Board Gaming · Review for Two · Two-Player Only

Review for Two – Battle Line

Thank you for checking out my nineteenth 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 GMT Games in exchange for an honest review.

An Overview of Battle Line

Battle Line is a game designed by Reiner Knizia and is published by GMT Games. The box states that it can play 2 players and has a 30 minute play time on the box.

In Battle Line, two opponents face off across a ‘battle line’ and attempt to win the battle by taking 5 of 9 flags or 3 adjacent flags. Flags are decided by placing cards into 3-card poker-type hands on either side of the flag (similar to straight flush, 3 of a kind, straight, flush, etc). The side with the highest ‘formation’ of cards wins the flag.

Setup and gameplay for 2 Players

This is a 2-player only game, so nothing varies at this player count. You shuffle both decks, deal 7 troop cards to each player, and set the 9 pawns in a line in the center of the table.

Players take turn playing one card from their hand and then drawing a card from one of the two decks. A flag can be claimed if both players have three cards out, or if a person can prove the other player cannot win that flag via the cards left in the deck. For instance, if they need a Yellow 8 to get a higher total, then you can win the flag by showing the Yellow 8 is already in play elsewhere. Even if there is a Tactics card that could break this rule, the battle can be resolved and therefore prevent any more cards from being added or removed from that battle.

My Thoughts

This game rewards both long-term and short-term strategy. It can feel overwhelming at the start, because you don’t know what cards you’ll draw or where you opponent will place their cards. There is value in rushing to get to claim a spot early, and equal value at times to play segments slowly. The more options you leave open, the longer you’ll be able to continue drawing and playing cards. You’ll want to try and steal a fast win by claiming three adjacent flags, but you’ll also need to keep your opponent from doing the same. There is a lot of thinking and planning that can go into such a fast and simple game. Which makes this a wonderful quality of Battle Line.

The tactics cards are a fantastic addition, and they can change the entire dynamic of the game. There is nothing more satisfying than throwing down a card that claims a flag for you or delays one for your opponent. However, the balance comes in knowing these cards aren’t a factor in a player proving a flag cannot be claimed. Just because there is a card in the tactics deck that could allow you to get that Green 9 you need isn’t enough if the Green 9 is already out elsewhere. So while these cards are powerful, they only matter if you’ve already played them.

There is a tough decision on when to draw a tactics card and when to draw a troop card. The tactics can be powerful, yet taking those can allow the card you really need to go to your opponent’s hand instead. Or will allow the card they needed to go to their hand. There is a balance to find here, and it can be a tough thing to navigate. A hand full of tactics cards can end up being worth little if there aren’t the right troops to pair them with.

The 30 minute play time is an exaggeration. For a single play, including setup and teardown, we clock in around 15-20 minutes. Which makes this a perfect game. I’ve mentioned other games that play in a filler time but have gameplay beyond the typical filler game. This is one of those games. This is perfect for us, because we still have a young one in the house. Sometimes 15-20 minutes is all we can spare, which makes this a game we can pull out to play any time.

I like the battle system for determining the victor at each flag. It can seem overwhelming at first to remember what defeats what, but after a few plays it begins to click. As your opponent plays down cards, it allows you to narrow down your options to what cards you can play there in order to take the victory.

A player who likes to calculate their odds will enjoy this game; however, it can also be paralyzing. Later in the game it becomes tempting to look at what is out there and start trying to figure out what cards are in the deck and/or your opponent’s hand. This can lead to long turns for some players. It isn’t an issue either of us has, but definitely something that could be encountered.

At the end of the game, you may reach a point where you cannot play a card. Or, worse, where you have to play a card on a flag’s battlefield because you have only a few choices and no cards that go with your intended strategy. This is frustrating, because there are still cards in the deck but you’re forced into those plays. Because you have to play a card from your hand if possible. Should you pass, your opponent keeps playing until they cannot play any more cards on their side. I really found myself wishing I could simply discard to draw the next card.

I really enjoy the small touches placed in here, having each of the ten numbers be a different unit type from the Ancient world. There are two leaders in the tactics deck and they are powerful, but not if you end up drawing them both (because an army doesn’t need a second leader). My next point is on the theme, and while it isn’t a rich theme, they did put consideration in what goes on the cards. You’d expect Elephants to trample over any troop type, thus they are the 10.

This game could be rethemed in a thousand ways, as can be seen by the images on the BGG page. It isn’t supposed to be strong in theme, and it certainly makes sense to deploy these troops to win along the line of battle. If you are the player who needs a rich, immersive theme then you will be disappointed.

Final Verdict

This game is a lot of fun. I wasn’t sure how well she’d like this game because of the poker hand values and the potential math the game can require. Thankfully, my fears were all for naught as we’ve both quite enjoyed this game. It plays fairly quickly, and we are apt to play this several times in a row. This takes a few simple aspects and really makes them work well to deliver a perfect 2-player game.

This is one I’m very thankful to have in our collection. It is similar in some ways to Hanamikoji, a game we played before Battle Line, but they are different enough that we could definitely have both games in our collection and enjoy them both. If you’re looking for a game for two that requires short-term tactical thinking while rewarding long-term strategic planning, this one will fit that requirement. And it plays in a short span of time, allowing it to be squeezed into moments where you can’t play longer games or enabling it to be a game you play multiple times in a row.

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 – Haspelknecht

Thank you for checking out my eighteenth 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 Capstone Games in exchange for an honest review.

An Overview of Haspelknecht: The Story of Early Coal Mining

Haspelknecht is a game designed by Thomas Spitzer and is published by Capstone Games. The box states that it can play 2-4 players and has a 60-90 minute play time on the box.

In Haspelknecht, the players take upon the role of farmers with opportunities to exploit the presence of coal in their lands in the southern part of the Ruhr region of Germany.

Setup and gameplay for 2 Players

Each player’s board is the same setup regardless of player count. The variance enters in two areas: the development tiles and the resource board.

In a 2-player game, there is one single resource board used which is divided into two sections. On the left are two spaces for three discs apiece, which basically provide a preview of the discs that will enter the pool for selection in the following season. On the right are two spaces for six discs each. Taking from the bottom space with your first disc selection will add a pit water into your mine. In a 2-player game, most seasons will see up to 10 of the discs chosen from the right-hand spaces, meaning the leftovers will merge with the three in each queue and then a few additional discs will be drawn from the bag and placed into those current selection spaces. Also of note, there will be exactly 18 discs used for the game which means they will all be in one of the four boxes at the beginning of a season. There are four yellow, seven brown, and seven black discs in the pool for a 2-player game.

