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What We’ve Been Playing June 2020

WWBP June 2020 Feature

Our bloggers don't let lockdown stop the gaming! What games have they been playing in the last month?

Louis Noble

With lockdown continuing for another month, June did not bring about many changes to my gaming, although a new game crept into the fold, and was very well received. As well as introducing some of the variations to Vindication, we have also been playing more of the chronicles in Glen More II, and Nova Luna has been played rather a lot…

I wrote last month about Vindication, so there is not an awful lot to add to this, although it continues to be a success. I can’t wait to give this a go at higher player counts, especially with some of the additional modules included. These help to keep the game feeling fresh, and can add an awful lot of variety to what is, after all, a fairly straightforward game, at its core.

Glen More II: Chronicles is another game which adds value by having add-on modules straight out of the box. Not only is Glen More II an improvement over the original game, with improved mechanisms, and the addition of the clan board to add more variety, but there are also eight chronicles in the box (which partly explain why it is so big). Each of these functions like a mini-expansion, adding a small mechanism to the game. Several could be integrated at once, but we have been enjoying adding in just one at a time.

Finally Nova Luna. This is such a simple game, simple to explain, simple to learn. But it is surprising how difficult the decisions can be. Nova Luna is a straightforward tile laying game… take a tile, place it in your play area. But each tile has a number of tasks on it which relate to the surrounding ties. When a task has been completed (i.e. it has the right tiles surrounding it) it is considered completed, and a player disk is placed on top. The game ends when a player has placed their final disk, and they are declared the winner. Surprisingly easy, surprisingly challenging. Highly recommended.

Kirsty Hewitt

A few months ago, on this site, I admitted that I had never played Everdell. I can happily say, thanks to the persuasion of my fellow blogger Tom, I have remedied this! Everdell is a worker placement game with a woodland creature theme. It looks great on the table. During the game you are sending your creatures out to collect resources in order to attract critters to your village, and to build various constructions. You obtain more workers as you progress through the seasons enabling you to build up your tableau of cards. I look forward to playing Everdell more over the coming months.

Targi, one of our lesser played games, made it to the table. It is probably the heaviest two player only games and so can get overlooked. Both my husband and I quickly remembered how much we enjoy the game. It has a twist on worker placement. You place your workers around the edge of the board and gain the benefit from the card they are placed on. You also gain the cards where the paths of two of your workers cross. This twist is what makes Targi a little heavier but also is a unique (for us) mechanism which I find really fascinating.

We have also played a few games of Grand Austria Hotel. In Grand Austria Hotel you are trying to meet your guests culinary demands so they will then spend the night in your hotel. During the game you draft dice from a central pool. The value of the dice determines what action you can take. The guests also have bonuses on them, when you complete them not only can you complete a room in your hotel, you may also gain extra food or prepare another room. This leads to some very satisfying chains of actions.

Nathan Coombs

The month of June has seen a few new games appear. The kids obviously know that I prefer games rather than socks for Father’s Day. One super surprise was Blue Lagoon. Just looking at the gorgeous front cover puts me in into the world of Disney’s Moana. I can almost taste the salty air, feel the sea breezes and hear the wind in the palm trees. This game is all about area control of the South Pacific Islands. It is a type of puzzle and a typical Reiner Knizia design. (In my opinion he is the master of the abstract genre).

It is a game for two to four players and has two distinct phases. The initial goal is to explore by sea and colonise as many islands as possible. Bonuses are awarded depending on the resources claimed, number of islands visited and who has the largest population on different lands. This part of the game allows you to place up to five gorgeous little huts onto the newly discovered islands. These cute tokens show the attention to detail made by Blue Orange Games in its manufacture. The second phase involves exploration from the newly established dwellings (rather than by sea). Bonus points are awarded in a similar way.

With a limited number of movement counters and quite a tight map, there is a constant battle for control. One player’s tokens can easily block the expansion of another player. This will make the achieving of some bonus points more difficult. This game is such fun with three or four. The challenge of the game is to consider which areas are worth pursuing, especially if the others are all competing for the same spot.

There was a mathematician called John Nash who devised Game Theory where individuals may think it be better going for the second best option with what seems to be better odds of success. Blue Lagoon is all about trying to see what others might try to achieve and to see if it is worth competing with them or even pursue other avenues for greater success.

This has been a great addition to our collection and the kids did well in the choice.

Joe Packham

June has been a lonesome month for me gaming wise! Sick of poxy pandemics and lousy lockdowns I’ve jumped with reckless abandon into the mysterious world of solo gaming!

