Super deluxe indeed!
First up, Baseball Highlights 2045 @ the Review Corner. LOVE LOVE LOVE this game. I think it is one of the elite sports games- in the rarified air of The World Cup Game, Blood Bowl Team Manager and Really Nasty Horseracing Game. You can practically hear the crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, the whirr of the cyborg pitcher's arm servos. I've really enjoyed playing 2 player head to head and a couple of 4 player tournaments, but I've about worn it out solo. It's PERFECT for a 30 minute nightcap- very little setup/teardown, offers plenty of variety and depth, and it's really dramatic. The AI is "dumb", but it will probably clobber you into a World Series defeat unless you draft smartly in the buy rounds to counter its team. The format of this game is just brilliant, with compact mini-matches and drafting rounds between them.
I have the Super Deluxe set which has all of the expansions (but not the additional teams, so I do not have Atlanta). I would say that although it is expensive, it is the way to go because the additions are really good. Without them, I think it is still a complete, full game but some of the new features like Magna Glove saves, the Rally Cap functions, and special effects like the "gamble" player that lets you randomly topdeck a player from the free agents every time you play it are lots of fun.
I think this is Mike Fitzgerald's best game to date, and that includes classics like Wyatt Earp and Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper.
Also, I don't give a toss about baseball.
I got a review copy of Historia, that sort of under-the-radar civ game from Italy last week. A four player game of it completely tanked, my friends were just like "this sucks". I think that will be a common comment from F:ATties because it is a civ game, but it reduces everything maybe even more than Innovation does. It's not even a tech tree- it's a literal chart that tracks only military and technology, but with certain codependent limits. You play a card each round that gives you an action, and it usually costs you a cube to do so. You might move up on one of the axes and possibly get a special bonus, attack a neighboring player on a really small, super simple world map or draft a wonder. Eventually, someone plays a Revolution card to end the round and there's an admin stage.
I don't think it sucks, I think it's interesting and once I started to see some combos and how the game really does capture the core civilization game concepts (progressive advantages, geographic relationships, etc.) I kind of liked it. It's nowhere near Clash of Cultures, mind, but it's a very different kind of approach. My beef with it is that it feels way long for what it is. I'm going to try the solo game tonight, which uses these CivBot cards to automate the opposition. You can run up to five CivBots. But I'm not sure how that's going to work out because all the cards do is basically randomize the core actions for the dummy players…without any sense of triage or "intelligence". We'll see.
Charlie reviewed 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis very favorably and I'm working on a review as well. It really is Twilight Struggle Express. I think it's really quite good- it's functionally a two player area control game with a CDG-style overlay…which is really what Twilight Struggle was to begin with. But this game has a smaller scope (13 days instead of decades) and it plays in about 40 minutes. So far, my only complaint is that I wish the box was even smaller.
Still plinking around with Greenland. I definitely like it, but seriously…talk about over-complicated. Once I realized what the design was trying to do, it was kind of like reading a ten page manual about how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You put cubes on cards to roll dice to try to either exploit the card or claim the card. Certain things adjust your die rolls. Other things kill your cubes. There's negotiation if two or more players try to go to the same card, which includes getting married to their daughters and sharing their special abilities. That's kind of all there is to it…but it's got that Eklund Chrome layered thick atop it all. It's also BRUTAL, almost unfairly so. But that's Eklund for you…all about the experience. He wants to sell the idea that these people lived hard, difficult and sometimes short lives. Success.
Played some more Thunderbolt-Apache Leader. It's lots of fun but it is fussy so you have to be ready for that management angle. There is paperwork to do after each sortie. I think I like it better than Phantom Leader (which is the only other one of these I've played), it seems smoother and I like the modular terrain and enemy behavior better. I kind of struggled with the first day Surge mission in Iraq, but I realized that I was being too conservative with assigning pilots to fly it. I was trying to run two AH-64As and wasn't clearing it. So I put an A-10 in the mix and got my battalion destruction out of it. At the cost of a green Apache pilot (Judge, RIP), who took a couple of nasty AA hits and got badly shaken…lost a pylon and then was just straight up killed.
I really wish there was an Star Wars Airspeeder Leader game set on Hoth.
Rebellion review will be next week I think, the preview is that it is almost a five star game but that combat system is the gungan in the room. It's stupid, out of scope and it represents the worst of FFG's in-house design tendencies. It's a shame, because the rest of the game is near perfect. I feel like they do that crap with adding idiotic cards to a simple dice system because somebody over there thinks that adds "depth" or "detail"…but it just adds process, and it bogs the game down. It's not really a DoaM. It's a deduction game with some worker placement mission resolutions.
I keep thinking that if there was a way to somehow combine Risk Star Wars Edition with Rebellion, it would be the ultimate Star Wars board game.
Coming next week- Fireteam Zero. I requested it from MM, but afterwards I kind of wish that I had not. But I am hearing that it's the closest thing to Gears of War to date, and I am interested in seeing that. I'm pretty tired of this kind of game right now though.
Really would rather get into some COIN games right now but they're so damn hard to get between printings.