Boardgaming 2022: the year of "point salad really isn't very filling"

I like Dice Realms quite a bit. It feels a lot weirder than most Tom Lehmann games, and with the price I’d bet it won’t be very successful. The setup and teardown vs play-time are about the same as Dominion, though the initial setup after opening the box took me ~2 hours which is pretty ridiculous. I love the tactile act of replacing faces (and similarly in Dominion of shuffling my deck), but if you find that annoying it will really tear the game down. I’d compare it to Dominion with 2 expansions baked in.

The core game arc of Dice Realms feels pretty fresh. It initially feels like a point rush like Race for the Galaxy, but your first few games are likely to end early running out of grain or misery tokens. The variable game length that’s under player control creates an interesting pressure about going for points early vs late (very different dynamic than Dominion in that regard). There’s some crazy combos you can hit with certain setups, but they’re high risk since you’ll need to roll the same face on 3 or 4 dice to pull them off. There’s enough luck mitigation to make those plays likely, but only if the game goes on long enough. I hit a combo in our second game where we emptied the entire misery pool in a single turn. There’s a lot of super dramatic plays that can happen. I love a good dramatic end-game explosion. It’s a high luck game, but there’s still lots of great interesting decisions throughout, so pretty in line with what Tom Lehmann is famous for at this point.

I play Race, Res Arcana, and now Dice Realms with my wife a lot. They’re our go-to games and at least one of them gets played every week. I think Dice Realms fits in well there. Your first few plays are likely to be wonky getting used to it, so if you don’t think you’ll have the capacity to get to 20 plays, I would skip it.

I made a goal to play at least one game a day last week, but Sunday proved my undoing. Curse these lazy Sunday afternoons with no responsibilities!

Probably the most interesting play was Mind MGMT / Sniper Elite. The previous week, I’d sat down with some game designers to try their hidden movement game. It was fine. Subtract a couple of years and I would have liked it more. They wanted to see examples of how the genre is being pushed forward, so we made an appointment to play these. Both do such interesting things. They both even “flip the script,” so to speak, giving the “hunted” player a chance to pursue and terrorize the hunters. That was possible in Fury of Dracula, but only to a lesser extent. These two upend the usual formula in some pretty exciting ways.

I’m still trying to decide how I feel about My Father’s Work. The game itself is sharp, if occasionally uneven when the app develops a mind of its own. But the storytelling… woof. It isn’t that the writing is bad, properly speaking. It gets us laughing at times, and does a decent job of evoking the setting. But it’s so darn long. Big old paragraphs of text. Then you click the button and as often as not there are more big old paragraphs lurking on the next screen. In some cases, those big old paragraphs say the same thing that was said by the previous big old paragraphs. Other times, they say the same thing but with only the minutest additions that explain your present circumstances. Then it illustrates why story games almost never work in a competitive game by having everybody pause the action to read their own big old paragraphs, leaving everybody else in anticipatory silence.

I like the game a lot. I wish it was shorter and the app was fully narrated .My father’s work will not be leaving my collection however, I now firmly believe you can ignore all the story points on the first 2 scenarios and just push for completing experiments to win. The negatives and bonuses given haven’t proven to be better than just completing experiments. Less fun for sure but… I am still curious how some people complete so many experiments. The 3rd scenario so far is the only one that really puts you against the other players.

Played my first game of Forbidden Island tonight with 3 other players. I’d watched a how-to-play video and read the rulebook before we got together, so I was the teacher. We lost because the water level reached the skull.

We then played again. We won this time since we had a better idea of what we needed to do.

All of us enjoyed both playthroughs. The second game was a real heart-pounder though. We managed to win when I airlifted everyone to the landing pad and then used another airlift card to get us off the island. My wife looked at the next card be drawn, and it would have sent the water level to the skull. One card away from losing when we won!

Good times.

My wife and I got in 2 games of Spirit Island over the last month. I’m more positive on it than she is, even though our main complaint is the same. It would be nice if the game ramped up the tension a bit more slowly. As it is, we constantly feel under pressure from the get go. She thinks it makes the game feel like work because it gives her a similar feeling that her job does - always feeling stress to stay ahead of the problems that she has to deal with. While I have the same feeling, I don’t work so I think I’m more tolerant of that.

