Tuesday night’s game was another new one on me, and we managed to get through two reasonably quick plays. As seems usual for me, I swept the first play easily, and got trounced the second time around. A very tactical, almost abstract game, Barony is built on a random hex map featuring five types of terrain on interlocking tiles. To gain the resources needed to raise your title and score points, you’ll be sending your knights out to develop the countryside and raid opposing villages to steal from the rich and give to yourself. Mastery of the terrain and the specific movement rules is necessary to understand just how you should take action against your foes.
I have to say, I rather enjoyed the chunky and quite detailed wooden bits used for the cities and villages!
Alas, we only had four members in attendance for the Grand Tournament, with others perhaps kept home by the rain. This is a game that I love, and I took the opportunity to try a few different strategies, including my first-ever science run. Happily, I ended up running away with this one, and walking off with a nifty playmat and a set of alternate-art wonders for the base game.
Pack and Stack
Spacial reasoning games are something I enjoy very much and Pack & Stack packs the perfect amount of that into my 3 x 4 x 3 heart. The concept is simple — roll the dice, pick up that amount of each box, grab a truck you think should fit the haul (before your opponents), and get packin’! Highly enjoyable. While playing with a lower count things were likely more mild than wild, but with six players in the mix, things probably get pretty cutthroat when reaching for the perfect truck.
Morocco incorporates some interesting mechanics into an entertaining area influence/control game. There are some decisions to be made, but the lack of overly complicated mechanics allows for a somewhat quick game that won’t burn your brain. Having a vague plan of attack is key, as the market spaces quickly become overtaken and things get crowded. That said, things can and will change drastically from turn-to-turn as chain reactions are possible, with overflow from one market to another requiring fewer merchants to ‘win’ the stand. Everything seemed balanced in my playthrough, but like World’s Fair 1983 last week, I felt gypped when I lost a turn because of a cube swap. Matt told me it seemed fine because I was in first, but no one enjoys getting ‘blue shelled.’
Using cute villagers and colorful planks, River Dragons initially sucked me in from afar with its aesthetics. The concept seemed fun, as well, and I wanted in. Sadly, my one and only play didn’t excite me as much as the art and components did. Admittedly, my strategy was flawed, programming my moves on the defensive on the assumption that others were going to be aggressive. Turns out, most people kept quietly to themselves, ploppin’ stones and layin’ planks. Once things were cluttered in the middle, it became a little more entertaining… for everyone else. For me, I was trying to get caught up because I was river draggin’ behind. I’d give it another go, but I wasn’t particularly thrilled with my first play, which is probably my fault for thinking my brothers are savages.
Considering I slept through most of my first play of River Dragons, this was essentially my first time coherently trying out the game. After my one and-a-halfish plays, I can’t say I’m too jazzed with this family-style programmed movement game. Sure, in concept it sounds like a blast, and the production value is very nice, but the gameplay falls flat for me. Much like Munchkin, the game becomes a race for second or third place, as anyone who gets too close to winning will be quickly stonewalled, allowing someone else to swoop in. Still, games that competently handle six players are rare, and this is one that achieves it to some degree. I would suggest trying it out if you ever have the chance.
VS. System: Marvel Set
Star-Lord vs. Thanos turned out to be a much better match-up than my first play of Iron Man vs. Wolverine did, so that was awesome. I still keep getting the flying and ranged powers mixed up, but luckily Matt is forgiving and points me in the right direction so that I can still attack his characters.
Thurn & Taxis
The premise of this game is less than thrilling, but gameplay was fast-paced and simple and I really enjoyed it. It’s pretty exciting when all of the correct city cards are coming up and you can crank out a 9 city route!
Dear Lord, the setup and background rules on this game took FOREVER. As we got started and Dan was going over everything, I won’t lie, I was wondering what on earth I’d gotten myself into. Upon getting into the game and working it out, though, it really turned out to be so simple that it kind of makes you mad because of all the work you put into getting it ready! Really, though, I did enjoy this one a lot. For all of the components and different options for play, it moved really quickly and I think it ended up being a pretty close game in general.
With a box bigger than a 16th century galleon and a price to match, I was interested but hesitant to dive head-first into Francis Drake. The setup and Dan’s rules overview almost sent me to Davey Jones’ Locker, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a much simpler and more tactical experience underneath the daunting exterior. This game is my new definition of an “overproduced” board game, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it. Now knowing how to play, I look forward to a much quicker voyage in the future.
Star Wars: Armada
Going into this past weekend’s “Massing at Sullest” tournament event, I knew I was in over my head. My experience with Armada is too slim for the competitive scene, but I’ll take any chance to get in several games in a day. Eight hours later, I was second to last on the standings, had driven several ships off the map like a drunk Tusken Raider, and had a blast digging into the game against some quality opponents.