New to us games – Summer 2018

Thanks to a lot of travel and a new health protocol, our updating has fallen a bit. But to make that up to you, here’s a supersized edition of the new to us games!

New to Us Board Games:

  • Too Many Bones – A friend picked this up for us at Gen Con, and we’ve already become obsessed. It distills what I consider to be the best parts of a campaign dungeon crawl – the tech tree, leveling up between scenarios, dice chucking (with mitigation) – into a session that can be played in one sitting. We immediately ordered Undertow and the extra gearloks.
  • Detective: a Modern Crime Board Game – I love a detective game, and this feels like the mother of all detective games. We have played only two of the cases so far, but I am praying the game remains as entertaining through the other three.
  • Dropmix – More of a toy than a game, we picked up Hasbro’s Dropmix (aka DJ Hero) at the Toys R Us closeout, and have had a blast custom mixing tunes.
  • Villainous – If you love Disney and don’t mind games more dependent on luck than strategic depth, you will love this game. I have only played half of the villains, but I really hope there will be more!
  • Argent the Consortium – This wizard-school-themed worker placement game featured 2 worker tracks (including the ominously-named Shadow track) and an interesting mix of engine building and prioritization. The owner had us play with the orange technocracy expansion, and now I can’t picture playing any other way.
  • Glass Road – Our first introduction to an Uwe Rosenberg rondel game in which you convert resources into other resources to build buildings and earn points, which plays in half the time as other Rosenberg games we’ve played (Agricola and Caverna).
  • Hanamikoji – This 2-player Japanese set collection game is as beautiful (you are collecting geishas!) as it is elegant. I am curious how many times it can be replayed before feeling old (looking at you, Jaipur).
  • Forbidden Sky – The third in the Forbidden series, and the first that didn’t make me just wish I was playing Pandemic. The circuit might feel like an excessive toy, but it surprisingly added to the experience.
  • SEAL Team Flix – I still don’t love the modern combat theme, and we will likely never get to playing it as a campaign, but we wanted a coop dexterity game with some strategic depth, and this fits that bill nicely.
  • Coffee Roaster – We picked up this solo bag building game while we were in Tokyo, and while I’ve only played it a few times, it was fun, hard, and offers lots of variability in a small box. I can see why it has a lot of fans online.
  • Caverna – I expected this to feel like a less stressful Agricola, and instead it was a giant sandbox of options which felt completely different from its predecessors. It’s possible on replays that I’ll eventually feel it’s not worth owning both, but time will tell.
  • Viticulture Essential Edition – We finally got this worker placement to the table (we played with the board from Tuscany Essential Edition) and although it was lighter than the worker placement games I am used to, I really enjoyed the use of the cards for adding variability throughout the game.
  • Deadline – On its surface, this is merely a random draw set collection coop game. However, you are completing sets to interview suspects involved in a noir crime, and the narrative aspect makes this game interesting to play. As a bonus, for someone who has been couch-bound a lot recently due to an illness, it can be played on a couch.
  • The Big Book of Madness – Our second wizard-school themed game, this time a deckbuilding coop, let’s you try to collect sets to defeat the big bads. There’s some interesting choices in defeating monsters versus pursuing upgraded spells and resources, but it’s rather forgettable to me.
  • Kingdom Builder – This was a nice end of night brain dead tile layer. I look forward to trying some of the expansions.
  • Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle – Our third wizard-school themed game, we started this campaign with a friend who is not much of a gamer but is a giant Harry Potter fan. We are only through the third game, and so far it plays mostly on rails, but the theme is nice and we hope as we progress the game will start to offer some interesting choices.
  • Isle of Skye – Another nice short tile layer, this time coupled with an auction mechanic. We played it at a (non-game) party when we had some downtime, and it worked well in that situation.
  • Citadels – We learned this is a large multiplayer tableau builder but so far we have only played it with 2 players, which it was pretty obviously not meant for. I would be interested in trying it again, but it seems unlikely since Adam didn’t like it and I don’t know anyone who owns it.
  • La Granja: No Siesta – We were itching to play a roll-and-write in anticipation of the new unreleased ones, and I’m not sure we have played any we dislike (yes, even Yahtzee). The choices were interesting, although the theme was a bit forgettable.
  • Ascension: the Deckbuilding Game – We are always looking for multiplayer board game apps to play with our brothers who live several time zones away. This is an old deckbuilding game, and it shows it’s age with the art and the basic mechanics, but it’s passable for when we want to play a deckbuilder.
  • The Mind – Less a game and more of a social experiment, The Mind was worth the experience, but likely too anxiety-inducing to prompt much replay.
  • Star Wars Destiny – 2-player fighting games just aren’t my cup of tea, and neither the dice nor the Star Wars theme changed my opinion.
  • Tokyo Highway – Another game we picked up in Tokyo, and we wanted to like this dexterity game in which you place pedestals and sticks to build a complicated highway, but it only plays with 2, which means we would never really play it beyond the one time. I look forward to when the full 4 person version comes out later…which I assume will happen at some point.
  • Saint Petersburg – Someone showed us this game at Dice Tower Con when I was feeling brain dead. It’s a rather simple and old-feeling engine builder, but serviceable enough.
  • The Adventurers: Pyramid of Horus – I have heard people lamenting that Fantasy Flight let the Adventurer games go out of print, so we tried out this one. It’s pretty much exactly what you would think if someone said “roll-and-move press-your-luck.” I don’t know if the others are better, but needless to say, I don’t think it was a mistake to let them go out of print.

New to Us Expansions and Rethemes:

  • TIME Stories: Brotherhood of the Coast – Probably my favorite expansion so far. I liked the sailing mechanic and ally additions and interesting moral dilemmas, and just being able to be pirates (instead of masquerading as a pirate game, but instead being about something else).
  • Orleans Invasion – This expansion comes with several modules, of which we have only played the Invasion scenario, which turns the regular Orleans bag-builder into a cooperative game. It still felt a lot like Orleans (which we loved), and we like playing coop games, so while it’s not the best coop game, I see us playing it a lot.
  • Unlock! A Noside Story – We played this cartoon-themed escape room game with Adam’s 10 year old sister, and she loved it. While Unlock! is probably our third favorite tabletop escape room series (after Exit and Escape Room: The Game), this was one of our most successful experiences. It helped that Adam’s sister loved looking for all the hidden numbers, which we normally hate.
  • Mask of Moai – The last of the games we picked up in Tokyo, this VR coop game is essentially the same as its sister game, Mask of Anubis, with hexagons instead of square tiles, a more ridiculous headset cover, and molding clay mechanic we immediately ditched. I recommend playing this style of game, in which players take turns looking at VR scenes and recreating a maze. But for the price, stick with the Hasbro-produced (and thus readily available) Mask of Anubis.

I also tried out several of the new graphic novels published by Van Ryder Games, although it didn’t seem right to include them in the board game category.

  • Captive – My favorite of the adventures I have played. I didn’t love the thematic direction, but it was both the easiest to fail and had the most strategic choices. If you don’t like having to start over, stay away from this one.
  • Tears of a Goddess – The second most appealing theme (an assassin) but a relatively easy RPG.
  • Sherlock Holmes: Four Investigations – The best thematically for me, and I enjoyed solving mysteries rather than playing an RPG, but also the most predictable and easiest, and thus the most boring.

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