Every Monday I like to take part in #WhatDidYouPlayMondays, something started by Chris Cormier over at geekygoodies.com. With the launch of this website, I decided to take it a step further and instead of just listing what I played each week on social media I would actually write about each game. This also gives me a chance to talk about any gaming events or other cool things that happened during the week.
I had a great week gaming wise. Two games off the pile of shame: Clank! In! Space! and Lazer Ryderz. Played a few more games on Board Game Arena (Can’t Stop, Race for the Galaxy and 7 Wonders) and learned some good news about the platform. Decided to try to get in more plays of games I own that I have only played one time, and to that end played Hardback and Flip City. Attended a game night at The CG Realm and managed to get in a couple more games: Terraforming Mars and Honshu. Like I said, a good week!
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Monday night started off looking like a wash but then, at the last minute, we ended up with four players. Cheers for friends convincing other friends to get out of the house and have some fun now and then. I took this opportunity to get Clank! In! Space! off of my pile of shame. It wasn’t there long.
I’ve noted before that I have multiple plies of shame. For me, these aren’t in any order. I probably should set them up in FIFO order. That’s First In First Out for those of you not in IT or logistics. What this would mean is that when I go to play a game out of the pile of shame I take the game that was put in their first, or the oldest game in the pile. Yeah. I don’t do that. I just got Clank! In! Space! at our launch party, so it was only in the pile for a couple of weeks. I’ve games that have been in the pile way longer. I’m curious, does anyone out there actually FIFO your pile. It’s something I may consider doing.
Back to Clank! In! Space!
Everyone I’ve heard talk about this game says it’s the better version of Clank! I hear that it’s more of a “gamers game” and how it’s more modular and thus better. Now I’ve only played Clank! In! Space! once and so far I do not agree. I’m reminded of Queendomino vs Kingdomino. Yes, Clank! In! Space! adds a bunch of stuff that’s not in regular Clank! but I’m not sold on the fact that it makes it better. It does make it longer. It does add more decision points. It does stop someone from just running in and out, and it removes the time limit once one player escapes. All of which sounds like great improvements. I’m just not sure how much they helped. The one addition I did really like is the faction rules. This adds some “Star Realms” to the deckbuilding. Where if you collect and play cards of the same factions you get a bonus. That was a welcome change.
Now, I have only played once, and I have played base Clank! more than 10 times. My opinion on Clank! In! Space! may well change with more plays. One really good thing I can say about the game is that I do want to play again and figure out if I missed something on the first play. That’s a good sign.
We finished Clank! In! Space! with about an hour left in our scheduled game night, not enough time to get a second game of Clank in. So I looked around the room for something to play. I think it was Sean H. that suggested I check the piles of shame. There I spotted Lazer Ryderz.
Lazer Ryderz is from Anthony Amato and Nicole Kline. I worked with this duo back in the Windsor Gaming Resource blog days. I did a preview of a game they successfully kickstarted: Resistor_. Actually, my (p)review is still live over on the WGR blog. One of the things I liked about Resistor_ was that it was doing something I had not seen before and had some really unique mechanics. Lazer Ryderz is similar in that way, it does some cool new things I’ve never seen before.
Basically, Lazer Ryderz is an unlicenced Tron Light Cycles game. You are playing racers who leave trails behind them. Unlike Tron, your goal isn’t to cause the opponents to crash (though that is a big part of the game) instead you are trying to claim scoring crystals on the board. If you can trace your laser trail through a crystal it turns into your colour. Once you do that a new crystal spawns on the board. In addition, if you pass over an opponent’s crystal you steal it. The first player to have three of their crystals on the board wins.
The game looks like a Kickstarter game. It’s kind of over the top. The box and individual player boxes look like a VHS box and tape cases (though I was very bummed to learn they are larger than actual VHS tapes). The components are all coated with this very 80s hologram stuff. Each player tray is vacuum-formed plastic with a spot for everything. It just feels like a Kickstarter game, one that unlocked a few stretch goals. Overall to me, it makes it look and feel like the game is just a big gimmick.
I am very happy to report that this game is so much more than a gimmick. It’s a very solid extremely fun game. I admit I wasn’t expecting much. I thought it would be neat, and fun to play once or twice and maybe be something I break out now and then for people who haven’t seen it before. It’s much more than that. This is a very solid spatial and slightly dexterity-based game. And I played it a lot last week.
In the previous week’s round-up, I talked quite a bit about Board Game Arena. Now that I have an account I can basically play games any time on my computer. That’s pretty cool. Though most of the time when I’m sitting here it’s to work, so it’s not like I’m playing games all day. I did jump on one afternoon and play some Race for the Galaxy. The interface is solid for this game. Not as shiny as the Steam version but functional enough to play through a game. What’s nice is that the base game does not require a premium account to play.
Now speaking of premium accounts. I got invited to a game of 7 Wonders by Eric Franklin. 7 Wonders is a game where you need a premium account to play. Or at least that’s what I understood when I wrote about Board Game Arena last week and when we talked about it on the podcast. It ends up I was wrong. You need a premium account to launch the game, not to play it!
This is great news. This means that, if you have a regular group to play with online, only one of you needs to have that premium account.
Friday night we should have started Gloomhaven. Sadly, that was not meant to be. At this point, it will be at least two more weeks before we can dive into the number one game in the world.
