This past weekend was the Extra Life Tabletop Appreciation Weekend and I helped run an event here in Windsor at The CG Realm.
At the event, we gamed for 12 hours and I got in lots of plays. I got in some more plays of Tower of Madness, we played some Dead Man’s Cabal, I got to try Teotihuacan with the Late Preclassic Period expansion, I showed off Gentes Deluxified, I set up a crazy Pitchcar track and, of course, we played some Go Cuckoo.
The night before this big event Sean was in town and we live streamed some three-player Sorcerer.
Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links. Some games mentioned in this post were provided by publishers for review purposes.
Thoughts on the card game Sorcerer from White Wizard Games with three players.
I shared my initial thoughts on Sorcerer back in July. At that time I had only played two players with Deanna. Then in August, I hosted a Sorcerer demo night at The CG Realm and there I got to try it with four players. At that time I noted that the game was designed to play best with two players but worked surprisingly well as a four-player team based game.
This past Friday, both Tori and Kat were out of town so there was no way we were going to be able to live stream Gloomhaven. In addition Sean, my podcast co-host was going to be in town for our Extra Life event on Saturday and he suggested that we try out Sorcerer three player. So that’s what we did, we still went live on Twitch at 8:30pm (Eastern) on Friday night as usual but this time instead of playing Gloomhaven with Deanna, Tori and Kat, Sean, Deanna and I played Sorcerer.
With three players the only mode you can play Sorcerer with is called Battle Royal. This mode can be played with three to six players, though there’s only enough components in the core box to do it with up to four players. In Battle Royal mode, battle zones are placed between each player and players can only interact with the zones on their left and right. This set up reminded me a bit of Between Two Cities.
When players win a battlefield instead of it being destroyed it resets. All minions at the location are destroyed, the zone resets to full health and the player who won the zone gets one point. The first player to three points wins the match. There are some funky timing rules for what order players fight in but there aren’t any other rule changes.
Overall it went pretty well. Sean picked up the game pretty quickly which was a good sign. We didn’t really run into any rule problems though it did take us a bit to get the three-player battle timing down. Having played a handful of times at different player counts I have to say that the game felt a bit different at three players. For one there was almost no reason to move your troops and the flying power was actually useless. This meant the rally action barely got touched.
The biggest problems that this method of play had was downtime and overall game length. With three players, while two players are resolving the battlefield between them the other player has nothing to do. While they probably care about the eventual outcome, they can’t influence the battle at all. It wasn’t terrible downtime but it did usually mean that third player was picking up their phone. I can only imagine how bad that would become with four, five or six players.
As for the overall game length, our three-player game took about three hours. That’s more than twice as long as our two-player games have been taking. Now I will say that it didn’t feel like it took that long. The game was engaging enough that you didn’t notice the hours passing, but overall it felt long for a duelling card game. I can think of other three hour three-player games that I would rather play.
At this point, I can’t really recommend Sorcerer at three players and I’m sorry to say I’m not even interested in trying the Battle Royal mode with more than three players. I still really like the game as a two-player experience or when playing in teams.
Saturday was our first stop on the Road to Extra Life 2019
This past Saturday was our first Extra Life charity gaming event of 2019. We were at The CG Realm and we gamed for 12 hours straight. Sean was down and we streamed the entire event on our Twitch Stream. We sold baked goods and coffee (kindly donated by The Coffee Exchange), the cheat Jars were out, and we raised over $200!
The crowd was a mix of regulars and new gamers which was great to see. I got to sit down with and talk to a bunch of local gamers I hadn’t met before and I think the event was great for getting the word out about the other events we’ve got coming up in the future months.
We’re still a very long way off from our target of $10,000 this year, but every little bit counts. If you are interested in supporting this great cause you can join our team and start raising money yourself or donate to a member of our team.
I tried Tower of Madness with some tweaks from the designer.
