Xia, A Return to Strasbourg, and My First Play of Teotihuacan – Tabletop Gaming Weekly

The big news this past week is that I finally got to play Teotihuacan, a game that has been nominated for a ton of awards this year.

In addition to playing around in the City of the Gods, I also got in a great five player game of Strasbourg at the FLGS.

Lastly, instead of playing Gloomhaven Friday, I taught Tori and Kat how to play Xia: Legends of a Drift System.

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I’m still really loving Strasbourg

The very start of a five player game of StrasbourgI’ve been a Stefan Feld fan for as long as I can remember. Stefan Feld was the first designer for whom I started to recognize their name. Before then I just bought games based on reviews or the back of the box or for some other reason. It was after playing Macao that I started to notice that a lot of the games I had been enjoying lately had the same name on the cover: Stefan Feld. At the time, these included Bora Bora, Castles of Burgundy and Trajan.

Back then I knew Feld for longer, pretty heavy games that all included one big thing in common: lots of ways to score points. That was the time when I started hearing the term Point Salad applied to Feld’s games. A name that I think fits.

It’s only recently that I’ve discovered that Feld has also designed some much quicker and somewhat lighter games. The first one I discovered was Bruges and most recently it was Strasbourg that caught my attention.

I am really digging Strasbourg. We played a solid five player game this past Saturday at The CG Realm. We had two brand new players and three players who had played before, two of which had only played once. One of the things I really noticed this play was how easy to teach Strasbourg is. I’ve now played enough that I don’t need to reference the rules and I’ve got a flow down for teaching it. One of the players is actually new to hobby board games in general and was able to pick up the rules quickly from my instruction.

The end of a game of Strasbourg the board game from Stefan Feld.The other thing of note from Saturday’s play is that one of the players, Justin, wasn’t a big fan last time. He specifically noted that before we started playing but also noted that he likes to give games at least two tries before giving up on them. Well, I’m pleased to say that by the end of this game Justin was much more a fan of Strasbourg. He still noted he didn’t love it but found that having played once before made the second game was much more enjoyable.

This reinforces something I proposed back when I first tried the game. Strasbourg really rewards repeated plays. The biggest thing is knowing what scoring cards are out there so that you can make moves to block your opponents. This is a bigger part of the game than you would think at first. It’s also a big part of the increasing player interaction as player experience increases.

Now I know this game is out of print and hard to find, but if you do see a copy, know it’s worth picking up.

While I can’t pronounce Teotihuacan, I did really enjoy the game.

The big game for me this past week was Teotihuacan. This was the demo game for the game night Saturday and one I’ve really been looking forward to trying. What was most amusing about this particular event is that the organizer, Ian, usually grabs much lighter, quicker games to demo. I think he was a bit over his head on this one. I knew this may be an issue so in order to help out, I took the time to learn the game before showing up Saturday. So together Ian and I were able to teach it.

Playing the hot new board game TeotihuacanThat’s one thing about Teotihuacan, it looks really intimidating and it’s not each to teach. It reminds me of Terra Mystica in the fact that there are a lot of different options open to the players, but also similar to Terra Mystica each of these individual actions isn’t all that complicated.

Since there is so much going on in Teotihuacan I’m not going to go through all of it here, but I will summarize the game.  The board in Teotihuacan is a giant rondel. Each turn players move one of their pieces, represented by dice, forward one, two or three spaces on the rondel. At each space they can either harvest cacao (the main currency in the game), worship, or do that spot’s action. Actions include getting resources, constructing buildings, worshipping at the temples, building the pyramid or decorating the pyramid.

The entire game revolves around building the pyramid that is in the center of the board. The building action has players place tiles onto the pyramid which builds up an actual tiered structure. What I think is worth noting is that these are not Mah Jong tiles. I thought they were based on all the pictures I had seen of the game. These are square tiles with four different symbols on them. Those symbols matter for awarding points when placing the tiles.

Nearing the end of a game of Teotihuacan the award winning board game.Now people keep calling this The Spiritual Successor to T’zolk’in, but while the games may share a theme and designer there really isn’t much in common between the two. The only real mechanic that carries over are the three god tracks but their importance and what you get for using them is very different. Teotihuacan is much less tight, more forgiving and more of a point salad than T’zolk’in. You can afford to make a few mistakes here and there are more options as far as getting points are concerned. It seems that you can actually forget about one scoring avenue in favour of another, something I’ve found doesn’t work in the other game. The important thing to note is that, in no way, does Teotihuacan kill T’zolk’in, both games feel very distinct despite having similar themes.

So overall did I like Teotihuacan? Well let’s put it this way, I bought it, at full price, from the FLGS before leaving to go home Saturday night.

I got to show off how great Xia was to two new players on Friday.

A picture of the sci-fi board game Xia: Legends of a Drift System.By now everyone should know that Friday means Gloomhaven. We have been live streaming our games on Twitch every Friday night at 8:30pm Eastern. The problem is that Deanna is still recovering from surgery so we haven’t been able to continue our campaign. In the meantime, we’ve been doing Gloomhaven random dungeons. Over the last few weeks, we’ve done four of them. While they have been fun I felt we needed a break. So this Friday I talked Kat and Tori into playing Xia: Legends of a Drift System.

We played a three player game which included the Embers of a Forsaken Star and Missions and Powers expansions. We decided to play to fifteen fame points or midnight, whatever happened first. In this case, midnight came before anyone hit fifteen fame.

Players enjoying Xia: Legends of a Drift System.The most important part to enjoying Xia is to embrace it for what it is. It’s an experience, an adventure. It’s not a strategic game, while you can and should plan out your strategy, it’s more about dealing with how those plans go wrong than sticking to them. It’s about loving the randomness and accepting the fact that you will probably blow up and that it’s no big deal.

As an example of the random factor of Xia, in this game the first event we had come up set up a wormhole system throughout the entire galaxy. This meant that every single one of the spawn points was connected to each other. Because of this, the board was very easy to traverse, at least for the start of the game until I was the lucky one to roll a one while using them and the wormholes collapsed.

Xia: Legends of a Drift System being played.

The other big event that happened that we had no way of planning for was Rikishi, the giant asteroid that slowly moved across the board destroying everything in its path. It eventually crashed into one of the planets which just happened to be the spawn point for one of the NPCs. With that planet gone the NPC wouldn’t respawn if destroyed.

I’m very happy to report that both Tori and Kat loved the game. I think knowing what to expect going in had a lot to do with that. I spent quite a bit of time setting expectations before we played.

We did stream this game live and you can expect to find an actual play video of this game of Xia up on our YouTube channel in the coming weeks.

Not a bad #WhatDidYouPlayMondays for me at all. How was your last week of gaming? Anything I should be checking out? Let me know in the comments!

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