The February Retrospective (Brandon Kempf)
The calendar page turns to another month and we are moving into March already. February saw a bit of a slow down in gaming, but we had some wonderful games hitting the table all month long. 44 plays of 23 different games with 12 of them being new to me. We hit our 100th play of the year back on February 19th and then struggled the rest of the month to find time to play, which happens from time to time around here just due to everything that is going on with kids and with adults. Looking to have it pick back up next month, but we'll see. We didn't have any game play dimes this month, but we had two games hit half a dozen plays and both should see plenty more plays as the year moves on.
While I did fail on getting Battle of the Five Armies to the table, I did manage to knock one albatross off my neck, that being the wonderful Mexica from Michael Kiesling & Wolfgang Kramer. I had picked this one up at Gen Con in 2016 from a trade. I enjoyed Tikal so I figured we'd move through the Mask Trilogy and you can see how fast I did that. We played Mexica with 2 players, so this wasn't the ideal player count, but it was fun, and I am glad to own it and I want to play it more now with the more ideal player counts of 3 or 4 players. Plus, now I see that Super Meeple is re-releasing Java, so now maybe I'll get to own that one as well in the old box to complete the Trilogy.
Stinker of the month is an old title that just continues to fall flat, even after three and a half years between plays, I remember why I stopped enjoying Lords of Waterdeep. I will admit that we had 5 players and we foolishly added all the content from the 2 expansion modules into the game so that just always makes it longer, but the longer it went on, the more I realized, there is no pay off for me here. It's the most basic of worker placement games, put a worker somewhere, gain said benefit. The game bogs down with the Intrigue Cards and then the additional action that whoever uses that spot gets to use at the end of the round. Add on top of that the Corruption track just being a pain, especially when playing against the Lord that turns Corruption into points, it just doesn't feel like the effort is worth it anymore. My Lord was absolutely worthless. The sheer volume of quests made sure that the quests I needed never came out, or when they did someone else was in line before me and buildings we saw one building of my kind. I managed to score 12 points somehow, and that felt like I worked my ass off to get to. Just not worth it.
Winners of the month, two stood out above the rest. Well, I shouldn't say that because Azul & Parade continued to be fantastic games and had fantastic showings when they hit the table. New game wise though, Heaven & Ale and Dice Throne stood out above the rest. Heaven & Ale is a wonderful mixture of so many things I like. It's tile placement, it has that rondel mechanism like Glen More where you move along a track taking what you land on, but never can go backwards and it has an absolutely unique market, at least unique to me. The scoring at the end with you moving your resources along a track until they meet and that being your scoring to be multiplied by your Brewmaster level is such a nice little brain melt. You have to plan that out so carefully to pull it off. You have to know when to activate your tiles at their most effective, but also, be aware, that others will race you for those activation spots, just absolutely brilliant game design. Bad thing is, in 6 plays this month, I've not managed to get a 4 player game of it, only played at 2 and 3 players. So, no review of Heaven & Ale just yet, but if you want to see where it falls on my Top 25 of 2017 list here is the link. Dice Throne I have already reviewed and it was a breath of fresh air, an actual dice chucking combat game that I enjoy and most of all, my kids enjoy.
A late addition to the games played in February has been The Mind. Which if you look at will remind you of the wonderfully titled and easy to search for The Game. Much like it's predecessor you are trying to put cards in order from low to high, but in this one there is no audible communication allowed, you have to communicate telepathically and hope that your partners pick up the signals. Completely ridiculous, but absolutely fun, if a bit aggravating. This needs to come out here in the US, if just to hear all of the folks get irritated about how it's not a real game.
We managed to play 1 game of Charterstone with a full group of 6 early in February and we haven't been able to successfully get everyone back together since due to people moving and ice storms, and then Pandemic Legacy Season 2 met the same fate with cancellations and just planning issues. We hope to get back on the horse for those two very soon.
Incoming for the month of March? I'm hoping to get back to reviewing more regularly on the written side, but that requires the folks at the table with me to willingly participate. We've got Decrypto, Clank! The Mummy's Curse, Sabordage and Sakura(which was played this month once with only two players, so I am withholding judgement, but 2 players was not good). Plus some other smaller games as well like 10 Minute Heist & Lucidity and maybe, just maybe a couple surprises that I am working on as well. So, we're going to try to keep busy and keep on playing all the games.