The Re-Review: Dice and Cubes

Lords of Waterdeep

Lords of Waterdeep

  • 1 play with 3 players
  • Played before

I enjoy worker placement games and I have a good number of them. In general, none of them are revolutionary or groundbreaking. Instead they just have slight changes from one to another. Lords of Waterdeep is definitely an iterative design and nothing here is mind blowing, but it is very smooth and well designed. The rules make sense and the game is easy to teach. In fact, you’d be able to teach this to almost anyone who’s willing to pay attention to you for a few minutes

In this game, we played with the Scoundrels of Skullport expansion and I ended up with quite a few corruption, but ended up with a large enough score to out do the other players.

Waterdeep is one of those games that I never really think about when deciding to play a game, but I almost always enjoy my play of it.

Recommended.

Between Two Cities

Between Two Cities

  • 1 play with 6 players, and 1 play with 4 players
  • Played before

This game keeps showing up at the weekly meetup and I’m cool with that. I enjoy the balance of having to work with your two neighbors on your cities and trying to score well in both, but equally as well. Additionally, I love having another filler game that plays in under 20 minutes and can play 7 players.

Recommended.

Roll for the Galaxy

Roll for the Galaxy

  • 1 play with 2 players
  • Played before

In this particular game of Roll, I managed to find a synergy with using and getting red (military) dice that gave me a win. There’s something about this game that makes me want to play again and again, and that’s the combination of rolling lots of dice and then having to make meaningful decisions using those dice.

I’m looking forward to trying the expansion, but I’m also a little worried about the component issues I’ve heard about. I’ll end up getting it anyways.

Highly recommended.

Pandemic: The Cure

Pandemic: The Cure

  • 2 plays with 2 players
  • Played before

After playing one dice game (Roll for the Galaxy) my wife and I decided to play another, cooperative, dice game, so we played Pandemic: The Cure. And lost. Twice. However, both times it felt like we were a few rolls away from doing really well and that’s what Pandemic is all about. If you’re looking for the feel of Pandemic without all the shuffling (and you’re not playing Pandemic Legacy like we all should be) then I’d give Pandemic: The Cure a shot.

Recommended for fans of dice and cooperative games.

Blood Rage

Blood Rage

  • 1 play with 3 players
  • New to me

I had tried to play Blood Rage once before, but called it because of some botched rules after the first age. So, I was pretty excited when a friend of mine was coming in from out of town to play some games, so another friend of mine came over and I setup Blood Rage.

I’d love to give a play-by-play, but my memory is terrible, however I’ll try to give a general gist of how I played. I managed to draft the clan upgrade that allows you to play a warrior for free whenever you place another figure in a region. Later, I got the warrior upgrade that makes a pair of them worth 3 strength, so I had that synergy. In addition, I also had the clan upgrade that gave me points for figures released from Valhalla, so dying was no longer a big concern. I combined that with the quest to have a certain number of figures in Valhalla to pull out the win.

I love games with asymmetry, whether that’s built-in from the start with games like Chaos in the Old World or whether it’s earned over the course of the game like in Kemet or Blood Rage. The added wrinkle of drafting those differences and trying to create interesting combinations was a lot of fun, and I’m surprised no one had tried it before.

I’m happy I backed this one on Kickstarter and I look forward to playing it a lot more in the future.

Highly recommended if you enjoy confrontational games.

A Game of Thrones: The Card Game (Second Edition)

A Game of Thrones: The Card Game (Second Edition)

  • 1 play with 3 players
  • New to me

I’m a fan of card games, and I’ve played a lot of Netrunner, but I’m always willing to try a new one. When my friend came to play Blood Rage, he also brought A Game of Thrones: The Card Game (Second Edition) so we tried out a three player game. I really like that the game even supports multiplayer (unlike Netrunner), but three players might not be the best count as the best play in some rounds was to do nothing. In other words, it was really easy to overextend yourself in the three player game. My other issue is likely one of inexperience: it feels really swingy. I’m sure with more plays it wouldn’t feel that way.

I guess I’d be happy to play more of this game, but it would be third on the list after 1) Netrunner and 2) Warhammer 40,000: Conquest.

Recommended to fans of LCGs looking to get in on the ground floor.

Kingdom Builder

Kingdom Builder

  • 1 play with 4 players
  • Played before

Kingdom Builder is a fine game. Really, it is, but I never want to play again immediately and it’s never that memorable. It’s a lot more about internal satisfaction with being really efficient rather than having fun. I guess that is fun for some people, and I do enjoy some efficiency puzzles, but less and less with time.

Still, it’s a game I’ll play from time-to-time and I won’t make a big stink over it. It’s just not a game I’ll ever request.

Not recommended.

Discoveries

Discoveries

  • 1 play with 3 players
  • New to me

Man, this game felt like it’s big brother Lewis & Clark, and for me that’s not good. Instead of a fun game spent moving quickly across the vast wilderness of the Louisiana Purchase, you are constantly going over your surprisingly limited options in your head, making a decision, and then realizing why that decision is a bad one.

It’s mechanics and the amount of fun I had while playing make me think this game should last an hour or so. However, the game lasted almost two hours for three players (we started with four and one left mid-game), and that’s just far too long for what it is.

This one quickly ended up in my recent auction.

Not recommended.

Burgle Bros

Burgle Bros

  • 2 plays with 2 players
  • New to me

I really enjoy stories, movies, and books about heists and figured a game would be interesting as well, and a cooperative one that channels Ocean’s Eleven really started checking all of the boxes. I was originally a backer on the Kickstarter project for Burgle Bros, but pulled out for some reason. Later I decided to buy it and got it directly from Fowler Games.

