It’s week 3 of our weekly look through the Boardgame Geek Top 100 to see what games I’ve played and which ones I may be interested in playing.
Last week I got educated about Dominion, maybe even enough to try it again some day.
What will this week bring?
Maybe a treatise on train games?
You got that in you, Dave? (let’s see if he reads this…)
I picture Dave like this.
Anyway, this week there are a lot more that I’ve played, and some good stuff in here.
And some…well, not so good stuff. At least for me.
So let’s get started!
Designers: Wei-Hwa Huang, Thomas Lehmann
Artists: Martin Hoffmann, Claus Stephan, Mirko Suzuki
Roll for the Galaxy is the dice version of Lehmann’s Roll for the Galaxy, but it is so much more than that.
Each player will get a set number and type of dice depending on their starting world development that they choose at the beginning of the game. These dice will then be rolled and secretly used to activate actions.
You get points based on the points on the tiles that you build, whether they are developments or worlds that you colonize (just like the card game) but you have to assign dice to these tiles on your player sheet. Each tile takes the number of dice equal to the point value to put them into your tableau. If you don’t build it in one shot, those dice are trapped until you do.
When you assign your dice, you have to choose one action to activate (Explore, Develop, Settle, Produce and Ship). You can use any die to activate an action, but all subsequent dice assigned to that action have to actually have that action’s symbol (there are ways around that, of course).
If somebody else chose an action that you have dice for, you get to use those dice as well, but if nobody did, they go back into your cup.
I really like this game a lot, and it’s a shame that I haven’t played it since 2017. It just hasn’t come out to the table since then and the one guy who owns it hasn’t been to our game day in quite a while.
I have played some games on Boardgame Arena, though, which is nice.
Here’s hoping I do get it to the table again soon!
Designers: Helmut Ohley, Leonhard “Lonny” Orgler
Artists: Martin Hoffmann, Claus Stephan
Two entries in a row with Hoffmann & Stephan art!
Russian Railroads is a game that breaks my brain, though part of that is because I tried to figure it out on Boardgame Arena a few times.
It never really made that much sense to me, but I think I have an inkling of what’s going on in the game.
I’m just terrible at optimizing actions.
Needless to say, I’ve never played it on the table, though it has shown up at a couple of game days in the last year or so.
There’s just been something else I wanted to play instead.
Essentially you’re trying to build the best railway network in Russia (I assume, based on the name).
“The development of simple tracks will quickly bring the players to important places, while the modernization of their railway network will improve the efficiency of their machinery. Newer locomotives cover greater distances and factories churn out improved technology. Engineers, when used effectively, can be the extra boost that an empire needs to race past the competition.”
There are three tracks that you’re trying to extend, but you’re also trying to make them good tracks, as well as doing other things. There are multiple paths to victory (so they say) and like most games where that’s the case, I always found myself doing a little of everything and thus falling way behind.
I wouldn’t mind trying this once just to see if I can wrap my head around it when I can physically manipulate the pieces.
However, it’s not that urgent.
If I never get the chance to play it, I won’t be that heart-broken.
Fans of the game, tell me why I should play this as soon as possible.
And then maybe I’ll do it.
Designer: Vlaada Chvátil
Artists: Stéphane Gantiez, Tomáš Kučerovský, Filip Murmak
I’m not big into party games for some reason. Maybe I’m just an anti-fun guy, I don’t know.
Codenames is a party game in that there are two teams of multiple players and they’re both trying to make contact with their agents by using the clues that the clue-giver on the team says to try and identify the words on the table that match their agents.
A number of cards with words are laid out in a 5×5 grid. The clue-givers on each team have a layout of which cards are their agents and which ones aren’t. They give one-word clues and say how many of the cards they are referencing with that clue.
The other players have to then try to guess, but if they choose one of the opposing team’s agents, they their turn ends and that helps the other team because they have fewer agents to identify. If they choose an innocent bystander, their turn just ends.
If they choose their own, then they can keep guessing. If either team accidentally chooses the assassin, they lose.
The starting team has 9 agents to identify while the other team has 8.
Whoever identifies all of their agents first wins!
Codenames is a fun little game but it’s not something that really grabbed me that hard. I’m not that great at deduction games and I am a terrible clue-giver in this one. I haven’t played it since 2016 (back when I was less diligent taking pictures, as I couldn’t find one!) and I have no aching desire to do so either.
Of course, it’s moved on now with multiple variations of the same thing (Marvel, Disney, etc), including a 2-player cooperative game!
So many Codenames, so little time.
Designers: Shem Phillips, S J Macdonald
Artist: Mihajlo Dimitrievski
On the other hand, how about one of my Top 10 games played of all time?
Yeah, that would be Architects of the West Kingdom, a game that I’ve reviewed here (and people really seem to gravitate towards it as it now has my second-highest view count on this blog)
Go check out the review if you want to know how to play, but why do I like it so much?