The other change is the development tiles. Only three out of the five tiles in each color are used, meaning that the board is smaller but there will be several developments that do not appear. The strategy you take is not just dependent on where the tiles are placed, but also upon which ones are even available. This also means there is a fairly high chance a player may inadvertently place their disc on a development you wanted, allowing you to pay them an additional cost to claim the development as well if you aren’t already adjacent to that development.

My Thoughts

This game challenges the players. You play three years of time, and in those three years there are only three seasons where you actually do something. That means you get a total of nine turns to accomplish everything you need to do. The scarcity of some of the resources needed really challenges you to maximize your decisions. I’m yet to reach the end of the game feeling like I’ve accomplished everything I wanted to, yet I also never feel like I was too restricted in my choices.

The Resource Board is a really interesting mechanism. The bottom box penalizes you with a water if you take from it first. The number and type of discs you take with your first pick are also important to consider because it dictates turn order for the season. Each season you can get at most two colors and at most a total of five discs. I also love that you can plan ahead, knowing three of the discs sliding over in the next turn.

The Development tree is another great mechanic. You have to start at the top. The first player in each of the four colors gets a reward, and the next player gets a smaller reward. You can only play on a development adjacent to one you already have a disc on…or you can go onto a development your opponent is on. But doing that means you also have to pay your opponent valuable materials. So there is incentive to not only plan your route ahead of time, but also to jump on it early.

Points can be really hard to come by in this game. A winning score for us is usually around 30-35, and the other player is never far behind. This is great because it keeps things competitive along the way while also rewarding you for those tough decisions. Do you leave all the coal in your shaft so that you can score more for them next year? Do you push to clear the upper mine Year 1 or get started on the Development tree? So many tough choices because those points are hard to come by and it feels like every point you earned could matter by the end.

The theme in this game is fantastic. It is the small details that matter: the ability to gain an extra food in the summer, increased productiveness from your workers if they both do the same action that season, the coal needing to be mined and then cranked up the shaft, wood needing to be placed to support the ceiling before you can mine deeper, and more. Even the developments make a lot of sense, such as the bucket prevents you from getting a water during the rainy seasons. This was a game designed with the theme in mind, and the overall package is a very engaging experience with interesting mechanics.

The excavation of the coal is a very visual process. The cubes start on your board. The top part clears and becomes a brand new player board with two workers to replace the one. The water level as a factor is fantastic. You have to add the wood sticks in the designated spots to go further. You gain points for digging deeper, as well as unlock symbols that might earn extra points. Well-designed for a player board, even if a bit fiddly in setup.

This is the first game in a trilogy of games. After playing this one, I’m ready for more! The fact that this is the “easiest” of the three has me excited to ramp up the difficulty.

There is great power in certain developments. Depending on the draw you get for those, it is possible to get a ton of points without needing to excavate much in your bottom mine. There are also possibilities that provide a ton of points without needing to try and bring the coal up with the Haspelknecht. So depending on what comes out, you may find the game encourages you to take a certain path in order to maximize your points.

I really wish there were just a few more development tiles in the game. Five in each color come in the box, and in a 2-player game you’ll be using three of those. Which means at best, you’ll have two unique tiles per row if you play a second game in a row. As you add in players, you use more of those tiles so a 4-player game uses all 5 tiles per color. The layout of the tiles will change, and be more impactful at that player count, but I’d love to see a few more in there.

Final Verdict

This is a game that anyone who enjoys worker placement games should try. I’ll admit the theme didn’t excite me, but it is executed really well and provides a fun yet challenging experience. The variability in the developments makes a 2-player game have some nice replay value, and there are advanced patterns to put out the tiles to make it more challenging and interesting. You can only plan so much because there is the randomness of the disc draw, but early planning can help you to overcome the desperate need to get a certain color disc.

This is a game that will make you think a lot, which is a welcome surprise. On the surface it doesn’t seem like a taxing experience, and a game of Haspelknecht won’t exhaust you. Multiple plays in a row might drain your mental power, though…and in a good way. You have hard choices to make in order to scrape up every last point possible. This is easily among my favorite worker placement games, and I can’t wait to try out the other games in the Coal Series by Capstone Games.

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 – Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain

Welcome to my third ever Board Game Wish List. This month we’re going to feature a game I’ve talked about briefly this year. I’m relatively new to wargaming, but there is no way I’m missing out on this great upcoming title from GMT Games. I had heard whispers of this one on BoardGameGeek so long ago, and I’ve been keeping tabs on its development for quite some time now. I was able to reach out to the designers, Marc Gouyon-Rety and Volko Ruhnke, and get some special previews to help shape the content for this post. I cannot wait for this one to release, and I hope that I can help get you excited, too, for what is certainly going to be an amazing game!

~Note: Images used may display various prototypes of the maps, components, and more. Furthermore, all rules and discussion are based off a pre-production presentation of the game, so images seen and items mentioned may change by the time the game is finished and ships out.

**Warning: This post is massive, but very much worth the time to read it. I’ve broken things down into manageable chunks, covering a host of aspects about the game up front. There is a lot of excellent information in there, some coming straight from the website and/or rule book, while other bits are coming from my own attempt to streamline the concept of the game. Near the bottom are the reasons I’m really, really excited about this game. I won’t judge you for skipping to that part, but by breaking this into chunks via subheadings, you can read a section or two at a time and come back after your brain has processed all that information. This game is going to be deserving of such long, focused attention!

pendragonbanner2

Introduction, taken from the GMT Games website:

“At that time all members of the assembly, along with the proud tyrant, are blinded; such is the protection they find for their country (it was, in fact, its destruction) that those wild Saxons, of accursed name, hated by God and men, should be admitted into the island, like wolves into the folds, in order to repel the northern nations. Nothing more hurtful, certainly, nothing more bitter, happened to the island than this […]”

Gildas (De Excidio Britanniae, Part I.23)

So wrote the 6th Century AD British monk Gildas in his pamphlet De Excidio Britanniae (“On the Ruin of Britain”) about what had befallen the Romano-British lands. This crucial period in history saw the end of the Roman Empire in Britain and the seeds of the modern nations of England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and Brittany. Most of us know next to nothing about this period, but we know of its legends – from King Arthur and his knights, through Merlin, Vortigern and Hengest, Badon Hill and the Isle of Avalon, to St. Patrick and Niall of the Nine Hostages…

“For the fire of righteous vengeance, caused by former crimes, blazed from sea to sea, heaped up by the eastern band of impious men; and as it devastated all the neighboring cities and lands, did not cease after it had been kindled, until it burnt nearly the whole surface of the island, and licked the western ocean with its red and savage tongue. […]”

Gildas (De Excidio Britanniae, Part I.24)

Volume VIII in GMT’s COIN Series transports us into the 4th and 5th Centuries A.D. and to the embattled Isle of Britannia. Pendragon – The Fall of Roman Britain covers a century of history from the first large-scale raids of Irish, Pict, and Saxon raiders, to the establishment of successor kingdoms, both Celtic and Germanic. This sumptuous volume adapts the celebrated asymmetrical COIN engine to depict the political, military, religious, and economic struggles of Dark Ages Britain.

