October started out really kind of warm and ended really cold and rainy.
Welcome to the Pacific Northwest!
But it was a good month for gaming.
I already told you about the month in general, though, so let’s stick to the stuff that you came to this post for: the new to me games!
You’ve probably played these already, but let me have my time in the spotlight, will ya?
Anyway, only five new to me games were played in October, and three of them were at SHUX during the first weekend of the month.
Thankfully, our Sunday game days introduced me to two more, and I even got one of those played twice!
That is very unusual.
There are some older games in this list, including Finca which originally came out a long time ago but I played the 2018 reprint, so my fellow New to Me cult members didn’t actually raise too much of a fuss.
They didn’t know about the reprint status, otherwise I think I would have had an insurrection on my hands.
But that’s neither here nor there (where the hell did that phrase come from, anyway? It’s gotta be somewhere!).
So without further ado (all of my ado was used to build a kelp farm anyway), let’s begin!
Underwater Cities (2018 – Rio Grande Games) – 2 plays
Designer: Vladimír Suchý
Artists: Uildrim, Milan Vavroň
Yay! Another Boardgame Geek Top 100 game! I have now played over half of them (52 to be exact).
I’ve been wanting to play Underwater Cities for a long time but every time it came out, I was with another game (that other game might have gotten jealous).
Then it stopped coming out.
Finally, it came out this month and I actually played it twice.
And I did quite well!
Sometimes there are games that, even though you don’t think that you’re doing well, you just seem to get. You may not win, but you won’t do terribly.
So far, Underwater Cities is on that list for me.
In the game, you are trying to build an underwater community of domed cities using cards and action selection.
You start with a player board (I don’t know if they come recessed like this or if my friend has an upgraded version) with positions for a number of domes along with places to put tunnels connecting them.
The board has a series of actions on it that you will be choosing (each player will choose 3 actions in a round): green, red and yellow.
To choose an action, you will choose a card from your hand to play along with it. If the card is the same colour as the action you took, you will play the card into your tableau and do the action (in any order).
If it’s a different colour, though, it just gets discarded (unless you have a card in your tableau that will let you play it anyway) but you still get the action.
There’s a nice symmetry with this, as the Yellow cards are weakest but the actions are strongest. The Red cards and actions are both medium and the Green actions are weak but the cards are very strong.
You will use these actions to build up your city of gain resources while the cards in front of you will either be one-time effects/actions, ongoing effects, or perhaps endgame scoring.
The Biomech Construction Crew, for example, gives you a steelplast (I think that’s how you spell it) each time you upgrade a tunnel connecting your cities.
The Negotiation Teams I used to great effect in my first game. There’s a space where you can discard a card to gain some money and two more cards.
The green Negotiation Team let me play the card instead of discarding it. The red one gave me two steelplast whenever I used that action.
Needless to say, I used it more than the other players wanted to use it! (It’s kind of a waste of an action though if your hand sucks and you need money, it’s a way to possibly fix that)
The actions on the board will help you build up your cities, adding production buildings to them that will give you kelp (food), money, or steelplast.
You also need to connect your cities with tunnels, because their buildings won’t produce anything unless they’re connected (but at least you don’t have to feed them if you don’t).
At the end of the game, if you can come close to filling your board, you will do very well.
There are also endgame scoring cards that you can buy any time that you take the action that will let you, but they cost 3 credits to play and if you hold on to them, they take up one of three cards that you can have in your hand at the beginning of your turn, so you don’t want to buy them early.
But they can be very lucrative. I gained 15 points on one card because it gave me 3 points for each “diversified” (meaning one of each type of production building) city I had…and I had 5! Those cities already get you 6 points each at the end of the game, so it was quite good for me.
There are three income phases during the game (two during and one right at the end) where your cities and tunnels will produce based on what you have. If you specialize in kelp-farming, that can be quite lucrative too, with having two improved kelp farms in the same city giving you 3 points each production phase.
But you also produce resources, money, etc.
At the end, whoever has the most points is the winner!
Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that, and I didn’t go over what the actions are other than just “gaining resources” or “building stuff.”
But those are the basics.
I really loved this game, both times I played it.
Is it in my Top 25?
We’ll have to see in a couple of years when I do another one, but it’s definitely in contention for it.
If I get another play in, I may do a review of it, so I won’t say too much.
Other than that you should definitely try it!
Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Annihilageddon (2019 – Cryptozoic Games) – 1 play
Designers: Matt Dunn, Matt Hyra, Cory Jones
Artists: RS Bixby, Nick Edwards
This was the last game we played at SHUX and we were up against time (I had to leave) and we were also pretty tired, so this probably didn’t make as good of an impression as it might have otherwise.
If you’ve played the DC Comics Deckbuilding Game, you’re already familiar with a number of the mechanics in this one.
However, it also uses some of the stuff from the Epic Spell Wars series, like trying to kill the other wizards (players) off and the like.
