Board Gaming · Gaming Recap · On the Table

On the Table – August 2017

So far I’ve been consistent in having a recap post at the end of the month where I cover the games played, including win/loss tracking, for the month and a tally of Year-to-date. Last month I had the idea to do a second monthly post where I highlight some of what games we’re enjoying right now, what new (to us) games we can’t wait to play for the first time next, games we’ve played but don’t own that we are itching to play again, and one game on our couple’s wish list plus one on my solo wishlist.

Hot Games of August

Mystic Vale

This is an interesting one, a game that I never suspected would become the hit with my wife that is has been. I fell in love with this game from the first play, which was a local gamer teaching me how to play. I talked about it for nearly two weeks afterwards. That friend came over for some games and I kept mentioning we should play Mystic Vale. For the final game of the night, my wife conceded that she could try it even though it was a deckbuilding game (which she’s not a huge fan of). She fell in love with the game. We borrowed it from that friend for four days and played it six times. We played it again this week when the friend came over for another game night. This is one we’ve just started to explore, and we’re both eager to play again and again.

Stellar Leap

I don’t know if you’ve heard about Stellar Leap, but this game is going to be fantastic. Carla at Weird Giraffe Games was kind enough to send me the print and play files so I could help her test out the solo version of the game. And let me tell you, it is going to be great. She’s made a few tweaks already, and I’ve only played against the Easy AI so far. With two more to test out this month, I can’t wait to get it back on the table. Look for this to hit Kickstarter on September 18th, and a review to go up sometime before that.

Next Games on Deck

Unearth

This one from Brotherwise Games looks and sounds so fantastic. I haven’t opened the box yet on this one, but this game is one I’ve been tempted to grab more than once since it arrived. Now that our Mystic Vale marathon has come to a forced conclusion, it might be time to break this one open and get her hooked on this game.

Mage Knight

Who said that a wish list never gained you anything? My loving wife saw this on last month’s post for my solo wish list, she ordered it on Amazon. It was my “Christmas” present, although she insists I don’t need to wait until December to play it. Which is good, since I have no intention of waiting that long to get this one to the table. There are many other games I probably should get to the table before this one, but I hope I can find a free afternoon to sit down and play this one out. Sadly, it will likely eat that entire afternoon.

Games We Can’t Wait to Replay

Incantris

When our friend comes over for a game night, we usually try to make sure that at least one game on our shame list is played. Last week it was this game, and my wife ended up enjoying it a lot. Which is good, since we’ll need to play it a handful of times in order to review it. And maybe a few more times to try out all four possible modes. And after all that, maybe Frostgrave won’t seem to daunting to her!

Albion’s Legacy

I love this game and its theme. Fiddly or not, this game holds so much appeal for me. I’m just sad that it hasn’t hit the table more often, but other games have taken priority when I get time for solo gaming. As soon as I finish up my time playtesting Stellar Leap, this is the next solo game to revisit the table.

A Wishlist Feature

Raiders of the North Sea

This game is nearly here – at least the Renegade Games version of this one. Viking theme + unique Worker Placement mechanic = something that is hopefully going to be a hit for both me and my wife. I’ve been having an eye on Garphill Games’ Viking trilogy of games for a while now, and knowing that it’ll be readily available this fall has my excitement level really high right now.

Between Two Cities

I’ve been loading up on heavier solo games lately, so this time I’d like to look at one of the other Stonemaier Games titles out there. This one plays 3-7, but has an Automa for solo play (just like Scythe and Viticulture) and has rules for a 2-player version of the game. We don’t have many games that can play up to a larger number, and my wife has expressed wanting to get some shorter, easy-to-teach games for when we have non-gamer friends over. I think this one would fit the bill, and I’m looking to get all five Stonemaier Games titles into my collection (this would make the 3rd, with Charterstone this December marking the 4th).

Board Gaming · Top Ten List

Top 6 Thinky Filler Games

Kudos to Edward and Amanda over at Heavy Cardboard for covering their own Top 6 Thinky Filler Games. I loved hearing about a good number of games that I hadn’t played yet, and have at least one of them that I am definitely going to be checking out here in the near future. It got me to thinking about my own set of filler games in my collection and which ones would be classifiable under their criteria:

  1. A game you wouldn’t normally go seeking to play at a game night
  2. A game playable in under 45 minutes (roughly)

The first of these is the biggest weight for the criteria, and rules out more games than I expected. I also had to consider the likely playtime at higher counts than 2-players with games that play more than 2. This might be a list I choose to revisit every year or so, with so many games out there that I haven’t played. There are two games on here that are, arguably, fringe games. There is some gray area, but they both should fall in these two categories. Even though I really enjoy them, I wouldn’t go to a game night just to play one of them.

Honorable Mention: Biblios – This game came so close to being in the top list, but I had to draw the line somewhere and I felt my one play of Hanamikoji simply presented far more meaningful decisions than this one. I love Biblios and the choices presented as you look at each card, but a fair amount of luck plays a factor because you simply don’t know what the next cards you’re looking at will be. The two phases of this game work well together to present a nice amount of depth, as you want to prepare for the auction in the first half of the game. And then, once the auction comes around, you need to be wise in your purchases so that you hold the majority in a few colors without overspending to get them. I always enjoy playing this game because it rarely feels like playing a filler, something you’ll hear me mention often when it comes to games like the others on this list.

6. Hanamikoji – Full disclosure: I’ve played this game only one time so far. But in that one play I was able to experience the depth of the decisions contained in this game. It is, without question, the best of what I’d consider to be a “micro game” in terms of the number of cards/components. I really love the tough decisions that come with having four actions at your disposal and the need to play each of them once per round. The order in which you do those actions will dictate how the rest of the round can play out for you, as each turn you get one more card into your hand. Having a secret card adds some uncertainty about who will end up with a majority on that number/color. Removing two cards from the round amplifies that uncertainty. And the other seven cards that end up in your hand? You’ll only play four of them on your side, and your opponent will get three of them. The more I reflect on the actions in this game, the more I love them. This is a game that may leap higher on this list as soon as I get some more plays of it.