Shrouded in mists of myth and legend, this story so foundational to many national groups has been subject to many different narratives and interpretations. The traditional Victorian vision of brutal and violent conquest of Roman and Celtic Britain by Anglo-Saxon raiders and invaders nowcollides with modern historical views ranging from continuity of tribal rivalries to quasi-peaceful cohabitation and acculturation.

The Introduction, taken from the Rule Book

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Pendragon is a board game about the fall of the Roman Diocese of Britain, from the first large-scale raids of Irish, Pict, and Saxon raiders to the establishment of successor kingdoms, both Celtic and Germanic. It adapts GMT Games’ “COIN Series” game system about asymmetrical conflicts to depict the political, military, religious, and economic affairs of 4th and 5th Century Britain.

In Pendragon, one to four players each take the roles of one or more Factions in Britain: the post-Roman army in Britain seeking to maintain imperial order and perhaps morphing into warlords; the landholding civilian aristocracy of the Romanized Celtic Britain tribes aiming to recover their independence while preserving their lands and wealth; the Germanic peoples (Saxons proper, Angles, Jutes, and others) threatening Britain as they look for new opportunities across the North Sea; and the non-Romanized Celtic peoples from across the Irish Sea or from the cold North (mainly Irishmen and Caledonian Picts) eying the disintegrating provinces with appetite.

Issuing commands and exploiting their Factions’ special actions and various events, players build and maneuver forces to influence or control the populations of Britain, extract resources and build renown, and achieve their Factions’ aims. Cards regulate turn order, events, and victory checks.

The game’s most important functions are summarized on several aid sheets. The last few pages of this rule book list key terms in an index and explain how to set up. New players should start with the tutorial in the Playbook.

My Overview of Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain

PendragonMapv049

There is so much that is going on in this game, it is enough to make a person’s head spin at a glance. This is far from a light game and if you pick up the rule book, look at the map, or consider there are four factions with unique goals and objectives in the game, you might go run and seek the comfort of your game of Splendor with its simple, straight-forward, always-use-the-same-strategy gameplay.

That would be a mistake. Yes, this game is big and heavy and there are a lot of unique things going on in here. This is probably not the first game to look to if this is your first time exploring a heavy game. But wow, this game sounds really amazing and I don’t think it is quite as complex as it first appears. Here’s a simple breakdown:

Contenders reduced

There are four different factions vying for certain goals within Britain. The game takes place around 400 A.D. to begin and, depending on the scenario played, could span anywhere from 2-6 Epochs. The longer the game, the thicker the deck and the harder it might be to reach those win conditions. There is also a short scenario in there which reduces the win conditions on two of the factions.

The four factions all play unique, but at the start of the game there are some unique things going on: two of the factions are somewhat allied, meaning they will attack and defend together and can even dip into each other’s resource pool. The other two factions begin with no pieces on the board. Yes, you heard it correctly. Nothing on the board at the beginning of the game for two factions. So here are the four factions and what each one is trying to accomplish to win the game:

  • The Roman Dux faction – Depending on the point in time of the game, they are either adding their Prestige value and Prosperity (with two different possible values needed depending on the game state), or Prestige value and Population.
  • The Civitates faction – Their sole goal is to influence the population under Britain control via resettling refugees. They are the British nobles, trying to throw off the Roman control while warding off the invaders.
  • The Saxon faction – They are trying to increase their Renown while also forming Settlements in Britain. They can also win by controlling population on the island and shifting things into their favor through settlements. Think of this as trying to increase their glory while also “peacefully” settling the land they are invading.
  • The Scotti faction – They have similar objectives to the Saxons, needing both Renown and Settlements on the map. However, they are not trying to control the population.

Awaiting Pendragon's Invitation reduced

During the game, cards are played from the deck one at a time, with one card ahead (so the next in the queue after the current one) revealed to all players. Each Event card shows the order in which the Factions become eligible to choose either that Event or from a menu of their unique list of Commands and Feats. Executing an Event or Command makes it so that Faction is unable to do that on the next available card. In the deck there are also Epoch cards mixed in, which provide opportunities to fulfill instant win conditions and complete activities such as collecting resources.

This cycle will continue until either the Epochs are all complete (there are two in a short game, four in a medium game, six in a long game) or until one player fulfills their win condition.

There are a ton of excellent aspects to this game, and those are all covered by the GMT Insider articles far better than I could do. At the very bottom of this post, you’ll find links to all ten current articles which break down one core mechanic at a time in an effective way. And hopefully by now you haven’t been scared off from the game. It might be a little intimidating, but you can handle it. For a deeper dive into what this game includes and what the factions are, I can make no improvement to the description of this game found on GMT Games’ website.

Description of the game from the GMT Games page:

BedaFomm1LucasBrooks

Pendragon leverages the tremendous flexibility of the COIN system, from dual events to dissimilar approaches and victory conditions, to capture the complexity of the period and let the players explore alternative narratives. Unlike earlier volumes, Pendragon is not about counterinsurgency per se, but focuses on the asymmetrical clashes between and among Romano-British authorities and Barbarian powers gnashing over the carcass of the Roman Empire, including:

  • Barbarian Raiders plundering the land and trying to surprise unwary towns and hillforts, then melting into hills or fens.
  • Expansion or decline of the Saxon Shore naval defense system to counter sea-borne raiders.
  • Authentic Late-Roman military doctrine—mighty but hard-to-replace cavalry tracking down raiding parties before they can return their booty home.
  • Accessible, powerful but fickle Foederati: barbarian warbands in Britain employ.
  • Nuanced battle system representing troop qualities and tactics.
  • Fortified strongholds that must be assaulted, besieged, or rebuilt to gain regional political control.
  • Civil wars, coups, religious shifts, and cultural assimilation.
  • Population movements over the generations, due to good administration, barbarian ravages, or climatic changes.
  • Epochal Events ranging from Roman usurpations on the continent to massive reprisals against barbarian homelands.
  • Evolution of rules and victory conditions throughout the game, as the still vivacious Roman Empire may or may not end with Britain fragmented among competing semi-barbarian proto-kingdoms.
  • A deck of 83 cards with gorgeous commissioned original art.
  • Short, medium, and full-length scenarios
  • Support for solitaire, 2-player, 3-player and 4-player experiences.

