Quick Impressions: Post GenCon part 3

I haven’t had a chance to play a lot of new games lately although I’ve been able to get a few solo games to the table since being on vacation. Been playing a lot of RAF: The Battle of Britain, which while it tells an interesting narrative, kind of fails as a game so far. I have only played the Lion set up however, where you take the role of the RAF against the Luftwaffe bombing campaign and it feels very much like a Pachinko machine so far. Once I get a few games of the Eagle scenario (you play as the Luftwaffe this time), I’ll do an in-depth review. I’ll be back doing some reviews soon, with Dead of Winter at the front of the line. In the meantime, enjoy these quick snippets!

Imperial SettlersImperial Settlers (Portal Games) by Ignacy Trzewiczek: A re-implementation of 51st State, this is a nice little civilization game that is fairly straightforward to explain and still offers a lot of depth. I’ve yet to give it a try, but I’ve had the chance to try out 51st State and quite liked it. At the core, this is a card game where the players can acquire cards either from a common deck or from their own personal civilization decks and since each civilization deck is unique, play experience will be different depending on what civilization you play. The game is supposed to be fairly short for a Civ game (about an hour), but as usual, I expect that the first game will be longer.

The core of the game is one of hand management, where you are trying to score the most VPs in 5 rounds. At the start of a round, you gather new cards from both the common deck and from your personal deck, after which cards that are already in your tableau will grant you some resources. It’s important to note that any resources not spent will be lost at round’s end. The players then will take turns doing actions, which involves using the cards in a number of different fashions and this is where the game shines. Each card can be used in at least 3 ways: get something by Razing it (removing it from the game); get something different from Making a deal with it (will give you something every turn); or Build it to gain an extra Location Action. By cleverly using the cards in your hand, you gain more resources that can be used to gain more cards and get more VPs, ultimately building the best engine you can.

Very much looking forward to play it in a full game and might even try the solo version of it, something I usually don’t try since solo versions are usually very… uninteresting.

Titans of IndustryTitans of Industry (Gozer Games) by Matthew Duhan and Brian Lewis: I love economics games. Dunno what it is, but there is something about building a nice economic engine and seeing how you can wring out every single penny out of it to be able to become the richest person at the table. Never mind that in real life, I’m not exactly good at this finance thing, but make it into a boardgame, and I’ll be there. I like them so much that I tend to seek them out and I even have one or two designs started (no, they’re not done yet…) I had heard of Titans of Industry way back when it came out, but I hadn’t had a chance to find it locally and none of the online retailers that I shop at had it either. So when a friend who was going to GenCon asked if there was anything I’d like…

Titans of Industry is a tableau game and as such, one of the first thing you will be doing at the start of every turn is buying more Industry or Business cards. These cards will form the core of your economic engine but… It’s not because someone else purchased the card that you will not be able to use it. The clever twist in the game is that during the worker placement sequence, you can play workers to other people’s Industries or Businesses. Placing on another player’s Industry will give them a victory point, but deny them the action associated (only one worker per Industry) while placing a worker on someone else’s Business will simply increase it’s power (the more worker, the better the action). After having read the rules, I’m not sure that this small twist will really help Titans of Industry distinguish itself from all the other economic/worker placement games out there, but I’m very curious. City Hall was similar, with rules that looked very samey but it turned out to be a great game. I’m very much hoping that Titans of Industry will equally surprise me.

Mint Tin PiratesMint Tin Pirate (subQuark Games) by David Rene Miller: This is the second game in the Mint Tin line from subQuark that I talked about last post. David sent me a pre-production copy of this game at the same time as Mint Tin Alien. Like Aliens, this is a very nice production and if the final product looks like this, it will be a nice addition to the games that tend to live in my day-to-day work bag.

In Mint Tin Pirates, the players are captains on pirate ships and they aim to sink the other player’s ship. This is done by playing a pair of cards and matching one of the numbers at the bottom of the card by rolling two dice. Players can fire at each other, causing damage (4 damage and the ship sinks!), stealing crew and getting some gold. This is a very simple game that is playable again in about 10-15 minutes and as such, is simply a fun little game. Not very deep, but at such a short time commitment, it doesn’t have to be. I’ll be bringing this game and Mint Tin Aliens to the table shortly and will do a review of them. Look for both games on Kickstarter starting on the 29th of September.