5. Eight Minute Empire: Legends – This game certainly doesn’t play in eight minutes, but it falls firmly in the filler category. There are so many simple elements in this game, yet they combine together to present an excellent overall experience that contains more depth and requires more thought than you’d expect. In fact, it wasn’t until I sat down and wrote my review of the game that I fully understood how much I enjoyed this game. This game provides an experience that is bigger than the box would indicate, yet does so with such simple mechanics to where almost anyone can play the game and feel like they are doing well. The points are so hard to come by in this game that you feel like every turn’s decision matters, and your pool of coins are limited to where you really need to be wise about when to make that splash purchase that costs 2 or 3 of your coins.

4. The Speicherstadt – This game is deceptive. The name is clunky and funky to those of us in America. The board doesn’t looks that fantastic, and the coins feel like cardboard with some stickers on them, much like those gold coin chocolate candies. The theme is far from memorable. Yet in spite of all of these things, this game blew me away the first time I tried it. So much so that the next time I brought my wife to a game night, I insisted she try that game (thankfully someone different brought their copy of it that time). It isn’t a game I’d go to a game night to play (although I’d gladly play it if this was being set up…depending on what else is being set up at the time), and it definitely can be played in 45 minutes with a set of people who know what they are going and are not prone to AP. The decisions you have to make in this game are so hard. Money is tight. Your meeples are few. The cards you’ll want to buy are many, but you can only have a shot to buy a few of them. And the meeple placement to drive up the price is s stroke of pure brilliance. This is the game where I went from winning with enough points that I “went off the board” because it didn’t go high enough, to losing with negative points on my next play. And I had a really good time both times, enjoying the thinky nature of this game.

3. Battle Line – I had a really hard time placing this game. I had it wavering between #2-4, and ultimately decided to place it in the middle of the list. It was a game on Edward’s on list at Heavy Cardboard, and I couldn’t agree more with what he said about the game. There is so much potential to get in your opponent’s head in this game when placing out cards as they’ll start to wonder if you have those exact cards you’d need in order to capture that flag. The tactics cards are an added element that allow you to break the rules in some ways and also enable you to have extra of a certain number or color if needed, should you get the right card. Yet you also can’t hold them, because the flag can be lost if your opponent can prove there is no card in the Troop deck that can provide the victory. I expressed my love for this game in my recent review of it, and this will remain my favorite 2-player-only filler when I want to pull out a game that makes me think.

2. Kingdom Builder – This is the game that could be argued against placing on this list. After all, this one comes in a big box. But, in my opinion, it definitely fits the criteria listed before: playable in 45-ish minutes and a game you wouldn’t go to a game night to play. I’d certainly play it while at a game night, but it wouldn’t be that feature game I’d want to spend my evening playing. I really love this game, and the limitation of one card in your hand is part of what adds to the thinky nature of this game (which is one of the things I discussed at greater length in my review). Your placement, especially in the first rounds of the game, dictates how your game will play out in many of your games. Deciding which power(s) to go after first is vital, and will either help or hinder your game. Having three scoring conditions, which change from play to play, add replay value and also influence your placement both early and late in the game. There will be the occasional game where a bad string of draws can hamper your late game, but the majority of plays with this game end up being a near-ideal thinky filler.

1. The King is Dead – This is the benchmark that all future fillers will be weighed against. I taught this game to two friends. We immediately played it again and the game was intense. Silent filled the room as we weighed each action and its possible repercussions. With only eight actions available over the course of the entire game, and the removal of a cube from the board every time a player takes an action, this game takes the area control genre and flips it in a way that I positively love. What action you choose matters. When you play it matters. What cube you remove and from where matters. This game can be as thinky as you want it to be, and with the right three people this is a fantastic game to play. Yet it can also be taken as a “lighter” game if you want to play it a little more casually with someone who isn’t as intense about finding that right time to play the card from their hand. It works fine with two, as mentioned in my review, but is best with three. Any time I need a 3-player filler this will be one I’ll consider pulling out because it is that good and that fun.

So there you have it, my top 6 (actually 7) thinky filler games. They aren’t nearly as heavy as some of the ones on Edward and Amanda’s list, but there are some here that I think would give a really good, heavy experience when played. Much bigger than you’d expect to get out of a filler.

What are some of your favorite thinky filler games?

Board Gaming · Review for Two · Two-Player Only

Review for Two – Odin’s Ravens (Second Edition)

Thank you for checking review #22 by Cardboard Clash. My aim is to focus on reviewing board games and how they play for two people and, on occasion, how they play for one person. Because my wife is my primary gaming partner, a lot of consideration goes into finding those games that play well with 2 players, and we typically prefer to find those games that do not require a variant (official or otherwise) in order to play it with just the two of us.

**A copy of this game was provided by Osprey Games in exchange for an honest review.

Times played before review: 5* (actually 6, since I had to play a tiebreaker flight)

An Overview of Odin’s Ravens

Odin’s Ravens is a game designed by Thorsten Gimmler and is published by Osprey Games. The box states that it can play 2 players and has a 15-30 minute play time on the box.

Every morning Odin sends his ravens, Huginn and Muninn, across the entire world to bring back news of what life is like on Earth. Naturally, after thousands of years, they’ve gotten a little competitive. Race through the landscape in opposite directions to be the first to return to Odin. Focus on speed, or enlist the help of the trickster god Loki to create shortcuts and hinder your opponent. Can you be certain Loki’s changes won’t help your opponent instead? There’s only one way to find out!

The revised edition of Thorsten Gimmler’s award-winning Odin’s Ravens has been completely redesigned, with new rules and a beautiful new art style inspired by Norse mythology.

