It was a good week for me gaming wise. Quite a few games in both digital and in person.
Online I’m still playing Race for the Galaxy, 7 Wonders and lots of Tokaido. In person, we continued our Gloomhaven campaign and I got Istanbul: The Dice Game and the new printing of Saint Petersburg off my pile of shame. Then yesterday I hosted Thanksgaming where we got in plays of Lanterns: The Harvest Festival, Fuse, and Fallout.
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Still no Monday night gaming. Canceled three weeks in a row and probably canceled tonight due to Thanksgiving. Like last week I used this free time to play games on Board Game Arena.
My friend Eric, the one that first introduced me to Board Game Arena, gifted us with a premium account (actually thanks to his awesome wife for this). This means that D, AndSheGames, can now join us and play online with it. See BGA has a rule against multiple free to play players playing from the same IP address. I guess it’s so that someone can’t create multiple accounts and play against themselves to up their ratings.
Now that D can play with us, I’ve got a bunch of games going on at once. Terra Mystica with Eric and his friend. Race for the Galaxy with just D and I. Race for the Galaxy with Eric, his friend, and his wife. Tokaido with just Sean and I. Tokaido with Sean, D, Eric, and I. Finally a 7 Wonders game with all 6 of us.
I continue to really enjoy this way to play. It’s awesome to enjoy some of my favourite games with people that are physically far away.
There is one disadvantage to tossing all this 3d scenery down. According to the rules line of sight is not blocked by “obstacles”, only movement is. Now almost every piece of scenery is considered an obstacle. So a rock, a boulder, vines, a tree, a bookshelf and a table are all obstacles. When I put a table miniature out there it’s easy to remember you can shoot over/through it. But when I toss down a 3d bookshelf that’s taller than the miniatures, it’s easy to think that you can’t shoot through it.
I think we did really well. The fight wasn’t as easy as the last few but wasn’t overly difficult. A few of us were down to our last 2-3 cards that last round. So we are still happy playing scenarios on easy. Though we are going to swap that up next game.
At the end of this session, three of the four of us have leveled up. The way difficulty is determined is you take the average character level and divide that by two. At this point, our average party level is 1.75, divided by 2 is only 0.875 so our scenario level is still 1 despite having leveled up characters. So we are going to try the next mission at the normal difficulty to see how it goes.
One of the things that happened at the end of the scenario was that our options really opened up. We unlocked a side quest and then the main plot gave us three different stickers to put on the main map. We now have lots of choices on where to go next. This was good to see. We’ve decided to head off on a side quest next and I’ll be back next week to let you know how that went.
Gloomhaven ended a bit earlier than expected and we still had some time left at the end of the night so I took this opportunity to get the new printing of Saint Petersburg off of my pile of shame.
I really like the original Saint Petersburg. I have the Alea Big Box version and have enjoyed the game for years. When the new edition came out I didn’t pay any attention. That was until I started to hear and read reviews that noted that this version was a significant improvement over the old printing. Not only did they put all the expansions in the box, but they also added an entirely new phase to the game; the market phase. So when I saw that the FLGS was selling their store copy for $15 I jumped at the chance to pick it up.
What I didn’t know when I bought it is that the original core game is included in this version as well. I thought that was pretty cool and those are the rules we played with after Gloomhaven. As I wanted to make sure I fully remembered the original rules before moving on to the new stuff.
First off I have to say 85% of the components are improved in this printing. The art is clearer and nicer. The cards are great quality. The board is bigger and better spaced out. The player tokens are nicer and more iconic. But then there’s the money. If you think paper money is bad, just check out the plasticy, thin, bendy paper in the new printing of Saint Petersburg. Also, the entire stack of money comes as a pad where you have to pull each piece off one by one. It’s a very odd choice.
Gameplay was as good as I remember. This is a fantastic older game that has stood the test of time.
Saturday, D and I headed down to Brimstone Games for their game night. I was still hyped about Saint Petersburg from our Friday game so set that up right away. I really wanted to try it with the new Market phase.
So, the original game had four phases. You hire workers, then you build buildings, then you recruit nobles and then there’s an upgrade phase where you may be able to upgrade your workers, buildings or nobles. Each of the things you buy gives you things during scoring. In general, workers give you money, buildings give you victory points and nobles give you a mix of both. The big constraint in this game is that cards only payout during their own phase. So your workers only pay at the end of the worker phase, and your nobles only pay at the end of their phase. This leads to a lot of strategic planning and timing to make sure you can afford what you want. It’s an extremely tight game where you never have enough money.
The new printing adds a completely new phase. The market phase that happens between the worker and building phase. During this phase, players buy a variety of goods (five different types). In addition, some of the other cards from the other phases also give goods. Which goods you have are tracked on a new market track and at the end of each market phase in addition to all of your market cards scoring there is a market scoring phase. This is an area majority system where the person with the most of each good gets points as does the person in second on each good.
