Thursday, August 29, 2013

In Defense: Owning a Money Sink

Many of us have that one game where we will buy expansion after expansion, miniature after miniature, new booster pack after new booster pack, etc. no matter what the publisher releases.  Family, friends, significant others may sit and scoff or wonder why you're doing what you're doing.  For us, it's enjoyable.  There's a game in the chase of completion.  This behavior is most prevalent in Magic the Gathering players, or really any CCG, but it also shows up in miniatures gamers, and yes, even boardgamers.  Heck, it shows up all the time within many video games.  Pokemon magnified it with "Gotta Catch 'Em All" and by gum, we do.  We have to keep going until we have everything and nothing will stop us.

Personally, I've had several versions of this over my life.  I started out with the Star Trek CCG in 2nd grade and that lasted for a few years.  Pokemon (game and cards) came around in 5th grade and lasted for 2 years.  At least with Pokemon I managed to sell off my cards, and I haven't played a game since Silver/Gold, though that is going to change in October.  Somehow I managed not to have a compulsion during Jr. High and High School, which was good.  College saw me get back into Star Trek CCG, and then came boardgames.  Well, I've been fairly good about not having a completionist mentality, but for awhile I bought everything Carcassonne, then everything base Munchkin, everything Dominion (which is still going on), everything Small World, Formula D, etc.  And that brings me to my current sink, X-Wing.  I'm helped by the fact that there is no randomization, which is really useful, and one of the main reasons I'm sticking with the game.  I will never have a "complete" X-Wing collection.  Sure, I can have 1 or 2 or 3 or more of everything, but there will always be room for more, or maybe not.

So while I have a money sink, perhaps more than one, at least it's a controlled sink.  I'm not out chasing 40+ unique "rare" cards where you only get 1 per pack.  I'm not trying to collect countless Heroclix figures.  I'm not buying multiple booster boxes for the new set of a card game every few months.  I'm not buying a new chapter pack for a LCG every month.  Even if I was buying those things, it would be ok.  There's nothing wrong with those pursuits, so long as you're enjoying them and you're getting a return on your investment.

What I'm getting at is we all have that one aspect of our greater gaming life where we're going to invest money.  Some may see it as a waste, but we enjoy it.  As long as you're paying the bills and taking care of yourself and those you are in charge of caring for, it's ok to use your discretionary spending on something you enjoy.  After all, we play games (card, miniatures, board, etc.) to have fun.  We collect things to have fun.  Being able to merge those two is a great thing that results in a lot of fun.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Top 7 Games I Enjoy but Don't Own

Just like the title says, this is a list of the best 7 games that I've played but aren't in my collection.  Most likely they're not in my collection because I have easy access to them, and I'd only really play with the person or people who own the game.

#7 Las Vegas
A simple dice game with a lot of tactical choices.  Each turn you roll all your available dice, then you place all your dice of one number on a casino.  After everyone has placed all their dice, then you look at each casino.  Whoever has the most dice gets their first pick of a dollar amount, then if there are more checks, 2nd gets a pick, 3rd, etc.  The trick is that any players with the same number of dice on a casino  have all of their dice removed.  That means that if 2 players are fighting over a casino, someone can place a single die there and end up winning the big check because those two have the same number of dice there.  It's a really interesting concept.  The game plays fairly quick and is easy to get into.

#6 Black Friday
This is a stock market manipulation game that I find rather challenging.  You have to plan ahead enough, but you also have to see what effect each move might have down the road.  There's a lot of challenge to this game, all with the very simple goal of make the most money possible.

#5 Ugg-Tect
This is a silly game, it's really more of a party game, but come on, what's not to like about inflatable clubs and gently(or not so gently) bopping your teammates on the head. This is fun to watch and play.  Especially when a lot of serious gamers get together and let loose.

#4 Race for the Galaxy
I used to own this, but I traded it away for a couple of games that I ended up being able to play more often.  I still like RftG, but I now have 2 other people who own it, so I can get a game in with them if I want to play.  

#3 Marvel Legendary
This is the deckbuilder that has almost made me get rid of Dominion.  I love the theme, the gameplay is solid and offers a lot more variety within a game.  I like that the game is co-op if you want it to be, and a real competition if you want that too.  Legendary is easy enough to get into, but offers enough variety of heroes and villains to keep it different every time.

#2 Settlers of Catan
It's hard not to put a game I've played over 50 times at the top of this list, but Catan takes the #2 spot.  Yes, it's perhaps a little shocking that I don't own Catan, but I know 3 people within 30 minutes who own it, and when I want to play Catan, it's going to be with one of them.  Plus I own Star Trek Catan which is kinda the same thing, but not really.

#1 Kingsburg with To Forge a Realm expansion
Kingsburg is a dice rolling worker placement game, which means that you roll dice and based on what you roll, you do things with them.  There's a lot of variety in this game with the expansion, and because of that each time feels just a little different.  The base game was solid, but some dominant strategies emerged.  Most of those have gone away with the various modules offered in the expansion.  I really like the dice aspect of the game, even though I can never seem to get what I need.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

X-Wing: Followup

As several of you may recall, I bought in to X-Wing in early October of 2012.  I had heard wonderful things about it after Gencon, but I was hesitant to get into a miniatures game.  I know from my Star Trek CCG days that any game with frequent expansions is deceivingly expensive.  So I did my homework on X-Wing, just like I try to do on any game before I purchase it.  I read reviews, I watched tutorial videos, strategy videos, basically anything I could get my hands on.  The more I read and watched about the game, the more I started to give in to the dark side want it.  I knew the game would be easy enough to learn, and more importantly, easy enough to teach other people how to play.  I also knew that I'd have to supply both factions, but as I did more research, I realized that wasn't a terrible thing since not all upgrades came with all ships.

Enter November, and my review of X-Wing.  At that point I was a lost cause.  This game was awesome, nothing you could tell me would kill that enthusiasm.  Each time I played, I learned something new.  We had two epic battles over Thanksgiving which taught me a lot about the game, and made me a much better pilot.  Then came December and the Kessel Run.  See, FFG had underestimated demand, and thus had limited supply.  Wave 2 was supposed to be in stores by Christmas, but they saw that it wasn't going to happen.  So they pulled a great marketing move and sent kits out to a lot of retailers.  This allowed players to see the new ships, even play with them.  I was super fortunate that my area had only 3 people show up, so we each walked out with 2 ships.  This let me enjoy the new ships for a few months, not that I got to play very often.  I think it was March before I got my hands on the Falcon, but at that point the options for the game just opened up.  What X-Wing has done really well is limited the number of things that can go on any given ship, but in each of those categories there are a great number of options.  Want to put Luke Skywalker in an X-Wing, sure.  Do you take R2-D2? How about a generic R2 droid.  Proton Torpedoes?  How about a pilot skill like Expert Handling, or Squad Leader, or maybe Marksmanship?  Maybe a ship upgrade like Enhanced Engines, or maybe a Shield Upgrade.  Once you settle on Luke as an X-Wing pilot, you still have over 100 different options of how to equip him.  Then Luke isn't even half of your points for a standard tournament list, so the options keep going.  For me, variety and depth are two things that keep a game interesting and keep me coming back to it.  X-Wing has all of that and more.

