Boardgames 2023

You mean besides the hands attached to my arms? I don’t mean to brag, but I’m internationally registered with the Schpiel De Jarl Association of Boardgamery as a card shuffling machine, if you know what I mean.

Other than that, Bruce Geryk once sent me a mechanical card shuffling contraption that I think was intended as a white elephant gift. At least I hope so, since it didn’t survive the move. The biggest problem with it wasn’t that I want to shuffle the cards, but that it was so noisy I could hardly hear the cards being shuffled, which is almost the whole point of shuffling cards!

This is exactly how I feel about BGG nowadays. So much cheerleading and purchase-justification that it is hard to find actual critical opinions on it. There are plenty of Terra Mystica vs Gaia Project threads on there, but they are all very biased depending on which page they are posted to!

After posting my question yesterday, I ended up roping a friend into learning and playing GP on BGA and we enjoyed it so much that I order a copy. Sorry @jsnell, we’ll play TM at some point as well!

I was surprised how well some of the mechanics were integrated with the theme in GP. I had heard that these games are basically themeless euros, but quite a few mechanics seemed to make sense thematically. My only complaint from our play is that it seems like there isn’t very much blocking or other interaction, and I’ve heard that TM is better in this regard.

Now onto my next challenge — actually teaching this game to other new players!

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I played the new version of Thunder Road the other day. Its the latest of the '80s throwback games being put out by Restoration Games (Fireball Island, Dark Tower). I loved the original as a kid, and I think it may have been the first game miniatures I ever painted. The new version was definitely a lot of fun, and in-the-moment I was tempted to pick up a copy- there’s at least one online store my friend pointed me to that still has the All-in Chrome edition in stock. But it’s $180, and that seems a bit much when I consider how often ot would actually make it to the table. The basic version is in stock at my FLGS, for $60, but it’s pretty basic and this game seems like one of those ones that you’d want to have all the add-ons for. Let’s hope my friend doesn’t sell it on any time soon.

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Ah, yes, that satisfying pffffffffffpht. I’m pretty good at the riffle shuffle and bridge with a standard deck of cards but no way am I doing that with an Arkham deck.

I used to do a careful, time-consuming shuffle in my hands, just lifting and gently mixing them by the edges. Then I saw a Sleeping Gods video where the guy just dealt the cards out on to the table in random numbers of 3-6 piles, then combined the deck, cut it, and repeated a few times. So much better!

Played Stranger Things the Upside Down with my kid last weekend. It was over in 15 minutes because my kiddo didnt want to wait and gear up and headed to the Upside down and tried to save Will…got hit for 4 fear after losing the try and then the Demogorgan materialized into her space and gave her another 5 fear and it was over. 15 minute loss…BUT, it was fairly fun and she wants to play again but with a bit more patience and build up of items and using some of Eleven’s powers. Basic family fun game.

We played some Maracaibo for the first time. Rules explanation took soooo long. I was already bored. Then we played 3 hours of point collection and I really envied the guy who LITERALLY fell a sleep midway through and needed a wake up call every time it was his turn. He almost beat my score for 3rd place… must had some nice tactical dreams… eh, moving on, never going to play that one again. So bone dry. The theme does not come through at all…

So I received my physical copy of Gaia Project the other day and managed to get a few guys together to play it. Shortly afterwards, I bought the digital version on Steam (it was on sale!). In total, I’ve probably played the game about six times already, which is probably the most I’ve ever played a heavy game like this within a single week!

It has been a long time since I’ve fallen for a game like this. I’m usually not a big fan of these kind of super-complex euro games, but something about GP makes it really satisfying to play. It has a really good mix of short term and long term decision making. There is not much direct interaction, but there is still plenty of indirect interaction, in the form of denying other players planets/tech tiles/special actions. I think that the existence of this kind interaction becomes much more apparent the more games I play.

The game has no cards or hidden objectives. Everything is laid out clearly on the table and visible for all players at all times. Since all objectives are shared by all players, it’s a matter of figuring out how to leverage your alien race’s rule-breaking special abilities to outplay the other players. The sheer variety of races to play (14, I think?) makes each game feel very different.

