Well, UKGE is nearly upon us and so begins the merry season of ‘I promise I won’t do what I did last yea… IS THAT THE NEW UNDAUNTED?’ So many games, so little money/space/time/friends…
Curiously enough, though I mentioned Undaunted in my whimsical intro, Undaunted: Battle of Britain is not on my wish list – I know, right? This is only due to the fact that one of my friends (yes, I have more than one – surprising, eh) is getting it for our ‘the kids are playing D&D, what shall we do?’ sessions. So far we are making our way through North Africa, so we are looking forward to our campaign taking to the skies.
I do have my eye on a couple of things, though – an expansion and a small box game (see the comment about little money/space etc.).
The expansion is to the not-really-a-follow-up game Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition. This streamlined yet still crunchy little card-based wonder has received a bit of a renaissance in in my gaming group and I am, amazingly, actually getting better at it. Eager to exert my dominance amidst my acquaintances (see the ‘little friends comment), I’d love to have a crack at ramping it up to five or six players and throwing in a few new ways of making those sweet, sweet victory points. It also has a co-op mode, but there you go.
Now I am a sucker for a cute game; I’m a sucker for a small box game. Spots is both. It’s a push your luck dice game where you try to roll a certain amount of dice to match the spots on your dogs. Every dice you can’t match goes into the dog pound. When there are six dice in the pound, you bust out and lose all the dogs you have scored in that round. The dogs are adorable; the box is smol; I am sold.
One of the best thing about my Boardgame wish list is that it keeps growing no matter how many games I manage to get. My most recent addition is Paleo, a cooperative survival game set in the Stone Age with some nice mechanics. Although it shares the same prehistoric set-up of other newer and perhaps more famous games, Paleo was first released in 2020 while new expansions appeared on the shelves every year till today.
In Paleo, each player controls some humans that can only be kept alive by feeding them each turn during the night phase. Losing a human will generate a skull marker and the players will lose the game if they collect five of them. During the day phase of the same turn, players can explore a small deck of location cards to farm food and other resources. Some cards offer multiple options/rewards if the humans exploring the location have a certain skill or a tool. Most important, a few cards will present a great challenge that can reward the players with one among the five pieces of a cave mural they need to complete in order to win.
I had a chance to play this game for the first time a few weeks back together with some friends and it was love at first sight. One aspect that quickly pops-up while playing Paleo is that you need to farm as much food as possible to prevent your humans from dying. At the same time, all the cards that provide food are discarded once used. The longer humans survives then, the less the food you can farm and the most likely is for them to die. I love this timing mechanics as it forces players to find a way to win as quickly as possible making each games a very tense race for survival.
I've been a fan of Lord of the Rings for some two decades and a fan of Lord of the Rings board games for almost as long. Reiner Knizia's Lord of the Rings is one of the games I credit for my descent into board gaming, and it remains one of my favourites despite being somewhat outdated.
It will come as no surprise then that I’m a big fan of War of the Ring. It’s a game that captures the epic scope of the Lord of the Rings books, but at the cost of being difficult to get to (and fit on) the table. So when I heard there was going to be a card game version of it, I knew I would have to give it a try.
WotR: the Card Game is intended to deliver a similar narrative experience to its miniature-laden counterpart, but is shorter, smaller and quicker to set up. This is a pretty big selling point. Much as I love WotR, the idea of having mostly the same game but with less time investment is definitely appealing to me. It also has better three- and four-player support compared to WotR, and plans for a 5-6 player expansion.
On top of all this it features a bunch of new artwork. Artists include legendary Tolkien illustrator John Howe, who also worked on the art for the original WotR. So the game really looks the part.
With my birthday coming up soon, I hope that Zatu gets this game back in stock before long. I’m really keen to see whether it actually manages to pay off on its promises.
My wishlist has been a bit light of late after getting A BUNCH of new games over Christmas. But having been to Airecon recently, and with the wind up to UKGE on the horizon, a few new games have made their way onto the wishlist. Firstly it seems like HEAT: Pedal to the Metal is now more available, and this has rocketed up the wants list after we have played a bunch of Downforce lately. This is a racing game with a bit more bite to it, we generally play Downforce with kids in the family mode, which is definitely a light game but the element of racing will always be fun. HEAT seems to promise to be a heavier twist on the racing game with management of your gears and engine heat to prevent spin outs. Definitely something I want to get to the table.
A perpetual sitter on the wishlist has been Space Base. My player 2 is a huge fan of this game, every time we play it he is in love with it, which is a great sign. There is no down time in this game, you can do things with the dice that other people throw on their turn. In this way it is quite similar to Machi Koro. This is a dice rolling, engine building game where you are trying to manage your money to maximise your points. You need to build a good engine, but don’t spend too long building it or you will be left behind in the points race!
I have my birthday coming up this month which always gives me an opportunity to look longingly at the Zatu website and think about what gaps there might be in my board game collection that I might be lucky enough to receive. Last year’s birthday haul was great, I got Viticulture: Essential edition, It’s A Wonderful Kingdom and Cascadia, all of which I’ve played a lot, particularly Cascadia which we even play with our three year old (minus any scoring)!
When I think about what I would most like this year, I think back to when I first started going to my local board game nights a couple of years ago, someone brought out a set of beige boards, a bunch of wooden cubes, and invited me to the table mentioning something about German merchants. This looked dull and uninspiring, but what was about to unfold was a game that I still think about now, a game that on the surface appears so simple but has layer upon layer of strategic depth to be unlocked. This game was Hansa Teutonica: Big Box (which includes all the previously released expansions), or 'Hansa' for short!
Now I was lucky enough to win that first game of Hansa Teutonica, and the only time I’ve played subsequently but both times left me thinking about what I could have done better or differently long after I played. I found Hansa Teutonica to be a game of such elegance and beauty, beneath its beige exterior, that when thinking about what would be top of my wish list this birthday I couldn’t think of anything else I would rather add to my collection. They say don’t judge a book by its cover and the same should definitely apply to games.