Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Settlers is the new Risk....

For a good laugh, check out this list of nasty things to do while playing Settlers.  Definitely gonna try #2 if I ever get dragged into playing the game again.

(Thanks for the tip, K-Stew....)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

First Play: Copycat....

The hobby gaming obsession has exploded so much so over the past decade that many games have come out with themes and mechanics that reflect humourously on hobby gaming itself.  And there's so many of us suckers now that these games are even finding a market - The Boardgamegeek Game and Cleopatra's Caboose are prime examples.  Copycat, by the brilliant and weird Friedemann Friese of Power Grid and Black Friday fame, is another prime example of this.  Friese decided he wanted to steal mechanics from the top-rated games on BGG and put 'em together to create something new.  Of course, this is a not-so-subtle commentary on the endless variations of modern game mechanics that we're seeing over and over - worker placement, deck-building, you name it.  So Copycat steals the worker-placement/action card reveal from Agricola, the deck-building and coins for buying from Dominion, increasing values of unused actions from Puerto Rico, and the sliding card row from Through the Ages as well as tossing a few more clever ideas into the mix.

Red cards are useless, you know, like licenses and degrees and stuff
And I daresay that my first play of this was rather magnificent!  Once the fog had lifted from trying to parse yet another confusing Friese and Rio Grande ruleset, we really started to get into the game.  Not knowing what I was doing and not knowing that money would be really hard to come by later, I tried my classic "Chapel" strategy from Dominion of burning down my deck and then building it back up.  Unfortunately I used more actions burning my deck then building it and so had to play catch up in the end game.  But man was this fun.  Long-term strategy from the deck-building and deep challenging tactical play every round from the action spaces and the cards on hand.  And a devious decision every round for turn order - which card to give up from a hand of only 5?  Delicious.  I'm looking forward to my next play of this, I must say, and seriously considering owning a copy myself.  Highly recommended, especially if Agricola and Dominion float your boat.

And you don't have to feed your family!!!!

Action spaces and "campaign workers"
UPDATE:  2-player game is way too easy.  Fun but devoid of tension.  4-player is excellent and illustrates the many ways to scoop points.  But for length of play I think 3 players is just right. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

On The Horizon: Euphoria....

....or the full title - Euphoria:  Build a Better Dystopia.  (If you're not sure what a dystopia is, think the opposite of a utopia.  Or just play the excellent video game Bioshock: Infinite.)  The Kickstarter campaign for Euphoria launched today and I'd be promoting it just cuz the designers are such nice guys.  But after having read the rules, I can happily say this one looks pretty darn cool, too, and dripping with theme.  Yes, dripping with theme much like their previous game Viticulture... which should be arriving in the mail for me next week!

This upcoming game is a heavy worker-placement game like many designs out today, but its definitely got a few clever twists.  The cleverest part of the design, in my opinion, is that workers are represented by dice (a bit like Alien Frontiers) and the higher the value of the die (knowledge) the better the actions it can do.  However if the sum of your worker dice (knowledge) exceeds a certain amount, then one of your workers runs away.  Aha!  Get it, they're getting too smart for their own good and seek freedom.  As well, there's buildings that once completed take away options from the players who don't help construct them.  Nasty, and again totally integrated with the dystopian theme.

Definitely check out their Kickstarter campaign and take a look at the rules.  The images so far are gorgeous and if Jamey and his team over-fund this campaign as much as they did Viticulture last year, then the bonus pieces will be just as magnificent.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Most Complicated Board Game Ever

Enjoy this hilarious video paying tribute to how complicated board games can feel sometimes.

''Learning to play a new game has never been so painful.''

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Guest post - First play of Factory Fun....

We played this last night. It's a game of machine building, input and output power sources, and pipe laying. Vaguely reminiscent of the old school Waterworks, only way more technical. It doesn't sound like a lot of fun, and it definitely isn't one of the prettier board games I've seen, so I wasn't sure what to think.  I don't know if it was the "post-birthday" sugar coma or the after effects of a house full of shrieking 5-year-old girls... but this one was a bumbling, brain fogging, head scratcher!  

