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What BOARD GAME(s) have you been playing?
Unlock has a truly fantastic framework but the actual puzzles and adventure design are terrible. Like you say, it's very reminiscent of the worst aspects of the point and click genre. Pixel hunts are the most obvious example, but the whole thing is like that. It's the kind of game where the code to unlock a bank vault can be found by measuring the height of some flowers.
sornars wrote: Unlock: Exotic Adventures: This was my first escape room game and I found it to be the definition of a mixed bag. Some of the puzzles were incredibly clever and others were incredibly frustrating. Oscillating between these highs and lows was sufficient for me to complete all three adventures but I definitely won't be looking up any others in the series as the random nature of some of the puzzles reminded me of the worst aspects of the point and click adventure game genre. Knowing you have the right approach but not being able to translate that into the correct answer is rage inducing. The app integration is simultaneously the best part about this game as well as the worstThe brilliance of the genre is apparent but the lack of consistent quality within any single adventure is what makes this so disappointing.Warning: Spoiler!I appreciated the innovation but anything involving the microphone was stupid.
I believe we'll never see games as good as the classic Lucasart adventures because the genre just refuses to learn from its mistakes. It has been 40 years since the Infocom days and they still suffer from the same problems.
I wonder if the visual spatial element of Maglev Metro is what's causing so much consternation on your end? I don't consider making the visual connection between routes (aka the core part of train games) to be one of my strengths which is why I ended up treating the track laying bit as a an area control thing rather than a route optimisation thing.
@Erik Twice: I don't mind the hidden numbers as they were never particularly hard to find, I definitely missed some while playing but that was due to trying flip cards over quickly to get to the next puzzle and beat the clock. The hidden number game forces you to slow down and is actually rather clever in terms of adding additional tension to your pace. I also don't mind logical leaps so much (e.g. why would a bank code be encoded in the flower lengths?) but what bothers me is the lack of narrative connection. I don't care why they're in the flowers, just give me some indication that the flowers are relevant.
@Michael Barnes: I think this is an insightful sentence and I'd love to see this explored more. We have a taxonomy of game mechanics to classify games but you're touching upon something more akin to directorial styles. Expanding upon this would be super insightful. You mentioned Kubrick and we all had an idea of what you meant. If you describe a film as Spielberg-ian or Nolan-esque we'd have a good idea of what you meant too, I'm not sure how film criticism approaches the subject but trying to articulate the difference between designers working in a similar space might be interesting.
I also think he makes for an interesting counterpoint to Rosenberg- his games are almost industrial, driving simulation through raw mechanics. Rosenberg’s more, direct and organic approach create themes and narrative through simple conversions and processes.
I enjoy these games a lot and have played most of them but it always frustrates me they are not a bit better. They would improve massively with some small changes.
sornars wrote: Maglev Metro - I played this with mezike and Ah_pook last weekend and really enjoyed it. The choices presented were somewhat overwhelming but each choice was relatively intuitive and thematic, the mental tax came in deciding what you were trying to do. I came out with a win but I also (inadvertently) cheated a fair bit by putting the wrong coloured meeples in the upgrade track a few times. I'm hesitant to criticise after only one play but the individual goal cards seem to vary wildly in the effort required to achieve them despite giving similar amounts of points. Playing this on TTS was more than a bit fiddly but I can imagine the physical game is a lot of fun to play around with.
The rulebook recommends drafting the cards once you're familiar with the game, which seems like a bandaid fix for them not coming up with a consistent set of cards. I'll probably end up going through and getting rid of some of them that seen woefully underpowered, if it seems worth doing. I imagine you can do well without focusing on the cards at all, if you're good at the game. I'm definitely not, so we'll see how it plays out once I get more plays under my belt.
The second one was Credicor (me) vs Mining Guild. It was set for a 45-minute limit 2P game (at least it was stated as such), but the game clock stopped working right at the start. I played a pure engine strategy, and he played plants and cities. I started out with a fistful of Jovians and got two more on the first draft. I reminded myself of my wife - I was sitting on every Jovian in the game, and I had about 30 cards in my hand at one point. But he wasn't really pushing terraforming as hard as he needed to, and I just kept collecting points. Final was 170-100 or thereabouts in 15(!) generations. I should have just ended it long before that; playing with your food is bad. But it was getting really late and I was getting a little punchy.
I decided to make a foolish purchase so I got that deluxe Rococo. It is decadent and sinful and it makes you feel like a jackass for buying it instead of helping the poor. I love it for that. It is a really nice production, and it is is absolutely unnecessary and excessive. The game is really good, fortunately, and I adore the concept- tailoring for a grand ball at Versailles. You send out workers to procure silk, thread, lace and patterns and make dresses and frock coats. You can sponsor decorations and musicians. The whole thing ends with a fireworks display.
I’ve seen it dubbed the perfect mid weight Euro and I think I agree with that.
I even went the extra $20 on the metal coins, which I’ve never done before. Now I’ll go bathe in Champagne and light a Cuban cigar with a burning pearl necklace.
Finally played Wingspan- it absolutely deserved its SDJ. The design is absolutely brilliant and it is just a joyful experience to play. I love how thoughtfully produced it is. It is a little sedate for my tastes and boy howdy does it really hinge on what you draw (not unlike Terraforming Mars) but I’m very pleased with it. I managed a copy for $45 which is the lowest I’ve ever seen it.
Also caught up with Castles of Burgundy...it’s OK. The first 20 minutes or so I was like “OK, I get it, this is why it’s so beloved” but then it started to feel repetitive and the development curve flattened out. There’s some cool design work, but three games into it I’m sort of finished with it.