Thus, instead of the cards just giving you power that you can use to buy other cards or defeat the villains (adding them to your deck, making you more powerful), the cards you play may also give you attacks against the other players, bringing their health scores down.
If a wizard is killed, they get a “dead wizard” card that may be good, may be bad, or may be “nothing happens”. Either way, the wizard come back to life to battle again!
Some spell effects will cause other players to get “Limp Wands,” (subtle!) which are -1 points at the end of the game and just clog up your deck.
The cards are very funny, depending on your sense of humour. They are crass, but the game makes no secret of that. You know what you’re getting into.
The game lasts until all of the bad guys are defeated or you run out of Dead Wizard cards.
You then total up all the VP in your deck and somebody wins!
The game is enjoyable but we weren’t able to finish (we stopped at the 75 minute mark and still had a fair amount to go).
Part of that was the players, I’m sure. I don’t think there was enough attacking going on.
But the game did kind of drag anyway.
It has a bit of the same problem of power creep that its DC Comics predecessor had. If you start defeating villains, they get added to your deck and you become even more powerful.
In this one, though, some cards will mitigate that by allowing other players to take cards from you. That will help.
I’d like to try this one again under better circumstances.
Bad Company (2021 – Aporta Games) – 1 play
Designers: Kenneth Minde, Eilif Svensson, Kristian Amundsen Østby
Artist: Gjermund Bohne
Bad Company is a game that took me a little bit by surprise.
It had come out to a game day but I was either not there or playing something else. But I had heard good things about it.
Then I watched a “Game Night” playthrough of it and I was hooked.
My friend who had the game was going to let us play it prior to him trading it away at SHUX, but we never got to it.
But I bought it anyway.
In October, we got one play in at our Sunday game day and it actually is very good!
It has a bit of a Space Base vibe but with some interesting twists.
Players each run a gang of criminals trying to commit heists and keep ahead of the cops as they try to escape.
But they’re doing the heists while they’re trying to escape?
That makes no sense.
Yeah, probably best.
Your gang is a player board with gang members labelled 3-11.
Each one is slightly different, so they are dealt out randomly. They’re mainly different as far as what symbols are on what numbers.
Choosing a 2 or 12 will get you the benefit shown on your board.
The players’ cars start on the board ahead of the police car (the distance the police car is behind everybody is based on player count).
On a player’s turn, they are going to roll four dice. Like Can’t Stop, they will make two pairs out of those dice.
The player will then activate the two gang members matching those numbers. The gang members may give you symbols or may let you drive your car ahead a space.
Other players can use one of those pairs to do the same thing. Some Loot cards will actually allow a player to use both dice (once) even though it’s not their turn.
What do symbols do?
You will have a number of Heist cards with these symbols. When you gain symbols, you’ll cover that symbol on one of your Heist cards. If you don’t have one, you can always cover a basic symbol on your player board. Covering two of those will give you an ability of some kind (like a Wild symbol, or maybe $2, a drive symbol or a loot card).
Once you have covered all of the symbols on the heist, you’ve completed it. You’ll get points at the end of the game but you also might get a bonus or a special ability.
Each heist also has one or more symbols on it. When completed, you total up all of the symbols you have of a certain type. If you have more than everybody else, you get that necklace. You place that on one of your gang members. Activating that gang member in the future will give you an extra point in addition to whatever else it gives you.
Once heists are complete, each player can upgrade one of their gang members if they have enough money.
They pay the money to go to the next space on the upgrade track and draw three upgrade cards. They choose one of them to apply to a gang member and discard the other two.
What do upgraded gang members do?
They give you extra symbols when you activate them!
They also get taller and kind of creepy-looking.
The #9 guy above will give you $2 *and* a glove when you activate him.
Players will use drive symbols to move on the track around the board, trying to keep ahead of the cops.
If you pass a milestone before the police car does, then you get the bonus!
Thankfully, the only effect of the police car passing you is that you lose out on that bonus. It’s like they’re not even looking out the window or anything.
The game end is triggered when somebody has completed six heists or if somebody moves into the red zone on the map.
Points on heists as well as points gained during the game are totaled up (including losing some points if the police car is ahead of you) and whoever has the most is the winner!
This game is a lot of fun. Half the fun is upgrading your gang members, making them look like Twiggy (Editor: “Now there’s a reference probably nobody will get”).
At the end of the game, your board might look like this.
You can spread your upgrades around or you can really concentrate them and hope those numbers are rolled.
I really enjoyed this one. I think it lives up to the hype and it’s different enough from Space Base that I think both can live in the same household.
I’d like to get this to the table again and explore some of the nuances.
It’s not a really thinky game. It’s a dice game!
But it’s still very enjoyable.
Sadly, it’s not quite at the “lunch time game” level, but it might be after a couple of plays.
