I don’t want to be a downer, but if Comancheria just arrived, I doubt you’re going to be killing Texans tonight. As with Navajo Wars, it’s a bear of a game that’s going to require a fair bit of reading. :)
-Tom, bona fide Texan killer after having done the homework
Okay, so I’ve been elbow deep in this since it arrived yesterday:
I’m not convinced all the dinosaur taxonomy porn is integrated in any meaningful way, but it adds some really nice detail around the margins. And the artwork is great.
It’s pretty clearly a multiplayer game, and I’m really psyched to get it to the table with some friends. It’s the niftiest take on deck builders that I’ve seen since Arctic Scavengers in terms of theming, unique mechanics, and player interactivity.
But it’s also got a really good solitaire mode, based on working your way through an eco-system to “power up” your species so that it can take out the eco-system’s boss species, which runs amok through the other dinosaurs in the deck.
How come none of you guys has ever recommended me this???
Because I only played a few rounds of it, and we were all new so those few rounds took a very long time. It also had a distinct lack of… something. I can’t recall if it was completely devoid of player interaction or what, but I seem to recall that being my main issue. Mostly solitaire with lots of downtime. Plus there was little planning for center cards, as they would all wipe before they got back to me.
That said I did like some of the ideas, and I’m sure if we played the advanced rules (supposedly introduces more direct competition/ attacks) and knew the systems (so turns went quickly), I might like it more. The Therisznosaurus particularly was a fun take, where I would sometimes want to intentionally take wounds, as they powered up my dinosaurs.
Is this a stealth recommendation for Arctic Scavengers? I almost bought that game twice last year, but didn’t pull the trigger. The pictures of it look kind of bland, and I don’t really need another middling deck-builder in my life.
That’s weird, the version I have doesn’t have advanced rules. It’s labeled second edition, so maybe that has something to do with it? But there are solo rules, in which you fight a boss card, and multiplayer rules in which everyone tries to find and kill each other’s alpha. If there’s more than one alpha remaining by the time extinction arrives, everyone transitions to a “battle royale”: a sort of streamlined last-dino-standing endgame.
I’ve only tried solo, but the multiplayer seems specifically focused on direct competition and attacks. Some of the cards even have special powers like “ha, put a wound in everyone else’s deck!” I may be paraphrasing.
Plus, the first-player marker is a big plastic dinosaur that would totally eat any of those toy X-Wing models!
Not stealth at all! Arctic Scavengers is my go-to deck-builder for any player count of three or up. The pictures might be bland, but that might be because they’re going for the aesthetic of post-apocalyptic survivors in a harsh winter. I guess there are only so many ways to draw people bundled up for cold weather. :)
One of the things I really like about it is that it has three distinct ways to get distinct kinds of cards. 1) Scavenge through the ruins for tools and medicine and maybe weapons, 2) feed people to recruit advanced survivors, and 3) fight the other players for rare gadgets and assets. Different kinds of cards, different ways to get them, and all plugged neatly into the deck-building system. It’s also very interactive because you’re always planning for a battle that will happen after everyone has taken a turn. You’re all fighting over a card that only one player has seen, and it might be awesome or just middling. So there’s an element of bluffing in terms of how hard the guy who saw the card seems to be fighting.
The re-release – it’s actually a pretty old game, I think – includes a bunch of modular add-ons, and in the last few years, it got another add-on called, uh, Recon Something or Spy Something that gives it even more options by adding cards to build out whatever set you use in any given game, a la Dominions.
Some of the modules add faction asymmetry, buildings that give you more card management options, and different scoring objectives to encourage different kinds of deck builds. I think it’s my favorite deck-builder for any situation with more than two people (it pretty much requires at least three players).
It’s hard for me to say for sure. I don’t own the game, and the person who does explained them to us in such a way as to imply there were more advanced rules. It is perhaps a misunderstanding or miscommunication of the actual rules. In any case we never got deep enough into the game. With 6 players it took about 1.5-2 hours to do like 3 rounds.
Six players? Yikes. I can’t think of many games that aren’t party games that sustain six players. Certainly not Apex Theropod. I’d even have reservations about five. Also, if you guys jumped in with six players, that might mean some folks were given the more finicky advanced decks, like the velociraptors. That’s probably not a good idea until someone knows the game well enough to go through the deck and see how it’s supposed to play.
Anyway, come over to my house some Thursday night and we’ll play the “advanced” (i.e. actual) rules!
Just played this for the first time tonight. Co-op with other people usually bums me out due to all the pointless downtime, but each player’s turn is so quick that it didn’t bother me at all. That, combined with event cards that impact everything on the board at the end of each player’s turn makes the whole thing feel really fast and breezy and keeps everyone engaged planning their next move.
It’s a really good game. We’re playing again on Friday!
