The big thing for me last week was getting three expansions off my pile of shame as part of the #LessShameMoreGame challenge.
I finally got to play Tzolk’in with Tribes & Prophecies and played Villages of Valeria with the Monuments and Guild Halls expansion packs.
Along with those shameful expansions, I also got in games of Azul Stained Glass of Sintra, a medium length game of Dinosaur Island, a two player game of War Chest at my favourite coffee shop and some Race for the Galaxy on Board Game Arena. Oh, and there was a three player random dungeon in Gloomhaven.
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Finally getting to play some expansions
I spent Saturday afternoon at The CG Realm. I went to their regularly twice monthly game night with the express purpose of getting some pile of shame stuff played. I brought a milk crate full of stuff and managed to get three expansions to the table.
Up first was Tribes and Prophecies for Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar. Tzolk’in is a fantastic worker placement and removal game where you are rewarded for patience. Each turn you either put workers on the board or you take them off, never both in the same turn. It’s only when workers come off that they do anything for you. The board is made up of a set of five gears and each cog in the gears point to action spots. Each turn the gear rotates and the workers spin along with them. In general spots later on the gears are better, so you want to let your workers sit as long as possible. It’s a very unique mechanic that works really well.
The Tribes and Prophecies expansion adds two things to the game. The first are the Tribes. Now at the start of the game each player is randomly given two Tribe tiles. They pick one of these and discard the other. What these do is give each player a unique power. These powers make the game much more asymmetric and each seems a bit overpowered until you realize that they all seem overpowered.
The second part of the expansion is the Prophecies part. This one really changes up the game. There is a new prophecy board and on it your draw and place three random prophecy tiles. Each of these are horrible things that are going to happen later in the game. A disaster happens each quarter of the game except the first. All of these disasters force you to spend more corn on one thing. Overall they are all pretty horrible. There is an up side though. Players that mitigate the disaster well and still manage to flourish in the area the disaster happens will get bonus points, potentially a lot of them.
This expansion also adds the ability to play with a fifth player. That adds in a new type of action, the quick action, that doesn’t require you to place a worker on a gear. We didn’t try this part of the expansion.
Overall I like it. The Tribes part was the better of the two. Something I expect to use every game. Having unique player powers is cool. The Prophecies part I’m less sure of. Tzolk’in is already a very tight unforgiving game and this makes it even more unforgiving. I liked it but I can see how it’s not for everyone.
The other two expansions I got played on Saturday were both for Villages of Valeria. I did un unboxing video for these two small pack expansions a couple weeks ago. One is Monuments and the other is Guild Halls.
Villages of Valeria is a tableau building card game that to me feels like a much lighter Race for the Galaxy with a fantasy theme. Each round the lead player chooses an action and carries it out, then all other players follow by taking the same action. The initial player’s version of the action is significantly better than the follow version of that action. Actions include developing resources, using those resources (and those of the other players) to build village cards, recruiting heroes to live in your village, taxing to get money in order to recruit and build and harvesting to get more cards.
The Monuments expansion adds a set of 8 monuments to the game. With these in play when you recruit a hero you can also start to construct a monument. Once you have started construction on a monument you can use the develop action to continue to build it. Once you have enough resources between ones you have already added to the monument through develop and through normal resource production you can complete the monument. Monuments don’t do anything special but are worth a ton of points, more than double most other cards in the game. This pack also includes four new adventurers that just get added to the cards in the base game.
The Guild Halls expansion also adds four new adventurers. In addition it adds four new events, which are something that was initially added with the Event’s expansion for Villages of Valeria which I don’t own. Thankfully you don’t need the Events expansion to use these. Events are mixed in with the usual building deck and when they come up they get read aloud and cause all of the players to do something. We noticed that this pack has two positive events and two negative events. The last thing in this pack are four Guild Hall cards. These look and act like normal guild halls but add “most” style end game scoring, where players can get points for having the most of a specific icon in their tableau at the end of the game.
Overall I liked both of these expansions. Monuments added a 7 Wonders type feel to the game and actually changed up how the game feels and plays as every player had to spend some time picking and working on Monuments. The events seem really cool, but with just this one expansion pack you are going to keep seeing the same four events come up every game. It mainly made me want to pick up the other expansion sometime soon. The rest of the stuff just added to what was already there and were all welcome additions to the game. For how cheap these small pack expansions are I definitely recommend picking them up.
Race for the Galaxy on BGA
I haven’t been bothering to talk about my Board Game Arena plays here on the blog lately. Mostly because it’s just more of the same every week. I continue to play 7 Wonders over and over as well as Tokaido with Crossroads. The other game we keep playing is Race for the Galaxy. I did want to talk about that for a moment because we did something new this past week. I finally added the Brink of War expansion to our online games.
I’ve had The Brink of War expansion for my physical copy of Race for the Galaxy since it came out. While I did try it a few times I found the addition of Prestige Points and the new special action selection card that goes with them to be rather overwhelming, even for me. Bink of War is the first expansion I pull out of my copy of Race any time I’m going to be teaching the game and even with experienced players I’ll often just say to ignore the prestige point system and not use the extra cards.
Well I thought maybe it was time to finally sit down and figure out this expansion and how these new mechanics work. I figured Board Game Arena and a game with just D, Sean and I would be the perfect place. I’m pleased to say that it seems to have worked.