I decided to look through my collection for games that I have barely played. Stuff I bought, excited to get and then played once and put on my shelf. Games I thought were good games, good enough to keep but just haven’t gotten to the table. One of my goals with this is to find stuff to purge from my collection. So basically giving these games one more chance. The game in question Friday night was Hardback.
I backed Hardback on Kickstarter after trying to find a reasonably priced copy of Paperback. Reviews for Paperback were very strong and my wife loves word games so I thought it would be a perfect fit. Now I’m very glad I waited for Hardback.
Paperback is a deck builder where you start with a deck of common letters and use them to make words. Those give you points and money. You use the money to buy more cards, which are more letters, letting you spell better words. Hardback builds on this by adding card types, ink and ink remover, asymmetric player powers and more. The card types do the Star Realms thing, so if you play two Romance cards at once you trigger the special ability on each. Same deal with Mystery, Adventure, and Horror. Each type is tied to certain types of abilities. For example, Mystery cards generally let you flip over wild cards. Right, wild cards. This is the most brilliant part of both Paperback and Hardback.
In most word games you are stuck with the letters you draw. If you draw a bad hand it may be that you can’t spell a word. This never happens in Hardback. Any time you are forming a word you can use any of your cards as a wild card by playing it face down. Sure you don’t get to use the abilities on the card but this also means you will never be stuck with nothing to play.
Inkpots add a push your luck element to the game. Player abilities make player colour matter and include both a nasty and nice side, with the nasty side affecting the other players. There’s also a co-op mode and a lot more. I’m not going to get into detail here. I will just say that the base game of Hardback is fantastic, all the other stuff is a cool bonus.
If you dig word games, I strongly recommend Hardback.
We played two games of Hardback and then I broke out Lazer Ryderz again. I was concerned that Monday night’s fun was a fluke or maybe just based on the group of people and wanted to try it again with a different set of players. Lazer Ryders did not disappoint. We had just as much fun on Friday as we did on Monday. It really is a solid game.
Saturday night was game night at The CG Realm. The CG Realm is a fantastic FLGS with tons of gaming space, a great RPG selection that includes a lot of indie games and a significant board game selection. Of less interest to me personally, they also do all the usual collectable card games and miniature games (I will admit I was excited when I learned they are now carrying Vallejo paints).
I got to the event a bit early, as did one of my friends, so to kill time I broke out another one of those “only played it once” games from my collection. This one was Flip City.
I’m sorry Tasty Minstrel Games, but this one is getting culled from my collection. Flip City is a very light, very simple, deck builder with only five types of cards in it. It’s most like Dominion and if I remember it came out pretty early in the whole deck building craze. The neat bit in this game is that the cards are two sided and one of the things you can do with your purchase power is flip over cards already in your deck. It’s a neat idea and it works. At this point, it just doesn’t seem like enough to build an entire game on. The concept is good, the gameplay is solid, it just lacks something. There’s just not enough meat on the bone here. I now have other card-based filler games in my collection I would choose over playing Flip City again.
At the start of the night, we had exactly five players so I broke out Terraforming Mars. We had one player who had never played before but it was someone with quite a bit of boardgame experience, so we kept all the corporate wars stuff in but I gave them a Beginner Corp. and we didn’t use drafting. It was a very solid game and the final scores were insanely close. Three players tied for second. One thing I do have to remember is how long the game goes when playing five players. It didn’t help that one of the players was also manning the store, so we had pretty frequent interruptions. I think next time if any of the staff plays we will play the shorter game and start everyone with one resource production. That said it was still a fun game, just longer than expected.
After Terraforming Mars was done I was excited to break out Lazer Ryderz and show it off to the gamers at the FLGS. I was really hoping to use this great standing miniature game table they use for Warmachine. I thought it would be perfect, as it’s made for standing at and just about the right size. Sadly that table was being used, so we stole one of the 4×4 wooden boards and tossed that on top of a Sandwich shop table and played there. Again Lazer Ryderz proved to be a ton of fun and popular. This particular game was much closer than my other two with way more stealing of other people’s crystals. I’m still somewhat shocked by how much fun I’ve had with this game this week.
Speaking of other card based filler games. We finished off the night with Honshu. This was a game that I played a lot when I first got it, but haven’t gotten to the table in some time. Unlike Flip City, Honshu was just as good if not better than I remembered it. We had a very solid tight five player game to end off our game night.
Honshu came up in my last Ask The Bellhop post as a recommendation for someone who digs Dominoes. That’s what made me grab it Saturday night, talking about it made me want to play it again. That happens a lot. Honshu is an auction-based card game where you are bidding to draft cards that each have a 2×3 grid of city districts on them. These include lakes, deserts, residential areas, forests, production buildings and consumption buildings. The neat part in Honshu is that when you draft a new card you have to place it so that either it covers up at least one square of a previously placed card or one spot on your new card is covered by placing it under your existing cards. There are some special placement rules but in general, you are trying to place it so that you have one large city area, lakes are grouped together, all your deserts are covered and you have an equal number of production spots as consumption spots.
The one comment I get every time I teach Honshu is how deceptively deep the game is. It looks like a simple matching game, but there is so much depth there. What cards to bid during the auction, when to use resources to increase your bid, what cards to draft, and most importantly where to place them. There’s a lot going on for a game that can be taught in minutes.
Okay, was a long one. I told you it was a good week. I think I’m going to continue to try to replay more of the single play games in my collection. This seems like something worth doing, both to get more value out of the games I own and to get rid of some games that would just collect dust.
I can’t be the only one. Do you have a bunch of games you bought and only played once or twice?