Boardgaming in 2019!

Wow. We easily played 15-20 rounds, and not once did we even get to the final scoring, let alone 6 hours or anything approaching it. That’s what, 30 minutes per turn? 3 minutes per card?

I’ve had games of Twilight Struggle that last 94 hours. Straight.

-Tom

Finally got Everdell to the table tonight. It’s an interesting mix of worker placement and tableau building, with a big 3D tree that…honestly doesn’t really contribute much of anything to the game, which was disappointing. It’s just a spot where you put workers you get in later turns, reminder text for the “season” system, and a second tray for the four randomized extra scoring goals.

Each player has both workers (2 to start, more as the seasons cycle) and a hand of cards they can play to their “city”, maximum of 15 in city and 8 in hand. There are also eight refreshable cards in the “Meadow” on the board which anyone can play. You take turns either placing workers on locations on the board (resource gathering, mainly, but there are also four randomized special locations, and some cards in your tableau may have worker locations. Plus scoring opportunities if you have the requirements), or paying resources to play out cards. “Construction” cards (buildings) will let you play a specific linked “Critter” (person) card for free as a separate action - for example, the Post Office will let you play the Postal Pigeon for free. Certain cards will produce.

At first (the “winter” turn) things feel very tight. You have no starting resources at all, and every card you might play costs resources to play. And you only have two workers to place to get those resources. Spring triggers production from any production cards you might have managed to put out, and adds another worker to your options. Combos start to become possible, and larger plays. Summer ramps you up to four workers and two Meadow cards of your choice (to your hand, not your city) and will be where the biggest combos and chain plays occur. And then Autumn hits and you’re up to a full six workers and another round of production, but you’re probably hurting for space in your city, resources only matter for filling any remaining slots (unless you have some way to score off them) and most of those workers will end up pushing for special scoring goals, tableau scoring locations, or the Journey spaces that allow you to burn cards for points in limited quantity (only opening in Autumn). It’s an interesting dynamic that feels fairly flavorful.

I took second place by a point or two despite being convinced I was well behind for most of the game. I was easily 20+ points behind the winner, though. And that’s at least in part because of my biggest problem with the game: it’s just a bit too luck driven. There is a class of card that pays off in some sort of bonus whenever you do (X), such as playing Constructions, playing Critters, etc. I only twice ever drew one of these, and only one of them in a context where it was at all useful to me, and even that was turns after the others. These are extremely important to engine building and I was simply shut out of that for virtually the whole game. Similarly, the special scoring goals often require particular combinations of card that I never once had the opportunity to play. These were responsible for 13 of the 20-odd points the winner beat me by. There are also particular card combinations that are especially effective (such as a Husband/Wife team that also requires a Farm to fully pay off - I had the Farm, got a Husband - actually could have played 2 - and never once had access to a Wife.).

It’s not by any means fully luck driven - even with the cards, there are multiple copies of everything and at least some of them come in 3 or 4 copies - and how you choose to spend your actions and your order of operations, etc definitely matter. Some of the lead the winner achieved was luck, but the lead itself was good play. But there’s enough there that it can be frustrating and I think it might well end up being the determining factor with people who’ve played enough to get the strategies involved down better. I guess we’ll see.

Everdell is a favorite of mine. I just love the pace of it, which you described very well. It accelerates like mad and then ends at exactly the right time.

Luck is certainly a factor, but I’ve found that you can mitigate it to some degree by keeping a close eye on other players’ tableaus and snapping up cards from the meadow that would benefit them. They might draw the card they need anyway, but chances are that you’ve made things harder for them.

We played Treasure Island last weekend, it was fun, with people doing shots of grog if they dug and didn’t hit anything. We had some drunken sailors at the end. I’ve never seen a game with dry erase markers before and so much hidden information. In the end Long John Silver escaped and got the booty, my monkey just missed the dig site ahead of him.

Then on to some other pirate game who’s name I can’t remember. There is a ship in the middle and you have a deck of cards with the pirate crew ranked 1 to 30 or so. Every turn you play the cards on the ship and resolve action and capture your choice of booty, some good, some bad. You then count up your doubloons or whatever in between rounds. Was light and decent.

“What would you do with a drunken sailor, what would you do with a drunken sailor, what would you do with a drunken sailor earl-lie in the morn-ing.”

I don’t think hate-drawing/playing the Meadow compensates for the luck problem, I think it’s part of that problem. Several of those engine cards appeared in the meadow and then were taken before I ever had a chance to act on them. That said, it’s certainly also a part of the strategy of the game.

Treasure Island is great. I feel it’s impossible to win as Long John because everyone can tail you out of prison and move faster. So I’m glad to know he won in your game!

The act of drawing in the maps is amazing and so unique. But I feel the pens in the game are a bit of a let down. You can buy some grease markers online that really show up, nice and bright, on the map surface. (Which itself is very reflective and so had a lot of glare).