We’re only on game two using Bring of War but I finally grok how stuff works. I haven’t really figured out the strategy yet but I now get how prestige points work and more importantly how the bonus card works. The bonus card is a once a game ability that lets you either search the deck for a specific type of card or enhance one of the regular actions. BGA really helped with seeing this card in play.
The other thing BGA is great for is tracking everything. Once you add Brink of War to the physical game players now have a track showing their military power, the number of Imperial Worlds they own, the number of Rebel Worlds, if they have an attack power, their number of prestige points and a token showing if they have the most prestige points. BGA tracks all of this for you, off to the side out of the way of your cards.
So if you are like me and tend to avoid using some of the later Race for the Galaxy expansions, consider jumping on Board Game Arena and trying them out there.
War Chest at the Coffee Exchange
Sunday afternoon we took the girls to Rogues Gallery Comics. This is an awesome local comic shop that gives out free comics for A’s on report cards. This semester my girls did pretty good and we had a bunch of comics to pick up. After picking up comics we headed to The Coffee Exchange, my favourite local coffee shop, so the girls could get some hot chocolate and read those comics. While the girls were reading my wife and I got in a game of War Chest.
This time around we randomized what armies we had, dealing four random unit types to each of us. Wow, did that change up the game. Previously we had only played with the starter armies.
We both enjoyed this play as much if not more so than the last War Chest game night we had. I’m really digging the mechanics in this game. It’s really hard to decide if you should try to get all your unit chips into your bag right away or try to keep your bag lean so that the units you want come up more often. I’ve also noticed that War Chest really rewards paying attention and remembering exactly what your opponent has in their bag.
For example by about round three I realized that there was no way D was going to move her Lancers because she only had the starting two Lancer chips in her bag and had not recruited anymore. Since she had bolstered this unit she had two Lancers on the board guarding a control spot. That meant that those lancers would not be moving, at least not until she drafted more of them and happened to pull them out of her bag.
At this point I’ve still only played four games but overall I do dig it, with one complaint: the board is just too big.
Now I realize this was mainly a problem because we were trying to play on a small coffee shop table, but there’s no reason that the two player board needs to be so big. It’s a standard 2×6 fold out board game board and it could be half of that. With how well this game is made it would have been nice to either have two boards or just have a double sided board that you don’t fold out all the way for two players.
I’m seriously considering getting a neoprene mat printed up with a two player sized hex grid on it just for putting in my copy of War Chest.
Stained glass and dinosaurs
Last Monday we had two people over for game night and got in some four player games.
First up was a medium length game of Dinosaur Island. Our previous games of Dinosaur Island were played using the short game objectives and at that time I noted that I found the game far too short. I’m pleased to say that the medium length objectives fixed that problem.
All four of us really enjoyed this play of Dinosaur Island. The game was still fairly short only going I think it was six turns, but that was enough to make it feel like we accomplished something. We each had our own parks doing their own things and everyone’s strategies were evident and we could see them working. I was trying to get as many dinos as possible quickly sticking to herbivores. Sean was trying all big bad dinos worth a lot of points. D was going for something in between.
If you own Dinosaur Island and haven’t actually played it yet, I strongly recommend swapping to the medium length objectives as soon as possible, perhaps for your first game. I’m actually somewhat surprised by how much better the game was by making it just a bit longer. After the few short plays we had I was starting to regret going all in on this Kickstarter. The medium game changed my mind.
After Dinosaur Island, Sean Hamilton asked to play Azul Stained Glass of Sintra. He’s played the original game many times but had yet to have a chance to play this new version. So we set up a three player game, I did a quick teach and we were off.
Wow was Sean ever good at Sintra. For the first time ever I saw someone complete every single column at least once. He had so many tiles on the bottom row, each one scoring for him multiple times. I’ve noted that this game just doesn’t click for me, well it really clicked for him. He destroyed both D and I, beating both of us by over 40 points. We didn’t even stand a chance.
Sean obviously enjoyed the game, as did the rest of us. It was the first time playing for my friend Mike as well and he dug it. I have to admit constantly coming in last is getting a bit annoying. Maybe I should watch a strategy video or something or try playing solo.
Gloomhaven Three Player Dungeon
Someone decided they had to have a Bachelor’s Party so we were a player short for Gloomhaven Friday night.
This meant another Random Dungeon, this time with three players.
It seemed to go well enough for us. This was our first time playing anything at scenario difficulty 3 and that was interesting. The scale the monsters are advancing seems to be just slightly below the rate the party is advancing. This works for me as it actually makes us feel a bit stronger and tougher. I’m not a big fan of games that scale everything perfectly as you never actually feel like you get any better. Sure your damage goes up but so do the bad guys hit points and the next result is everything feels to same. Gloomhaven doesn’t seem to have fallen into this trap.
I don’t have a lot more to say about this game. We had a good time but I would have much prefered advancing the main plot. Random dungeons are fun but not nearly as fun as discovering new things.
Remember to join us live on Twitch every Friday at 8:30pm Eastern where we stream every play of Gloomhaven for our group. If you can’t join us live check out the video versions of each episode on YouTube. Those go live the day before we stream, on Thursday.
That was my #WhatDidYouPlayMondays. How about you? What did you get to the table this past week? Let me know in the comments!