I’m a huge fan of Carcassonne having the base game with many expansions as well as the Star Wars edition and Hunters & Gatherers (my all-time favourite board game). It’s only logical to want to add this latest edition to my collection.
The beauty of Carcassonne is that each differently themed edition has some subtle different rules (not to mention different artwork), these rule adjustments make significantly different impacts on gameplay. You could be forgiven for thinking they are all the same but they really are not. This edition, Mists over Carcassonne, probably has the biggest rule change I’ve ever seen in that it has become cooperative. That’s a challenge for me to get my head around as Carcassonne is so ferociously competitive. I mean, it is a board game tournament regular because of how highly competitive it is. So, the intrigue of playing Carcassonne with my fellow players instead of against them fills me full of excitement. I have really got on board with cooperative board games in recent years and enjoyed all I have been introduced so I can only hope this Carcassonne delivers there in being another enjoyable cooperative game.
From reading a little about it, the set has also maintained it’s traditional play of turn over and play a tile, lay a meeple, build a score, but it is a joint score against the game. There are then different levels of difficulty which may the cooperative challenge that much harder. There are also some ghosts! What more could you want?
This month I’ve added a couple of larger games to my wish list. I’ve got stacks of lightweight card games, shelves full of mid-weight boxes, but I only own a handful of games that I would classify as “heavy-weight”. I’m talking about games that take hours to play and need a snack break in the middle. Games that have so many components that you have to extend your gaming table to fit them on.
First up is the economic strategy game Brass: Birmingham. Set during the Industrial Revolution players must buy, sell and build as they work to expand their industrial empire. I’ve watched a few videos and as a fan of strategy games this seems like a satisfyingly complex game. Successful gameplay relies on careful planning and ruthless strategy, both of which I’m terrible at, but that doesn’t stop me loving those types of games. Also, I have lived in the East Midlands for nearly a decade so it seems fitting that I add a game set in Birmingham to my collection.
The second game I’ve got my eye on is Nemesis. Alien is one of my all-time favorite movies (followed closely by Alien), while Betrayal at House on the Hill is one of my favorite games - therefore it is no surprise that a game which combines sci-fi and survival horror is high on my wish list. Each player takes control of a character waking up from hyper sleep, then they must navigate a desolate ship and complete objectives, all while avoiding deadly intruders. This game has great production value, complex semi co-operative gameplay, and outstanding story mechanics. Combine all of that with the long play time and I have a feeling that Nemesis will more than satisfy my latest desire for a “heavy-weight” game.
You know when you go to a restaurant and you’re torn between two dishes? One is healthy, full of vitamins and minerals and low in carbs, and it’s probably the one that you should choose. But the other one tempts you with a calorie count so high that it carries a health warning and is only served to adults who sign a waiver. Faced with this choice, I am forced to choose both! My rationale is that the goodness of the first helps to offset the guilt of the second. The same holds true with my wish list. The game that I should get is Earth. It plays between 1 and 4 players between 45 and 90 minutes and it looks gorgeous. At it’s core, it’s a tableau building card game, with pictures of plants, animals and terrains. All the pictures are real life photos and there is a great consistency of theme to the production. You could describe it as Terraforming Mars meets Wingspan, and for some people, this game may be too similar to those games. There are many ways to score points, and the game play makes it very easy to bring to the table. This is the healthy option!
However, the game I will choose (if I could only have one) has to be Heat: Pedal to the Metal. It’s important to point out that one of the designers of this game is Asger Harding Granerud, who also designed Flamme Rouge. Flamme Rouge is a great cycling themed card game (plays 2-4 in under 45 minutes, but is really best at 4) where everyone begins with the same set of cards, and the secret to victory is playing those cards in the most efficient way. Heat takes Flamme Rouge and gives it a turbo boost. First, a very good solo mode has been introduced. Second, rather than just having one race, the “Championship System” allows you to have a racing season in one game night, with drivers being able to customize their cars before each race. It’s important to point out that although you can trace the origins of Heat to Flamme Rouge, the mechanics are different (thanks to the input from Daniel Skjold Pedersen, the other game designer). While Flamme Rouge is about programming your actions, Heat is more about keeping the right balance as you take those actions. Obviously, you need to control your speed, but now you have to manage heat (stress, weather conditions, etc). Some people will prefer Flamme Rouge because it’s quicker. Others will prefer Heat because it offers a more realistic race experience. Do I need to say that I have a weak spot for racing games?
ZATU have a very helpful feature on their website where you can put games on your personal Wishlist. Currently I have 34 items on said feature so that gives me less than 10 words an item! However 19 are Wargame items and I’ll leave that for another day. So what of the 15 Boardgame related items?
Well some are add-ons to games I already have like: Encounters for Scythe or Expedition Leaders for Arnak and some are expansions of games that I got because they were well-recommended in the “games that seemed too dear” article like the Spreading War and Shadow Paths expansions for Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth (thank you Dan Butterworth!).
But the top of my list at the moment is Gillian Lee’s pick for the “Top 5 Solo Experiences from lesser known games”: Earth.
First off Earth looks fabulous with an enormous number of full-colour photographic cards of varied flora, fauna and biomes from around the world. You build these into a 4x4 grid on which you put your sprouts and build up tall trees that have a canopy on top for maximum cuteness. Earth is card driven and there are four different actions you can take: Planting, Composting, Watering and Growing. Composting is worth a mention for this where you put unwanted cards to get re-cycled and improve your soil. How green is that!
Game play is generous in that when you take an action everyone else gets to do the same action as well, just not quite as much as you. It’s one of those games that, win or lose, everyone feels great about the better world they’ve created. There’s a whole point salad (appropriately enough) of ways to score but is that really the main thing?
A lovely looking game and a lovely playing game. I can’t wait to save the planet!
I’ve been fortunate to play a few new games recently, most notably Lords of Ragnarok which is a nice new variant of Lords of Hellas. Mosaic has also hit the table but a game I’ve only managed to play once before and was keen to play again was Kemet. It’s been on my wishlist as I remembered the Egyptian theme and great player interaction. There seems to be a theme running here, I do like strategy games rich in theme.
I discovered that an updated version, called Kemet: Blood and Sand was out and so amongst a couple of others purchases in Res Arcana and Doppelt So Clever I had some new games to play. It can be quite difficult to get games to the table but thankfully, in my board game group we are good and getting new games to the table whilst occasionally enjoying a blast from the past.
I was able to play Kemet: Blood and Sand recently then and I was impressed. The components are good quality, the monster miniatures look ripe for painting and they are very nice trays and player boards.
In terms of game play, I really liked the way the game forces players to compete and rewards those who succeed in winning battles and maintaining area controls. You can acquire upgrades and new abilities through the power tiles and there is the great Egyptian theme. A note on strategy though, the game can suddenly progress quite quickly towards the endgame, so no time for holding back.
I suspect the game is better with more players although that will mean more competition for those precious fame points that are required for victory. Time will tell, but I’m hoping to get another play very soon…