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Game Of The Month August 2023

My Island Game of the Month

My Island - Tom Harrod

Reiner Knizia and Kosmos Games have become close chums of late. Their ‘My…’ series has now become a trilogy, having started back in 2020 with My City. That was a polyomino tile placement game with a legacy element. Later, in 2022, My City: Roll & Build came out – this time, a polyomino roll & write game. (Again, with a legacy element.)

And now here comes part three: My Island, again, having a legacy aspect to it. The Tetris-style polyomino shapes have gone, replaced instead with connected hexagonal tiles. The aim? Can you cover your board with these tiles in such a manner to develop the perfect, unique island?

My Island spans over 24 games, with sealed envelopes galore waiting for you to open and discover! No spoilers here, though… For now, I’ll tell you about the initial beginnings of the game, to whet your appetite! Games are quick, coming in at around 15-30 minutes (depending on how thinky you want to be). Meaning you can play multiple games of My Island in one sitting!

Every player begins with one island board (with a hex grid overlay on it), and 28 connected hexagonal tiles. (Some tiles are two hexes together; others are three in a row. Some are a triangle of connected hexes; others are a diamond of four hexes.) The tiles have an array of objects on them: yellow fields, blue walls, brown houses, and green paths. Everyone has the same variety of tiles, and there’s a bit of a bingo nature to the game: there’s also 28 cards. The top card gets revealed, showing one specific tile. Everyone then places it onto their island.

To begin with, you cannot place tiles so they cover certain terrains. You have to start by covering a beach hex. Afterwards, tiles have to touch a previously placed tile. Plus, at least one symbol has to sit facing a matching symbol. (Such as wall touching another wall.) You can choose to pass (not place the current tile) if you wish, but it costs you -1 point. You can pass permanently at any time, in which you suffer no further penalties. But everyone else keeps playing until everyone’s passed!

You earn points for having houses along the beach, and you lose -1 point for every beach space still vacant. But in game two (of 24), the scoring rules change, and stickers on island boards come into play…

Forgotten Waters - Sean Franks

While I haven’t managed to game too much this month, we did manage to get off a few games of Forgotten Waters, and are still trying to get some more in!

Forgotten Waters is a crossroads game, but unlike the original Dead Of Winter that introduced this, where you drew a card and asked around, are you player x, is someone outside? We now have app integration that will do everything for you. I found the app great, it had some good voice acting and background music, both adding to the game atmosphere. It comes with a timer for the game rounds built in, and you need it as take too long making decisions and likely your crew might start to mutiny and sink the ship, oh did I forget to mention that you’re all pirates?

Everyone has one to several roles in the ship crews, and also an individual named character sheet out of the many provided, such as ‘The Lovesick Pirate’. One of the best parts are where you fill in some story prompts then read out your backstory, slotting in your chosen words where it tells you. Currently our crew is riding the Rooster while searching for rotting cabbages, fermenting whale’s milk and playing with rare Pokemon cards, plus a few more things I can’t mention in a family environment.

Forgotten Water’s game=play uses a story book mechanic, where each round we all vie to be the most infamous in order to go first and choose the most interesting options to get some sweet story rewards, otherwise risk getting stuck with one of the mandatory choices and whatever good or bad that may bring. So far we’ve fought enemies human and not, explored islands and oceans, braved various elements, and there’s plenty of pages we still have yet to see. We’ve only played two of the included scenarios so far, managing to play with both low and high player counts, and we have taken full advantage of Forgotten Water’s save system to leave until we can pick it up again. I’m excited to get back to it and finish them all, then we can download some more!