Eventually the hype of Wave 2 died down, I wasn't playing the game as much since I don't have many people around who want to play, so it kinda sat dormant.  So, when I went on a trip to Santa Barbara for a week in late April, I knew I had to take my ships with me since I would be staying with college buddies for the week.  Best decision I made packing wise because we played 3 or 4 games, and got to mess around with a lot of different squads.  It was also great timing because FFG announced the Wave 3 ships on May 4th and that excited me even more.  Sadly, I've only played 2 games between May and now, but more games will happen.  I have two different stores, one in Modesto, and one in Hilmar, who are going to run X-Wing nights/tournaments with me demoing/judging. Wave 3 will be in my hands soon enough, hopefully in another month or so, and the idea of the new large ships has my mind spinning with excitement over the even more epic battles to come.

I've learned some very important X-Wing lessons over the last year.  Here's a few that really stand out.

  • Tabletop got a lot wrong, so read the rulebook, don't follow the show.
  • It doesn't matter how good your list is if you constantly fly into your other ships and asteroids.
  • Piloting is the most important part of the game
  • Your dice do hate you, but so do your opponent's. 
  • Your dice are streaky, or appear to be.
  • Never leave Luke with R2D2 for last with a single Tie Fighter, you can't win.
  • Big ships move far
  • You can fly off the board if you're not careful. The look on your face is hilarious to your opponent.

So yes, X-Wing is worth it.  I don't get to play it as often as I'd like, but every time I play, I have a great time.  It doesn't matter if every single ship I play gets shot down before I can take out an enemy ship, or if the game takes 3 hours.  I have so much fun each and every time I play it.

Now, to put my take on what you might want to get if you want to experience X-Wing.
Well first, try to demo the game before you buy.  I'm sure someone in your area plays and would be willing to teach you, I know I'm always happy to teach the game.
If you can't find a demo, or if you enjoy your demo, buy a core set, maybe even 2.  Now I hear some of you asking "why would I buy the same thing twice?"  Well the answer is simple.  If you want to have your own dice, it's good to have more than 1 core set.  Also, if you don't want to have to share moving templates, you need a 2nd set.  Plus, for your money, you double your ship count.
Then play that.  Mess around with 30-50 point games.  Have fun.
Still like it?  Ok, now time for expansions.
First, get an X-Wing and Tie Fighter Expansion.  Now you're asking "why would I get a ship I already own?"  Another simple answer.  Each of these expansions adds some new pilots for their respective ship to the game.  For instance the X-Wing expansion adds in Wedge who is a great pilot.
Then get a Tie Advanced.  One word - Vader.
After that, the choices are really up to you.  For Rebels, I love the Falcon, 1 A-Wing is great, 1-2 Y-Wings might be worth it, they depend on your play style.
For Imperials, I love Tie Interceptors, I own 4.  Slave 1 is a useful ship with a lot of great upgrades.

Here's what I own by ships and I'll say what I think is good for beginners to own

  • 4 X-Wings, beginners probably only need 2 or 3 as long as 1 is an expansion so they have all the pilots.
  • 3 Y-Wings. I've never fielded more than 2 and that was in an epic game. Beginners could get by with 1.
  • 1 Millenium Falcon. I think this is good, I've thought about buying a 2nd for the upgrades and to run double Falcon lists, but it's not a priority for me.
  • 2 A-Wings. I like them both, I've never ran both at the same time, so I say a beginner can get by with 1.
  • 5 Tie Fighters (4 from core sets 1 expansion).  5 is a good number to have.  You could get by with 3 (1 core and 1 expansion) but it's really easy to get to 5.
  • 3 Tie Advance.  I went overboard here.  2 were great for epic games, but you only really need 1.
  • 4 Tie Interceptors.  I've run 3 together before.  I got the 4th for epic games.  For new players, 1 is great to experiment with and see if you like it.  If you do, 2 or 3 is a good number.
  • 2 Slave 1.  I got the 2nd one for the upgrades and I got a deal on it.  You only really need 1 of these as a newer player, but it's not even necessary if you're ok with proxies.
I haven't quite decided how many Wave 3 ships I'm going to get.  I know at least 1 of each, quite possibly 2 of each, with a 3rd B-Wing and Tie Bomber.  Have I mentioned that I'm a bit addicted to this game?

At this point I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the large ships, aka too big to fit on the table in our current scale so we have to change things so it feels right even if it isn't exact.  First off, I don't care about scale.  Second, I wavered between really? and I gotta got those.  I've come down on the side of I'm going to suck it up and buy it because they will look awesome, and they'll make my store demo days all the more fun.  Plus, missions are the long future of this game.  I want a campaign that I can play for years, and these will be a vital part of it.  

Saturday, August 17, 2013

In Defense of: Waiting to Purchase

I thought it might be interesting to start a new article series titled In Defense of: ....
The goal of this series is to look at a given topic and give reasons why it is worth doing.  I'm not sure how many of these will come out, a lot depends on the reaction.

The first topic for this series is waiting to purchase games.  We live in a microwave society, and by that I mean that we want everything right now.  We also want the newest game that everyone seems to be talking about.  The problem with buying new games is multifold.  The most glaring hurdle is that no one really knows how replayable the game is.  I think it's safe to say that any good board game is replayable at least 10 times.  I'd say the best are replayable at least 30 times, but that's a topic for another day.  Many games are flashes in the proverbial pan.  They come out to a lot of fanfare and then very few people are playing them 6 months later.  Sure, these can still be good games, but are they really the best ones?  I'd argue that they're not.

A big issue with a lot of games these days is rule errors.  No product is ever perfect, no game is perfectly balanced with every single thing in the box being exactly right.  Still, many games receive a second edition which addresses a lot of these issues, and that makes it worth waiting on.  Furthermore, a lot of these second editions have improved components, revised card text as so on.  Now, I hear someone asking "What if the game goes out of print and never comes back?"  To that I say that the game probably wasn't all that good.  There are exceptions to that, but I'd argue that any game worth owning that has come out in the last 5 years is either in print right now or will be coming back very shortly.

The third reason why you should wait to buy a game is that you'll likely have a chance to play the game you're considering before you buy, and that lets you know if it really is something you'll want.  Experiencing a game for yourself is one of the best pieces of information you can use in deciding what to buy.  Even if you aren't able to play a game, you'll be able to read more reviews about a game, and maybe even watch videos of the game being played.  All of this leads to greater knowledge, which makes you a more informed consumer, and hopefully avoids games that may not be right for you.

These are the reasons why you should wait before buying the new "hotness"

  • Avoid flashes in the pans
  • Acquire games with enough replayability
  • Improved 2nd edition
  • More information available
I try to live by a 6 month rule.  Typically if a game is still being talked about 6 months later, it's worth getting.  Also by that time I have plenty of reviews to read and I may have even had a chance to play it.  I've broken my 6 month rule a fair number of times, but each of those times has involved significant research, perhaps even watching the game being played and having good confidence that I will enjoy it.  It's not a perfect rule, but I've avoided a lot of misses by waiting.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

State of the Collection Part 7

Today we look at the last shelf in my collection.  It's kinda a catch all shelf with a lot of card games, some prototype supplies, and some extra expansion boxes.

