Board Game Lists · Board Gaming · First Impressions

New-to-Me First Impressions 10/16/17 – 11/15/17

I began this a few months ago and really enjoyed going through and providing these impressions. The thought was to give some coverage to those games that I may not play enough times to review, or which may never quite make it to a review due to the number of games played and the time it takes to review a game. So here are some brief first impressions of games I recently got my first plays with. I’m also including a “Replay rating” for each game on a scale of 1-10. 1 would be “I’d rather sit out and watch others play games than play this again” and 10 being “Save me a seat, I’d gladly play this any time!”

A Feast for Odin – My wife is a huge Uwe Rosenberg fan, so when we had a chance to get this with the Meeple Realty insert in exchange for a few games collecting dust on our shelves, I had to jump on that opportunity. We both enjoy Patchwork. I love just about anything Viking themed. And she loves both Worker Placement and Rosenberg games. This all sounds like a recipe for success, and my first play was solo and left me wanting to pull it back out again. Then, of course, the next game on this list came along again and blew all other games off to the side, so it hasn’t hit the table again yet. But I plan to change that tonight when sitting down to a game with my wife… In terms of the game itself, I really liked the puzzle aspect of the boards and that spaces used 1-4 workers depending on which part of the board you go to. Part of me questions, with how open the game is, how much replay value there really is here but for now I am eager to dive right in some more. 7/10

The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game– This isn’t new to me, per say, but it recently reentered my collection. When I first had the game, I was resistant to expand the game beyond the core set so I traded it away to a friend. Now that the game has returned, and vaulted up to be my favorite solo game in my collection (with good reason!), I have changed my tune a little on the expandable game. Instead of seeing it as an endless money grab, I see it as a way to continue to freshen the experience of a game I really, really enjoy playing. My recent shift in thinking from “play more new games!” to “replay favorites” was partially inspired by this game, along with many others. There are so many options in this game, and now that there are Saga sets out there I have a great idea where to begin expanding into this game. 10/10

Imperial Settlers – I picked this one up on a whim, passing over some games that I almost-immediately regretted not buying. I stuck it out and set this game up to try as a solo play and discovered that there was a nice, tight engine builder in this card-based game. So I set it up again and played a second time that day, having fun once more as I played through the solo mode (which will end up growing stale eventually). The good news is that I think this is my type of game with engine building via cards. 7/10

Photosynthesis – Sometimes the environment in which you game can have a real impact on the experience of the game. That was very much the case when my wife taught me this game. I know, for a fact, that my experience was impacted in a negative way that had nothing to do with the game itself, and so this is very high on my “I need to play that again” list even though my first play left me feeling “meh” about it. 5/10

Arkham Horror: The Card Game– Lord of the Rings 2.0 is what some might call this, and mechanically there are some really striking similarities. But the two games, theme not considered, are vastly different in approach. Lord of the Rings is designed mostly to be played a single scenario at a time, whereas Arkham Horror is supposed to be a campaign of X scenarios strung together. They both require deck construction, but Arkham Horror’s approach is smaller and more streamlined in a sense because you each have an unique investigator rather than fielding a trio of heroes. If you love the constructing of decks and fine-tuning them in the fires of challenge, you’ll dig Lord of the Rings. If you prefer a game where the narrative is as important as the gameplay and where the deck construction is easier and less impactful, then Arkham Horror is for you. My wife would probably prefer the design of Arkham Horror more, and honestly if there are two games that would be worth my money to expand, it would be this and Lord of the Rings because they are both soloable. If Lord of the Rings didn’t exist, this might have a shot at being at the top of my solo list if I played it solo. As it stands, I’d choose Lord of the Rings because I love the deck construction and the theme more than the fine-tuned mechanics and strong narrative. But in all honesty, I’d have a blast with either one. 9/10

Trajan – I think I am firmly on the path to becoming a Feld fan, as this is the third Feld game I have played and the third one I really enjoyed. I am pretty sure this is a game I’ll like even better than Castles of Burgundy, which is still a really fun game, but I found the decisions in this one were fantastic. I’d really love to play this one again, as I think it takes a full game to really understand and enjoy that personal mancala mechanic. 9/10

Between Two Cities– Stonemaier Games delivers yet again on a pleasant gaming experience. It won’t be the heavyweight in a collection that a Scythe or Viticulture would be in rankings, but this is one I could see being a great addition to a game collection. It has some unique takes on tile laying and end-game scoring to determine the winner. I just so happened to be in the highest scoring city overall as well as have the top 2nd-highest scoring city. We used the Capitals expansion, which I’m sure enhances the base experience but this is one I’d really love to try with 2 or playing solo before purchasing. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem likely so onto the Christmas list it goes… 8/10

Queendomino – A part of me groaned when my wife came home with this game. I enjoy Kingdomino for what it is: a very light and fast filler game. I was expecting more of the same in this one, making it a game that I would be willing to play but never really want to play. What I wasn’t prepared for was just how much was added, mechanically, to this version of the game. It has a new terrain type. It has up to three additional optional actions that can be done on a turn. This took the predecessor and, rather than giving us more of the same, it took the game to a new level of complexity. It is still a simple enough game, but there are a lot more interesting decisions to be made over the course of the game. Which means this is a game that I am actually okay with owning and playing. 7/10

Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game – This was one I was eager to try since it was a brand new LCG and so the barrier to entry would be relatively low. A small card pool is a great time to plunge into a game like this. And yes, it was a lot of fun. I liked a lot of the things the game did mechanically. The fate, which determines how long a character is on the board, is outstanding. However, this game had two strikes against it: it didn’t blow me away quite like Netrunner did, and it is an LCG. If I’m going to collect an LCG, it makes the most sense to have it be the cooperative, soloable ones out there. Unless my wife gets hooked on one of the more competitive ones, I’ll never have a chance to hone a deck and improve my skill in an LCG like Netrunner or Legend of Five Rings. 6/10

