Whew! I’m finally awake again after finishing last week’s Part 1 of my “New to Me Games – January” post.
That really took a lot out of me. It’s been a week and I’m just now recovering!
Excuse me while I hop on my Peloton and limber up for today’s posting.
My fellow Cult of the New to Me members are very happy after seeing today’s post. There’s a game from 2009 in there! And 2016! Of course, there are a few too many 2019 games on there so there was a little grumbling.
I may have to do something for them for Valentine’s Day.
So, without further adieu (all of my adieu was sold for a tomato at a Chinese market anyway), let’s begin!
Designer: Uwe Rosenberg
Artists: Klemens Franz, Scott Hartman
At OrcaCon, I was walking around and saw a guy who I had played a game with earlier. He was teaching this couple At the Gates of Loyang. Since he had just started, he graciously allowed me to sit in.
You start with a sort of T-shaped board where you will be putting the cards that you end up drafting and that also contains your scoring track and shop (in case you need to buy or sell food).
Yes, it’s an early Rosenberg game, so it does revolve around food. But this time, you don’t get penalized for not feeding your workers. Instead, you could get penalized for not satisfying your customers!
More about that in a minute.
Each round, you will be turning over a new field from your starting deck of fields. These farms will allow you to plant vegetables that you will then later harvest and use to satisfy customers’ needs, or perhaps sell back to the shop for cash.
Each player is dealt a hand of four cards. They will take turns placing one of those cards into the Courtyard (kind of a discard area). Or, if you like, you can take one card from the Courtyard and one from your hand and play them to your board, placing the rest of your hand in the Courtyard. You are now out of the drafting round.
These cards can be customers (either regular ones or one-time customers), market stalls that will let you exchange vegetables, or they could be helpers that will allow you to break the rules once. Or there are a few extra fields that you can buy as well.
Then, in player order based on who passed last in the previous phase, you take your actions. You can sow an empty field to fill it with the vegetable that you planted (you will harvest one off of each field at the beginning of each round).
You can satisfy your customers (your regular customers might get angry if you can’t satisfy them) and get money that way, or perhaps you want to use one of your helpers to do something (my favourite was switching my almost empty market stall with the full market stall that another player just played, though the empty one does fill up when you do that).
Once you are done, you store your remaining vegetables in your Storehouse (however much it will hold) and then pay to move along the Path of Prosperity (you have to pay to prosper, a life lesson brought to you by Uwe Rosenberg!). The first step costs one cash, but each step after that costs the number of the step (so if you’re moving from Step 11 to Step 13, it will cost you 14 cash: 1 cash to move to Step 12 and 13 cash to move to Step 13).
Rosenberg must have been eyeing Martin Wallace designs, because if you ever need cash you can take a loan. Loans can never be repaid and at the end of the game you will move one step backward on the Path of Prosperity. Those loan sharks can be brutal!
At the end of 9 rounds, whoever has moved furthest along the Path is the winner!
I enjoyed this game, though my first experience with it was not a good one.
It wasn’t the game’s fault, though. The couple that was sitting at the table before I sat down had a number of issues. First, they were dealing with their kids (understandable, but it would have been nice if some kind of prior arrangement had been made).
Secondly, though, the husband (and to a lesser extent the wife, though she seemed a lot better) just wasn’t picking up the game at all. He asked constant questions that had already been answered, or tried to do things that we had already said he couldn’t do. Or he was placing things in the wrong spot repeatedly, even after being told what they were.
This caused the game to go on for almost 3 hours.
I ended up winning (on the tie-breaker!) but this game is just not worth almost 3 hours. I’d love to play it again with people who aren’t having trouble picking it up and seeing how much I like it when it’s a normal-length game.
At least you don’t have to try and feed your people in this one. Thanks, Uwe!
(Just to be clear, I don’t begrudge them trying to learn the game. I admire them for trying something outside their comfort zone. It just didn’t work in this case. Our teacher was very patient with them)
Designer: Scott Caputo
Artists: Noah Adelman, Lina Cossette, David Kegg, Damien Mammoliti
The Sorcerer City changes its form and shape every year, but also appears to have a monster problem.
Players in Sorcerer City are in charge of shaping their own district in the city during the five rounds in the game.
Each player gets a starting deck of tiles made up of various district types.