“They, moved, as far as was possible for human nature, by the tale of such a tragedy, make speed, like the flight of eagles, unexpected in quick movements of cavalry on land and of mariners by sea; before long they plunge their terrible swords in the necks of the enemies; the massacre they inflict is to be compared to the fall of leaves at the fixed time, just like a mountain torrent, swollen by numerous streams after storms, sweeps over its bed in its noisy course; […]”

Gildas (De Excidio Britanniae, Part I.17)

circa450AD

Each faction in Pendragon brings specific capabilities and challenges:

The Dux represent the original Roman Army in Britannia: with the most powerful units in the game and a network of strong fortresses ringing the island and tied by efficient roads, you must strive to preserve the stability and prosperity of the provinces and punish any interloper daring to challenge the peace. If you can build up your prestige and maintain order, you may be able to keep the island in the Empire, or at least united in a new post-Roman power. You can rely on the civilian militia to assist you, but—as your peerless cavalry dwindles—you must resort to the traditional Roman offer to barbarians of land for service in your forces as Foederati. As the decay of institutions conspires with the scheming of feckless civilians and the marauding of restless barbarians, you may find that the dream of Empire is dead. If so, with your once proud Army little more than another group of warlords, you still can strive to carve for yourself the most powerful kingdom alongside your new rivals.

The Civitates represent the Romanized aristocracy ruling the ancient Celtic tribes from lavish villas and prosperous Roman towns, chafing under the distant authority (and taxes) of Rome, mistrusting the uncultured and semi-Barbarian army, and yearning to settle century-old accounts with their neighbors. When the Barbarian storm comes down upon your island, you may find yourself woefully unprepared to cope—materially or culturally—and presented with a fundamental choice: strive to protect your lands, wealth, and way of life via the despised Army and untrustworthy Foederati, or sacrifice Roman comforts to face down the Barbarian challenge militarily and culturally through a return to Celtic traditions.

The Saxons represent various Germanic groups including Angles, Jutes, Frisians, and Franks who harried, settled, and eventually took over swaths of Britain. As outsiders, you face a steep challenge just to come ashore against the might of the Roman army and navy. You will chip away at the Saxon Shore system, ravage the provincial economy to weaken the Britains’ capability to wage war, and see  some of your best warriors serve as Foederati (often against yourself), but recognize  that the more Saxonsliving on the island—whoever their paymaster—the more opportunities for advancing your nation. Eventually, you must secure footholds, perhaps in the marshy fens of the eastern seaboard that so resemble your homelands, in order to wield your considerable military potential and challenge the old masters of these rich lands to create England.

The Scotti, named for the marauding groups of Irish raiders, also represent those Celts native to the island of Britain who differed from the romanized Civitates by remaining true (or reverting back) to the old ways. Often, the boundary between the two groups was porous… The biggest such group eventually formed the northern nation of the Picts, forebears of modern Scotland. As the Scotti, you see the disintegration of Roman Britain as an opportunity not so much to expand as to seize riches and renown to assert yourself at home. Raid ceaselessly, surprise and plunder poorly protected communities, kidnap for ransom, and show your military prowess against your unfortunate neighbors across the Irish Sea and Forth-Clyde isthmus… Then establish bases strategically along the enemy shores and entreat local hill tribes to reject post-Roman authority. But beware that your very advances will help give rise and limit your ability to grapple new powerhouses on the island!

“Kings were anointed, not in the name of God, but such as surpassed others in cruelty, and shortly afterwards were put to death by the men who anointed them, without any enquiry as to truth, because others more cruel had been elected. If, however, any one among them appeared to be of a milder disposition, and to some extent more attached to truth, against him were turned without respect the hatred and darts of all, as if he were the subverter of Britain;[…]”

Gildas (De Excidio Britanniae, Part I.21)

So as Britain, the Island of the Mighty, is engulfed in the din of swords and spears and the acrid smoke of burning thatch, will you join the packs of wolves who feast on the once proud Empire, or will you rally the Dragon standards of the Pen Ddraig, the Chief Dragon, lord of battles of the Britains, to try to preserve your people’s lands and wealth?

Timescale: about 15 years per campaign between Epoch cards

What Comes in the Box

  • A 22″ x 34″ game board
  • A deck of 83 playing cards
  • 90 golden Prosperity/Plunder cubes
  • 102 Troop cubes (20 red [Cavalry], 30 light blue [Militia], 15 medium blue [Comitates], 12 green [Scotti Warbands], 25 black [Saxon Warbands])
  • 55 Raider triangular cylinders (30 green [Scotti], 25 black [Saxon])
  • 58 Stronghold “castles” (10 red [Forts], 15 light blue [Towers], 15 medium blue [Hillforts], 6 green [Scotti Settlements], 12 black [Saxon Settlements]
  • Eight Faction round cylinders (2 red, 2 blue, 2 green, 2 black)
  • 12 pawns (1 red, 1 blue, 6 white, 4 gray)
  • A sheet of markers
  • Four Faction player aid foldouts
  • Two Epoch and Battles sheets
  • A Non-Player Guidelines Summary and Battle Tactics sheet
  • A Non-Player Event Introductions foldout
  • A Non-Player flowchart foldout
  • Three four-sided dice (gray) and four six-sided dice (red, blue, black, and green)
  • A background play book
  • The rule book

