Thursday, October 13, 2016

Quick Hits: New Games July-Sept

Lots of old games, but new to me.

Peanuts Surprise Slides Games:

Now you would think a themed version of snakes and ladders would be a simple game.  That the game has a small paper of folded up rules enhances this impression.  Oh how wrong you are!  Luckily I had a five year old to teach me.  See, you spin a spinner to get a color result.  Except if you don't get the color you want, you move the spinner to whatever color you would like.  Luckily the five year did all of spinning, so I didn't have to figure out this complex system.  Next you move your piece to some random square of the color.  I'm sorry not random-- there was an intricate chosen system that I just wasn't capable of understanding.  Eventually we moved towards the finish line, ending on the same square for a tie, which I thought was a sweet result.  Way too complicated for me though, I'm going back to Twilight Struggle.

Around the World in 80 Days:

As you may suspect, you are trying to travel around the world in under 80 days. That isn't that difficult, so the question is who can do it in the least amount of time. It was a relatively straightforward action selection/card matching game. The theme was strong despite some weird quirks, like a detective periodically interviewing you for no discernible reason. Most player choices were fairly obvious with the sole tough choice being how fast to travel. Still it had some nice ups and down and a compelling ending, which made for a positive experience.



Place guys and wait for them to die in plagues. It it isn't the happiest theme, but it simple enough to learn. It is okay, though too random and fluid to have much of a strategy. There are special cards you can take that give you special powers, but increase the odds of getting killed when plagues come. My biggest issue of the game was that I found having 0-1 cards to be a boring play experience, but it was the most effective against the rats.


DiceMasters: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

DiceMasters is one of those games that has always tempted me and have almost pulled the trigger on buying it numerous times. I love Marvel and haven't found a game with that IP I've really liked since the Overpower CCG in the mid-nineties. Plus is has deck building and dice, two things of which I tend to be very fond, and it has been generally well received. On the downside, it is a spin-off of Quarriers, one of the few games I passionately despise.

The set I played was of the turtles, the only set that comes in a complete box rather than being collectible. I used a dominate duo of Bebop and Rocksteady to pound my way to victory. Dicemasters, much to my delight, fixed everything that was wrong with quarriers. Too much randomness and a reward the leader mechanic have been replaced with mechanics that allow for comebacks and planning. I throughly enjoyed building a dice pool that worked together and getting it out at the same time. I don't plan on going crazy on Dicemasters as one certainly can, but I have started a collection since then.


Camel UP:

I did a gateway write-up on this, so you can see my thoughts there. In short, an enjoyable an amusing game, but too often there was nothing interesting to do on a turn. Also the blue camel sucks. I played with 7 players though, and think it would have been better with 4-5.



You are climbing a mountain, and then making it back down again. Well you don't actually have to make it back down, just make it to the end of the game without dying. There is a bit of a push your luck element to it, how high and fast do you want to go before turning back. It seemed relatively easy to survive if you were careful, but if you get blocked by other players, your plans may go array. You can vary the difficulty of the mountain and conditions, though this game seems like it would be boring if the course wasn't hard. It did feel a little mechanical, but it captures the difficulty of climbing mountains quickly and getting back down after.


Quartermaster General – Victory or Death

The 4 player, spinoff of Quartermaster. Compared to its predecessor, it had much more interesting player turns. You can now do multiple things-- playing for the present and planning for future. The downside of the game was that all sides felt disconnected, as if everyone was playing their own game. Knowing the cards better might help, but I'm not sure I found it interesting enough to get there.


War of the Ring:

WotR has been one my gaming white whales. I've wanted to play it for years. In part, because I've had a goal of playing the top 100 games on BGG. Mostly though because it is incredibly well regarded epic LOTR game. The problem is that it is difficult to get 4+ hour, two player games to the table.

Now I have played it once, I still find it difficult to rate, as I feel like I've only seen a fraction of the game. I played as the Shadow, destoying the armies of the free people, before the ring could be delivered into Mordor. There were definite aspects I liked, the strong theme, the back and forth nature of both the battles and the ring movement, and the straightforward combat rules. Still though I feel there were large swaths of game play, like the foundations movement that I barely understood. This rating is a tentative 7, but certainly could rise if I ever get to play it again.



Salem was a Kickstarter, whose 4 year delay left many people bitter. I hadn't backed it though, so I could come in with a clean slate. It is a deduction game that is reminiscent of a logic puzzle. You are trying to learn which people are witches. Each turn someone will answer a question about some of their villagers. For example 1 is the same as 5, or 2 and 4 are different. The numbers represent real people, but it never feels especially thematic. The information is slow to be useful, but eventually you will hit a turning point, where you can do a long series of deductions. If you accomplish that slightly faster than the other players, you win. I only played the base game, and is was interesting, but I don't have much desire to play it much more.


Master of Rules:

I was excited to finally play Master of Rules because I had traded for it a while ago, but hadn't yet brought it to the table. I traded a game that was larger and terrible, so the bar Master needed to cross was pretty low. It was a cute game and managed to sail over the bar. Each round consists of each player playing a numbered card and a rule card. If there rule card ends up between true, they get a point. There were some significant turn order and balance issues, but it was kind of neat getting your rule to work while sabotaging someone else. So you think the experience would have been a positive, but unbeknownst to me, there was yet another game stuck in the bag, so I'm no closer to having everything played.