Each week I’m going to take a look back at the previous week. Basically, an in-depth #WhatDidYouPlayMondays. I will be talking about the games I played, any events I was involved with, etc.
Last week was awesome gaming wise. I’ve got an extensive Pile of Shame and getting games off of that pile feels good. I was able to take Wasteland Express Delivery Service, Hansa Teutonica and Warhammer Underworlds Shadespire off my pile this past week. I also got in another play of Bruges. Oh and of course there was some Azul being played.
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Earlier this year I attended The Origins Game Fair in Columbus Ohio. This is an amazing gaming convention that I’ve tried to attend every year since first attending in 2015.
One of the most popular booths at Origins this year was the Pandasaurus Games booth. The main reason for this was a hit game called The Mind. The Mind isn’t what drove me to Pandasaurus though, for me, that was Wasteland Express Delivery Service.
When Wasteland Express was on Kickstarter there was a ton of buzz. When it came out there was even more buzz. People were going nuts over the component quality. Added to that, I kept hearing that it wasn’t only amazing looking but also a damn fine pick up and deliver game. So, I just had to try it myself.
The problem was that Pandasaurus wasn’t doing demos of Wasteland Express at Origins. I asked, multiple times, but they were trying to highlight their other games (Dinosaur Island and The Mind mainly). I did get to look at a copy. Everyone who has gone on about the production quality of this game is dead on. It’s nothing short of amazing. Great minis, excellent card quality, great art, 3d plastic components and best of all an amazing GameTrayz insert that’s included with the game.
I never did get a chance to play at Origins, but then Amazon Prime Day hit and through Tabletop Gaming Deals I found a copy for half price. I couldn’t pass it up.
This past Monday night I broke Wasteland Express Delivery Service out and we played our first game. It’s solid. Really solid. Great theme. Lots of options. No one way to win. Lots of dice but not unfairly random. No player elimination. Lots of variability due to random tile set up and variable missions. It’s good, really good. There was the added bonus of a campaign mode that I didn’t realize was even included. I am very pleased with this purchase and I’m looking forward to playing more in the future.
When our game of Wasteland Express ended we, of course, broke out Azul.
It’s camping time in Canada. The civic holiday long weekend, and just August in general, seems to be that time of year when everyone heads to cottage country.
After finishing Pandemic Legacy Season One the next step for our Friday night group is to take on Gloomhaven. I brought the box down after our last night of playing and showed it off. It’s incredibly huge. I took some pictures and did an impromptu unboxing right there, in front of the group. Everyone was super hyped to play. But it’s cottage season here. The other couple we game with were heading “up north” as are a ton of other locals. So it’s going to be a couple weeks before we actually get to Gloomhaven. At least that will give me time to build the Meeple Realty insert I picked up at Origins.
Camping season also impacted game night down at the FLGS. I headed down at 5pm, just as all the CCG players were finishing up their weekly organized play thing. By about 10 after 5, there were only two tables of people left. Mine and one other group setting up for a game of Star Trek Ascendancy. Overall we had less than 10 people. A sad showing for a Windsor game night. We made the most of it though.
I took this opportunity to get another game off my Pile of Shame (a metaphorical pile of games I own but have yet to play, I say metaphorical as it’s not just one pile in my game room but rather a few piles spread around my house). Three of us tried out Hansa Teutonica for the first time. What a fantastic game!
I first heard about this game on the Heavy Cardboard Podcast. It’s one of the few shows out there that deals with games on the heavier end of the complexity and difficulty scale. Games like 18xx, Food Chain Magnate, Indonesia and Through the Ages. Edward had good things to say about Hansa Teutonica and now having played I can say I agree 100%.
Hansa Teutonica is a rather abstract eurogame where players represent merchant houses trying to earn prestige by building the Hanseatic League in 15th century Germany. The game is a very cutthroat route building game with a rather simple set of possible actions but a near overwhelming set of options to use them. It can be a bit of a brain burner with a huge decision tree. I’m not going to go into detail here, perhaps I will do up a full detailed review later.
So how much did we like Hansa Teutonica? Well, we finished the three player game, and at that point a couple more gamers had shown up to the FLGS so we invited them to join us in a second play, with five players this time. It played just as well with five and I found the game rather easy to teach having only played it the one time before. When we finished that game, the store was closing so I invited one of the players back to my place. There I grabbed my wife and we played a third time, again with three players.
Three plays in a row of the same game is definitely something that doesn’t happen often with me. Especially with a heavier game and not a quick filler. What helped here is that Hansa is quick. Lightning quick for a heavy euro. Our first game took under an hour. Our four player game only took slightly longer and the last three player game was just about an hour. To have this much depth in such a short amount of time is amazing. I expect Hansa Teutonica to become a regular around here and at local events.
But wait, there’s more.
After that home game of Hansa Teutonica, my wife tapped out. That left my friend Sean and I (not my podcast co-host, another Sean. I collect Seans), looking for something to play. Sean suggested something two player and I immediately looked to the Pile of Shame and spotted Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire.
I’ve got a long history with Warhammer. If you’ve seen our live shows on Twitch you may have noticed the shelf full of Games Workshop games behind me or the tons of miniatures on the shelf beside me. I’ve been a fan of the games and of the world for years. That said I haven’t really kept up with the current games. The Warhammer I know and love is set in The Olde World and involves lots of minis lined up in rank and file with musicians and standard bearers in the front ranks. That’s not at all what Shadespire is.
I probably would have overlooked Shadespire, along with the rest of the modern Age of Sigmar reboot, if it wasn’t for so many podcasters I respect saying very positive things. I’ve heard stuff like it’s a card game mixed with a miniature game, that deck building is as important as picking which models to field, and that it’s super quick and tactical. So when one of the FLGS had an auction to get rid of some overstock and tossed up a copy of Shadespire, I got my bid in early and snatched it up.
Sean and I started off with the quickstart rules, which are just a two-sided card. This played quick and light and is something you can probably skip if you’ve played any game before. We quickly moved onto the full rules. Now the book for Shadespire isn’t small. Compared to most board games it’s a damn novel, but for a miniature game, it’s not bad at all. A lot of it is fluff and it spends a ton of time on little details like timing. The actual, need to know, rules could probably be condensed down to a couple pages.
I had read this book once before, back when I first got the game, but it had been quite some time. So I did something you should never do when hosting a game night, actually sat down and read the rules as we tried to learn to play. This should be avoided where possible. Thankfully Sean was a good sport about it. It took us a while to get going but soon enough we had finished our first game.
So how was it? Not bad. Not bad at all. Better than I expected actually. It’s lightning quick. You only play the game for three rounds and each round you only get four activations. So that means you are only moving or attacking with your minis at most 12 times. It’s a huge departure from anything I know of as Warhammer. Except for the great looking minis and familiar themes, there’s nothing in Shadespire that brings back any feeling of Warhammer Fantasy Battle. This is a very quick, almost filler level skirmish wargame, and that’s an impressive thing. I rather enjoyed our one play of the full rules. We had a very close match with Sean dominating for the first two rounds and me coming back with a win in the final turn.
We only used the set decks that were included in the core boxed set to play. The game also includes another deck of cards so you can try out the deck building element of the game. We didn’t try that. It’s cool that it’s an option for next time though.
Oh and there may have been a two player game of Azul in there somewhere too.
I mentioned my pile of shame a few times this week. What’s the most shameful game in your pile of shame?