Why This Game is on my Wishlist

Fall of Londinium, ca500AD

  • Let’s start with the easiest reason, which has little to do with the gameplay itself: The setting of the game. Arthurian Britain, 4th-5th Century A.D. The end of Roman Britain and the beginning of what is frequently termed as the Dark Ages. This is a period that is certainly underrepresented in board games, and I really love how they have taken the approach of steeping it in the history of the period rather than looking toward the romanticized version of the Arthurian era. Could King Arthur have been around with the knights and castles and jousting and courtly love and chivalry and everything else we see in modern Arthurian film and literature? Sure. But the most likely historical scenario for Arthur was right around the Roman decline in Britain. I absolutely love the choice of setting. The name, Pendragon, drew me in. Even though it isn’t really an Arthurian game, I really enjoy the setting that was chosen.
  • It is no secret that I love asymmetry in game, and this one has that in spades. There are four factions that all start under different conditions. They each have their own unique list of commands (sure, there are some similarities but that have their unique flavors), their own unique set of feats, events that harm or help each faction differently, and win conditions that are different. Hidden within these four asymmetric factions are two sets of factions with similar interests that pair perfectly for a 2-player game yet provide interesting dynamics with higher player counts. I’ll discuss this more later when talking about the Dux and the Civitates.
  • The Commands, Feats, and win conditions are all thematic from a historical standpoint. They aren’t diversified just for diversity’s sake. This helps to represent what each of these different nationalities valued and fought for within the upheaval during this period. When you understand just a little bit about that faction and their goals, it begins to make sense as to why you are doing certain things and why you are trying to accomplish certain goals. These are the small details that a game could gloss over and be forgiven if done in the name of gameplay or balance. To see it executed so well, at least on paper, is something that makes me excited. Players will learn while they are playing the game, gaining a deeper appreciation for the period in history as well as the unique struggles faced by those factions.
  • All these historical things don’t just happen by chance; Marc has shared some of the books that formed his reading list about the period. Reading some of those titles has me not only praising the designer and his efforts, but also adding these things to my own reading list. Which doesn’t need added to, really, but I can’t say no to titles like “Arthur and the Fall of Roman Britain – A narrative history for fifth century Britain” by Edwin Pace, “Britannia, the Failed State – Tribal conflicts and the End of Roman Britain” and “Warlords – The struggle for power in post-Roman Britain” by Stuart Laycock, and “Civitas to Kingdom – British political continuity 300-800” by Ken Dark. Yes, those titles get me excited for reading…which is a fairly new occurrence in the last few years. I can imagine pairing these books with playing the game a handful of times will really help the items on the page come alive.
  • There is friction between the two factions that begin the game on the map: the Dux and the Civitates. On one hand, you have the Dux who represent the Roman forces who are trying to hold onto their power in Britain. Their power at the start allows them to tap into the resources of the current residents of Britain in order to fend off the off-shore invaders. The Civitates, on the other hand, are the wealthy class of Britains who not only want to drive off the invaders, but also to shrug off the control that Rome has over their population. There are times when it is in the best interest of both parties to pool together with the raiding warbands along the coasts, but ultimately they both want something different. So while it may start the game feeling like a 2 vs 2 or a 2 vs 1 vs 1 matchup, there comes a point where those common interests divide along separate paths. I absolutely love this design!
  • Don’t like playing two sides in a 2-player or 3-player game? No problem when it comes to this game. While the primary use of the Non-Player flowcharts and other items would be in solo play, they could easily be implemented in a 2 or 3-player game of Pendragon. This makes it so you only have to focus on your one faction and what they are trying to accomplish, while at the same time having the unplayed factions simulate their set of actions. Some may argue this presents more work for the people at the table, but you’ll find that the system they created for the non-players is a wonderful addition to the game and well worth the effort. It isn’t trying to be as streamlined as an Automa system, and it will be rewarding for those who stick with trying to implement it into a game.
  • Did I mention solo play? So many wargames out there are “soloable” by playing both sides of a combat to the best of your ability. In many wargames this works because there is not really much to be found in the way of hidden information. The system in this game takes solo wargaming and turns it up to 11. Yes, it will require work on the part of the player. But wow, just from reading the rules I can already tell the payoff will be a solo experience that few games can deliver. This has me very, very excited to try it out with solo play…and that is probably the best way to go about learning the non-player system. If you’re playing with other players, you’ll want at least one person who understands and can smoothly operate those non-player factions in order to avoid things being bogged down.
  • An indirect side note, but an important one: this is the eighth game in the COIN series of games. Which means if you want to understand some of how the game will play, there are already a handful of games you could sit down and play, or watch played, in order to get a good grasp on how this one will work. Sure, things will be different than what you’ll see in Pendragon, but there is something positive to be said for a game system that players have already seen and tested. It means there will be some great polish on the mechanisms and gameplay because some of those potential wrinkles have been ironed out in previous titles. The man behind the COIN system himself, Volko, partnered with Marc to help refine the game as it developed from concept to finished product. That means this game, once you get it to the table and understand how it works, is going to be stellar. Which inspires confidence in this game, because the core of the system is going to be a solid foundation.

First great wave of Saxons, ca 400AD

And that is all I’ll list for now. I could probably add more reasons, and I might add some more in as I think of important ones to include. But I hope you’ve gotten the idea by now as to why this game is so high on my anticipated release list. I’ve never played a COIN game before, but this one has me interested in the system. Be sure to check out the GMT Insider articles below for some excellent information about the game and the key mechanics.

Where you can learn more about this game

Board Gaming · On the Table

On the Table – July 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 July

Haspelknecht

This game is outstanding. We played it three times in a row one morning and it definitely brings the brain burn when done back to back to back. This is a game with a lot of fun and interesting mechanics working together. It provides a really unique entry into the worker placement genre, and it might just be my favorite worker placement game. Easily in my top three for that category. This is one we just haven’t been able to revisit in the past week or so, which is the one thing preventing a review from getting up. I bet we fix that early in the week so that we can give you a bigger, better coverage of a game you should play by a company you should be watching.

Castles of Caladale

This is an unique entry as a hot solo game because it isn’t me playing this one so much solo…she is! Which is something that I really enjoy seeing and hearing about – Herbaceous is the other game that she’s been soloing a fair amount this past week. She is outstanding at games like Caladale, and with her solo feats I don’t know that I will ever be able to win a game of this against her in the future. Fantastic game that is a little more interesting than Carcassonne but not a very heavy game. We love some of the unique things it does with more players, but it also makes a nice solo option.

Next Games on Deck

Exile Sun

We got this one in a math trade back in March and there have been a few times she’s asked about it. Foolish husband that I am, I hadn’t read the rules yet each time she asked. That step has been corrected, but she hasn’t mentioned this one again since that happened. The smart husband would forego one of his own favorite games to pull this one out in the near future. I think this has the makings of being a hit with us, and I really think the battle system will be perfect in a 2-player game.

Sherwood’s Legacy

I love the solo on the first Lynnvander game, and I have no doubt I’ll enjoy this one just as much. I’ve never been quite as big into Robin Hood as I am into King Arthur, but I do enjoy Robin Hood quite a bit. When I punched this game out a few weeks ago, I really had to convince myself that I wanted to play Albion’s Legacy instead of this one. Ever since that night, I’ve had the temptation to pull this back out and play it. There is no way this remains unplayed through the end of this month.

Games We Can’t Wait to Replay

The Castles of Burgundy

She really likes this game. We actually picked it up off a friend for a good price, since his own wife never really enjoyed the game. She always asks for this one and I usually oblige. After listening to Heavy Cardboard talk about this game, I am itching to try it again. I’m yet to win a game of this one, but I almost always have fun while losing in this game. Except when she takes the building I need in the last round, leaving me just short of filling that 8-hex grouping. I’m not bitter at all about that…

Stamford Bridge: The End of the Viking Age

I really enjoy this game, and am curious to test out both maps again in a solo match. While I still need to drag my wife into a game, there is something relaxing about pushing the chits around on the map and trying to maneuver both sides into ideal situations and see where the dice happens to fall. The simple system makes this a really good solo wargame, as I’m not constantly flipping through the rules and there is only one chart to reference.