If there’s one complaint I have about the game, it’s that the game is a beast to teach to new players and it really requires a couple plays to really grasp the interactions between its mechanics. There are also a bunch of small rules that didn’t make sense the first time we played the game, which make it harder to learn. That said, I think any potential streamlining of this games rules would take away what makes this game special.

Hey, I mentioned Forgotten Waters upthread, a Crossroads Game (technically the same series as Dead Of Winter, but really pretty different). I picked it up recently, and in our couple of plays found that it really does feel like a TTRPG campaign - much more so than any of the other adventure/tactics/RPG boardgames I’ve played (and I’ve played a lot).

Well, today Plaid Hat announced the preorders are open for the next game in the series, Freelancers, mostly building off what they had in FW. It’s their take on a fantasy-style adventure. Best of all, this isn’t some sort of crowdfunding campaign that’s shipping in a year or more, pre-order now, it’s getting released/shipping next month at GenCon. How refreshing!

Congratulations! Humanity is dead! The bad news is that all they left behind is their garbage and a broken gig economy. That’s why we need freelancers like you: ready to take any job, no matter how loathsome. As a freelancer, you will delve into ruins, brave the wilds, and slay the hordes of hideous creatures that litter the dark forgotten corners of the world. All so you can gather loot and return home, ready to blow it all and start over again the next day. It’s a lousy gig, so it’s perfect for the likes of you.

Freelancers condenses the fantasy RPG campaign experience into a single night of fun and mayhem. Create a character, roll funky dice, and blaze your way through multiple stories set in a world of magic, monsters and murder.

What, no Minis!?? Thank fuck. And as a result it’s a reasonable price instead of a plastic imbued price inflated crowdfunded boondoggle.

Yeah, my thoughts exactly! Just develop a good, solid game, release it and let us play in a reasonable timeframe. They actually announced this a few months back, but pre-orders just went live. That seems like a nice way to do it.

But, it doesn’t have a solo mode. That means I’ll never play it. Sounds like fun otherwise. Bummer.

Yeah, that wouldn’t really work for the game. When I said it feels like a TTRPG campaign, I meant that it really nails the goofy fun of sitting around the table, playing through a story, having wacky adventures in what feels like a really natural way, sort of like folks felt about the new D&D movie. Mechanically, the game is nothing really great- it’s literally just a series of skill checks and reading aloud some text. But it manages to transcend that.

That said, Forgotten Waters’ app made it really easy/possible to play via the internet on Zoom or whatever, and I believe they’re putting that into Freelancers.

BTW, the ‘app’ in the game is nothing to be afraid of- it’s really just a replacement for the paragraph book. And it isn’t really an ‘app’ - just a fancy webpage. You can even download and save it to whatever with the click of a button, and play without a 'net connection. I have it on my e-ink tablet, and it works great.

I played a solo round of Ark Nova last night, my first complete game.

Very interesting mechanics - but I can see it taking many games before getting a feel for the interplay of all the mechanics. I also find the iconography pretty overwhelming

Amen! I’m in my first Ark Nova game right now and I’m sure I’m missing half the implications of all the possible plays. I read the rules, but that stuff doesn’t sink in until you experience it!

Not sure if you or dionisus1122 have played Terraforming Mars before but if so It makes this game so much easier to learn. I think the hardest thing to learn is that you want to gain animals and then release them. It feels counter intuitive the first time you play. Also if you’re not a fan of the scoring system, heads up the expansion is probably 3 months out and changes some of that.

Don,
Did you play forgotten waters? I wanted to, but hated Dead of Winter. I was curious if the game system was completely different or just a re-theme.

I have played TM, but haven’t quite connected the dots between the two. I’ve heard the comparison before.

I just I need a couple more plays of it

I have played FW (first two scenarios), but not DoW, actually. From what I understand, they are very different, both tonally and systems-wise. Apparently Freelancers is much closer to FW.

I think the review that sold me on it was by our own DT. it’s here on BGG.