Friday, August 11, 2017

GEN CON 50

Greetings!  It's that time of year again.  Time for all good tabletop game enthusiasts to head to North America's (and depending on who you ask, the world's) biggest convention for their beloved hobby.  From its humble beginnings fifty years ago to its massive sell-out crowds today, Gen Con has been the high point of the convention season.  Over 500 new board game titles have been announced to be available for sale or for demo at this year's convention so there should be something for everyone.  We'd like to take this opportunity to mention but a humble few that are on our short list that have us excited.



Number one is Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time from Passport Game Studios.  We had an opportunity to demo this at Origins and it was a blast.  A co-operative game, players infiltrate Professor Evil's citadel to re-acquire artifacts he has stolen throughout time before he locks them away forever.  You have to disable traps and avoid the Professor at every turn while trying to access various artifacts scattered about the lair.

2-4 Players
30-45 Minutes
Ages 8+



Next, Cities of Splendor from Space Cowboys, the highly anticipated expansions (4 in the box) for the critically acclaimed game.  The expansions include: The Cities, replaces the noble tiles with city tiles that have objectives; The Trading Posts, introduce bonuses for development cards; The Orient, adds three new decks to the originals at each level of development; and The Strongholds, which allows additional options for reserving cards.

Requires base game to play
2-4 players   30 Minutes   10+






In Ascension: Valley of the Ancients, the new stand-alone expansion from Stone Blade Entertainment, players compete for control of three different temples.  As with most Ascension expansions, new mechanics and card play are introduced to add more variety to the game.  This has been one of our favorite deck-builders.


2-4 Players   30-45 Minustes   12+




....And another deck-builder will be debuting at Gen Con this year.  Atlas Games will be launching Witches of the Revolution, a cooperative game where users pool their card resources to overcome challenges and eliminate the big bosses to make sure the forces of evil are kept at bay and the American Revolution succeeds!  We checked out a demo at Origins and it was a lot of fun.


So that's all for now.  Hopefully, we'll be able snag these and report back with some reviews later.  Until then, all you Gen Con 50 attendees, happy hunting!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Origins 2017

Origins is this week!  We'll be packing up the family truckster and heading there on Thursday so I thought I would take the opportunity to list a few items that are on our radar to check out.

Number 1 for me is far and away Century: Spice Road from Plan B Games. This has been described as Splendor with more depth and strategy.



CMON has quite a few games we're wanting to look at as well.  Lorenzo il Magnifico comes from the same designers of Grand Austria Hotel and looks to be a good worker-placement game.  Also, the recently released Ethnos is an area control, hand-management game that's been getting lots of buzz.  We'll be spending a bit of time at the CMON booth checking out these and other new and recent releases.




Stronghold Games once again has a good lineup with releases like Not Alone and Fields of Green.  We're hoping to get demos on both of those with intent to buy.

We're also excited to see a new offering from a company that hails from our neck of the woods.  Happy Harpy Games will be giving demos of their new game, Robot Rise! , ahead of their August 1st Kickstarter campaign.  Can't wait to see how it plays!


...And these are but a very few of the games we'll be checking out this week.  We'll try to keep our twitter feed up-to-date with all of the cool things we see.  Stay tuned...


Sunday, February 26, 2017

GAME NIGHT: NEW YEAR, NEW GAMES

Greetings!  After taking a loooong holiday break, we're back.  And, just because we haven't been posting, it doesn't mean we haven't been playing.  Most recently, we've managed to get some newly acquired games to the table.


First up, Stronghold Games' release of Coal Baron: The Great Card Game. This is the little brother of the the Coal Baron board game and has some familiar elements to it as well as plenty of brand new mechanics, and did I mention a whole lot of cards!









Next, the family got together for Menu Masters from Calliope Games.  This is part of their Titans Series games and is from designers Zach and Jordan Weisman.  Get the ingredients you need to fulfill menu orders and try to get the most points doing it. Yummy!




Finally, we entered the dark realm of H.P. Lovecraft with the new release from Passport Games Studios, Kingsport Festival: The Card Game.  Much like the board game, players are the cultists trying to summon the ancient ones but this time you're using your arcane resources to acquire cards to build a powerful deck to help you summon more monsters and defeat those pesky investigators.  It's for 3-5 players and takes about 30 minutes.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

GAME NIGHT: HALLOWEEN HAUNT

Between all of our Halloween activities, we were able to get a couple of games in.  First up was Bring Out Yer Dead from Upper Deck.  This is an area control came where players are dying to get their coffins into the best graves.  A bit of a dark theme, but hey, it's Halloween.


Next up was Fantasy Flight Games' Mansions of Madness: Second Edition.  We played they Escape from Innsmouth scenario.  Unfortunately, insanity reigned and we did not succeed.  Oh, well, maybe next time.  We hope everyone and a safe and happy Halloween.