Ratings are out of 6.
NP - Not played
1 - Ready to trade/sell
2 - Considering trading/selling, willing to give another chance
3 - Might trade/sell, not my favorite, but has a time and place to play. Perhaps is around more for others than myself.
4 - I like the game but there's something that stops me from liking it more.  Maybe I don't get to play it often enough, maybe there's a minor irritation with some rules or the way something works.  
5 - I enjoy the game. It works well in most situations. I would be hard pressed to let it go, but it could happen in the distant future.
6 - Love the game, keeping it, never letting it go.

  • Crappy Birthday - NP
  • Ouits - NP
  • Pirateer - NP
  • Risk 2210 - NP
  • Scrabble Slam - NP
  • Settlers of Canaan - NP
  • Slamwhich - NP
  • Squarrels -  NP
  • Clue Express - 2.  I didn't dislike the game, but nothing made me have to play it again.  
  • Munchkin - 2.  I just did a review of Munchkin, so my expanded thoughts are there.  The short of things is that Munchkin needs changes for me to enjoy it.  Most of the time, I'd rather play just about anything else, or at least try to introduce a new game to people who like Munchkin.
  • Sorry Express - 2.  Very luck dependent game with no real opportunity to strategize.  
  • Yahtzee Hands Down - 2.  I don't remember much about this game other than it being very dependent on the cards that you draw.  I recall it being a lot like Yahtzee with cards instead of dice.  It's just not interesting enough for me to want to play.
  • Catan Dice - 3.  This game does a great job of capturing the feel of Catan and transporting it to dice.  Trading doesn't exist, but that keeps the game moving.  There are opportunities to use certain abilities, and knowing when to use them is a key aspect to the game.  It's not an amazing game, but it does scratch that Catan itch for me.
  • Give Me the Brain - 3.  This is a very luck driven card game, but it has just enough strategy to keep me interested.  Sure, you can go the entire game without getting the brain, which makes it essentially impossible to win, but most of the time you're in with a chance.  
  • Martian Dice - 3.  This is another push your luck dice game.  There aren't tons of choices, but there are enough that the game stays interesting.  I like this better than Zombie Dice because there is a cap to how many points you can score in one turn.  The game leads to a lot of laughter, groans, and general silliness.  
  • Monopoly Deal - 3.  I don't love the game, but it is a decent card game.  It has a lot of take that moments, but not too many that you hate the other players.  The game will also eventually end, which is an improvement over standard Monopoly.
  • Monopoly Express - 3. Speaking of Monopoly variants, here's the dice version.  I actually like this as a push your luck dice game.  It's not amazing, but I actually enjoy playing this game.
  • Fjords - 4.  This is a 2 player tile laying and area control game.  It has many layers of strategy which I appreciate.  I bought the game for my mother, and she's yet to lose which is a good thing in my book.  It's been awhile since I've played, but it's a game where I enjoy the challenge.
  • Ultimate Werewolf - 4.  This is the best large group social game that I know of.  The only downfall to the game is that I rarely get to play it.  True, that's not the game's fault, but since it doesn't really shine until you have 8 or more players, it's hard to play often.  Still, with the right group, there is no other game that I'd rather play.
  • Dominion (w/ all expansions) - 5.  I really enjoy playing Dominion.  I think the game is well designed, and it has tons of variety.  The game is an excellent blend of skill and luck.  Sure, it's a pain to store and transport, but I like the game, and will play it whenever I can.

And we're done!
For now....

I'm going to do my best to not buy anything for the rest of the year.  I know I'll be buying X-Wing Wave 3 minis when they come out, and I might buy Forbidden Dessert, and of course Cosmic Storm, but I'd like to save up for Secret Santa and actually have a wishlist for that.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

State of the Collection Part 6

Today we look at another game shelf, this one containing 14 games and several expansions to some of those games.

This is my Ticket to Ride, Gryphon Bookshelf Games and small box game shelf.
The small below one is used for prototype storage and sorting.

Ratings are out of 6.
1 - Ready to trade/sell
2 - Considering trading/selling, willing to give another chance
3 - Might trade/sell, not my favorite, but has a time and place to play. Perhaps is around more for others than myself.
4 - I like the game but there's something that stops me from liking it more.  Maybe I don't get to play it often enough, maybe there's a minor irritation with some rules or the way something works.  
5 - I enjoy the game. It works well in most situations. I would be hard pressed to let it go, but it could happen in the distant future.
6 - Love the game, keeping it, never letting it go.

  • Flapjacks and Sasquatches - NP.  Haven't played. It was a door prize and I have no sense of urgency on this.
  • Get Bit - 2.  I feel like the game is solved when it gets down to 3 players.  It's not too hard to look around and see what can happen.  Because of that, the game has limited replayability for me.  Maybe it would work better with a large group like 6+, but I don't always have that many around.  There's luck in what other people play, but one can argue it's all skill.  The game just confuses me and I'm not sure it's worth it for serious gamers.  Perhaps that's the issue at hand, this is meant to be a light game, yet everyone overthinks it.
  • Jabberjay - 2.  This is essentially a blend of Resistance and Werewolf/Mafia.  There's elimination, but there's also card play and a small group interactive feel.  The problem for me is that if I want that game experience, I'm playing Resistance.  If I want the player elimination, I'm playing Werewolf.  It's kinda fallen in the middle of 2 games that I already don't get to play enough.  
  • Shadows Over Camelot the Card Game - 2.  I want to like this game, but I just can't.  Memory games are rarely easy, but throwing in a traitor makes this game far too hard.  Also not being able to talk (sometimes) in a learning game is a big challenge that I wasn't prepared for.  It's not a bad game, it's just not a game for me.
  • Ace of Spies - 3.  I have mixed feelings about this game after 1 play.  I like the ideas, but I'm not sure that the game is suited for my playstyle.  It's a bit too directly mean, and that can lead to a lot of wondering why me and not him.  Maybe it needs to be a 2 player game.  
  • Colossal Arena - 3.  I like the variety in the game, and it feels like I have enough control to enjoy while still having enough randomness to keep it interesting.  What I've found is that this simply is not a game for 5 people.  You just don't have enough cards, and that's really a shame.  It may be one of the best 3 player games out there, which is a great thing in any game.
  • Doctor Who the Card Game - 3.  The one time I played this game, we had a horrible distribution of cards that made the game take a very long time.  I want to play it more to see what a different setup will yield.  The mechanics are interesting even if they aren't thematic.  Doctor Who is a tricky theme to get right, and this tries to do it justice and passes.  It doesn't succeed entirely, but it doesn't fail. 
  • Elder Sign - 3.  I like this game and I don't at the same time.  Maybe it depends on the time of day or the day of the week.  There's a lot to the game, I think it has a lot of interesting decisions, it makes players try to manage a situation that is essentially unmanageable.  Beating this game feels really good, and losing doesn't sting too much.  Still, something just doesn't sit right with the game.  It's not the theme.  I guess it's how lucky you really have to be with the dice in order to win.  There's not much grace, which is fine in a strategy game, but when it comes to luck, I want some flexibility.
  • Gem Dealer - 3.  This is a card bidding game with some luck, but also a lot of tactical choices.  I don't want to play it often, but it is a game worth playing as a casual, change of pace game.
  • High Society - 3.  High Society is an auction game where you lose if you spend the most money.  It's a clever twist that keeps players thoughtful about what they want and how much they're willing to pay.  It lacks high replay value, but it's good every so often.
  • Space Hulk: Death Angel - 3.  Here's another co-op game that I like playing, but I don't get to the table enough.  It suffers a lot from overanalyzing and group think.  One player can essentially run the game, which isn't a shock since this has a solo mode.  It's a solid design outside of that.  I love combat, but hate the die at the same time.  I don't mind the hero elimination, but it sucks to be an eliminated player.  Luck plays a big factor here, but I still have a fun time with the game.  I need to play it again soon.
  • Jaipur - 4.  This is a really good 2 player game.  There's a lot of back and forth, trying to stop your opponent while helping your own cause.  There's a little bit of luck, but most of the game comes down to making the right move at the right time and deciding how long you can hold out. Sometimes waiting for the bigger points is worth it, sometimes playing smaller points more often is the way to go.  Lots of different options and an intriguing game.
  • Lost Cities - 4.  Great 2 player game.  I like everything in the game.  I'm not great at it, but I really enjoy the back and forth nature of card discarding, picking up, and trying to hurt your opponent just as much as help yourself.  It's light, it's quick, and it's really easy to play.  I don't get to play 2 player games often, so this doesn't get played much which is why it has the lower rating. 
  • Fleet -5.  Fleet caught my eye last year with a BGG designer diary.  I knew the game would be balanced, but I had no idea how much I'd enjoy the game.  Now, I won't say the game is perfect, but I have enjoyed every play of it.  The expansion is currently up on Kickstarter, and I'm eagerly anticipating all the additions that it will add.  
  • Roll Through the Ages - 5.  This is a civilization building dice game.  It takes around 15 minutes per player, so it can run long with 4, but it's still short compared to any other form of civ building.  There are times I wish the game had more going on, but its simplicity is a big part of its charm.
  • Ticket to Ride (US w/1910, Europe w/1912, Nordic, India/Switzerland, and Alvin & Dexter) - 6.  There may come a point where I consolidate Ticket to Ride boxes, or even get rid of one expansion, but for the most part, everything in these boxes is worth keeping around.  Alvin and Dexter aren't amazing, but they do add a new set of strategies which is nice for a change every so often.  Ticket is one of those games where I can pull it out with anyone and they're going to have a reasonable to great time.