A Wishlist Feature

Stronghold (2nd Edition)

This game is one I’ve talked about before, dating as far back as my 10 games I want to play in 2017. This is one I still haven’t gotten a chance to try, and I am still convinced this will be an outstanding 2-player-only game. I love that each side plays very different, and I just want to have The Two Towers playing in the background while we battle over Helm’s Deep the stronghold.

Mage Knight Board Game

I think it is time for me to take the plunge into the quintessential solo game of all solo games. I don’t know how often it will hit the table, but I have a feeling that after one game of this I won’t care. This is the #1 solo game for a reason, and it is a game that sounds like it will hit all the right spots for me as well. Maybe I’ll try to find a day every few months where I can sit down, set up, and play a 3-6 hour game of Mage Knight. My wife can be understanding of my desire to play a game, and sometimes even supportive of my solo gaming decisions. The price tag has been the only thing keeping me from picking it up sooner. Here’s hoping for a Christmas surprise.

Board Game Lists

Six Podcasts I Listen To

There is a good and a bad side to having so much content out there. It is great because there are so many places a person can turn to in order to learn about board games and so many discussions out there about this hobby. The downside, though, is that there is no way to possibly consume all of that content each week/month/year.

I ran into an issue about two months ago when I decided to subscribe to a ton of board gaming podcasts. I was ready to leave audiobooks behind and transition to listening to content creators in the hobby. My first experience was one that really stuck with me: Low Player Count. So when I decided to branch out and test many other podcasts, I found myself torn between listening to a new podcast or catching up on a Low Player Count episode in their archives.

The further I branched out, the quicker it became clear that I couldn’t possibly do it. There was no way to keep up with recent episodes, much less any of their backlog episodes of interest. So last week I was determined to cull the subscription list. That meant making some hard decisions about what I want to listen to and what I need out of a podcast. So here are a few of those criteria:

1) Focus on 1-2 player board games is a plus, since that is my primary player count.
2) Focus on heavier, strategic games over lighter games because that is the direction my preferences are heading.
3) Creation of content beyond simply reviewing games – reviews are fine in audio form but I also enjoy the topic-based discussions.
4) Length of podcast episodes are important. I get about an hour or so during each weekday to listen to podcasts, so the 30-90 minute range is ideal for getting through enough episodes each week to keep things from backlogging too much.

That last meant some really solid podcasts, such as Rahdo Talks Through, had to be dropped. If half of my listening time each week is dedicated to his episode, that means I’m losing ground. But maybe I’ll find that there is still a place to reinsert his podcast in there after a few weeks – after all, his is a monthly production rather than weekly.

Here is my list of podcasts that I have decided to keep and a brief reasoning behind their inclusion:

1 Low Player Count – These three guys are the ones that welcomed me into listening to podcasts. Their discussions are great, and I always appreciate how quickly they seem to get into the main topic. It isn’t a long dissertation about the games they are playing that drags on forever – I do enjoy hearing those things but that isn’t the reason I’m excited about the episode. They have fairly varied tastes in games at times, which makes for an interesting approach to some of the topics they cover and the games that get mentioned. I’ve listened to over a dozen of their previous episodes, and could honestly just listen to their entire series and be perfectly content until I caught up. I have come to especially enjoy the Travis Gets Heavy minisodes, and I hope to meet and play some games with him at some point.

https://www.lowplayercount.com/

2 Married With Board Games – Let’s be honest here…sometimes the part of their episodes I enjoy the most are the Game Night Grub spots. I didn’t think that would happen, but I simply enjoy hearing about things like Ritz Crackers for S’Mores. They like Pandemic and Cthulhu a little too much for my tastes, but there is still plenty of great discussion to be found here…and as a married couple, they talk about more than enough games that would also work well for my wife and I.

https://www.marriedwithbg.com/

3 Tabletop for Two – Another married couple talking games. I have only listened to a few episodes, but I really enjoyed the last one I listened to about Asymmetric games. Those games are kind of my wheelhouse, if I had one right now. Which is part of what appeals to me about deckbuilding, now that I think about it. I’m looking forward to listening to even more of their content, which is great in quality.

https://tabletopfortwo.podbean.com/

4 Heavy Cardboard – This is a newer one on the list, mainly because I had been hesitant to take the plunge. But I have come to realize that, at heart, I have become a heavy gamer. I’d much rather play one long game during an evening than a bunch of smaller games. That should have been my first sign. I’m really excited about diving into more episodes from them, especially after listening to the recent interview with Clay Ross at Capstone Games.

https://www.heavycardboard.com/

5 Board Game Blitz – These three girls are fantastic. I came for the etymology, and have found that I always listen closely when Ambie is talking about the games she plays (although I really enjoy Crystal and Cassadi’s discussions as well!). Much like Travis at Low Player Count, she plays heavier games. Man, I really should have picked up on my Heavy Cardboard need a lot sooner. The signs were all out there. Anyway, these girls are great fun to listen to, they work well together, discuss some important topics, and manage to do all of these things in roughly half an hour. It always amazes me how much gets crammed into such a short span of time.

http://www.boardgameblitz.com/

6 Board Games Insider – This one is an unique one on the list and I’ve only listened to a single episode so far. Yet it was enough to make me keep them on the list, because I really enjoyed hearing these two talk from that Insider perspective toward the hobby. I have no plans to design or publish games myself, but I am a big fan of both companies and I hope to hear some more interesting insights by following along with this one.

http://boardgamesinsider.com/

So there you have six podcasts that I am keeping a subscription to. I think six is a good number for each week, and this doesn’t count the new interest I have in Star Wars: Destiny and the podcasts related to that which I am checking into. That may be a future post to discuss those once I’ve had a decent enough sample size to discuss.

So what podcasts do you listen to, and why do you follow them? Do you try and keep up with every episode, or select just the ones of interest as they are posted?

Board Gaming · Review for Two

Review for Two – Yokohama

Thank you for checking out my seventeenth 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.

**Giveaway ended – congratulations to Brian Dau, the winner of a free copy of Yokohama!

An Overview of Yokohama

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Once Yokohama was just a fishing village, but now at the beginning of the Meiji era it’s becoming a harbor open to foreign countries and one of the leading trade cities of Japan. As a result, many Japanese products such as copper and raw silk are collected in Yokohama for export to other countries. At the same time, the city is starting to incorporate foreign technology and culture, with even the streets becoming more modernized. In the shadow of this development was the presence of many Yokohama merchants.

Yokohama is a game designed by Hisashi Hayashi and is published by Tasty Minstrel Games. The box states that it can play 2-4 players and has a 90 minute play time on the box.

In Yokohama, each player is a merchant in the Meiji period, trying to gain fame from a successful business, and to do so they need to build a store, broaden their sales channels, learn a variety of techniques, and (of course) respond to trade orders from abroad.