On the Lacerda front, I think I’ve isolated why I’m so taken with what he does. He is, unlike any other designer, really leaning hard into the limitations and structures of the -board game medium- to create meaning and complex relationships between actions. The industrial feel of his games is all of these mechanics meshing together and interacting with each other to produce outcomes that impact other outcomes. This is a very unique aspect of the games medium, and it’s one that can not exist in other forms where the audience doesn’t participate in the finalization of the work. But this is exactly what he does, creating this clockwork and a set of randomized inputs for the players to manipulate to get these machines churning. It’s really fascinating and it is really quite a bit more progressive and artful than the standard heavy Eurogames his stuff is filed alongside. I’m weighing out which one to try next, either On Mars or Lisboa, which are supposedly his heaviest offerings. Which is somewhat frightening because Kanban and The Gallerist are pretty freakin’ heavy.
I can totally see why some folks think his stuff is over complicated or not worth the time/money. The complaints are valid...and like I’ve said, my ultimate gaming nightmare is playing his games with someone who doesn’t already know how to play. But in a solo setting, the fun is in exploring the mechanisms and how to maneuver them, more so than in “winning” or engaging with a storyline. I’ve thought about these two games almost constantly over the past few weeks.
Ah_Pook wrote: I thought wingspan was an entirely pleasant game about hopefully top decking cards that synergize together. It doesn't overstay it's welcome like Terraforming Mars, and the art is lovely. But that's a textbook example of damning with faint praise.
That's perfectly accurate. Like Erik, I thought it was a solid engine builder and I really enjoyed the theme and the scientific facts on all the cards, but its play just didn't do that much for me. Granted, I don't have a very high opinion of the SdJ because the parameters for that award (even the now-current two awards that represent it) are so narrow that it's almost irrelevant to the broad audience for games. But Wingspan was fine. It just isn't as good as 51st State nor as unusual in its class as something like Alien Artifacts, so I traded my copy.
It’s a game that takes the more complex concepts of things like 51st State, TM, Race for the Galaxy, etc. and makes them extremely accessible, and I think that’s brilliant. For me, no, it’s not as compelling as TM or RFTG but I appreciate how it streamlines mechanisms and makes them easy to play for any audience.
I think the production is part of the brilliance. The eggs, the birdhouse, even the texture of the rulebook paper. It’s charming and unique. And the subject matter of course is wonderful.
I'm not sure I'd play it with others - maybe 2P or 3P, certainly with no more - but I think it's a really good sweet spot for solo civ builders that want to do more than "flip a card, yay I invented the triangle".
Also played a buddy's copy of Bloodborne - it's... fine. Among its chief virtues are that it's easy to set up and pretty easy to play, with the central hand management mechanic proving surprisingly versatile. On the other hand, it pretty quickly devolves into a series of fetch and kill quests that can bone you based on random tile placement. I've nothing against that in principle, fan of randomness that I am, but I don't think the core gameplay loop is interesting enough to sustain these multi-chapter scenarios. (Also, I find it interesting that people are gnashing their teeth at having to restart a "campaign" if a chapter is failed when they could just... make a note of whatever special cards are in their deck before playing and reset to that if they fail? Whatever.)
On the whole though I think it just feels a bit too... I dunno, "generic" isn't the word, "processed" might be better. It feels like it's had too many edges sanded off, and that those edges might have been the most visceral and interesting part of the original design. Just speculation on my part.
Finally, I got V-Commandos back to the table once I saw the absolutely mind-boggling Kickstarter for a new expansion and "upgrade". I like V-Commandos a lot as a solo game, because A) punching Nazis is fun, and 2) it's an interesting take on stealth in a board game context. For the life of me though, if there's a game that absolutely does NOT need six bazillion minis and tiles with different art on them, it's this one. The original tokens and art are evocative and easy to read on the table, and part of the beauty of the game is that it's this quick-playing, arcadey take on WW2 stealth. Why they want to complicate a perfectly smooth token-from-a-bag draw with digging out minis is beyond me. In any event, I'm perfectly happy with the original as one of those "flawed but different" games that I tend to value more highly than others.
Was sad to let it go, but the competition was fierce on my table. Now there is no table, so there.
I agree it's not really a 4x. I do love me my tech trees in any form, but best in class would still be Ursuppe, Space Empires 4x and Kemet.
My issue with other civ tech trees in games is that most of the time they're either 1) representative of completely siloed paths to victory and so result in a zero-sum game when it comes time to decide which road you're going down, or 2) structured so that everyone eventually ends up at the same place with the same techs anyway, and the difference in how they get there is ultimately irrelevant. A New Dawn assumes (2) and decides to make it as painless as possible, which I appreciate it for.
The game's a really fun beer & pretzels style action co-op with very light RPG upgrade elements. Lots of dice rolling and terminating as you try to complete your objective which, so far at least, has been start at point A and shoot your way to point B.
Gameplay's simple; you roll your four action dice and then assign them to the actions you want to do. Higher rolls let you do different things - some weapons shoot twice or a high number will let you do a re-roll etc - and some moves require high numbers, eg a 6 is needed to open blast doors etc.
The machines have basic AI - move towards you and shoot - but appear in random locations during each players turn, which can make things spicy when they inevitably pop up near where you're at.
It's really fun and is very fast paced with lots of classic Terminator atmosphere. We had the Terminator movie soundtrack playing as well for full effect. The campaign also throws neat little surprises at you as you go through and there's some basic randomisation of some elements to ensure replayability.
The minis are good boardgame quality - we're not talking Warhammer or CMON level - but it still looks super cool on the table as T-800s relentlessly pursue you and quick moving drones zip over. I'm glad the production is "boardgame" because it kept the cost reasonable and means you don't have to be precious about it. Perfect for this style of game.