I love the “place workers to get resources and the more workers you have there, the more you get but somebody might come and capture all of them to weaken you again” mechanic (say that 3 times fast!). I love the apprentices and how they work to make your actions even better, or at least help you build more buildings.
I love the Black Market and how Virtue can get you points but also can affect whether you can either build in the Church or visit the Black Market (though come on, in reality if you are too virtuous to visit the Black Market you would find a way to get somebody to go for you).
Everything just goes together so well and it’s a blast to play. And it doesn’t even take that long either.
I only have one play of the game with the Age of the Artisans expansion, but I think it will make this game go up even higher in my esteem (if that’s possible).
After you’re done reading this review, go try a game of this however you can. See if you think I’m right.
Because I am.
Designers: Michael Boggs, Nate French, Caleb Grace
I first (and only) played this game at OrcaCon in January and while it ain’t no Marvel Legendary it is kind of fun in its own right.
It’s a totally cooperative game where you all play a Marvel hero (I believe there are 4 in the basic box?) that will be teaming up with other heroes to defeat the nasty villains and their schemes.
The base box comes with Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Spider-Man, and Iron Man but you can buy multiple expansion packs with new cards, new heroes, new villains, and stuff like that.
It was a fun game and I liked how it scales based on the number of players (basically each player draws a card from the villain deck at the end of their turn and has to face what happens, so fewer players means that fewer cards come out.
I just have a thing about Living Card Games (LCGs). I don’t want to be constantly buying new stuff, even though I do like that you know what the new stuff will be rather than buying random Magic: the Gathering packs.
The Marvel Champions packs seem to just add new scenarios and heroes and stuff. I don’t think they add cards for the original heroes (though maybe they do? Somebody please tell me).
The other LCGs that I took a look at, namely Arkham Horror: the Card Game, while you can play with the suggested decks it also has deck customization options as well. I don’t want to construct a deck before each scenario/story and that along with having to buy more and more stuff to get the varied content has just turned me off to the whole concept.
However, as a standalone experience, Marvel Champions was a fun game to play and I wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to play it again.
LCGs just don’t really appeal to me in general as far as playing multiple times.
Somebody tell me what I’m missing.
Designer: Kevin Riley
Artists: Gong Studios, Stephanie Gustafsson, Scott Hartman, Daniel Solis
Aeon’s End is a cooperative card game where you are trying to defend a town from ancient evil (or maybe just evil in general).
You will choose a Nemesis which will come with its own card deck and then up to 4 players.
There are a couple of interesting-sounding twists to this.
First, there is no shuffling. When you discard your hand, you choose the order it goes in. When you are out of cards, you just flip your discard pile over and start playing again. So you know exactly what cards are coming and when.
Secondly, who acts first, second, etc, is completely randomized. The bad guys could go twice in a row, or maybe it will end up being in order.
I have only played the Steam version of Aeon’s End and I know I’m having a devil of a time trying to figure out how to play this and win. I know the basic rules (or can pick them up again, as I haven’t played in a while), but I get my ass kicked every time I play.
It’s starting to hurt.
I wouldn’t mind trying this on the table once, especially with somebody who’s played it before and can coach me.
Because otherwise, there’s no way to win.
When a village sees me coming to protect it, they start setting up their wills and everything because they know they’re going to die.
Designer: Uwe Rosenberg
Artist: Klemens Franz
Patchwork is a 2-player tile-laying game where you are trying to fill a grid (quilt) with a bunch of different misshapen pieces of cardboard (fabric). You are collecting buttons that will then enable you to take one of up to three pieces that are available to you (depending on how many buttons they cost).
At the end of the game, your points will be the number of buttons you have minus points for any missing squares on your grid.
I have to say that tile-laying “Tetris-shaped pieces” games don’t really do a lot for me.
When I first (and only time) played it on the table back in March 2016, I didn’t really care for it that much.
I don’t like spatial puzzles and this was the ultimate in spatial puzzles.
Then I played the app.
Wow, man, I fell in love with it.
Sure, I still suck at it and probably will never win a game.
But I decided that it didn’t matter. I really really like it.
So much so that I have finally bought a copy (when 401 Games is able to get it to me).
I’ll be able to let you know more a little later whether the game on the table holds up or not.
I’m really looking forward to it, actually.
Designer: Uwe Rosenberg
Artist: Klemens Franz
It’s a Lookout Games/Uwe Rosenberg/Klemens Franz twofer!!!!!
Yes, we have another Uwe game with Klemens art but they couldn’t be any more different.
Agricola is the first of Uwe’s many “place workers (family members) somewhere to get something, and then don’t forget to feed them at the end or bad things will happen” games (For some reason I have trouble shortening these descriptions).
In it, you’re running a family farm, trying to build up your farmhouse, raise many sorts of animals and plant your crops.
Each round an additional space opens up for you to place your worker, where you can get resources, food, animals or crops to then sow in your plowed fields.
