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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Board Game Lists · First Impressions

New-to-Me First Impressions 9/21/17-10/15/17

I began this last month 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!”

And, as a special bonus, when you see the meeple below that means the next thoughts are from my lovely wife on those games!

Night of Man – meeple This game seemed simple from my one play of it but has potential to get harder. The board art was boring though, and I disliked how some cards didn’t apply with the scenario we were doing.

Honshu – meeple Hate the name, but it was a fun filler game and I liked the building aspect with the card overlay.

Harbour – Tried it with two players and discovered a few things I had played incorrectly solo. This game became much better as a result, and we played it a lot over two days. Enjoyable and compact worker placement game. (7)

meeple I was so frustrated with this game at first because my logical brain didn’t like the buying process. Once we realized my husband was teaching it wrong it became a lot of fun and I wanted to keep playing.

Zero – A simple filler, with potential for fun. Probably much better at a higher player count. A strong starting hand can really decide this game early on. (4)

meeple Easy. Resembles Uno, only harder. Good filler game.

Valeria: Card Kingdoms – Great artwork, interesting concept behind the game. Wasn’t a huge fan of my solo play but could see this being great with more players and as a sort of gateway game for newer gamers. Better roll-for-resource system than Catan. (6)

Android: Netrunner – An LCG getting a reboot in the very near future. Really enjoyed the asymmetry between the two sides, and can’t wait to try playing as the Corp as well as exploring each of the different Runner and Corp factions. This killed the Destiny bug for me, being a deckbuilder where gaining the card pool isn’t up to luck. (10)

Aeon’s End – One of the better cooperative games I’ve played. Can be crushingly tough, but also can be relatively easy depending on card draws. Really like the deckbuilding aspect and the no-shuffle concept. Would gladly play again but may not want to own. (8)

meeple Wasn’t bad for a cooperative game. Not really my style of game but it helped that I could decide on my actions with my cards instead of someone tellimg me what to do.

Seven Dragons – This game was made by the creators of Fluxx? A very simple card-laying game with a few curveballs thrown in for good measure. A filler I’d definitely play again. (5)

meeple Easy filler. Wish the art was brighter colors. Needs more manipulating cards.

Custom Heroes – My wife isn’t a fan of trick-taking games and it has never been a big thing for me. That said, this is easily one of the better trick-taking games I’ve played, and I enjoyed the card crafting mechanism in this one. It isn’t quite as good as Mystic Vale, but this game brings some nice effects with that system. (6)

meeple Disliked at first because I didn’t understanding it until most of the way through and was playing with someone who is great at trick-taking games (**Note from husband: she is not referring to me, but a friend who was playing with us. He’s really, REALLY good at these games)

Neverland’s Legacy – I expected this to be the game in the Lynnvander/Jasco’s Legacy series that I didn’t enjoy. Let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised at the difficulty presented along the way as well as the system itself in the game. Each of the three plays very different from the others, in spite of having some shared mechanics and similar component design. Probably still likely to be ranked third of the three games, but not because it was a bad game. (8)

Lignum – Oh man, this game is so intense. I’ve played it a few times and every time I can’t wait to get it back to the table. I’ve played a lot of worker placement-style games in the last year because it is my wife’s favorite mechanic. I’ve enjoyed quite a few of them. And now I think I have finally found my favorite one. (10)

meeple Not my favorite worker placement but a lot of fun. I thought the game would be lame because its just about trees, but the challenge to it kept me wanting more. The thing I do not like is how the process of drying lumber takes too long to be worth it unless you have a really good card.

Zoo Ball – This was a review game that showed up without solicitation, which meant it stayed really low on the radar to try it. I had a buddy stop by for a short while and pulled this out to try. We both thought this would be a really fun one to pull out at 2 in the morning, after a long night of having fun doing or playing other things. And let me tell you, it is a lot harder trying to position these things via flicking than you’d expect. (6)

Portals and Prophets – A biblical-themed game that was fairly light. It will be a perfect gateway game, as well as the type of game you can play when you want to have something to do while maintaining conversation. It won’t tax you mentally, for the most part, but there is enough strategy here to make it a game worth playing and owning. I really enjoyed the artwork, Scripture on the cards, and seeing the various events as they flipped out through the deck. Shouldn’t be any issues getting this one back to the table. (8)

meeple I did not like how the board looked and some of the art, but I loved the concept of the game.

Sellswords: Olympus – For what this game is, it really succeeds. It plays fast (15-20 minutes), presents some interesting decisions, and has some nice powers on the cards. I like that you will always end up building a 5×5 grid with these, and the scoring on this is interesting. (7)

Guilds of London – My enjoyment of this game was higher than my wife, mostly due to having a little familiarity with the icons and symbols from reading rules, etc. I thought this was a fun one, and next time I will probably be a little more cutthroat in my choice of actions and the usage of those Neutral guys. (8)

meeple I hate the symbols and having to refer to the reference sheet. Would have preferred the text on the cards.

Jaipur – With all the praise I have heard over the past year for Jaipur, I was very disappointed. This was a fine game, one I’d gladly play again, but I can find well over a dozen games already in my collection that I find to be as good or better with 2 players only. I did, however, find the use of the camels to be an interesting mechanism. (7)

meeple This game bored me just because it was too easy. Just matching colors.

