Boardgaming 2021: minis are back, baby!

I ordered Battletech: the Beginner Box. Yay! First time for Battletech for me since the 90s.

As there are great, let’s say, “exploration” themed board games? Maybe solo playable?

I just received a copy of Rocky Mountain Man, a solo indie game about exploring and mapping out the Rocky Mountains circa 1800 as a fur trapper. As soon as I get a game in, I’ll try to throw some feedback on here. It’s apparently built on the bones of Source of the Nile, an Avalon Hill bookshelf game from the 70s that I’d never heard of until now, but may need to track down on eBay.

I just got the Aliens bug again, watched the movies and decided to go for Another Glorious Day In The Corps.

Get ready for a lot of construction. Everything arrives on sprues and you will spend a few hours on the aliens alone. Someone had a great post on BGG about using boiling water to bend the xeno tails into safer shapes for storage and handling. Out of the box, they all come in S-shapes with only a tiny mounting point, which renders most of them quite delicate and prone to breaking.

Personally, I thought the base game was fine. But I don’t think the expansions were playtested very well. They seem to throw the balance out of whack. Playing with the revamped campaign and maps from the expansions, we got steamrolled repeatedly on the very first mission.

I really dug Source of the Nile back in the day, and I’m the opposite- I had no idea there was kind of a North American version! Perhaps I’ll track it down. I actually had some thoughts about updating SotN a few years back, as kind of a Legacy/campaign game (with a much more modern system) where we try to explore all of Africa. I wrote some rules, made a prototype, played once. I should get back to that.

What do you want in your exploration? I like Lost Valley, where you are prospectors in the old west exploring the land and racing against each other to get the most gold. Not solo playable, though.

Here’s the link if you’re interested. There’s also a cheaper print-and-play version.

Was your prototype anything like Heart of Darkness?

Wow, I hadn’t heard of HoD. Looks neat.

No, mine was nothing like that. I remembered talking about in on BGG back in the day, and Lo! I just found the discussion. It starts here. There was way more of it than I remember!

The rules have an official draft variant. (Draw four, keep one, pass around clockwise. Draf four, keep one, pass around counter-clockwise). I honestly don’t think it’s about getting stronger combos, but mitigating the frustration of having a bunch of powers that you just can’t use no matter what. But also, nobody ever plays with the draft since it’s just slower.

The expansion is IMO fundamentally crap exactly due to the way it added another symbol that makes it even more likely to have cards that are completely orphaned. I’d been expecting something a lot more like the initial Race for the Galaxy expansions, where the new cards slotted in perfectly with the base game. (The scrolls in the expansion feel like classic “we need some new non-card components to justify the price” Race expansion bullshit.)

Heart of Darkness is a decent game with at least one brilliant mechanic, but it is only viable as a solo game. I tried to impress this on Kim when I playtested with him over VASSAL a while back, and suggested some kind of solo milestones that could be incorporated into a score chase. But oh man, the tedium of the chit draws can really make things drag. SO MANY.

As for Rocky Mountain Man, my personal opinion is that it is just bad. Also doesn’t play well with multiple players—best as a solo exploration game.

Are there other similar solo exploration games?

Well, it is basically a re-skinning of Source of the Nile as mentioned above, so there is that. But my feeling is that this gameplay was only notable for the “emerging landscape” element that in retrospect feels very mechanical and random. You find a big mountain, and you’re like, “ooooh!” And that’s it. At least in Source of the Nile, my ten-year-old self was like that. In my very personal opinion, this seemed cool then because I was totally make-believing with the game as the imagination portal, but now it feels pretty flat. Rather than just being happy to find a mountain, I’m like, ok, we’ll, can I do anything with it?? Other than score points. In this way, games like Mage Knight take the exploration mechanic and give the things you find some utility. But that’s not an exploration game, it’s a fighting game where you find mana lying around in the exploring parts.

I think Heart of Darkness is a very decent attempt at this, with a brilliant solution to the idea of how to make you experience “being drawn into the wilderness by the tantalizing vision of something shiny in the distance.”Really, the individual area exploration system is both simple and ingenious. I toyed around with making extra rules for things like fighting the dinosaurs if you discovered the actual Land of the Lost (included in the game) or fighting the Mad King (also included in the game) or Cthulhu (not included). But that would make it a different game. And if I’m honest with myself, almost certainly not a better one.

Ha, @Brooski didn’t even have the common decency to mention 7th Continent! What a 7th Continent hater!


A long time ago I picked this up in the old Game Empire in Pasadena:

It doesn’t take up too much table space but I have young cats around that make it difficult to leave these up without too much trouble. I got as far as sleeving the very old paper cards and it looks interesting enough. It’s from Tom Lehman before he did Race for the Galaxy and all those train games I think he works on now (1846 published by GMT is great). He also did this Time Agent game I really thought about trying to find:

Not an exploration game though.

I used to own, and have played, Time Agent! What a weird game. I’m still not sure it actually worked. It was certainly long.

Just received the blinged out miniatures kit for Dune Imperium today, so if you are waiting on that, it should arrive any day. I don’t normally care for this sort of stuff, but I’m glad to have this one, since I like the Dune world so much. Plenty of storage for the stuff, although the box is obnoxiously large.

Yeah, mine came about two weeks ago—note that it has fixed printings of the Missionaria cards, plus a “bonus” Duncan Idaho:

Question: can you tell which guys are supposed to be which? Because I sure can’t.

Ha, I had thought it somewhat odd the Missionaria Protectiva did not count as a Bene Gesserit, but just assumed it was intentional.

Haven’t had time to even look at the stuff, but this thread at least appears to be helpful, as far as IDing what is what.

Ha, even THOSE guys don’t know which faction is which faction :)

EDIT: the set is fairly straightforward to figure out: the 12 smaller units are obviously the tr00ps, the three larger dudes are the agents, the large models are the VP tokens for the 4 factions, and the odd guy out is the Mentat. What I’m trying to figure out is, which set is supposed to be, say, Rivoli and which one is Thorin?

I was just watching a video by some Dungeon Crawl experts (German language) about the new Descent Legend Of The Dark… It was really great, they kind of sold me on it, but they insisted that the best experience would be to play on the hardest difficulty, Warfare. It adds a timer during battle, monsters getting stronger the longer the battle takes (as I understood). Then you really need to get thinking about your turns. The video even stated that on normal difficulty it is not worth playing. That is a strong statement…

I checked BGG and can’t find much of discussions about difficulty, mostly it is “too easy” I think player count is relevant here… but nowhere I read that Warfare is the only way to play it proper.

Can anyone confirm? I am thinking on getting this as a christmas present to myself, but I find it a risky proposition if it is only good on the hardest difficulty…

just read your review! So on what difficulty did you play with how many characters? Did you finish the game?

Check out the Shut Up and Sit Down video. They mention that, while the game is enjoyable enough, it mostly plays itself on normal difficulty and you have very little to think about. I’ve heard that from others too. Seems to be a game normally played for the story and to spend time with friends who are not into super crunchy games.