What’s this, out of the wild? Cue Marlin Perkins!
Yes, it’s a “New to Me” games post!
For the first time in a few months, I’ve actually played some new games, so I get to tell you about them!
Yes, it’s been 4 months since the last one! It’s been a really tough Summer, at least emotionally.
Apologies for that.
It’s been so good to get out to organized game days again.
Especially because it got me two new to me games!
The Cult of the New to Me has been pretty gracious this last year. They know this COVID thing sucks. They haven’t even tried to revolt, instead being pretty chill about things.
In addition to a couple of new to me games, one of the first games I got played was an old favourite!
Not a new to me game, but I played one of my favourite games, Terraforming Mars, on the table for the first time in a year and a half in August. With the blinged-out Big Box components!
That was a blast.
So, without further adieu (all of my adieu was taken in a Goblin raid anyway), let’s get this party started!
Designer: Stan Kordonskiy
Artist: Mihajlo Dimitrievski (aka: the Mico)
This is one of the Kickstarters I backed last year during the height of the pandemic (I really spent way too much money on games during the worst of it) and it finally arrived at the beginning of August!
I couldn’t wait to get it to the table, so on our first game day since we could actually meet in person, I brought it out and played a 3-player game of it.
And it’s quite good!
Shadow Kingdoms of Valeria is a dice-drafting game where you are also using those dice to satisfy contracts (in a way).
It plays up to 5 players and there are also five factions of dice. The dice are actually the same “races” (goblin, undead, etc) as the players, which does come into play in one aspect of the game. You can unlock the ability to make one die of your faction into another faction, which may definitely help!
There are five areas on the main board which will house a number of dice (depending on player count).
Each player will also have their personal board that tracks their influence, their magic and their gold.
On your turn, you will move your Warden piece to one of the five areas on the board. You will then take a die (they were pre-rolled when they were placed there, so each die will be a value from 1-6) and do the action from the space. You could get a gem, or get some magic, maybe satisfy an award! Or you can hire a champion, get some gold, or choose a battle plan that you want to fulfill.
One of the cool things about the game is that for the champion/gold/battle plan areas, the die you draft actually matters.
For the champions above, the first row costs one gold (plus one gold for each of that type of champion you already have). The middle row costs three plus the same. And the bottom costs six plus.
However, each die has a discount value that corresponds to the number on the die. So if you draft a 1 (which won’t help you much in battle), you get a whopping 5 discount on your purchase! Drafting a 6 gives you no discount, but it will be great in battle.
You can also go to the space to obtain a battle plan. You can only have one battle plan saved, at least until you open up spots on your player board for more.
To satisfy a battle plan and get victory points, you have to have the right kind of dice (Storm Ararmartin Ridge requires two brown dice, for example). You spend the dice, using their value against a certain range (or perhaps your Influence because your combat strength can’t exceed your Influence, so if your Influence is lower, you use your Influence value instead of the strength) to get a certain amount of victory points.
Then you will take one of your Conquest Markers (discs) off of your player board to open something up (maybe an extra battle plan space, or maybe the space that lets you have 6 champions instead of 3, or something else entirely) and place it on your Campaign Map. Wherever you place it will give you a bonus if you meet the criteria (for the top left space in the picture below, if you didn’t use any brown dice in fulfilling the battle plan, then you won’t get any extra points).
If you link up with another previously-played Conquest Marker, you will get an additional bonus.
In other words, you’re kind of building an engine.
As soon as a player completes their seventh battle plan, the game enters its final round. Keep playing until each player has had the same number of turns.
Whoever has the most victory points is the winner!
There’s obviously more to the game than that but that’s a brief overview.
I really like the dice-drafting mechanics with this game. Sometimes you want to draft strength, but depending on where you’re taking the die from, that might make you spend a lot more money than you want.
Thankfully, there are dice-mitigation mechanics. You can spend a gem to flip a die, so if you took a 1, it becomes a 6. You can also use magic when you’re fighting to increase a die’s strength by 1 (and you can do that multiple times if you have enough magic, up to a limit of 6 on each die).
You really have to make sure you get your Influence up because that will limit how strong you can get with your dice.
This is just a fun game that I really want to play again (especially because I want to review it, but even without that I’d love to play it again).
