What Did We Play This Week — 9/1/17

Who can believe it’s already September? It’s the best month of the year (*cough* my birthday month *cough*), the weather is cooling off, and it’s a great time to play board games! We got a lot in this week, so continue below to see What We’ve Been Playing!

8/25/17 — It’s Friday and we’re ready to game it up with the Janesville Pegheads! We’re so close to playing all the games we obtained at Gen Con, so we started the meetup off with a newbie, Century – Golem Edition. In this game, players are trying to obtain gems to build golems; the player with the most gems’ worth of golems at the end wins! We picked this one up at Gen Con after playing Century – Spice Road and decided that the Golem art was more suited to our interests. Even though the game play is exactly the same, there does seem to be a different feel playing the two, so if you decide to pick up one of them I’d recommend checking out the art to see which you like best! Another Gen Con pick up that we needed to try out was Secrets, a hidden role game that pits the CIA against the KGB (and the hippies!). At the beginning of the game, each player receives a token with their team’s symbol on it, and after initially looking at it (and the token of the player on their right, depending on player count), they can no longer look to see which team they’re on. Players take turns secretly choosing one card to give another player, and that player then chooses whether or not they are going to keep that card without looking at it! This game adds a bit of depth to the secret role game type, which I’m still trying to figure out if I like or not. After giving 3 Secrets a few more tries (that game really is a hit!), we pulled out an older game from our collection (which was a Gen Con purchase from a few years ago), New Salem. This is another team v. team game, but everyone is also working for themselves. In this card-drafting, set-collecting game, players are trying to either clear the despair from town or add more, depending on what team they’re on. Players spend hope to clear the despair; if there is more despair, the witch team wins. After determining which team wins, the players add up their scores and the player with the most points is the ultimate winner. We ended our game night full of hope, dispelling the Witches from the town of New Salem!

8/26/17 – Day Two of our Gaming Weekend found us in Rockford, where we got there super early and had no one else to play with quite yet. That didn’t keep us down, so we pulled out Epic PvP: Fantasy, a two-player shuffle-building game where players choose their race and class and battle for all the glory! Afterwards, we pulled out a big box, gathered some adventurers, and visited the Red Dragon Inn! In this game players choose their characters and try to make all of the other players so drunk they pass out, lose all their stamina (or do a little of both), or lose all their gold! All of the different characters have their own decks of cards and play slightly differently. As could be expected, the sneaky rogue is good at gambling and making the other players lose their gold, the tough fighter can make the other characters lose stamina quickly, the priestess can heal herself and keep from getting too drunk, and so forth. We just got our Kickstarter for Red Dragon Inn 6: Villains, so we had four new characters to choose from, but for our new players we recommended sticking to some of the more straightforward decks. In the end, Amber triumphed with the help of Daareka the Mindbreaker, one of our new villains! In somewhat of a reverse order (since The Red Dragon Inn is supposed to take place after the epic adventure), we next took on the role of adventurers going on an undersea adventure in Clank! Sunken Treasure. In this deckbuilding game, players move through underwater caverns in search of treasure and better cards, but they have to be careful not to make too much noise, because every CLANK! brings with it a chance for the dragon to do some damage to you. You have to get your treasure and get out quickly, or at least hope you perish above ground (and above water) so your body can be retrieved with all its loot intact! After competing for treasure and glory, we put on our robes and wizard hats and whipped out Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle. This is a cooperative deckbuilding game set in (as you may have guessed) the wizarding world of Harry Potter. We’ve played this game before with just the two of us,but this was our first time playing with a full four players, taking on the roles of Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville. This game is interesting in that it comes with seven boxes (one representing each book) that allows the game to evolve and change as you win each game, adding in new cards and other elements. We’d previously won the first two games and lost the third, so that’s where we picked it up. It turns out that the game wasn’t any easier with four players, and we lost two games in a row before finally getting a solid win. We took a peek inside the fourth box and are really excited for the elements it adds for the next time we play!

