Dr. Ben Coles – The Weekly Route – From LV-426 to Mallorca

The Weekly Route – From LV-426 to Mallorca

 FROM: http://thetablestop.blogspot.com/2015/09/the-weekly-route-from-lv-426-to-mallorca.html

LEGENDARY ENCOUNTERS: ALIEN

Theme bleeds from every pour of this game, Upper Deck have really hit on a winner with this. Pushing their Legendary deck building system into a movie franchise that reeks of tension and fear. As you play through each of the movies that come in the core set for this, every card turn can cause collective cringing and gasps of relief. I finally got a chance to teach it to my wife, at first she didn’t seem too enthralled but as we built toward the end of scenario she came around and was riding right there alongside the movie’s heroes.

If you enjoy deckbuilders you’ll love this, if you have a love for the movie franchise you’ll love this. Looking forward to getting Predator and the future expansion for this.

GLORY TO ROME

In my quest to play my way through the Top 100 on BGG I rarely turn down plays of games currently occupying it. On the lower end comes Glory to Rome, a game that I have heard alot of mixed feelings for. It is a card driven city building game that features a very unique mechanic of playing cards, every card in your hand can be used in multiple ways. It really brings about a depth to game that is simple in it’s mechanics, giving you alot of choices on each turn. You can use them to build up roles in your tableau so each time you have a turn you can use certain powers multiple times. Scoring comes from the buildings you complete, along with resources you managed to store along the way.

I played with original cartoon style artwork, which detracts from the game itself as it gives it an old look on the table. Definitely a game that should be reworked with new art.

GOA

Crossing another one off the 100 list here, hadn’t really heard much about this before playing but came away feeling I got to play something a little different. The theme places you as competing companies trying to make theirs the most profitable by building up plantations on colonies during the 16th century. Each phase of the game starts with a auction, players have the chance to put certain items up for bid, if one of your opponents win they pay you, if you decide to take the item you get it for cheaper than the highest bid. Once that is over you have a very limited number of actions to level up their technologies, grow on plantations, gather ships and build up colonies.

Once the game is flowing it plays rather quickly and a nice feel to the engine building that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. Certainly would like to play again.

LA GRANJA

Controlling farms on the island of Mallorca in the Mediterranean, players compete to deliver their goods to market and earn the title of “La Granja” for their estate. Taking a heavy influence from Glory to Rome and many other Euro games from designers such as Stefan Feld and Uwe Rosenberg. This is a game of great depth and decision each turn, multi-use cards, resource management and turn manipulation are all things you have to keep track off. With an element of timing over the seemingly short six rounds of play make every choice you make huge.

Initially the game will seem to have a high AP level, but I think over time and familiarity with the cards that will level out with multiple plays. A contender for game of the year for sure.



DISCOVERIES

Taking an elegant puzzle design like the original Lewis & Clark and turning it into a shorter playing dice game and carrying over a similar feel is a hard task, but one that Discoveries is more than upto. Taking the journal aspect of their journey across America, Lewis & Clark and other members of their expedition wrote page after page of new species they discovered and maps of the lands they traversed. Using the dice to help you push your expedition along and collect as much knowledge as possible in your journal is key to winning the game. With just two choices on your turn, place a die or pick up dice to add to your pool it converts the original into a different kind of puzzle.
Excellent all round, art is fantastic to look at and there is enough dice mitigation to not get stomped by bad rolls each turn.
THE TABLESTOP GAME OF THE WEEK!

ISLE OF SKYE: FROM CHIEFTAIN TO KING

Set on the beautiful shores of Scotland’s gem, the Isle of Skye, players compete to build up the best kingdom. Each round players place land tiles up for auction to each other and once they are purchased they are laid into a personal tableau of the isle as it builds up. Each game has a selection of 4 objectives to score points of, from a potential pool of 16, creating a different feel each game as how you build your kingdom will change from game to game.
Personally this game could replace Carcassonne and Castles of Mad King Ludwig as it fills the feeling of each of these in a tight clean package, that plays in under a hour. Also the art is bright and colorful creating a great look on the table once everyone is finished.

OTHER STOPS THIS WEEK
Dug up fossils and went on expedition into the jungle with Artifacts, Inc… Went toMedina to build a city… Travelled to San Juan to sell tobacco… Voyaged to the new world to mess with the Spanish Main alongside Francis Drake… Became an Istanbulgem hoarder… Finally ran my way around London to find Mr Jack and defeat my wife for the first time.

