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  • Staff Blogs
  • Barnes on Games- Baseball Highlights 2045 in Review, Historia, 13 Days, Greenland again

Barnes on Games- Baseball Highlights 2045 in Review, Historia, 13 Days, Greenland again

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Barnes on Games- Baseball Highlights 2045 in Review, Historia, 13 Days, Greenland again
There Will Be Games

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.

There Will Be Games
Michael Barnes (He/Him)
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

Sometime in the early 1980s, MichaelBarnes’ parents thought it would be a good idea to buy him a board game to keep him busy with some friends during one of those high-pressure, “free” timeshare vacations. It turned out to be a terrible idea, because the game was TSR’s Dungeon! - and the rest, as they say, is history. Michael has been involved with writing professionally about games since 2002, when he busked for store credit writing for Boulder Games’ newsletter. He has written for a number of international hobby gaming periodicals and popular Web sites. From 2004-2008, he was the co-owner of Atlanta Game Factory, a brick-and-mortar retail store. He is currently the co-founder of FortressAT.com and Nohighscores.com as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Miniature Market’s Review Corner feature. He is married with two childen and when he’s not playing some kind of game he enjoys stockpiling trivial information about music, comics and film.

Articles by Michael

Michael Barnes
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

Articles by Michael

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charlest's Avatar
charlest replied the topic: #225927 15 Apr 2016 14:57
Yeah I reviewed FTZ awhile ago. It's solid but not great. Like a dumbed down Gears of War.
Space Ghost's Avatar
Space Ghost replied the topic: #225930 15 Apr 2016 15:07
I agree about the combat in Rebellion -- it really stalls the flow the game. It is almost Dungeonquest-esque in nature; in fact, it might be worse because there is already enough to consider in Rebellion the combat really is a distraction. At least with DQ it just felt out of place due to pacing.

I think I am going to go with the add dice equal to leaders combat rating and use the lightsabers as blocks.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #225935 15 Apr 2016 15:43
So I'm 5 plays into Rebellion now. At first I thought the combat wasn't so bad, certainly not as bad as word of mouth had you believe. After my 3rd play I thought it was terrible and needed to be replaced. Now I'm coming back around and thinking it's certainly the weakest element in the game but still fun. I'm seeing a tad bit more variety in the cards, which helps. There's a also not a huge amount of combat happening in my games, and what combat does happen is never more than 2 rounds. It sounds like Egg Shen wants to play on Monday, we'll see how I feel after that.

I actually bought Baseball Highlights 2045 minutes ago from my LGS totally on a whim, didn't see it was what you were reviewing this week. Psyched to take it home and crack it open.
wadenels's Avatar
wadenels replied the topic: #225943 15 Apr 2016 17:38
I played quite a bit of Historia before I sold it off. The Civbots actually work pretty well, which freaks me out a bit because it makes me think there isn't actually that much game there other than trying to build combos out of the Wonders. We figured out pretty early on that spending your actions/cards to get as many complimentary Wonders as possible is the One True Path to victory. Being a little behind on the chart is not a bad place to be since you can then use your hand cards to catch up to the other players, and eventually you should have a little Wonder engine going that'll get you moving by leaps and bounds. So the whole thing basically reduces down to "can I put together a better Wonder engine than the other players?"

The various mini-expansions you can get for the game can change that dynamic some, but they also add some fiddly to an otherwise pretty clean design. I didn't feel most of them were worth the effort.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #225944 15 Apr 2016 17:48
Josh I think you will really like BH2045...probably a good buy for you.

Yeah, I tried the Civbots...and I also kind of wondered if he fact that a deck of six cards can actually be competitive...how much game is really there? But they keep wiping each other out, which also makes me wonder if hat part of the game is worth pursuing at all. I dunno, I'm kind of 50/50 on it right now.
wadenels's Avatar
wadenels replied the topic: #225945 15 Apr 2016 18:15
Maybe you had bad Civbot draws? I've seen them be pretty competitive.
Space Ghost's Avatar
Space Ghost replied the topic: #225956 15 Apr 2016 23:19
Josh, did you ever try out your suggested simplified combat for Rebellion? If so, how did it work out?