After all of our stressful magical adventures, we decided to take it easy with Wits and Wagers Party, the trivia game where you don’t need to know the answers to win! We’re excited for the currently running Kickstarter for Vegas Wits & Wagers, so we wanted to get some practice in with the version we currently have!  It went very well, except when Ethan had the exact right answer and nobody (not even him!) bet on it.  It also went very quickly, which meant that we were able to move on to another fast game, Dixit Jinx. Unlike regular Dixit, where everyone submits a card based on the active player’s clue, trying to get everyone to guess it, in Dixit Jinx there is a 3x3grid of cards featuring fairly abstract art. The active player gives a word or phrase as a clue and all of the other players race to point to the correct card from the grid. The active player gets each incorrectly guessed card as a point, while the player who found the correct card gets to keep that as a point for them. The game goes until the deck is depleted, at which point the player with the most cards wins!  Lastly with our little group of four players, we pulled out Between Two Cities, the one Stonemaier game not associated with Jamey Stegmaier.  This is a drafting and tile laying game with a twist — every round you’ll select two tiles, but instead of placing them in front of you, they are each used to grow a city between you and the players on your left and right, with them doing the same.  And to prevent you from making one of your two cities great and sabotaging the other, you only get the score for your lowest-scoring city!  We recently got the expansion for this game, Between Two Cities: Capitals, which looks to add some fun elements and that we’re hoping to add in soon!  Nearing the end of the night, Amber prepared for our task ahead, helping out favorite FLGS in adding price tags to all of the games they had in stock, while Ethan finished off the night with a 3 player game of Citadels. In this role selection game, a small deck containing the 8 roles in the game is passed around, with each player selecting one in turn (and in a 3 player game everyone gets 2 roles). Then the roles are activated from 1 to 8, with players revealing their roles when the corresponding number comes up. In addition to their role’s special power (assassin, thief, etc.), players can either take money or a building card, and then can build one of the cards from their hand. The game goes until one player has built a certain number of buildings, at which point everyone gets points for their completed buildings based on their costs, as well as bonus points for completing one of each type of building. Definitely a fun filler game to end off the night with, and what a full day of gaming it was!

8/27/17 – We finished off our gaming weekend at home with just a couple of games.  The first was Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment, which we backed on Kickstarter quite a while ago and which just arrived earlier in the week!  When this project was initially on Kickstarter, the “escape room in a box” genre of games hadn’t yet exploded the way it has now with the Exit games, Unlock series, and so on.  What differentiates this game from the others like it is that it simulates a real-life escape room with more tangible components – a locked box requiring a key, a couple of combination locks, and other physical objects to interact with.  I’ll try not to spoil the game too much, but I will say that of the escape room type games we’ve played (Exit, Unlock, Escape Room the Game, and Deckscape), this was by far the most fun.  There were about a dozen or so puzzles in the box, so we could both be working on something at the same time, and I feel like it would’ve even gone well with 4-6 people.  There were a few hard challenges, along with some surprises and “aha!” moments, but we did manage to complete the game in about 46 minutes, just under the hour allotted.  There is a refill kit included in the game to “reset” it for another group, so we will probably do that and pass it on to some other folks in our game group that would like to experience it.  After solving the wolfish challenge, we decided to relax a bit with another couple rounds of Codenames Duet.  It is still a very challenging game, but we were eventually able to win a game on the easiest difficulty!  Next up, standard difficulty…

8/29/17 – Tuesday has come again, and along with it comes another game day in Rockford!  Perhaps emboldened after bringing our giant Red Dragon Inn box to the last game day, we brought with us this time another one of our big box games, appropriately named Alhambra: Big Box. This is a tile laying game where on your turn you can either get money or spend money from one of the four different currencies in the game to buy one of the available tiles for your Alhambra. There are three rounds of scoring, during which players who have the most of each of the six types of tiles will earn some points. The most interesting mechanic in the game is that if you pay the exact cost for a tile on your turn (money cards vary from 1-9, so this isn’t always easy), you get another action, so planning ahead will be rewarded! For this game, we played with a full 6 players, which may have been a bit much — there could be a lot of change in the market before your turn came around again, so planning too far ahead was difficult. In retrospect I think this game is probably best with around four players. We also, as aforementioned, were playing with the Big Box which contains 5 expansions for the game, each containing 4 different modules, so there’s a lot of variability. Since we were playing with some new players, the only modules we used were the Change module (where you get change for every 2 units of currency you overpay by when buying tiles) and Variable Scoring, where the order in which the tiles score (and their relative value) changes for each of the 3 scoring rounds. Next, we put all of our Codenames Duet experience to good use with last year’s entry in the series, Codenames Pictures. We had an uneven number, but even with three against four, our Meeple team was able to synchronize and win 2 out of 3 games! Keeping with the theme of light party games, we then moved on to Telestrations (with some Telestrations After Dark cards mixed in for good measure). I don’t think we’ve ever kept score when playing Telestrations, and this was no exception. Rather, we had a few rounds of drawing and guessing, and then having a show and tell to see how the initial phrase devolved with each drawing. After that, we tried out the aforementioned Secrets again, and it seems like it went a bit better with 6 players than with 5. We actually ended up with the hippie token in the center of the table, so had 3 people on each the CIA and KGB teams and it all came down to points, for a fairly close 15-11 game in favor of the red KGB team. We ended the night with another light bluffing game, the classic Coup. It’s actually been quite a while since we’ve played this game, and it was fun to have everyone around the table claiming to be the Duke to take 3 coins once more. After some heated coups and assassinations, Ethan proved that the best strategy is to bide your time, don’t build up money too quickly, fly under the radar and let everyone eliminate each other so you can end up on top! So it was yet another fun game night for us!

Whew, that was a lot of gaming to pack into one week, but who knows what the upcoming weeks will hold? As an aside, August 2017 was probably our biggest month in gaming — I personally logged 100 plays of 55 different games! Let’s see if we can do even better than that in September!

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