Welcome to this month’s New to Me post, as discussed on an episode of the Boardgames in Bed podcast (not this month’s, but the concept of “New to Me” games)
It was looking like a lean month for new to me games in October. That changed on the final weekend, where I played two of the best new games I have played in quite a while.
That gave me a total of six new to me games, maintaining my Cult Leader status!
Why don’t we start with the good stuff and head downward?
Time of Crisis (2017 – GMT Games) – 1 play (owned)
This is a game that I have been wanting to play since somebody mentioned it on their “new to me” post on BGG a few months ago.
Time of Crisis (designed by Brad Johnson & Wray Ferrell, art by Rodger B. MacGowan) is a game about the Roman Empire from 235 – 284 (hey, it’s right there on the box!). This was a time where emperors were less than a dime a dozen, when emperors had an average life span of about two years. Barbarians were infringing on the Empire on all sides and it was a chaotic time.
One might say…
it was a time of crisis.
Players in this game take the role of head of a high-class family that is vying for power in Rome. You do this by fielding armies, political influence, as well as influence with the regular citizenry, to take over provinces.
As you amass more political power, the throne of Rome may be yours for the taking, as the influence level in Rome is based on how many provinces where you have the governor.
The game has deck-building mechanics, but with a twist. You play cards for military, political, or civil influence points which will let you do things like attack barbarians or other armies, increase the support level in one of your provinces, or take over provinces via Senate vote.
The twist is that this game is not random at all, at least in regards to card play (there are dice for random events/barbarian invasions and combat). You go through your deck and choose the five cards you want for your next hand. The thing is, once cards are used and discarded, they can’t be used again until you’ve used all of your cards.
So that packed hand you’ve chosen for this turn means that you may have some crap cards available next turn. You must choose your cards wisely.
You can use the total support level in all provinces you govern to buy cards or trash your crappy starter cards, so you can build your deck the way you want it to be.
But balance is a must.
You earn legacy points each turn based on provinces you govern, victory in battle or killing barbarians. Once somebody reaches 60 legacy points and is Emperor (or 40 in the quick variant), the end game is triggered. The round ends and then final legacy points are granted for how many turns players have been Emperor. Whoever has the most wins!
I love the deck-building mechanic, I’m a sucker for Roman history, and the back and forth with other players is just wonderful.
Definitely love the random event cards too.
The only thing about our specific game is that I would never recommend the 40-point game other than as a learning game. There were only four Emperor turns, which was a bit of a let-down.
It doesn’t really seem like it would be *that* much faster, as the players who triggered the end game would have ended up with 60 points in a few more turns anyway. The big time-user is building up your strength, which takes place in both versions.
Definitely one I want to try again, with the full 60-point game.
My full review can be found here.
London (2nd edition) – (2017 – Osprey Games) – 1 Play (owned)
London is a game designed by Martin Wallace with art by Mike Atkinson. This is the 2nd edition of it, just published this year (this month, actually), and apparently it makes some significant changes to the original game.
In London, you are architects tasked with rebuilding London after the Great Fire. You do this by playing a series of cards to your tableau, but you always have to watch out for poverty that you earn. Poverty is bad (just in case you didn’t realize that).
And there are loans! It’s Martin Wallace, so of course there are loans.
You play cards to your city, then you can “run” your city, doing all of the effects on the cards. Running your city creates poverty, though (one poverty per stack of cards in your city, plus one for each card in your hand and one for each loan you have, because of course…it’s Wallace).
Running your city is how you accomplish stuff and get things and points, so you have to do it.
I love the poverty mechanic in this game, just because it’s all relative. At the end of the game, the player with the least poverty discards it all. Everybody else discards the same amount, leaving them with some (hopefully just a little). Then they look on the poverty track to see how many points that costs them.
The balance between how big to build your city and how much poverty that will cost you is really intricate.
The neighbourhood cards are also neat, as they can get you prestige and have interesting effects as well.
After one play, I totally fell in love with this game and really want to get it to the table again.
Iron Curtain (2017 – Jolly Roger Games) – 2 plays (owned)
Designed by Asger Harding Granerud and Daniel Skjold Pedersen and with art by Jessica R. Eyler and David Prieto.
I seem to be on a 2017 run this month, which is pretty cool.
I pretty much said everything there is to say in my review of the game, so I’ll just say that I really liked it.
The Cold War in 20 minutes! How can you go wrong?
Kanagawa (2016 – Iello Games) – 1 play
Designed by Bruno Cathala and Charles Chevallier, with glorious art by Jade Mosch, this is a game about becoming a Japanese artist by going to school.
Cards are played out on the school mat for players to take or see if better cards will come out (but other players may take what’s out there first).
Players are trying to build up their available paints and create the most beautiful panorama that they can in order to score points.
Once all of the cards are gone, the game end is triggered and you total up all the points you earned. Panoramas with a large number of cards with the same season on them will get you mucho points (I know that Spanish lingo, which is weird to use in describing a Japanese game but hey, I’m the writer here).
I really did enjoy this game, though it is definitely on the lighter side. You do need to plan some things out though, and there is a push your luck element to the game. If you wait to see what other cards come out, somebody may take the column of cards that you really wanted before you can.
Sometimes patience is rewarded, and sometimes you snooze, you lose.
It’s a very peaceful game, though, which does make for a great way to end the day.
The Golden Ages (2014 – Stronghold Games) – 1 Play
Designed by Luigi Ferrini with art by Alexandre Roche, The Golden Ages is another example of the civilization building games that are all the rage.
In the game, you’re exploring a map of the world by placing tiles down, making sure that borders match up.
You then will be taking cards from the available stack for each age to add to your civilization tableau.
You will also be using money to unlock technologies on your civilization board that will let you do bigger and better things as you expand your power base.
As the ages grow toward the modern age, things become more expensive but hopefully you’ve been building up enough so that you can afford everything.
This game was ok, but it wasn’t anything special. Unfortunately, when you’ve played the awesome Through the Ages, a civilization game must do something really cool in order to stand out. This one didn’t for me. It was a bit fiddly and it wasn’t that fun for me.
Maybe more plays would help that.
Custom Heroes (2017 – Alderac Entertainment Group) – 1 play
I actually did a first impressions post about this game last week because it was such a hit and miss game for me.
Thus, I won’t bore you with more of the same, except to just reiterate that it needs to be a shorter game. If long games are very unusual, then that’s great. It has some cool mechanics.
But given how our game ended, I think the chances of it dragging on too long are too great. I can see that situation rising again.
So there you have it.
All of the new games I played in October.
It was actually a good game-playing month overall, even with me taking a Sunday off. I played 14 games in total.
What did you play new this month?
Let me know in the comments.