A few weeks ago I received my copy of Dark Horse by designer Don Lloyd. Dark Horse was the first project that I backed on Kickstarter. It hit the table last night and we tried a 3-player game. The rulebook wasn’t the easiest read, but we got the majority of the rules figured out and started to play. The game feels like a combination of Settlers of Catan and Kingsburg, and perhaps a bit of Dice Town. Given I like all three of these games, that’s not a bad thing. The gameplay happens very quickly once players become familiar with the options that are available each turn. Since your choices are constrained by your die rolls, your choices are not too difficult to evaluate. My initial reaction is that the game does a lot of things right. The mechanics seem to be well designed, however there are a bunch of exceptions to rules when selecting actions that players need to keep in mind when playing. I would need more plays to fully evaluate this aspect, so I’ll defer elaborating on this until after a couple of plays. Fun Rating: 7.5/10 – I had a good time playing, it plays fast, and I almost always felt that I had decent options available regardless of the dice results. Strategy: 6.5/10 – A lighter strategy game where chance can help or hurt a player’s strategy frequently. Theme: 8/10 – This game has a strong western theme. The mechanics, design, and components all
Overview Kingdom Builder is a new game from designer Donald X. Vaccarino. It’s a fairly light game, maybe even a gateway game. The base mechanic is simple. Draw a terrain card, and play 3 settlements on the selected terrain. If possible, you must place adjacent to existing settlements. Each game 3 randomly goal cards are chosen. The goal cards define how you get victory points for the game. Some goal cards reward you for spreading out over the whole board, or building by water or mountains, or linking locations contiguously. There are a total of 10 of these cards, 3 of which are used each game, so the combinations of these cards really change the strategy from game to game. The game also includes 8 different terrain maps to keep the board different for each play. Positives The game can play very quickly. The first game probably took 45 minutes, and the second about 20 minutes. For a light game, there is a surprising amount of strategy. Lots of replay value due to the randomly selected victory point goal cards and the many possible map setups. A great option for a gateway game beyond Ticket To Ride Negatives It’s a good filler game, but wouldn’t satisfy most gamers as the main course. The theme is nonexistent Overall Rating: 6/10 Strategy: 5 Theme: 3 Components: 6 Mechanics: 9 Fun: 6
I decided to introduce my 10-year-old son to a game of Risk today. Big mistake on my part. He played well and soundly destroyed me. Luck was definitely on his side. Until today, I hadn’t played Risk in at least 20 years. The luck factor definitely can crush a player’s hopes and dreams. On the other side of the coin, we had a great time playing together. I had purchased a copy of the 40th Anniversary version many years ago, but it was just waiting for the right time to play.
I had the opportunity over the weekend to play Ora et Labora. This is Uwe Rosenberg’s latest creation released in late 2011. I was hesitant to play as we were starting late and we didn’t know the rules. We had agreed up front to play a few turns and then switch to something shorter. After a few turns in we had the basics down, and decided to play through to the end. If you have played Agricola\Le Havre, this game feels like a close relative. The use of a rondel for tracking resource availability is a dramatic improvement over the way additional resources need to be added to the board in Agricola. Like Le Havre, players take control of various buildings which in turn are used to perform actions. In Le Havre, all of the buildings remain centrally located, but other players can use them. In Ora et Labora, players buy buildings that are then moved to the players individual tableau. My main gripe is this approach makes it harder to see all of the actions that are available since the buildings are no longer kept in a central location on the table. My short reaction is that, Ora et Labora plays differently enough that it would be an addition to my game collection, not a replacement of Le Havre or Agricola. The turns play fairly quickly, however those prone to over analysis could slow the game down as the options begin to expand later in
I ordered a set of these Fleet Movement Stands from LITKO. These look like a pretty cool upgrade for Twilight Imperium. I’ll add more details about them once they arrive. Not only do they look cool, having the fleets offset from the planets can make it very easy to tell see how many ground troops are present. Tom Vasel did a recent video review of these for more information.
I just noticed a post on the Agricola Polymer Clay Facebook page showing a sculpted robber for Settlers of Catan. I could foresee a nice set of clay components for Settlers being an attractive option for those who don’t have the 3d Anniversary set.
Add a Major Improvement to your Game. Contributing author Jeff Hannes has put together a strategy guide for the game Agricola. This guide covers the basic strategies covering how to select efficient moves and building your food engine and other tips to improve your play.
The giant TI box and pair of expansions had rested comfortably on the shelf for about six months until I finally worked up the nerve to punch and organize the components. After a long process of detaching all of the plastic mini’s and punching cardboard, and sorting cards, the game was ready for play. I sent out an invite to a couple of friends to set aside a Saturday in January to try out Twilight Imperium. I purposely kept the invitation list small so that we could learn the game and possibly even finish it in the same day. We landed on a group of 3 players, including myself. About a week before the big day, I sent out a copy of the rules and we hashed out some decisions about optional rules via a Facebook group. Finally, Game Day had arrived. Jeff and Joel showed up around 2:00 PM and we picked races, and setup our fleets. We reviewed some of the rules and talked over the variants we would use. It was probably around 4:00 PM when we started our first turn. As expected, the first turn took a long time to get through as we frequently returned to the rules for questions and clarifications. With a break for dinner, we finished the game around midnight, putting the total play time at around 7 hours. Here are my thoughts based on the first play: 1. One fairly major rule that we played incorrectly was around the player
A new board games news site has surfaced. Dice Tower News
My gaming group has been using poker chips to replace the currency in board games for the past year. Chips are a great way to avoid using paper money, or the standard cardboard tokens that are included with most games. This episode of Board Games with Scott focuses on how using poker chips for currency while playing board games.