Setup and gameplay for 2 Players

The game is a 2-player only so nothing changes. There is a deck of land cards that gets shuffled and 16 of them are placed on the table, side-to-side, and are placed so that no two matching terrain types are touching. If they would be, rotate the new card. If they still have a matching terrain side, you put the card on the bottom of the deck and take the next one.

Each player gets a set of 8 Loki cards and 25 flight cards and shuffles each of those decks. A player draws a starting hand of 5 cards, in any combination from the two decks. The ravens start at the same end of the table, but begin on different paths of the cards.

On a player’s turn, they can move forward by playing either a single flight card that matches the land type shown on their card or by playing two matching flight cards that do not match the land type shown. They can move as many times as they have the cards to do so. They can also play Loki cards from their hand, which allow them to break the rules in some ways such as flipping cards, rotating cards, adding new land cards to the path, and removing land cards.

The first player to have their raven fly down the path and back the other side will win.

My Thoughts

I don’t often like to comment on the aesthetics of a game, as the appearance is a very subjective quality, but this is a well-produced game. The cards are nice, and I like that they are tall but have a smaller width than standard. The wooden ravens look and feel fantastic. The artwork on the backs of the cards and for the terrain catches the eye. This is a game that looks and feels good while you play it.

The games are quick and competitive. No matter how far ahead one raven may seem, it takes just one turn to get back into the race. Out of the five games I’ve played, four finished with either a tie or the second raven being a space or two from the end. In a game that boils down to a race, you want to always feel like you have a chance of winning and you want to always feel the pressure to extend your lead if you’re ahead. This game succeeds at that.

The Loki cards are a nice touch in the game. They add just enough to alter the game, allowing you to make or break combos of cards. I love the dual options on each card, making you choose between the two potential uses. I also enjoy how those cards really capture the feel of Loki, the trickster god from Norse Mythology. One option usually helps you, while the other typically sets your opponent back on their path to victory. Another great thing about the Loki cards: each one can be used just once. This is a deck that cannot be reshuffled, so their use needs to be timed just right.

I like that you have two decks to pull from, and that finding a balance between when to draw what type of card is a key to success. It is also great that you aren’t stuck on a space until you get that matching terrain type from your flight deck – although sometimes it can be painful to play two of a terrain that you know is coming up.

There remains a certain amount of luck in this game. It is a terrible feeling when you draw three cards at the end of your turn and end up with no pairs and no cards matching the terrain you need to move onto next. The other side of that is the lucky draw, getting the exact three cards you need. The luck never feels like it controls the game, but it is present to an extent.

This game lacks depth for strategy. Outside of the Loki cards and when and how to use them, the game is very straight-forward in its approach. There are small decisions a player can make, but even choosing not to play your pair can work against you since your hand limit is capped at seven cards. Yet this game isn’t trying to be a deep game full of challenging decisions. So if you’re looking for a lighter filler game that contains some meaningful choices, this one would fit the criteria.

Oh the tiebreaker. I do like that you aren’t penalized for being the second player, getting a chance to finish the flight and “tie” the game. The first tiebreaker is fine, looking at who has the most flight cards still in hand. I’d think looking at who has the most unplayed Loki cards might have been a better first tiebreaker due to their power. The second tiebreaker? Reset the board and race again. Boo. I’m not opposed to multiple plays in a row of this one, but I don’t want to race twice just to earn one victory. And what if you both tie on that second flight? Do you reset and play a third flight to see who wins that first game? This is one that really stood out to me when it came up, and is something I’m not a big fan of.

Final Verdict

This game is very simple, yet in its simplicity there is a nice amount of strategy that can be unearthed. This is one of those games that won’t ever be the star of a collection, but will serve as a nice niche filler game to pull out under certain conditions. Its simplicity makes it a game that even younger children could play and do reasonably well with, and the Loki cards are easy enough to understand visually that they could even use those during gameplay.

I do enjoy the game in spite of my near failure to win a play of this game. I suspect my wife took it easy on me in our final play of the game so that I could write a review having won at least one time. She really enjoys this one, perhaps more than I do, even though I really dig the theme. It is a game I’ll rarely choose on a game night, but one I’d never turn down if someone suggested it. Which is about what you’d want for a light filler like this one.

Check out more of our reviews at the following Geeklist and be sure to let me know what you thought of this game.

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/220300/cardboard-clas

Board Gaming · Wish List

Board Game Wish List: Charterstone

Welcome to my fourth Board Game Wish List. This month we’re going to feature a game that is making waves among the Legacy game camp: Charterstone. There are a few reasons that sets this game apart from the others in the field. The first is that is plays 1-6 players, so it is a Legacy game that can be played at lower player counts and therefore is a great game for couples. And some might say the even more exciting news is that this is a Legacy game that can be “wiped” and replayed as a fresh copy. But more on that to come later!

Introduction, taken from the Stonemaier Games website:

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The prosperous Kingdom of Greengully, ruled for centuries by the Forever King, has issued a decree to its citizens to colonize the vast lands beyond its borders. In an effort to start a new village, the Forever King has selected 6 citizens for the task, each of whom has a unique set of skills they use to build their charter.

In Charterstone, a competitive legacy game scaled for 1-6 players, you construct buildings and inhabit a shared village. Building stickers are removed from cards and permanently added to your charter on the board, becoming action spaces for any player to use (kind of like Lords of Waterdeep, Caylus and Ora et Labora). Thus, a few available buildings soon grow into a bustling village with dozens of actions.

Charterstone features the following:

  • streamlined starting rulebook: learn as you play and add rules as you unlock content
  • engine-building elements within each game and over the course of the campaign
  • a branching storyline where short-term decisions have a long-term impact
  • a secret component found in only one other board game
  • 75+ “crates” to unlock: 36 metal coins, 350+ unique cards, and 230+ wooden tokens (exactly 12 of each resource: wood, coal, grain, brick, iron, and pumpkin)

Your journey through Charterstone’s many secrets will last 12 games, but it doesn’t end there. Your completed village will be a one-of-a-kind, variable worker-placement game. Or you can purchase a completely optional recharge pack to play a second campaign.

