Archive for the 'Thoughts On' Category

Spiel des Jahres 2014 Results

Posted by James (admin) on 15th July 2014

SdJ logoThe winners of the Spiel des Jahres and the Kennerspiel des Jahres were announced yesterday.  The winners were Camel Up and Istanbul.  It’s always interesting to try and work out the winners because I know what I like the most (and would vote for) is definitely not the same as what I think will be voted for by the jury, because the SdJ awards are for a more general German game-playing audience (and not a more serious gamer audience).

If it was my choice, it would have been Splendor for the main prize as it’s the one I enjoy the most; however, I guessed Camel Up would be picked as the winner as it’s a more accessible game for a wider audience and the card pyramid offers an appealing, physical element.  So, Camel Up winning wasn’t a surprise to me.

The Kennerspiel was a hard one to call – I had it down to Istanbul and Rokoko.  I really like Istanbul but I wondered if it was slightly too light for the Kennerspiel, even in the context of the SdJs.  However, Rokoko was maybe too far the other way as it’s a tense game with a lot of elements to balance and time correctly.  So, I was happy with either of those being the winner.

I thought this year’s SdJ was a good one as I found all the games to be good quality – whereas, some years I scratch my head wondering how some of the games were picked.  In fact, it’s the first year I’ve found myself playing all the nominees, and playing some of them quite a lot.  I still think Lewis & Clark should have been at least a recommendation though (if not a nominee) for the Kennerspiel.

Links to my reviews of all the SdJ nominees, winners and some recommendations are on my SdJ 2014 page.


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Posted in Board Games, Camel Up, Concept, Concordia, Istanbul, Rokoko, Splendor, Thoughts On | No Comments »

Thoughts on: Euphoria with Two Players

Posted by James (admin) on 6th February 2014

Euphoria gameAfter playing Euphoria as a 2-player game, I thought I would post some more detailed thoughts about it as there seems to be a fair amount of interest in how it plays with two.  This is really a post for those whom know how Euphoria is played as it goes into detail about the rules and assumes knowledge of them.  (To find out more about Euphoria, you can read my main review.)

When played with 2 players, Euphoria is played almost the same way as with more players with just 2 rules differences: First, there are only spaces for 2 stars in each territory.  Second, it takes only 2 actions to build each market which means markets are built very quickly and we soon had all 6 complete.  We both built markets that we knew our opponent could not assist in before they were completed.  As a result, we were both soon playing with 3 restrictions each (although I paid one off later).  I didn’t mind this at all as it made for some interesting choices and gave us both a different perspective of the board.

As with 5 players, I enjoyed playing Euphoria with 2 players – the theme works really well with the game mechanics and I like the constant decisions involved; however, I did find it gave a slightly different experience compared to when played with more players.  The key reason for this is that some of the game mechanics feel a bit more subdued than when played with more players, such as the development of the allegiance and tunnel tracks which add an interesting element to the game.  Also, with fewer players there is less chance of your workers being bounced back to you and less chance of higher totals when earning commodities.  I’ll discuss these items in more detail below along with some suggestions as to how I think a few rules changes may address these. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Board Games, Thoughts On | 1 Comment »

Thoughts on: Shitenno

Posted by James (admin) on 7th October 2012

Recently, I reviewed Shitenno and mentioned I thought it would work well as a 2-player game.  Since then, I had the chance to try this out and I’m pleased to say it does work well with 2 players as there are fewer combinations of cards and outcomes to try to consider so you can make a more informed decision.  Rather than having to make one offer of cards at a time, with two players it is a simple one-player-splits-whilst-the-other-chooses process.

Compared to the 4-player game, I found I could better work out which cards I wanted, plus I had more insight into which cards I didn’t want my opponent to have too.  Even with this knowledge, creating a balanced offer of cards/role so that my opponent didn’t automatically take the offer I that really wanted still remained enjoyably difficult.  Also, selecting which role is offered with each group of cards is made more interesting because the person making the offer only uses 2 of the 4 roles each turn – in fact, I think I had more difficulty choosing which roles to offer than splitting the cards (in a good way as it was an interesting choice to make).

The inherent downside to a directly competitive 2-player game is that what you lose the other player gains and vice versa (a kind of ‘tug-of’war’ play pattern), and you only need to watch a single opponent.  I was thinking that an invisible 3rd player would be good to make things a bit more ‘lumpy’ – I’ve noticed over the years, I like an invisible 3rd player in 2-player game (Alhambra was my first experience of it) but just so long as it is slightly predictable and not purely random.  If it’s totally random, one player can suffer through no fault of their own just because they had no way to include the 3rd player’s actions into their plans, and this unbalances the game.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Spiel des Jahres Nominee Reviews

Posted by James (admin) on 1st June 2011

The Spiel des Jahres nominees were revealed last week.  Below is a list of the nominees with easy links to reviews of most of them.

Spiel des Jahres

Forbidden Island

Kennerspiel des Jahres nominees
7 Wonders

Luna was also on the list of recommended titles.

As far as my thoughts go, Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in 7 Wonders, Asara, Board Games, Luna, Qwirkle, Strasbourg, Thoughts On | No Comments »

Thoughts On: Tammany Hall

Posted by James (admin) on 15th October 2010

In Tammany Hall, players place their ward bosses to try to win the support of the migrant nation entering New York so that they will be voted in as mayor.  There are 4 different migrant nations – each represented by different colour cubes (different to the player colours).  In essence, Tammany Hall is an area control game but has some interesting elements that take it a bit further with hidden voting and role allocation.

