What We’ve Been Playing (1.19.16)

Fury of Dracula (3rd Edition)

Kelly

Imagine if Letters from Whitechapel had vampires, and was harder – you’d get Fury of Dracula. I enjoyed this a lot. It was our first play and there were some points where the game seemed to move pretty slowly, but overall it was really great. The limits on Dracula’s movement were really nice and especially helpful when Ben and I cornered Matt in the Spain/Portugal region. Dracula’s event and combat cards were not so nice (for us), though, when Matt tore our characters a new one in combat and in encounters.

Matt

Yay, hidden movement! Surprisingly, Fury of Dracula manages to be different enough from Letters from Whitechapel and Specter Ops that I think it can happily exist alongside them in the groups’ collection. It’s much tougher to be Dracula than Jack, with more restrictive movement options, and it puts the Hunter’s focus on taking up arms and duking it out straight on with the terror of the night. One thing to note, the box doesn’t lie, prepare a solid three hours for this one…

 

Vinhos

Smee

Beer and wine, I seem to be on some sort of gaming bender lately.. Anyway! Vinhos is what I would consider to be a finer, more distilled version of Viticulture.. perhaps the cognac of wine-themed games? It’s an intimidating game with a number of choices and moving parts, yet you have very few actions throughout the six turns to carry out your desired strategy! The rules, while not complex per-se, do require you to remember a number of little tidbits, so this is a game that will reward multiple plays before you’re used to it. Prices seem a bit high on this right now, so while I might not pick up a copy immediately, I’m certainly excited to give it another try!

 

Big Book of Madness

Dan

Matt and I had a chance to sit down and play Big Book of Madness last weekend. The theme of the game is straight out of Harry Potter fiction – players are magical students who have unwisely opened the titular book, and now they must cooperatively fight all of the monsters within and close the book before it’s too late. Each player builds their own personal deck of elements which can be used to cast spells and destroy the monster’s curses. Along the way you must decide amongst yourselves if everyone should specialize in one color element or if it’s more advantageous to seek variety. Like any co-op game worth its salt, this one is tough. While there was certainly nothing revolutionary at play here, I enjoyed my time with it and would be happy to try it again in the future.

 

Steam Works

Steve

Matt and Kelly had gifted me Steam Works for Christmas! Ain’t they cool? I had never seen nor heard of the game before but it sounded right up my alley. I was able to get in a 4 player game with Dan, Smee and Matt. The game itself is pretty easy to play and teach but they tiny symbols on all of the tiles had us reaching for the rulebook constantly. We chose our characters and used the beginner side without special player powers. Once we got rolling we were building some crazy machines that did all kinds of different things. The table sprawl was pretty enormous. Now that we have that first play under our belts, I look forward to a much smoother and quicker game.

Matt

Dan being a total curmudgeon aside, our first go at Steam Works was a definite learning game. I’m not sure how I felt about the table sprawl and the fact that you need to keep track of dozens of individual tiles and machine combinations. There’s something there though; I’d like to give it another try with the knowledge gleaned from our first attempt.

 

Lost Cities

Steve

I was able to get in my first play of Lost Cities recently. I have heard things here and there about how good it was, so it was nice to see what all the fuss was about first hand. It reminded me a lot of Trambahn in how it plays, but the scoring is really tricky. Kelly had destroyed me on our first round but I was easily able to come back strong in round two. My hand for the third round was nothing but high numbers and handshakes, though. I lost in the end but the second round saved me from being slaughtered. The scoring is the most complex part of the game, but it’s pretty easy otherwise. Looking forward to more plays!

Kelly

This game is one of my favorites. The somewhat complex scoring makes what would otherwise be a pretty plain two-player game absolutely wonderful!

 

Kingsport Festival

Ben

I first played this last New Years, so we decided to break it out again for an annual celebration of Cthulhu. There’s a bit of iconography to get used to, but even with a year in-between plays, I was able to get back into it fairly easily with just a quick rules overview. It is an action selection game based on dice rolls, with some mitigation based on your expansion to different areas of the central board or spell cards. It’s a lot of fun and we may have to get this one out more often then just during New Years.

Matt

Our second-annual attempt at raising the Elder Gods fell flat again, but at least we got a good game out of it. Even though playing this Lovecraftian Kingsburg at Midnight of the New Year doesn’t imbue us with occult powers, it’s still a wonderful time. Maybe we’ll try Halloween at midnight next time…

Kelly

For some reason, we’ve only played this on New Year’s Eve for the last two years. I don’t know why we don’t play it more often, it’s awesome!

 

Runebound 3.0

Ben

I’m really glad I got a chance to play this. It’s a fun adventure style game with an interesting combat system involving the flipping of tokens. I was a bit confused by how it would work at first, but once we started it became straightforward and a great way to do combat. The rest of the game is also fairly simple. The main objective is to explore the board and perform a variety of quests so you can improve your character’s fighting ability, with the intent to defeat the boss near the end of the game. I can’t wait to play this again.

Matt

I finally got a chance to dig through this rulebook and get in a two-player game of Runebound with Ben. It has a very nostalgic feeling with low-player interaction “roll and move” mechanisms that focus a lot on ability tests and storytelling. It was a long game, with lots of rules checking and learning happening, but it was fun – even though our three hour journey ended in a mutual loss, as we were both eaten by a Dragon. For me, the standout piece of this game is the simple, but fun, token-flipping combat. It’s fast but thinky and remedies a lot of the issues with dice-based combat.

 

Trickerion

Steve

Wow, what a game. The theme, artwork and gameplay all work very well together. I understood most of it but the performance portion was a little tricky for me to get at first. I think even at the end of the game I wasn’t 100% sure how that portion of the game worked. The game did feel to be about one or two rounds too short. I look forward to playing again and adding in some of the more advanced elements it has to offer.

Steve S. (Steebin)

WEB EDITOR/TECH SUPPORT : I enjoy all types of games from fillers to 3 hour euros. I am the least experienced member of the group but I have pretty quickly learned the whose who of the tabletop world. I am always willing to play any game you put in front of me. I enjoy listening to progressive metal music and I am a die hard Baltimore Orioles and Ravens fan.