So far February has been turning out to be a great month for gaming. I’ve already gotten in over forty games this month!
This past week there was the usual Friday Gloomhaven game, followed by some Azul: Stained Glass of Sinatra. Saturday I spent the afternoon playing games with my kids. These included Riddle Moo This, Professor Noggin’s Creatures of Myth & Legend, Battle Sheep and Qwirkle Cubes. Then on Saturday I had a group of friends over and we tried out all of the expansions for Xia: Legends of a Drift System, which recently showed up from their latest Kickstarter.
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Back to the campaign in Gloomhaven
Due to illness or inclement weather it’s been a few weeks since we’ve gotten to actually continue our campaign in Gloomhaven.
Last week Deanna and I tried out a two player dungeon and the week before that it was three of us also trying a random dungeon for the first time.
While the random dungeons are fun it was nice to have the full group back together and move on with our ongoing campaign.
Last Friday we had a rather boring town encounter that did up our reputation a bit, all stopped to get blessed then hit the road. On the road we danced with some Vermlings which was enlightening and moved on to the Temple of the Elements.
As a reminder: the last time we all played our campaign game, we had just beat up some big bad elemental demon in his throne room after they had tried to hire us to get an artifact for them.
After taking care of the demon, once and for all, we decided that the best course of action would be for us to go get the artifact for ourselves and that’s exactly what we did.
Scenario 22, Temple of the Elements, was really solid. It was another one of those missions where it wasn’t just about killing all the bad guys, and I like those. It felt especially good after playing through two random dungeons, where it was all about killing baddies.
The scenario went well for us but wasn’t easy. What I’m most proud of is the fact that we actually played at normal difficulty and managed to win. To me this says that we are getting better at the game. Or maybe it just means that leveling up really helps. It’s probably a bit of both.
Remember you can watch us play Gloomhaven live every Friday night at 8:30pm Eastern on Twitch.
Azul Stained Glass of Sintra
Our Gloomhaven game was pretty quick, so afterwards we played a game of Azul Stained Glass of Sintra.
I’m still having a hard time wrapping my brain around this version of Azul. There’s so much more to think about and I’ve yet to find a strategy that seems to work for me. I will say that all of us are getting better at it and that I think we now get all of the rules even if we may not have figured out the way to get a great score.
The more I play Sintra the more I feel it’s less and less like the original game. At this point the only thing that really feels the same is how you are drafting tiles. The way of thinking needed to play Azul well is not the same thought process required for Sintra.
Overall I’m still enjoying it but I do prefer the original.
An Afternoon Gaming With My kids
Saturday afternoon Deanna and my mom had some appointments and that left me alone with my girls. I decided to take this opportunity to get the kids to play some of their games. Games they haven’t played in a long time and a couple games that somehow they never actually played before. I also really wanted to try out Qwirkle Cubes which Little G gave me for Xmas.
We started with Qwirkle Cubes. This is an excellent update to the original Qwirkle, one of the few mass market games that I really enjoy. The basic game play is identical. You are playing tiles onto the table connecting to existing tiles. Each tile played has to have something in common with all the other tiles played so that each row of tiles is either all the same shape or all the same colour. You score points for each row you’ve added to each turn, similar to scrabble. The big change here is that the tiles are replaced with dice. Dice that are one of the six colours and that have all six shapes on each of the six sides of the dice. Before you place your tiles you can roll them. We all had a great time playing this and the kids even practiced some math by taking turns keeping score.
Up next was Professor Noggin’s Creatures of Myth & Legend. This is a simple trivia game that is mainly designed as an educational tool rather than a game, and it shows. Each game you are going to go through every card. You roll a die and then use the number to determine which question on the card to read to the player on your right. If they get the answer right they keep it, if they get it wrong it goes back to the bottom of the draw pile. The cards each have two different difficulty levels which I would say swap from grade school level to high school or adult.
Oddly the game also includes a really unfair take that mechanic, where sometimes when you roll a die you get: Noggin’s Choice instead of a question and that lets you steal a card from another player. The other problem with this game is that it’s a mishmash of different mythologies and it doesn’t always indicate which mythology the question is referencing. This one is ending up in the donation bin.
