Welcome to April where today we are going to take a look over our bloggers and what they have chosen for Game of the Month over March.
In spite of what you may think from the picture in the header, my game of the month is not “where's Waldo” but a boardgame that shares a lot of similarities with that series: MicroMacro: Crime City 3 (All In). In this game, the players work together as police detectives to solve crimes around the city. To help with this task, you only have a picture of the crime scene and a very large map featuring Crime City.
The extremely clever idea is that the map shows multiple snapshot of the same timelines allowing you to trace backwards the steps of all characters involved (or potentially involved) in the crime scene. While you follow your main characters on the map you may discover other characters involved in the story, detect motives and a lot of other useful info that should help you to solve the crime.
When I first tried the game with my family, we had such a good experience that we wanted to solve all the cases one after the other as soon as possible. We achieved our plan this month thus MicroMacro 3 is for sure my game of the month for March.
The first aspect I loved about this game is how much fun is to play it all together. Although the game is collaborative, everyone tries their best to be the first to locate the characters you are following. Shouting “FOUND IT” is definitely a big part of the game. The other nice aspect is how all crime cases are classified in term of difficulty and suitability for children. The first helps to gauge the time needed to solve the case while I found the second parameter is quite important to ensure the crimes will not touch topics not suitable to your younger ones.
I am not one for dexterity games. My fat fingers on my giant hands have always made it hard to be delicate and so they usually just make me frustrated. However, my husband loves them. It’s probably because he has so much more control with his stupid normal size hands and so always beats me. So for his birthday a few years ago I bought him Junk Art. I had done loads of research about dexterity games and variability as one of the biggest problems I have is that those types of games sometimes get boring after a while, but Junk Art promised a long life.
The premise is you have four different coloured sets of perfectly designed wooden pieces that you will stack in a variety of different ways to create amazing sculptures. But what makes this game different is it comes with a whole host of mini games that you mix up every time you play.
We played a lot when we got it. The games are interesting and different enough to challenge you in different ways and there are many ways to victory. My other half tries to build tall and go for risky bonus height points whereas I build short and strong and hope a light breeze or knock to the table takes him down! This last month we have found ourselves playing A LOT. Sometimes you get distracted by the new games in your collection and the older ones get pushed to the back of the shelf but I am so glad we dug this junk out for a much needed revisit. So much fun and with their chunky wooden pieces even these fat hands can manage a certain level of artistic delicacy.
Playing one of the first games in a Garphill Games trilogy is like watching a TV pilot for a new series. You go into it with a sense of intrigue, and hopeful optimism. You know a crew member or two from previous shows, and you liked their stuff. (In this case, that'd be designers Shem Phillips and SJ MacDonald, and artist The Mico.) So you meet the new characters and enticing plots (ahem, mechanisms). And then, after 45 minutes of drama, you’re hooked, and you’re craving more…
Sure enough, that’s how I felt when playing Wayfarers of the South Tigris this month. It’s a dice-and-worker placement Euro, with a card tableau at its heart. Theme-wise, you’re setting off from Baghdad in 820 AD to map the surroundings. Will you venture west to scope the land? Or eastways, out to sea? Regardless of your direction, you’ll check out the skies above, witnessing planets, stars and even comets.
The tableau you build becomes a mega-engine for you, ever-expanding across the playing surface. Wayfarers can take up quite a lot of table space! I love how there are plenty of options with regards to how you want to ‘explore’. Regardless, the key feels like peering up into space is your goal. These cards can net mega end-game points.
The dice placement is its own little engine in its own right, which is super-neat. The pip value corresponds to a grid, and throughout the game you buy tiles to place here. This means as the game moves forward, your dice options become more and more powerful. You have workers to place, too. But they’re not traditional meeples – as in, you don’t take them back at the end of the turn. You place them onto cards to take an action, sure. But when someone buys said card, they then earn the meeple for themselves!
Wayfarers of the South Tigris is certainly a step up in complexity. (Especially when compared to the likes of Architects of the West Kingdom, or Raiders of the North Sea/Scythia.) But wow! Could this be my favourite Garphill game of the bunch, so far?
