Egizia has been on my “Want to Play” list for a few months and I finally had a chance to play it last week. In the game players will be placing workers along the banks of the Nile to take an assortment of actions (i.e. upgrade workers, collect resources, etc) that will be randomized and laid out each round. The trick to this is once you’ve placed a worker on the river, your next worker placement must be further down the river. So you may want that three stone resource space but in order to get it you’ll have to pass up 5 other spaces that you cannot visit next turn. I loved that such a great decision point was derived from such a subtle mechanic. My lesson learned from the first play was collect the bonus cards – they are massive. I managed to keep close throughout the game but was totally trounced during end-game scoring having not realized the impact those cards would have on my score. I would love to add this to my collection but sadly this one is out of print. Good thing I love an acquisition challenge!
This was my first play of this “classic” Martin Wallace game. I’d first like to start out by saying this is one of the uglier games I have played in recent memory. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I really enjoyed this economic game. Starting the game at 2:30 a.m. may have contributed to this but I didn’t quite grok everything that was going on until the second to last round. Even as I got trounced I could tell that this was one I’d like in my collection. I loved how players could create their little corners of each market and, when timed correctly, exploit them for profit. I have added this one to my “Want in Trade” list.
Having been on hiatus for the past few weeks, I was able to get in a few lighter games this weekend—Covalence, The Little Prince: Rising to the Stars and The World’s Fair 1893. To start, Covalence, a filler with Mysterium-esque qualities, entails cooperative guesswork to create chemical bonds while a silent moderator periodically gives clues about the makeup of your substance. Thematically, this isn’t something I’m particularly interested in so it was difficult for me to enjoy it.
The first of many prototypes that hit the table recently, Covalence is – strangely – a co-op guessing/deduction game, a la. Mysterium, about making molecules. Although the theme is more niche than most board games, it was still surprisingly approachable and it got several plays in quick succession. I’m looking forward to trying the more difficult molecule cards, as our abilities quickly eclipsed the basic setup and we shifted into the medium puzzles. As far as co-ops, I found the theme – like all of the games from Genius Games – to be both fun and consistent, meaning it really feels like you’ve produced something by the end.
The Little Prince: Rising to the Stars
I had higher hopes for my second game, The Little Prince: Rising to the Stars. The art, of course, is fantastic, but you can’t judge a game based off a movie about a book by its cover. With the art, it felt as if I was starting a children’s game and the gameplay didn’t elevate beyond that. It felt like Otto was flying my plane. The decision-making was hardly complex and the possibility of coming up short of the finish is unsatisfying. I can see kids enjoying this one, but it did not do much for me.
Worlds Fair 1893
The World’s Fair 1893 was most enjoyable of my three games this weekend. This wasn’t an overly complicated game, but it had a decent amount of things going on to keep you busy. It seemed the set collection was an important task, so that was the route I took. With only three go-arounds on the ferris wheel (the game’s “timer”) though, I was only able to complete one set. There are other ways to achieve points, but it’s challenging to tackle them all at once. Oddly enough, as a fan of shorter games, I thought this one ended too soon. I was just getting things to fall into place when I was jipped a turn as the ride came to a complete stop. Having such a minimum amount of turns, it felt that a misplayed turn could really ruin the outcome, but with its brevity it wouldn’t be too upsetting.
Folklore: The Affliction
Not at all what I was expecting, Folklore: The Affliction is an amazing blend of RPG systems, story telling, and classic dungeon crawling. The game boasts a surprising amount content and parcels it in such a way to make full days of abstract role-playing feel more manageable and more like a board game. I also had the pleasure of watching Steebin, The Madman, rip limbs off of enemies and beat others to death with them. With stories like that being created, you should obviously go take a look at this one on Kickstarter.
The final prototype of our recent game session was Morocco, an area-majority game with some fun twists on resource generation and unique worker powers. While I found the chosen theme to be all together forgettable, the actually gameplay is surprisingly innovative. Morocco manages to blend the simplicity of a “classic feeling” euro-style game with some of the variability and player interaction of today’s hobby market. If you dig games with stoic dudes and muted colors, PLUS excellent tactical and light strategic play, make Morocco a priority.
Nations: The Dice Game
The Tuesday night game this time around, the dice-based version of Nations is a quick (too quick, perhaps) title. Lasting only four turns, you’re forced to snatch what upgrades you can from the limited selection on offer. Gold nets you more advanced technology that provides additional, or simply difference dice to roll, as well as leaders and blueprints for grand wonders that must then be built with stone. Swords allow you to conquer provinces for small VP values or to gain a resource token that may be used once per turn. Research (books) will grant you cumulative points; your knowledge level is tracked from age to age, and awards VP for every opponent that you’re above. Food rounds out the available resources, and will grant VP at the end of the age if you meet a minimum value.
I’m not entirely a fan of this game; it’s too short and simple, even allowing for the fact that it’s a dice-based reimplementation. You may receive multiple opportunities to re-roll a poor dice pool, but doing so consumes your entire action, letting opponents with better luck first crack at the upgrade tiles. Books are incredibly powerful throughout the ages, while a heavy investment in Swords becomes useless at the end game, given the Wonder-heavy and province-light assortment of tiles available in the last age.
I absolutely love this game, but in the future, won’t break it out without at least three players, or preferably four. While serviceable, it falls somewhat flat with only two players, given the lack of potential involvement in the exploration phase.
Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn
You may remember from my “Games That I’m Stoked for at GenCon” post that I was dying for this game. I love it. It’s so wonderful. The art is gorgeous. It’s quick-paced and entertaining and it has awesome replayability because of the different Phoenixborn combinations you can play with, plus the fact that you can draft and build your own decks if you want to. I’ve played this a handful of times recently and have had mixed results. There was the time I played as Aradel Summergaard for the first time against Matt (who was Maeoni Viper, one of my faves). The game sucked for me because Aradel puts out a billion little mist things and Maeoni’s snakes get bigger and meaner whenever one of my units dies; so I put out wimpy little guys, he killed them and then his conjurations got stronger and killed more of them. It was bad news for me. Luckily, it ended quickly and I learned that I don’t like Aradel and that I’ll probably stick to Jessa Na Ni or Maeoni Viper. I also had some crappy card draw when I played as Jessa against Aradel and was left with no allies against a full opposing battlefield, thus leaving me defenseless and unable to deal out Blood Puppets to suck my opponent’s life. Needless to say it’s been some frustrating Ashes gameplay for me (I still love this game, don’t fret).
Too Many Cinderellas
Played this one with only two people, using randomly dealt rule cards to supplement the fact that we played so few ourselves. It was neat and I liked trying to figure out the best way to play my rules but still hold onto a good Cinderella. Played it again with four people and liked it a lot more. The “no” tokens seemed to carry a little bit more weight with regards to gameplay and I felt like I had better chances at actually having a legitimate Cinderella candidate.
VS System: Marvel Set
Once I figured out the finer points of front-row versus (get it?) back row, this game was great! Matt’s X-Men took out my Avengers, which was a bummer for sure, but it was a tight match the whole time and I really enjoyed it. I liked all of the card art and really appreciated just how many characters were included – there were so many! I look forward to many more crazy comic book character battles in our future.