Just 2 more parts to go!

Monday, August 12, 2013

State of the Collection Part 5

Today we look at another game shelf, this one containing 14 games and several expansions to some of those games.

Acquire, Solar Circuit Racing and expansions for
Formula D are behind Word on the Street

Ratings are out of 6.
1 - Ready to trade/sell
2 - Considering trading/selling, willing to give another chance
3 - Might trade/sell, not my favorite, but has a time and place to play. Perhaps is around more for others than myself.
4 - I like the game but there's something that stops me from liking it more.  Maybe I don't get to play it often enough, maybe there's a minor irritation with some rules or the way something works.  
5 - I enjoy the game. It works well in most situations. I would be hard pressed to let it go, but it could happen in the distant future.
6 - Love the game, keeping it, never letting it go.

  • Solar Circuit Racing - 1.  I can't play this game by the rules in the box.  They just don't make for an interesting game.  Maybe it really needs a big group like 5 or 6 people to make combat interesting.  The game has beautiful artwork, but terrible components.  I was just hoping for so much more from this Kickstarter, and it really failed to deliver.
  • Mystery of the Abbey - 2.  I like the deduction aspect of this game, and the way you have to ask questions in public but ask in a way that doesn't reveal too much.  Plus, the person you ask has the option not to answer your question, but if they do, they get to ask you something.  The game has interesting choices, and an interesting process of elimination, but ultimately it's a bit long for what it is.  Maybe that's being too accustomed to the length of Clue for deduction games, but I feel that there's only so much time where the mystery stays interesting.
  • Acquire - 3.  I enjoy the challenge of Acquire, but it gets a bit mathy for me.  It's subject to a bit more group think than I'd like, but that also leads to different challenges.  
  • Skyline - 3. This is an interesting dice game.  There are lots of meaningful decisions on each roll, as well as the big decision of how you're going to go about getting points.  I like the game, but I'm not sure how long I'll keep it around.
  • Triominoes - 3. Triominoes is essentially Dominoes with triangles.  All 3 numbers have to match up when you place a tile.  To me, that makes for a very interesting and challenging puzzle.
  • Word on the Street - 3.  I'm not big on wordgames, but Word on the Street has a fun way of going about it.  I like all the categories, and I really like the team aspect to the game.  It leads to a lot of creativity and it prevents the brain flub moments.
  • 1960: Making of the President - 4.  I don't get to play 2 player games very often, but when I do, this is one of the best long 2 player games I own.  The theme flows through the game, the mechanics are solid, the game feel tense yet not overly stressful.  I've won and lost on both sides, so I feel that the game is fairly balanced, and that makes it even better.
  • Pizza Theory - 4.  This is one of my go to games for 3 people.  I won't say it's a perfect game, but I enjoy the back and forth, as well as trying to figure out where other people are going to make their cuts.  The game plays quickly, so even if you mess up, you don't suffer for long.  This is a solid 3 player game and one I'm happy to have around.
  • Power Grid - 4.  Power Grid has its detractors in my group, but I'm a fan.  The game involves a lot of positioning yourself for the right time to make a move.  The end game often sneaks up on you, which isn't the worst thing in my opinion.  Each map plays a little differently, and that keeps the game fresh each time you play.
  • Formula D (w/ all 4 of the new map expansions) - 5.  I bought this game for my father because we both love watching Formula 1 races together.  This game isn't a Formula 1 race, but it is a rather enjoyable racing game.  Dice bring a lot of luck to the party, but knowing how to handle corners, being able to look ahead and plan, and managing your car's wear points are all very strategic elements to the game.  If they keep making expansion maps, I will keep on buying them.
  • Shadows Over Camelot (w/ Merlin's Company) - 5.  Shadows is one of the best hidden traitor games on the market.  The game is hard enough to beat you without a traitor, but a traitor really adds to the mind games.  The expansion really ramps up the difficulty, though it gives loyal knights a lot more fun white cards to utilize.  I go through phases of playing Shadows a lot, and then needing a break from it, but it's a game I want to have around for a long time.
  • Small World (w/ Cursed, Grand Dames, Tales and Legends, Be Not Afraid, and Necromancer Island) - 5.  I have more expansions for Small World than I will ever use.  I don't play it enough with people who know the game, so I often don't include most of the expansions due to complexity.  That being said, the original game offers a lot of variety and interesting interactions.
  • 7 Wonders (w/ Leaders, Cities and Wonder Pack) - 6.  I enjoy 7 Wonders, I'm not completely in love with the game.  It's a keeper because of how flexible the game is.  It works equally well with 3 to 7 players, and I don't know of any other game that can claim that.  I enjoy the challenge of card drafting and trying to figure out what not to give your neighbors.  The game has a lot of different levels of thought that goes into it, but I've seen all kinds of strategies do well.
  • Dixit (w/ Dixit 2 and Odyssey) - 6. Dixit is a fantastic large group game with amazing potential for creativity.  The artwork is amazing and it has made me love the game.  People make or break this game, but it's also a game that I can bring to a party and play with anyone.