Coincidentally, I just bought BH2045 yesterday -- hopefully can try it out soon.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #225964 16 Apr 2016 12:10
I did play around with it, just setting up some combat situations and seeing how it played out. Didn't work. That and playing a couple more times helped me come to the conclusion that you kind of do need the cards. The rarer effects, blocks, double hits, you need that stuff in the grand scheme of things. The Rebels in particular need them. The Empire is going to win most battles, there's little doubt about that. The Rebels need whatever bullshit they can get out of the cards, they simply don't have the numbers to compete.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #225980 16 Apr 2016 19:25
Michael, you were right, I love this game! I'm going to need the expansions.
Almalik's Avatar
Almalik replied the topic: #226058 18 Apr 2016 12:11
I've got the Deluxe version on the way. Are the last two expansions (Errors and Big Fly) from the Super Deluxe edition worth picking up at some point, or would I be better off picking up the extra teams?
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #226063 18 Apr 2016 12:42
I would get the expansions instead of the teams unless you are playing with a larger group. The expansions add mechanics/new free agent players. The teams are just rookie/veteran assortments and although there are some differences, you usually wind up sending most of those guys back to the minors anyway. It comes with NY, LA, Boston and SF so if you want "your" team, maybe get that. I usually play with NY since I don't have Atlanta.
bendgar's Avatar
bendgar replied the topic: #226074 18 Apr 2016 14:32
I would not buy any of the extra teams until they reprint. I bought Cincy at the same time I purchased Super Deluxe and the card sizes were pretty different. If you are going to sleeve it anyway then go right ahead.
Grudunza's Avatar
Grudunza replied the topic: #226075 18 Apr 2016 15:14
I only have a few of the expansions, but I especially like the Rally Cap one, which has abilities that tend to trigger if you're behind in the game, and other effects like that. That kind of thing plays well into what feels great about this game, with the timing of when to play certain cards.
fightcitymayor's Avatar
fightcitymayor replied the topic: #226105 19 Apr 2016 16:15
There goes Barnes trolling again. If you "don't give a toss about baseball" then how in the hell can you classify BBH as "one of the elite sports games?" It's a deckbuilder with a thin baseball coat of paint that has little and less to do with the actual sport of baseball. I'm glad the boardgamers of the world seem to all have a collective hard-on over the damn game, but spare me the flowery proclamations of "BEST SPORTS GAME EVAR!!!11!!" over a deckbuilder, especially when you follow it up with the equivalent of "Fuck baseball."
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #226107 19 Apr 2016 16:29
I hate war and killing people but I have tons of games that have those concepts. I don't care anything about managing hotel chains, but Acquire is one of my favorite games. I have absolutely zero firsthand experience with taking mushrooms but The Mushroom Eaters is one of the most brilliantly thematic games I've ever played. So what is the point here? Why can't I like a baseball game and appreciate how it uses that subject matter?

The deckbuilding isn't even really the focus of the game- it's in looking at your six cards and analyzing how to best play them in anticipation of what the other player might play...bluffing, taking a chance and working out how to get your runners to score. There's PLENTY of baseball in it, and rotating players into your team is part of what gives it a "season" and team management feel beyond the actual games.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #226109 19 Apr 2016 18:49
He ain't making this shit up. I actually do admire baseball and sports as a theme in board gaming really interests me (though aside from baseball and basketball, I don't really watch sports). Guess what? Best sports game ever. All respect to Blood Bowl, I love it, but

I also think you're entirely off the mark about theme being thin, and I have to make the assumption that you've only looked at the game on surface level (the other possibility is that you have played it/looked deeper into it and you've somehow missed the point,but I'm going to give you the benefit of a doubt, don't disappoint me). The deckbuilding feels like a footnote in the grander scheme of things. The card play is definitely the star of the show here, which is somewhat abstracted (only as much as a highlight reel is an expedited look at a game) but also quite detailed. The first time I saw the AI player steal bases, though no one else's as around I said out loud, "That's so cool." The thematic flourishes are there, the bluffing is there, and with the futuristic liberties the game takes, the feeling of baseball is there. It certainly has oodles more baseball in it that Team Manager has football.

I'm also curious as to when someone voicing an opposing opinion to your own became "trolling." Perhaps the same time the Internet decided that plot points in movies they don't like are "plot holes." Even if you look at Michael's statements as contradictory of hypocritical, it still not even close to the definition of "trolling." Hmmmm...
Grudunza's Avatar
Grudunza replied the topic: #226111 19 Apr 2016 20:28
I like that it tends to emulate the different types of baseball games. Sometimes it's a 12-3 blowout. But I especially love when there are apparent pitchers duels, where you're desperately trying to eke out a 1-0 win, and every new batter/card brings a little more tension and drama. The deck-building here is a smart and very thematic thing that only happens briefly between games, where your team brings in a better player and releases an older one (just like teams do). And yes, that does have an effect on the next game and the longer term series, but it's hardly a major aspect of the game, or the only aspect of the game (as is the case with many deck-building games). As Barnes said, the main focus is on the card play during each mini-game.