Sunday, June 16, 2013

Recent Gaming

What have you been playing lately?

Here's what's been hitting my table:

Tzolk'in: the Mayan Calendar
After playing Tzolk'in at BGG.con last November, I was excited to play it again. My friend knew I would likely pick up the game once it became available, and at the time people were really getting into painting the gears. He offered to paint my gears for me as a birthday gift when I got a copy. Unfortunately it took quite some time before he got a chance to paint them - but I finally did get to play my copy! I've played a handful of times now, and I have been enjoying it.

A couple of my friends think that buildings just aren't lucrative enough to be a winning strategy - they think the game is all about the God tracks. While it's true that the God tracks are good and should be ignored at a player's own risk, I have won my share of games concentrating on buildings. Last weekend I played a game where all I did was build! I maxed out the resource and architecture tech tracks and built a total of 11 buildings plus 2 monuments. One of the monuments gave me 2 points per building/monument for a total of 26 points! I ended up with 95 points, 25 ahead of 2nd place. That game I even begged for food 3 or 4 times, scoring NEGATIVE 3 points off of God tracks at midgame, and only about 7 God track points at the game end.

So it seems that buildings can be a viable strategy after all!

Bora Bora
I have played a couple games of Bora Bora recently. People have described games like Bora Bora as "victory point salad" - often using the term as a criticism, citing that a player can "just do whatever, get points for it, and see if they win." But anyone who's trying to win cannot simply "do whatever." The whole point is to find synergistic actions that maximize your points. The fact that everything is worth points simply acts as a way to evaluate actions and gauge how well you're doing. I for one enjoy games like that.

I've enjoyed Bora Bora so far, but I don't get to play it too often because my normal play groups don't have access to a copy.

Terra Mystica
Terra Mystica has been very popular lately as well, though I've only played it once - and I'm not sure if I liked it as much as I thought I would. Compared to Bora Bora, in Terra Mystica you have a bunch of options and none of them are worth points directly, so it's actually harder to tell how much progress you're making!

That's exaggerated a little, but it's kinda how I felt after my first game. I wouldn't mind playing again, but I haven't sought it out, maybe because it seemed to take a really long time.

The Manhattan Project (with Second Stage expansion)
I pledged for the Second Stage expansion to The Manhattan Project a while ago on Kickstarter, and the other day it arrived. Since then I've only gotten it to the table once, and we used all the different parts (each one is optional). ere's what we thought of them:

Role Selection: There are 7 "personalities" to choose from, and every time you vacate (use your turn to get your guys back) you must choose one. While you have a personality in front of you, you gain the benefit of that personality. These benefits are "immune to espionage," "Each turn collect a Fighter and a Bomber and take a free Air Strike action," "Once each turn you may use a Laborer as a Scientist, or a Scientist as 2 Scientists," and stuff like that. This aspect was pretty awesome, we all liked it a lot.

Hydrogen Bombs:  There's a new type of bomb, called a Hydrogen bomb. You can get one instead of a normal bomb, and to play it you'll need 8 or 9 workers and a handful of Lithium Deuteride - a new resource that comes from LD Mines (new buildings in the deck). The effect of the H-bomb is to double the score of one of your already made Plutonium bombs (not Uranium).

In our game, LD Mines didn't come up until very late, so nobody even thought about using an H-bomb. I guess I can see why the H-bombs aren't just shuffled into the bomb deck, but is that really necessary? I'm not sure. I don't mind playing with the H-bombs, but I wonder if anyone will ever really build one. I suppose it's efficient enouhg, as long as an LD Mine shows up.

Rockets and Rocket Factories: Also instead of a bomb, a player can choose to take a Rocket Factory. This is a building that creates a new kind of "plane" - a rocket. Like Bombers, Rockets can be used to load bombs and to damage buildings. In fact, rockets can damage buildings even if the target player has Fighters! I guess that kinda makes them strictly better than bombers...

One player in our game decided to go straight for those and he did so with a vengeance! He got 3 Rocket factories (no bombs!) and just damaged the crap out of all of us. He started with me, for no really good reason - that probably cost me the game. Then he moved on to Russel, even though Mandy was winning. Finally, Russel convinced him to aim his rockets at Mandy, which slowed her down enough that Russel eventually won (the turn before Mandy and I each could have). It made for a fairly interesting, if unrealistic game. The attacker wasn't really even trying to win. None of us were particularly fond of the added Air Strike abilities in the expansion.

Nations Expansion 2: There are new Nations to play. For some reason they have different backs than the first Nations expansion (what?). Most of the Nations powers don't seem all that great, some are OK, and a couple seem really, really good. This is how we feel about the first Nations expansion as well.

We've slowed down on this one now, but a little while ago we were playing Firenze pretty heavily. By the same designer as Hansa Teutonic (which I like, even if I haven't played it in a long time), Firenze is a pretty solid game about building towers. While it would fit in my self-defined category of "Mediocre Euro," it would be among the top of that genre. I feel like I used to be pretty good at that game, but my performance lately has been miserable.

Captains of Industry
I have been playing Captains of Industry pretty heavily lately - pretty much every chance I get. I've been finalizing a few aspects of the game for publication, as artwork is being done and the game will be hitting Kickstarter within the next few months.

I believe I've finally got a Progress configuration which I like. Adding a 10th card (6 City, 4 Recycle) seems to have made the probability of 4-round age acceptably low. I'm still finalizing the Advances, but I think they're almost done as well now.

TMG submissions
I have tried a few TMG submissions lately. Of those, we will be publishing at least one! There will be more info on that when the time comes.

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