Friday – Anyone who has paid attention to my taste in game mechanics knows by now that I am a pretty big fan of deckbuilding games. I also happen to play a reasonable amount of solo games – not usually because I prefer to solo a game but because my wife isn’t available at the time so I play a game on my own. I’ve been meaning to try this solo-only game for a while and, after a few plays, I find that this is a really solid and challenging game. There is a line between risk and reward that has to be balanced well, and it can be real easy to fall on the wrong side of that line. I don’t know if this would be a game I would want to play often, so it may not enter my collection, but it is definitely a very solid solo game with a small box. 7/10

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8 thoughts on “New-to-Me First Impressions 10/16/17 – 11/15/17

  1. So, just for comparison, what did/would you have rated Kingdomino on that same scale?

    It’s one of the favourites in our household, because of how light it is. Quick to set up, teach, understand and play, but I feel it still has plenty of room for a bit of strategy, without being a brain-burner. Perfect for those ‘just one more before bedtime’ games, especially having two young children in the house.

    When it’s just my wife and I, we always play with the 7×7 grid, which really helps get you into the building mode! So I’m tempted to get Queendomino for a bit more of a meaty game that would be a relatively easy step up from Kingdomino, while also allowing 7×7 grids with 4 people (using both games) or 5×5 with 6 players (which is a number that is usually a bit more problematic to cater for).

    I don’t play many solo games, usually spending that time watching TV or game reviews/play-throughs, but maybe I just haven’t found the right solo game yet!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For the sake of comparison, Kingdomino would probably be a solid 5/10 on the replay scale for me. I’m never opposed to a game of it, but I will also never suggest it unless we have friends over and need something quick to start/finish the night. My wife and I play the 7×7 when we do play it, and often do more than one game in a session. It is one of those games I’m always okay with playing but would never, ever choose it myself. If I want something in the same timeframe with my wife, I would grab Hanamikoji instead. That game is a fantastic 2-player game. For a simple puzzle game, I’d choose Patchwork over Kingdomino as well even though it probably takes just a little longer to get through a game of it. The problem isn’t Kingdomino itself, but rather that we have other games in the same categories that I enjoy more and play in a comparable time frame.

      If you enjoy Kingdomino, I think it definitely makes sense to grab its predecessor. You can play it as a standalone game, or combine the two (the rules say to alternate, taking 4 tiles from Queendomino one round and then 4 from Kingdomino the next. Queendomino adds a new terrain type, which is where you build the new buildings that are introduced which are the main method to gain Castles and Knights for use in the game. Knights are used to “tax” and gain coins, which you use to buy those buildings from a market. A dragon exists to destroy a building from the market. The Queen goes to whomever has the most Castle pieces, and she’ll add a crown at the end to your largest area. The game becomes a much higher-scoring affair with Queendomino, and in turn adds a lot of interesting decisions about what buildings to purchase, when to destroy a building with the dragon, when to use your knights, and more.

      Solo gaming, for me, took a long time. It started by trying out the solo play for Race for the Galaxy when it was among my absolute favorite games. I was a huge video gamer and, over the course of the next two years I found myself wanting to pull out cardboard more often than to simply turn on my Playstation. I have now sold off all my gaming systems, and even watching TV doesn’t hold the same appeal as it once did. I’d rather play a game and interact with my wife than watch a show together, and I’d rather set up and play through a game than sit down and passively watch something by myself. I do still read books, though, which gives me a nice combination of electronic-free entertainment! It isn’t for everyone, but I’m sure there is at least one solo game you might find you enjoy. Setup/teardown and play time are definitely important factors for solo gaming.

      And, for the record, we have a 16-month old in the house so I completely understand and sympathize about trying to fit things into a window of time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah Hanamikoji looks interesting too, as does Patchwork (which I’ve heard is one of the best games for couples), but we also like that Kingdomino can play up to 4 players, and is really easy to teach to casual gamers (which we know more of compared to more serious or hobbyist gamers).

        I don’t think you meant to refer to Queendomino as Kingdomino’s ‘predecessor’. It definitely came after and so it’d be a successor I guess…

        Any suggestions for a quicker solo game? Say, under an hour? The only ones I’ve tried were Sentinels of the Multiverse (with multiple characters), which felt more like a math lesson, and the solo variant of Clank! that uses the Renegade Games app, which was quite good, but probably not the same as a game designed from the start to be played with 1+ players.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oops, yeah I meant successor. Problems of not proofreading!

        Stay tuned soon for a Top 10 solo games. There will be more than a few on that list to fit that quick requirement. One of which would be Viticulture: Essential Edition. A fantastic game with 1 and with 2!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve just recently found your blog and I think it’s going to be right up my alley! I have played a lot of video games but recently have begun exploring more and more board games, specifically two player games.

    Arkham Horror has been one I have been looking at and its decently priced on Amazon. I’ve heard that the initial base game could use an expansion or two to keep it varied for two players. What is your experience?

    Liked by 2 people

      1. No worries, holidays happen! Yes, I would agree that the Arkham Card Game provides an excellent entry point into that theme. It is also a great starter for deckbuilding games, as it is a lot easier and more forgiving initially since you are intended to “level up” as you progress through a campaign. You will get some very solid play out of the core set but, eventually, you will want to pick up some of the expansions to add new scenarios to play and to gain new characters and abilities to play around with.

        Like

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