You know what we haven’t done in a long while? An installment of “hits & flops”. We have played many new games at The Gaming Annex in the past couple of months. There have been several letdowns. But there have also been a few surprises. Let’s take a look.
Recent Board Game Hits & Flops
1. Crimson Creek
Crimson Creek is quite bad. The game is supposed to evoke the dread and horror of an 80’s slasher film. Instead, it evokes the dread and horror of a poorly designed and implemented game.
Players take on the role of a classic horror trope such as geek or jock. Then players must determine which location is the AI’s hideout. Players move about a chintzy game board. Taking certain actions causes cards to be drawn from a deck. If enough axes are drawn, a random location is drawn and all players there are eliminated. Otherwise, players must trudge onward. If you figure it out which location is the AI’s hideout, you will survive until the 2nd phase of the game–otherwise you are eliminated and can instead play a better game like Camp Grizzly.
The deduction aspect of Crimson Creek is not really all that deductive. It’s like calling Battleship a game of deduction. You have to eliminate everything in order to get the solution.
The artwork was pretty good. It did help sell the the theme a bit. But there was no real sense of suspense or doom. You have to get lucky to win the game or you have to work together with the other players. But if you work together with the other players, there is no more decision making–the strategy is completely rote.
Red Dragon Inn: Battle For Greyport
Red Dragon Inn: Battle for Greyport is surprisingly good. I’m not a huge fan of cooperative games. But Battle for Greyport would be a rare exception, all the more surprising given that I’ve never played any of the Red Dragon Inn games.
Each player has a unique, specialized deck. Players work together, using their respective decks, to apply damage to bad guys. Each player takes a turn where they hire retainers, adding them to their deck. But when it’s another player’s turn, you are still engaged. The monsters attack every game round. So it’s advisable to play some of your cards to help crush the rampaging monsters.
Battle for Greyport is not a deep game from what I gather. But it does fill several areas in a player’s game collection. It’s Dungeons & Dragons friendly. If you have a few friends who play D&D, you could easily get them to play Battle for Greyport. Battle for Greyport introduces people to deckbuilding. And Battle for Greyport introduces people to coops. If any of these things apply to you, this game is a good fit.
Food Chain Magnate
Food Chain Magnate has taken boardgamegeek.com by storm. It’s now rated at #30 overall with a 8.2 rating. It’s artwork is highly stylized from the 1940’s and 1950’s ad campaigns. The components are mostly wooden, with bits for your cola, hamburgers and pizzas.
Food Chain Magnate is a heavy Euro. It’s rated 4.2 in weight at bgg. The game has lots of moving parts, tons of cards to choose from and lots of decisions to make. But it is a Euro. Thus it is low luck. In fact, the only randomness in the game determining the start player. After that, there is no randomness.
Food Chain Magnate is a procedural. This adds to the game’s length and heaviness. It’s what allows for the game’s lack of randomness. It’s also adds to the game’s learning curve.
I’ve had the chance to play it just once. And once is not enough to determine if it is a hit or a flop–especially given that Dusty blew us out of the water in that one play.
Sanssouci is your standard issue Euro. It’s a game with nice artwork, decent components and a tacked-on theme. It’s a drafting game that rewards efficiency.
All of these things make it a bad fit for my collection. Too many other games do these things already. Further, Sanssouci over stays its welcome, weighing in at 45 to 60 minutes.
Eminent Domain: Escalation
You may recall a recent blog post where I lamented getting rid of some games which I later decided to obtain again. One of those games was Tasty Minstrel Games’ Eminent Domain. I picked up the expansion: Escalation. I had the chance to give it a play with Jeremy (Scott) Pyne.
The game play for Eminent Domain sans the expansion is decent. It’s a cross between Dominion and Glory to Rome but with a new theme. It’s the deckbuilding of Dominion but the role following or dissenting of Glory to Rome. In space.
The expansion adds scenario cards. This allows players to have unique (asymmetrical) starting decks and technologies. There is also unique abilities for all the plastic ships in the game. These changes make the game fresh.