The Introduction, taken from the Rule Book

Charterstone is a legacy game, which means you will make permanent changes to the game, mostly in the form of writing on the board/cards with markers (provided by the players) and stickers.

You will start out with access to only a small portion of the content in this box.

Don’t open ANYTHING unless specifically instructed.

characters

My Overview of Charterstone

While not much information has been revealed yet about Charterstone, which is what you’d hope for in a Legacy-style game, there are some aspects about this game which are known:

  • This game is a Worker Placement game
  • The buildings that you develop in your Charters remain on the board for all subsequent games
  • You are not limited to the action spaces in your own Charter
  • There are ways to continue development of a Charter if a person is unable to attend for a session, allowing them to jump in and not be “behind” compared to everyone else.
  • The game will play solo with an Automa system (which can also be used to represent absent players at higher counts), and can play up to 6 players
  • You learn and play rules as content gets unlocked
  • There are more than 75 crates to unlock, contained within a large Index box with a magnetic clasp.

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  • You can purchase a Recharge Pack which will allow you to replay the entire Legacy by using the other side of the board and a new set of stickers/cards/rulebook.
  • The game will be a complete, unique, fully-playable game long after the Legacy mode to the game is completed.
  • You’ll have the ability to name your character, along with other various items along the course of the campaign (although the naming isn’t mandatory)
  • There are six types of resources collected and used to produce things at buildings.
  • There are a very limited number of each resource (12) so the game is meant to encourage you to spend resources as you gain them rather than store them up for later use.
  • There are also only 36 coins, each a $1 denomination. Further encouragement to not horde this resource.
  • The coins are going to be thick, metal coins. No punching of cardboard in this game!

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  • The rulebook is called The Chronicle and begins with a lot of empty spaces where stickers, unlocked throughout the game, will add additional rules. There is rumor that you might even get some stickers to place over the existing rules, updating/replacing them.
  • The game is going to be printed and available in 8 languages.
  • The Automa system comes with 13 cards, but more may get unlocked during the game.
  • The game’s Automa can be used in both single and multi-player games.
  • The Automa’s gameplay contains only five steps: Draw a card, place a worker, gain VP, gain benefits, discard the card. Simple!

 

And here’s a brief rundown/overview of the core rules that you’ll see from Game 1:

  • There will be 5 random advancement cards face-up (and when one is purchased, a new one replaces it) and 3 random objective cards, a progress track that corresponds to the player count, a general supply of 72 resources and 36 coins, and each player’s personal supply of persona card, constructed building card, 2 workers, and 12 influence tokens.
  • First player is determined by rolling the Charterstone until it shows an active character.
  • The 12 influence tokens are used on objective cards, quota chart, reputation track, and other places. If you run out, you cannot use actions requiring them. They cannot be moved and there are only a few ways to regain influence.
  • There are seven types of advancement cards and more get unlocked over the course of the campaign and go into the general supply. When gaining an advancement card, you select from the face-up cards and put it face-up in your supply, flipping a new one face-up into the supply. When new cards are gained or the pile is empty, shuffle the cards into the deck.
  • Assistants are one type of advancement card which give you bonuses during actions. You gain them via the market and can add a name to their card.
  • Constructed buildings are a type of advancement card and add buildings to your Charter. A crate on the card means you keep it to unlock a crate later, one without a crate goes into an Archive box that holds pieces that no longer serve a purpose.
  • You either place a worker onto a building or remove all of your workers from the board during your turn. Moving to an occupied building sends that worker back to its owner’s supply. You must pay the shown cost to move to a building and then gain its benefit.

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  • There are five buildings in an area known as The Commons, which allow you to build buildings in your Charter, unlock crates on your constructed building cards, complete objectives, trade a resource for money, or pay resources and money to gain an advancement card (face down or face up)
  • Unlocking a crate gains you VP, moves the progress token, and archives the constructive building card. Many crates unlock new personas.
  • When scoring one of the 3 random objectives, you gain VP and advance the progress token. A player can score each objective only once per game.
  • You can sell commodities to gain victory points and/or reputation, and there are buildings to unlock that may offer additional benefits.
  • There is an end-game benefit of VP for being highest on the reputation track and is raised on the quota and progress tracks and some buildings.
  • The progress track is the timer for the game and advances when a building is constructed, a crate is unlocked, or an objective is scored. It also advances when a player starts their turn with no influence tokens.
  • Each player gets the same number of turns in a game. Scoring the most VP is the object of each game of Charterstone.

 

Why This Game is on my Wishlist

  • This game drew inspiration from three heavy hitters in the Worker Placement category of board games: Caylus, Ora et Labora, and Lords of Waterdeep. Not only does it make thematic sense that a building you put into you charter will still be there during the next play, but the ability to use other players’ buildings is a great mechanism to include. Over the course of twelve plays of this game, each player’s charter is growing and developing, adding new places to send your workers. You won’t get blocked from a space forever if someone else builds the building you need – something that is very important over the course of a legacy campaign. An added bonus is that you can still send your worker to where someone’s worker currently is located, sending them back to the player’s supply. So even during the course of the game you are never actually blocked out of a space you really need.
  • Most games rely on Kickstarter to upgrade components, or sell them as add-ons for those who want to “deluxify” their game experience. This game isn’t being run on Kickstarter, which is a great thing in itself. But the even better news is that every retail copy will have the nice wooden components and the thick, metal coins. Some people really love punching out cardboard. I’m one of those who enjoys it. Yet at the same time, this game is going to look and feel great for each and every person who plays the game. There is no chance of feeling like you have something inferior because you didn’t shell out an extra X amount of dollars for the upgraded components.