We won our first game and lost the second. In the first game, we destroyed the buildings for our fear level . In our second, we were 2 fear short of winning before we ran out of invader cards. In both games she played as the earth god and I was the lightning god. In the first game we used the progression cards. In the second game we didn’t and it seemed like we struggled to cause enough damage.

I liked the mechanics quite a bit - choosing the growth method, deciding which track to take the tokens from, power selection, etc…Her spirit seemed different enough from mine to make spirit selection interesting. Maybe with some more experience it will help decrease the pressure we feel and play more efficiently.

It will help I think. The main criticism I read on SI is that it peaks early, so you typically know you’re going to win due to how mechanical things. The event deck from Branch and Claw expansions breaks this up.

Once you learn some progression strategies then the early game doesn’t feel so stressful. Takes a bunch of games to get there, however.

I agree that more games will probably help with this. I can see how that’s stressful, but once you have a better sense of the stakes you’ll feel more comfortable letting blight hit for the first few turns knowing it’s not sinking your game. It’s a long game though, I can see why it might be hard to push through 5 or so games till you really start getting a good sense of that arc.

Skyrim in a box.

More than just Skyrim. (And specifically not based on Skyrim, as Modiphius has that license.)

Am I missing something? All that’s there is a logo.

Which brings me to my latest pet peeve. Crowdfunding projects that advertise with nothing on their KS/GF page other than “Coming Soon!” “Follow Us”. Um. No. Let me know when you actually have something to show, fer chrissakes. Also, related, as much as I like GF over KS, the lack of a “Remind me when this project is 48 hours to end” is annoying. If you hit their ‘Folow’ equivalent button, you get all the project updates in your inbox. No, really, just remind me when it’s almost over, so I can decide if it’s worth it or not after all the foolish stretch goals get added.

They have to get Bethesda’s signoff on anything they talk about so unfortunately details have been fairly sparse. It’s all of Elder Scrolls, and it’s going to be most similar to Too Many Bones of their prior designs except instead of fixed identity gearlocs you’ll be assembling a custom character from archetype pairings (I think it’s race, class, and sign, maybe?) and it sounds like it’s geared for three session campaigns.

The big one this week was Weimar. Took about five and a half hours. Comparable in weight to Churchill, although it’s more Euro and less bullet point-y.

Wish it was not a CTG game

Hey, that CTG Elder scrolls game has info up now, at least a little. GF project launching in March 2023, and then assumedly shipping at least a year after that. Time to forget about that for another 2 years.

Goodness me, I remember CTG initially advertised a campaign in October or November if I recall. Well, my wallet is safe for now. A good thing too because some expensive bills this last month.


Not the most crowded week.

Roll-and-writes are the trendy thing, and the latest sub-trend is to make them more complicated. For the most part, I haven’t thought much of the last few titles I’ve played that went overboard. But while I was wary of Twilight Inscription — it’s certainly bigger than your average R&W — it actually isn’t all that complicated. Longer, yes. Our first play lasted two hours, although we didn’t really “feel” them; if anything, I wanted it to stick around longer. Unlike most R&W games, where you seem to fill in 80-90% of your sheet, it was nice to play one that offered actual tradeoffs. There were entire portions of each board (there are four per player) that I didn’t unlock. Further plays should see that streamlined to some degree.

We also played a huge eight-player session of Star Trek: Ascendancy on Saturday, complete with lunch and lots of snacks. It was a good time. The play itself took about six hours, which is what we expected. We streamlined the first three turns by letting everybody go simultaneously, which helped shave off an hour or so.

Is that the one that’s more or less Mage Knight but with a Star Trek wrapper?

Coincidentally, 3 Minute Boardgames just published a couple of videos on Star Trek Ascendency.

Nope. It’s the 4X game. Civilization via Star Trek. Although I hate to put it that way, since it’s very much its own thing.

Huh, ok, guess I’m not familiar with this one then. Is it fun?