Setup and gameplay for 2 Players

While the gameplay is the same regardless of player count, there are quite a few things that remain in the box for a two player game. The back of each location tile and management board provides a helpful guide, as the ones used in 3 and 4-player games are marked on the back accordingly. So you’ll set any of those back in the box, which should leave you with 10 location tiles and 4 management boards to use with two. You’ll shuffle those location tiles and make a pyramid, starting with 1 tile at the bottom and progressing up to a row of 4 tiles at the top. The score-tracking board should be set out with the 4 management boards nearby. Shuffle the three decks of achievement cards and place a card from the A deck, a card from the B deck, and a card from the C deck on the card outlines on the scoring board.

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Shuffle the Order cards and place 16 back in the box. Then, deal two order cards to both players. Each player will select one to keep and remove the other from the game. Place six order cards from the top of the deck onto the Port management board. Shuffle the technology cards and place the top six cards on the Laboratory management board. Shuffle the building site cards and place one face-up in the top left corner of each location tile. Randomly place a 5-power token face-up on the 5-power spot on each location tile. Give each player a copper, a silk, a tea, and a fish token. The starting player will take 3 yen, the other player will have 4 yen. Each player will start with their President pawn, 8 assistant cubes, and 2 shophouses. The remaining assistant cubes, shophouses, and trading houses should be placed in the corresponding spots on their player’s board. Finally, a neutral-colored assistant cube is placed on the spot marked with the 2-Player icon on the Church and Customs management board.

There are six parts to each player’s main turn, and a few additional actions that can be done during the first or second half of a turn (before or after the six main turn actions). the main actions are:

Placement Step where a player puts out either 3 assistant cubes on 3 different action spaces, or 2 cubes onto the same action space.

Movement Step where a player does one of three things: takes their President Pawn from their playing area and puts it on the board where they have at least 1 assistant cube; moves their President Pawn from one space to another, so long as there is at least one assistant cube in each space they pass through as well as at least one on the space they end at (note: a player cannot end on a space where the other player’s President Pawn is located, but they can pass through the space by paying their opponent 1 yen); or they can remove the President Pawn from the board and return it to their playing area.

Area Action Step where a player activates the ability of that location, adding up the number of assistant cubes, shophouses, trading houses, and their President Pawn to determine the power level of that action (a number between 1-5). Typically, the higher the number the stronger or more effective the action is. An easy way to remember is to count everything on that space of your color.

5-Power Bonus step where a player can take the 5-power bonus token if they are the first person on that space to reach 5 power during a single action. These bonuses range from additional resources, yen, or imported goods.

Build a shophouse or trading house where a player whose action power was at least 4 can take a shophouse or trading house they have purchased and place it on one of the spaces on the building site card. Each card can hold only one shophouse of each color, and only one total trading house. They would then collect the reward that their house covered, and as an added bonus those count toward your total power on future actions on that space.

Recovery step where a player returns any assistant cubes on the action space to their supply.

This is the essence of what you can do during a game. The extra actions are to complete an order, to use a foreign ambassador (it is used like a President, only it does not add to the power of the location nor is it restricted by an opponent’s President Pawn), or fulfill an achievement card on the scoring board. Any goods or resources needed for the achievement are not spent, but an assistant cube is placed on the card thus reducing the number of them in your available pool for the rest of the game.

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There are many other gameplay elements that could be discussed, but others have done far better than I could. So I’ll conclude this aspect with how the game ends. The end of the game is triggered by one of these conditions being met:

1) A player has placed their eighth shophouse on the board
2) A player has placed their fourth trading house on the board
3) A 4th cube, including the neutral cube, is placed on the Customs management board (with more players, this number may be higher)
4) A 4th cube, including the neutral cube, is placed on the Church management board (with more players, this number may be higher)
5) The order card deck is empty and there is at least one empty space on the Port management board.

Points are scored based on position on the Church Board, position on the Customs board, value of technology cards, sets of country cards, unused foreign agent tokens, remaining yen, and remaining goods. The highest point total is the winner.

My Thoughts

The first thing that I really enjoyed was how variable the setup of the game would be. While it isn’t as strong of a positive as I initially imagined, this is still a great thing. The locations will not appear in the same order each game. The bonuses for building your houses and doing the 5-power bonuses will change each game. The achievements will change. This helps prevent the game from being a stale exercise in trying to be the most efficient at executing the same exact path each time. However, in a 2-player game the board is small enough that the arrangement of the spaces doesn’t impact your overall strategy.

The movement aspect of this game is great. I love that you need to arrange paths via your assistants in order to move around and that you’ll need to stockpile them on spaces in order to take the stronger actions. It is a game with planning and strategy in abundance, and in a 2-player game you’ll almost always be able to get around to where you are wanting to go as long as you plan ahead on making the paths.

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The power aspect of this game is also another area of design I really like. Most spaces you’ll always be able to do the action if you can get there via movement, but if you want to be efficient with your action you need to plan ahead and load up enough assistants on a space. Pooling them too soon can cue your opponents in on what you are trying to accomplish, allowing them a chance to potentially block you by going there first or stopping in your path. You also need to get at least 4 power in order to place a shophouse or trading house, making extra incentive to get just enough power in there to add that benefit from your move.

I really like that claiming an achievement, or cashing in on the Church or Customs management boards takes one of your available assistants from your pool. It makes you either plan ahead to free more workers from your warehouse, or else leaves you scrambling to make long enough paths and pooling enough power to be effective.

I like a game with set collection in there, and this one works nicely. There are dual incentives here: each pair of country symbols gives you a foreign agent (which is worth either an extra “president” action in a turn, or else 1 VP at the end of the game), but collecting a set of 4-5 different countries scores you higher amounts of VP at the end of the game. With one of those five countries being really rare, that makes it no sure thing that you can get all five countries or be able to do so multiple times. The fact that they are represented on both order cards and technology cards is another great implementation of design.

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I love, love, love the multiple ways to trigger the end of the game. This game doesn’t only provide several ways to score points, but also multiple ways to bring about its end. Several of those are dependent on your own actions, but there are a few that are impacted by everyone (running out the orders deck, placing cubes on the management boards). In a 2-player game, with the automatic inclusion of a neutral cube that counts toward the limit on the management boards, this could potentially end really quickly. We’ve had it triggered by all of the possible outcomes so far, and every time we feel like it was the perfect length for the game.

The game looks very overwhelming when set up, but it takes only a turn or two to realize that this is a very simple and easy-to-understand game. Especially with two players, the number of options out there are not too high because a lot of the locations have similar effects (collect X of a resource, purchase X by paying Y, etc.). The board is perfect in size and is far less busy than it initially appears. It also takes less time to understand how things work in terms of how to gain what you need and how to turn things into points for a game.

