This week had lots of Race for the Galaxy being played on Board Game Arena. We also played and streamed our next mission in Gloomhaven.
Saturday, D and I hit up the CG Realm Game Night and got in plays of Gizmos, Terraforming Mars (with Prelude expansion) and Dinosaur Island.
Yesterday, my daughter taught me how to play Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle.
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Race for the Galaxy
During our Gaming in the New Year Recap I talked about how I finally got a chance to sit down and teach my podcast co-host, Sean, how to play Race for the Galaxy.
One of the things Sean mentioned is that, now that he knew the game, he was looking forward to playing on Board Game Arena. Well, we have been doing that. A lot.
We started off with just the base game but then quickly (I think after only one play) added in The Gathering Storm expansion. By the end of the week, I had also tossed in the Rebel vs. Imperium expansion. At this point, we have yet to play a game with takeover powers.
I’m still loving Race for the Galaxy and it’s great to be able to play like this online. I’m sure you will hear more of Sean’s thoughts on our next podcast.
I’m very happy to say that streaming Gloomhaven on Friday went better than last week. Now I do have to admit that our stream health wasn’t as good, we were dropping some frames but everything worked. I was able to get everything set up quickly and the stream started on the first try. So that’s an improvement over last week. As for the stream health, there isn’t a lot more I can do on that end until they put in fibre where I live.
The game itself went okay. We did not win and I take some of the blame for that.
Part of the fun of Gloomhaven for us has been playing “in character” and treating the game as a bit of a roleplaying game as well as a boardgame. My character has developed into someone who is impulsive and when the chance to jump through a portal to the elemental plane came up I just had to take it. This was despite the fact that our Spellweaver had just gotten enough XP to level up and everyone was starting to get enough gold to go shopping.
We really should have returned to town before moving on to the next adventure. We didn’t, we just moved right on from mission 5 to mission 10 and we may have failed because of it.
Now I can’t take all the blame, we made some dumb mistakes during this mission. We just weren’t bringing our A game to the table, for whatever reason. A few times people missed important bits of information during the planning phase of our turns and we got in each other’s way and often did actions that invalidated the actions of players acting later in the turn.
Overall it felt like it was our fault we failed this mission. It didn’t feel overly difficult, like that earlier Windswept Highlands mission. It just felt like we could have played better. We also realized that the Spellweaver would have lived (at least for one more round) had we taken the time to go back to Gloomhaven and level up. So this time we all agreed to go back to town before giving this mission another shot.
Now back in town, something exciting did happen. Besides some levelling up we got to open an envelope. The one for donating to the temple and getting blessed. Unlike the last envelope, I do encourage people to feel free to open this one as early as they want. I was glad we did it.
So this coming Friday we will be returning to scenario 10 and giving it another go.
Remember you can watch us play live. We start streaming at 8:30pm Eastern at the usual spot: twitch.tv/tabletopbellhop.
Bonus stream of Gizmos
After finishing up our game of Gloomhaven it was still pretty early so we decided to play one additional shorter game. I took this as a good chance to teach Gizmos to D, Tori and Kat. Since we already had all the tech set up to stream Gloomhaven we figured why not stream the teach and play of Gizmos as well. So I did some quick updates to the OBS scene, restarted the stream and we got to playing.
I talked about Gizmos plenty last week so won’t spend much time on it here. I will just note that I’m still really enjoying it and I’m getting much better at teaching it. The one thing I have learned is that it takes two plays of the game to really get how it all works. Each of the actions players can take aren’t that hard to understand but it’s really hard to grasp how the gizmos interact with each other until you’ve seen it in play.
To that end, we played two games. The second went much smoother than the first and in the end, everyone had a good time. Now D really liked it and is on the same page as me regarding Gizmos and other filler engine builders like Splendor. Kat also seemed to dig it but Tori did note that he preferred Splendor for the tactile feel of the gem chips and how much more simple and streamlined it is.
Gaming at the FLGS
Saturday both D and I attended a game night at The CG Realm. They were doing a special demo night showing off Victorian Masterminds from CMON as well as hosting open gaming. I thought it was cool that the store was able to get a copy of the game and were showing it off before it had officially been released. They even had a deal on if you pre-ordered the game that night.
While I did check out Victorian Masterminds, which looks beautiful, I didn’t actually sit down to play it. It looks like a solid filler game. I had my own games I really wanted to play though.
The first game of which was Gizmos. We played two four player games where I taught two new players.
Sticking to the whole play two games in a row thing seems to be working well. The players I taught both seemed to enjoy it and I’m pretty sure the store would have sold a copy or two had they had it in stock.
Terraforming Mars with Prelude
Up next I set up Terraforming Mars. This time we had three experienced players. This was my chance to get the Prelude expansion off of my pile of shame and make some progress on my #LessShameMoreGame challenge.
