My wife and I finally had a weekend free and were able to hit up the local FLGS game night on Saturday.
We started off with Azul, then played a two player game of Terra Mystica, and finished off the night with a four-player game of Terraforming Mars. It was nice to get out of the house and get some gaming in again. This was our first time back at The CG Realm since Extra Life.
I had been looking forward to last Saturday all week. Earlier in the week we had sat down and figured out that there was nothing we had to do Saturday. One of the kids was going to be at a concert and my mom had offered to watch the other kid. This meant that D and I had pretty much a full day to ourselves. Of course, we spent a good portion of that day gaming.
We started our day off at Kagerou Ramen House where we each had some amazing Miso Ramen. We hadn’t been since our launch party. If you are ever in Windsor, you owe it to yourself to stop in. Kagerou is a pop-up restaurant that takes over Eros Asian Eatery every Saturday from noon until 3pm. So you have a small window of opportunity but it’s worth moving your schedule around to make it there.
After lunch, we headed to The CG Realm. There we met with the owner to talk about selling our Magic The Gathering collection. Neither of us has played in years and Big G needs braces so it’s time to let our old cards go.
Every 2nd Saturday CG Realm hosts an open, family-friendly, tabletop game night, so after our meeting, we hung around to take part in that.
The first game we played was Azul. D still hadn’t gotten a chance to try the game with my shiny new Joker Tiles. It was only my third time using them myself.
I played terribly but still had a good time. I don’t even know what I screwed up. D more than doubled my score. As for the Joker Tiles, so far I dig them. They mix things up just a bit while still keeping the game feeling pretty much the same. I haven’t been able to figure out if the additional options they give you actually make the game easier or harder. Based on my score Saturday I obviously haven’t quite figured them out yet.
I do have to note that it felt very different using them in a two player game vs a four player game. With a four-player game, there are Joker tiles out almost every round and you often will find two of them in the same market together. This doesn’t happen often at all in a two player game. The reason for this is that the number of Joker tiles you use is based on the number of players. This leads to my one problem with the new tiles.
Now before I start playing Azul I have to seed the bag based on the number of players. This takes time, both to look up the number of tiles you need to use (I may eventually memorize this) and to physically sort and separate the tiles. It’s not a big step nor does it take a long time, but it means my copy of Azul is no longer pick up and play within moments.
Next, I convinced D to try Terra Mystica with me, two players. I have been playing a lot of three player Terra Mystica on Board Game Arena. I’ve been enjoying that quite a bit but I’ve been itching to play my physical copy again. I don’t think I had ever tried the game two players.
We were both very pleased to learn that Terra Mystica plays fine at two players. The only special rule is that you use less of the bonus tiles than in a higher player count game. I was also pleased to learn that I still really enjoy playing the physical game. While I admit the fact there’s no setup time on BGA is nice, I much preferred handling the physical pieces. Putting my settlements and trading houses on the board and swapping my pieces as I upgraded them felt more like I was building an empire than clicking my left mouse button over and over.
It had been a long time since D had played Terra Mystica and she noted how she had forgotten just how tight the game is. How it’s so hard to figure out the best move to take and how to use your very limited resources. We both agreed we need to get this game to the table more often.
One thing I really want to do now is play Gaia Project again. Back when I shared my initial thoughts on Gaia Project I noted that I needed to play Terra Mystica again to really compare the two. Now I’ve played Terra Mystica quite a few times, both digitally and physically, but I’ve still only played Gaia Project once, and my memory of that game is already fading. I would love to set up a doubleheader night where we play both in a row.
After finishing Terra Mystica a few more people had shown up for game night so we hooked up with a couple of other local gamers and I broke out Terraforming Mars and the Venus Next Expansion. For this four-player game, we played with full Corporate Wars rules, with corporations, and 0 starting production. We did not use drafting.
Straight up I will say Venus Next definitely makes the game longer. Our game took over three hours. Now we did stop and grab some Coney Dogs in the middle of that and one of the staff was playing with us and had to walk away a couple of times to deal with customers. This added some time but I still think we would have been close to the three-hour mark.
Of the four of us one player had only played Terraforming Mars once (with a beginner corporation). One knows the game well but had never played with Venus Next. It was D’s third time with the expansion and my second. Overall the jury is still out. I continue to like it.
I love that I’m still seeing new cards and ways to use them. This time I got a new Venus corporation but one that was more Mars focussed. I mainly got rewarded when other players terraformed Venus. D had a full on Venus Corporation (the silly one where you have to find 3 Venus cards to add to your hand at the start of the game). The other two players had standard Mars Corporations (Thorgate was one and a mining based one was the other). To me it seemed like the early game everyone was focused on Venus and getting some quick gains on their Terraforming Rating, then about halfway through everyone swapped their focus to Mars. I enjoyed the feel of that.
D still doesn’t like the expansion. She still contends that it waters down the main deck and makes all of the combos less effective and interesting. It’s worth noting that she did also win the game, so it’s not just sour grapes. Now I did come in second place, one point behind her, so it does seem that the new expansion doesn’t mess up the scoring balance of the game. As for the other two players, the one liked the expansion and the other had so little experience with Terraforming Mars overall they didn’t really have an opinion.
For now I plan on leaving Venus Next mixed in with the rest of the game. Maybe at some point I will filter them out. That sounds like work though, so they may just stay in.
That was my #WhatDidYouPlayMondays wrap up. What hit your table this past week?