Last week I shared my initial thoughts on Tower of Madness. Since that post went live Curt, the designer of the game and owner of Smirk & Dagger games, saw the post and even took the time to comment on it. I thought this was pretty awesome. It’s not often a designer or publisher takes the time to comment on a blog post. Curt had some suggestions on how to better balance the game so that the marbles don’t all come crashing down at once. The other thing he pointed out is that this is not Kerplunk and that as a player you do want marbles to fall with every pull if possible. Most of the marbles in the tower are actually positive things, and pulling a horror tentacle should be a good thing.
When I broke out Tower of Madness at our Extra Life Warm Up Event Saturday, I made sure to keep these suggestions in mind and explained them to everyone playing and it did make a difference. I’ve now finally seen a game where a player has gone insane and even a game where two players have gone insane. I’ve had it where players actually converted spells to discoveries, and I’ve had one game end in a player victory instead of Cthulhu destroying the world.
Overall the game played much better. The biggest secret was telling players to draw tentacles from all over the place, and don’t try to play it safe. You don’t want to start with the bottom tentacles at the beginning of the game because no marbles have settled there yet. Start near the top and middle. We also found that the diagonal horrors seemed to hold up the most marbles, and pulling those almost always resulted in a shift.
One thing that didn’t seem to help, that I thought would, is putting the green marbles in last. I tried this for one game and they were one of the first sets of marbles to fall. That was a very short game where everyone only got in about three turns.
Tower of Madness is definitely more fun when players aren’t playing it safe. There is still one aspect that I’m not a big fan of, and that’s when you succeed at an investigation but don’t have a high enough discovery total. When this happens you “win” but get nothing for it. It becomes the most boring state, almost like you miss a turn. You don’t get any points and you don’t get to do the fun thing of pulling a horror from the tower. It makes me wish the locations had two point totals, one for the primary investigator and one for every other investigator who succeeded but with a lower discovery total.
I continue to enjoy Dead Man’s Cabal from Pandasaurus Games.
The next game I played on Saturday was a four-player game of Dead Man’s Cabal. We played with three experienced players and one new player. I did the best I could to explain how important the Oracle was to final scoring. I also pointed out that players don’t want to use up all of their cubes when buying runes. I gave what hints I could about how to win the game. Despite all that I destroyed the other players with my final score. One of the players didn’t break 100 points, the rest were under 150, whereas I was up in the mid 200s.
For me, this was my best play yet. The rather opaque scoring system has started to click for me. I had a synergy going with what skulls I was collecting, which skulls my guests required and which skulls I was trying to score through the oracle. In the end, I had twenty-four skulls leftover, that scored the maximum amount through the Oracle. That’s 120 points right there.
This play of Dead Man’s Cabal just reinforced how hard to grasp the scoring system really is. It truly does take more than one play to fully understand the impact of the odd area control mini-game that is the Oracle. Speaking of mini-games, one of the players commented that the entire game felt like playing three or four different mini-games at once while still trying to keep track of an overall goal. I think that’s a pretty good description of how your brain has to work to play Dead Man’s Cabal well.
I do really dig the game, but in this era of one and done boardgaming, where people play a game once and move on to the next hot thing, I worry Dead Man’s Cabal is going to get left in the dust.
My initial impressions of Teotihuacan: Late Preclassic Period.
I was pleased to see Neil H. at the event Saturday. He’s one of the locals that really digs heavier games and I was glad to see him out to a public event. He’s the type that usually sticks to his regular game group that gets together most Saturday nights. Neil brought a bunch of games, of which we decided to play Teotihuacan with the new Late Preclassic Period expansion.
I’ve played my copy of Teotihuacan a handful of times, including teaching it at Queen City Conquest. I’m a big fan of the base game and have been curious about the expansion after seeing it at Origins a couple of months ago.