Monday, September 26, 2016

GAME NIGHT: WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE BEFORE

In celebrating Star Trek's 50th anniversary, we featured Star Trek Panic! from Fireside Games and USAopoly at our September Big Game Night.  Star Trek Panic! is based off of Fireside's popular Castle Panic! game.  The goal in STP! is to complete 5 missions while being bombarded by all sorts of enemies.  Each player takes on the role of a crew member and has a hand of cards that allows them to take actions to accomplish the goals and defend or repair the ship. While we didn't fare so well, all had a good time.




Also hitting the table was Grifters from Indie Boards and Cards.  This is a unique hand management, set collection game in which each player represents a rival gang that are competing to pull off the biggest jobs and gain the most money.  The twist on this game is that when you play a card or set of cards to your player board you get their action but they then advance across the board over a series of three 'nights' or turns before you can reclaim them to your hand.  This offers another level of strategy for managing your hand.  Each card represents a 'Specialist' that has a unique ability and they also come in three different colors or suits that you will match up to claim the 'job' cards.  The more job cards you collect of the same type, the more they're worth.  Easy to learn and fun to play.

Other games that saw some action were New York 1901, a gateway-level area control game,  Betrayal at House On the Hill and Mystic Vale.

The next Big Game Night isn't on the schedule yet, but we're hoping to get some smaller sessions in soon.  Until next time...

Thursday, September 1, 2016

REVIEW: Mystic Vale

Synopsis:


Mystic Vale is AEG’s new game representing the debut of their Card Crafting System.  At it’s core, Mystic Vale is a deck building game.  For those unfamiliar with this mechanic, players start with a basic hand of cards that they use to purchase (or, in some cases, defeat) better cards in a central pool.  These will, in turn, give them points and/or provide more resources to acquire even more advanced cards.  What makes the new Card Crafting System unique is the ability for players to customize the cards as they get them.  This is done by having clear cards that are segmented into 3 distinct sections.  As the cards are acquired, they are placed into a clear card sleeve that has that particular one-third section unused.  This allows cards to be built to have more resources in the types and quantities the player feels necessary for their particular strategy.  Apart from these resources, some cards have text that describe special abilities or actions that a player may use.

Aside from the deck-building / Card Crafting, there is also a push-your-luck mechanic that manifests in the way a player draws the cards.  A certain type of ‘bad’ resource is corruption.  A player initially draws cards, face-up, until 3 of the corruption symbols are showing.  Then, they have the option to continue to draw (perhaps trying to get that extra resource needed to buy that sweet card they have their eye on).  If another corruption symbols shows up, the player goes bust and basically loses their turn.  As a consolation, they may be able to add one extra resource their next turn.
The game is over once a certain amount of point tokens have been accumulated, dictated by the number of players (2-4).  At this point, final scoring is done and points are added from both tokens and cards, and, of course, high score wins.

Pros:

Mystic Vale is a unique spin on the traditional deck-builder.  Its mechanics are familiar enough, to those that have experienced this type of game, to jump right in while remaining simple enough for new players to learn easily.

It is a beautiful looking game.  The art and components are top-notch and the box has a nice insert to hold it all.
There’s lots of opportunity for expansion as they can always add new cards and some new mechanics to keep it new and fresh.  As of this writing, an expansion has already been announced for release this year!


Cons:

As clear cards are inserted into the sleeves to ‘Craft’ better cards, the thickness is noticeably increased.  Some players have complained that this clues them in to which cards are coming up in their deck and therefore allows for some unintentional cheating.  We have not found this to be a problem so far.  Once players get deeper in the game and have placed multiple inserts its not really practical to be able to discern between the cards and we really just don’t pay that much attention to our draw decks until we’re actually flipping those cards over.

Another concern is how those sleeves will hold up over time.  This is probably a valid point, but AEG does include many spare sleeves in the box and if/when sleeves do need to be replaced, the cost of a pack of sleeves is negligible and one pack will probably go a long way.
Also, the clear plastic cards can be prone to scuffing.  We don’t believe this will really affect gameplay all that much for quite a long time.

Conclusion:

Overall, we’ve found this to be a very enjoyable game.  Anyone who likes deck-building types of games should definitely check it out.

Finally, it’s a fun note that Mystic Vale was initially presented by the designer as a sample game to demonstrate the Card Crafting System.  However, AEG felt this was good enough to publish as a stand-alone introduction for players.  Another, more robust game (Edge of Darkness), will be coming in the near-future from AEG that looks to be more of a campaign-driven experience with more options and conflict.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

SHORTER DAYS, ARKHAM NIGHTS

Fantasy Flight Games will once again host their annual Arkham Nights event October 14th and 15th, 2016.  They will be showcasing their entire line of Lovecraft themed games including the newly released Mansons of Madness Second Edition as well as debuting the new Arkham Horror The Card Game.  Also, they will be celebrating the Arkham Horror board game's (nearly) 30th anniversary by having game designer, Richard Launius on hand to talk about the history of the game and many of the others he's been involved with. Many of the other designers and production staff will be in attendance to demo the new products and run events centered around their classic titles.  Pre-registration runs through October 2nd and anyone who signs up by then will be eligible for a nice swag bag at the event.