Boardgames 2023

Whoa, you totally called it! Bravelar = Willem Defoe! I won’t be able to unsee that, like, ever.

As someone who likes Undaunted: Normandy quite a lot and wants more of it, should I grab Undaunted: North Africa or should I go straight to Undaunted: Stalingrad? The latter is more than twice as expensive, but contains a lot more stuff, it looks like, and got lots of accolades. If someone here played both and could elaborate if Stalingrad basically obsoletes North Africa or is just different, it would make my purchase decision quite a bit easier.

Haven’t played North Africa but really it comes down to how much you want a proper legacy style campaign. I’m about halfway through my first Stalingrad campaign and while it is cool I was a little disappointed by how much rubber banding it seems to do. If you lose two in a row you’re basically guaranteed to win the next one, it seems.

I just.received North Africa to add to my Reinforcements box, since I mainly play solo.

It is a lot of content. I really want Stalingrad, but why not look at Reinforcements and North Africa? you more scenarios.for Normandy as well, including variants to add vehicles to existing Normandy scenarios. It also gives you robust solo rules.

Reinforcements isn’t readily available here, not sure about US.

Ahhh dang.

I think if you have someone to commit to the campaign, the Stalingrad sounds amazing. If you don’t then North Africa gives you more flexibility.

Damn I love Undaunted. I am also really curious about Undaunted: Battle of Britain.

Thanks for the answers, guys. Will try Normandy with a friend next weekend and hope he shows enough interest for more games.

@Ginger_Yellow Are you playing the campaign solo, or is there rubberbanding in playing against another player?

I tried out Earth yesterday on BGA with a gaming buddy of mine. Apparently this is the hotness recently on BGG with almost universal praise from most reviewers.

Long story short, I did not care for the game at all and I think it represents much of what is wrong with modern board gaming (especially the BGG crowd). The game has very little theme, is incredibly mechanical with at least ten endgame scoring criteria, and is literally multiplayer solitaire. It has no emergent narrative, absolutely no player interaction (at least the rules we played didn’t), and is so mechanical that I stopped reading the names and flavor text on the cards.

Now, I understand that euro games can feel a bit “soulless at times” (though I would argue that many classic ones still have coherent theming), this game took it to an extreme. After our game finished (which I won somehow), I couldn’t help but ask myself “what was even the point of it?” Sure, there is some decent engine building mechanics, but if your engine isn’t really actually doing anything interesting is it really that satisfying to build?

At this point in my gaming life, I want games that make me feel something. It could be a feeling of adventure, success in business or even just being a productive farmer. This game (and other like it, I’m looking at you Wingspan) makes me feel nothing at all.

Feels like Earth was designed for those who couldn’t be bothered for a full session of Ark Nova or Terraforming Mars.

Designed to scratch the same itch, give you oodles of points, and play fast.

I read a good report on Ark Nova earlier where the runaway leader had 42 points, the third-placed guy had negative points, and their Dad had 3 points, or as someone put it, ‘One point for each hour played.’

I agree about Earth, which I have also only played on BGA. The only thing I’d add is that I would never want to play it on an actual table, keeping track of everything would be a giant hassle.

I suspect I’ll feel the same way about Ark Nova, which is on BGA now, but I guess I should try it.

Having low points on Ark Nova is a by-product of their scoring method, as it is not strictly incremental, but the difference between two scoring tracks running in opposite directions, with the game ending once one player’s score trackers first meet. So having negative points is quite normal and 42 is way more than we ever managed to get.

They’ve changed the official scoring system so that negative points are no longer a thing:

It’s actually the exact same system, you just add your appeal points to the number of “chunks” you’ve moved up the conservation track.

Burying the lead, at least for me:

There’s a BGA version!

On the substance of the change, I don’t really understand the objection to negative scores - either you won, or you didn’t. But the actual calculation methodology always felt too complicated and I have to spend far too long just trying to work it out my head each game, so I think it’s a good change.

Wait, Ark Nova has been patched?

I blame Root. Also Spirit Island.

Wait, Spirit Island got patched, too?

Yeah, it is totally a matter of “feels.”

Honestly, I think a number of parts of Ark Nova are overdeveloped, and that includes the two-track scoring system. It’s novel. But is it good?

(Not that anyone asked, but the part that especially rubs me the wrong way are the… things. The bonuses? On the left side of the zoo board? You get them when you complete a conservation project? Yeah those! Those… things. It bugs me that they don’t have a name or a thematic meaning, and they don’t operate particularly intuitively. (Don’t accidentally put a regular cube on that project–you need to use a cube from the… bonus place.) They’re great bonuses, don’t get me wrong. The game economy needs them to work. But if I were the publisher I’d tell the designer to find a simpler way to do the same thing.)

And, in case anyone isn’t aware, the action mechanic in Ark Nova (where you have 5 upgradable action cards, and the one you pick becomes the least powerful one after you use it) is 100% lifted from Civilization: New Dawn, which is not from the same designer.

New Dawn has its own set of problems, to be sure, but I kinda liked it.

Had an absolutely miserable time on first playthrough of Endless Winter. Anyone tried it?

There’s so much going on it’s impossible at the start to grok where the big points are going to come from. My cards suggested I could lock up the purchase cards engine but it ran out of resources fast. First player went the islands route early and locked up recurring resources during the eclipse so there was no catching them. None of the 3 of us were within 40 points of the early island player at the end.

Would it go very differently on future plays? Very likely. Will the memory of a 3.5 hour slog knowing I could at best place 3rd after mistakes were made during round one stop me from playing it again? Maybe.

Yeah an extra blight at the start of the game on the healthy island card, and if you own any of the expansions, disregarding the first event card as well.

Regarding the blight - An errata, and a bunch of long-pending FAQs | Spirit Island

As for the event card, it might have been in Jagged Earth manual, or it might have come up in some other discourse.