Garphill Games have appeared a fair amount on my table in June. Having recently received Architects of the West Kingdom I set about battling the AI ‘Constantine’ for the title of most prestigious builder in the kingdom. The solo game utilises a deck of scheme cards which tell you what actions to take on Constantine's behalf. The scheme deck is so simple and doesn’t require learning a new rule set but it does an incredible job of simulating a 2 player game.

I also discovered this month that another fantastic Garphill Game, Raiders of the North Sea, which didn’t originally have a solo mode received a solo deck mini expansion a while ago. My excitement was soon tempered by the discovery it was practically impossible to get hold of now, being out of print. But this rollercoaster ride was not done yet! There’s an app that simulates the solo deck! It was £1.99 and worked much the same as the schemes deck in Architects, that’s to say it works very well indeed. Now I can play Raiders, one of my all time favourite worker placement games solo, and I’m pleased as punch!

Another highlight of my lonesome month was Sierra West. The excellent ‘Hastings Cut-off’ solo deck is finally letting me explore this brain burner of a multi moduled masterpiece in all its western themed glory. There are so many mechanisms at play in this game but all the modules revolve around the same card slotting trail building puzzle that’s challenging and satisfying in equal measure. If you’re looking for a really unique euro experience that’s unlike all the other games on your shelf, Sierra West is definitely worth a look.

Thom Newton

I’ve actually managed to play a surprising variety of games this month considering we’re all still locked up inside at the moment. The month started out with me playing a prototype of a little abstract game called Nava. It’s coming to kickstarter later this year and I wrote a first impressions piece about it over on the Zatu blog. It is one of those games which is surprisingly simple to pick up but offers a good depth of strategy once you get in to it.

This month I also had a few Kickstarter games show up now the distribution chains are starting to creak back into motion. First on the table was the new Underworld Expansion to Root. This expansion adds two crafty new factions into the forestry war game, the Underground Duchy and the Corvid Conspiracy. There are also two new maps which add new mechanics as well. I played a few solo games against the new faction bots and had a really great time. Root is a game that thrives on the number of combinations of its factions and with eight factions and four maps there are plenty of combinations to be had now.

Next up, Project: Elite also got delivered this month so I have been giving that a try. This is a really intense real time dice rolling combat game where you will be looking to complete objectives against a tight turn limit. I’ve really been enjoying this so far and I still feel like there is a lot to discover with this game.

Solar Storm is a nice small little co-op game about trying to repair a damaged spaceship before it crashes into the sun. I quite enjoyed this; I was reminded a little of Pandemic while I played it but this smallbox game comes in in a quick 20-30 minutes. It’s really enjoyable and the game is well paced as you never feel entirely in control of the situation, but it also never feels hopeless.

Lastly, I’ve been playing an app assisted deduction game called The Search for Planet X. In this game you are trying to locate the mysterious planet X by using the logical rules of the way certain celestial bodies interact. It is a really good game that I am terrible at but I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anybody who enjoys a logical puzzle.

Matt T

As the UK is still in lockdown, playing games with my gaming group has been non-existent. However, I am lucky that my wife plays a lot of games with me & I have some fantastic solo games to keep me entertained. 

Aeon's End is still hitting my table a lot at the moment. I love the replay-ability in this game, the varied Mages you can play, varied market set up and varied nemesis deck means the game will play differently each time. The game is great for a solo game but also plays very well multiplayer. A deck builder with no shuffling of the deck makes for some interesting game play moments and cool card combos.  

I have also been playing Scythe. Scythe is an engine building, resource management game for 1-5 players. Scythe also has a lot of replay-ability with the various player powers and faction boards. I also like the action selection mechanism and the engine building "bottom action" that can be performed.  Although there is combat in the game, it is not a combat heavy game. There are multiple ways to earn stars and you can go a whole game without any combat. Scythe feels like a unique game and a game that has a lot of depth to it despite its "relatively" easy rule set. It is quickly rising as my favourite Stonemaier Game but only time will tell if it topples Viticulture. 

Another game that I have recently got is The City of Kings. This is a cooperative, fantasy RPG where  players take on the role of a character exploring the lands, fighting monsters, completing quests, using workers to gather resources and crafting items. The game comes with shorter scenarios and longer multi chapter stories. The game feels like a video RPG with a very interesting tech tree and each character having different skills to unlock. There are nine different stats you can upgrade including your character health, attack, heal and range (to name a few) as well as stats for your workers. Combat feels very deterministic, there are no dice for combat resolution and going in swords swinging is not always the best approach. Each scenario and story feels different and there is so much content in the game that I can't wait to delve in and see what it has to offer. The designer Frank West also has some additional scenarios released on the City of Games website.