The iconography of the game does take some time to get used to. Some space actions are simple, showing a good or VP to collect. Others, like the icons on the Laboratory, take some referencing in the book to really wrap your head around the action and/or limitations from that space. These are a small barrier at first during the first plays, but with familiarity they become easier to interpret and integrate into part of the experience.

In a 2-player game, it never really feels like I am blocked out of what I want to do. Even when an opponent is where I want to go, I know that they will be moving the next turn so I can get there one move later. The board is small enough that I can get anywhere without having to pay the opponent so long as I plan ahead effectively. So while many worker placement games place a value on being the first player so you can get the action you need each turn, this one focuses more on the long-term route planning. You’ll almost always be able to get done what you want, and usually waiting just means you can make it, or another space, more effective while being delayed. With more players, this could very well change but I suspect it would still be similar enough in experience.

The theme is unique and represented well. Art is a subjective thing, and while the appearance of everything in this game is solid, it isn’t memorable. You can definitely get the feeling of being a merchant trying to collect and ship goods, but it isn’t super-immersive. Few worker placement games are immersive in theme, and they tend to touch upon the more unique themes like this one. If you care about beautiful, memorable art or a really immersive theme, this one won’t leave the impression you are looking for. However, it doesn’t feel like the theme is pasted on nor is the artwork detracting.

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Final Verdict

This was a game that surprised me a lot. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but knew its worker placement aspect was unique enough to make it worth checking out. Many people want to compare it to Istanbul, and after my first play I thought I no longer needed to obtain Istanbul for my collection. After a few more plays, though, I realized that it is a very different game from Istanbul and in a good way. It does several things that I really enjoy, such as the power system, the use of assistants for movement paths, and the multiple end-game triggers.

The one thing that I was really disappointed in was the variability of the game. Yes, it will be set up differently each game. But each of the three achievement spots has only four cards to choose from. Many of the 5-power tokens are similar in what they provide. The building site cards are very similar in the rewards offered for building your shophouses and trading houses. So ultimately, the variability is not as earth-shattering as it might sound in the beginning. That isn’t a bad thing, but it also means that the games will still feel very similar each time you play. Which is the same thing that could be said for Istanbul, and many other worker placement games out there. The path toward victory is similar each game, even if the way you choose to pursue that changes slightly based on what appears and where they appear for the game.

I definitely recommend this game for anyone seeking an unique gaming experience from a designer whose name I’m suddenly seeing everywhere. This is a really solid game, and should last through quite a few plays before it runs any risk of feeling like you’ve exhausted what the game has to offer. It is a solid 2-player experience that is certain to improve with higher player counts, but even if added to a collection that would never see more than 2-players this game is definitely worth picking up.

Thanks again to Tasty Minstrel Games for providing this game for review, as well as their generous offer to provide a copy to give away.

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

June 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:

June Couples’ Record:
David – 9/24, 37.5%
Nicole – 15/24, 62.5%
9 Unique Games

2017 Couples Record:
David – 61/132 (46.21%)
Nicole – 73/132 (55.30%)
47 Unique Games

Most Played 2-Player Game: Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft (7 Plays) – This is fast, fun, and a really solid worker placement game. Check out my recent review on this one, as it deserves to be in every 2-player game collection.
Favorite 2-Player Experience: 
Viticulture: Essential Edition – This wasn’t my favorite game played, but the quote shared earlier this month makes this stand out to me. I got my revenge in our rematch later in the month, showing her that I can win eventually at worker placement games.
Best New-to-Us 2-Player Experience: 7 Wonders Duel – After the first game of this, my wife expressed that she enjoyed the game a lot. The next two times we played it, she dominated me with a military and then a science victory. Winning was nice for the first game while it lasted…
Most Surprising 2-Player Experience: Fields of Green – It is hard to see a card drafting game that works as well with two as it does with more. The small variant in this one not only works well, I think I might actually prefer it over the regular gameplay!
Next Unplayed 2-Player Game to be Played: Haspelknecht – Worker placement. This is going to be another game my wife dominates me in, but I’m excited to dig into the first game in this planned trilogy by Capstone Games!

Solo Gaming:

June Solo Record: 6/11, 54.54%
5 Unique Games

2017 Solo Record: 21/46 (45.65%)
16 Unique Games

Most Played Solo Game: Herbaceous (4 Plays) – This is really fast, even as a solo game. It helps that you take out half the deck when playing solo. I also like the Biblios-like approach toward placing cards as you go, and the restriction on cards in the Community Garden area. It won’t be my favorite solo game, but it is a fun thing to pull out.
Favorite Solo Experience & Best New-to-Me Solo Experience:
 Albion’s Legacy – There was no doubt in my mind. I finally got this one, and on a night when my wife went to bed early I pulled this out and played it. I had such a great time, even if it kept me up to midnight. Now I just need to beat the first mission!
Most Surprising Solo Game: Stamford Bridge: End of the Viking Age  – I knew I’d like this game, but I was really, really surprised by how simple the rules and charts were for this wargame. It will definitely be a great one to play with my wife.
Next Unplayed Solo Game to be Played: Night of Man – After a few more plays of Stamford Bridge, I’ll need to pull this one out and start through its campaign. For solo gaming, that word “campaign” is like music to my ears.

Group Gaming:

June Group Games:
17 Unique Games

2017 Group games:
44 Unique Games

Most Played Group Game: Kingdomino (2 Plays) – This could have been a handful of other games, but I picked this one out because of all the attention the game has gotten. It was a fast, fun game with 4 and not quite as enjoyable with 3. I can see the appeal of the game, but it didn’t wow myself or my wife.
Favorite Group Experience:
 The King is Dead – I played this with some guys on my birthday. The second game we played was so epic in the intensity that you could have heard a pin drop in the room. With the right two people, this could very easily be the best 3-player experience out there.
Best New-to-Me Group Experience: Star Wars: Destiny – This game rocked my world. This was the Star Wars game I’ve been searching for and had never found. It convinced me to join into the foray, and I just need to pick up some starter sets so I can show my wife why I’ve been talking about this game all week long!
Most Surprising Group Game: Herbaceous – I had very little knowledge of the game, but it seemed like a light filler. My wife loved the game, and I found it to be a decent experience. Way better than I had anticipated, which is why I found time to pull it out and play solo, as mentioned above.
Group Game I Want to Play Most: Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King – It was on my ten games I want to play in 2017. I have a handful of games left on that list to get to, and this one seems the most likely to appear and be played. I didn’t run into it in June, but I have high hopes to see it in July.

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/66814/june-2017-games-played-recap