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  • I really love the concept of being able to continue playing the campaign even if a player cannot make a game night. Of course, I can’t imagine who would want to miss out on their chance to play through the full 12-sessions of the Legacy campaign, but the fact remains that some people won’t be able to make every session. Life happens, and to some people their life’s priorities aren’t board games first. Crazy, right? The ability to have an Automa “cover” for them for a game is a stroke of brilliance that will enable groups to make it through the campaign without having to wait for everyone to be able to get together and have the time to play another session.
  • Let’s talk about the Automa for a minute. I’ve become a huge fan of Morten and his Automa system. Viticulture was a simple system to run. Scythe took that same system and beefed it up and it was excellent for that game. They made the right choice with this one to scale back closer to the simplicity of the Viticulture system because you’re going to have more than just solo gamers using this Automa system. Solo gamers are used to, and willing to, think a little more and get more involved in resolving an automated opponent. The casual gamer will want, and value, simplicity in playing the Automa. This was a great decision and the right move for this game.
  • The artwork for this game is fantastic and fitting. Jamey and his team gave special consideration to the visual aspect of this game.  For instance, Jamey mentioned that the Pumpkin Market building is constructed using Pumpkin, Coal, and Metal. You can visually see the prominence of the three resource colors: orange for pumpkin, black for coal, gray for metal. Even if you cannot see the name from across the table, you should be able to visually see what it is and what went into it.  Gong Studios and Mr. Cuddington did an excellent job from what we can see so far of the game’s visuals.

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  • This is a Legacy game that isn’t co-operative, isn’t Risk, and doesn’t require 3+ players. This is finally a Legacy game that my wife would enjoy that we could get and play as just a couple. Over 65% of my logged games are played together with just the two of us, and another 15% is me playing solo. That means 80% of my gaming time is not spent with a group, so being able to play at a low player count makes this a game we’re very likely to be able to pick up and play through the campaign in a reasonable amount of time. I’m guessing we aren’t the only couple out there who has been waiting for a game like this one to finally get into a Legacy game.
  • The idea of the Recharge Pack is fantastic. I’m not sure if I’ll be among those who want to do a second full campaign of the game, but at the same time I don’t see any reason not to do so if it was fun the first time. This would allow me to do once solo and once with my wife. Or we could do one runthrough together and then a second time trying to add a larger group. Since the board comes double-sided already, why wouldn’t you want to end up with two very unique sides that could be played on in their final forms? That, right there, is a stroke of brilliance.
  • Many Legacy games become disposable once you’ve finished. They are nothing more than decoration you could hang on the wall, because the game itself is no longer playable. You’ve reached the end. Some gamers are fine with that. They are one-and-done sorts of gamers. But for those of us who want games that can be pulled out and played time and again each year, this game is wonderful. After the campaign is finished you’ll have your own unique, but fully playable, copy of Charterstone. It’ll be your own copy of a Worker Placement game. I can see this being a trait other Legacy games will try and imitate in the future, because this is something that will make investing in a copy of the game worthwhile. You don’t get just 12 plays out of the game. You get as many as you’d like for the rest of your life.
  • There is such a deep level of consideration that has gone into aspects of this game, many times considering the customer and their experience. If you read the design diary Jamey has kept, (link at the bottom of this post), you’ll get to see some of those decision points and the reasoning along the way. For instance, why he decided to include metal coins into every game. Why he decided to produce Recharge Packs for the game, for those who’ve demanded being able to replay their unique Legacy games without needing to buy a second full copy. The decision on producing the game up front in so many languages. The reasoning behind making naming things optional. The experience involved in “unlocking” a crate. Not only is it fascinating to read that design diary, but it also reflects the customer-oriented mindset they put into the production and experience of this game.
  • I’ve written before about Stonemaier Games and how they’ve made me a customer for life. They continue to do so with their openness and transparency. If you check out that design diary mentioned above, you’ll find that the most recent post in there is being open and honest about a new ship date. A few weeks ago, this game was slated to release in October. It is now pushed back to December, and they discuss the reasons why. That open communication is important, and a huge reason why I am a big fan of Jamey and the team at Stonemaier Games. As he mentions, better to tell us now a realistic date than for us to find out it is delayed a week before it is supposed to hit stores.

As of 8/10/2017, the expected release date for Charterstone is December 12, 2017.

Where you can learn more about this game

So what are your thoughts on Charterstone? Are you excited to get a chance to play this game? As you can tell, I can hardly wait for December to get here so I can get my hands on a copy of the game! Leave a comment and let me know what aspects of Charterstone you enjoy/appreciate/are excited for.

Board Gaming · Review for Two

Review for Two – Fields of Green

Thank you for checking review #21 by Cardboard Clash. My aim is to focus on reviewing board games and how they play for two people and, on occasion, how they play for one person. Because my wife is my primary gaming partner, a lot of consideration goes into finding those games that play well with 2 players, and we typically prefer to find those games that do not require a variant (official or otherwise) in order to play it with just the two of us.

An Overview of Fields of Green

Fields of Green is a game designed by Vangelis Bagiartakis and is published by Stronghold Games and Artipia Games. The box states that it can play 2-4 players and has a 45 minute play time on the box.

In Fields of Green, players take the role of farm owners trying to expand their property and business. By adding fields, livestock and facilities, they build an economic engine that will bring them closer to victory.

Setup and gameplay for 2 Players

Fields of Green is played over four rounds (years) during which players draft cards and add them to their ever-expanding farms. At the end of each year comes the harvest season when they must water their fields, feed their livestock, and pay maintenance costs in order to receive valuable resources that will allow them to further expand in the next year.

Since this is a card drafting game, there is a variant for playing with two players. Rather than drafting a six-card hand and then taking one at a time, passing the hand, you both draft a six-card hand and mix the twelve together. You will then flip six cards face-up on the table and the first player will take one and build it, then the second player will do the same. Two more cards will get flipped face-up, and this cycle is repeated until all twelve cards have been selected and played.