Just 2 more parts to go!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

State of the Collection Part 4

Today we look at the random conglomeration of games that I have stored with other things.  For instance, I have my Carcassonne game in a tackle box with some other items in tackle boxes and other odds and ends, so that will be part of the miscellaneous groupings.

Ratings are out of 6.
1 - Ready to trade/sell
2 - Considering trading/selling, willing to give another chance
3 - Might trade/sell, not my favorite, but has a time and place to play. Perhaps is around more for others than myself.
4 - I like the game but there's something that stops me from liking it more.  Maybe I don't get to play it often enough, maybe there's a minor irritation with some rules or the way something works.  
5 - I enjoy the game. It works well in most situations. I would be hard pressed to let it go, but it could happen in the distant future.
6 - Love the game, keeping it, never letting it go.

  • Forbidden Island - 2.  The components are fantastic, but the game just isn't that challenging for a group of gamers.  I'll gladly break it out with casual gamers or a family, but it's losing the appeal for me.
  • Nefarious - 3.  I've only played the game once, and that was on "easy" mode, so I'm still reserving full judgement.  The game involves building all these cool mad scientist concoctions, but nothing in the game makes me feel like a mad scientist.  Really, the game comes down to action speculation, which is ok, but I'm not sure that's really worth a whole game.  I don't really know, this really needs another play or two to see what happens.
  • Zooloretto - 3.  Much like Aquaretto, Zooloretto offers players the chance to build a zoo.  This has some additional buildings which add variety in how you score points.  I appreciate Zooloretto having established areas for animals 
  • Aquaretto - 4.  I have to start by saying that this game is around more for my sister than anyone else.  That being said, I really do like the placement rules.  The game revolves around building a water park for animals, think Sea World.  There's a lot of back and forth in the game, as well as many opportunities to mess with other players.  When the game is over, it is fun to look at what you've built and imagine going to the park.
  • Bisikle - 4.  This is almost more of a toy than a game.  Essentially, you build a track, flick a ball around it, and race to see who can finish the course first.  There is some decent dexterity to the game, and certainly room to improve how you play.  I like the game, there's fun in the box, and it's something I can bring out with non gamers and they'll have a good time.
  • Blokus - 4.  I really like puzzles, and spacial reasoning, so I tend to do well in Blokus.  I'm not trying to brag, especially since I've lost this about as much as I've won.  Blokus is one big puzzle with multiple people fighting over a limited board size.  Planning ahead is not only encouraged, it's almost necessary.
  • Fauna - 4.  Yes, this game is about animal trivia.  Yes, that theme sounds super boring. But it's not.  There is actually a game here in terms of trying to maximize your cube placements, knowing when to keep playing and when to pass.  It's not a great game, but to me, it's solid enough to keep around.
  • Life: A Jedi's Path - 4.  Yes, this is a mainstream themed version of life, but the game really does play differently.  Players are trying to gain skills in 4 different areas, and each area might be needed on various missions/challenges.  In the end, it's a 2 player showdown of light vs dark for the title of ultimate Jedi.  The game has flaws if you play by the exact rules.  I've made a few modifications and I've really started to enjoy the game.  I don't play it often, I think it's been 2+ years, but it's one I'll play with the right group of people .(read Star Wars fans)
  • Sorry Sliders - 4.  Have you ever played or seen Shuffleboard?  If yes, then you essentially know how to play Sorry Sliders.  If you haven't, it's easy.  Slide a token with a ball bearing down a track, if it stays upright after all players have slid their pieces, then you get to move your tokens ahead.  Get all your tokens to home and you win.  Sorry Sliders is simple yet elegant.  It's a dexterity game, so no real high strategy, but there's a fun game here.
  • Alhambra - 5.  This is a fairly light tile game where you're also using money cards to buy buildings of various colors.  There are scoring rounds based on majority in different types of buildings.  It's not the most interesting theme, but the game has a certain appeal.  It's fairly simple and offers constrained choices on each turn.
  • Carcassonne - 5.  I know that I will never get rid of Carc, not because it's a great game, but because of how (mostly) easy it is to teach.  It really makes people think about how to manage a limited pool of workers, and maximize what each one can do.  The plus it that the game is about an hour, unless you make my early mistakes and add in 5 expansions.
  • Risk Legacy - 5.  This game makes me smile.  Ultimately it is Risk, but then it's not.  It turned Risk into a game with victory points, and a whole bunch of other stuff that makes it faster and more fun.  The only downside is that you have to play with the same group, and that feels like it's only going to become more problematic as time passes.  I may never finish this game, but it's fun every time I play it.
  • Star Trek: Fleet Captains (w/ Romulan exp) - 6.  I will buy every expansion for this game, even if I only get to play it once or twice each year.  The game is just that awesome.  I feel like I'm playing in a season of a Star Trek show.  Sure, it's some weird timeline overlap with Spock and Data possibly on the same fleet, but that doesn't bother me.  Each faction has immense theming and leads to completely different play styles.  There's so much to explore in this game and I feel like I've barely scratched the surface.
  • Star Wars: X-Wing - 6.  Yes, the game is lucky at times with dice.  I've won and lost games purely on how the dice go, but I've also won and lost based on outflying and being outflown.  This game is everything I want in a miniatures game: pre-painted, easy to teach, interesting squads to build while having limited options, and playable in 1-2 hours.
No post on Sunday, but I'll be back on Monday with Part 5.

Friday, August 9, 2013

State of the Collection Part 3

Today we look at the next shelf down which is home to 11 games.

Ratings are out of 6.
1 - Ready to trade/sell
2 - Considering trading/selling, willing to give another chance
3 - Might trade/sell, not my favorite, but has a time and place to play. Perhaps is around more for others than myself.
4 - I like the game but there's something that stops me from liking it more.  Maybe I don't get to play it often enough, maybe there's a minor irritation with some rules or the way something works.  
5 - I enjoy the game. It works well in most situations. I would be hard pressed to let it go, but it could happen in the distant future.
6 - Love the game, keeping it, never letting it go.

