Category: BGB Session Reviews

The review of the game-cation continues with more wonderful games we played.

Level X 61r1VVgh1WL._AA160_

This pleasant EasyPlay game got played once on Friendcation and it’s a favorite opening filler. I actually have four EasyPlay and Schmidt titles in a Ligretto Dice box (adding Finito, Level X, Numeri) that I always bring on holiday with me. Level X is a winner with a fair amount of luck but there are definitely some good choices and strategies. As it happens, this is the first game I’ve played with no bonus tiles awarded in probably 15-20 plays. Sadly, I think it’s out of print now – even Amazon.de has it for about 45 euro. It’s good but that’s quite a chunk of change for a twenty-minute filler.

Loopin’ Louie x10 A1cDZGmhpqL._SL1500_

It’s a kid’s game, you say. Sure it is. But I can tell you that most of the smartest gamer designers I know also have a great time playing this hilariously fun and silly game.

During my game-cation, we played two tournaments with the family, neither of which I won despite them happening on my birthday (Louie was not kind). Tournament play means you must win with a single chicken disc left – if you win with more, you play the next and remaining rounds with one fewer disc each time until you win with only one or the others catch up and win instead.

looping-chewie-2-teaser_largeI’m glad to hear that the US is getting Loopin Chewie later this year and I kind of love that they’re making it three-player only. That keeps the original Louie to four (and Barn Buzzin’ Goofy as the woeful two-player version that could get tedious). Yeah, I know there was this ‘bee’ version but it’s said to be awful on pure physics. Loopin’ Louie is available in the US currently, but that could change quickly so order now.

Love Letter – Batman619McEzHqhL

Despite the bone-headed marketing fail of promoting “LOVE LETTER” on a game themed to Batman, at least this version adds an extra rule (gain a token when capturing a ‘bad guy’) which is most of the cards. Enjoyed by the pool quickly and I could see enjoying it again. That rule could easily be applied to the other editions of the game, moving it along even quicker. Still a small wonder of a design.

Lowendynastiepic202855_t

This wacky Adlungspiele trick-taker didn’t go over super well (its marriage tricks a unique idea) but I was glad to play this quirky little item again during Friendcation. The marriage tricks let you add a second trick to a round by matching an ‘opposite sex’ card when it is your turn to play (sorry, folks – the lion world of Lowendynastie doesn’t have same-sex marriage yet – although it’s an idea for a variant!), which can also resolve the round. A terrific little game for which I just increased my rating.

The Majority 81tLjhSPr+L._SL1500_

A small press pass-draft game with some interesting elements. It was played while we transitioned from gaming in our room to a pool while on Friendcation but I still found more to like in it. Ninja Star Games did a good job with this one, featuring distinctive art and clever game play that I’m still finding intriguing (and I haven’t even touched the many expansions). Essentially, you partner with another player with four (where it shines) and try to garner second place in each of three suits through careful play that includes a variety of special cards. The game feels familiar but also new. You can find it on Amazon.

Numeripic586429_t

The only other EasyPlay game we broke out during the Friendcation, Numeri ended up showing its potential for randomness ruining the day but, to be fair, the most experienced player who knew the strategy won so…

Palastgeflusterpic260102_t

A minor item for the Adlungspiele world, PG is an okay set collector that feels a little like Guildhall. Alas, it’s more of the same kind of collect cards and use their abilities to manipulate how you collect them. Guildhall is a bit more interesting (also more expensive and there are more pieces) and I think PG is going to hit the trail pile. The art is nice, though. 

Pass-Ack Words 2Q==x3

We played this once on Friendcation and twice with the kids at home. A simple twist on Password (with you giving the ‘worst’ clues to your opposing team), we had a lot of fun with it and are still playing it with the kids now the following week. It’s on Amazon – get it!

pic249632_lgPool Position

An older FX Schmidt game I picked up specifically for Friendcation, Pool Position has the trappings of its time: some random elements that can frustrate despite their balance, not a lot of choices, etc. Still, it was amusing to play while we were fighting for pool spots in real life. Not sure we need it but it may earn a place on the ‘seasonal games’ shelf.

Red Dragon Inn91PV9W4v5jL._SL1500_ (1 & 2)

As always, this game was amusing but longer than expected. Might need to house rule it down to 30-40 minutes so it doesn’t overstay its welcome. As a take-that, goofy-themed, and decidedly American-style game where (horrors!) you draw cards at THE BEGINNING of your turn, this shouldn’t work for me. But I like it – maybe mostly because it’s a natural drinking game since the object of the game is actually to, um, drink your friends under the table. Sadly, despite playing on Friendcation, we played without booze! The whole series is available on Amazon.

