It’s the end of December and 2020 has been a really cruel and wicked year.
However, one benefit of all of this is that I’ve played a lot more games with my wife than I had in the past.
She graciously volunteered to play more with me since I don’t have my usual game days any more. She could see what my lack of game-playing with my friends was doing to me.
While she does enjoy the games we play, she’s not a “gamer” and thus I don’t bring out the heavy hitters (no Food Chain Magnate or anything like that).
While my game-playing has slowed down this year due to my mental state, it’s nice that I’ve still been able to get at least a new to me expansion played each month if not a new game (I did miss a couple of months, but what can you do?).
The Cult of the New to Me has been happy with that, given the circumstances.
No revolts this year, anyway. It’s not like they’ve been getting too many played themselves.
As we say good-bye to an atrocious 2020 and welcome in a more hopeful 2021…
ok, maybe let’s hedge our bets somewhat because I think we all got a bit too cocky in January 2020.
So, without further adieu (all of my adieu was hate-drafted by my opponent anyway), let’s get started!
It’s a Wonderful World (2019 – Lucky Duck Games) – 3 plays
Designer: Frédéric Guérard
Artist: Anthony Wolff
This game had fallen off of my radar even though many people (including Tom Vasel from the Dice Tower) were saying how wonderful it was.
When COVID-19 hit and the lockdowns started, I was looking for games that played well with 2 players.
This one is ok with 2 players, but after playing it 3 times with the wife I can say that it is a phenomenal game!
Think 7 Wonders, but much better.
It plays 2-5 players, but I’ve only played it with two players and I really like how it plays.
What is it?
It’s a card-drafting game where you are basically trying to set up your empire to produce resources and be able to build nice victory point cards.
Each round, you will be drafting from 7 cards (in the 2-player version, you draft from 10 cards but you still only draft 7, discarding the last 3).
The game has 4 rounds, and after drafting all of the cards, you will decide which ones you want to build and which ones you want to recycle for the resource on them (the circle in the bottom right corner).
You can use those recycled resources to build the cards you’ve placed under construction. They do not contribute to your empire until you’ve actually constructed them.
However, once they do, many of them will be contributing resources to let you build other cards.
If you don’t have a place for the resource, you place it on your Empire card (like the blue cube above). Once you have five resources there, you trade them in for one Krystallium cube, which can be used as a wild resource for any resource you need. Some cards do require a Krystallium cube as well as other resources, so keep that in mind.
Each round, after the drafted cards are either placed in the Construction Zone or are recycled, resources are produced in a certain order.
For each resource, you get as much of that resource as your empire produces, and then you compare who has produced the most of it. Whoever has gets either a General or a Financier based on which resource you are doing at the moment.
The order is important because if, for example, producing electricity let’s you finish constructing a building that produces science, you will be able to use it to produce science this turn because science production is after electricity.
However, if you’ve already produced the resources that the new building creates, it won’t come into effect until next round.
If you’re careful, you can chain production to get multiple buildings into play on the same round.
Generals and Financiers give you one victory point at the end of the game for each one you have, but they can also contribute to the construction of some buildings and some other buildings may also give you victory points for how many of one of them you have.
Other cards (like one of them in the picture above) give you points based on how many of a certain type of building you have.
I love how everything is kind of connected and you have to really decide what you want to build and which cards you can recycle for their resources.
You only have four rounds, so you need to get your production going early.
For me, this totally demolishes 7 Wonders if I have a choice of which one to play (unless we have 6 or 7 players, which this doesn’t support). Not 7 Wonders Duel because I do think that’s a wonderful 2-player experience compared to playing this one 2-player.
But the parent game?
It’s a Wonderful World is so much better.
And I love how the only difference in 2-player It’s a Wonderful World is that you just have more cards to choose from when you’re drafting.
No bot-player, no special rules, no nothing.
You just draft from 10 cards instead of 7.
That’s a lot of fun!
I really can’t wait to play this game with more than 2 players, but in the meantime this is a game that both me and my wife enjoy, so it will get played even more often during these COVID times.
Elder Sign: Unseen Forces (2013 – Fantasy Flight Games) – 1 play
Designers: Richard Launius, Kevin Wilson
Artist: Dallas Mehlhoff
Another product of COVID lockdowns is Elder Sign: Unseen Forces (and its parent game, of course).
I went on a shopping spree early in the lockdown era for games that I could play with my wife. She loves cooperative games and Elder Sign is a game that I’ve played on the app before. I knew it was pretty cool, so I bought it.
I have now bought each expansion as well because we enjoy it so much.
I explained how to play the game in that earlier post, so take a look at it if you want that kind of explanation.
Unseen Forces doesn’t do anything truly special, but it adds more of what the game needs (more locations, more Ancient Ones, more items) as well as Blessings and Curses.
Blessings and Curses work a little bit differently than they do in other Arkham games, just because this is a dice game.
If you are Blessed, you get an extra die to add to your dice pool. This die has all of the same sides as the green dice, essentially just giving you an extra die to try and solve the mystery that you are attempting to solve.
Curses, however, can be really bad. You get a black die and roll it along with the other dice. If any dice match the black die, you remove one of those dice and it doesn’t work for you!
If you are Blessed, you will lose the Blessing if you become Cursed (instead of actually becoming Cursed) or if you fail an adventure.
You can only remove the Cursed die if you become Blessed or if you succeed in an adventure.
The only other real difference is that some of the Mythos cards actually come with choices.