  • Mystery Express - 2.  This is essentially a gamer's version of clue.  It's a deduction game where you try to figure out 5 pieces of information.  The time mechanic is wonky in the way that you have to be quick about everything, while the rest of the game is about careful deduction and trying to maximize every action you take.  I like the game, but I'm one of the only ones around who does, so it's likely gone in the near future.
  • Ad Astra - 3.  This is one of those games that lacks the wow factor.  The game is solid, and I really enjoyed my only play of it, but no one has even mentioned it since, and that's a sign that it was forgettable.  
  • Ascending Empires - 3.  This is another combination of mechanics, this time flicking and empire building/research.  I enjoy the challenge of making everything work together and trying to figure out what to focus on and what to ignore.  This is another one of those games that no one has mentioned since the first times we played it, which is bad news.
  • Fluxx (w/ Monty Python exp) - 3.  This isn't a gamer's game. There's all kinds of luck, chaos, randomness, and a distinct lack of player control, but the game is silly which makes it amusing every so often.  I'm rarely going to break it out, but when I do, I always seem to have fun with Fluxx.
  • The Adventurers - 4.  This is a push your luck adventure game, much like Indian Jones.  Your goal is to get treasure and get out alive.  You're racing a boulder, and if it gets to the end before you, you're trapped inside forever.  I do like the game, but it's a little too lighthearted for the serious gamers and a little too serious for the lighthearted gamers.
  • Seasons - 4.  Seasons is a solid card and dice drafting game.  The game is all about finding combos and doing your best with what you have.  There are enough ways to mess with other players that the game stays interesting each time.
  • Star Trek Catan - 4.  This is essentially regular Catan, but the crew members give the game a great twist.  I haven't played this enough to fully judge the crew, but I like the added strategic options.
  • Wits and Wagers (Normal, Family and Party) - 4.  I will always want to have some version of Wits and Wagers in my collection.  It's a trivia game for people who aren't trivia buffs.  Most questions are so obscure that no one will know the right answer, but that's ok.  W&W rewards being close and having a good sense of where the correct answer is.
  • Battlestar Galactica (w/ Pegasus and Exodus exp) - 5.  The game is long, so it's hard to play often.  The game has a lot of rules that make the first time with new people even longer.  Despite those two things, BSG is a fantastic game for me, and one I try to play whenever the opportunity presents itself.
  • Cosmic Encounter (w/ Cosmic Incursion, Conflict and Alliance expansions) - 6.  Cosmic is the game that made me love games.  I enjoy the challenge of the game as well as the player interaction.  This is one of those rare games that brings out different sides of players' personalities.  That alone is worth keeping Cosmic Encounter around.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

State of the Collection Part 2

To make things easy, ratings will be out of 6.
1 - Ready to trade/sell
2 - Considering trading/selling, willing to give another chance
3 - Might trade/sell, not my favorite, but has a time and place to play. Perhaps is around more for others than myself.
4 - I like the game but there's something that stops me from liking it more.  Maybe I don't get to play it often enough, maybe there's a minor irritation with some rules or the way something works.  
5 - I enjoy the game. It works well in most situations. I would be hard pressed to let it go, but it could happen in the distant future.
6 - Love the game, keeping it, never letting it go.

Today we look at the top shelf which has 15 games.

  • Angry Birds: Knock on Wood - NP.
  • Ground Floor - NP.
  • The Hunger Games District 12 - NP. I haven't played this yet.  I picked it up on clearance, so it's not really an issue right now.  I don't know how long it will stay, but that's why we play the game.
  • Qwirkle - 2.  I haven't played it in over a year and a half.  The game is interesting, but it always seems like I'd rather be playing something else.  I think the game is good, but I don't think it's for me.
  • Order Up - 3.  This is a silly kids game about getting pizza toppings and fulfilling orders.  The game has a ton of luck, and you can easily be messed over, but it's a fun theme that my family enjoys, and worth playing for the 20 or so minutes it takes.
  • Scary Tales - 3.  This is really around for my gaming family.  I do have fun with the game, but it's a little long for what it is, and a little too lucky for my tastes.  I do enjoy dice games, and this one works.  It has an immersive theme with all the fairy tales.  The game just tends to drag a little with the typical 4-6 people we play with.
  • Kings of Air and Steam - 4. I need to play it more, and actually play with the full character rules. So far, I've only played the learning game, and I enjoy the challenge in the game.  There's a lot of planning ahead, a very tight system where you don't want to make a mistake.  Still, the production quality is fantastic, the game should be played more, but it's tricky due to the length.
  • Eminent Domain - 4.  Simply put, I need an expansion for this game.  The base game is fine by itself, but I want it to do something more.  I need added variety in technologies, and I think that's coming with the expansion.
  • Say Anything - 4. Simply, I don't get to play it enough.  I like the game, it's an excellent design, a party game that actually results in you knowing the other people better, and it makes you think in a creative manner.
  • Space Cadets - 4.  I've only played it once, so I need to play it more before really judging it.  I like that it is a co-op where you plan together, but it's up to each person to make the decisions that they think are best for their station.  It skillfully avoids the leader takeover and do everything problem.  I think Helm is the hardest part, and I may try to make that part a little easier in hopes of everyone having more fun.
  • Survive: Escape from Atlantis - 4.  I really want to like this game, but the sheer amount of luck seems to be holding me back.  I've done some research, and found that one of the expansions is supposed to minimize one aspect that I find irritating.  Who knows if it will fix it, but it's worth a shot.  Even though the game is mean at times, it's fun to try to fight the uphill battle.
  • Flash Point: FIre Rescue (w/ every published expansion so far) - 5.  This is another fun co-op game where I really enjoy the theme.  The game makes sense, except for how points of interest appear, but I'm willing to look past that.  The expansions offer a lot of added challenge, and this game does feel different every time.
  • Pandemic (w/ On the Brink exp) - 5.  Pandemic used to be a 6, but I haven't played it in awhile, and it seems to be losing steam to newer co-ops.  Maybe the newest expansion will change things.  The game is challenging, but it has started to feel the same each time I play it.
  • Rattus - 5.  Rattus is a blend of special powers and area control which I really enjoy.  The theme(black plague) is unique, and the game feels lighthearted enough that I don't get upset if I lose miserably which is 9 times out of 10.
  • Catacombs - 6.  Even though I don't play it enough, hardly at all in fact, this game is staying in my collection forever.  It's such a unique blend of mechanics, dungeon crawl and flicking, that I can't get anywhere else.  The game system is solid and I want to try my hand at a labyrinth for players to explore.  I think there's a lot that can be done here without drastically changing the way the game works. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

State of the Collection Part 1

Borrowing a page from Dicetower News videos where Tom Vasel talks about a gaming shelf and why he's keeping each game on that shelf, I wanted to do a series of posts where I discuss why I'm keeping the games I am, what I like about those games, and even some of the games I might consider trading/selling.  

To make things easy, ratings will be out of 6.
1 - Ready to trade/sell
2 - Considering trading/selling, willing to give another chance
3 - Might trade/sell, not my favorite, but has a time and place to play. Perhaps is around more for others than myself.
4 - I like the game but there's something that stops me from liking it more.  Maybe I don't get to play it often enough, maybe there's a minor irritation with some rules or the way something works.  
5 - I enjoy the game. It works well in most situations. I would be hard pressed to let it go, but it could happen in the distant future.
6 - Love the game, keeping it, never letting it go.

First, let's look at what's currently in my to go bag.  This is my go to set of games that I take with me to just about any gaming event.  Some games will change, but most are staples of the bag.  

