Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Top 42 Part 2 (35-29)

In an effort to not drag this list on for a month and a half, I'm going with two posts a week, meaning we'll be done before the end of February.

#35 The Game of Life: Jedi's Path
Alright, I know you're all going Life! Really?  Sure, this game still uses the same roll and move mechanic, but there are more options.  There are four different skill categories which all have tests throughout the game.  Your career and house have been replaced by a master and a lightsaber, a pretty good trade if you ask me.  You also have the choice to take different paths, but most require taking a dark side token.  These can cause you to go over to the Sith at the end of the game, or hurt you if you end up on the Jedi side.  At the end, the strongest Jedi and Sith have a final showdown, winner takes all.  This gives players some strategic choices in case they see a strong Jedi, they can go dark and try to win that way.  Overall, a nice variation on Life, a good use of the Star Wars theme, and a good game for Star Wars fans, but not something for the hardcore gamer.

#34 Fauna
Fauna is a game all about wildlife trivia.  Don't stop reading, it's actually a fun game.  See, the game isn't about knowing it all, though a good knowledge of animals will help you out, it's about having good ideas and estimates on things.  It's rather simple, an animal is revealed, you see a picture, get the scientific name, and how many areas it lives in. Based on that, you can place a cube in a region of the map, or take a guess as to how much it weighs, how tall/long it is, and how long its tail is.  If you're right you get points, but if you're adjacent to the right answer you get some points.  The game usually sees ~15 animals in play, so even if you have no clue on one, you can still win the game.  The wrinkle to the game is that you only get 6 cubes.  If a cube scores points, you get it back, but if it doesn't you lose it for a round.  You always get at least 3 cubes to play with, so you won't fall too far behind if you take a lot of chances.  I've only played twice, but both games have been close.  It's a game the entire family can play, and I'd also see some great uses in a classroom setting using teams as each player.

#33 The Adventurers (Temple of Chac)
I like to call this Indiana Jones, the board game.  As an adventurer, your job is to go into this temple, get  as much treasure as you can, and make it out before the boulder seals you inside.  Now, it would be easy to just get all the treasure you want, but the more you get, the less likely you are to get actions.  Meaning, there's a great balancing act.  Throughout the game you'll have to get through two walls closing in on you, then outrun the boulder while tiptoeing the lava pit, rushing down the river, and crossing the rickety old bridge.  If this sounds fun, just wait until you see the boulder right behind you while you're doing all of this. The production quality here is amazing.  You get 12 different adventurers, the walls, the boulder and the bridge, as well as lava tiles and all the treasure cards.  I've yet to come out alive, but the game is still a great deal of fun.  Also great for the young ones.

#32 Mr. Jack
A two player game of deduction and stealth.  In this game, one player takes the role of a Scotland Yard detective while the other player takes control of Jack the Ripper.  Each odd turn 4 of the 8 characters are revealed, and used by the players to learn or conceal information.  The inspector's goal is to figure out which character Jack is using to hide his identity, while Jack is trying to escape or last 8 turns with the inspector either not making an accusation, or making a false one.
Each of the 8 characters has a special ability.  Some are more helpful to the Inspector, others to Jack, but figuring out how to make best use of each of them is the fun part to the game.  I've played a lot more online than in real life which gives you more time to think, but I've come to realize that I much prefer playing Inspector rather than Jack.  Its two completely different ways to play the same game, which gives it some replayabilty.  The theme is great for someone who's a mystery fan, but as a game, I think there are better two player only games in existence.

#31 Power Grid
This is probably the first "euro" game I ever played, meaning it's all about the mechanics, and strategy, very little luck.  I enjoy Power Grid because it feels like a giant math puzzle.  It's all about figuring out when to expand, how much to bid in the auctions, and how many resources to keep stored versus waiting for that next turn.  I've only played a handful of times, and I ended up going overboard by buying most of the map expansions, which gave me options, but I realized that I really only needed the original map, and I think I have one more just for variety.  There's a lot of math here, but it's covered in money, so it seems to be more straightforward.  I haven't played this in almost two years, maybe three, but it's still one I enjoy, even if the theme is a bit bland.  Maybe it was me winning all the time, though I doubt that would hold up long term, or maybe it was that Power Grid felt too much like work, my gaming dad does work in the power industry, that caused PG to fall flat.  Nevertheless, it's still a great game design, and something I'm glad I've played, and something I hope to play more in the future.

#30 High Society
I have to admit that High Society's ranking shot up because of the IOS app.  It has allowed me to play a lot more games, and see the intrigue in the game.  Essentially the game is about using your money to acquire works of art, and avoid hazards like a thief, a fire and a forgery.  There are 10 paintings worth 1-10 points, 3 2x multipliers, and the 3 hazards (steals your lowest, cuts points in half and -5 points respectively.)  Each turn you flip a card over and have to bid on it with money cards in your hand.  You can only add in cards from your hand, never replacing, though if you pass you take your cards back.  As soon as the forth multiplier card is flipped (the 3 doubles and the half) the game is over and the high score wins.  Sounds pretty simple right? Well, before you figure out the high score, the person who has the least amount of remaining money (or people if there's a tie) are automatically eliminated.  This creates a balance between gaining paintings and having money left to spend.  Overall a fun, quick card game for 3-5 people.

#29 Formula D
Formula D is a racing game, Formula 1 racing to be specific.  If you're a fan of that, you'll love the game, but even if you aren't, you still might enjoy it.  I purchased Formula D for Father's Day a few years back, and we've played as a family.  Most of our races have come down to dad and myself, but sometimes my sister gets in there and steals the win.  We've yet to play the advanced rules, since we don't play this much, but we have a great time teasing mom when she crashes out, or dad when he rolls the worst possible number and takes 5 turns to get down the straight.  The great thing in Formula D are the different gears are represented by different sided dice. So when you're in first gear you roll a d4 and can only get a 1 or 2. 2nd gear gives you a d6 numbered 2-4 twice, and so on, all the way to 6th gear and a d30 numbered 21-30 3 times each.  It's really fun to have different dice represent the progression of gears, and really gives you a reason to move through the gears and have fun with it.  Sure the game has some funky maps, but there are so many of them between Formula D and Formula De, that you can pick and choose the best ones.  If you like racing at all, or like moving a car around a board, give this a try.  It's easier than you think it would be, and a lot of fun.

That's the first third of the list, coming up on Sunday night, 28-22, and next Wednesday I'll do 21-15.

1 comment:

  1. I've unfortunately only played Star Wars Life once, but I remember being delightfully surprised at how good it was. Unlike themed monopolies, they didn't just slap on themed pictures and titles--they really incorporated the Jedi or Sith lifestyle into the game.