After all of our excitement from GameHole Con last week, we had a bit of a quieter week in the gaming sphere as we settled back into normal life… or what passes for normal around here anyways. That said, we still did get a bit of gaming in, so read on to learn about our experiences for this week in games!
For the first weekend in recent memory, we actually didn’t have anything planned, so it was a bit of a pleasant surprise when our good friend Eric reached out to us to see what we were doing on Saturday and wanting to know if he could come over to play some games. Of course we said yes, and when he arrived we continued our campaign of Pandemic Legacy Season 2. I won’t talk about the game too much to avoid spoilers, but suffice it to say that we’re still really enjoying our experience with this game. We picked up where we left off in the month of May, picking up a win in our second game of the month. From there, we lost our first game in June but then redeemed ourselves with a win, won July in one quick game, lost and then won August, and finished with another quick win in September. All in all, our record now stands at 9 wins and four losses, with three of those losses coming right before the turn in which we would have won the game. I’ve seen a lot of people say that Season 2 of Pandemic Legacy is a lot more difficult than Season 1, and maybe it is, but it seems like we’re doing just as well with it as we did with the first season. I think that one of the major points of difficulty is that it’s a much different game from Pandemic Legacy Season 1 or even the base game of Pandemic. Or maybe we’re just lucky, or we are just that good as gamers, but I feel like we are about on track with where the game expects us to be at this point. It’s definitely had its interesting twists and a very engaging ongoing narrative, and I’m really excited to see how the final quarter of the year plays out for us in our game. That’s all I’ll say on the subject for now to avoid talking about too many things that could be considered spoilers, but depending on how our campaign ends up, we may end up writing a spoiler-filled full review and recap, so look forward to that!
On Tuesday it was time again for our weekly game night with the Rockford Pegheads at The Gaming Goat, and with Amber running a game of Pathfinder, I was on my own to find some people and some games to play. I started out with a game of Dojo Kun, a CMON (Cool Mini or Not) title that has apparently gone under-the-radar the past couple of years as I have not heard of it before. In this game, players are running competing martial arts dojos and training their fighters for the White Lotus and Black Lotus tournaments to be, well, the best around. While the tournaments that happen halfway through and at the end of the game are dice battles where players roll number of dice based on their fighters’ skill level in four categories, the rest of the game is actually a worker placement game. You begin the game with a sensei and one trainee, and there are many different options they can do, from expanding the dojo and taking on new recruits to training your skills, learning new combos, going on missions, or practicing their moves for the tournament. During the tournament players each select two fighters who are randomly shuffled and seeded into an 8-person bracket. Then, fighters go head-to-head, rolling a number of dice based on their skill levels in four different categories, each category corresponding to a different color of dice with a different distribution of symbols. Then, using the symbols rolled and any special skills they have, players sum up their fighting abilities which go against each other in sort of a rock-paper-scissors format. Kicks cancel out grabs, grabs cancel blocks, and blocks cancel punches. In the end, the player with the most punches still remaining wins that round and advances in the tournament. In addition, the other players who aren’t participating in the tournament can bet on who they think will win, getting a point if they are correct. At the end of the game, the player who has the most points from winning tournaments, completing missions, and otherwise gained throughout the game is the victor. I didn’t really do very well in this game, coming in a far 4th (I blame the lack of fighting ability of my tournament entrants) but definitely had a lot of fun with it and would like to give this game another try to see if I can find a winning strategy next time. After a game of beating everyone else up, I moved on to a game I had brought where the game is the one beating up on you and the other players. This game is the 10th anniversary edition of In the Year of the Dragon, a classic from Stefan Feld. The game takes place in China around 1000 AD, as players take on the role of feudal lords trying to increase their prestige in the eyes of the emperor. The game play is actually pretty quick: Each round, the seven action tiles are shuffled up and grouped in as many groups as there are players. For our 3-person game, they were laid out in groups of 2, 2, and 3. Then, each player chooses one of the actions, which will let them do things like gather rice, fireworks, or money, build new palaces to house their people, buy a privilege tile that provides points every round, or increase their standing on the turn order track. The reason actions are grouped together is that if you choose an action from the same group as another player has already chosen this round, you must pay 3 yuan (the game’s currency, which is usually pretty hard to have in excess) in order to do that action. Thus, turn order is very important if you want to have first pick of actions without having to pay extra to perform them. Once everyone has taken an action, everyone will recruit a new person of the nine types of person tiles available. Many of the people will make the actions more effective — farmers help produce rice, tax collectors give you more money, and so on — while others are useful for the events that occur every round — warriors help fight off the Mongol invasion while healers prevent the contagion from killing off your people. After everyone’s recruited a new person, the event strikes. The events include the aforementioned Mongol invasion and contagion, as well as paying taxes, drought, and the relatively benign Dragon Festival where players earn points if they’ve accumulated the most fireworks. For most of the events the penalty for failing to meet its conditions (having enough rice, money, healers, or warriors) is to lose some of your people, so you’re always struggling to survive and plan for the events to come. After 12 rounds of play corresponding to the months of the year, the player with the most points (gained by having palaces and privilege tiles each round, and by the number of people you have at the end of the game, with bonus points from monks) is the winner. I’ve played this game online on Board Game Arena before, so had a bit of an advantage, but still the scores ended up being pretty close. I really like this game because while it is brutal and difficult to survive, it’s always fair and you know what’s coming up so can plan ahead for the future events. With only a bit of time left in the meetup, my little group of three players ended the night with a quick game of 7 Wonders. I can’t recall that I’ve ever played this game with fewer than 6 or 7 players, and it really was a much different game with 3 people. Instead of the somewhat multiplayer solitaire game larger games of 7 Wonders can become, with only a few players you really could (and had to) pay attention to what both the other players were doing. In addition, with only a few different cards available, I wasn’t able to do the heavy military strategy I usually employ in this game, going for the science route instead, which unfortunately didn’t give me quite enough points for a victory. Strangely enough, over the course of the game, only one ore-producing resource had been built, so by the end of the third age there were a number of cards requiring 2 or 3 ore that simply couldn’t be built, which I don’t think I’ve ever come across in 7 Wonders. In the end, it definitely was a fun game with 3 players, and an experience I certainly wouldn’t mind trying out again!
After our recent article about escape room games, and acquiring the 3 new Unlock! games, what else would we want to play but Unlock! The House on the Hill? Like the other Unlock! games, this is a card-based escape-room-in-a-box, the first in the mystery adventures series of games. This one was advertised as the easiest of the three, and we were able to complete it with relative ease. I won’t spoil any of the puzzles or solutions, but as far as these games go, this one was fairly straightforward. The story of the game is that some teenagers have unleashed the Book of the Dead (typical, really) which is causing all sorts of horror to emanate from the titular house, and you are dispatched to go deal with it. So you mush make your way through the house, find the evil book, and figure out how to destroy or otherwise disable it. As I said, we made it through without too much trouble, not having to use any hints or getting stuck, completing the game in a bit over a half hour (out of the allotted 60 minutes). But again, this was the easiest of the three new games, so we;ll see how well we do at the next two in the series!
And that’s it for our week in gaming! Tomorrow we’ll be once again at The Gaming Goat in Rockford for a full day of gaming, including a Red Dragon Inn tournament organized by Two Board Meeples! If you’re in the area, come check it out, or just stop in the store for games at 20-30% off MSRP! If you’re not in the area and want to support our blog, feel free to click any of our Amazon Affiliate links in the above post, even if you end up buying something else from Amazon, to support TBM with a portion of your purchase costs. Thanks for reading and we’ll see you again next week!