Each round, you will have two minutes to build your district, turning over one tile at a time. If you turn a tile over, you must place it in your city somewhere, even if it’s bad.
Once time is up, you’ll score for the number of goals (the shields) that you have in your city and that you qualify for. The scoring will be either Money (Yellow), Influence (Red), Raw Magic (Purple) or Prestige (Green). You will be putting those amounts on your annual tracker.
Then you can do a number of things. Influence will determine who gets that year’s Influence award, and also who gets to buy new tiles for their deck (bought with money earned during the round). This will give you more options when you’re building, since you could buy a spell that gives you something once it’s placed, or perhaps some other benefits.
Before doing all of this, though, players will secretly decide which resource they want to convert their Raw Magic into (it has to be all converted to the same) and then simultaneously reveal it.
Once all of the buying and rewarding is done, players gain the Prestige tokens that they have earned this round. Prestige is your victory points.
In subsequent rounds, monsters will be added to your deck. Thankfully, when you have your stack of tiles in your hand ready to turn them over, you can tell whether a monster is coming out.
The trick is, do you want to place the monster in your city or just end your Build Phase? That’s something I wasn’t very good at deciding. Especially with a 2-minute timer going.
After five rounds of this, whoever has the most Prestige is the winner!
This is a fun game, don’t get me wrong. It’s well designed (I haven’t seen a Caputo design that I haven’t liked yet).
However, it’s just not for me. When a game involves thinking fast on your feet and having to visualize where the best place to put something is, I suck at it and feel stressed. There’s a reason that Factory Fun gets one of my worst ratings out of all of the games that I’ve played.
Sorcerer City did not stress me out. But the real-time element of putting things in a good place to score the best just wasn’t fun for me for that reason.
Nothing bad about the game. I think if you enjoy that type of game (or at least don’t hate it), this is a great example of it.
Sadly, I’m not one of those people.
Designer: John D. Clair
Artists: Sabrina Miramon, Matt Paquette
I’ve been wanting to play Ecos ever since I saw the Heavy Cardboard playthrough (referenced here). It looked like a fascinating world-building Bingo type game (a much more interesting Rise of Augustus).
Boy am I glad I did!
In Ecos, players are building the world, populating it with animals, and generally trying to score points by configuring the world and animals in the way that best suits the cards they have.
They’re kind of like variations of God, but with conflicting goals.
Anyway, the Harbinger will be pulling element tokens out of the Element Bag (the capitalization is very important) one by one.
When an element is called, players will decide which of their cards with that element symbol on it to place an energy cube. If they don’t have a card with that symbol, or if they’d rather not use it for some reason, they can turn their Dial one rotation and then, perhaps, either draw a new card to their hand or play a card from their hand.
If a card’s symbols are all filled up, the player calls “ECO!”. If multiple people do it, then players execute their cards in player order from the Harbinger and around the table.
You do the effects of the card in the order that they are shown. With these cards, you may be placing a mountain or a tree on an already-placed tile, or you may be placing a new tile on the world, making it grow all nice and fertile.
You may then score a few victory points.
Or you may score A LOT of victory points, if you’re Brendan.
When the Harbinger draws a Wild element (there are only 2 in the bag), then the round is over after resolving any Eco calls. If anybody has reached 80 points, then the game ends. Otherwise, the Harbinger rotates to the left, puts all of the tiles back in the bag, and starts a new round.
You can play a short game to 60 points or a normal game to 80 points.
Whoever has the most points at the end of the last round is the winner!
I love Ecos a whole bunch. I played it twice on the same convention weekend (CascadeCon in Bellingham, Washington).
It’s just such a pretty game, and I love the bingo aspect of it yet it provides so much more than that.
You only start with 7 energy cubes, so especially near the beginning you have to decide which card(s) you’re going to try and fulfill first. If an element comes out that’s on one of your other cards, maybe you don’t take it but instead turn your Dial.
If you turn it three times before activating it, you can get an additional energy cube, which will greatly help you.
There is a lot of interaction in the game though it’s not quite as obvious as it might seem.
Some cards will have you interacting with the world to a negative effect (like taking off an entire tile and its tokens!). If other players have been putting tokens on it (especially animals) in order to score big on one of their cards, not only are you benefiting yourself (2 points for each token removed can be a lot!), but you’re screwing the awesome play that they’ve set up.
