I think this is a pretty neat simplification of Aquasphere. I definitely enjoyed the decision-making that runs so deeply through Aquasphere in such a compact and significantly less time-consuming way. The dice are not great, especially considering they’re essentially the entire game – it’s all but impossible to find the octopods on the black dice, other than there isn’t a colored number so you know that’s what it’s gotta be. I would be interested to know how someone who has never played Aquasphere would feel about it.
Octo Dice is another in the recent fad of dice re-implementations of more complex euro-style games. It’s technically not a Feld design, though it did have his input, but it does manage to capture the various aspects of the parent title, Aquasphere, in a more compact package. Many of the aspects help to mitigate and reduce the impact of the dice-randomness, giving the game more to consider than I originally expected. Still, it’s not overwhelming exciting. I’m happy to have it, but it won’t be displacing any of my favorite fillers any time soon.
My Happy Farm
For a game targeted towards younger kids, this game has a pretty good amount of meat to it. Each player has four animals that are sad because they are hungry. Using two actions on their turn, players will need to manage their farms to get that delicious food in their belly. I was pretty surprised at how this game implements a basic engine-building system. You need to know when to plant your seeds and time your harvests to maximize your benefits. This could easily be a family favorite with younger kids in the 8–10 year old range. But, us adults liked it just fine…except for my wife Alicia who is the biggest animal lover you will ever meet and was having a small panic attack looking at her cow’s frowny face.
13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis
Regretting not having backed it, I couldn’t pass on a copy of 13 Days for only $25 at Origins. The game was pitched as a Twilight Struggle experience in only 45 minutes. Having never played Twilight Struggle, I can’t speak to that claim, but I can say that this title is very engaging considering how simple it is. It is also packed with a lot of great historical information from the time period, giving a cubes-and-cards area majority game a good bit of theme. I’m looking forward to playing more and am very happy to have it.
This was a neat little two-player game in which Matt and I acted as the United States and the USSR in trying to handle the Cuban Missile Crisis by way of playing various action cards. The game itself is essentially area control, but it has a neat component of trying not to blow the world up. I would say that we were fairly evenly matched the entire game, and had we played it to the end, I think Matt only had me by one prestige point. Fortunately, I took everyone down with me and launched all my missiles, initiating a nuclear war and subsequent nuclear winter that I am now riding out in my bunker with some lovely canned veggies and DVDs or something.
Having heard so many mixed, generally negative, things about Bear Valley, the push-your-luck card game from Multi-use Master Carl Chudyk, I was terrified and interested to jump into it. It’s safe to say that the game is convoluted beyond belief when just looking it over on paper. There are rules on top of rules on top of contingencies on top of exceptions. It’s honestly kind of a mess at first. Still, we managed to push through and I played it five times with 4 different opponents this past weekend. We all agree: the Basic Game is boring, random, and a waste of time. The advanced version with some of the variants, however, has actually proven to be a lot of fun. It’s still random at times, but it becomes much more engaging when there are items and abilities to interact with to forge your path. I’m actually looking forward to continuing on with this game, no matter what anyone else tries to say about it.
The base game of this is terrible. It essentially teaches you the various movement mechanics, which I can appreciate, but it bothers me that it’s labeled as the base game and not just a tutorial or something else. It’s super deceiving because when you add in all of the things on the cards (magic mushrooms, fairies/special butterflies, canoes, etc, etc) it’s actually a really neat game and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I heard this at Origins when people were talking about it, but I’ll say it again: play this game with the advanced rules (you don’t need the character cards) and put the long river out and try it before you throw it on the ground in frustration.
Three of the five bear cards surrounding our starting space…solid… pic.twitter.com/xAQxNdnlNM
— Nonsensical Gamers (@LeagueNonsense) July 4, 2016
I was able to snag this from the Mayfair booth at Origins for $7! I would say it was a steal. Players are gem dealers looking to sell their collections to collectors or jewelers. Timing is key in this game because you have to hold majority in any colored sets of gems you want to sell. The more you sell, the more points you rack up at the end of the game. I was only able to play this two-player and it seemed to work okay, but it would likely be more interesting and strategic with more players. With two, it felt meaningless at times. I can say that this still holds my interest and I’d like to try this out with four players to get a real sense of this game. I was easily destroyed by Alicia in the end.
Junk Art is the latest offering from Pretzel Games and the newest addition to their high-end dexterity game line. It has a massive price tag, but this innovative stacking game has a lot to offering fans of the style. The game consists of different game modes that help spice of the standard Bandu/Jenga build-until-it-falls gameplay. Speed, height, stability, and more come into play to earn points round-to-round. It has had a lot of success so far and (fortunately) is justifying its cost.
I didn’t knock down any of my statues and it was probably the most amazing game of Junk Art and/or Bandu I’ve played.
Junk Art from @PretzelGames_ #boardgames pic.twitter.com/tjHLNatDns
— Nonsensical Gamers (@LeagueNonsense) July 3, 2016
The key to Principato is to develop your engine to defend your Principato. Each player has a player board that represents their city. To score points you need to create farms, build banks and commission paintings for their estate. Players earn the bulk of their points by establishing defenses. You will need to have resources to feed and pay your infantry or build catapults to offset the required upkeep at the end of each age. I enjoyed playing this one and have come to realize that I enjoy engine-builders a lot. We did play this one slightly wrong, so I hope to get another play.
Next up…Principato. #boardgames pic.twitter.com/mroUvZ0iwH
— Nonsensical Gamers (@LeagueNonsense) June 10, 2016
I was a little burnt by the time Torres hit the table this past weekend, but that didn’t stop me from digging into this award-winning abstract tile placement game. And yes, you’re technically stacking little castle pieces, but functionally they’re tiles. That being said, the game is quite simple in terms of rules, but like all good abstracts, the strategic options were vast. There’s a bit of take-that in the game, as you and your opponents jostle for good spaces in the various point scoring castles, but we managed to stay jovial and focused on how to readjust after a detrimental play. I managed to eek out a victory by one point. In a game where finals scores broke 200, it was a nail biting finish. This is right in my wheelhouse so I’m not surprised that I enjoyed it; I’ll be interested to try the “Advanced Variant” some time.
This was a totally neat castle-stacking game. I was surprised by how the scoring climbed throughout the game because the castles didn’t really seem like they’d score as much as they did. The action cards in this game are undoubtedly some of the most powerful moves you can make, which is something I’m sad I didn’t realize a little earlier on. I really enjoyed this one.
First play of Torres! Always amazed by the simplicity & elegance of Kramer & Kiesling designs. #boardgames pic.twitter.com/f5eTVYlMme
— Nonsensical Gamers (@LeagueNonsense) July 4, 2016