The January Retrospective (Brandon Kempf)
It's the end of the month, so that means it's time to take a look back at what has been played and what stood out and what didn't. Numbers wise, we picked up in January right were December left off. I played 30 different games for a total of 61 plays. Most being 10 plays of The Chameleon which really shouldn't seem that amazing considering you can play those 10 plays in less than an hour, but it's a game that is growing on me and it offers some fun moments and good laughs, usually when someone completely misreads the code to get the wrong word. Sorry Kerensa, Mexico is not overseas. The Chameleon is now approaching that magical 25 play mark faster than a speeding bullet.
I knocked a couple of my albatrosses off my neck, you know, those games that just sit there and taunt you for years until you get them played, but as of yesterday I have now played War of the Ring & New York 1901 which have sat unplayed for entirely too long(2013 for WotR & 2015 for NY1901). I am really excited that both got played, War of the Ring left me wanting to learn it a bit better and dig in a bit and learn the cards and what everything can do, which is a huge time sink, so I don't know how long it's going to remain in the collection, but New York 1901 was good family weight gaming fun and I'll gladly break that out now with the family. I love the architecture theme and that Dutrait artwork.
Let's start with the game that didn't really live up to my expectations, Altiplano. We played Altiplano four times this month, once at 2 player, once at 3 player and twice at 4 player. I can see the game here, and I can see that it may be a bit more strategic than Orleans with the movement rules and such, but ultimately this turns into just another "turn this into this to get this" kind of game for me and it overstays it's welcome, not that Orleans ever played quickly for us, but Altiplano just seems to drag on at times. Couple that with some of the thematic disconnects that are put in there just to get you to do things(seriously, 2 fish equal rock) makes for a game that just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I like that there is an actual discard for the tokens and they don't just automatically go into your bag to be drawn and thus possibly never to be seen, but the difference was not enough to sway me to it. Of the 70-odd games of 2017 that I have played, Altiplano probably just ends up middle of the pack, right now it sits at number 23, but I don't know if it has any staying power at all.
Geekway Mini was a terrific success for Kerensa and I, 400 people just playing and enjoying games, nothing fancy, nothing over the top, just gamers gaming. Kerensa, myself and the kiddos are looking forward to Geekway Prime in May, but knowing that Mini exists and also knowing that Moon City Con exists may help me not go to Prime in the coming years. As the convention gets bigger, I've been having less and less fun and my gaming is going down when attending, which is a huge part of why I go. I do go to meet new people and hang out and talk, but ultimately if I am not playing games at Geekway, I kind of feel like it's a bad investment for me, which is maybe the wrong way to look at it, but I can't help it. But we'll be there in May 2018 with 3600 others, playing games, we'll just wait and see about 2019.
Two games kind of stood out for me this month, one older, one brand spanking new. Kerensa and I both love Palace of Mad King Ludwig. The game is a jumbled mess, by the time the game ends it's a jumbled mess of tiny markers, swans and a rapidly flooding moat, but it plays wonderfully. It offers just enough incentive to be nice to each other, but all the while you know the inevitable is going to happen and your opponents eventually have to start closing off your rooms and you the same. We also played and loved Parade which is just a wonderful little hand management/set collection game with a twist. Oh, it also has that wonderful Alice in Wonderland theme with some beautiful artwork on the cards.
I also started a Pandemic Legacy Season 2 campaign with three friends. I really liked how the game started out, it's definitely a new take on the Pandemic system, at least for me. I don't like that I picked out my character to play and then we kind of decided that mine wasn't the most useful for the first month so I took the 5th available character, but don't worry Lt. Ark will be in sooner than later!
What am I looking forward to in February? Well, on Saturday we will be starting our Charterstone campaign. We've got a full group of six ready to go. I'm hoping that we can tackle two games a night, but we'll see. I don't want to push too much on people right at the start. I'm also toying around with seeing if I can get the participants to kind of do a "Journal" for their charters, but we'll see what happens. If we do, we'll be posting those on this site, but I will make sure to note the spoilers. Also looking forward to Decrypto. I interviewed the designer and the publisher for that one and that interview should be up on the site towards the end of February and the review will soon follow. Two games arriving hopefully will be played this month as well, Heaven & Ale and Dice Throne. The later is kind of something I want to see if Gabby has any interest in learning and playing. It's been awhile since we've had a good two player game strike any kind of fire under her butt, and Heaven & Ale is about beer, from Kiesling, enough said.