This new phase adds a very cool economic element to an already solid game. Unlike many tight games where adding an expansion loosens the game up and, for me, ruins them, this new market phase fits in great with the original game.
After Saint Petersburg, D and I didn’t have a lot of time as we were scheduled to re-record episode 10 of Tabletop Bellhop Live. So we needed something quick to play. Anticipating this I had brought Istanbul: The Dice Game.
We got this copy of Istanbul The Dice Game from Queen City Conquest. D and Sean had played it as part of the play to win table and Sean managed to win a copy at the end of the event. Thankfully the rules are very short and I was able to read through them and we started playing in minutes. We played a three player game, D and I and another local gamer Paul.
I really enjoyed this game. As the name implies, this is a dice version of the full boardgame Istanbul. You roll three dice and then use the symbols on the dice to take actions. You get two actions a turn and unlike many of these games you don’t get the usual Yahtzee re-rolls. There is a resource you can collect that gives you re-rolls and you start with one, but they aren’t easy to get. Just like the full game the entire point is to collect rubies. Also similar to the core game you get them by collecting sets of the same resource, sets of different resources, or large collections of money. The market also works similarly, where the costs go up as rubies get bought.
The end result of this is a very quick filler game that actually manages to keep the feel of the full boardgame. We enjoyed it enough that we played a second round right away. Once we had all the rules figured out, games were finishing in under 20 minutes. I recommend this one for fans of Istanbul and if you haven’t played that and want a solid thinky filler check out Istanbul: The Dice Game.
Today is Thanksgiving here in Canada. A happy Thanksgiving to all of you!
For me, Thanksgiving means it’s time for Thanksgaming. An annual gaming event I host at my house that takes advantage of the long weekend as a way to get in some extra gaming. This year at Thanksgaming we got in four rounds of games. It wasn’t a big event this year but we still had a great time.
The first game I got in was Lanterns: The Harvest Festival. Lanterns is one of those games where every time I play it I’m reminded just how good it is and I finishing thinking: I need to play this more often. While I have the expansion I don’t think it actually makes the game any more fun so we just played with the core rules.
Lanterns is a tile-laying matching game where you are trying to collect sets of coloured Lanterns and trade them in for points. Each square tile has up to four different colours on it and when you play a tile you get lanterns for every side you match. In addition, you then give out more lanterns and here’s the brilliant part. Each player is assigned a tile side based on where they are seated and for every tile played you get the colour that faces your side. This is a fantastic mechanic that makes the game all about trying to get what you want while not doing too much to help your opponents. There is a bit more to it with fortune tokens and different ways to collect set but the main thing is play tiles and everyone collects lanterns and can trade those in for points.
One of the players who came over for Thanksgaming this year really wanted to play something cooperative. To this end, I grabbed another game from Renegade games: Fuse.
This is a fast and furious dice rolling game where the players are trying to defuse a bomb on a spaceship. Players are dealt cards which have 3-5 spots on them to place dice. Each card has rules about what dice can be on these spots. They could indicate colour, number, both or some other type of algorithm (like each die placed must be a higher number than the last, or all the dice must add up to 11). Real-time players take a number of dice out of a bag and roll them. Then players have to draft these dice. If dice can’t be drafted, they are rolled and players have to lose dice they have already placed. Once all the dice are placed on the card it is complete, put in a discard pile and a new card replaces it. If you get through a set number of cards before the timer runs out the players win.
This game is crazy tense. It’s also a ton of fun. As mentioned on our Tech at the Table Episode there’s also a great app created by Renegade games that includes something just for Fuse. It’s a 10 minute counter that adds this robot AI voice that reminds me of GLaDOS from Portal as it makes fun of you as the timer counts down.
After Fuse, we broke out Fallout the board game. It’s been a few months since I’ve played this so I needed to do a quick rules review. It didn’t take long before we were out exploring the wasteland.
We played four players and it was a mixed bag of a game. I mentioned this when I talked about Fallout in the past. This game is good, potentially even great, except when it’s not. Every few plays, one player will just have terrible luck. They will roll badly, they won’t ever find any loot, they will die multiple times and, in general, have a rather bad time while everyone else is running around the map having all kinds of encounters and gaining all kinds of victory points. Sadly Sunday’s game had this problem.
I have such mixed feelings on Fallout because of this. This is now four times I’ve seen it happen where one player is basically out of the game almost right from the start. Now every other time I’ve played I’ve really enjoyed the game. The game feels like playing Fallout. The way you explore settlements and the wasteland through decks of cards that lead to which way style decisions is brilliant. The way new cards are seeded into the deck is amazing. The fact that something you do at the beginning of the game can come back to haunt (or reward) you later is very cool. But if in every game there’s like a 25% chance one player is going to get hosed and have a bad experience, I just can’t recommend this one.
There is an expansion out there for Fallout now and I wonder if it fixes this problem.
That was it for my week in gaming. Happy Thanksgaming one and all!