July was a good month.
When you have the entire month of July off of work as vacation, it’s a glorious month!
It was sadly not a month for writing, which I apologize for to anybody who’s been anxiously awaiting the chance to read my writing (Hi, Bob!).
Since a lot of my game-playing after the COVID lockdowns has been on lunch at work, that does hamper the game playing though!
Even more so when I had to skip one of our weekly game meetings and another one was just one (long!) game.
But it was still a great month.
The highlight was seeing David Gray in concert.
Man, what a singer, and an even better performer. Probably the best concert I’ve seen.
If you want to see him in action from that concert, check out this video.
Anyway, as I was saying, not many games were played, and only two games that were new to me.
The Cult of the New to Me was kind of indifferent to that, even though they were from 2020 and 2021.
I guess they were feeling mellow too.
August looks to be a lot more active, so hopefully next month’s post will be longer!
So without further ado (all of my ado was eaten by a salmon living in the grasslands anyway), let’s begin!
Designer: Randy Flynn
Artist: Beth Sobel
With playing Cascadia, I have now officially played and rated over 50% of the Top 100 games on Boardgame Geek.
This made me a happy camper!
Cascadia was a huge hit last year, with everybody seeming to rave about it. I really wanted to play it because it was apparently a nice, breezy game, almost tranquil, about building animal habitats out in the wild.
And it’s kind of like that.
It’s definitely tranquil!
Each player starts with a habitat tile that has all five of the various habitats on it in different configurations. There are also a bunch of animal symbols.
Take note: the animal symbols on the tiles make no logical sense in nature. There are grasslands tiles with salmon on them, for instance.
Anyway, on your turn, you will be taking one of the available tiles along with the animal token that’s paired with it. Both are randomly drawn and paired, so the habitat tile might be the one you want but you don’t really want the animal token that’s paired with it.
Or vice versa.
You just have to determine how badly you want one or the other.
And sometimes things work out just right and you want both of them.
You place the tile in your habitat where you want it and place the animal token on a tile that doesn’t yet have an animal token on it. Of course, the tile has to have the animal icon that matches the token.
What are you trying to do with all of this?
You’re trying to meet the conditions on the various animals’ score cards, which can vary from game to game.
There are a few sets of scoring cards that are all grouped (A-D, I think, but I don’t have the game so it may be A-E)
You’re looking for chains or groupings or whatever the card says.
For example, Foxes score for each type of animal on a surrounding tile (including another fox). Since there are 5 animal types, that means they have a maximum of 5 points. But you could get a lot of them!
Salmon are trying to chain, but they can’t have any other salmon next to the chain or they don’t score. But if you can string 7 along (at least with this scoring card), you can get 25 points!
The game ends when all of the tiles are gone.
You also score points for the tiles you’ve placed with connected habitats.
Whoever has the most points is the winner!
There are, of course, a couple of things I left out there, but that’s the basic gameplay.
And it’s fine. It’s nice. I enjoyed the game.
Do I agree with all of the raves about it?
I would definitely play it again, and I know I would enjoy it.
I definitely recommend trying it once like I did. You may agree with the ravers. You may agree with the haters.
Or you may agree with my semi-indifference.
Either way, you won’t regret it.
Designer: Ivan Lashin
Artists: Sergey Dulin, Marta Ivanova, Ilya Konovalov, Vadim Poluboyarov, Oleg Yurkov, Egor Zharkov
I also heard a lot of good things about Furnace, an auction game where you are also chaining the effects of industries that you buy through the auctions, all to gain the most money over four rounds.
I was actually amazed at how easy this game was to learn and it played in 45 minutes with two newbies (including me, so you know that’s saying something).
Each player starts with an industrialist who has a power that will break one of the rules, along with a starting industry.
The industrialist I had, for example, let me spend 2 coal to run an industry again (more on why that’s important later).
This starting industry has one ability that no other industries will have: the ability to upgrade other industries that you’ve bought to maximize their potential.
Each round, a series of industry cards are laid out for auction (the number depends on the number of players).
Each player in turn will place one of their four bid tokens on an industry.
There are a couple of interesting rules, though.
First, you can’t put a token on an industry you’ve already bid on.
Secondly, there cannot be two of the same numbered tokens on the industry. So if there’s already a 1, 2, and 3 on it, you have to put a 4 on it if you want to place a token there at all.
You can, however, bid under somebody else as long as nobody has already put that number on the industry.
Why would you want to do that?
Because of the other neat thing about the auctions in Furnace.
See the symbol at the top of all the cards?
Whoever bids highest gets to keep the industry and add it to their tableau.
Whoever is lower than the highest bid gets compensation in the form of that symbol, as many times as the number on your bid token.
So that first card in the picture above?
White will win the industry with the 4 token.
However, black will get two Iron because the compensation on the industry is one iron and black has the 2-strength bid token on it.
Sometimes you don’t want the card. You just want what the card can give you if you lose.
Since auctions are done in order from left to right, black has a pretty good combo there, actually. They get 2 iron as compensation on the first card. The second card lets them change one iron into an upgrade token.
At the end of the auction, it will look something like this.
After all compensation has been given and industries have been added to tableaus, each player runs their system, using each card in whichever order they want.
However, each card must be run in its entirety (if you want to, as you don’t have to do an action on the card if you don’t want to or can’t) before moving on to the next card. Once you’ve run a card, it can’t be run again that phase.
Basically all of this amounts to producing materials to then turn into either other materials or into money (i.e. points).
Upgrade tokens (as earned with your starting industry or with potentially some other industries) will allow you to upgrade the industries you’ve purchased but again, once you’ve run the card that lets you upgrade, you can’t do it later.
The conversions are easy to do but you have to make sure you do them in the right order.
When you have a lot of cards, you will have to really work out the order you want to do them in.
Ultimately, you want to be converting things into money because those are the points that win you the game.
After four rounds, whoever has the most points is the winner!
I really enjoyed this game.
I don’t mind auction games, but they’re not my favourite genre.
This one, though, has probably moved up near the top for me.
That’s mainly due to the compensation aspect.
I love the ability to underbid somebody just because I want to get what that card gives me (or do the conversion that card lets me do) and I don’t even care that you’re getting that card!
More power to you.
It can get really thinky and AP-inducing in the last couple of rounds when you’re trying to figure out the best order to do things, so much so that there’s an official variant in the rulebook about it.
Basically, when you buy an industry, you have to put it into your line of industries, fitting it into a space that you want it.
When you run your industries, you have to do it from left to right rather than choosing what order.
It removes the AP, though I would think it would add AP to the buying industries portion of the game.
Oh my god, where do I want to put this? Oh shit, I put it in the wrong space, where I won’t have any oil to convert when I get to it!
Overall, I prefer the regular version of the game (not having played the variant, mind you, but I don’t think it sounds fun). Even with the AP, it was a 45-minute game.
You can’t argue with that.
I think this would be a good lunch-time game, actually. It doesn’t seem like it would be, but my first experience certainly made it seem good for that.
There you go.
Only two games in July, but both are good! Ok, I’m kind of meh on Cascadia, but I do think it’s a good game and a lot of people like it.
What new to you games did you play in July?
Any opinions on these two games?
Let me know in the comments.
This is a blog about board games, with the occasional other post for a bit of spice.