Hits & Flops October 2017

I’ve been able to get several new games under my belt since our last installment of Hits & Flops. Dusty has been buying lots of games in 2017. In addition, Brian has been introducing us to lots of games. And of course I buy games like they are going out of style. Let’s have some fun with another installment of Hits & Flops.

Board Game Hits & Flops October 2017

 

Quartermaster General 1914

Quartermaster General 1914
Quartermaster General 1914

About a year ago, Bruce brought over a nifty little World War II game called Quartermaster General. Each player takes on one of the belligerents: three play the Axis and three play the Allies. On your turn, you play a card such as “Build Army” or “Sea Battle”. Once you play the card, it goes in your discard pile, never to return to play. You score points by owning victory cities at the end of each of your turns. Which every team has the most points at the end of the game is winner.

Quartermaster General 1914 in action
Quartermaster General 1914 in action

There are some cards that mill cards off your opponent’s deck. These cards are called Economic Warfare cards. It’s quite possible for someone to run out of cards before the end of the game. Some card are “Status Cards” and they stay in play, giving you a permanent bonus. And some cards are “Event Cards” that have a powerful one time effect.

Bruce’s WWII game went over quite well. Its simplicity was charming. The team interaction was fun. And all our games of it were intense. So when I saw they were releasing  WWI version I was understandably intrigued.

Rules reference QMG 1914
Rules reference QMG 1914

The new version, called Quartermaster General 1914, is largely the same as the aforementioned WWII game. The major differences are: theme (this one is WWI) and complexity. This new version cranks up the complexity by a fair margin. I thought our group might like this expert take on a game we love. I took a chance and bought it.

1914 is very asymmetrical. All of the QMG games are asymmetrical. But 1914 is particularly so. There are 5 powers in the game. The Central Powers have 2 players whereas the Triple Entente has 3 players. So the Triple Entente have to use their superior numbers to hammer Germany and Austria-Hungary into submission.

The British get a toehold on the continent
The British get a toehold on the continent

Some of the powers have more than one country at their command. Austria-Hungary command Austria-Hungary and the Ottomans. The British control the US. And France controls Italy. So your deck of cards may have some cards that refer to one power but not the other.

This version also allows players to prepare a card in addition to playing a card. Prepared cards use icons on them instead of the text. This gives all cards multi uses–one of my favorite game mechanics.

With all the extra complexity, I waited until a Tuesday to spring it on our regulars. The game went over very well. I loved it. It could become my favorite game in the growing QMG series (there is also a Peloponnesian War game).

Verdict: Hit!

 

Immortals

Immortals from Queen Games
Immortals from Queen Games

Wallenstein is a great game. It’s a Euro-war game with a cube tower instead of dice. Your armies are wooden cubes. When you fight, you drop your cubes and your opponent’s cubes into the cube tower. Some cubes will fall out and others will not. Your cubes that fall out are compared to your opponent’s that fall out. The difference are placed in the territory.

The novel combat system of Wallenstein has been adopted by other games. The combat system in End of the Triumvirate is similar. And the deduction mechanic of Mord im Arosa is not dissimilar. So when designers Mike Elliot and Dirk Henn announced a fantasy version, the gaming world took note.

Components of The Immortals
Components of The Immortals

Dusty was one of the gamers who took note. He taught Nick Sima and myself how to play a couple of Sundays ago.

And it went over like a lead balloon.

Unlike the added complexity Quartermaster General 1914 affords over its predecessors, the added complexity in The Immortals is unneeded and unwanted.

There are now two resources instead of just money. There is a divided game board: one for evil races and one for good races. And everyone controls exactly one of each. You can move between the two planes of existence if you build a portal.

Board for The Immortals
Board for The Immortals

The game board is busy. And the graphic design is less than ideal. The theme also does not shine through as much as it does in Wallenstein.

The Immortals isn’t a terrible game. It’s just an unneeded game. Wallenstein (or its Japanese themed counterpart, Shogun) are good enough.

Verdict: Flop.

 

Apocrypha

Apocrypha Adventure Game
Apocrypha Adventure Game

Apocrypha Adventure Card Game was made for people who like Pathfinder the Card Game. It’s a campaign style coop where players build a deck with certain advantages and disadvantages in an effort to defeat an AI.

