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oliverkinne
October 22, 2021
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DavidNorris
October 21, 2021
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Michael Barnes
October 20, 2021
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Varstriga
October 20, 2021
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thegiantbrain
October 20, 2021
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oliverkinne
October 18, 2021
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Gary Sax
October 16, 2021
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oliverkinne
October 15, 2021
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K2 Review - Digital Eyes

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BradHB
October 15, 2021
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DavidNorris
October 14, 2021
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thegiantbrain
October 13, 2021
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oliverkinne
October 12, 2021
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October 11, 2021
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oliverkinne
October 08, 2021
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Sprawlopolis Review

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October 07, 2021
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October 06, 2021
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14 Apr 2021 05:32 #322047 by Erik Twice

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 worst

Warning: Spoiler!
The brilliance of the genre is apparent but the lack of consistent quality within any single adventure is what makes this so disappointing.

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.

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.
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14 Apr 2021 06:00 - 14 Apr 2021 06:37 #322048 by sornars
@mezike: It's interesting because breaking that chicken and egg loop is how I felt about Kanban EV. There were a lot of things that needed to happen in sequence but starting with any single one of them resulted in some inefficiency.

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.
Warning: Spoiler!

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.

@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.
Last edit: 14 Apr 2021 06:37 by sornars.
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14 Apr 2021 07:02 - 14 Apr 2021 09:25 #322049 by Erik Twice
The Scherezade adventure was a shame because it has so many great ideas but felt so unfinished at the same time. I wonder if it was rushed into release. We actually did a sequence break and skipped two puzzles.

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.


Warning: Spoiler!
Last edit: 14 Apr 2021 09:25 by Erik Twice.

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14 Apr 2021 10:19 #322055 by Ah_Pook

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.
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15 Apr 2021 13:25 - 15 Apr 2021 16:54 #322161 by RobertB
I played a couple of games of Terraforming Mars online last night. They've added Prelude now. The first game was a 3-player and Mining Guild, which is a corporation that I just can't seem to make work but the other choice was Cheung Shing Mars, which IMO is worse. I still couldn't make Mining Guild work, and came in a poor second to Ecoline.

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.
Last edit: 15 Apr 2021 16:54 by RobertB. Reason: 'couple' means two. I R DUM

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16 Apr 2021 17:57 #322215 by Michael Barnes
More views from the ERP2 front.

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.
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17 Apr 2021 07:08 - 18 Apr 2021 06:01 #322229 by Erik Twice
I really wonder, Barnes, what you find brillant about Wingspan. Because I really don't see anything brillant in it. To me it's not much different from any other tableau-builder. There's also no interaction and the cards themselves have very dull powers. I would really like to hear your thoughts on that, if you don't mind.
Last edit: 18 Apr 2021 06:01 by Erik Twice.
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17 Apr 2021 08:00 #322230 by Ah_Pook
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.
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17 Apr 2021 09:57 #322236 by Jackwraith

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.

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17 Apr 2021 11:17 #322239 by Michael Barnes
Brilliance isn’t always a function of innovation, novelty, or even smart design. Wingspan is brilliant because of a few things that sum up to something more than its constituent parts. Structurally, I love that it gives you four core choices each turn that gradually evolve into more complex decisions but still resolve linearly so that it is always clear what chain of events is going to occur. Its simplifies the matrix of effects, abilities, and codependencies common in more complex tableau builders. I love that there is -always- a concrete and achievable goal in front of each player that is easy to parse and clearly defined.

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.
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18 Apr 2021 04:31 - 18 Apr 2021 04:32 #322257 by marlowespade
Played some Civlization: A New Dawn using the official solo rules and AI deck. I like it quite a bit more than I thought I would, probably because in reality it's an area control game, not a "4X" game. I think it's a pretty smart design, with the Focus Bar making every turn mechanically simple but strategically interesting and streamlining the "tech tree" (which arguably is the most boring part of most Civ games). Perhaps most appreciated is the fact that the AI deck works and reads exactly the same way as the player deck, with some common sense priority rules added to the cards.

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.
Last edit: 18 Apr 2021 04:32 by marlowespade.
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18 Apr 2021 06:44 #322258 by Nodens
That focus bar was a stroke of genius. The timing made the game for me. It felt very satisfting to be able to wait just long enough to get to the powerful actions. I loved what the game was doing or trying to do, but I couldn't get it played often enough to really get on top of all the exceptions. IIRC, every action basically has their own rule.
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.
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18 Apr 2021 10:26 #322265 by Gary Sax
New Dawn seems like one of those fascinating designs that used to pop out of FFG on occasion simply because they employed a bunch of creative designers and once and a while FFG just let them loose. On this occasion because the previous version was a pretty cumbersome bomb.
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18 Apr 2021 18:47 - 18 Apr 2021 18:48 #322272 by marlowespade
Space Empires 4X is one of my all-time favorites; I think it's because it's really a wargame at heart, and consequently the tech tree in that is deep AND wide but 99 percent of it is focused around a single axis - success in combat, either offensively or defensively.

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.
Last edit: 18 Apr 2021 18:48 by marlowespade.
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18 Apr 2021 19:03 #322273 by Kmann
My pal and I played the second mission of the Terminator Genisys: Rise of the Resistance campaign on Saturday night.

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.
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