Well, it was a light game week, but this episode is weighed down with tons of board game goodness. We’ve got everything from a review of the Android Splendor App, to a review of Fantasy Flight’s big epic brawler, Forbidden Stars. In between we’ll talk with board game designer Matt Wolfe about Avalanche at Yeti Mountain and about game design a bit in general and we’ll also talk a couple Spiel games that are coming that interest him, he’s sold me on a couple of them, I’ll also talk a bit about another handful or so games that I am looking forward to learning more about at Spiel, then we’ll round out the podcast with a preview of J. Alex Kevern’s upcoming game, coming to Kickstarter from Foxtrot Games, World’s Fair 1893. It’s a full week folks, so let’s buckle in and see where this takes us.
Let’s kick this week off with Patrick Hillier. He’s back and he’s talking Android gaming apps again, this time he’s covering Splendor from the digital Days of Wonder group, take it away Patrick!
You can hear Patrick's Splendor App Review at the 2:08 mark of the podcast!!
As I said, this week was pretty light as far as gaming goes, I didn’t get anything physically to the table during the week, but once again I did get another play on Board Game Arena with James and Bill. This time they decided to completely annihilate me in a game of Troyes, and I’m not exaggerating about that. It’s been awhile since I have tackled this wonderful Xavier Georges title and my rust was apparent from the beginning. I struggled to form a plan of attack in my hand and kind of spread myself too thin, doing a couple things okay instead of specializing in one then and then adapting others, at least that’s how it seemed to me. My character was Thibaut III who gave VP for deniers at the end of the game and I managed to max those out, but I was never comfortable with my money during game. Bill and James on the other hand were close the entire game I think and Bill ended up winning with 54 points to James’ 52, I finished way back with 34, see I told you, annihilated. Looking forward to playing again in the near future!!
We didn’t get anything else to the table until Saturday evening when we went over to Brad and Kate’s for some BBQ pork steaks and some board games. We got two games in on Saturday, the first one was a game that Kerensa and I had played ages ago, I think 2013 was the last time we opened it, Divinare. Divinare is a really neat, small box deduction game where all the players are mediums and they are trying to divine, just how many cards of each color will be played each round to prove they are the most powerful medium in the land. In the game, there are four “suits” of cards, each of varying amount, yellow has 12 cards, there are 10 green cards, 8 blue and 6 red. Each player in front of them also has a player board that is associated with one of those colors, around the board is a track that has a number or pair of numbers in each space. In a four player game, you shuffle all the cards and deal out 6 to each player, meaning that there will be 12 cards left out that no one knows. With 4 players, before you start you are going to choose 3 cards and pass them to the player on your right before starting the game, you’ll also pass cards when you have 4 cards and when you have 2 cards. On a player’s turn you play one card from your hand and place it next to the board of corresponding color, then you take your marker from that board and put it on an unoccupied space on the player board, this represents how many cards of that color you think will be played this round. The trick here is, every time you play a card, you have to move your marker on that board, regardless if you want to keep it in the same spot, you have to move it to a new unoccupied space or pull it off the board. Play will continue clockwise with players choosing one card and playing it, until all the mediums have played their cards and then scoring will take place. If a medium divined the correct number of cards played of a suit, they get 3 points. If they are within one space of the correct answer, they get 1 point. If they are further away than 1 spot away, they lose a point. Also on those boards are bonus marks, some allowing 2 extra points to be score, or even 2 extra points to be lost, and some for 1 point bonus or loss. Once all four play areas are scored, the first player is passed the next player clockwise and the cards are shuffled up and dealt out again for another round. You do this 4 times and then add up your points and the person with the most points, is the greatest medium in the land.
All that may sound a bit convoluted, but really, it’s not. This is a wonderful little interactive deduction game, where you are going to end up knowing more as you go, but what you’ve done earlier may really hinder your options. Safe to say, I wasn’t the greatest medium in the contest this weekend. I managed a paltry 7 points when it was all said and done, Brad had 10, Kate had 14 and Kerensa won out with 16 points. I really enjoyed playing Divinare, I don’t remember the last time a short little game like this caused this much angst to be shown between the players. It’s really irritating to be stuck with the one suit that you absolutely don’t want to play, because you don’t want to move your emblem, because you’ve got it correct, but you have to. It really makes knowing what to pass or hold on to even more important than just passing along information. Huge thumbs up from me, this one won’t gather dust for 2 years again, I can promise you that.
After that, we put World’s Fair 1893 on the table for one more play through before I did my preview. First up you’ll get my full on preview and thoughts, then after that, Kerensa joins me to talk a little bit about our game on Saturday and about World’s Fair 1893 in general.