The “War or Pestilence” card really gives you a hard choice. Add 2 Doom tokens to the track (possibly bringing two monsters into the game) or four monsters? Most of the time you’re going to choose the Pestilence, but maybe each investigator has some cool monster-killing items that will mean four monsters is easy?
You can also add some really difficult Mythos cards to the deck if you think the game is too easy (I don’t think I would ever say that).
The expansion also adds some cool new adventures…
All in all, I don’t think I would play the game without this expansion now. The additions are just too cool and give the game a bit more variety.
Even the new Old Ones are pretty nice.
The Entrance area is actually now made up of cards instead of one sheet, meaning you can arrange it however you need to.
It has also removed the option to buy Elder Signs, which has seriously inhibited how we ended up finishing our games.
We will have to adjust!
If you’re a fan of Elder Sign, I think this is a must-have expansion (though this isn’t a review so maybe multiple plays will change that? I doubt it.)
Roll Player: Fiends & Familiars (2020 – Thunderworks Games) – 3 plays
Designers: Keith Matejka
Artists: JJ Ariosa, Luis Francisco, Lucas Ribeiro
Finally, there is the second expansion to the Roll Player franchise.
The base game plus both expansions were bought, again, due to COVID and because my wife really liked the base game when we played it.
I played the base game first a couple of years ago but hadn’t tried it again since.
I bought the game because I enjoyed it and I thought my wife might as well.
Then I bought both expansions, with the first one (Monsters & Minions) being a big hit!
How is this second expansion?
It’s pretty good, though not as good as the first.
I do love how this expansion also has monsters and minions, so even if this is the only expansion you are playing with, you still get to use those things.
However, this expansion adds both Familiars and Fiends (hey, I just realized that’s why the expansion is named that!).
Familiars add a row to your character sheet, with a familiar that also has its own ability as well as power goal and “backstory” goal.
This is another place to put your dice, and maybe a good place to put the lower dice that you end up having to draft. The power goals range from 5-9, so you can place your 2’s or 3’s there.
If you want to use their ability on that turn, of course.
To compensate for the added time this might add to the game, each round you will be drafting two dice instead of one (though you can only use one action depending on where you place the dice). This lasts for a certain number of rounds before you go back to drafting one die each.
Fiends, on the other hand, are things you don’t want but you may have to take depending on which dice you want to draft.
These are placed on certain Initiative cards depending on who many players are in the game (in a 2-player game, it’s only on the third card). This means that if you choose higher dice, you will be saddled with a Fiend as well.
The Fiends all have detrimental effects, though some of them you may not care about (if you have no Weapon cards, then you don’t really care about the Fiend of Severance, for example).
That being said, having active Fiends can be bad depending on certain other things, like whether the Monster you are fighting at the end will give you Wounds based on how many active Fiends you have.
You can banish Fiends with Gold or a Charisma Token, so they aren’t too bad, but if you get the wrong one at the wrong time, they can be really annoying.
The expansion also adds new Market items, including Runic Armor cards that not only give you set collection VPs but also can let you adjust attributes at the end of the game if you need to.
The expansion also adds Scrolls (which are in the first expansion as well), minions, experience points, and all of that good stuff.
One other addition to the game is a new set of dice. Unlike the Monsters & Minions expansion which added power dice (dice valued 3-8 instead of 1-6), this expansion adds “Split Dice.”
Split Dice can count as either colour on the die but to offset that awesome ability, they only have a value of 1-4.
All in all, I really like this expansion though I think I like the Monsters & Minions expansion a bit more.
I found the Fiends a bit more annoying than fun, though they are usually easily dealt with depending on how you are playing.
I do like that the rules give you how to play with just this expansion and also if you have both expansions.
Unfortunately, playing with two players as I have been due to COVID, playing with both expansions could end up excluding a lot of cards. You remove 20 cards from the Market deck if you’re playing with both expansions and only two players.
It’s understandable (you wouldn’t get to the much better cards if you didn’t), but you are missing out on a lot of other cards that way.
Still, the expansion does add a lot of fun and some new races (along with classes, backstories, and alignments) that just add to the game.
Each expansion adds new methods of achieving victory points, which I really enjoy. The Beastmaster lets you kill a lot of Minions but really only if you sacrifice scoring the 2 points for meeting its attribute goal. Rolling an “8” rather than actually rolling your combat dice doesn’t really help fight minions.
But it could be lucrative!
One more thing to add about this expansion that I really liked.
Some of the Minions, if you roll high enough to claim them as a trophy, let you do a certain attribute action instead of getting a reward or money, XP, or glory.
This gives you more of an opportunity to adjust the dice on your character sheet, which I absolutely love.
All in all, I’m definitely glad I own both expansions and while I like the first one a bit more, this is a welcome addition to the Roll Player universe.
What new games did you play in December?
I’m sure you got a nice gaming haul for Christmas, so which new ones did you play?
Let me know in the comments.
Great to see new games played. I think I need to do such a mental exercise myself to see how many new titles vs old one I play. Thanks especially for text about “It’s wonderful world”.
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You’re welcome! I think it’s a cool thing to monitor, at least for myself.
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I didn’t know anything about It’s a Wonderful World, so I was interested to read about that–thanks for the write up : ) That was totally not on my radar.
The new site design is very clean, but I think you need a meeple walking on the beach in the header : ) Just something that better suggest “board games.”
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Thanks, Biff! I’m glad It’s a Wonderful World sounds neat to you.
We really enjoyed it.
Once I get some picture-manipulating skills, I will put a meeple on the beach. 🙂 For now, I’m just using one of the header image options for the theme itself. Another one was a forest!