We do a very, very slight modification on this. Rather than flip them face-up and play them as they are selected, the first player takes the six cards and chooses one, passing the remaining five. The next player takes a card from those five and both players put their cards into play. Then two cards are added to the four, bringing the total back to six. So instead of face-up, the same pattern is followed but with the cards being held in-hand to make it easier to read what they are.

My Thoughts

The spatial element to this game sets it a notch above the card drafting games out there. You aren’t just looking at the powers and the costs on the cards coming at you – you also need to consider how that card will, or will not, function with what is currently in your farm. This gives great balance to the cards, because there is no single card that is necessarily stronger than another. It is all situational based around what you’ve built so far and the cards you place into the farm going forward.

Another stroke of brilliance is the fact that many look at cards that are 2-3 spaces away rather than in your entire farm. The building cards have fewer restrictions on space but are offset with high costs. your water towers are critical elements of the farm, but they can only reach two spaces away and you get a limited amount of water each year. The restrictions on the spatial aspect of the game is what makes this one shine more than anything.

The drafting system is great at all player counts. Each player gets to take any six cards they want so long as the cards come from at least three of the four decks. Want to get an early building to focus around? You can do that. Need a late-game field? You can try to do that. You can increase the odds of getting a card you need through what you draw, yet you’re also limited in the number of those cards that you’ll get a chance to buy (2 cards in a 3-4 player game).

The two-player variant for the drafting is excellent. Mixing the twelve cards together and having a few revealed at a time gives the same limits as you’d get with more players while also allowing you to try and plan long-term. Getting the first pick at a card is huge, and both players will get that chance twice over the course of a game. It feels like you have more control because you’ll see a decent number of those cards again so you can try and set-up for the card to go in the right spot at the right time. Yet at the same time there is a good chance your opponent will take the card you were hoping to buy next.

The harvest phase is important. Not only does this allow you to earn food and/or coins, but it is also the way to keep your farm intact. I really love that you get punished if you cannot pay a harvest cost, forcing your card to flip and be treated as an empty space until you repurchase it on a later turn. I also like that you get to pick and choose the order in which you harvest. You need to be aware of that order, so that you can maximize your gain over the course of the harvest. Some may feel this part of the game is fiddly, but it is an important mechanic where the order really does matter.

Equipment is a nice addition as well. They can add one-time powers, recurring powers/benefits, or end game scoring opportunities. Being able to add two on a card is great, and their scarcity (most games) makes them potential game-changers. Going heavy on equipment doesn’t secure a win, and ignoring them doesn’t guarantee a loss in the game. Yet they can really alter how your own farm functions and what you need.

There is a feel of variety in the large decks, yet there are a lot of repeated cards in there. This is both good and bad. More unique cards would be great because everyone loves variety, yet sometimes multiple copies of the same card can combo together well and if you need a certain card there is a better chance of finding it. The decks and equipment stack make it look like you have a ton of choices, yet you’ll see a lot of the same cards.

There is a ton of empty space in the box. This is one of the few games that we own with the insert in there still, which essentially covers 2/3 of the space in the box. Which means this game could fit in the box of, say, Battle Line. Unless there are a ton of expansions planned, and Among the Stars would indicate there is a chance of expansions, this box is full of air.

The scoring system is great and intuitive. There are a lot of ways to score points, and there are diminishing returns on some of the ways to score (1 point per 3 coins, for instance). The cards themselves have some good point values. Yet there are some buildings that can become overpowered in a farm. Nothing is worse than seeing your lead in points get blown away by the other player netting 30 points on their six building cards.

Final Verdict

It should be enough that I went to a demo day of the game and walked away paying the MSRP for a copy of it. The game hooked me from the first play, and hasn’t let me down yet. I’ve played at 2, 3, and 4 players and find I enjoy them all. There are certainly different viable strategies to the drafting depending on the player count. Much like 7 Wonders, this drafting game doesn’t really increase in length as you add in players unless they are all new players.

I’ve never played Among the Stars, but if this is the system that game uses then I would love to get a chance to play it. I love Sci-Fi theme, but the 20th Century Farming in this one is very fun and well-integrated. It is easily my favorite card drafting game to date, and I love how you build your own engine as you are placing the cards. So many elements work well together in this game, providing an experience that doesn’t overstay its welcome at the table.

Check out more of our reviews at the following Geeklist and be sure to let me know what you thought of this game.

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/220300/cardboard-clas

Board Gaming · Review for Two

Review for Two – The King is Dead

Thank you for checking out my twentieth review. My aim is to focus on reviewing board games and how they play for two people and, on occasion, how they play for one person. Because my wife is my primary gaming partner, a lot of consideration goes into finding those games that play well with 2 players, and we typically prefer to find those games that do not require a variant (official or otherwise) in order to play it with just the two of us.

**A copy of this game was provided by Osprey Games in exchange for an honest review.

An Overview of The King is Dead

The King is Dead is a game designed by Peer Sylvester and is published by Osprey Games. The box states that it can play 2-4 players and has a 30-50 minute play time on the box.

The King Is Dead is a board game of politics and power struggles set in Britain in the chaotic period following the death of King Arthur. For the good of the country, a leader must unite the Scots, Welsh, and Romano-British — not by conquest but by diplomacy.

In The King is Dead, players are members of King Arthur’s court. Whether a loyal knight, a scheming lord, or an ambitious noblewoman, you all have one thing in common: power. As prospective leaders, each player uses their power to benefit the factions, gaining influence among their ranks. The player with the greatest influence over the most powerful faction is crowned the new ruler of Britain.