Cat in the Box: Deluxe Edition (2022 – Bezier Games) – 1 play
Designer: Muneyuki Yokouchi (横内宗幸)
Artist: Osamu Inoue (井上磨)
Cat in the Box is a game that everybody’s been talking about.
It’s a trick-taking card game that turns everything you know about trick-taking on its head!
And you know what?
They’re all right.
This is a fabulous game.
Of course, it’s based on the famous Schrödinger’s cat quantum physics thought experiment where a cat is in a box and it’s either alive or dead, but it’s actually both until the cat is actually observed.
In the game, there are four suits but the cards in the game don’t have any suit!
That’s right. When you play a card, you decide what suit it is.
Each player has a little whatchamacallit (I’m good with words) with all four suit colours. When you play a card, you place it next to whatever suit you want it to be.
The trick is that you have to follow the suit of the person who leads.
So if they play a red 5, for example, you have to play a red card.
If you don’t (you say your 7 is blue), then you are saying you have no more red cards. That means you can’t play a red card again this round.
When a card is played, it’s noted on the main game board. If you play a blue 7, nobody else can ever play a blue 7 this round.
So pretend that you’ve shown that you don’t have any red cards, and you only have a 7 in your hand. The other three coloured 7s have already been played.
You can’t play your card, which means there’s a quantum paradox.
This means you get negative points this round, which is never a good thing.
At the beginning of the round, players bet on how many tricks they will take.
If they succeed, they get a bunch of points!
Even if they don’t, they do get points for the tricks they’ve taken.
But it’s better to make your prediction.
Triggering paradoxes is a bad thing.
You’re not going to win if you do it a lot!
I think you play a number of rounds equal to the number of players. Once you get to the end, you total the points and determine the winner.
I love trick-taking games, though I know some people have no idea what they are.
This is an amazing example of one, mainly because it uses all of the normal trick-taking tropes but then turns them on their head with the whole “cards don’t have suits until you assign them” gimmick.
You have to be careful doing that because, for example, stating that you’re out of a certain colour early in the round can really screw you up.
You have to plan for that as well as all of the other standard trick-taking stuff.
But sometimes you have to!
If you want to play your 7 (maybe to avoid winning any more tricks because you’ve reached your prediction level) and all of the other 7s have been played, you have to say it’s red (for example) even if it doesn’t match the lead colour.
You are telling people you are out of the lead colour, which can come back to bite you in the ass.
I really want to play this one again. I came close to winning! (I was “D” in the scoresheet above) and it’s such an interesting game.
I will probably try to buy this at some point.
Finca (2018 – Devil Dice Games) – 1 play
Designers: Wolfgang Sentker, Ralf zur Linde
Artist: Franz Vohwinkel
Finca was another first-time play that we played on the Saturday of SHUX and it’s…not a bad game.
It has some interesting mechanics, using a rondel of sorts and contract fulfillment mechanisms.
Players are farmers who are trying to fulfill contracts with the crops they produce.
There’s also a neat rondel mechanism in the game that makes the game even more interesting.
The board has a bunch of contracts in various regions as well as the rondel where you will be moving your workers each round.
The contracts are shown in each region, though there is no “travel to a region to fulfill the contract” requirement.
Each turn, you will move one of your workers around the rondel, the number of spaces equal to the number of workers (total, not just yours) on the space it started from.
Once the worker lands, it will collect a number of that resource equal to the number of workers (total, not just yours) that are on that space.
If you cross a “cart” spot, you will get a cart.
On your turn, instead of moving a worker, you can use a cart to fulfill one of the contracts on the board, turning in the required resources for it.
At the end of the game, whoever has the most victory points is the winner!
This is a decent game, but it’s nothing to write home about.
Rondel-movement, contract fulfillment, it’s been done before and it’s not super-exciting.
That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t play it again.
I definitely would.
But it’s not something that I think I would seek out.
So there you have it.
Five new to me games in October!
As I write this, I already have three new games in November, with possibly a fourth this weekend.
Will I be able to equal October?
I echo that sentiment.
Anyway, what new to you games did you play in October?
Let me know in the comments.
And if you are finding these posts kind of tedious, please let me know that too.
I have to entertain my regular reader!
This regular reader enjoys the new-to-me posts! Always good to get a perspective on a few (let’s be honest: a lot) of games!
Underwater Cities looks like something I’d like to try!
…and I did get the Twiggy reference!
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Why does it not surprise me that you got the reference? LOL
I’m glad you enjoy these! Sometimes I feel like I’m writing for an audience of 2-3 people.
Underwater Cities is an amazing game. I hope to get to play it again soon.
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Honored to be in the target audience!
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Really glad to see you played Cat in the Box and shared your impressions. I tried to get it during Essen but it was already sold out!
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Have you played it at all? It’s an amazing game.
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Unfortunately not, everything was sold out and the queue to only demo copy so long there was no chance to get to it…
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