Red781wbjYrCXjL._SL1500_ x3

Received this welcome gift and then played it twice while celebrating birthdays, then again at Duck Club. Simple and it takes 5-10 minutes but it’s a clever one where you need to be winning at the end of your turn (during which you can play up to two cards – one to your tableau and one to potentially change the rules). Remember how I lamented the set collection/do something with the cards thing on Palastgefluster up above? Scratch that here. Red7 is a delight. BUY IT NOW ON AMAZON.

Roll For The Galaxy81LLUVpgb0L._SL1500_

After years of play testing it, Roll finally came out and Wei-Hua did a great job shoring it up. As the last game of our birthday celebration, we enjoyed the nice components, simple rules (especially for Race players), and a quick play-time suggests this could replace Race For the Galaxy in my heart (maybe).

In a way, Roll to Race feels a bit like Steam to Age of Steam. My take is that it’s a bit more flexible, less punishing for mistakes, and even though the luck of the roll may seem harsh, I find ways to manage it pretty well. Of course, I love Race and I’ve played it hundreds of times so it may partially be the newness factor (I’ve only played Roll a dozen times, perhaps) but it certainly feels like a winner. Available now on Amazon.

Solitaire for Two9k=-1

Silly title but this six-suited version of Solitaire works with groups up to four. I liked it, but mainly for the chunky, Mahjong-y tiles and since I played it mostly solo (my son was looking on and making suggestions), I’ll need to check and see how the cooperative version works. Also, did I mention those smooth, wonderful tiles? #componentlove

It’s quite reasonably priced on Amazon.

BGB says:IMG_3325

The rogue’s gallery of reviewers at The Opinionated Gamers discuss the new game from Bruno Cathala and Days of Wonder, Five Tribes. Like Dale and most of the OP gang, I’m fond of Five Tribes after two plays, including a tie for the win this last weekend at Gateway 2014. This is actually kind of a new things for Days of Wonder, a venture in real Gamer’s Games (although some might say that Small World is a bit beyond their normal market, too).

Cathala’s excellent use of the Mancala-style mechanism that is the basis for Trajan (one of my favorite games of the last few years) as well has resulted in a good game that is at once pretty intuitive and also sufficiently detailed to engage serious gamers. Dale astutely points out the big knock on the game – players can fall into analysis paralysis with the often huge decision tree on the board (which, admittedly, dimishes as the game progresses). The challenge is not just that the board changes each turn (making it harder to plan), but you have to suss out the actual options you can take, and you are subject to following someone who just isn’t very good at finding the patterns who may leave you with great moves. In fact, in my game this last weekend, a guy spent five minutes trying to find the way to perform a move. It was right there and I could see it but heck if I was going to point out the thing he kept missing. Next, it was my turn and I made the move. He seemed a little annoyed but, seriously, am I supposed to play your game for you (he was accepting of it in the end – but maybe not all players will be.

Speaking to Tom Rosen’s point about the added need to bid points/money (they are one in the same) for turn order, the first time I played the game (earlier this year at the Gathering of Friends), we completely missed the turn order mechanism for a sizable portion of the game. I mean, it was a prototype and we just forgot. It happens. But the game moved like lightning and we were having fun. Is there a potential lighter version where you just skip turn order and the need to balance your bid against how many points you will score that turn? Notably, on the final turn of our game, one of the players took almost ten minutes to make his final bid for turn order. As I said, this isn’t for the AP players.

Anyway, I heartily recommend Five Tribes as an excellent game. I actually just had an email from Bruno Cathala a week ago and he noted he feels this is one of his finest games. He’s right – Five Tribes is going to be heavily played and, I think, loved in the days ahead. Glad to see the recently-acquired (by the excellent folks at Asmodee) Days of Wonder back on top with a winner that I will be buying as soon as it becomes available.

 

Designer: Bruno Cathala Publisher: Days of Wonder Players: 2-4 Time: 40-80 min* Ages: 13+ * recommended time is what is printed on the box, our games proved to be closer to 120 min for a 4p game Times played: 3, with review copy provided by DoW Five Tribes is the new Gen Con/Essen 2014 release…

 

Read on, gamers… at Opinionatedgamers