This is a game that I don’t think I will get tired of, but we’ll see how future plays go.
I do recommend going with the card drafting option, though. This is where you draft your initial hand of cards. The game does come with pre-set decks of cards to be used for new players, but we ended up not using them and I did fine.
However, it’s not a bad thing to go with the set decks if you’re not sure.
Designer: Haakon Gaarder
Artist: Haakon Gaarder
I never thought a game where the premise is that the plague has wiped out so much of the local population that you have to bring in more people who happen to be wandering down the road, but somehow Haakon Gaarder makes it work.
Villagers is a tableau-building card game where you start with one village founder and will be recruiting cards into your village to make it prosperous instead.
Players start with a Village Square and a Founders card.
There are three sets of “anybody can hire these” villagers that don’t cost an action in order to bring into your village to help set things up (though you do have to discard a card from your hand).
During the Draft Phase, players will be able to draft a card from the Road (or from the draw pile next to the road) in turn order around the table. The number of drafts you get is equal to two plus the number of Food symbols face-up in your tableau, to a maximum of 5.
After the Draft Phase, in player order players will play cards to their tableau.
You can build (play from your hand) two cards plus one for each Build symbol face-up in your tableau (up to a maximum of five).
When you’re building, for many of the rows you are trying to chain workers together. The Miner supports the Blacksmith, the Lumberjack supports the Cooper, etc. The abilities of the card beneath the top card no longer matter (including any Food or Builder symbols, and Gold), but each card in the chain is increasingly strong for points (Gold).
Play continues like this until the two left-most draw piles are gone. Then, after that Build Phase, the First Market Phase happens. You get Gold from the bank for the amount of Gold face-up in your tableau (and a couple of other things too).
Then continue until all of the cards are gone and do a Second Market Phase. The second phase is just like the first except that any Silver coin symbols are also scored (like “score 3 gold for each Food symbol”).
You may end up with a tableau like this. (Editor – If you’re bad at the game and play like Dave, anyway).
Whoever has the most gold at the end of the game is the winner!
I really enjoyed this one, even though I was terrible at it. Hopefully a second play will change that.
One of the mechanics that was kind of neat was the “padlock” element. Some cards, in order to play to your tableau, will require you to have or to pay somebody who has a certain other card in their village.
See the money that’s on the cards in the above picture? That money was paid by other players to me when they wanted to place a certain card and they didn’t have (for example) a Blacksmith in their village. That money scores points in both Market Phases, which is pretty cool.
Of course, you can’t win relying on that and brown cards, as shown again by that picture above where I came in dreadfully last place.
But it’s a fun game! It’s a nice tableau-builder with some interesting mechanics and one I’d like to play again.
Just try not to think about how everybody outside of your village apparently had the plague.
Designer: Vangelis Bagiartakis
Artists: Grzegorz Bobrowski, Tomasz Jedruszek, Naomi Robinson
Uwe Rosenberg seems to have the old-time farming game market tied up, so obviously Artipia Games decided “ok, let’s do modern farms instead!”
And thus Fields of Green was born. (That’s the story I will believe no matter what else I hear)
Fields of Green is a card-laying, card-drafting game where you are trying to build the best and most productive farm out there.
You start with a Water Tower and Grain Silo, but you will build so much more.
So. Much. More.
The game is played over 4 years (rounds). In each, you will get 1 Food, 2 Water, and 3 coins. You will then, in turn order, draw six cards from any combination of the four stacks of tiles (though you have to draw from at least three stacks).
After everybody has drawn, you will draft in a style similar to 7 Wonders: you will choose a card, pass the rest along to the next player, and then all players simultaneously reveal the card they chose.
Players can do a number of things with the card.
You can actually build it if you can pay the cost (top left corner). If there’s an immediate effect, you do that now too. Obviously, the card has to be placed adjacent to a tile already in your farm.
You can also build a Water Tower (for 2 coins) or a Silo by discarding the card you chose. You can discard the card for 2 coins or discard the card with 1 or 2 food to get 4 or 6 coins respectively. Finally, you can restore a location that you had to turn face-down in an earlier year because you couldn’t afford the cost to use it.