Next the kids grabbed Riddle Moo This, a game they received as a gift from an Aunt or Uncle for Xmas but never played. This is another trivia game that uses three clue riddles. One player starts reading off one of three clues, the other players have very annoying animal noise buzzers. When someone thinks they know the answer they buzz in. If they are right they keep the card, if wrong the other players get to hear the rest of the clues and buzz in and guess. Now these are really simple riddles. For example: A Fruit. It can be red or green. It crunches when you take a bite. Answer: An Apple. There are blue cards that are supposed to be harder but we didn’t find much difference. There is also a Barn Teaser rule that didn’t actually make sense in the rules as written. Something about changing one clue to come up with a different answer for bonus points. I couldn’t find any clarification for this online either (see my bad rulebook article). Between the overly simple riddles and the extremely annoying buzzers this one is leaving the house as quickly as possible. I packed it away somewhere the kids won’t see it so they aren’t reminded of it and change their minds.
The last game we played is the Blue Orange Games classic Battle Sheep. I bought this one for the kids quite a few years ago and I think I jumped the gun. While the game can be played by younger kids, it takes some maturity to really get the strategy of the game. In the past, my girls much preferred just playing with the components of the game rather than playing the game. That has all changed now.
The three of us sat down and played with the proper rules and all three of us had a great time. This is a cutthroat area control game that’s most similar to Hey That’s My Fish. Together you make a hex map and pick one spot to put your entire stack of sixteen sheep on it. Each turn you can take any stack of sheep, split it into two stacks however you want and move one of those stacks as far as you can in a straight line. It’s all about spreading out your flock and trying to block the other players from doing the same.
Battle Sheep is solid. Really solid and not just fun for kids. This is one I can totally see bringing out to the FLGS for game night as well as playing with my girls on a Sunday afternoon. Strongly recommended. Just wait until you know your kids will grasp the strategy of it and don’t introduce it too early, like I did.
Xia: Legends of a Drift System with all of the expansions!
Saturday night I had a bunch of people at my house to play some games. I was specifically looking for people to play Xia: Legends of a Drift System with me.
Late last year I backed the latest Xia Kickstarter from Far Off Games. This included a new printing of the base game, a new printing of the expansion Xia: Embers of a Forsaken Star, the Kickstarter exclusive Sellsword Ship Pack, metal 2000cr coins and the newly created Missions and Powers expansion pack. I went all in on everything but the core game as I already had that.
Saturday I got to get all of it to the table. The core game with every expansion playing with four players.
At some point I want to do up a full review of all of this new content, so watch for that. For now I will just give some short thoughts on each.
The Xia core game continues to be very solid. I love the sandbox nature of the game. Here’s a ship, here’s where you are in space: Go! Do what you want. Run missions, set up trade routes, be a pirate, become a bounty hunter, just explore the galaxy. It’s totally your choice.
The Sellsword Expansion – This can be used as just a new ship for players to get or you can use it as a new NPC. We tried it as an NPC and I have mixed feelings. For one it doesn’t get assigned to a player. I was really hoping this expansion meant that, in a four player game, each player got an NPC to control but that’s not the case. Instead players can hire the Sellsword and use them to go out and attack other ships. Not quite what I was expecting.
Xia: Embers of a Forsaken Star – This is a fantastic expansion. I would go so far as to say a must have expansion. So many little tweaks and bits of new content for the original game. New missions, events, a new system for exploration that is much more fair and rewarding, relic hunting on dead worlds, orbiting comets, frost damage and so much more. By far the best new addition though is the new market system. No longer will the game end up nearly broken by a chain of pick up and deliver spots showing up right next to each other. Seriously if you have Xia and don’t have this expansion go get it now.
The 2000cr coins – Okay these may have been a bit of a waste of money. I didn’t need them. There’s no reason not to just use the 1000cr and 5000cr coins that come in the base game (you even get extra 1000cr coins in Embers). But I still like these shiny copper coloured coins.
Xia: Missions and Powers – This is a two part expansion pack. First up if offers four new types of missions. Two legal and two illegal. What’s interesting about these is that they require a sector type and not a specific sector tile to start so they are easier to get going than the ones in both the original game and Embers. The powers part of the expansion gives you a new power card for every ship in the game (except the Sellsword), doubling your options every time you chose or upgrade a ship. Really dig this pack. A great add on for Xia.
As for our actual game. It was long, very random and a ton of fun. You don’t play Xia to win, you play Xia to have an experience and we all had a great experience. We played to 15 Fame and the game took about 4.5 hours.
That was my week. What games hit your tabletop this past week? Let me know in the comments!