What Did You Play Mondays: August 19, 2019
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Here is what we played this week:
I know that Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization is a game that is much loved by a lot of board gamers rating games on Board Game Geek. But for me this game was a LOT of drudgery. This was our second play of the game and we got further along this time but my initial impressions were just confirmed with this play. Through the Ages is a lot of doing the same kinds of things over and over with micro-improvements over several hours of game play. Then you get slightly better cards and slightly better card combinations to do it all over again. We played this for 7 hours and we still only got to the end of the second age before we had to call it quits. I'm glad I got the chance to play it although I still don't know what all the hype is about. But now know definitely that this kind of game is not for me and to stay away from all civilization games in the future.
We taught a friend The Downfall of Pompeii this past week and I was reminded of how much fun this game is. I have nothing negative to play with this game. So much fun throwing people into the volcano, watching the lava flow through the city of Pompeii and making your people run for the exits. Oh, and yes, the theme is a little horrible and morbid if you think about it too much.
Arbra Kadabra is a very simple dexterity game for families about building a magical tree. A dice roll determines how many pieces you have to work with on your turn but you get to choose if you are adding or removing pieces of the tree. Every player has 5 pieces that have magical powers that can influence the turn of the next player forcing them to add or remove pieces or skip their turn. There is even a piece that will protect you from someone else using a special power against you until the next turn. The goal of the game is to get rid of all your own pieces -AND- have exactly 2, 3 or 4 pieces of each of your opponents in front of you (you get their pieces by removing from the magical tree on your turn). When you have that on your turn you can add the tree-top canopy pieces (a very large green disk) to the top. If nothing topples then you win. The dexterity side of this game is very simple (although you can add your pieces in a staggered pattern making it harder for your opponents - but if it gets back to you without collapsing then you've made it harder for yourself as well). The choice of adding or removing pieces adds some strategy because you have to make sure that you're not setting up your opponents for the win. The game is a lot of fun and has all the familiar tension of stacking/building games. I suspect that it might last a little longer than expected if only playing this game with 4 adults. Highly recommend for families looking for something fun to play with kids ages 7 and up.
The original Thebes by Peter Prinz is still one of my all-time favourite games. Thebes: The Tomb Raiders falls far, far short of the brilliance of the original game. There is a small board in this game and the theme is still the same but it's really more of a card game version of the original. If you've never played the original and you like the theme then you might want to give this one a try. There are some interesting elements to this game that are in the original (the museum cards are fun and I like the way the exhibition cards stay available for use during the game). However much of the game just fell flat for me. I lost the feeling of "gearing up" for the dig sites with schooling and knowledge - that still exists in the game but now it just feels like collecting cards and not doing your research. The new thief and grave robber cards are okay but they felt more like a balancing mechanism than a thematic choice. But for me the biggest flaws in this version where the omission of some the key elements in the original game that made it so unique, including: a) the new time track is just a time track with numbers - it's no longer 52 weeks of the year. b) instead of consulting the wheel to find out how many chances at treasure you get, you now consult a chart and c) instead of digging in the bag for the treasures you now shuffle a deck of cards and take the specified cards off the top. I will pass on this inferior version of a great game in the future.
The rules for Krass Kariert mess with your head a little bit. And that's the fun part. Not only can you not re-arrange the cards in your hand (like Bohnanza) but you must only play cards that are next to each other in your hand. You playing a single card or combinations of 2 or 3 cards to beat the last combination of cards played. If you can't beat the previous set of cards then you have to pick-up one of your two face-up "reserve cards" putting them into your hand where ever you want. You still can't reorganize your hand but adding these cards might help you create a more powerful combination for a future turn. If you can't beat the current card combination then you lose of one of your three "life tokens." Once each player has played or passed the round ends. The deck also contains a few special cards that can let you skip a turn in a round or force someone to pick-up more cards. Not a simple game but a lot of fun once you get the rules right!
In the new version of Shokoba from MJ Games, you are playing card trying to gather up the animals that have gotten away. Play a card from your hand that either matches exactly the number on one of the animal cards in the middle of the table to collect it for points. Or play a card from your hand that equals the sum of two or more animal cards in the middle of the table. Simple, fast and fun. The game is played over several rounds with players getting a point for having collected the most of each type of animal and the person who collected the most cards total will also get a point. Simple, fast and fun with adorable artwork!
Problem Picnic: Attack of the Ants is an extremely under-rated dexterity games for families about ants attacking a picnic trying to win cards from the middle of the table by rolling custom dice of their colour with ants on them instead of pips and getting them to land on the cards. The catch-up mechanism of this game (the round cards) contains some of the best fun this game has to offer with lots of thematic powers to help the last place player get more cards. This game also features one of the most unique set collection scoring mechanisms I've ever seen. Easy to learn, fast and full of laughs! Highly recommend this game for families or just some silly fun at your next game.
Harbour is great game on its own but the new High Tide expansion adds some new cards with new symbols and new cards (boats!) to the game that make a little easier for players to buy buildings. A great expansion for an already great game that I will always include in future plays of the base game.
The Shipwreck Arcana is a very clever math-based cooperative deduction game for 2-5 players. Hard to win and quick to play (about 20 minutes) means you will want to play this one several times in a row when you bring it out. Great game!
We struggled a bit with the rules of a 2-player game of No Bluff! I was impressed that a bluffing game even had 2-player rules and that was maybe a bit over-ambitious. I think this will be a much better game with 6 players so I will wait until I get the chance to play it with more people before I decide how I feel about this one. A mafia-themed bluffing game for 2-6 players with some great artwork and suitcases full of money.
We played Puerto Rico again for the first time for a long while. I have really missed this great game! We played a LOT of Puerto Rico back in the day and the game had started to stale a little for me. We just played it too often. But getting out again really reminded me of excellent this game really is. This game should still be in the Top 10 game on BGG in my opinion. Maybe the new deluxe version will help introduce it to new players.
We also playtested a friend's Unpublished Prototype of a game about telling personal stories about your past and a game of Pick Up Sticks.
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