Hegemony - John Hunt

Hegemony is quite a remarkable piece of game design and one hell of an experience to play. Taking the roles of different classes – working, middle and capitalist – and the very state, itself in an imagined modern nation is quite a departure from the usual. Self evidently it’s asymmetric, with very different mechanics and objectives for three of the four classes, while the middle class combines elements of the capitalists and workers. Middle and working class meeples will find themselves employed and maybe sacked. Public and private sector business with be bought and sold. The honest toil of the working and middle classes will net cash to be spent on food, healthcare, education and luxuries with the aim of increasing their prosperity. Capitalist and Middle class with buy and staff businesses. Goods will be bought and sold from abroad. The state will resolve events to grow its legitimacy across the classes, and every round the players will vote on a range of political agendae which affect game mechanics – like the tax rate and the minimum wage.

In all of this, the mechanisms for each class intersect with the others creating interesting multi-layered interaction. The rules for each class are fairly straightforward but the impact of different decisions can be complex and sophisticated, if easy to implement. Numerous times on our first play, players were head to say, “Damn, that’s clever.” and so it was.

Due wanting should be given that this really should be played at 4, and that the teach and play time make for a 5-6 hour first game; however we think with the same group we can get that down to 4. The player aids are plentiful and helpful and the rule book is good. Production and design are grand. So if you like a meaty game I cannot recommend this highly enough. I think it will hit the table one a quarter, but it is a great experience and a masterful piece of design.

Legacy Of Yu - Craig Smith

Last month I wrote about Legacy of Yu by Shem Phillips being number one on my wishlist. What about if I told you that I bought, played, and completed Legacy of Yu in the space of a month?

I think I quite liked it.

This is of course a massive understatement. In fact, the only reason I didn’t complete it quicker was that my partner wanted us to play it as a cooperative, rather than simply as a solo experience.

In Legacy of Yu, you’re playing a campaign of canal building and fighting Barbarians. You win if you complete the round without being overwhelmed by the flood or Barbarians, as well as making sure you keep your hand well stocked of townsfolk.

There’s a lot of fun mechanisms in Legacy of Yu. There’s drafting from a pool of townsfolk who you can add to your hand. There’s resource collection and management, the main of these being shells and provisions. There’s also worker placement, which can help you gain resources, provisions and other workers required to fight the advisories. The campaign ends when you either win 7 rounds, or lose 7 rounds, either way, the legacy deck either helps or hinders you depending on the outcome.

Overall, we managed 7 wins and 2 losses, which brought our game to an end. The story book is so well written and, whilst it’s a lot more present in some games than others, does bring the campaign together really well. I have already reset my copy ready to go again in the not too distant future, especially as we haven’t uncovered everything on offer in the legacy deck.

Era: Medieval Age - Victor Rios Faria

My game of the month is a delightful surprise I stumbled upon in a rather unpretentious trade. I was on the hunt for a family-friendly game that would let me interact with my little cousins while still offering a strategic challenge for my friends. Era: Medieval Age, not only met those expectations, but it also unleashed a miniature invasion on my tabletop, delivering a truly hands-on and visually stunning experience.

Picture this: Era: Medieval Age is like a turbocharged roll-and-write game. Instead of scribbling on sheets based on dice rolls, you get to construct your medieval city, surround it with towering walls, build lush farms, cozy worker housing, and erect jaw-dropping architectural masterpieces, all in pursuit of creating the most prosperous city and clinching victory points.

Roll-and-write games have been a cherished mechanic in my family, with games like Next Station: London, Trek 12, and Railroad Ink gracing our meetings. Era: Medieval Age, however, takes it to the next level. The miniatures injected an extra dose of whimsy, transforming the game into a fully immersive medieval world.

No matter the player count, Era: Medieval Age shines. Even though 2-player games can come to a sudden halt due to limited building options, and 4-player games might incite a bit of friendly frustration during the resource-snatching combat phase, the overall experience is nothing short of captivating.

In a nutshell, Era: Medieval Age delivers boundless joy, blending the nail-biting suspense of dice rolling with the sheer satisfaction of a medieval-themed, miniature and dice powered engine building. All of this is wrapped up in a visually captivating design that's a feast for players of all ages and tastes.