Dr. Ben Coles: The Weekly Route – From castaway to finding my way to the Pacific

The Weekly Route – From castaway to finding my way to the Pacific

FROM:http://thetablestop.blogspot.com/2015/09/the-weekly-route.html
The Weekly Route is never planned, sometimes there may be lots of stops and occasionally just one or two. This is where I like to take a look back at the previous week and check out the stops my gaming hobby took me to.

As always thanks to all that make this journey possible each week through my gaming groups.

7 Wonders
A couple of weeks ago I got to revisit Small World, this week I managed to pull to the table another old favorite. This is a fantastic drafting game where you are building up your wonder with locations that can earn you victory points. The simultaneous nature of the game play makes any player count run over the same amount of time once all the players know what they are doing each turn. There is a fun balance between keeping something you need while also not passing on cards that would be helpful for your neighbor. We played this with six players and it seemed different strategies earned victory each time and my wife even seemed to enjoy a play of a game she isn’t really that into which speaks volumes for how this game is with the right group of people around the table. Also I need the practise as I just signed up for the tournament they are hosting at Rincon this year.

Robinson Crusoe
This was my first playthrough of this supposedly brutal co-op game. Players are all castaways, awaiting rescuing on a tropical island. You must explore your surroundings and collect resources to help battle the elements and the island’s wildlife, while at the same time trying to complete the objective for the unique scenario you are currently playing. This is certainly unlike any other co-ops I’ve played, it has many decisions for you to make each round and an excellent implementation of dice rolling if you decide to do a task alone. As I said I was warned about how hard it would be to win at this, which we managed to do in my first sitting, I think a large amount of good luck helped along with playing it with two very experienced members of our group. Thanks Matt and Nicole couldn’t have made it off the island without you.

Panic Station
You are sent to a remote space station to investigate an alien presence there, now one of your team is infected and you don’t know who it is. Working as a team and against a traitor in your midst you must search the station looking for the alien hive to defeat the threat. Although the game seemed to have some clunkiness in the rules and needs to have printed player guides for what cards do, for me at least the game instilled a frantic level of paranoia as we got closer to the end. The major mechanic of the game is that when you enter a room with another player you have to essentially ‘swap-spit’ by trading cards in your hands, in the process of this any infected player has the chance to pass off an infection card and in turn infect another member of the team. At points during the game you can scan all the players and through the secret playing of cards it can be revealed how many people are already carrying the alien parasite. Just imagine The Thing as a board game and you are getting there.

CHOICE DESTINATION
It can be a rare thing when a game is equally beautiful to look as it is mechanically sound, but in the case of Lewis & Clark we have that rare joy. At the heart of it this is a race game, as players lead expeditions across America, trying to be the first to reach the Pacific coast. To achieve this you use a unique card playing system mixed with worker placement, you lay a card from your hand to activate it’s action but to use that action you may have to use another card face down to power it. So as you go you turns become a puzzle of what cards to use and what to lose the chance to use that turn. Need to get my own copy of this one for sure.
Other stops
Got Chibis to the table with Takenoko… Tried a hand at 3 player Brew Crafters… Made a wonderful steam powered machine in Steampunk RallySpyfall inspired a hunt through a submarine… Robbed the Colt Express

Tabletop Doctor Ben Coles – Kickstarting the Habit: Caverns packed with gems and booze

Another expert work from Ben Coles Tabletop PHD & Scholar.

FROM: http://thetablestop.blogspot.com/2015/09/kickstarting-habit-caverns-packed-with.html

Kickstarting the Habit: Caverns packed with gems and booze

With Essen around the corner it is a fairly slow time for Kickstarter, but there are still a few I think could be worth checking out.

BOOZE BARONS
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1026360181/booze-barons/widget/video.html
From Overworld Games the publishers behind the hugely successful and fun Good Cop Bad Cop comes another hidden role and deduction game. Set during the time of US Prohibition, 3 mobs compete to be the most profitable. With no player elimination everyone gets a chance to try and figure out who is on their team and sell alcohol on their way to victory.

This campaign also features a chance to pick up another recently funded and well received Kickstarter in the form of New Salem. Also if you are feeling it you can bling out your copy of Booze Barons with an awesome custom made Game Trayz insert.

TROVE: THE CRYSTAL CAVERNS
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2074786394/trove-the-crystal-caverns/widget/video.html
At first glance Trove may look like just another dungeon crawl where players are adventurers running through a cave or two collecting up gold and killing the monsters within. But this one takes a unique take on the roles given to the players.