Pathfinder was not my cup of tea. The idea of a campaign or legacy card game is interesting enough. But the mechanics in Pathfinder are not interesting. They are a convoluted version of Battle of Greyport–a game that is quite fun once in a while but not enough to play an entire campaign.

Dice and standees for Apocrypha
Dice and standees for Apocrypha

Our first play of Apocrypha was marred by our utter ignorance of the rules. The publisher has a how-to video. We thought we could slog our way through the game. We were wrong. After almost 2 hours, we decided to abandon our game.

Even if I knew the rules well and could play a complete game, Apocrypha just isn’t my type of game. The trick to Apocrypha isn’t trying to play  your whole hand of cards. It’s trying to use your one time use cards to maximum ability. So if you were thinking this was Dominion, you would be disappointed. But if you like Mage Knight, you might like this.

Verdict: Flop.

 

Magic Maze

Magic Maze from Gyom
Magic Maze from Gyom

Dusty introduce Jon and myself to Magic Maze a few weeks ago. Jon, who’s a theme junkie, was warned by Dusty this game would probably not be his cup of tea.

In Magic Maze, players do not control one of the adventurers. Instead, they control a certain movement direction. So anyone can move the barbarian but only one person can move him north. Players work together to move the elf, dwarf, wizard and barbarian through a shopping mall to get all the adventuring equipment they need. The game has an hourglass so players have only so long to do so.

Play through of Magic Maze
Play through of Magic Maze

Despite its weak theme, Jon liked the game. And so do I. Magic Maze could become my favorite filler. This little rascal plays in 15 minutes and offers 17 increasingly difficult scenarios.

We introduced this game to our Thursday night group as well. And it was roundly appreciated. Magic Maze is so good, it’s difficult to imagine a game collection without it. It’s good for hardcore gamers. It’s good for non-gamers. It’s fun with kids. Designer Kasper Lapp really struck gold with this one.

Verdict: HIT!

 

Century Road Spice

Century: Golem Edition
Century: Golem Edition

Steve and his wife had us over for games a few weeks ago. They taught us Century: Golem Edition. This is a reimplementation of Century: Spice Road. It’s not yet available for retail. Steve was able to get a copy at GenCon.

Players are competing to build golems in this fantasy card game. You first must acquire all the gems needed to build a golem. This is done by playing cards from your hand that either give you gems or that let you exchange gems for different gems.

Gems and cards from Century Golem
Gems and cards from Century Golem

Players have a hand of cards. They can either play a card from their hand, refresh their hand of cards, draft a card from the board or spend gems to buy a golem. You win the game by scoring points, mostly from building golems.

My wife adored the game. She said the game was very relaxing. Probably because we just played Magic Maze, a frenzied timed game. But she is right that Century is a good game. It is light enough to teach non-gamers. It could also be a good cool down game for hardcore gamers.

Verdict: HIT!

 

Stop Thief!

Stop Thief! from Restoration Games
Stop Thief! from Restoration Games

I’ve found a copy of the classic Parker Brother’s game, Stop Thief! recently. It was the second such copy that I’ve found at thrift stores in 2017. This is a nifty old game where you have an electronic device that makes sounds, giving you clues where the thief is at.

Rob Daviau has launched a company who’s goal is to make modern versions of these old games. This is one of the first games he’s restored. The electronic device is now your smartphone’s app. The artwork is updated. But the feel of the game is the same.

Game board and pawns in Stop Thief!
Game board and pawns in Stop Thief!

Because of the smartphone app, the sound quality is way better than it was in the 1979 version. When the thief moves to a door, you hear a creaky old door open. When the thief moves outside, you hear the hustle and bustle of a busy street.

The roll-and-move has been replaced with a hand of cards. This is a huge improvement. One of the cards gives you a private tip but it usually moves you only a few spaces. When you play a card, you do not get it back until you play your refresh hand card.

The dragnet tightens
The dragnet tightens

Despite its obvious improvements, Stop Thief! hasn’t been a hit. We’ve been playing it on “difficult” or “intermediate” settings. The difficult setting makes the private tip feature all but useless. And the intermediate game makes the private tip weak. We also played with the no cash option. This was objectively bad. In fact, the only good way to play Stop Thief! is to play the easy game, the way the game was originally design. It’s a simple deduction game with some press-your-luck. It doesn’t need dozens of add-ons.

Verdict: Undetermined.

 

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