At the end of a certain number of rounds, you have to have enough food to feed all of your family members.
Don’t worry, nobody dies. You just have to beg for food (and lose points).
Might be more fun if somebody did die.
It would be an Ameritrash game then!
I have never played this game on the table, but I have played the app of the original version (this revised edition came out in 2016).
I’m honestly not really sure what the Revised Edition does.
I really don’t enjoy this game that much. The idea of feeding your family is ok (and has been done in many games since) but it’s a very punishing game.
I have never been able to figure this one out. I have played its sister game, Caverna, and it’s much more pleasurable to me (though I still haven’t played it in a long time). Caverna isn’t quite as punishing with the feeding mechanism and that makes me feel less trapped.
I’ve played this on the app recently and unfortunately it still doesn’t agree with me.
Sorry to you fans.
Designer: Sébastien Dujardin, Xavier Georges, Alain Orban
Artists: Sébastien Dujardin, Xavier Georges, Alain Orban, Alexandre Roche
I played this game once on the table but have played many games on Boardgame Arena since then.
This is a dice rolling and drafting (kind of) game where you are managing your own section of the population of this famous city (pronounced “Twah” for those uninitiated). This population is in the form of dice depending on what regions you have your people stationed: Religious, Civil or Military.
You roll your dice and then the first thing everybody has to do is beat off invasions using some of their dice.
Remaining dice are then used to do various actions around the city (or out in the countryside where you may use them to cancel bad stuff that’s sitting out there). You can even buy your opponents’ dice because you need more and you don’t want them to have them.
That can be a mean thing.
It’s a game I enjoy but don’t love, and I haven’t had much of an urge to get it to the table again (not that I could without buying it, as I don’t think anybody I know has it anymore).
It’s fun enough, though, and I’m always willing to play an asynchronous game on BGA, but it’s not something I’m burning to play again any time soon.
I do like the dice drafting mechanics and how you can place your workers in a bunch of different areas to make actions more efficient (as well as possibly get points for them at the end of the game).
I really like how you can buy other players’ dice too.
Overall, I think it’s worthy of its spot in the Top 100 even if it wouldn’t be in mine (well, maybe it would since I’ve only played something like 350 games, but you know what I mean).
Designer: Corey Konieczka
Artists: Kevin Childress, Andrew Navaro, Brian Schomburg, WiL Springer
And now we come to almost the ultimate hidden traitor game, a game that sounds so cool that I really want to play it.
Sadly, I never have.
And it’s not for lack of opportunity, because I have seen it being set up at conventions and stuff.
It just intimidates the crap out of me, partially because of the deduction aspect and partially because it can take 2-3 hours to play. Every time I’ve had the opportunity, something has just told me “no, you need to leave yourself open to other stuff” and I back away slowly.
Maybe I’m a Cylon in disguise and I just don’t know it?
It’s a semi-cooperative game because you are trying to get the Humans to safety, but some of you (at least one, I think, and perhaps more than one?) are Cylons hidden for years without even knowing about it, programmed to doom humanity.
Do you hide the fact that you’re a Cylon or do you just go balls to the wall and try to kill everybody?
Those sound like exciting decisions.
If I ever get back to a con and I see this being set up (or if it’s a scheduled game), I need to sit down and play it.
Scratch that itch, fulfill that dream,
kill that human get the humans to Earth.
Crap, that was supposed to be a “delete,” not “strikethrough”
I have revealed myself.
Run for your lives!!!!
So we’ve reached the end of another week. I’ve played 6 this week with one on Boardgame Arena and one on Steam (also an iOS app if you don’t count the Revised Edition). Not too bad.
That makes 13 that I’ve played “officially” (on the table) out of the bottom 30. Almost 50%
Will that go up or down next week?
I guess you’ll have to tune in and find out.
What do you think of these games? Love them? Hate them? Good enough for Cylons but not you?
Is there something I really need to play in there?
Let me know in the comments.
Posts in this Series:
Category: Board Games, Top 10Tags: Aeon's End, Agricola, Alain Orban, Architects of the West Kingdom, Battlestar Galactica, Card Games, CodeNames, Corey Konieczka, Czech Games Edition, Dice-rolling, Fantasy Flight Games, Garphill Games, Helmut Ohley, Hidden Traitor, Indie Boards & Cards, Kevin Riley, Leonhard Orgler, Lookout Games, Marvel Champsions: the Card Game, Party Games, Patchwork, Renegade Games Studios, Rio Grande Games, Roll for the Galaxy, Russian Railroads, Sébastien Dujardin, Shem Phillips, SJ MacDonald, Tile-Laying Games, Tom Lehmann, Train Games, Troyes, Uwe Rosenberg, Vlaada Chvátil, Wei-Hwa Huang, Worker Placement Games, Xavier Georges, Zman Games
This is a blog about board games, with the occasional other post for a bit of spice.