Posting this in between the two posts for top games played in 2017 because, well, reasons that will become apparent when the 2nd post comes out later this week.
It was a lean month for “new to me” games in December, but it was fuller than I expected it to be. I missed two Sunday game days, but had a couple of unexpected week day game nights to make up for it.
In a delightful coincidence, every new game I played in December was actually published in 2017, which gives me a tinge of “Cult of the New” as well!
Just don’t tell anybody, please. I don’t want to besmirch my reputation.
Here we go!
Clank! In! Space! (2017 – Renegade Games) – 1 Play (owned)
Designer: Paul Dennan
This is definitely my favourite new game of the month. I’ve been wanting to play the original Clank for the longest time, but never had the opportunity. Hearing some of the criticisms of it, I thought the Space version might be better for me anyway.
I don’t know about “better,” but this game is amazing!
Clank! In! Space! is a deck-building adventure game where players are thieves who have sneaked on board Lord Eradikus’ cruiser to steal one of the valuable artifacts that he’s keeping in his locked quarters on the ship.
Like all deck-builders, you start with some starter cards in your deck to get you going, but you ideally want to buy better cards that will let you do more stuff. Or the card row may have enemies that you can fight with swords that you have on the cards you play.
The cool mechanism in this one is the use of “Clank,” which some cards or other activities may force you to contribute. Basically, you’re making noise, potentially alerting Eradikus or his minions to your presence.
When you refill the card market and one of the new cards has that Eradikus symbol on it (the red face right next to the scientist in the picture above), you toss all of the accumulated clank into a bag with 23 black cubes, and draw out a certain number of cubes based on the current level of Eradikus’ rage.
Any player colour cubes go onto the health track as a wound. Get too many of those, and you’re dead!
Black cubes are just set aside. Nothing happens.
All players are trying to get an artifact and get off the ship via an escape pod before dying. Escaping gets you 20 extra points! However, if you reach the cargo hold before you die, then you’ll still get to count points.
Die before you get there, though, and you will be forgotten by history. No points are awarded.
I like that player elimination is a possibility in this game but that you still have something to do if you are eliminated. If you’re dead (or get off of the ship), then you draw four cubes from the bag on your turn. So you’re not just a passive bystander.
I love deck-builders anyway, and this one is a beauty.
I died on my only play (the first one to go, barely after getting an artifact) and I still had a blast. I must play this again!
My full review of it can be found here.
Sentient (2017 – Renegade Games) – 1 Play (owned)
Designer: J. Alex Kevern
Artists: Anita Osburn, Chris Ostrowski, Gordon Tucker
This math puzzle game is really up my alley. You are drafting robots to plug into your network to have it run as efficiently as possible. There is also a bit of area control in that when you place agents to draft a particular card, you are vying for the most influence in that type of robot (Military, Transport, etc).
When you place the robots in your network, they will affect the dice that you rolled at the start of your turn. That could be a good or a bad thing. You only get the points for each robot if the dice meet the criteria on the card. So on the left-hand military robot above, the two dice on its corners have to add up to 7 (I managed to do that).
It’s very puzzly as you’re trying to work out the best way to incorporate each card into your network. You do have assistants that will prevent the die from being changed if you don’t want it to be (the symbol in the top corners are the changes, if any, to the dice in each corner).
The theme is totally pasted on, but the game itself is really intriguing and I really want to play it again.
My full review of it can be found here.
Moons (2017 – Quick Simple Fun Games & Robert Burke Games) – 1 Play
Designer: Robert Burke
This is a trick-taking game with a twist.
The cards come in four “suits” (actually, they’re planets, representing Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus. Card ranks number from 1-14 and each card is a moon of that planet.
When you’re taking tricks, you are trying to collect the appropriate planet tokens so that you can score the maximum number of victory points through various set collection. A set of one each of the four planets gets you 10 points. Having at least three of a certain planet gets you two points per token.
You start each round by playing a tableau of three cards in front of you. If you win a trick, you get to take a planet token that matches at least one of the planets in your tableau.
Like most trick-taking games, you must follow the suit of what was led, but if you can’t, you can play any card that you want. If you played the lowest off-suit, then you get a token of that planet type.
The rulebook is not the best in the world, unfortunately. The scoring took a lot of time to try and figure out, and also required some looking at BGG forums. The same could be said for other rules as well, such as how the first player in each round is determined.