Each turn, a player either places two of their ward bosses in New York’s regions, or they place one of their ward bosses plus place one of the migrants (cubes) who want to enter New York.  If a player places a migrant from those currently queuing, they also receive a political favour cube of that nationality.  A game lasts 16 turns (16 years) and there is an election (scoring) after every 4 turns.  During an election, each city area is assessed and player’s who have ward bosses in an area compete to win that area.  Each ward boss is worth 1 vote and players can also (secretly) add any of their favour cubes which match any migrant nations represented in that area too.  Winning an area scores 1 VP; also, plus the players who have the most migrant cubes of each nation present in the areas they control get 3 extra political favour tokens. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Board Games, Tammany Hall, Thoughts On | 1 Comment »

Thoughts On: Puerto Rico

Posted by James (admin) on 12th October 2010

Puerto Rico – one of the best rated games on BoardGameGeek, multiple award-winner and a classic.  I bought Puerto Rico many years ago (probably around 8 years ago) and it never made it to the table despite me really wanting to play such a revered game.  The problem was that it was a bit too long for my lighter gaming group and didn’t seat enough players for my experienced gaming group which usually has 6 players.  So, it sat on the shelf until earlier this year.

I had played San Juan – Puerto Rico the card game – and I really enjoyed it.  I the role selection plus I liked how the cards served as resources, currency and buildings.  Very neat and the role selection system has been used in many other games since. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Board Games, Puerto Rico, Thoughts On | 2 Comments »

Thoughts On: Mystery Express

Posted by James (admin) on 12th October 2010

I liked the idea of an Orient Express themed deduction game. so was very open to trying Mystery Express.  I’m not a fan of Clue/Cluedo as it’s too dry and massively dependent on dice rolls.  The preview information released about Mystery Express indicated it was very different and had a lot more logic to it.

During the game, you are trying to work out the 5 facts about the crime – where, who, what, why and when.  Each turn, you have a fixed amount of time to spend on actions (based on which part of the journey you’re on, i.e. which turn) and each action is located in a different carriage of the train.  Once you’ve been in a carriage, you can’t return to it during the same turn.

Most of the deduction of the crime’s facts is a process of elimination.  Players hold cards of the various possible facts – there are 2 identical cards of each apart from the actual facts of the crime of which there is only 1 copy of each (because 1 has randomly been removed at the start of the game).  I actually felt this was still very much like Clue/Cluedo.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Thoughts On: Fresco

Posted by James (admin) on 11th October 2010

(With Spiel in Essen only just over one week away, there are so many games I’ve played this year that I have still yet to review.  Always so many reviews, so little time.  Rather than let my thoughts gather dust during the on-coming mass of reviews of new games, I’m going to post some ‘Thoughts On’ articles over the next few days.  First up, Fresco.)

In Fresco, players buy and mix paint colours so they can paint the cathedral ceiling to earn points.   The main game mechanic is a worker placement game but there are some clever twists.  At the start of a turn, each player places one of their workers to determine turn order by saying when their workers will get up to start work.  Going (getting up) early is good because you get the first pick of the paints to buy and have first chance to paint sections of the cathedral which makes them unavailable to other players.  However, going (getting up) early is bad because the paints at the market cost a lot more, plus the workers become less happy (which can mean one may go on strike next turn).  This is an excellent balance and I find it’s the most fun decision-making part of the game as you (and the other players) struggle to decide which position in the turn order would be best. Read the rest of this entry »

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Thoughts On: Planet Steam

Posted by James (admin) on 15th September 2010

Planet steam is an economic/resource game that was released at Essen in 2008. It was a sought after item in an epic-sized box (like a FantasyFlight Games big box size).  With a steampunk setting, players collect resources (water, ore, energy and quartz) from the available mine shafts in order to earn as much money as possible.  This is a ‘Thoughts On’ piece rather than a review as Planet Steam is a very interwoven economic system and I don’t feel one play is enough for a full review.

Players have a few starting resources and the basic carriers (which are the stores for each resource with limited capacity).  Also, the board shows a grid of mine shafts.  Each shaft can produce any resource depending upon what type of tank is placed on it.  Each player has a few platforms already on the mine shaft grid which means they are the only ones that can add tanks in order to mine from that space.  At the start of a round, players bid for characters which dictate turn order and give them a special power. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Board Games, Planet Steam, Thoughts On | 1 Comment »

Thoughts On: Horus Heresy

Posted by James (admin) on 1st September 2010

Horus Heresy is FantasyFlight Game’s new version of the 1993 game set in the Warhammer 40k universe where the two players fight out the pivotal moment where Warmaster Horus turns traitor and tries to destroy the Emperor in an epic battle raging around the Imperial Palace and on the traitor’s flagship in orbit.

This isn’t a full review because Horus Heresy is a big game and, after a couple of plays, I’m not sure I’ve seen enough of it yet to have a final opinion but I do have some initial thoughts and concerns.  (Please note that I haven’t played the original game so this just covers the new version.)

The large game board shows the landscape around the Imperial Palace, the Traitor’s flagship, and a smaller strategic map where order cards can be laid.  The landscape section has several holes cut in the board to allow plastic formed craters and fortifications to stick through.  These look great and make it really easy to see where the fortified areas are.  The figures and components look great as you’d expect from a FFG game. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Board Games, Horus Heresy, Thoughts On | 2 Comments »