Kingdom Builder: Marshlands Expansion – Okay, so I saw only one new board/power for the game. But, this expansion feels like it really transforms the game. It adds a new terrain type, which also means you remove one of the other five from the game. Its power tiles give you an ultra-power if you manage to collect them both. And palaces score points only for the player with the most settlements around it. The game is still the Kingdom Builder I know and love, but this seems like it would really add variety and depth to the game. (9)

Century: Golem Edition – Everything I had grown to enjoy about the Century: Spice Road game but with better artwork and cooler components. This is definitely the version we must get, as I really enjoyed those chunky gems. I find that I do enjoy this game a lot, as there is some serious engine-building that goes into the game along with hand and resource management. Unlike Splendor, my play isn’t restrained by what my opponents do or take. (8)

meeple Loved the art and fantasy theme. So much better than the original because of the art. I wish the gems were not so chunky.

Dragon Run – An interesting filler. Even though everything in that game went against me, being the ONLY one to take damage (and die) and the ONLY one who had to discard down to four treasure cards (twice!), I still enjoyed it. Next time, I will be the Warrior and do battle with that Dragon…although it was fun being the Scout. (6)

meeple It is a fun filler. Perfect for older kids.

Longhorn – Variety seems to be the name of this game, which is a good thing. There are some interesting concepts in this simple 2-player game, and that makes it one I’d gladly try again. The decreasing value of the cattle as you take them makes this one have a delightful puzzle. (7)

Machi Koro: Bright Lights, Big City – Oh how I dislike the roll-for-resources mechanic when it is in its purest form. What was an otherwise fine, if light, game was soured by the inability to roll what I needed. Or, rather, to avoid rolling the numbers that gave me absolutely nothing of value. (4)

The Blood of an Englishman – Wow, this one surprised me. I love trying new 2-player only games. I love asymmetrical play. This takes a really simple concept and executes and interesting and elegant design. I’d really love to teach this one to my wife. It might not be one we add to our collection, but it might be one we play to kill time between games at our local FLGS during game days. (9)

Board Gaming · First Impressions · Gaming Recap

New-to-Me First Impressions: 8/1/17-9/21/17

While this isn’t an all-encompassing list, 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!”

Terraforming Mars – A challenge to navigate on a first play with a group of very experienced gamers, especially while drafting cards. Yet it didn’t prevent me from being impressed and itching to play this one again. (9)

Rocky Road a la Mode – A light game of set collection, engine building, and the time mechanic I love from Patchwork. Enjoyable, but hardly memorable. (5)

King of New York – I hated my first play of King of Tokyo this year, and this one wasn’t much better. I’d play this over Tokyo, but… (2)

Honshu – A pleasant card game with a fun spatial element. Really enjoyed the two-player version on this one. (7)

The Fox in the Forest – Not usually a fan of trick taking games, but this one was fun. Loved the powers on some of those cards. (6)

Suburbia – I prefer The Castles of Mad King Ludwig, but this did some fun and interesting things. Definitely room to have both in a collection, as they share similar concepts but have very different executions of those things. Greater familiarity with the tiles in each stack will help to plan purchases a little better. (8)

Century: Spice Road – I never want to play Splendor again. Even when losing, you feel like you’ve accomplished something which makes it a game I can enjoy even though my wife will assuredly demolish me every time. (7)

Clank! A Deck-building Adventure – If only my wife loved this game as much as I do! That’s the only thing keeping this from being a 10. There is definitely some luck and some potential for take-that, but I enjoy the thrill of trying to press deeper and nab the treasure…but not knowing if that decision will cost you the game or will propel you to victory. (9)

Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King – Good-bye Carcassonne. Hello to a thinky tile-laying game that I hope enters my collection soon. Enjoyed the bidding mechanic and the changing scoring methods. Although, other player’s AP almost killed my enjoyment of this one. (8)

Night of Man – The best wargame I’ve played to date, even though that number is very small. Really like the card system and hope to experience more plays soon. (8)

NMBR 9 – I was as underwhelmed by this game as I expected to be. It didn’t help that everyone was calling out the next number as I was still trying to place my tile. (3)

Codenames: Duet– Cooperative game + party game ends up not being our sort of game. Enjoy Codenames enough, but prefer to compete. (4)

Favor of the Pharaoh – Too many dice! This game seemed like it should have taken a lot longer, but one person was able to chain in dice early and obliterated us all. (3)

Seasons – I might actually have enjoyed this one a little more than I did Terraforming Mars. Another play would see far better drafting on my part. Really enjoyed the use of dice to gain the seasonal powers. (9)

Mint Works – Almost felt too light and simple. I want to try it again, but would question how many plays it could provide before collecting dust. (7)

Torres – The power cards are a muddled mess at times when trying to decipher what the card actually lets you do, but otherwise this is a fun game that I can’t wait to play again. I love building those castles! (8)

Nations – Best game I’ve played in nearly two months, which says a lot based on how much I loved both Terraforming Mars and Seasons. If I still had Sid Meyer’s Civilization, this would easily have replaced it. Not sure the game would be worth picking up for $100, though. (10)

The Game – An interesting puzzle and could be fun with the right people. Pretty sure I’d enjoy this most as a solo game, though it worked fine with two. (6)

Whistle Stop – I wasn’t sure what to expect going into the game, just that it had a lot of buzz. Went stock-heavy and didn’t get many trains off the end, but had fun competing in a game where I just barely fell short. Which means multiple paths to victory, something I like a lot. (8)

Harbour – Only played solo so far and that solo play has been underwhelming. Curious to see if an actual player enhances the experience of if this ends up falling flat. (6)