MutinyMutiny (Moon Yeti) by Adam Buckingham: Another game that I was able to score a copy of simply by being on Twitter at the right time. I love micro games and I really like what is being done in that space right now and boy does Mutiny tick all the right boxes: it is a 4 cards (!) game, with roughly 500 words of rules. Very simple game that is easy to teach and can be played in about 10 minutes. The art is about as good as you can get with only 4 cards and while it’s not in stores (yet?), you can find the files to print it out over on the BGG page.

In Mutiny, the players take on the roles of various characters on a ship (Chaplain, Boatswain, Helmsman and Navigator) who are trying to figure out who among them is the mutineer. The game consists of 2 rounds, after each of which a round of voting will take place. Depending on the round, the actions that the different characters can take will change, as will what the players are voting on. During the first vote, players are voting to find 1 innocent player: if they are right, the game continues. If they are wrong and voted that the mutineer was innocent, the game is over and the mutineer wins. During the second vote, players will try to vote that the mutineer is guilty. If they are right, they win. If they are wrong, or the vote is tied, the mutineer wins.

Silly fast fun, but the rules are maybe too short since there is a FAQ over on the Moon Yeti page, giving clarifications on all of the cards. Still, should be interesting especially since there aren’t many 4 player traitor/hidden role games out there.

oddball AeronautsOddball Aeronauts (Maverick Muse) by Nigel Pyne: There are some Kickstarter games that look like they are the first work of a new designer and a new publisher and then there are those which look so good, so slick that they look like they came out of an established designer/publisher. Oddball Aeronauts is one such case, where both the graphics, the rules and the game looks like it could have came out of one of the big publishers. And what’s more, the finished game itself, both in terms of component quality and gameplay, is great. Or at least it feels great in hand since I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet.

Oddball Aeronauts is a 2 player card battling game, but with a small twist. This game is designed to be played standing up (or at least, designed not to need a table). In the game, the players pilot airships battling it out. The decks themselves represent the ships and are held in hand, with the cards being face up. Players fan out 3 cards, announce which skill they will use (Sailing, Guns or Boarding), followed by how many cards they will be using. Winning the hand can cause the other player to “bury” cards (turn face down and place at the bottom of the deck), recover face down cards or do both. The aim is to force the other player to turn face down all of their cards and thud, destroy their airship. The rules read like a slightly more complex game of rock-paper-scissors and seems to play fast. Can’t wait to try it out.

Dragon SlayerDragon Slayer (Indie Boards and Cards) by David J. Mortimer: A cheap little dice game that was put on Kickstarter right after Coup: Reformation was funded. The sweet, sweet cheap price for those who had backed Coup: Reformation was impetus enough for me to back it up. The fact that both my wife and I enjoy a good push-your-luck dice game also helped. The final product is quite nice looking, with almost a dozen chunky dice, nice player tokens and short, simple rules.

Dragon Slayer is a simple push-your-luck game that challenges the players to keep on hunting said dragons. Depending on the dragon you are attempting to find and slay, you will score more or less points. Of course, the more points a dragon can net you, the more dangerous it is. On your turn, you take the 3 white warrior dice and a set of 3 dragon dice of the same color. You roll them, attempting to get one of each of the dragon’s Head, Tail and Wings as well as at least one axe. If you roll Fire Breath, you can be ok as long as you have an equal amount or more Shields. Any Fire Breath that is not countered by a Shield removes one Warrior dice. Lose all your Warrior dice and you die, losing all the points you’ve accumulated this turn. Should you defeat the dragon, you can decide to keep on going and attempt to slay another dragon. The big twist here is that another player can challenge you to keep on slaying. If you don’t take the challenge, you only score half the points you would have normally scored. If you take the challenge, you score double the points.

This can be a nice, light little dice filler. I’m not expecting much in the way of decisions in this one, but it can still be fun at the right time. I’ll do a short review after a few plays.