It took us about 90 minutes to play from set-up to completion. Two of us have never played it before so the initial rules and strategy explanation was slow and overwhelming.  My husband caught onto the concept quicker than I, although he hit a major stumbling block when he cleared his factory floor completely and then couldn't reassemble all his machines the same way.  His blunder, however, game me a good half hour to leisurely peruse the rules while he tried to lay his pieces again. I can't say that by the end of play, I had completely caught on, but I was taking more risks in grabbing machines. 

We discovered a significant error on my board about halfway through the game, as well, where I had inputted into an output piece, or something like that.  A few hastily purchased pieces of pipe fixed it right up, though.  By the end I was letting my husband tell me what pieces to play where.   In other board games, his habit of "helping" pisses me off.  Last night, I actually found myself asking for his advice.  From a fluke of luck, or my lack of impulsivity in the grabbing pieces round, I didn't come in dead last.  The engineer at the table won, actually, so of course I accused him of stacking the odds in his favour.  He insisted, "No, no, I normally lose," and "I'm not that kind of engineer!"  Hmm... maybe he's a Ticket to Ride engineer ...  but I digress.  

Factory Fun is a puzzle game (I'd venture to say a very complicated puzzle game) and I love puzzle games.  I'm generally quite good at them.  And I did find myself wishing it was a few rounds longer as it started to make more sense to meBut I'm not going to judge it by my virgin experience... it was awkward, messy, and frustrating. It left me feeling unsatisfied and wishing it had lasted just a little longer.  But I can already tell that it'll get easier, so it's definitely a game that deserves a second play.  

- Laura Freeman, mother of 4, social worker, soon-to-be-published author, and all-around great sister

Monday, May 6, 2013

"Go directly to hell, do not pass go, do not collect 200 souls..."

Clive Barker has always been one of my favourite authors, although I know his particular brand of gruesome ain't for everyone.  He has quite the library of fiction and film and you can tell he loves his fans because he is always featuring their artwork on his Facebook page.  And some of it is pretty cool, like a recent post about this wicked Hellraiser Monopoly board made by fan Brian Sharp.

Click to embiggen
If you've read The Hellbound Heart or seen Hellraiser, then check out the original post to see more of the awesome handmade Cenobite pieces.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A love letter to Love Letter.....

I'm starting to believe there is a bit of a renaissance occurring in board game circles, a rejection of the new and shiny and complex.  The complexity of modern games has left a lot of us with a sour taste in our mouths.  What happened to the simple, elegant brilliance of Modern Art or Ticket To Ride or even Power Grid?  Or even short games like the excellent Coloretto or For Sale?

Okay, maybe it's just me.  But still, I gotta think people are looking for more simplicity when gamers keep mentioning Love Letter in every second post and article I read.  If you haven't heard of Love Letter, then you probably don't read too many board game blogs.  So why is a game that costs $7, plays in about 5 minutes, and uses 16 cards and a few red cubes suddenly the darling of the game world?  Well, maybe that's just it.  Simpilcity.  10 seconds of rules explanation which yields, I daresay, a great half hour of fun, albeit very light fun.

So how does Love Letter work and how can it play so well with only 16 cards? (The cubes are really extraneous and serve only as scoring markers.)  The rules are dead simple.  You hold one card and on your turn you pick up a second card.  Then you have to play one of your cards face up and do what it says.  That's pretty much it.  The goal?  Be the last player left in the round or be the player holding the highest card when the draw pile empties.

It's overly simple but what makes the game interesting are the card powers.  Cards are numbered 1-8 and the different values all have different actions.  One lets you look at another player's card, some let you guess an opponent's card and eliminate that player if you're right, one makes you discard your other card of a certain type, and so on.  Each option is simple but the interplay of the actions is what creates such an enjoyable little round.  It's entirely possible to be eliminated on the first turn but when rounds can run under 2 minutes this doesn't really bother anyone.  Shuffle 'em up, deal another one! 

Yes, Love Letter has a hefty dose of luck but I've never seen so much fun packed into such a short, simple package.  Do yourself a favour and pick this lovely little filler up - anyone can learn it and anyone can play it and everyone will love it.  And for 7 bucks, that's a pretty awesome deal.