Still, it was a fun game I’d like to try again.
As it is right now, though, I think I still prefer Diamonds.
QueenDomino (2017 – Blue Orange Games) – 2 Plays
Designer: Bruno Cathala
Artist: Cyril Bouquet
Dominos, with a twist!
Well, kind of.
This was the final game I played in 2017, and I really enjoyed it.
It has a great mix of simple game play and some interesting choices as you are trying to build your kingdom to get the most points.
Each round, you will be taking one tile and placing it in your kingdom, as long as at least one terrain type matches (the starting square is wild so anything can go next to it).
You get points at the end of the game by multiplying the number of crowns on tiles in a contiguous territory of terrain types by the number of squares of that terrain in the territory. So the red area above got me 12 points, because there are 6 squares times the 2 crowns.
So far, that’s just basic Kingdomino, which I’ve never played.
The Queen offers a few additional items that I think make the game much more fun (he says, not having played the original).
First, there are no red tiles in the original. In Queendomino, you can buy buildings to put onto the red squares, and these can give you a variety of things. They can give you knights or towers (which are also new additions) when you buy them and they can either give you special end-game scoring or abilities during the game.
Secondly, whoever has the most towers in their kingdom will have the Queen come for a visit. The Queen will make buildings cheaper for you until somebody else gets more towers and draws the Queen away.
If she’s visiting you at the end of the game, you get to add her to one of your territories as an extra crown for scoring purposes.
Since Queendomino has everything the original has but even more on top of it, I can’t imagine playing Kingdomino anymore. However, that could change if I ever do play it. Maybe the simplicity of it will be attractive.
I do have to say that I really enjoyed my two plays of this, especially creating a 56 point swamp! That prompted a few Monty Python quotations.
So what new games did you play last month?
Let me know in the comments.
Great list! I have thought about Clank! but not sure. After reading your comments we may try it.
We have talked elsewhere about my Kingdomino/Queendomino thoughts. I encourage you not to give up on Kingdomino, just find the right niche of your gaming to use it in the most fun way. For us it’s as a gateway game for new players and has a quick, lite filler.
Enjoy your 2018 gaming!
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Clank is definitely a great game. Without playing it, I can’t really say anything about the original one, but I’m really liking Space.
One thing I’ve heard about the original is that it is a potentially viable strategy to rush in, get the least valuable but closest artifact, and run out. That triggers the end game.
In Space, you have to go to two different modules of the ship and hack a data core, and then make your way into the residential area to pick up an artifact.
There’s no artificial quickening of the end game.
I will give KingDomino a try if it ever comes up, definitely.
Happy 2018 gaming to you too!
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Happy New Year!
The best new game I played last Year was Charterstone, without a doubt. It’s the first time I’ve played a “legacy” game where you permanently mark or alter (or in this case – stick stickers to – the game board) but the combo of continually revealing new elements and mechanics and a genuine feeling of customising your own unique copy of the game is a winner. Plus – stickers!! 🙂
I adore Clank, and the “in space” version has all the original’s charm but with the unlocking of the endgame preventing its weakness. The space theme feels more pasted on than the dungeon theme, but that’s maybe just because I encountered the original first.
Another favourite from late last year is Nocturne, the latest Dominion expansion. It adds Night cards, and a whole new phase to the game to play them in. (Night time!) And as ever the richness of puzzling out which card interactions exist and can be used makes the game endlessly replayable. It’s still a firm favourite.
All the best for the new year, and I look forward to more on the blog.
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Thanks for the comment, Tim!
I’ve heard differing opinions on Charterstone. Some people have found it, especially in the earlier rounds, pretty boring. Did you have any trouble with the first few plays?
Yeah, the Clank in Space theme is a bit pasted on, but I love it just for all of the sci-fi jokes on the cards. 🙂 Who doesn’t laugh at the Wesley-type card that gives everybody clank? 🙂
Dominion has just never grabbed me, and I’m not sure why. Maybe because my deck-building obsession started with Ascension? I don’t know, but I’ve played it a couple of times and it’s just not one that I seek out.
Thanks for the kind words on the blog. I do hope to keep it up a lot more than I did at the end of the year. Getting sick really put a damper on my desire to write.
All the best to you as well!
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