Once all of the cards have been drafted, the Harvest Phase occurs. Spend the water from Water Towers within 2 spaces of a field in order to get the food from it (if you have room in your Silos), spend the food you’ve produced to activate the livestock cards to get coins, etc. You can do these in any order, so you can spend the food from a full Silo before filling it up again with more food.
If you can’t activate something that has a Harvest Phase cost, you have to turn it face-down and it becomes an open area (unless you restore it in the future).
This goes on for four years (rounds, I mean…this isn’t Twilight Imperium!). Many cards have VP values (the stars on the card), and the purple Buildings all have endgame VP effects instead of points on the card.
Total up your victory points (including any points for money at the end, food in your silos and empty Water Towers). Whoever has the most is the winner!
I enjoyed this one a lot. It was a surprise play at CascadeCon because I met up with the guy who owned it and our friends were playing a scheduled game that didn’t have any more room left in it.
I think it could be played quite quickly when you know what you’re doing and how everything interacts. That’s another way that it could be like 7 Wonders (speaking of, we played a game of that right after this with a couple of new players and wow was that a slog).
It’s interesting how you have to plan your Water Towers because to spend the water for a card action the Tower has to be within 2 spaces of that card. So you have to space your Towers quite specifically to make sure you can afford each one.
There is definitely a set “it’s time to start going for VP instead of production” moment in the game, usually the third round where you should probably draw at least one or two Buildings that will generate endgame points.
Our game ended very close (45-44-43-40), but I don’t know if that’s an anomaly or not. It can definitely be a tight game!
I’d definitely play this again if it came out.
Designer: Wolfgang Warsch
Artist: Leon Schiffer
I’ve played the app for That’s Pretty Clever many times but have never actually played the game on the table. I’ve also never played it multiplayer, which is quite a different experience than playing it solo.
Essentially, you have a scoresheet and you are going to be rolling six dice of six different colours. Each colour corresponds to an area on the scoresheet.
When you roll, you choose a die and do the corresponding action in that coloured area of the sheet. If it’s the orange die, you write the value in the next available box. If it’s blue, green, or yellow, you cross off the appropriate space.
Doing these will sometimes chain bonuses. Filling the fifth orange space, for example, let’s you cross off any yellow box you want. Doing that and completing a row may let you cross off a blue. Doing that may let you cross off another yellow or a green space.
Any dice that have values lower than the one you chose are removed and can’t be rolled again. In multiplayer, they’re put in a place so that other players will be able to use them. You then roll the remaining dice again, until you’ve done three rolls (or are out of dice).
In solo, you just continue with the next round. In multiplayer, each other player gets to use one of the dice that was set aside to do something on their own sheet. There are also bonuses that will let players use any other die as well, if you have them.
After the set number of rounds (four players only play 4 rounds, for example, while 1-2 players play 6 rounds), total up your score and whoever has the highest is the winner!
I suck at this game, though that may be because I haven’t tried the app in a while. I did break 300 at one point, I think.
This is a fun little filler game, though it kind of wears out its welcome with four players. I enjoyed the app (and probably should play some more to get back into practice) as a solo experience and it may be good at 2-3 players, but 4 just dragged.
Still, it’s a nice roll and write, a genre that I normally don’t enjoy.
It’s a great way to spend some time at the beginning/end of the game day.
Designer: Oleksandr Nevskiy
Artists: N/A (probably tons)
Each round, one player is the active player and the rest will either be detectives or a conspirator.
Each player has six cards in their hand, all of them with the really whimsical and interesting artwork as in the above two.
The active player will look at their cards and decide on a word that could be represented somehow by two of them. The player then writes the word on all of the notepads in the game (equal to the number of players) except one. Then they randomize the pads (including the one without the word) and hand them out.
The players who have the word on their pad are detectives. The one without the word is the conspirator!
Then the active player plays one of their cards in front of them that could help represent the word. Going around the table, each player also does the same, keeping in mind that the conspirator has no idea what the word is so has to try and figure something out by the previous cards.
Play goes around the table again, with each player playing another card.
Once each player has 2 cards in front of them, the active player will say what the word is and explain how their two cards fit that word.
Going around the table, each player has to do the same. The conspirator may have to do some sweet-talking to explain their cards!
After all that, all players but the active one decides who they think the conspirator is and places their voting token in front of that player.
