Strap yourself in. It’s time for another installment of Hits & Flops. Hits & Flops is one of this blog’s many examples of journalistic malpractice. We play a game once or a just a few times. We make a snap judgement about the game. Then I blog about it here. This month’s installment will include many newer releases such as Through the Ages, Raptor and 7 Wonders Duel.
1. Star Wars: Rebellion
This one should not surprise those of you who read my last blog post where I reviewed Star Wars: Rebellion. Those who read that post were surprised however.
I played Star Wars: Rebellion eight times now. So it’s not really a case of hit-and-run journalism. I gave Star Wars: Rebellion an ample amount of chances. In the last game of it, I lost. In the second round. After playing almost perfectly.
It’ll be a while before I salve that wound. Until then: FLOP!
2. 7 Wonders: Duel
The Muskegon Area Gamers were introduced to 7 Wonders at a gaming event in GR several years ago. Despite having diverse gaming tastes, 7 Wonders has been one of the few games almost everyone liked.
7 Wonders is a simple card drafting game. All you do is draft cards. Card drafting is a cool mechanic that works for 3+ player games. When I heard about 7 Wonders: Duel, a new two player game, I was very skeptical.
And yet, the authors ( Antoine Bauza and Bruno Cathala) managed to capture the card drafting and the feel of 7 Wonders and somehow put it into a two player game. Cards are placed in a pyramid shape with some face down and others face up. You “draft” them by selecting from the available cards, i.e. no other cards on top of it. This simple mechanic gives you the feel of drafting that the regular game has.
And the scoring mechanics are roughly the same. You collect resources, sets of cards, etc. and score them. But the game has two other ways of winning. You can win with science or by military. So you might be racking up big points but your opponent can get an auto-win if he gets too far ahead of you in science or war.
7 Wonders: Duel: a hit!
Bruno Cathala also designed Raptor. Raptor is a new game from Matagot Games. Players take on the role of either a mama raptor trying to protect her babies or a team of scientists trying to capture the mama.
Players play a card. Cards are numbered from 1 to 9. Each player has their own such deck. If you played the lower card, you will take the special action on the card. If you played the larger card, you can take actions such as attack or move.
The raptors win if they kill all the scientists or if three babies escape. The scientists win if they kill the mama or if they capture three babies.
The game plays in about 30 minutes. Set up is quick. And the game has surprising depth. I’ve played with my doting wife several times. She’s a big Jurassic Park fan so this game is up her alley. Plus the regulars at The Gaming Annex also are fans. It’s been a big HIT!
4. Through the Ages (new edition)
Dusty has been the champion of Through the Ages. This game is right up his alley: card drafting, heavy economics and several micro decisions instead of one or two macro decisions on your turn.
He tried to get us to play the original version several times with varying degrees of success. The game didn’t click. Other games like Clash of Cultures which is a plasticky civ builder overshadowed it. Dusty picked up the new version, hoping this one would resonate with us.
And it does. At least with me. I can see the brilliance of this game design. You have several action points to spend on your turn. You can spend them drafting cards, playing cards, turning your population into a worker or assigning a worker to a task. There’s a lot of heaviness. But once you get past it, it’s a solid game. I’m not good at it. But I admit it’s a good game.
5. Sun Tzu
Matagot Games reprinted Dynasties. It’s new name is Sun Tzu. The theme is the same. You and your opponent places soldiers onto a board and try to score different regioins of China.
Players have their own decks of cards. You place your cards, numbered from 1 to 6, onto a region. Then you resolve them. The player who played the highest value places soldiers in that region equal to the difference in the values.
As with most Matagot Games, the components are nice. The game comes with several plastic armies. The cardboard tiles are thick and sturdy.
But the game play left something to be desired. We felt like you were more or less randomly playing cards. It’s like playing War. Whoever played the highest card wins the trick. But here whoever plays the highest card places influence (soldiers) in that region. Regions score every three game rounds.
There must be some strategy here that I am missing. But as of this writing, this game was a swing-and-a-miss.
6. Empires: Age of Discovery
I saw the upgraded version of Age of Empires III on boardgamegeek. I new I had to own it. The components were awesome. And the theme is great: the Age of Imperialism.
As I stated in a different post, the Muskegon Area Gamers had tried Glenn Drover’s Age of Empires III several years ago. I thought it was mediocre. But Jon hated it. So much.
So the game never got played again.
I decided to try the game out again. I picked up a copy with my Speedy reward points. I handed the game to John Sima’s boy. I sure as hell wasn’t going to read the rules. About a week later, the game hit the table.
I don’t remember much about the original edition. But this new edition has hit its stride with our group. It’s got a good mix of tactics and strategy. The tactics: the top area of the game board where you get stuff now. This includes placing colonists in the New World or gaining a trade good. The strategy: setting yourself up for next turn by gaining a specialist, or waging war.
The rules are very straight forward. I almost didn’t need John’s son to read them. And yet the game has a unique feel every time I play it. Plus the game scales decently . With three players, four or up to six–the game plays fine. It’s longer with more players, but it still plays good with that many.
Empires: Age of Discovery has been a big HIT!
7. Tides of Time
Tides of Time is a clever two player game. It’s a card drafting game that is played over three game rounds. You score points by collecting sets of cards. Cards come in several suits. And each card has a scoring bonus listed on it.
Your goal is to collect cards that will score you more points than your opponent. After the first round of the game (after you play five cards), you can keep one of your cards, remove another from the game and then you reshuffle the rest of the cards. This happens three times.
The reset that happens between game round 1 and two and the one between game round 2 and 3 is innovative. You have some strategic considerations to make along with the tactical card drafting. And the game can be played in a mere 15 minutes.
But the game didn’t click with me. I didn’t hate it. I just didn’t think it was great fun like Raptor or 7 Wonders: Duel. The theme is totally pasted on. And the decisions didn’t feel compelling like they did in Raptor or 7 Wonders: Duel. I’ll play Tides of Time again I am sure. But my verdict for now is UNDECIDED.
8. Where the Hits & Flops get played