The artwork is phenomenal, but it’s by the Mico so of course it’s good. He’s made all of the Valeria games I’ve played look stellar.
This is the third Valeria game I’ve played and while all three are trying to do different things, I’d have to say that this one is my favourite.
Here’s to more plays (and maybe a review!)
Designers: Flaminia Brasini, Virginio Gigli, Simone Luciani
Artist: Klemens Franz, Andreas Resch
Lorenzo il Magnifico is a game that’s come out to game days many times, but it always did when I was either playing something else or something more enticing also came out.
Finally, on our second game day since COVID kept us from meeting, it came out and I was ready for it.
And it was glorious.
We only played with the base game, and without the Advanced Rules (since we were a bit short on time), but the one play of it was so intriguing that I definitely want to play it again.
Also because the rules teacher forgot the Personal Bonus board for production that would have been very helpful!
That’s also why I want to play it again.
Anyway, each player is the head of a noble family during the Italian Renaissance. You have your player board where you are going to be putting cards that you purchase/take.
There are a number of card options each round as well.
The cool thing about the game is the dice. Each player has four family members that they will send out to do things. Either get a card, have the estates produce, run the buildings you’ve bought, etc.
There are three family members that correspond (one each) to the three coloured dice. Then there’s the “neutral” family member (which our game teacher described as the “stupid cousin who nobody cares where he goes”) that can go anywhere, even if you’ve already been there.
At the beginning of the round, the three dice are rolled and what’s rolled is the strength of each colour’s family member. The strength is important because you need a certain strength to do different things. You can get the first Estate (for example) with only a 1, but to get higher ones, you need more power. You can always spend servants to increase the value of the dice, though.
To run your estates, for, example, you need a certain strength of die depending on which ones are on your board.
In the picture above, you need a 5 strength to have two of the cards produce. A 6 if you want all of them to produce.
(What was left out of our game was the Personal Bonus Board which allows you to do something basic with just a 1 strength)
You can also hire people which will give you bonuses when doing stuff, or maybe just a cool one-time benefit.
One of the really interesting things is that every second round (there are six), you have to satisfy the Vatican or be excommunicated from the Church. This means you have to do favours for them or somehow get your piety up.
If, at the end of the round, your Faith points determine whether or not you may score points or just be shut out of the Church. In the first Vatican report (after Round 2), you have to have reached the first counter. If not, you will have a penalty for the rest of the game (in the above picture, every time you get gold, you get one fewer gold).
For the second Vatican report, you have to reach the second counter. And of course, at the end of the game, you have to have reached the third counter.
If you have reached it, you get to choose. Do you want to keep your Faith marker where it is and be excommunicated anyway? Or do you want to get the victory points where your marker is and go back to the beginning?
It’s up to you.
For me, where the final counter was “lose one VP for each wood/stone that’s in the cost of all of your buildings,” I didn’t care because I hadn’t built any buildings.
At the end of the game, whoever has the most VP (including endgame VP which is where I got most of mine), is the winner!
Again, I didn’t go into all of the detail (I didn’t even mention military strength!), but that gives you a brief overview of the game.
I really loved this game and wish I had played it sooner (and correctly!). It’s definitely an engine-builder, but so many games are now that it doesn’t really bother me that I suck at engine-building games (Editor – Those aren’t the only games you suck at).
We were lucky that most of our die rolls were pretty good (except in the final round, which made things difficult), but the die rolls add just enough randomness that you need to take them into account when you are planning things. Are you going to need a bunch of servants to increase the dice to what you want them to be?
If so, you’d better have a servant income engine.
I really want to play this one again (especially with the Personal Bonus Tile!) and see how I do. Now that I’ve played it once, it makes more sense to me and maybe I’d be able to do better.
I was lagging far behind during the game because I didn’t use buildings and concentrated on purple cards and endgame scoring. I ended up passing the guy who was way ahead of me in order to get second place (our teacher and owner of the game got first, of course). That totally surprised me and showed me that there are multiple ways to win this game.
Let’s play this one again!
Hopefully before the next convention.
What do you think of either of these? Have you played them? Want to play them?
What new to you games did you play in August?
Let me know in the comments.