, not all 4. So after all of that, I actually won my game! I thought the final score was AI’s 73 to my 62, but I gave the AI 13 points too many, which makes it a very close 62-60 final score.

Still, I didn’t get the feeling that the AI was a worthy opponent. In the final round, I basically held the AI to effectively nothing except weather votes (the AI randomly determined it would add rain drops to tiles or clouds where it was already leading significantly). Unfortunately, due to the AI’s random luck, I had to forfeit a 4 point tile win in order to defend my leading Wheat Token position.

So what about the game rather than the AI? I think the game is really clever. It’s really an economic/dudes-on-a-map area-control strategy game masquerading as a rainy day. So how does it stack up against other area control/influence games? I don’t know, because I haven’t played many of them.

Now that I realize the AI wasn’t quite as much of a dirty, filthy cheat as I originally suspected, I may have to return to the game to re-evaluate. Up until I was writing this post, I didn’t really have interest in further exploring the AI, but since it ended up being such a close contest (and I’m pretty sure I accidentally cheated in my favor at one point?) I feel like I should, at least, explore some of the other possibilities and permutations available (3 expansions and a number of promos that all came with my Collector’s Edition all-in pledge).

I will, say, however, that the southern winds AI’s Wind event is both so annoying, boring and frustrating.

Wind: after resolving your wind weather effect (which is still moving any one drop to an adjacent tile), check each of the tiles P3 to P6 in order. On each checked tile, if there is at least 1 of your drops on it, move 1 of your drops from the tile to the adjacent tile to the North (a drop on P3 would move to P1 for example).

The solo layout always has “better” tiles at the bottom of the layout than at the top; which basically means you have to fight really hard to keep majorities in the south, or you have to formulate a plan to win using mostly P1 and P2. I had almost exactly the same layout as shown above, except my P3 was Rice instead of Potato. I positioned well on each of the tiles except Rice at least once, but keeping majorities in the southern tiles meant either massively overloading them with my rain drops, or voting
to prevent the Wind event.

At the moment, I’ve got Merchants of the Dark Road set out on my table and am hoping to get a game of that in this evening (finally; it’s been half-setup for 3 days now; between reading the rules, watching a solo playthrough on YouTube, and just not having the energy at the end of the day to actually play)


Broke into V-Sabotage tonight, just to try it out solo. Played the Bridges level with the blue side of the Officer and the Scout. Played it twice, as the first attempt ended poorly. Officer got detected when an enemy entered his space, and he was stuck next to two enemy entrances. While he was able to take out the new enemy, the two ones just to the north of him shot him up a bit. Moved to a small tile to go stealthy again and got shot again while running away.

Meanwhile, the Scout was on the other end of the map, had crowbarred the enemy entrance on his tile. Figured he could move stealthily to the large tile to the north and eliminate the guard on the alarm, but got spotted. Killed the guard, but after the enemy reinforcement and movement phases, there were plenty of adjacent guys and both commandos hit -3 and bled out the next turn.

Set up again with the same commandos, and this time it went much better. Got lucky with enemy movement and also a few 0 reinforcement draws on key entrances. Scout ended up getting spotted when entering the second objective tile, but that was enough to eliminate the guard, disarm the explosive, and move to the large tile. Officer, meanwhile, used his +1 AP to shoot the two enemies who entered his tile, remaining stealthy the whole time. Both commandos exited the level on the next turn.

Good fun, and looking forward to playing more.


Things I have learned in this game of Xia:

  • That wasn’t me, it was my twin brother in an identical ship.
  • Do not play chicken with comets.