If you’ve played Eminent Domain and either liked it or were on the fence, you owe it to yourself to try Escalation. It also will set the stage for the newest expansion: Exotica!
Mechs Vs. Minions
Mechs vs. Minions has set the standard for successful kickstarters. Maybe not so much in total amount funded (which was impressive) but in actual value to the consumer. You get magnificently painted 50mm figurines–tons of them. You get heirloom quality components like an hour glass and modular game board. The game has storage space for all of these pieces: individual vacuum formed spaces for each figure. And the price was less than $100.
The game play is also excellent. It’s like Robo Rally but better. And that’s saying something! Players use programmed movement on their mechs, moving and shooting the minions while trying to complete the mission.
The rules are easy enough to learn but there is a lot scenarios that add depth to the game. Mechs vs. Minions is a must buy if you love miniature war games or if you like cooperative games.
Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow’s Walk
I was so looking forward to the expansion to Betrayal at House on the Hill. Betrayal is a perennial classic at The Gaming Annex. It’s a goofy team game where players search a haunted house.
The expansion, Widow’s Walk, was an unexpected announcement from Hasbro, being released just before Halloween of 2016. I had the chance to play it during our Halloween Week at The Annex.
And it fell flat for me.
The expansion is just extra rooms and extra haunts. If this is what you are looking for, then the $20 is well spent. I was hoping for more. I was hoping for extra game mechanics. Something that would add depth to the game instead of adding more of the same.
King & Assassins
King & Assassins is a delightfully devilish two player game. One player is the king and his knightly escorts. The other is the townspeople who have three secret assassins in their midst. The king must move from one area of the board to the castle before the assassins kill him or before time runs out.
A card is flipped over. The king and the knights get so many action points based on what the card says. The king can move, the knights can move or push townsfolk. The knights can arrest people or even kill a revealed assassin. The assassin player then takes his turn. He moves the townspeople. He can reveal one of them to be an assassin. The assassins can kill knights or wound the king.
Kings & Assassins plays in 30 minutes. You can learn the game in about 10 minutes. If you need a two player game, this one will probably fit the bill.
When Steve brought Dice City over to The Gaming Annex a couple of months ago, I was eager to give it a go. I loved the cartoonish artwork and I love dice games.
Dice City is a very good game for anyone who likes Imperial Settlers. It’s a tableau building game of rolling dice to get resources. Resources are used to buy additional cards which will give you victory points or even more resources.
Unfortunately, I didn’t like Imperial Settlers. Both Imperial Settlers and Dice City overstay their welcome. They are fun for the first 20 minutes but then drag on for 30 more minutes. There isn’t enough meat on the bone to make Dice City fun for almost an hour. As such, I cannot justify adding it to the ol’ library
Star Wars: Destiny
I don’t have a love/hate relationship with Star Wars collectible games; I have a hate/hate relationship. I played Star Wars CCG from Decipher. (I will devote a blog post to this in the coming weeks). When I heard Fantasy Flight was releasing a Star Wars collectible dice/card game, I grimaced like Professor Mike when he hears us make crude jokes.
Dusty got a few copies of Star Wars Destiny recently. He taught me how to play.
And I was pleasantly surprised.
Very surprised indeed. Star Wars Destiny is everything I like in a dice game. It’s fast paced (about 20 minutes long). It’s a tactical game and a strategic game. There’s plenty of decisions to make but there isn’t any analysis paralysis.
Players take one action on their turn: either rolling dice, using dice or playing cards from their hands. Then their opponent takes a turn. This continues until all actions are spent and both players pass. Then a new round begins. When one player has run out of cards or has both of their characters killed, the game ends.
Star Wars Destiny is set in the Star Wars universe but doesn’t feel all that Star Wars like. But players will forgive this slight because the game play is quick and fun.
Verdict: a very surprising HIT!
Where these verdicts are handed down like social policy