But production aside, the game is so clever and interesting. (Except the card acquiring mechanic. I’m not a huge fan of that and would be interested in a variant)

“Things get dicey” is back.

And for those like me, who spend a fair amount of time watching game videos to try and decide what to buy, this one will keep you going:

Imgur

I really enjoy Treasure Island. I believe I have played it 4 times over the past year and we are around 50/50 on Long John Silver victories.

For the markers, we use chalk pens my teacher wife used for school. They stand out brighter and are as easy to erase. They make more of a mess on the players’ hands though.

The game is a great idea and a really cool variation on the 1v.all hidden movement. We always have a lot of fun playing it.

Yeah, I’m not a fan of Everdell’s “I hope I get the card I need” mechanic either. It’s a bummer in an otherwise interesting game that I enjoyed playing.

Well, she is just plain adorable.

That was hilarious. Thank you! She should’ve shoved Rahdo in there, but those other impressions were spot on.

New games this week:














Notes:

  • Relic is a reissue from WizKids
  • Puerto Rico Deluxe now includes the 2 expansions and “redesigned content.”

The new Puerto Rico cover is amazing.

Executive 1: “Hey, people keep pointing out that our game is about importing and exploiting African slaves. Let’s put a blonde Fabio on the cover, and no one will ever complain again!”

Executive 2: “But won’t that change alienate our core euro-game audience?”

Executive 1: “Don’t worry, we’ll make sure the cover art is still bland and unattractive.”

Big Thumbs up for Artemis project. Dice worker placement and competition for resources and ‘missions’

It was a standard rule.

I never found that to be a balancing factor in the games I played. The 3 player alliance wipes the floor with the remaining players, locks them out of every recovering, then easily occupies 5 strongholds. In theory they COULD backstab each other to break up and seize victory with a reduced requirement, but in practice there was no incentive because you were guaranteed the easy safe with just sticking with 3.

The only way around it I found is to bring in a meta rule where everyone throws in $5 in a pool at the start of the game and all winners split the pot at the end. It was the only way to encourage the intense backstabbing that Dune should have.

(similarly that’s the only way I’d ever play Cosmic Encounter again)

Oh, and three-player alliances were also only allowed in six-player games. That’s important too!

Whoa, I thought I was the only one who’s considered this! Not necessarily for Dune, but for any game that needed some stakes instilled so people cared about winning instead of just giving up halfway through. I’m mean, I’m all for friendly boardgaming, but not when it undermines the way a game is supposed to be played.

When I was in grad school, we used to play a modern Risk-style game called Supremacy.

To add stakes, the winners got to write up a proclamation on a sheet of paper for each loser. Something dumb like “I hereby designate Tom Chick’s rule of the United States as illegal and consign him to the dungeons of Europe.” Then the loser had to post that on his dorm room door until the next game of Supremacy.

Unfortunately, none of my friends live in dorms anymore, so we’d have to do the thing with the $5.

-Tom

I came up with “the $5 rule” just for games where you could share victory with other players, without much drawback to just anti-climatically sharing victory.

Oh god, Supremacy. I owned that in middle school. We tried SO HARD to make it work and have fun with it, because damn it was the early 90s and it seemed like MINDBLOWING board game design at the time! It was Risk, but with resources like grain/oil/minerals/cash, you needed to pay logistics to move units! You could build nukes and laser satellites!

We never got it to work. The economy was so broken where resources could cost $1 million at the start of a turn, and $1 billion by the end. You could prospect for resources in neutral counties for your own source of resources, but that means you’re not buying them from the market anymore and thus the price crashes, and since selling resources on the market is the sole way to make cash, everyone goes broke. Yes, everyone goes broke for being self sufficient in resources…

And the grain/oil cost to move units was ludicrous. It was ridiculously slow and expensive to move any kind of force around the globe, and impossible to conquer someone conventionally.

We never, ever, ever, EVER had a game that didn’t end in nuclear winter with no winners. Everyone went broke until someone built nukes. You could build laser satellites that had a 5/6 chance of shooting down a nuke, but each satellite was twice the cost of a nuke, and a single nuke getting through could destroy all the satellites in the game.

There’s literally fifty billion alternate advanced rules and new units in official expansions and online. I tried searching around online (back in dial-up internet days) to see if there was some way to make the game work. The answer was always someone pointing to the fifty billion optional rules that just added more complexity without solving any of the major issues.

Other old games I wanted to love but could never get to work:

-Gammarauders
-Nuclear War
-Risk 2210

(Gammarauders had the coolest cover art to a board game ever, even managing to beat out Fireball Island)

My only memory playing Supremacy in college is that most games we played it we ended up with a nuclear winter and everyone lost.