Monday, March 31, 2014

Quick Reviews 1st Quarter 2014

It has been too long since I’ve had a chance to do some quick reviews, I missed a quarterly write-up opportunity in December as I was consumed with launching Games Precipice, a blog Matt and I have been writing about game design.

Back in December, Matt was in town and I finally had the opportunity over the holidays to play several games I’d had on the shelf. As in the past, games are ordered from most anticipated to least anticipated.
I’ve been able to play Compounded several times since I received my Kickstarter copy. I’m still not sure of my eventual rating as this could be anywhere from a 7 to a 9.

The trading is a great aspect but the game has had consecutive turns of stagnation each time I’ve played. The theme is present and well implemented but I still don’t know if the fun factor has clicked for me yet.

Compounded Verdict: 7.5 out of 10
Speculation was one of my favorites for 2013. It played a bit long for what was going on but with the right group this was a highly enjoyable stock market game.

For much of the game we were selling our winners and holding on to our losers in the hopes of an investment turnaround but the efficiency of the market is thematic as players can affect a small portion of the movement and react to the movements of the group. I can’t see myself playing it more than two or three times a year due to the length but it certainly earned a spot on the shelf.

Speculation Verdict: 8.5 out of 10

Coup is one of a few games that outperformed my high expectations. I’ve played this game more than any others on this list and while it takes some adjusting for new players, nearly everyone has enjoyed it after getting the hang of it. It does everything I enjoyed most about Poker in a shorter time frame. I have very few reservations about this one, highly recommended!

Coup Verdict: 9 out of 10
Matt taught me 7 Wonders one during our December afternoon of board games and I was very impressed. I really enjoyed the flow of the game and the player interaction was neat with 3 players.

New players will likely need a game to feel this one out and have a chance to see the different cards in action. After that first game it is smooth sailing.

7 Wonders Verdict: 8.5 out of 10
I received Bora Bora in a math trade during March. It was troublesome to learn as it is really a grouping of 7 or 8 interrelated sub-games but it works extremely well. I’d heard good things but I didn’t anticipate being as impressed as I am with it. 

Very interesting game and I look forward to trying new strategies in the future as I’ve only scratched the surface.

Bora Bora Verdict: 10 out of 10

Alhambra: the Card Game was a bonus with my Kickstarter support of Speculation. I enjoyed it for simple card game it is, but it has unfortunately not aged well over the last two decades and I can’t see myself wanting to play it very often in the future.

Alhambra: the Card Game Verdict: 4 out of 10

Qin was one of the biggest surprises to me over the last six months. It has the simple tile placement from Carcassonne although players have a hand of three tiles to use. 

Qin reminds me a lot of Acquire with how you can absorb your opponent’s areas. I didn’t think there was much depth here initially but the strategy is deceptively good, players can block each other effectively, there is strong player interaction without the cutthroat attitude and the luck factor with tiles is rarely the deciding factor.

Qin Verdict: 7 out of 10

I found Livingstone at a discount retailer in March for $5 and I thought as a worst case I could use it for components. I was very impressed; it has a number of interconnected mechanics that are suitable for a solid gateway game. I really enjoyed the inflation pricing that occurs over the course of the game, money is scarce and you need to monitor your spending.

The mechanic that adds the final element of tension is where players use treasure chests to donate money back to the Queen, and the lowest donor is eliminated at the end of the game. I’ve had all kinds of wacky results and both won and lost because either I donated to little or the leading scorer did. In many ways it does what Cleopatra & the Society of the Architects does, but in a shorter time frame and a better use of the elimination mechanic. I traded Cleopatra via the math trade for Bora Bora above.

Livingstone Verdict: 7 out of 10

Robot Master hardly stood much of a chance, it is entirely made up of what I don’t enjoy in games. I found it to be a brain burning puzzle that requires so much planning ahead that it is decided about 70% of the way through. The last portion of the game is going through the motions of playing the pieces to finish out the game. I just don’t find this type of game fun.

Robot Master Verdict: 3 out of 10