Setup and gameplay for 2 Players

There are no major changes in setup for two players, simply the removal of two Followers (cubes) of each faction from the game. Each player gets their hand of eight cards. The eight territory cards are shuffled and placed along the sides of the board to determine the order in which territories will resolve. Two cubes of that color will go on the map in the territories that have the colored symbol on there, which indicates the home regions for those factions. The remaining cubes go in the bag and get mixed up (minus black cubes unless playing with the variant) and each player gets two cubes at random. Then cubes are pulled at random, with every territory on the board getting a total of 4 cubes.

KingisDead

During a player’s turn, they can either play a card from their hand or pass. When a card is played, it can never be played by that player again for the rest of the game. After playing and resolving the card, the player may select a cube from anywhere on the board and remove it, placing it in their personal supply. When both players pass consecutively, the next territory in order gets resolved, with the color having the most cubes in that territory placing their token on the area. If there is a tie for most, the Saxons conquer instead. Once a territory is resolved, its card flips over and all cubes are removed. Play continues until either the Saxons control four territories, or when all eight territories have resolved.

The player who has the most cubes in the color that controls the most territories will win. If the Saxons trigger the end game, then whoever has the most complete sets of 3 cubes wins.

My Thoughts

I love the artwork and the theming here. I know, those are subjective, but worth mentioning. The aftermath of King Arthur’s death and the struggle for power…what a great theme!

This game is very unique in its approach. It is an area control game, yet not like an area control game. It is a set collection game of sorts, but not at all like a set collection game. You’re removing followers to gain influence, but those followers reduce the influence that faction has remaining on the board. No player controls a specific faction, meaning any player can hold influence with any faction. I love the twist this game takes on a mechanic we’re used to seeing in games.

KingisDead4

This game has no secrets to take you by surprise. Once the board is set up, you know exactly what is available. You can see the order in which things will resolve, what cubes are where, and what eight actions you and your opponent will both be able to do over the course of the game. The only things you can’t predict is when your opponent will play each card and which cube they will take. But even then, as you get experienced you can start to predict some of those things. This game rewards the better player in nearly every play of the game, especially at the 2-player count.

I love the limitation on actions over the course of the game. It makes every decision meaningful. Do you play cards early to try and manipulate the board in your favor, or do you keep most of your cards in reserve to try and control the final territories? Do you sit by and let your opponent gain yet another blue cube while the blues conquer another territory, or do you counter their move? Your eight actions make this play out like a game of cat and mouse, in a way.

KingisDead3

The only way to gain influence in your own court is to play a card, which allows you to remove a cube from anywhere on the board. This is great because it encourages you to sometimes play a card that isn’t very beneficial because you can manipulate the balance in a territory through that removal. It also presents interesting decisions. You want to control the most in the color that eventually holds the most territories, yet gaining that influence makes them weaker in areas of the map. Going after a certain color early can tip off your opponent, yet balancing your selections across all three factions will limit the number of cubes you can ultimately hold in that majority color. This is yet another area of the game that provides challenging and interesting decisions for a player.

How the game’s end triggers determines how the game is scored. This is great because it forces you to react to how the territories are resolving. There is a chance that your majority in a faction will be meaningless when the game ends, causing you to lose to collected sets instead. Only once have I seen a game where the Saxons triggered the end, but it has always been in my mind as a possibility. I really like that dual trigger for the end of the game.

I would give this a full star for components, but I cannot. The box is great, and I love the artwork inside the box as well as on the outside. The map is outstanding, the cards are good. The bag and the cubes are a nice quality. But the tokens are so flimsy, they feel as though they will bend and break easily. This is the only component in the game that is of poor quality, and it was a little disappointing in a game where everything else is of fantastic production. I’m hoping a company makes upgraded wooden versions of these markers, as I think this would be a game that I’d jump on that upgrade.

KingisDead2'

As you can see, it becomes easy to think of the components in terms of the colors rather than the factions themselves. This is the same sort of flaw you see in a game like Lords of Waterdeep. Sure, there are the tokens to help signify, but they don’t include the names of the factions on there, either. So most players will refer to the factions by color rather than by name, apart from the Saxons because they’re the special invaders. Which is a shame, because the Scots, the Welsh, and the Romano-British are important factions from that period of history.

The Mordred variant in the game sounds so interesting, but I found it to be a poor inclusion in a 2-player game. It changes several dynamics and adds a third end-game trigger, but that trigger becomes easy to manipulate in a 2-player game. It rewards the player who acts last, and so the whole game played out in a predictable sequence of events that led to an unsurprising loss. With 3 players, this variant would be a great inclusion. I might try it one more time in a 2-player game, but if it follows the same pattern it’ll likely be reserved for the larger player count.

if you typically play with someone who is analytical then you may run into really long bouts of downtime. There is a ton of open information available, and so a person can sit there and think through every card you both have in your hands and how those are likely to be played and alter the board. If you dislike games that could encounter that sort of downtime, this may not be the game for you. My wife, for instance, would certainly never play this game against someone who overanalyzes their turns. She’d get too impatient while waiting for them to take their turn.

Final Verdict

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I really like this game. It is a fun, thinky game that plays rather quickly. A person could sit and puzzle out a ton of scenarios, and I’ve been involved in those intense matches. I’ve also played where it was a little more relaxed, reacting to the current situation instead of trying to analyze all the potential options. Both approaches are enjoyable.

This game does play better with three than it does with two, but it still provides a great experience with two players. If you’re wanting a game that plays 2-3, this is a great option. Even as just a 2-player game in your collection, it is certain to see some plays and could provide a lot of good fun. I certainly have enjoyed this game a lot, and will continue to play this game many more times in the future. It is a perfect opener or filler during a game night if you have a small number of people needing a game, and playing this a few times in a row is something I usually enjoy. It plays in the perfect amount of time, and I love the perfect set of information that is available to all players. As mentioned before, I love the twist this game takes on a mechanic we’re used to seeing in games. That makes this game one that should be added to many collections.

Check out more of our reviews at the following Geeklist and be sure to let me know what you thought of this game.

