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Games of the Month – June 2019

Games of the Month - Spacecorp

After a month away, the blogging team make their collaborative return. Today, they share their games of the month for the mugging month of June!

Matt T - Tiny Towns

One thing that I like about board games is how a designer can create such an interesting and thinky game from a simple set of rules. Tiny Towns falls squarely into this category and therefore is my game of the month. The rules are simple and easy to teach, yet mastering the game is not so easy.

In Tiny Towns, players are gathering resources to place them on their player board and match a specific pattern on a building card. If a player matches this pattern, they can remove all the resources from their board and place the building. Different buildings score in different ways and some work in conjunction with other buildings. Any space that does not have a building on at the end of the game gives you negative points.

On a player’s turn they pick a resource (wheat, wood, brick, glass or stone) and every player then places that resource on their player board. All players then check to see if they have matched a building pattern and build the respective building on one of the spaces that was occupied by the relevant resources. That's it.

The game comes in to its own when you look at how the buildings score. Each building scores differently. Some don’t score at all (I’m looking at you Farm) but provide a means for other buildings to score. The Farm feeds up to four Cottages. Cottages only score if they are fed. So, if you build Cottages and don’t feed them with a Farm you will score nothing and take up valuable real estate in your town for other buildings. Other players have their plans and will call out resources that you don’t require, but you must place it, and adapt your strategy and placement based on what you are given.

Tiny Towns is an abstract puzzle about optimisation, tactical decisions and thinking on your feet about how best to score. The game comes with four different buildings for each of the six building types, giving players a fair amount of replay-ability from game to game. It also comes with 16 different monument cards which are specific to a player and only they can build. It is easy to teach, fast playing and a great game and one that I highly recommend.

Andy P - Roll Player

I’ve had an interest in Roll Player ever since a friend brought it to one of our Gloomhaven sessions in 2018. At the time, I thought better of buying my own copy, both down to price (I was studying full-time at the time) and whether it would see table time given we were neck-deep in a sprawling campaign game. 18 months on, and a fortuitous find at UKGE saw me pick this up, and I haven’t put it down since.

Roll Player does something not a lot of games have been able to accomplish. It provides me with a grand multiplayer experience as well as a fulfilling solo experience. I’ve played the game four times in the past month, with equal parts solo and multiplayer experiences, and barring one bad rules goof I’ve had a whale of a time with the system. So much so that I ordered the Monsters & Minions expansion not long after buying the base game. This was swiftly followed by the promo cards and playmat.

It’s not so much the gameplay that sets it apart for me (it’s nothing new if you’re a fan of Sagrada, for example). It’s the fact that I can create my own character with their own tools, quirks and experiences and enjoy the experience.

Gameplay flows once you’re familiar with the motions. Even adding the Monsters and Minions modules adds little to the complexity. All in all, it’s a solid experience. Whilst it's not game-breaking in its mechanics, it is presented in lovingly-crafted full detail from its art to its components. I have a feeling (and hope) this one will be a firm favourite with me for years to come, and with the Fiends & Familiars expansion on Kickstarter currently, I’ve every reason to be excited for Roll Player’s future.

Neil B - Spacecorp 2025-2300AD

As the summer holidays approach, opportunities to play multiplayer games are decreasing. A perfect opportunity to dive into the world of solitaire gaming! Many multiplayer games now feature solo variants and, this month, one game has stood head and shoulders above the others: Spacecorp 2025–2300AD.

Both designer, John Butterfield, and publisher, GMT, are known for creating complex war games with robust solitaire variants. That Spacecorp has an excellent solo mode is unsurprising. What is perhaps a little surprising is that Spacecorp is both accessible and has no conflict at all.

Taking place across three eras, Spacecorp depicts the initial tentative steps towards first reaching, and then colonising, the stars. It is a sprawling epic of exploration and discovery. A 4X game without the Extermination element.

Each era has a separate game board and era specific components depict new technologies. Adaptation to life in space to life in space brings significant advantages in the race to be first to the farthest reaches of the galaxy.

As the game progresses, evolving mechanics represent real world space travel issues. For example, background radiation hazards and exponentially increasing distances.

The result is an enthralling experience that blends hand management, resource gathering, and strategic planning. It’s a game that starts simply and layers new concepts slowly and logically, drawing you into its rich theme.