One of the things we did before starting the game and adding in the Prelude cards was to remove all of the Venus Next stuff from the game. I wanted to try Prelude just using the base rules to see how the expansion stands on its own. After we sorted the cards I did a very quick teach on what Prelude adds to the game.
The first and most basic thing Prelude adds is a few more cards. You get 5 new Corporations and 7 new projects. These are just added to the existing cards and have no special rules. Always a fan of new cards. Next, you get a deck of 35 Prelude cards. Players are given four of these (at random) at the start of the game and are going to choose two to start the game with.
The Prelude cards give players things to start the game with. These are a mix of resources and actual resource production. Many of the cards also have tags on them, which count once the game starts as if the Prelude cards were standard green projects.
What this means is that Prelude kickstarts everyone’s engine right at the start of the game. Everyone starts the game producing something if not a couple things. This is quite a change from a standard corporate wars game where everyone’s production starts at 0 with maybe a very small bump from their starting corporation.
My main concern was that Prelude would make the game too short. I don’t find Terraforming Mars to be long, except maybe with five players. Usually, I feel it’s about the perfect length and adding something to speed up the game seemed like it could ruin that for me. So far I’ve found this isn’t true and I’m thankful for that. While Prelude did give us a bit of a jump start it didn’t feel like it shortened the game too much. This last play felt just a fulfilling as my last five plays.
So far I’m digging Prelude. I’ve only used it the one time so my opinion may change but as of now, I plan to use it every game.
After we finished Terraforming Mars there was still about an hour left before the store closed so we tried to squeeze in a quick game of Dinosaur Island. I had heard that the game was pretty simple once you got going and played very quickly if you played a short game. Also, I noted when reading the rules that there was a teaching game setup that seemed to propose an even shorter game. It was just D and I and we figured we would give it a shot. Even if we didn’t finish the game it would be a good learning experience for teaching it later.
The first problem we ran into was set up. Now I had already tossed out the box insert that came with the game when unpunching it as it was useless and I could barely get everything back in the box. I had baggied everything in as logical a fashion as I could, but, man, I was really feeling the desire to get a box insert for this game. It took far too long to set up. That and, wow, does it take up a lot of room.
Between the long set up and having to teach the game for the first time, I think that by the time we were taking the first turn we only had maybe half an hour left to finish our game.
Surprisingly we managed to pull it off. Using the intro set up given in the rulebook it seems like your average first game is only going to go three turns. That’s not a lot of time in an engine building game. For us, at this point, it was perfect since we were under strict time constraints but I could see this short game feeling very unforgiving. I’m thinking that for teaching experienced gamers, in the future, I’m going to swap to a full short game.
Since this play was so rushed and short I think I’m going to wait until I’ve played a second time, hopefully with more than two players, to share more information on the game. So you are going to have to check back in later weeks to learn how “Jurassic Park” the board game actually is.
Heading to Hogwarts
There is something magical about sitting down to a game table and learning a game for the first time from your 11 year old daughter.
I got Big G Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle for Xmas this year. She’s played the game, at our Gaming in the New Year party, but I hadn’t gotten a chance to play it myself.
Since I hadn’t played before we quickly reset the game to Book 1. See this is a semi Legacy game in the fact that you play through the various Harry Potter books in order, starting with Book 1. If you win that first game you then open a box for Book 2 and add more stuff to the game. In this way, the game grows in complexity as you play it. It’s an awesome concept and one I would love to see more often in the future.
Going in, I had heard from many gamers that this game is a little too simple. Book 1 definitely fits that description. We blew through it pretty quickly. After a short dinner break, we played through Book 2. That didn’t add too much to the game. No new rules but some new locations and a new batch of villains that got added to the old ones. Adding the villains really upped the difficulty.
I’m glad we re-started at game 1. Sure it might be simple but you know what, it’s a great introduction to deck building which is perfect for someone who may not be familiar with these mechanics or new to gaming in general. For those of us who do already know them these first few games are quick enough, I don’t see why you wouldn’t play them. It’s a good chance to make sure you fully get the rules before moving on to something that may actually be a challenge. I think this is important as, like any new deck builder, Harry Potter does do some things a little bit different from every other deck builder out there.
One of the major changes that I kept forgetting is that you actually collect tokens for the resources your cards produce. As you spend them you return them to the pool (in the case of influence) or place them onto the villains (in the case of the other lightning bolt resource who’s name I can’t remember). The other thing I found easy to forget was to flip over a dark arts card at the start of each round. This aspect of the game reminded me of Shadows Over Camelot where every turn you have to advance the cause of evil before your hero gets a turn. Another game kept coming to mind while playing and that was the DC Deck-Building Game from Cryptozoic. That was due to the fact that the goal of each book (at least so far) was to get through a deck of villain cards.
Overall, I enjoyed my two plays so far and I’m looking forward to seeing what future books have to offer.
That was my #WhatDidYouPlayMondays. How was yours? What did you get to the table this week?