The Re-Review: With a Bias Towards Dice

Quantum

Quantum

  • 1 play with 3 players
  • Played before

Every time I play Quantum, I’m reminded of why I’ve purchased this one twice and I sold myself for having sold it at any point. Quantum takes a normally long and unwieldy genre—4x (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate)—and compresses it down into a simple to teach, simple to learn, and hard to master game. I love a lot of the clever bits:

  • Your dice are your ships
  • The lower the number of pips on the ship, the slower and more damaging it is, because
  • The lower roll in combat wins, and
  • Aggression is rewarded because losses with attacks don’t harm you

This combines to make a great game of attacking each other while simultaneously figuring out how to surround a planet with the right ships in order to place one of your Quantum cubes (placing all of your cubes is the victory condition).

If you haven’t tried this game, I recommend giving it a shot on Board Game Arena, it’s definitely a sleeper hit from recent years.

Castles of Mad King Ludwig

Castles of Mad King Ludwig

  • 1 play with 3 players
  • Played before

Suburbia has ended up on my trade/sell pile due to Castles of Mad King Ludwig and I’m not even the littlest bit upset about it (I managed to cancel my Suburbia 5★ pre-order in time). It removes a lot of what made Suburbia slow and tedious—managing your income and reputation, reconciling your tiles with other boroughs—and added in one of my favorite mechanics: “I cut, you choose” when you’re determining how much different rooms cost as the master builder.

It’s also a lot more fun to look back on your castle at the end of the game than it ever was to look at your washed out city of conformity. There’s just a lot more flavor here and I think I’d rather play this over Suburbia just about every time.

Red7

Red7

  • 1 play with 3 players
  • Played before

This play was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and I won. The dealer—my friend who owns the game—dealt us all our cards and we started with the person to his right. Play comes to him and he has no cards that he can play, so he’s out immediately. The rest of the game played out with the person who could play the fewest cards winning and that was largely determined by the shuffle. In essence, it feels like the game plays itself. If I wanted that, I’d just watch a computer run a simulation.

Straight to the sell pile.

Port Royal

Port Royal

  • 1 play with 2 players
  • Played before

I had high hopes when I bought Port Royal. I didn’t have many (if any?) push-your-luck games and I adore pirate themes. Yet, the first time I brought this out, I wasn’t enamored. With five players, this filler took 45 minutes or so, and that was about 15-20 minutes too long.

I was glad that I got the opportunity to try it out again, and this time with fewer players. It was a surprisingly good game with two. There was the knowledge that you could only earn 1 coin off of your opponent on your turn, so you weren’t too worried about drawing enough cards to get cash from them. In addition, taxes had a far greater chance of providing you with a coin since there’s only two players to compare. Last, you have a lot more options for expeditions since the same number seem to come out and, again, there’s not a ton of competition over them.

I doubt that two players is the sweet spot here, but I’m happy to see that I enjoyed this game despite my early misgivings. This is a keeper for now.

Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn

Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn

  • 2 plays with 2 players
  • New to me

Oh good, another two player semi-collectable card game. I didn’t have enough of these. I enjoy this genre, I truly do, but I worry about the amount of time I have to play these games since I play two player games with my wife (who’s not a huge fan of confrontation) or with my Netrunner buddies (who’d rather be playing Netrunner). Still, I had been hearing a lot of good things about Ashes and I’m a sucker for good production values, so I pre-ordered it and it showed up before Gen Con (kudos to Plaid Hat Games!).

I’ve only played two games so far, but what I’ve seen I really like. I’ve seen all six base decks played and I’ve personally played two of them: Saria Guideman and Coal Roarkwin. Both played so drastically different, that after playing Saria’s deck pretty well, I fell flat on my face with Coal. That’s a huge compliment in my book: that two decks in the same game play that differently in the core set is excellent design and good indication of what’s to come: variety.

If there’s anything that I don’t like it’s the graphic design. Now, I love the art, and the graphic design is clear, but every card is mostly white and after a while they all seem so similar. Coming from Netrunner where there are factions who have their own colors it felt so strange to see every card be the same color. Now, Ashes does not have factions, so I get it, but still some color would have been nice.

Still, I enjoyed my plays and I’m keeping the game for the time being.

Five Tribes

Five Tribes

This is a game I still really enjoy and it keeps getting better and better. I really enjoy being able to try different tactics and strategies from game to game and that they all work to some degree, there’s no one winning strategy.

In this game I went for djinn, a few sets of good cards, and viziers, and also managed to get quite a few palaces on my tiles. Utug let me claim a few tiles with meeples on them and I managed to claim a lot of tiles that get palm trees or palaces, making it hard for my wife to move around without also giving me points.

Forbidden Stars

Forbidden Stars

  • 1 play with 4 players
  • New to me

I’m not going to rate this game for now, because I had a terrible first experience with it, losing most combats, turtling in a game where I shouldn’t turtle, getting rules wrong. Pretty much if it could have gone wrong, it did.

However, I see a lot to like here for me: asymmetric player powers, upgradable powers in and out of combat, a fun theme, and spaceships. I’m going to play this game and I’m cautiously optimistic, but if my second experience doesn’t play out much better, this game will be traded or sold.

Sheriff of Nottingham

Sheriff of Nottingham

  • 1 play with 5 players
  • Played before

There’s nothing quite like lying to your friends and while I wasn’t the biggest liar, I may have been the best in this one. Normally I tend for a very conservative strategy and rely on making money through truth, but in this game I did a lot of straight faced lying as I asked the sheriff to pay me before they opened the bag, even though I had a few contraband in there.

I wish I got this game to the table more, but you can have a pretty terrible experience if you have the wrong group. Don’t have the wrong group and pick this one up.

Caverna

Caverna

When playing Caverna I often go for a Beer Parlor strategy that enables me to turn wheat into a lot of food in the early parts of the game, and points later. This time I tried to do something different, going for a heavy sheep strategy and while it worked, I didn’t win, nor was this my highest scoring game (63-62 was the final score, and I have a previous recorded high score of 81).

I really do appreciate that I can sit down to a game of Caverna and pick a new strategy. I get to see how it works and how it compares to my previous strategy. In addition, Shannon and I play fast enough to knock out a game in 45 minutes to an hour.