In Burgle Bros you start on the ground floor of a three level building and your goal is to find and crack the three safes, one per floor, and then escape to the roof. You’ll do this by spending actions to peak at neighboring tiles, move around (potentially blindly), and crack the safe. Every player has some special ability or talent that helps them do something better than the other players.

Meanwhile, each floor has a guard and they get progressively faster from floor to floor. If any one player is caught four times, game over. The guards move around according to a shuffled deck of cards, so their patterns are somewhat predictable, but if you trip an alarm, they make a bee line for that tile.

My favorite part of the game are the loot cards. After you crack a safe you receive one tool and one loot card. You must have three loot cards to win, otherwise it’s a loss. However, each loot card has a minor negative effect that’s usually pretty funny. Pick up the bust and you can’t use tools since you’re carrying this large statue. Steal the Persian kitty and it starts wandering close to the rooms that have alarms. Acquire the tiara and guards can see you from neighboring tiles.

Most cooperative games have a shelf life due to the nature of the games. You start winning enough and you’ve mastered it, time to move on. I have no doubts that Burgle Bros suffers from that exact problem, but in the meanwhile I have a beautifully produced game about a heist, something I haven’t seen before.

Recommended.

Orléans

Orleans

  • 1 play with 2 players
  • New to me

I’m going to have a hard time not comparing this to Hyperborea. Both games feature a bag-building mechanic where you’re acquiring cubes or discs and putting them into a bag, “shuffling” the bag, and then drawing a certain number of cubes or discs. Using those cubes or discs, you then take actions depending on the color. In both games, you can leave those cubes or discs on the board between rounds in order to leave them out of the bag and as a way of making it easier to take an action later. The biggest difference is that you have to purposefully reset in Hyperborea and you just take the discs from used actions in Orléans.

So, what’s my take on Orléans? Well, I think it’s the better game. Here’s why it’s better:

  • More fluid, faster game
  • Better art, though I prefer Hyperborea’s theme.
  • Fantastic components
  • Faster setup (though, not by a ton)

Really though, after playing a very long “short game” of Hyperborea last night, the play length is probably the thing that most appeals to me. Now, I do enjoy long games, but my patience for overly long games is running very thin lately. I don’t get to play games as much as I’d like and wasting time on a game that feels like it should be over faster is a cardinal sin in my book. Orléans really does feel like it moves quicker and with more interesting decisions and less analysis paralysis.

This makes it sound like play length is everything, but it’s not. Orléans is a fantastic game in it’s own right. It takes what made deck building games interesting and removed the cards without adding too many more mechanics. The theme—medieval life—is overdone, but I’m okay with it considering how well it’s drawn thanks to Klemens Franz.

Out of all of the new euro games I’ve played recently, this has been one of the best.

Highly recommended.

Cthulhu Wars

Cthulhu Wars

  • 1 play with 4 players
  • New to me

I’m always on the lookout for hybrid euro-ameritrash games. I’ve generally found that they scratch my particular itch of wanting theme married with good mechanics. On the other hand, the Cthulhu Mythos does absolutely nothing for me. I’ve tried Arkham Horror, Eldritch Horror, and Elder Sign before and the mechanics were never enough for me to keep playing. When Cthulhu Wars came around people kept talking about Chaos in the Old World whenever they’d mention it, and the designer—Sandy Petersen—claimed that Chaos was influential in it’s design. Well, Chaos in the Old World is one of my favorite games, so I was interested and decided to pick it up.

In my first (and only game so far), we had four players. I was The Black Goat, the fertility cult that reproduces very quickly. My game was different than everyone else’s: turtling at first, getting more power gradually, and using my Great Old One to provide discounts later in order to get points through elder signs and rituals of annihilation.

On the one hand, I had a good game and won. On the other hand, I was expecting a game with a lot of combat and dice rolling, but I managed to stay almost entirely out of combat and did very well as a result of it. I enjoy games that promote various strategies, but I would have liked to see combat bring more advantages to the winner.

Oh, and the miniatures are nuts and the board is beautiful, but most of the other components feel junky for a $200 MSRP game.

Tentatively recommended. Needs more plays.

Hyperborea

Hyperborea

  • 1 play with 4 players
  • Played before

I’ve only played Hyperborea once before, but I think I’ve seen everything the game has to offer at this point. Like Orléans, you’re drawing something from a bag that allows you to take certain actions. You use those actions to develop your civilization, obtain more cubes of certain colors, move around the map, and attack others. All of this sounds great, but the game simply felt too long for what it is, especially when you compare it to Orléans which did not overstay it’s welcome.

This one is going to the trade pile for good.

Not recommended.

No Thanks!

No Thanks!

  • 1 play with 5 players, 1 play with 4 players
  • New to me

Oh fillers, I really just need to find a few and stick with them instead of always looking for the best filler that gives me the same feeling as playing an 1+ hour game. No Thanks! does what it’s supposed to very well. Your goal is to have the fewest points at the end of the game. You have a deck of 33 cards numbered 3 through 33 and each player is given 11 chips (all worth -1 point). One card is dealt at a time and you can either take it (getting points, bad) or you can put a chip on it (losing a negative point). When you take a card, you also take all of the chips and there are points where you may have to take a card you otherwise might not want to. However, if you have a straight (e.g. 34 and 35) then you only count the lowest of the cards for points.

We played twice and I lost both times, coming somewhere near last place, but I really enjoyed the decisions you have to make and the risk you run in letting a card you want go around the table to gain more chips.

Recommended.