I’ve had Apex for quite a long time. Played solo only as that’s the only way I play any game. I love the art on the cards and love the idea of the game and all the different dinos you can play with…I just didnt enjoyit solo as much as I was hoping I would. I bought the expansion packs also in case I fell in love it…thought about selling the whole shebang but figured I’d give it a couple more tries…after Comancheria that is.
@charmtrap, what’s this bit from the BGG synopsis about:
The co-operative dynamic gets really interesting if a player is ever arrested, and fails to resist interrogation, then they will need to make a big decision all by themselves, without revealing their options to the group.
Does this interrogation system do something like the hidden agendas in Dead of Winter or the insanity mechanic in Mansions of Madness, where the player might have to work at odds with everyone else? Or is it just some sort of “hey, when you resolve this card, you’re not allowed to talk to anyone else before you come to a decision”? In other words, how much does this move Black Orchestra from being solitaire/co-op into the area of multiplayer/co-op?
The best deck-builder in my opinion is still Dominion, because no other game that I’ve played comes close to incorporating the potential of the format like it does (there are now quite a few that I haven’t played, FWIW, including Arctic Scavengers). The recent expansion Adventures has some amazingly cool additions. Yeah, it’s still generically themed, but the beauty is in the card combinations, not the theme or artwork. There are other fun deck-builders out there (I like Star Realms) but they all feel like the game design equivalent of a preschooler’s artwork hung next to Dominion’s Vermeer. Donald X gets it, and I’m not sure anyone else really has.
I’ve never played DoW, but I have played MoM and all I can say is: maybe. In our game, one player did get hauled in by the Gestapo and he did get interrogated but I’m not one for reading ahead in boardgames, so he never said what was on his card and I never asked. Three or four rounds after he was interrogated, we pulled off a plot anyway so the game was over.
All I can say about the co-op/solo nature of the game is that, based on my one game experience, this is one of the few co-op games that are improved by playing with actual people. Tough decisions abound and all of the plots require all of the players taking actions and gathering supplies to pull off. It was a great time to try and orchestrate plans with my confederates 2 or 3 rounds ahead (usually to have them dashed by the events decks, it must be said). I think that would be lost playing solo, even if it’s perfectly playable.
Comancheria. I’ve had a longstanding interest in American Indian history, so this game’s theme really appeals to me. As does the gameplay! Many (most?) solitaire boardgames are difficult, but in this case the difficulty perfectly suits the theme: you don’t expect to conquer the world playing as the Comanche. Quite the opposite, sadly. The Playbook tutorial is awesome, as is Joel Toppen’s companion video tutorial. Personally I think the map could be prettier, but that’s okay. Tom says he likes Navajo Wars even better. Tom, is Navajo Wars significantly more complex?
Star Wars Rebellion. Great times playing this with my son.
South Pacific and Empire of the Sun. Card-driven takes on WW2 in the Pacific, with lovely components and innovative (though complex) gameplay. EoTS now features a solitaire bot that isn’t quite as autonomous as the bots in the COIN games or Churchill, but it suits me fine.
Band of Brothers. Just discovered this elegant tactical board wargame. Its “suppression” mechanic breathes life into a genre that needs some innovation.
Conflict of Heroes Solo Expansion. I don’t love the Conflict of Heroes mechanics as much as those in Band of Brothers, but this solo expansion is the best solitaire board wargame system I’ve ever seen. (And I’ve played most of them, from the Butterfield games to Fields of Fire.) It features “emergent” AI – like ants in an ant farm, the units get a variety of simple instructions, prioritized and executed according to game state. It works really well.
This is a new Euro from the guy who did Mombasa, Broom Service, and Isle of Sky. I’ve not played Mombasa. The core mechanic I think I like. You have a deck of cattle cards. You draw some into your hand. You then move a your cowboy across the Western trail, stopping at some building which gives you a special action. That action might be to discard a cattle card from your hand for some money, but that’s OK since you draw back up to the limit at the end of your turn. When you reach the end of the trail (Kansas City), you sell your cattle. Except you only get money for each unique cow type in your hand. So, you want to time your stops along the way to try to improve your cattle hand.
Then, well, the game becomes point salad, and complicated in such a way to distract from this good central mechanism. You have your own player board, which has discs covering abilities. Reach KC and you unlock that ability by moving a disc to city. However, cities can only receive a disc once, and each city has a minimum hand value to place there. The exception is the first city… which also carries a -6 VP penalty. So, avoid that one! There are also goal cards you pick up as an action, some advance cattle cards give extra VP, building new buildings give you VP, buying trail hazards off the board give you VP, things called stations can give you VP, etc. The game owner described it as a game where specialization is very useful. So, do you focus on getting cowboys for cattle, craftsman for buildings, or engineers for… rail VP?
Eh, I’d play it again, but I’m just not a fan of point salad.