Barnes on Games- Argent: The Consortium in Review, Loopin' Chewie Star Wars Risk, Star Trek: Five Year Mission, Secrets of the Lost Tomb

Barnes on Games- Argent: The Consortium in Review, Loopin' Chewie Star Wars Risk, Star Trek: Five Year Mission, Secrets of the Lost Tomb Hot

Michael Barnes     
 
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Argent: The Consortium

Be True to Your School

It's time at last to make it official on Argent: The Consortium. I've been raving about it in the forums for a few weeks but here is the properly filed and consolidated opinion piece on it. It is just freaking fantastic, and as far as the "heavy" ultra-Eurogame thing goes, it's up there with Robinson Crusoe and Archipelago as one of the best examples of the breed. It is the best worker placement game I think I've ever played. I would have previously stated that Lords of Waterdeep was my favorite, but this game just goes far deeper and doubles (or triples) down on the narrative, variety and player interaction. There's so much content to explore, so many compelling situations and strategies that come up. It is a pity that this can't be a hobby games market Harry Potter game, because then I would likely list it among my top games of the past decade. My gang has gotten a lot of plays out of this and every time I've enjoyed it at all player counts and in every configuration. The expansion rules, too...it adds a bunch of really great additions that you'll want to incorporate as soon as you and your folks feel ready to bring on just a little more content.

Top marks for Trey Chambers and Level 99 Gamse on this are over here at Nohighscores.com.

There are two kinds of games in this world. Those that are not Loopin' Chewie, and those that are. The game has completely taken over my household. Nightly tournaments are run with a hotly contested and sometimes controversial championship (represented by an actual gold medal) passing hands between me, my son and my daughter. It's just awesome, and having only three players makes it a perfect fit for us since my wife hates games and sneers at the magic of Loopin' Chewie. I don't understand it.

Of course, that was just one of my Force Friday purchases because I got Star Wars Risk as well. Folks, this is the real deal. It is a chopped-down, slicked-back, built-for-speed version of The Queen's Gambit but without the toys and those embarrassing Gungans. It is the Return of the Jedi board game  you have always wanted. It plays so quickly, yet it really captures the cross-cutting of the film's last act and it gives players plenty to consider. Lots of drama, surprise reversals and OODLES of Star Wars atmosphere. I don't know if Daviau and Van Ness had anything to do with it, but it certainly feels like a 2015 version of the kinds of things they've done before. One of my favorite games of the year.

Now, switching over the Trek side of the fence...Star Trek: Five Year Mission is...well, it's a game that comes in a box alright. And there are lots of Star Trek pictures on it. It also has practically  nothing to do with Star Trek whatsoever. It feels like a relic from 1992, like some forlorn game you'd see in the comic shop on the clearance rack. The mechanics are slightly smarter than that, and there is actually a game here. But so far I've been wholly unimpressed by it. Maybe I'm being shallow, but the fact that all of the dice are just plain ol' D6s bugs me. I dunno, I need to play it some more, try the solo game, see if it gets more fun with over five players and so on...but so far, it's been a big disappointment.

Who here misses the old FFG coffin boxes? If you do, have I got a game for you. I got a FedEx notice that a TEN POUND box was coming my way. I had no idea what it was. It turns out that it is Secrets of the Lost Tomb, a GIANT ASS pulp horror/action dungeoncrawler that I requested from the designer a couple of weeks ago. It looks...kind of crazy. but that's actually why I asked for it, it had that look of something just completely off the rocker in a Chaostle kind of way. I haven't really looked it over, but I like that it has a more Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider vibe than high fantasy. Like, one of the bosses is a mummy. It may be a trainwreck or it may be one of those that's just crazy enough to work. We'll see!

Barnes on Games- Argent: The Consortium in Review, Loopin' Chewie Star Wars Risk, Star Trek: Five Year Mission, Secrets of the Lost Tomb There Will Be Games
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Posted: 11 Sep 2015 21:10 by ubarose #210520
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Great review. You really describe Argent well, and explain what makes it so entertaining and engaging.

I think that you might have gotten one rule wrong. You wrote "Once everyone has passed or run out of Mages, the University tiles are resolved in order.." The round ends when all the Bell Tower cards have been taken. Not knowing when the round will end adds and extra layer of tension. You can also screw everyone by forcing an early end to the round.
Posted: 11 Sep 2015 21:45 by JonJacob #210521
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Great review on Argent. I definitely want to try it out now... but I'm going to have to hold off until I read more about 504. The game that most interests me at the moment. Yet I do want to pick up a heavy modern Euro at some point... I'm just not sure which one but previously Argent wasn't even on the list. It certainly is now... great job!