Belle of the BallBelle of the Ball (Dice Hate Me Games) by Daniel Solis: I really like what Daniel Solis has been doing as a designer. Not only does he make beautiful, elegant games with quirky themes that he publishes on DriveThruCards (Koi Pond, Monsoon Market, etc), he also is one of the most open and transparent designers out there, always sharing with everyone the ideas he is currently working on. Now, his games are not the deepest or most complex games, but they are interesting and always a pleasure to play. When Dice Hate Me Games decided to publish Belle of the Ball, game players knew what to expect and they have not been disappointed.

In Belle of the Ball, the players take on the roles of party hosts, hoping to attract the best and brightest guests, while trying to use the favors of the Belle of the Ball to insure that theirs is the best party. This is a set collection/card drafting game with the players trying to bring in guests that have matching interest with one of the three groups of guests they already have. When the group is complete (it has 4 guests), players will score 1 point per matching pairs. The favor cards that can be gotten from the Belle can either help you or hinder one of your opponents. This cannot be said enough, but the art and art direction of the game is simply stunning, with Jacqui Davis doing the art and Solis doing part of the art direction. Light simple game which looks to be perfect as an opener or for those who are new to boardgames, it should be a lot of fun. Looking forward to playing this!

Coin AgeCoin Age (Tasty Minstrel Games) by Adam P. McIver:  One of the group of micro games that has been recently released by Tasty Minstrel, this one had quite a following even before coming out. This might be simply to the way that McIver decided to publicize his game initially. Not happy to simply put up the rules and materials on BGG, he decided to print a large amount and hand them out at last year’s GenCon. Why not, especially since the game is essentially a single card plus instructions. Oh, the players had to furnish their own pieces: coins or more specifically, a pocket full of spare change.

The aim of Coin Age is pretty simple: score more points than the other player when the game ends (either because there are no more empty lands on the map or one player runs out of coins). On your turn, simply takes one of each types of coin they have (dime, penny, nickel and quarter) and shakes them in their hand. Slap down the coins and any coins that matches your side (head or tail) dictate what action you can take: place, capture or move. To place a coin, simply put one of your matching coin on an empty space or atop a bigger coin. Capturing simply means grabbing the top coin from a space. There’s a little bit more than that, but not much. The rules are fairly simple but the game seems deeper than a first look would indicate. Nice production, with 4 card “maps”, 1 plastic map (same size as a credit card) and some cardboard coins (yeah, we have no pennies anymore in Canada…) Should make for a nice, short filler.

This Town Ain't Big Enough for the 2-4 of USThis Town Ain’t Big Enough for the 2-4 of Us (Tasty Minstrel Games) by Jay Cormier and Sen-Foong Lim: Another member of the micro explosion from Tasty Minstrel, this time the game is a tile laying game that is not only simple, but also comes with 3 (!) separate expansions. Again, this is a fairly simple and fast game with very little game components. While small, fast and cheap, it still is a very good looking production with top notch components.

The base game is quite simple: pick a tile, place a tile. Each tile is broken up in 2-4 sections, with anywhere from 3 to 5 different “brands” on them. There are 4 different brands, one for each player. Complete a corral (a completely enclosed area) and score the points. Points are based on the different brands that are in the area, with the player who has the most brand getting points equal to the number of brands the player in second place got and so on, with the player in last place getting zero points. There can also be silver bars in a corral, which allows the player who completed a corral containing them to relocate a tile that isn’t part of a completed corral. The expansions include extra tokens that can be placed on a just-placed tile to negate someone’s brand (the Badges); tokens that simply add an extra badge to a tile (Hired Guns); and the most interesting expansion adds Miners, which grant points to the player who first places them, but that can then be captured by someone who closes off the corral that it is placed in.

Again, a fairly simple game but the addition of the free expansions do add several interesting wrinkles to the game and will probably bring it to a different level. I’m kind of burnt out on Carcassonne, but this could be a good, simple, fast replacement.

So, as you can see, lots of new games to try out. Lots of short little micro games, which is good since it will be easier (I hope at least!) to bring to the table and get some plays in. I’ve got one more post of Quick Impressions coming next week, with some bigger/meatier games.

Happy gaming!

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