  • Article 27 - 5. A big hit with my Friday night group.  One of the only pure negotiation games I own.  Players have so much freedom with this game, it's fun to watch everyone's behavior.
  • Coloretto - 3.  More often than not, I forget I have it around.  I like the set collection aspect, and the choice of when to take cards.  It's a deep card game and one I should play more often.
  • Eight-Minute Empire - 5.  It's just too easy to pull this out at the start of game night while we wait for other people to show up.  Yes, it always takes longer than 8 minutes, but it's a fast game and very enjoyable for the short time.
  • For Sale - 5.  A quick auction filler game.  There isn't a ton of strategy, which is good for new players, but there's enough that I still enjoy it 20+ games in.
  • Hanabi - 4.  Since I've only had this game for a week and a half, it's hard to rate it perfectly, but I'm enjoying it so far.  In ways, it's more of a challenge than a game, yet that makes it unique in my collection.  Trying to maximize your clues and deduce things about your hand while trying to stay on the course for a perfect game is a huge challenge.
  • Incan Gold - 6.  A great push your luck game that stretches up to 8 players, making it very versatile.
  • King of Tokyo (w/ Power Up exp) - 6.  KoT is one of those games that I can play in any gaming situation.  It's a fun and relatively fast dice chucking game with an engaging theme.
  • No Thanks - 5.  A quick filler card game.  There's luck with what cards come out, and when players decide to take cards.  There's also enough strategy to keep things interesting.
  • Resistance Avalon - 6.  This game is only a week and a half old for me, but in the 4 games I've played of it, I love it.  It's an absolutely fascinating experience of trying to figure out who's who based on every little thing that they do.  The game certainly makes you think, but I really enjoy it.
  • Smash Up (w/ Awesome Level 9000 exp) 3.  This card game still has me on the fence.  I love the ideas in the game, but it always seems to take too long to play.  Maybe we're all just thinking too long, but I still think things could be done to speed it up.
  • Tiki Topple - 4.  This isn't a perfect game, some would even say this isn't even a good game, but something about it just makes me smile.  Maybe it's saying the names of the Tiki's like Wikiwiki or Huhu.  This game brings out a silly side of me, and I enjoy playing it near the end of the night.
  • TransAmerica - 4.  This has been a hit with the Friday night group because of the subtle strategy.  The two big choices are when to connect to other players and when to use your colored tracks to block.  I try to play with the Vexation expansion as often as I can, but I do still enjoy the game without it.
  • Tsuro - 5.  It's seeing less play lately as compared to last year, but that's ok.  It still gets played from time to time.  It's a quick tile game, that is really easy to teach anyone.
So that's what's in my to go bag.  As you'd figure, it's a lot of the best games for me right now, and a lot of what I've been playing lately.  I'm going to try to get a post out a day, I'll probably look at 10 games per day, so it should take me a little more than a week to get them all out.  

Munchkin Review or I Told You Not to Pick Up a Duck in a Dungeon

  • Designed by Steve Jackson
  • Published by Steve Jackson Games
  • For 3-6 players (I prefer 3 or 4, maybe 5, but never 6.)
  • Playtime on the box is 90 minutes, but it can be shorter (rare) or more like 120-150 minutes.
Go into a dungeon with your friends, kill everything you meet, backstab so called friends, take their stuff, grab the loot and get out.

On your turn, you draw and reveal the top door card.  There are a lot of different cards but they go into 4 main groups. 1) Monsters, 2) Curses, 3)Races/Classes, 4) Other things to use later.  If you encounter a monster, you are immediately in combat.  Combat is relatively simple, you add your level plus any item bonuses and see if that total is higher than the monster's level.  If it is, you win and take treasure.  If it isn't, then you either have to try to get someone to help you by offering a split of the treasure, or try to run away.  Curses cause bad things to happen to you. Most curses involve loosing a piece of equipment or a level.  Play continues until one person defeats a monster causing them to go to level 10.  At that point they win and everyone rejoices that the game is finally over. (sorry, spoilers)

The interaction in Munchkin is certainly abundant.  Players are often angling to help in order to get a split of the loot, but are also levying "threats" along the lines of "take me or I'll add 5 to that monster."  The game depends on the interaction of players, and can fall completely flat if players aren't willing to work against each other to some degree.

The theme here is fairly strong.  The cards all evoke a sense of going through a dungeon.  They play on many of the D&D and GURPS character tropes in a fun way.  It isn't immersive, but it exists and allows players to get as much theme out of it as they want.  My problem with the game is that when I'm a Cleric, I don't really do anything in the game differently than when I'm a Warrior.  Also Dwarves don't feel that different from Elves or Halflings.  I know all these things have different abilities, but they don't really change how the game actually plays out.

My one complaint with the game is that it doesn't have a built in way to track levels.  Outside of that, the cards are all good quality, the artwork is well done, especially in a color set (which I don't own.)

Learning Curve
I can explain Munchkin in around 5 minutes, but it takes several rounds for players to really understand what's going on.

I've played Munchkin 14 times over the last several years.  You will rarely get through the entire deck in a single play, so there is variety to be had.  The distribution of cards, especially in the treasure deck, keeps things interesting in different games.  Changing the people you play with really helps keep the game fresh.  I played with the same group too many times and it ceased to be fun.

Why I like Munchkin
The game is random and offers a lot of player interaction.  It's not a terrible way to spend time with some roleplayers who might enjoy a card game, which could lead to other games.

Why I don't like Munchkin
The game has balance issues, pick on the leader issues, and worst of all, the potential to never end.  Players start off far too weak to be able to combat higher level monsters, and you can easily be out of the game within the first 20 minutes, yet have to sit there for another hour or more.

I still own Munchkin, but that is more due to not having much trade value or sell value, as opposed to actually liking the game.  I played Munchkin back in March with 4 players, all of whom were new, and we actually had a decent time of it.  I still feel like I have no control, and no real way to play better or worse.  I'll keep it on my shelf because it's fairly small, and there are good times in the box.

I've made some changes to the deck distribution, something I rarely do, but I've felt it was necessary.  I took out a few of the nastier monsters in the level 14-18 range.  I also play with a rule where everyone starts at level 5 and we play to 10 (for a short game) or 15 (for a normal length game).  This makes it easier to defeat monsters in the beginning, which really helps the game move along, and play in closer to 60 minutes.

Would it be a good game for Tabletop?
Yes, in fact they already made an episode of it.

Want to buy the game? Here's a link to Amazon, and you'll help support BoBG.  Here are a bunch of different themes on Munchkin, so you can pick whatever you think you'd like the best.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Dominion: Guilds Review

Reviewing expansions takes a bit of a different format for me.  I assume that you have some familiarity with the base game, either having played it, or at least heard about it.  With that in mind, let's take a look at Dominion Guilds

Each Dominion set has a general theme/mechanic.  Seaside had durations, Prosperity had a lot of treasure, Dark Ages had trashing, and Guilds introduces Coin tokens, as well as overpaying.  Guilds is the expansion that offers the most options when buying cards, and makes deck construction even more challenging.  Coin tokens are gained through several different cards.  They stay in front of you, and you can use any number on a turn to increase your buying power.  I really like coin tokens since they almost always eliminate that $7 hand.

If you don't want to read all my thoughts on cards, go ahead and skip down to the end now.

