What We’ve Been Playing (3.15.16)

Hocus – More info about this game at Board Game Geek

Matt

Hocus was a surprise Christmas present from Dan this past year. Knowing I like gambling and poker-style game, he thought this magical twist on Texas Hold ‘Em would be a hit, and he was right. The game is played much like the popular poker variant, but in this fantastical take, players will collectively build two sets of community cards, each with their own pot of winnings, and two sets of pocket cards. A set of basic spells and three unique advanced spells allow the players to manipulate the board state in wild ways that make every hand a moving target. It’s chaotic, for sure, but offers enough control to reward smart tactics. It is definitely not for everyone, but I really enjoyed it and hope to rope in a few more players for a “gamer’s poker night.” I just have to make a real-money variant!

Kelly

If you’re into Poker, you’ll probably enjoy this one. If you’re not into Poker, you still might enjoy this one. This is a super tricky way to get the best Poker hand. It absolutely takes a couple of rounds to get the hang of it. Before you know it, the communities are full and you’ve got no pockets, a sad place to be at the end of a round.

This is what happens when you play #Hocus with an illusionist. #nonsensicalgamers #boardgames

A photo posted by @sinuhmuhnbuhns on


Ticket to Ride – Nederland – More info about this game at Board Game Geek

Steve

I introduced my Mom and Stepdad to modern board games with Ticket to Ride. My stepdad is big on model railroading and trains in general, so it was an easy persuasion to get them to play. Two years later, I can’t get them to stop! Mom bought all of the expansions not long after that first play. One of those expansions is the Nederlands expansion. To me, this is one of the standouts of the various maps and game variants. The map itself is very tight and you are forced to lay down your trains as quickly as possible. The game essentially plays the same but it introduces tolls, so not only do you need to have the cards, but also enough money to lay down your trains. Alicia destroyed Mom and I by well over 80 points.

 

7 Ronin – More info about this game at Board Game Geek

Steve

Dan setup the game for Mike and I to play and ran through the rules. I played as the ninjas and Mike played as the ronin. Players secretly plan on where to place their units behind their screen, which are then revealed and resolved. My goal as the ninja was to kill all of the ronin, or control five of the ten village locations, while the ronin need to defend and manage the onslaught of attackers. I was able to claim the five territories by round four. Mike was having some trouble keeping track of things as the ronin team. This is for sure a game that you need to work through once or twice to really grasp. I really enjoyed it and would love to play again.

Matt

With our review now live and the Grey Fox Games reprint coming soon, we’ve been playing a bunch of 7 Ronin lately. Falling squarely into one of my favorite sub-genres, two-player abstract games, it’s no surprise that I’ve become quite fond of this asymmetric area control game. After many plays, I’m still up in the air on which side has the potential advantage, but I suppose that’s a testament to its overall balance. Fast, thinky, and well-produced, this is definitely one to look out for in the coming months. Don’t let it sneak by you!

 

Panda Head – More info about this game at Board Game Geek

Kelly

This was an interesting trick-taking game. I enjoyed playing it a lot – only being able to play equal or higher cards to avoid forfeiting your low cards (which you need to avoid taking points) is a nice twist. The issue is that the game is set to take forever. We played probably ten rounds and hadn’t even really come close to eliminating one player, let alone three to get to the winner.

Matt

We’re in the process of playing this light trick-taking game for an upcoming review and it’s surely a peculiar little game. Feeling similar to 5 Cucumbers, an equally odd game, Panda Heads is a trick taking game where points count against you and the goal is to avoid taking the seventh trick of the round. There is some clever hand management at play to try and force your opponents to play certain cards and hold onto others, making it feel familiar to, but not a carbon copy of other trick takers. Where R&R Games came up with the theme – pandas in human costumes – I’ll never know, but more power to them!

 

Rolling America – More info about this game at Board Game Geek

Steve

Roll for America offers a very simple game that will leave your brain on fire! Draw two dice from the bag and roll them. Using the colors and numbers you need to fill in your map of the US with these numbers in various specific color sections, while adjacent values can only vary by plus or minus one. There are a few limited special powers you can use, as well, to help you on your way. As we started playing and began adding numbers I began to realize how seriously hard this game was going to be. You can easily paint yourself into a corner really fast so you need to be ready for anything. In the end any “states” that have an X (couldn’t place a number) is your score and you want the lowest score possible. Dan had won, but I was only 1 point behind.

 

Polis: Fight for the Hegemony – More info about this game at Board Game Geek

Matt

Continuing on my quest to play all of my unplayed games, I finally got Polis: Fight for the Hegemony to the table! This was one of the few titles that I thought would stand firm in the way of my New Year’s resolution, but I now see that it wasn’t a game to be feared. While there are a lot of nuances to keep track of, and you can literally drive your own game into the ground and outright lose in your first turn (right, Kelly B?), it is fairly accessible euro-style war game. Players are competing to expand their territory, increase their population and fend off their opponent while managing a very tight supply of resources. With a game now under my belt, I’m much more excited to dive into the deeper strategy and try some of the different gameplay scenarios. The rulebook was a bear to get through, but it all worked out for the best! I’ll be hanging on to it for when I need a full length two-player cube pusher.

Kelly

This game is very tricky.  It’s quite hard to manage your resources and, honestly, it’s very easy to beat yourself if you don’t pay attention to your prestige points – easy enough that you can lose on your first turn, which I did. When you get the hang of it and you get into the groove of how your turns go, it’s not as difficult. Matt and I didn’t do much in the way of combat, and I think that would’ve been a major game-changer at the end of the game because I ended up winning with statues and museums and stuff,  which he probably could’ve taken. I started this game incredibly frustrated by the rules and the fact that I had to mulligan our first attempt, but I ended up in a state of not totally hating it and I am certainly willing to give it another shot.

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.