Each detective who guessed right gets 3 points. If the Conspirator was guessed by one person or by nobody, then they get 5 points and the active player gets 4 points (because they helped the conspirator with good cards).
You play until each player has had a turn as active player (or been active player twice if you’re playing with fewer than 6 players). Whoever has the most points is the winner!
I’m terrible at Dixit, I’m a terrible liar (thus terrible at social deduction games) and I’m also terrible at coming up with things on the fly. All of this means I’m terrible at Detective Club too.
Thus, this is another game that’s actually pretty good but that is not for me at all. I didn’t really enjoy it, which is sad.
I can say that there is kind of a flaw in the game, though this could be mitigated by how good you are at coming up with convincing explanations.
If you do know the word but don’t have any cards that really fit it, trying to explain why you chose the two cards you did is an exercise in frustration. There were many times where I was a detective and multiple people accused me of being the conspirator because my cards were terrible and I couldn’t really explain well how I chose the two cards I did.
I did not enjoy that at all.
However, if this is the type of game you’re good at or enjoy, then Detective Club is a great example of it!
I can see how it would be fun.
It’s just not for me.
Designers: Evan Lorentz, Tim McKnight
Artists: Anika Burrell, Derek Herring, Nathan McGuire, Raul Ramos, Nate Storm,Alain Viesca
Now a second expansion has come out, adding a whole new board and a new double-sided module, as well as a bunch of new stuff.
What did I think?
Clank in Space: Cyber Station 11 adds a totally new board configuration that still retains the “place 3 random modules” procedure but makes everything totally new.
This time, you’re raiding Commander Preon’s space station and trying to steal her stuff (funnily enough, she has the same stuff that Lord Eradikus did).
Somehow, you end up in the middle of the station, right next to the Treasure Chamber. However, since you need to hack two computers in different modules before you can go in there, you’re still running around the different modules, collecting cards for your deck and trying not to get killed.
The expansion does add a few new mechanics which are welcome.
First, there is Cyberware. These are kind of like Constructs in Ascension, except that they can be used as a one-time effect when they are played. They’re not automatically played in front of you.
However, if you spend a power crystal (yay, a use for these power crystals!), then you can keep the Cyberware in front of you and use its abilities for the rest of the game. That can come in very handy. And it gets the card out of your deck which means you may cycle through it a little faster!
Secondly, when Commander Preon’s rage level reaches a certain point, two new emergency escape pods become available in the Treasure Room.
These escape pods will let you get off the ship easier when she’s really pissed off, but they are only worth 10 points and not 20.
Of course, if you die on the station, unless you’re in the “cargo area” (where the four regular escape pods are, I’m not sure if they have the same designation on the station), you still won’t score any points.
At least these new escape pods give you an option if you’re lagging behind in getting an artifact and the other players escape. You don’t have to run quite as far.
I think this expansion is amazing, even better than Apocalypse on the first play. I don’t know if that will change the more I play it, but I know I will continue to enjoy it.
The rulebook recommends that you don’t play with both expansions (at least not all of their cards, it really doesn’t say that you can’t play with Schemes though I’m not sure why you would buy black cubes without the cards to use them). We just mixed all of the cards together. Yes, it does dilute things a little bit so you may not see as much Cyberware or cards that use black cubes (from Apocalypse), but we found that it played just fine with all of the cards.
Your mileage may vary, of course.
I can’t wait to get this expansion to the table again. Maybe this weekend?
So that’s the marathon that is known as January!
What did you think of these? Anything you might want to play?
Let me know in the comments!
Category: Board Games, New to MeTags: Alderac, Artipia Games, At the Gates of Loyang, Bag Building, Bluffing, Card Drafting, Clank in Space: Cyber Station 11, Deckbuilders, Deduction, Dice-rolling, Dire Wolf Digital, Druid City Games, Ecos: First Continent, Evan Lorentz, Farming, Fields of Green, Haakon Gaarder, John D Clair, Party Games, Renegade Games Studios, Roll and Write, Scott Caputo, Set Collection Games, Sinister Fish Games, Sorcerer City, Stronghold Games, Tableau-building, Tasty Minstrel Grames, That's Pretty Clever, Tile-Laying Games, Tim McKnight, Uwe Rosenberg, Vangelis Bagiartakis, Villagers, Wolfgang Warsch
This is a blog about board games, with the occasional other post for a bit of spice.