You can hear my preview on the podcast at the 8:28 mark of the podcast. Immediately following that is Kerensa and I talking a bit about the game and how much we've enjoyed it and our play with Brad and Kate.
I had a horrible week with Star Realms, so much so that I’d almost rather forget about it. I’ve started this season losing my first two matchups and I’ve managed to drop my ranking to LVL 9 2/10, it’s getting ugly around here. But as I always say, keep the challenges coming and I’ll keep playing.
Kickstarter So, nothing new backed on Kickstarter, Tabletopia finished it’s funding last week and ended up with over $130 from over 2500 backers, a very successful fundraising campaign I believe and I’m really looking forward to diving in and trying it out more.
As of writing, Avalanche at Yeti Mountain is sitting at $13,500 with three days left to go in the campaign, it officially ends on October 1st at 10 am eastern/9 am Central. It’s looking more and more like it’s going to fund, with Kicktraq projecting it at just around 3% over funding, but let’s hope that’s a low estimate as I’d love to get that $16,000 stretch goal accomplished so we can add the invention cards to the box. Designer Matt Wolfe was kind enough to sit down and talk to me this week. In our conversation we talk a bit about Avalanche at Yeti Mountain, but we also touch on some other things, such as design thought processes, chasing games and his newest endeavor, the podcast Game Designers of North Carolina Podcast, which is up to episode two and is a fantastic podcast if you are interested at all about game design, as a hobby or even as a potential way of life. Oh, and he was also kind enough to give us three titles to watch out for at Spiel, or at least he’s watching out for, and I am now that they’ve been pointed out to me. Without any more rambling, here’s Matt Wolfe.
Matt's interview can be heard at the 25:39 mark.
Two things this week showed up on our doorstep that was gaming related, first I received a preview copy of the Kickstarter game Campaign Trail from Cosmic Wombat Games. I am going to try really hard to get it played this week and then get a preview out for it, it may be on next week’s episode or it may be a special between episodes preview, I’m not sure yet, it just depends on timing. The Kickstarter campaign for this one is already in full swing and only has 11 days to go so be sure to check it out. I’ve read the rules, watched a couple videos and all signs point to me enjoying the heck out of this one, but we’ll hopefully see soon. Oh, and if you get a preview copy of a game, and are asked to send it on to the next reviewer, please be a bit more, how should we say it, respectful of the hard work and money that the publishers put into creating the preview copy. I literally had to sort the game after it arrived for about 45 minutes because the only thing bagged in the box, were the plastic bags. Not to mention the mere dozen peanuts or so that composed the protection inside the shipping box. I’d never ship something that way to anyone, I don’t care who or what it is.
Other thing that arrived on our front porch were the promo cards for La Granja that I ordered from the Board Game Geek store. I have no doubt in my mind that this was a completely frivolous way to spend six bucks, but oh well, now I have more cards.
The Eric Booth is back this week, and he’s back talking something big, something ominous and something very, very, very Ameritrashy. He’s tackling something that I’ll probably never get the chance to play outside of a convention or something like that as this is something that I doubt anyone in my family would play, and it seems far to Warhammer-y and has too many dice. Nah, I know there is a couple folks in my game group that would love this game I’m sure of it. So here with his review of Fantasy Flight Games’ Forbidden Stars is Eric Booth.
Eric's review of Forbidden Stars can be heard at the 56:51 point in the podcast!
Spiel Wish List I know I promised a lot more games on the Spiel Preview this week, but I think due to the length of the episode so far, we’re just going to do another handful here and I’ll do a much bigger one next week when I have less content to distract you and it’s closer to Spiel time!
Grand Austria Hotel
Another of the roll dice and assign them to action spaces game, this one is more like La Granja in that you are taking them away from the space and however many are on that action initially is how many times that action can be taken in a round. I love that mechanic. Grand Austria Hotel is listed as an Area Control/Area Influence game with some set collection and it looks like it’s going to fall into that Mid to Mid-Heavy Euro distinction. It’s got artwork from the fantastic Klemenz Franz so it instantly jumps out at you. The 60-120 minute play time worries me a little bit, but if that 60 minutes is at the two player count then it’ll be a-ok by me if it packs enough punch in there. Four player at 120 minutes worries me a little more simply because I don’t get many chances to put a game out on the table that’s going to take two hours to play.