Spring has sprung which means the days are getting longer, lambs are bouncing, and baby birds are chirping! With that in mind, we have been playing a flocking load of Wingspan Asia! Now, I am a huge fan of the OG Wingspan. I’ve got both European and Oceania expansions as well as some lovely upgrades. I know the basic birdie tableau building, hand management, engine building gameplay backwards and forwards. I love the Automa Factory solo mode. The artwork and production quality from Stonemaier is top tier. And yet, even with these familiarities and guarantees, Wingspan Asia brings something new to the mix.
Well, two things actually; Duet Mode and Flock Mode. Now, as a predominantly 2/3 player family, being able to extend the OG Wingspan from 5 to 7 players using Flock Mode is very cool (simultaneous play to cut downtime? Great Idea!). But it’s not something we will use regularly. Duet Mode, however, is a beautiful new twist that has instantly hit a high note with us. Bringing area majority into the mix, laying birds into our habitats now gives extra opportunities to gain immediate bonuses as well as end-game points. There’s also a new suite of end of round goals, as well as more interactive powers and a deck of beautiful birdies to admire.
Bearing in mind that this more compact version of Wingspan also doubles up as an expansion for the original game makes it incredibly versatile, and has gone straight in as our game of the month!
This month has been a banger for games because we got to go to Airecon convention and so we got a bunch of cool new games tried out. However, our game of the month was actually a game we have had a while, but got during covid and had only been able to play at 2 players before. I will give you some clues and you can see if you can guess it. It is a worker placement game, published by Garphill Games. During the game you place your workers out, and the more you place into one spot, the more powerful the action you get to take. Trouble is though, the more workers you have in one spot, the more likely an opponent is to round them up and either hold them hostage or fling them in the prison tower.
Have you guessed it yet? It’s Architects of the West Kingdom. I think this is widely considered to be the easiest of the West Kingdom series, and so of course it was where we started with our purchasing of our first Shem Phillips game. We played it a few times at two players, and I found that as my Player 2 is exceptionally good at controlling game ending points, I never felt like I really got a good strategy together. It always felt like he was rushing the game, and quite honestly, he was. This was a winning strategy but it was not much fun to play against. So once we got a chance, we jumped to teach our two pals this one at Airecon. Convention days are usually long days, and so brain power is not always 100% by the end and this was the perfect game for this point. It’s not too hard to learn, doesn’t last too long (at 4 players it feels very short even when it is a learning game), and wow it is fun.
For us the benefits over two were that the game filled up with workers quicker, so capturing was a lot more lucrative feeling. There was a lot more going on at any one time, and more black market resets and cycling through the cards happened. There is more spaces on the cathedral so the game scale pretty well, but we just found it felt more fun with lots of people trying different strategies all around the table.
For me, GOTM this month is Stuffed Fables, which I've been desperate to get on the table ever since I picked it up for my daughter's 7th Birthday last month. She is a keen early-gamer, with a fondness for games such as Ticket To Ride: My First Journeys and My First Carcassonne, graduating recently to more complex games such as Stupefy! and My Little Scythe. Stuffed Fables is a delightful game of soft toys fighting monsters under the bed as they try to steal from and scare the sleeping child you protect, with endearing (but not cutesy) character miniatures and creepy critters to fight.
The game is specifically designed to be played by parent(s) and child(ren) together, as the game is presented in storybook / map fashion - a dash of dungeon crawler, a glob of Gloomhaven, a drop of dice manipulation and essence of escape room - yes, sorry that 's all a bit magical, but then that's the game. It feels like a fairytale, whilst introducing a surprisingly varied range of "core" mechanics without ever feeling overwhelming.
The quests unfold naturally, and everyone's decisions are legitimate; the characters all feel distinct: Theodora is a strong and proud teddy, who's particularly good in combat and at rallying others, whilst Mr Stitch is a patchwork puppet with the wisdom of old age (and a VERY sharp pencil). Speaking of which, the equipment is all very well-conceived: for example, scissors are vicious weapons but you lose stuffing (life) if you move 6 with them (don't run with scissors, kids). We're totally hooked, can't wait to play through the other quests - and then there's her big brothers to get playing!