Join me every week as I take a look back at my last week in gaming as part of #WhatDidYouPlayMondays. Below, you will find short reviews of every board game I’ve played this past week.
It was a much slower week gaming wise for me. Not just because our launch party was last week, and we got a ton of games in for that. There just wasn’t a lot of time to game at all this week, plus the few days I was free everyone else was busy. So this may be pretty quick, as I only really got in three games this past week. They were The Colonists, Can’t Stop and Great Western Trail.
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I noted on the live show Thursday that I was going to save talking about The Colonists until this week. Well, that time has come.
We played The Colonists for the first time last Monday. That game was our learning game and we just played the first era. We got together later in the week and restarted and played through era one and two. Then we got together once more time and played era three, continuing from where we left off at the end of era two. The game is actually still set up right now in my game room waiting for us to come back and continue that game into era four.
The whole era thing is pretty brilliant. The game is designed so that you start in era one and play right through to era four. As you can probably tell from what I’ve already said, doing this would take a LONG time. We are basically playing one era a game night, so that’s like 3-4 hours an era. So a full game you are looking at up to 12 hours of gaming! Thankfully the designer realizes this is a bit nuts, and has included some options. For one, you can decide which eras to play. For example, you can just play era three, or you can start at era two and play through to the end. Added to this they’ve also included a method to save the game, as long as you get to the end of an era. So you can play through era one and two, then save, and come back and play era three and four later. Now we haven’t tried this as I have the space that I was able to just keep the game set up.
The Colonists is a big heavy game put out by Mayfair games. Right on the box, it says “The Epic Strategy Game” and I have to admit smirking a bit when I read that. Even after reading the rules, I was thinking: this isn’t that complex or epic. Then I actually played the game. This game is much heavier and way more thinky than it first looks. The actual mechanics are simple. What you do on a turn is also simple, but it’s trying to figure out what to do and how to do it efficiently that makes this way harder than it looks.
Each turn all you do is move a pawn three spots on a hex map. The map is filled with spots that each do a very limited number of things. Most of them either give you resources, let you refine those resources into better resources, trade those resources in to build or upgrade buildings or sell those resources for points. Added to this there are a couple of spots that let you get innovation cards and a spot to spend them. These are the usual “break the rules” cards that you expect from these kinds of games. The individual actions are simple and things ramp up slowly. The map grows as you play so the number of options increases as you play.
The Colonists is not a hard game to learn. Knowing what you can do on your turn is not a problem, but trying to figure out what you should do is. This is the most AP prone game I have played in a long time. We have played all of our games with three players and there is a lot of downtime. Here is a game where I don’t mind people picking up their phones between turns. I can’t imagine how long turns would take with four players or how long playing through an era would take.
Overall I’ve been enjoying it. It’s not what I would call a “fun” game but I would say it’s rewarding.
The next game on my list for the week is Can’t Stop. This is a pretty well-known push your luck game that’s uber simple. It’s mostly luck based with little skill or planning required. The neat bit about this game is that I don’t own it. Nor does anyone I know. So how did I play it?
An online friend, Eric Franklin, finally convinced me to join Board Game Arena. This is a free web-based platform for playing board games on. When you first join the site (which is free) it has you play a game of Can’t Stop vs. an AI. So that’s where this play comes in.
I’ve only played the one game so far, and then did some stuff like set up my profile and select games I know how to play, but overall I’m pretty impressed with Board Game Arena. The games look like the physical versions. The chat system seems solid. Matchmaking looks good and you can’t beat the price.
So if you are on Board Game Arena feel free to invite Tabletop Bellhop to a game.
Saturday, I had planned to attend one of the regular board game nights at the FLGS. That didn’t really pan out due to a family medical emergency (everyone is good now).
At one point during the day, we were just waiting for results, so my wife suggested I take off for a bit and stop in and see how the game night was going. When I got there I was pleased to see five full tables of gamers. Turnout for events hasn’t been great most of the summer and it was good to see things starting to pick back up. There were quite a few games being played. I saw Orleans, some Age of Sigmar, Gizmos, a card game I didn’t recognize, and Great Western Trail. Of the games being played Great Western Trail is one I was most curious about and I sat down and watched the very end of a game.
After that game of Great Western Trail ended, Chad, the owner of the game, invited me to join in for a second round. I warned him that I was just hanging out and waiting for a call back from the hospital, but he insisted. So we set up and started playing a four player game. We got in about an hour of play when I got the call, so I had to leave the game early and the other three players just continued the game as if I was there but not moving. I heard after the fact it played out fine.
I was really impressed with what I saw in that short time. Great Western Trail lives up to the hype and there was a lot of it last year. I really liked how you ran through the route multiple times and each time you tried to improve your engine a little bit so that each run is better than the last. I found this rather thematic. I was going for a train strategy that looked like it was going to pay off in the long game. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see if it would work.
After this short play, I immediately put the game on my wishlist. I’m really looking forward to playing a full game of Great Western Trail.
That was it for me last week. I’m happy with what I got played. Not every week has to be a gaming extravaganza. What did you get to your table last week?