In this game you can choose to be the Knight, who must kill the dragon, or the Goblins, who are trying to end the Knight’s quest, the Dragon, who is just trying to to escape, and finally the Cave itself, who is trying to expand and then collapse. This promises to play like nothing else out there and no two games will feel the same with a tile laying mechanic to building the cave.

Definitely worth checking out, with most of the stretch goals hit already and a fifth player option waiting to be unlocked.

KICK OF THE WEEK
GEMPACKED CARDS
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ebaraf/gempacked-cards/widget/video.html
Eduardo Baraf is back on Kickstarter, after his fun alien escape game Lift Off! he returns with a gorgeously cute family card game. In this game upto 5 players will be collecting geminos and completing sets to earn the victory points to win.

Like his previous game this looks like it will be a perfect gateway game with the use of bright primary colors to help attract players to the game. There is also a version available on iOS which plays like a puzzle game as you help the little geminos blast off on rockets.

KICK THE HABIT NOW!!!

Tabletop Expert Ben Coles – The Weekly Route – From occupied France to laying track in Japan

Author: Tabletop Expert Ben Coles

From: http://thetablestop.blogspot.com/2015/09/the-weekly-route-from-occupied-france.html

The Weekly Route – From occupied France to laying track in Japan

The Weekly Route is never planned, sometimes there may be lots of stops and occasionally just one or two. This is where I like to take a look back at the previous week and check out the stops my gaming hobby took me to.

As always thanks to all that make this journey possible each week through my gaming groups.

Imperial Settlers
I did get a chance to learn this the week before, but managed to sit down for another play after my first game went for a little long. From designer Ignacy Trzewiczek this is a re-working of another game of his 51st State. It is a civ-building card game with an endearing cartoon style art that belies the deep yet mean gameplay below. As you build up your own tableau of locations before you, you have opportunities to raze your opponent’s to gain valuable resources and take points away from them. My second play of this was a two player against my wife, the game played easily in under a hour, with a great feeling of back and forth between us. Certainly want to pick this up for myself.

Operation F.A.U.S.T.
Deep in occupied France during World War II a war inside a war raged as independent art partons tried to prevent the Third Reich from plundering all the cultural valuables. Through bluffing and deception players must attempt to acquire works of art with the help of spies, allies and the French Resistance, the player who recovers $1,000,000 worth first is the victor. The game uses a hidden role mechanic similar to Coup, where each player has at least two roles in front of them and they can choose to use the abilities of the ones they have or bluff something from one of the other roles. Unlike Coup though, there is no elimination if you lose a role through a challenge you just draw a new one, keeping you going.We just got a couple of playthroughs of this in and it felt like lying wasn’t absolutely necessary as you tried to attain the paintings. I feel more plays will surely be needed to get into the depth of this one.

Mogul
I had seen this game being played within my group over the last week and I finally got a chance to
get in on a game last night. It is revised and expanded version of a 2002 game, players buy and sell railway stock, trying to outsmart opponents through a push your luck bidding system and stock retention. The more stocks on the table, the more they are worth, but as other’s sell the same stocks ones in front of you will become worth less. I see this as a gateway game to bigger stock manipulation type games, easy to understand what you can do, but not quite as easy to understand what you should do each turn. Just need to mention the one component that really makes this game is a wooden bowl that you use to drop your bids in each round, it is a unique head turning that gets people interested in this one.

Small World
Need to make a honorable mention to one of my early tastes in the hobby gaming world. Been a while since I had gotten this to the table, often distracted by the new and shinies that cross our tables each game night. If you want to get a non-gamer who thinks RISK is the be all of area control, then this is the game that can get them into our wonderful world. Small World takes an easy to understand system to attacking opponents, just have more units and you win the area. The game is filled with fantastic fantasy races with crazy powers that you manipulate to your benefit as you run rampant through the lands, spread yourself thin, then kill off your race and start up a new one. So glad I got to visit this old friend again this week.

CHOICE DESTINATION
Taking a deckbuilding mechanic and tying it into laying tracks across Japan doesn’t sound like the most fun but this is far from it. Gameplay is so smooth and quick as you use your hands to lay tracks, build stations and purchase more powerful improvements for your deck, as you race to collect points across the map. Each game will have a random selection of cards to purchase, so the variability inspires repeat plays.
I like trains. I enjoy deck building. I love Trains!
Other stops
Heard a gentle rapping at my chamber door, Nevermore… Anger the gods in Tzolk’in… Searched the depths in Abyss… Built, collapsed and re-built with Rhino Hero… Attempted to protect a village with our Samurai Spirit… lied to my friends as a Good Cop Bad Cop and in the courts of Avalon.