  • Advisor (Cost 4)  +1 action, reveal the top 3 cards of your deck. The player to your left picks one for you to discard, add the other 2 to your hand.  I like the card, maybe a bit more than I should.  It's a better and worse version of Envoy.  The action really helps to build a stable engine.  You're never going to get the best card, but sometimes your opponent doesn't know what the best card for you to lose is.  Advisor isn't amazing, but it's solid.
  • Baker (5) +1 card, +1 action, +1 coin token.  At the start of the game, each player gets a coin token.  Baker shifts the entire game at the start.  Now you can have a 4/4, a 5/3, or a 6/2 opening depending on what you draw and how you want to spend the token, if you even want to spend it to start.  The card itself is interesting, on a similar level to Market(base).  It's important to remember that Bakers don't give you money, just the coin token.  They're flexible, but most of the time you'll spend the coin tokens that turn.  
  • Butcher (5) Take 2 coin tokens.  You may trash a card.  Then gain a card equal to the value of the trashed card plus any coin tokens you wish to spend.  At worst, Butcher is a Remodel(base), but it's so much more flexible than that.  My favorite Butcher moment is Butchering a Doctor, adding 5 coin tokens, and making a Province.
  • Candlestick Maker (2) +1 action, +1 buy, gain a coin token.  At worst, Candlestick Maker is a copper that also gives you a bonus buy.  At best, it's a coin on a future turn that may just be enough to win the game.  I think CM is one of the best 2 cost cards in the game now, and it fits in to most decks.
  • Doctor (3+) Name a card. Reveal the top 3 cards of your deck. Trash the matches. Put the rest back on top in any order.  When you buy this, you may overpay. For each $1 you overpaid, look at the top card of your deck; trash it, discard it, or put it back.  I rarely overpay by more than 1 for the Doctor, making it a 4 cost, with a nice set up ability.  It's also a perfectly good card at $3.  The Doctor is great for getting rid of curses, estates, copper, and even those pesky Rats from Dark Ages.  It's controlled deck thinning, and it gives you the advantage of clearing up your next hand, or at least part of it.
  • Herald (4+) +1 Card, +1 Action. Reveal the top card of your deck. If it is an action, play it.  When you buy it, for each $1 you overpay, you may put a card from your discard pile on top of your deck.  First off, the card text alone is worth a buy at 4, even 5.  The overpay is the best in the set in my opinion.  Overpaying on Herald sets up your next hand, which is a great thing.  Heralds themselves build an action engine better than any other card.
  • Journeyman (5) Name a card. Reveal cards from your deck until you reveal 3 cards that aren't the named card. Put those cards in your hand, discard the rest.  Essentially, this is a Smithy(base) where you control 1 card you don't get.
  • Masterpiece (3+) Worth $1.  When you buy this, you gain a silver for each $1 you overpay.  Masterpiece is a tricky balance.  It's never worth buying at $3 since it's just a copper. At $4 or $5 it's great for added silver, but you have to weigh the benefit of silver over another 4 or 5.
  • Merchant Guild (5) +1 Buy, +$1.  When you buy a card, gain a coin token.  Merchant Guild is a nice bonus card, but it's tricky to build a deck around it.  I would love to add Merchant Guild to a Goons (Prosperity) and Gardens (base) game.
  • Plaza (4) +1 Card, +2 Actions. You may discard a treasure card from your hand. If you do, gain a coin token.  Plaza is a Village with potential for more.  If you have $7 in your hand, you go down to $6, and get a coin later.  To me, there's now downside to Plaza other than that it's not the best $4 in the world.  
    • Soothsayer (5) Gain a Gold.  Each other player gains a curse.  Each player who gains a curse, draws a card.  Gaining a gold is a great card.  Add in giving other players a curse and Soothsayer is a good card. 
    • Stonemason (2+) Trash a card from your hand. Gain 2 cards each costing less than the trashed card.  When you buy a Stonemason, you may overpay.  Then you gain 2 action cards each costing the amount you overpaid.  I'm not the biggest fan of Stonemason, but I acknowledge the usefulness of the card.  The card is all about timing, and maybe some luck.  The action part of the card is good on its own.  Add in the overpay when buying, and you have a solid 2 cost.
    • Taxman (4) Trash a treasure card.  Each player with 5+ cards in hand must discard a copy of that treasure card from their hand.  Gain a treasure card costing up to $3 more than the card you trashed and put it on top of your deck..  Essentially, this is an attacking version of Mine(base) with delayed gratification.  Playing against Taxman can be trying since it usually feels like the other player picks the one card you have to keep.  I like Taxman better than Mine.

    Some of my favorite cards in this set, in no particular order, are Butcher, Candlestick Maker and Herald.  I enjoy all of the cards in different ways.  Masterpiece is probably my least favorite card in Guilds.

    Here's the big question, where does Guilds rate overall?  Well, I really do like it.  The set is not friendly to new players, since it offers more choices with what to buy and how to spend those coin tokens.  The idea of overpaying is great to have, but also a challenge to figure out.

    If I was telling you what expansion(s) to get for Dominion, I wouldn't say Guilds first.  I think I'd buy Guilds before I bought Cornucopia, Hinterlands and Alchemy.  

    Want to buy Dominion: Guilds and support BoBG?

    Thursday, August 1, 2013

    July 2013 Recap

    Another 31 days and a new month.

    July saw a lot of gaming

    I played 64 games in 31 days, gaining a whole lot.  That brings the YTD total to 248/365.  Ideally I would be at 212, so 36 ahead and cushion for the August/September slowdown that always seems to happen.  I played 6 games for the first time this year, which brings me up to 72/100.

    Just a quick list of what I actually played in June

    8 Times
    • King of Tokyo

    7 Times
    • Dominion
    6 Times
    • Incan Gold
    5 Times
    • Article 27
    4 Times
    • TransAmerica
    • Tsuro
    3 Times
    • Eight-Minute Empire
    • Hanabi
    • Resistance: Avalon
    2 Times
    • Flash Point
    • For Sale
    • Order Up
    • Qwixx
    • Tiki Topple
    1 Time
    • 23
    • Colossal Arena
    • Cosmic Encounter
    • Eclipse
    • Elfenland
    • Las Vegas
    • Race for the Galaxy
    • Shadows Over Camelot (Yay for me being the traitor King and winning)
    • Smash Up
    • Survive
    • Thurn and Taxis

    I acquired 2 new games - Hanabi and Resistance: Avalon, and 1 new expansion - Dominion: Guilds  this month.
    Speaking of Dominion, the reason I played it 7 times was due to a tournament where I played 6 games. I managed to come in 2nd, losing in the finals by 1 point.  I know there are things I could have done differently, but the guy who won deserved it.  

    Looking ahead to August, who knows what's going to happen with my game plays.  Historically they have a drop-off with the new school year, but maybe this year will be different. (Yes that's what everyone likes to say.)

    In July I reviewed  the Smash Up expansion.  I also got back on the whole Top 7 list, which I hope to be doing more of.  Yes, I'm shamelessly piggybacking on Dice Tower Top 10 lists, but I think it's worth throwing my thoughts out there.  I'm working on a couple ideas for reviews, trying to bring a little different flavor to cover a couple of games.  I also finished a major revision to SR, so we'll see how that goes.  More on that soon.

    Until next time, thanks for reading.