What Did You Play Mondays: June 8, 2020
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Thanks to some online gaming with Board Game Arena it was a great week of gaming last week!
The big winner for me this week was Targi! I had a friend teach me how to play this on Board Game Arena this past week and I fell in love! Targi (and the new English language release or the expansion) instantly went on my Must Have List. This is a very interesting 2-player only, worker placement game with a 5x5 grid of cards and just 3 meeple workers. Your workers can only be placed on any of the cards on the outside edge that make up the "board" (not including corner squares) and cannot be placed on a card where your opponent has a worker, nor on a card in the same row or column opposite your opponent's meeple. When all workers have been placed, players collect resources that they use to buy cards in the center of the play area using the X-Y axis of the board and placed workers to indicate which cards (max 2 with only three workers) are available to each player. Purchased cards are placed in a set collection tableau on your player board in front of you and award end of game victory and bonus points as well as some offering in-game benefits. There is also a robber meeple that travels around the board clogging up a space on the board and periodically stealing from all players equally. Another truly fantastic "thinky" game from KOSMOS.
There are so many good word games on the market but it's surprising that none of them do what Jabuka does. Jabuka is a race to spell as many words as you can using tiles in the middle of the table - but the twist is that many of the letters can be turned upside down or rotated to be used in a different way (so a "W" tile can become the letter "M" or an "E and a "T" tile can be rotated to become the letter "X"). If you like games like Bananagrams you will love Jabuka and if you like Scrabble but want the game to be must quicker and involve stealing other players words then Jabuka is a great choice for you.
In Tiny Towns you have just 16 squares to create your little town. Players place resources on their player board using a sort of BINGO mechanism where the active player chooses one of the resource cubes and everyone has to place that same resource anywhere on their board as well. Once placed resources cannot be moved or removed until they fulfill the polyominoe pattern building shapes available for this game. Players are trying to convert the resources into buildings for points at the end of the game. Some buildings require other buildings or specific placement to score and others may give you a special ability to use during the game. I love this game but to be clear, Tiny Towns is not for everyone. It is an easy-to-learn, fast and challenging, mind-bending exercise with lots of frustrating choices that will upset your plans during game play. The game is also a multi-player solitaire experience with very little player interaction. The Fortunes expansion adds new cards and coins that provide some flexibility for placement but coins can be difficult to acquire.
I was so excited to win this game from @workingwithlemons on Instagram. Published by KOSMOS, Drop It is a deceptively simple dexterity game about dropping different colour shapes into a thin, clear plastic stand-up wall. When your piece lands, if it is not touching like shapes or colours you can score points for that piece. The higher up the piece ends up, the more points you receive, with a few opportunities for bonus points. This is an excellent very quick game that can be played with kids and adults of any age. While much harder than it appears at first glance, Drop It is recommended for ages 8 and up but I can't see why kids as young as 5 could play this one with some modified/simplified rules. Drop It includes variants to play the game in teams or make the game easier for younger players.
The Boss is great tiny box game with a mafia theme, simple area majority and a bit of deduction. Players take turns playing cards face up to one of the cities in the middle of the table providing everyone with a bit more information about the 1 "reward card" underneath it and placing your mob cubes. The player with the most cubes on each city receives the "reward card" at the end of the round but be careful as sometimes the reward card results in jail time, a trip to the hospital - or worse. Very tight, fun game, quick to play, and easy to learn.
Creatures of Dark Manor is a quick memory game for kids and families about exploring a castle filled with spooky creatures from MJ Games. The few special cards in the game allow players to do things like swap cards around and peek at some cards make this game more interesting for adults to play without making the game too complicated or confusing for kids. Suggested age is 8 and up, however reading is not required so I think kids as young as 5 or 6 will be able to enjoy this game.
Since the global pandemic and social distancing don't seem to going away any time soon, we joined Board Game Arena and have started playing a few games online with friends. As part of that we've played several games of the Sid Sackson classic, Can't Stop. This is a dice rolling game... about rolling dice and pushing your luck. Players are racing to roll any 3 of the possible total of two 6-sided dice. The number of spaces on each column varies with the more probable numbers requiring more successful roles. During each turn, players can only advance on 3 of the different columns on the board and can continue rolling and advancing until they either no longer roll one of the 3 numbered columns that they chose from this round, thereby losing all their progress or can pass and save their progress for their next turn. A great game to teach young kids about statistics and probability and an excellent example of the push-your=luck mechanism.
Another modern classic, Carcassonne is a clever tile-laying game. The Board Game Arena site does an excellent job of implementing this great game and includes several different expansions.
6 nimmt! is a great example of the simultaneous action selection mechanism with fairly easy to understand rules (however I find it difficult to explain to people that have never played the game before for some reason). A basic card game (with some horrible graphic design) 6 nimmt! plays quickly and forces players to make predictions about what will happen to the "board" when their card is eventually played. 6 nimmt! is recommended for ages 8 and up but I think kids in their early teens would get more enjoyment out of it. Board Game Arena has a great implementation of this game as well.
For Sale is one my favourite "filler" games. Played in two stages, players start by bidding on property cards valued from 1 to 30 with money received at the start of the game. Each round a number of cards equal to the number of cards are placed face up in the middle of the table. Like all auction games, players must bid higher or pass from the round. If you pass from the round you get the lowest available value property card in the game and only have to play half of your bid to the bank. The highest bidder gets the most valuable property card but must pay the entire bid to the bank. The 2nd stage of the game has players auctioning off the property cards they collected in the first half of the game for money cards that are placed in the middle of the table in the same way. The game sounds almost too simple to be work and be fun but it creates a great level of overthinking and tension for a game that can be played in just 30 minutes with up to 6 players. Designed by Stefan Dorra.
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