New to me – January 2021

Ah, 2021.

The past year has been dangerous, depressing, disappointing, in some cases despotic, and many other words that begin with “d”.

Everybody was so happy to get rid of it, to see it in the rear view mirror, like stopping at a rest stop so you can both go to the bathroom and then you hurry back and drive away while 2020 comes running after you.

It’s dead! It’s gone! We won’t have to face it again!

And then January hits…and guess what…

He’s baaaaaaack!!!

January 2021 was almost worse than 2020!

Now that January is behind us, there is some hope on the horizon. Enough that we can actually picture seeing each other at a convention sometime during this calendar year (though likely not until the Fall at the earliest).

It’s been a quiet time here at the Cult of the New to Me. Frankly, I think they’re really liking not seeing me in the office.

Should I be offended by that?

Anyway, let’s get to January’s new to me games. This month, just one new game and one new expansion. But it’s something!

Without further adieu (all of my adieu was traded in for a bottle of hootch anyway), let’s begin!

Speakeasy Blues (2018 – Artana Games) – 2 plays

Designers: Adrian Adamescu, Daryl Andrews

Artists: Heiko Günther, Don Whitson

Players: 2-4

I’ve been really interested in Speakeasy Blues since I heard about it on Kickstarter a couple of years ago. It looked like a cool design but I wasn’t really sold on it. Plus I was trying not to spend too much money on Kickstarters at the time.

But then the pandemic hit and I was looking at our online game store to find games to play with the wife and this one came up so I decided to try it out.

And lo and behold, it’s actually a good game! (though I think it would be better with more players).

A full speakeasy at the end of the game

In the game, you are trying to be the most prestigious speakeasy during Prohibition. You do that by trying to collect a bunch of great stuff as well as trying to attract celebrities and other types of High Society people to your speakeasy. Celebrities add great value to your speakeasy but it will all depend on the “events” that come up during the game.

However, celebrities can have some useful functions as well, giving you an additional action to do on your turn, perhaps. Or a one-time boost.

Colourful dice!

I’m going to be reviewing this game soon (hopefully) so I’m not going to go into great depth on how to play, but the game comes with five pairs of dice of different colours.

Three of these pairs will be rolled at the beginning of the game and put on the appropriate action spaces.

The remaining two colours are part of the dice pool. The first player will roll these as well.

The the first player will choose a pair to remove from the board, roll them, and add them to the dice pool. They then choose a pair to place on the board one at a time, to take the appropriate action.

A nice and small board

In doing this, you can gain hooch (which can help you do actions and also scores you points at the end of the game if you have them), get favours with either the local police or one of the two crime families, attract a celebrity to your speakeasy, maybe buy a prestigious item, attract a mobster (or perhaps some police protection) or get a jazz token.

Gene looks a little battered

Some celebrities give you actions you can do (by spending hooch when placing a die in the appropriate place) while others give you end-game scoring and some give you a one-time effect.

A new car!!!!

Collection items can earn you points at the end of the game, depending on which ones are actually on top of a column in your speakeasy.

The game goes 10 rounds, with each round either having an end-game contest (whoever has the most of something gets points), an effect that lasts for the entire round, or a one-time effect.

After the 10 rounds, players get points for favours collected, hooch, money left over, collection items, and any end-game cards that are on the top of each column in your speakeasy.

Whoever has the most points is the winner!

This game is actually pretty fun, though I’m not sure how much staying power it will have. I’m going to get a couple more plays in before actually reviewing it, but the only real differences between the games are the end-game scoring conditions players have chosen.

The cool thing about the game is that only the card on top of each column actually matters. If you have an action you can do but then you cover it up with another card, too bad. You can’t use that action.

If the Polo Grounds ticket card in Column 2 above was covered, then you would no longer be getting points for tickets at the end of the game (unless you covered it up with another ticket card, of course). The Fitzgeralds in Column 1 above give you one point per celebrity in your speakeasy at the end of the game, but if you cover that card up, you won’t get them.

That makes the card placement quite important, as well as making cards that give you the power of swapping cards in your speakeasy especially handy. You could cover up a card and then near the end of the game, bring it back up to the top.

I really hate the lack of a score sheet in the game, but I have seen so many examples of this issue that I’m thinking of doing a post about it.

The graphics are nice, though, with the artwork on the cards being very cool and stylized. The board looks great too, harkening back to an era gone by.

I’ve only played it as a 2-player game, and I do think it will be much better with 3 or 4 players. That being said, as a 2-player game, it’s incredibly fast!

This is a keeper, at least for now.

Expansions

Marvel Legendary: Noir (2017 – Upper Deck) 2 plays

Designer: Devin Low

Artist: Bill Sienkiewicz, Caio Cacau, Benjamin Carre, Danny Kundzinsh and Cyril Nouvel

Players: 1-5

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve recently fallen deep down the Marvel Legendary rabbit hole after digging myself up from it a couple of years ago. I’ve bought almost every expansion that I didn’t already have and I’m going to be going through them one by one.

I won’t be using my card randomizer for a while!

If you want to know how to play Marvel Legendary, read my review of it.

What does this 100-card expansion add to the game?

A couple of cool new concepts and some incredibly dark and stylish artwork.

The five new heroes are Angel – Noir, Daredevil Noir, Iron Man Noir, Luke Cage Noir and Spider-Man Noir, and each feels a bit like their counterparts in the normal Marvel universe while adding some distinctions.

The new “Investigate” keyword lets you look for a certain type of card by turning over the top 2 cards of your deck (or whatever deck if the card tells you a different deck). You get to draw one of those cards if it meets the conditions (again, unless the card says otherwise, like on the Spider-Totem’s Chosen card shown above).

You can put the other card (or both if you don’t get what you want) on either the top or the bottom of the deck in question, so you can set up either future investigations or other combos with cards that look at the top card of your deck.

This can be very handy!

“Hidden Witnesses” are essentially bystanders but you have to “buy” them before you can defeat the villain that has captured them. Thus The Goblin above, you only need 10 “Fight” to defeat him, but you can’t do anything until you collect the Hidden Witnesses. These are bystanders placed face-down beneath the card so you don’t know what type of bystander they are (some bystanders have effects when you rescue them).

You can spend 2 Recruit to rescue a Hidden Witness.

This can make some villains very hard to fight, even if they would be easy otherwise.

Players would love to go up against a villain that requires only 1 Fight! But you gotta take care of the witnesses first.

I will also be doing a review of this one shortly, so I’m not going to go on too much about the cards, other than to say they add some interesting twists to the game!

It’s a nice and easy expansion to add once you’ve mastered the base game. The villains can be tough (but not *too* tough) and the concepts are intriguing.

The artwork is amazing as well, if you’re into that kind of thing.

The game also adds four new Schemes to deal with, with all of them being pretty cool (though the one that has you put the four Mastermind Tactics in the Villain deck and if two of them Escape, the players lose could have things end very quickly)

This is definitely an expansion that I have enjoyed and will continue to explore. I’ve played two of the four schemes and am ready to come back for more.

What new games did you play in January?

Let me know in the comments.

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