April is a great month for board gamers, with the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend allowing more time to play! Here are our games of the month for April 2019.
Nick W - Wendake
Recently I got the chance to play Wendake and I’m glad I did as it’s my game of the month. The game sets you as Native Americans, expanding your tribe and meeting its needs. This is abstracted out into four score tracks; military, economic, ritual and mask. You will pair these up randomly and add together the lowest score in each pair for your final score. This means that you will need to focus on all aspects of managing your tribe to succeed.
The real star of the show here is the action selection mechanic. You start the game with nine action tiles set-up randomly in a 3x3 grid apart from the central fire tile. Over the course of a round you will choose three of these actions, but after the first one the next two must be part of the same horizontal, vertical or diagonal line. The fourth action you must take during the round is to choose turn order. When the round ends all your action tiles will flip over revealing the ritual action. Then they slide down, removing the bottom three tiles and flipping any ritual actions leaving your player board this way. You may then, in turn order, choose to upgrade one of your action tiles to a more advanced one.
What you soon start realising is that although the ritual action is a good one for scoring points, if you keep filling up your board with ritual tiles you will be unable to do the things you need to do. There is some elements of area control and set collection as you use actions to harvest and hunt, collect masks, and perform rituals. The game shifts at a nice pace as your turns unfold although turns are a bit longer later in the game as upgraded tiles have more options. I was very happy with Wendake and can’t wait to play more!
Matt T - Gentes
Gentes is a 2017 civilisation game for one to four players from Spielworxx. I have just received my deluxe Kickstarter copy and it has been hitting the table a lot. Putting the deluxe components aside, the gameplay is solid, super tight and full to the brim of interesting choices.
Gentes is a Latin word for groups of humans, like a tribe or a nation. In Gentes players take on the role of an ancient group of people who are developing buildings, monuments and colonising new cities in the Mediterranean sea. It is a civilisation game with a very interesting and innovative time mechanism. Players will be collecting cards, training/educating people in their civilisation, as well as building cities, monuments and buildings all in an effort to gain victory points.
The action tile selection and the costs associated (money and time) is a very interesting mechanism which I just love. Players place their action tiles along with the required time on the time track of their player board. Once the time track is full no more actions can be taken that round. So, the more time that is used the less actions that a player will have. The more money that is spent on an action, the less time it takes. This mechanism makes for some very tough and interesting choices. It really elevates that game and adds something different and unique I have not seen in other games before. The push and pull of money vs time runs through the whole game and it is sublime.
City building also gives players some interesting options. Build them all in the same region and you get a bonus every time you build in that region. Spread them out across multiple regions and you get a bonus for a city in every region at the end of the round. There are also action modifier spaces/cards which give you additional benefits and other bonuses from cards all to be taken in to account.
The game offers a lot of choices and paths, yet the rules are simple to understand. It doesn’t feel like a complex game, but it does burn your brain at times and I love it. This is going to hit the table a lot both at home and in my gaming group.
Tom H - Amerigo
There are some board games where, in the midst of the action, you catch yourself grinning like Jack Nicholson’s Joker, circa 1989. Not because the reams of rules or mechanisms have driven you insane, but because you realise you’re having a whale of a time. That this game is a-maze-ing.
Last month, I was fortunate enough to experience the aforementioned smile when playing Amerigo. Now on paper, this is a Euro-style game by Stefan Feld and yes, there are elements of points salad going on here (as in, you score points all over the show). Feld’s Euros, by some, are considered a tad dry, but Amerigo has an ace in the hole.
It’s a dice tower. Not a standard one, though – this tower has shelves within, shaped in such a nature that components – in this case, action cubes – get stuck in it. Trapped, even. But that’s the whole point… What gets thrown in, isn’t guaranteed to tumble out. Cubes can and will nudge other cubes – tossed in earlier – to fall, instead. It’s akin to a madcap two-penny machine you find down the pier.
The point of this tower is to create an array of actions that are available to each player that turn. There are seven different colour cubes, each representing an action, and seven of each colour (49 in total). Essentially, cubes are dropped into the tower and whichever ones make it out represent the actions that can be taken by everyone and the quantity, according to the largest colour group.
Creating randomness for actions takes many forms – the decks of cards in Welcome To…, for example – but none are anywhere near as riveting as listening to cubes rattle down a rickety tower. I’m still grinning, thinking of it now.
Ryan H - Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition
After owning the game for 18 months, I finally managed to get Twilight Imperium Third Edition to the table. This is a space-themed 4X game, not unlike the Civilization video game series. Here, you’re tasked with expanding your empire, wielding both diplomacy and space vessels to wrestle control over the galaxy. This game is renowned for its long play time, which, for us, reached the seven-hour mark in a modest three-player session.
This game has become my game of the month if only due to the attached excitement of finally getting to play this monster. In addition to that, this was also a very unique experience - a galactic marathon that I’m keen to run again. The politics and backstabbing was rife, even with our low player count, but I imagine this thrives with 5-6 players.
This was a tense game, but required a full day-in - hence why it was so difficult to get to the table. Components were plenty, including dozens of miniatures, tokens, player mats and more. This game offers plenty of depth and is an experience that any hobbyist board gamer should have the opportunity to enjoy.
That said, I do have an aching gripe with the game that I just can’t shake. Fantasy Flight Games have spoilt us with a plethora of components, requiring a box almost twice the size of my other board games to contain it all, and yet the Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition comes with zero storage solutions; no bags, no dividers, nothing. This is truly rage-inducing stuff that somewhat sours the whole experience and is going to make next session’s set-up an exercise of expletives and stress eating.
Still, the experience was very memorable and my qualms are completely overshadowed by my relief of finally sliding my glorious fleet of plastic invaders across a hexagonal galaxy of conquest and intrigue. I can’t wait to play again.