Zombicide: Black Plague
Ben finally received his Kickstarter fulfillment—or part of it, at least—and I was excited to give this one a whirl. The cosmetic upgrades and small rules tweaks are great; I’m particularly fond of the player dashboards that organize your player area. It’s much improved over the original and I’m excited to hack up some more medieval undead soon.
I found this updated, time-traveled, and magicked version of Zombicide to be really great. The combat rules (i.e. not killing your companions with ranged attacks unless you miss) are much more sensible and the addition of spells and secret rooms serve to mix up the game in a really nice way. Secret rooms made travel to gather objectives much easier and magic is always fun, in general. The components are also really great: each player has a really sweet dashboard that keeps cards from slipping all over the place and the color-coordinated pieces come in quite handy. I definitely recommend checking it out if you liked Zombicide at all.
I was happy to see this Kickstarter arrive just before my Christmas break. Even though it was just the base game, I appreciate having it to play. I broke this out with my wife and parents to give the tutorial a shot, which was a great intro game for them. I also got to play the first quest later on, which gave a nice challenge. I always liked Zombicide, but really enjoy the medieval theme this time around. The individual player dashboards are a crucial addition and make managing each character so much easier. That, and a few rules adjustments, really make this a streamlined and intuitive version of Zombicide that I hope to continue to get to the table often.
Now, this one really takes me back! Based off a game developed for the Atari of all systems, M.U.L.E is a… not exactly a cooperative game, but all players do interact and share responsibility for balancing (or taking advantage of!) the colony marketplace. As miners, you, along with your ‘Multiple Use Labor Elements’ must assay and exploit plots of lands for ore and minerals, as well as food for yourself and energy to power your trusty MULEs. The board game is pretty faithful to the original, down to the rather odd good fortune / bad fortune events, which may annoy certain folk. At the end of every round, the first-place player gives a good fortune card to someone else at the table, and then that player must give a bad-fortune card to an opponent. Theoretically, this is supposed to be a balancing mechanism between first and last place, but while this may add an extra bit of negotiation or tabletalk to the process, no one in our game really seemed willing to bite the hand that just gave them a bonus.
M.U.L.E. is an economics driven game that I did enjoy playing. It was easy to learn and played pretty quickly. While the game worked well, outside of a certain production event card that seemed to throw off the balance, the amount of variants and suggested changes included in the rulebook really make me wonder how this game is “supposed” to be played. If I’m going to play a game, I don’t want to see so many possible rules changes, especially for a Euro/economics style game.
Ever since the Kickstarter project was announced, I was enthralled by the theme and the design behind this game. As a stage magician, you must practice and perform your acts to gain fame and fortune from the crowds… but, what if not all that goes on is purely slight of hand? We got this one to the table during our most recent game day, and I was glad to dig in! Overall, it was an interesting mix of worker-placement and action management, with players assigning areas to activate their assistants in, and then needing to decide in what order to take these actions. Playing with three, on the beginning side of the board, felt rather cramped in both the number of tricks we could schedule between the performances, as well as the few rounds we had available. As much as I tried, none of us were able to master a second-tier trick before the game ended.
Despite the suspicious nature of how often we rolled certain results with our yellow dice, this was a fun dice-placement game that allows you to build up your city while attacking each other and bandits for victory points.
This one was a nice little engine building dice game, sort of like Machi Koro. The game involves a gridded city, with each row of cards associated with one of five dice colors and each column with a number (1-6). Each color die is assigned in your city based on the number rolled and its color. There’s a central area of cards to buy to build your engine, which will help produce resources, attack strength, or victory points. After one play, it seems like your strategy is going to be to either build a lot of military to attack the bandits or to collect a lot of resources and trade with the merchant ships, each of which gives increasing amounts of victory points based on the amount of attack or resources you have available each round. The cards available also give you ways to mitigate dice rolls to ensure you can utilize your strategy. I never really had an issue doing what I wanted, or something that would help me, so it felt well balanced. Dice City seems to be a good choice for a light-weight game that’s easy to teach.
In search of something quick to play with our beloved Breezy, I went to the colorful and enjoyable Piñata—a simple hand management game about smashing piñatas and set-collecting colored candies. Bri took to the game quickly, which is Piñata’s biggest accolade, and we wrapped things up a short 20 minutes later. There isn’t much to the game, but the card play mechanism is different enough to hook you in and before you can analyze the gameplay too much, it’s over.