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/220300/cardboard-clas

Board Gaming · Gaming Recap · On the Table

July 2017 Gaming Recap

Over on BGG I provide a more detailed list of what games we play each month, who won/lost those games, and a full list of the games played in 2017 under three categories:

Games Played as a Couple

Games Played Solo

Games Played in a Group

 

For this blog, I want to approach my monthly recap posts a little different, and I will link to the BGG post at the bottom in case you want to see the more detailed list of data. I’ll still give the overall records, but my focus here will be to select a game that fits under each of several categories.

2-Player Gaming:

July Couples’ Record:
David – 20/37, 54.05%
Nicole – 17/37, 45.95%
16 Unique Games

2017 Couples Record:
David – 81/169 (47.93%)
Nicole – 90/169 (53.25%)
54 Unique Games (+7)

Most Played 2-Player Game: Herbaceous – This was a game my wife really wanted, and the length of this game makes it a perfect one to pull out when we don’t have a ton of time to play a game. It sets up fast and plays almost just as quickly. I have a feeling this one will continue to see a lot of plays going forward.
Favorite 2-Player Experience & Best New-to-Us 2-Player Experience: Haspelknecht – I had a feeling this game would be a hit for us, and it didn’t disappoint. It offers several paths to victory based on development tiles, rewards you for planning ahead for your turns, and punishes you for not hitting certain criteria but it doesn’t cripple you like a certain farming game can. This one will be a staple in our collection for a long time.
Most Surprising 2-Player Experience: Exile Sun – I was so excited to try this game. Its description won me over during a Math Trade. The battle system sounded fantastic, and playing it at 2 would eliminate the common complaint of people sitting idly while battles resolve for other players.  And it turned out that I did really like the battle system. Unfortunately, everything else fell flat and we called it a game after just one round.
Next Unplayed 2-Player Game to be Played: Stamford Bridge: End of the Viking Age – It is time. I’ve been meaning to break her into a wargame for months now, and August needs to be the month when it happens. This game provides a simple entry point that she’ll be able to pick up on quickly and hopefully not get overwhelmed. After all, it only uses one die roll and has one table to reference.

Solo Gaming:

July Solo Record: 4/6, 66.37%
5 Unique Games

2017 Solo Record: 25/52 (48.08%)
20 Unique Games (+4)

Most Played Solo Game: Chrononauts – This one hit the table twice last month after getting a copy from Looney Labs. I am not sure what I expected, but this wasn’t it. What I discovered, upon playing, was that it exceeded every expectation. It provides a fun, fast, challenging solo game that really rewards planning ahead and paying attention to ripple effects. I’m pretty sure this will hit the table a few more times and get reviewed this month.
Favorite Solo Experience:
Viticulture: Essential Edition – I was certain I would lose. Seven years to surpass 20 points. Going into year 7, I had 9 points. I had cards and wines to pull it off, but I needed everything to go right in both seasons. If the Automa blocked me even once, it was game over. I won, 21-20. That is the sort of thing you remember, whether playing solo or against others: the time when everything goes right to lead to an unexpected win that likely wouldn’t happen the same way twice. I’m looking forward to trying out the campaign on this.
Best New-to-Me Solo Experience: Scythe – I knew I’d love it. I played the Viticulture Automa first to understand how they are designed to function. I had an hour or two to play a solo game. I set this up and almost tore it back down without playing. I didn’t understand the Automa’s movement at the start. But it started to click. The turns went fast. The game pushed me and, in a similar style to my Viticulture experience, I pulled off a 1-point win. But only because I got one more turn to get my fourth star, thanks to pulling an Automa card that didn’t add a star right at the end. Without that turn, I would have lost for certain.
Most Surprising Solo Game: Chrononauts – See above. It wasn’t the game I expected, but it certainly is the one I’m enjoying.
Next Unplayed Solo Game to be Played: Night of Man – I failed to get this to the table last month. I intended to one night, but the rule book wasn’t in the box. Everything is in the box and ready to play now. I’m excited to test this one out so that I can turn around and teach it to my wife this month as well!

Group Gaming:

July Group Games:
15 Unique Games

2017 Group games:
51 Unique Games (+7)

Most Played Group Game: Star Wars: Destiny – No shock here, this is likely to be holding this place for a long time. When you play 5-7 games in an evening, and do that once a week, the game racks up plays. And, as you’ll see below, I keep craving more!
Favorite Group Experience:
 Mystic Vale – I was excited to try this one out, so much so that I requested a friend bring his copy of this when he came over to play games. This has such an unique take on the deckbuilding aspect that I immediately fell in love with the game and its system. I’m itching to play it again, and this is another one I need my wife to play to see if she enjoys it.
Best New-to-Me Group Experience: Star Wars: Rebellion – The only thing missing was the soundtrack for the movies playing in the background. There are a lot of Star Wars games out there. I enjoyed Imperial Assault. I’m in love with Destiny. Yet this is the game that feels like Star Wars. This game is to Star Wars what War of the Ring is to the Lord of the Rings. I love the cat-and-mouse aspect of one side trying to discover the hidden Rebel base while the other side is trying to complete objectives to shorten the game’s timer and bring it all to an end.
Most Surprising Group Game: Yamatai – I had expectations that were too large going into the game. I was hoping to find a game that was at least on the same level as Five Tribes. After one play, it fell short of that mark. I enjoyed the game, and now that I understand it a little more I will probably like the second play better. But so far, the game didn’t wow me like I hoped it would.
Group Game I Want to Play Most: Star Wars: Destiny – I could play this game every day and not grow tired of it. I really am enjoying the combination between building a deck, rolling dice, and finding ways to manipulate cards and dice throughout the game. If I had to make a Top 10 list today, this might very well be slotted at #2. Now I just need to convince my wife to give it a play.

Be sure to check out the full slate of games played over at the BGG Blog by following this link: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/67654/games-played-recap-july-2017