One of the biggest things the expansion adds are tribes. At the start of the game, each player picks a tribe to play. This gives the player some form of in game benefit as well as some form of penalty. The tribe I played let me take two actions every time I ascended a worker, but every time I wanted to go up on a god track I had to pay an extra cacao. Neil had something where he could use other players dice to produce resources but had to pay extra resources when building the temple or painting. What these tribes add is something I love in my euro games; asymmetry.
Another big change with this expansion is two new worker placement spots for building the temple and painting the steps. These both change it so that the value of the die that lands on the space matters now. You need to have higher dice in order to build the upper levels of the temple. What I liked about this was that it slowed the game down a bit. So far every game I’ve played of the base game of Teotihuacan has ended because someone has finished the temple. This new board means that’s less likely to happen.
One other change on these boards are multiple actions that let you unlock a locked die. This is a great addition because locking a die was rather painful in the original game. Having to pay three cacao or skip a turn to unlock was very expensive and meant that many people never bothered to lock dice. Now locking dice is a much more viable option.
The final large addition that Late Preclassic Period added was a new orange god track. Going up this track unlocked rule breaking abilities that seemed really powerful. Neil took good advantage of this track in our game, whereas Deanna and I basically ignored it. There was just too much other stuff going on. Which reminds me of another change. Seasonal events.
Every eclipse you flipped up a tile and some game rule was tweaked. One round we could pay extra cacao to go up on the god tracks. Another season we didn’t have to pay cacao for our own dice. This seemed like a decent enough change, with less impact than the new boards.
There were probably other changes as well. I’m guessing there were new discovery tiles and new technology tiles. I’m not familiar enough with the base game to have recognized what might have been new.
Overall I liked what I saw. Fans of this blog probably already know how much I dig asymmetry in my games. I really like the replacement building and painting tiles, they not only made high level dice matter more, they also made it so that the game is no longer just a race to finish the temple. As for the other expansion bits, they all seemed solid enough. I know next game I will have to pay more attention to that orange temple.
Gentes from Tasty Minstrel Games continues to impress the heavy game fans.
Since Neil was cool enough to teach Deanna and I the Teotihuacan expansion I felt I should pay him back and did so by teaching him Gentes, with my kickstarted Deluxified edition. I knew this was the kind of game Neil would dig. All three aspects of the game, the theme, the mechanics and the weight were right in his wheelhouse. I was not wrong.
We played a four-player game of Gentes that took us just under two hours including me having to teach the game. Besides Neil, the other three players joining in had played before. It was an extremely tight game. The table was a group of heavy gamers and we all gave it our best. The final scores were all within five points of each other and the winner was up in the air until the final scoring. It was actually the final scoring of civilization cards in hand that swung the victory. One of the players had a six point card they couldn’t finish in their hand at the end costing them three points and the game.
Playing Gentes and Teotihuacan with players who dig heavier games was a highlight of Saturday for me. It was great getting to sit down, not having to worry about taking too long, and playing longer more brain burning games against equally good players. Though I do have to say after Gentes I was a little burnt out.
I ended the event on Saturday playing some lighter games.
After three pretty damn heavy games in a row, I was feeling a bit burnt out. It was time for something lighter and that’s when I set up a crazy Pitchcar track. I finally got some use out of my long straightaway expansion pieces as well as the jump from the PitchCar Extension. I actually spread the track out over two tables and had a gap between them to jump. While this looked awesome and sounded great in theory it was a bit harder to actually make that jump than intended. The three of us that played had fun with it, but ended up getting our steps in while picking our cars up off the floor, failed jump after failed jump.
The last game I played of the night was Go Cuckoo. I played a two-player game with a new gamer I met at one of our EZY mode events who came out to support this Extra Life weekend. Of course they dug it.
Go Cuckoo actually got played multiple times throughout the event (Sean even got to try it) and I still have not found a single person that doesn’t like this game. For me, it was the perfect cap to a great day of gaming for a good cause.
So it was a busy weekend filled with a ton of great gaming for me. How did your week go? Get any cool games to the table?