Spacecorp uses fully developed artificial opponent rules to bring this theme to life for the solo player. Replicating the challenge of playing against several other players, the ‘Competition’ will keep me entertained for many games to come.

And when my group finally gets back together after the holidays the multiplayer game awaits. I am very much looking forward to it!

Liam Best - Race for the Galaxy

With popular engine-builders such as Wingspan and Res Arcana being all the rage at the moment, I decided to revisit one of my old favourites this month; Race for the Galaxy. You begin with a single planet, and quickly build-up your tableu into an empire!

Each round you'll choose one of seven actions (or two of them in the superb two-player variant). These will represent the actions that everyone is taking that round, with a small bonus for the player who choose the action. These vary from drawing new cards representing various alien planets and cool technologies, 'settling' planets or 'developing' technologies allowing you to place them out on the table and produce goods on your planets which you can later trade for points, among other things.

Race for the Galaxy is one of the smartest games I've played recently. Every decision matters and the ability to out-think your opponents is really going to put you ahead. For example, one of my favourite mechanisms here is that in order play a card from your hand, you're going to have to discard a certain number of other cards equal to its cost. This means that every time you want to play a planet you have to decide which cards you think might or might not be useful to you in the future.

The game is also lightning-fast for how much depth there is. Once you've got your head around the symbology, games can take as little as 20 minutes with two or three experienced players. But the game never feels like it's gone too fast. When you manage to navigate your hand of cards in such a way that you can play just the right planets and combo those with the perfect technologies to score well, it feels supremely satisfying.

It may not be new, but it was certainly my game of the month. Race for the Galaxy is the very definition of 'an oldie but a goodie'. "

Ryan H - Fog of Love

After a close battle with the much popular Catan, the prize best game this month is awarded to Fog of Love. This brave title ventures into the unexplored theme of romantic comedy. Here, you will take the role of one of the participants in a hopeful pairing. Are you destined for love? Would you rather stay true to yourself or remain doting to your partner? Perhaps your traits simply don’t align with a symbiotic partnership, and manipulation and heartbreak were always on the cards? Regardless, the potential for an exciting journey together completely masks the initial reluctance I had towards the rom-com genre.

The tutorial talks you through your first session, seamlessly integrated into the several decks you use throughout play. Admittedly, I found the first scenario a little dry when compared to the later dramatic experiences that the game doled out in my most recent play.

Here, the relationship with my housemate began slightly rocky, marred by small disagreements and misaligned expectations. Soon, our satisfaction grew as we became more familiar and attuned to the preferences of the other. Then, impulsivity got the better of me.

My partner’s friend was visiting. It all started with a little flirting, but soon it evolved into so much more. This event was a turning point in our journey. My partner became suspicious and jaded. I pledged that I would change, and my apologies appeared accepted. However, as further revelations about my past came to light, our future together became unlikely. Despite appeasing my partner’s demands, the damage was already done. One year after our first date, we went our separate ways.

Not only did we both have a great time, with laughs and in-jokes, our session was such a rollercoaster. Based on my experience, this is absolutely a game that you need to try. There is a reason this has been so acclaimed by all my favourite reviewers. Check it out!

Tom G - Villagers

Villagers, from Sinister Fish Games, is a release that has been met with a fantastic reception. Players have been praising its quick playtime but satisfying game time. I managed to pick up a copy at UKGE. After a couple of games, I could see I was going to be hooked pretty early on.

The game focuses around a devastating plague that destroyed much of the civilisation. You, the player, will take on the role of a Founder. It is your job to rebuild your village by utilising the unique skills of travellers and townsfolk passing by on the road.

Each villager will have a bonus or benefit and it is up to the player to utilise this and create a village that will become the most prosperous. There are two steps to each turn, with players drafting and playing cards from their hand. Players can increase their draft amount by playing villagers offering that ability, the same with playing villagers. Throughout the game, you will draft cards from either the face-up road cards or from the face-down stacks that act much like a turn track, with two stages at which scoring will happen.

The thing I love about Villagers is the quick play time. Initially, I thought that I would be completely unsatisfied with only 20 minutes of play. However, the fluid gameplay and satisfying mechanics work well together. Therefore, you have a great game that plays in no time at all and you will feel fulfilled by the end as well!