I will never get what all the fuss is about Loupin' Chewie... I liked the original just fine. That pilot looks cool and it's a fun theme. Adding Star Wars or Chewie in there seems really forced to me.
Posted: 12 Sep 2015 01:13 by Hex Sinister #210524
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Could you recommend Argent for two players, Barnes? Super review, thank you.
Posted: 12 Sep 2015 02:58 by MarloweSpade #210525
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Interested to hear your thoughts on SotLT; looks like a grand old pulp serial dungeoner, with some classic adventure game mechanics and more of a guided narrative with the scenario based play.
Posted: 12 Sep 2015 09:03 by airmarkus #210530
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I picked up Argent and the expansion based on a lot of the positive comments I was seeing here and I picked it up. I really enjoy the game and I've played 2 2-player games of it so far. Hex, I think it is fine two player. It's a really good game with really tough decisions right from the get-go during setup when you have to decide which color mages to draft. I like it a lot so far and there are so many options I haven't explored yet. It's pretty awesome.
Posted: 12 Sep 2015 11:22 by Alastair MacDirk #210533
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I watched a preview done by Tom Vassel on Secrets of the Lost Tomb. It looks like Betrayal at House on the HIll and EldritchHorror had a baby. MY favorite part of Betrayal was always fliipping a new tile in from the stack and seeing what kind of room pops up. .this one has some very cool looking rooms.

His preview starts off with the disclaimer that it is paid advertisement for a kickstarter project. He goes over the components and gives an overview of the play with his usual verve..... But there is no recommendation that you should get it, or any endorsement that he enjoyed it. The last thing he says is here is a link to the kickstarter page if you are interested in this kind of game. But the way he says it, seemed like he was NOT endorsing it at all. Like he wanted to tell you to avoid it, but had to say here is the link..... IF you are interested. Felt very lukewarm to me.
Posted: 12 Sep 2015 12:23 by SuperflyTNT #210534
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ST:5YM is basically one step above Yachtzee or Roll For It. Roll For It is actually more fun and interactive.
Posted: 14 Sep 2015 06:59 by charlest #210616
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I'm checking out Secrets of the Lost Tomb as well and have high hopes. Could be great.
Posted: 14 Sep 2015 08:35 by Columbob #210619
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JonJacob wrote:
I will never get what all the fuss is about Loupin' Chewie... I liked the original just fine. That pilot looks cool and it's a fun theme. Adding Star Wars or Chewie in there seems really forced to me.

Dude don't worry about it, that fuss is all Barnes', as far as I can tell. He's been purposely piling it on and on in every post for the past month. More tongue in cheek than forced mania, but he seemed genuinely excited to show it to his kids and enjoy it with them.
Posted: 14 Sep 2015 09:30 by Shellhead #210624
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I torn about what I'm hearing about Argent. Like Barnes, it seems to tick off several items on my Do Not Want list. And aside from the annoying manga artwork style, the game in play looks too busy and even spreadsheet-like. And yet the descriptions of the gameplay sound fun, with plenty of variety and replay value. However, the dealbreaker for me might be the wide range of factors to consider each turn. Games that require me to maintain 360 degrees of awareness throughout the game are exhausting and sometimes leave me with a headache. And for some of gaming friends, it looks like the kind of game that could induce severe analysis paralysis.
Posted: 14 Sep 2015 09:38 by airmarkus #210627
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Shellhead wrote:
I torn about what I'm hearing about Argent. Like Barnes, it seems to tick off several items on my Do Not Want list. And aside from the annoying manga artwork style, the game in play looks too busy and even spreadsheet-like. And yet the descriptions of the gameplay sound fun, with plenty of variety and replay value. However, the dealbreaker for me might be the wide range of factors to consider each turn. Games that require me to maintain 360 degrees of awareness throughout the game are exhausting and sometimes leave me with a headache. And for some of gaming friends, it looks like the kind of game that could induce severe analysis paralysis.

From what you describe, I could definitely see the sheer number of choices you could make on any given turn being a problem for you and your friends. I know there were several turns where it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do, mostly because someone picked what I had been hoping was open before my turn. With 2 of us playing it wasn't that much of an issue, and our second game went much faster. I'm itching to play 3 or 4 player to see if I like it at that count.
Posted: 14 Sep 2015 11:35 by Josh Look #210638
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I'm a Star Trek fanatic and will usually buy anything that might look like a Starfleet symbol if I squint hard enough at it, but man do I have absolutely no interest in Five Year Mission.
Posted: 14 Sep 2015 14:57 by Michael Barnes #210665
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Come on man, it's got hazy, low resolution screengrabs from all of your favorite episodes...and they are sometimes not the best or most representative image. Not only that, you can imagine that rolling a pair of fours is how you beat the Gorn- with Geordie LaForge! I am NOT digging this game at all. It feels like a 1992 licensed game in just about every regard. May be putting the Review Corner's "fair and honest" policy to the test on that one. It works and you can play it, so it may not be a one star game...but I think it is a stinker for sure.

On Loopin' Chewie...I love it that some folks are perturbed about my evangelization of this game.

Two player Argent is really good...it doesn't suffer in scaling like other WP games sometimes do. It can get pretty nasty with two. I like it better with two than with six.