Fog of Love
Fog of Love from designer Jacob Jaskov was pointed out to me by a friend over on Twitter, but it wasn’t until I read a bit more about it on the Spiel Geeklist that I really fell for this one, I fell for it enough that I instantly sent a geekmail to Jacob asking for the newest rule book and wondering if I could do him the huge favor of previewing the game for him ahead of their Kickstarter campaign which is tentatively scheduled for the beginning of 2016. Fog of Love is a card game for two players who act out a stormy love affair. You play from the very first sparks of attraction through in-law encounters, awkward situations, arguments, parties, thoughtful gifts, secret affairs, kids and reconciliations to a hopeful happy ending. The variability in the game comes from the fact that each player has a character that can be made up from different personality traits that influence what they desire and what they want to avoid. Oh, and did I mention there is a bluffing aspect to this all? I’m not sure how it works or what it does yet, but I am really interested to find out. Over the past six months since the last rule book was published, he’s been working on streamlining the game and making it a bit easier to play so Jacob is still working on it and fine tuning it. If anyone gets to stop by and try this one out let me know what you think, and tell Jacob I said hello.
As an addendum, the question was raised on how the game would play with two players of the same sex, and this is from Jacob, “There is no problem in playing the game with two people of the same sex. Actually most of our test plays have been with this constellation. Nobody has experienced the least amount of awkwardness (believe me, I've asked. Just to be sure). The game simulates a love story / romantic comedy. But you are not yourself - as players - in any way involved in the drama. No more than you for real are evil traitors, cylon, mafiosi, spies, knights of the round table, etc when playing other kinds of socially interactive games.”
Now we are venturing into the more family gaming area, and this one leads the way if only because it’s from the fantastic Kiesling & Kramer and it is being produced under the new Haba Family Gaming line of games, it doesn’t even have a yellow box! From the box: Rich cities, vast forests, and rugged mountain ranges dominate the country — but dangers lurk in the foggy areas around the river, and only the bravest adventurers dare to face the challenges. When you move your adventurer tactically and bravely fight the fog creatures in Adventure Land, you'll win the favor of the king! Sounds almost like a more family friendly Legends of Andor possibly? English rules are up and I will mention more about this one as I have a chance to read them. But this along with Spookies really make me happy, I love seeing Haba grow like this, especially if this all comes to us in the United States through Haba USA.
Alright, I have absolutely no business putting this on my list, the heaviest thing I’ve done with a train game is move Railways of the World around a bit and then I set up Steam one time, they just don’t get much interest here. But with GMT Games giving us 1846 through their P500 system and now Mayfair games releasing this pair, I think I want to take the plunge and find a group and learn these Train Game/Stock games.
Last one I’m going to mention tonight is Shakespeare from Ystari Games and designer Herve Rigal. Rahdo has recently done a run through of this one and I was completely sucked into it. It really looks like it will hit on a lot of points that I love in games, the auction/bidding mechanic, action point allowance, some card drafting and even tile placement. All of that within a rich thematic theater theme. It looks beautiful, I love the artwork that was shown on both the video and on board game geek. There is a huge overview of the game over on BGG as well on the game’s page so make sure to check it out. This one probably wouldn’t be enough to make me hop a plan to Spiel to pick it up immediately, but it’s definitely on the short short list of games that I probably would pre-order as soon as I saw it pop up on one of our Online Game Stores.
Alright, there’s five more titles to look for at Spiel this year. I will hit you all with a bunch more next week, I may not cover the entirety of the geeklist that I put together over on board game geek on the podcast, but I will take a big chunk out of it for sure, so look for that!
Geeklist and Thread You guys knocked it out of the park this week on the geeklist and thread, this morning I went through and re-read everything just to catch up on the stuff that I missed this week and I tell you what, I wanted another page of entries. To tell you how epic the geeklist was, we started the geeklist with Forge War and we ended it with some Eclipse! In between those we had lots of outstanding game plays and some outstanding game reports, so do yourself a favor, if you haven’t been reading the geeklist weekly, hop in there and do so. And while you’re at it, tell us what you’ve been playing. The thread keeps delivering just as well as the Geeklist, we had some fantastic games and write ups in there as well, even a sighting of someone playing Tinner’s Trail that isn’t affiliated with Heavy Cardboard that I know of.
Now, the moment everyone is waiting on, the final clue for the Codenames giveaway. First and foremost let’s just mention that the correct words last week for the clue, Outfit:3 were, Shoe, Pants and Square. Only one person got Square so only one person got the full 4 entries this week, but everyone else got the 3 entries because they correctly guessed Shoe and Pants. For this final week, I wish I could stretch it, but I can’t find a clue that is going to lead us to all four of the words left, so what I’m going to do is this, I’m going to give a clue and associate it with 2 words, but I’m going to tell you that you can stretch it and maybe find a third, that third will just be another bonus if you guess it, how about that. So for this week our clue, brought to us by the awesome Steph Hodge is Fantasy: 2. Send me your responses via email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you entered in and next week on the podcast we’ll be announcing our winner!!