Hits & Flops: December 2015

It’s been a while since I did a Hits & Flops post. I’m sure everyone is wondering what new games we’ve played, what new games we’ve accepted and which games we have relegated to the trade heap. I’ve managed to get quite a few games in since the last H&F post including Terra Mystica and some of the Eclipse add-ons. Let’s take a look at how dismissive I can be.

 

1. Terra Mystica

Terra Mystica
Terra Mystica

Terra Mystica is a heavy duty Euro. It’s heavy duty in the sense that its heaviness is rated “3.9” on boardgamegeek.com. Heaviness is a function of how many rules a game has, how long it takes to play and how much brain burn it causes. 5 is the highest rating whereas 1 is the lowest. A heaviness of 3.9 is pretty darn heavy.

And I agree with the rating on BGG. I would say it’s a solid 4. Lots of moving parts. Lots of decisions. Tons of different races that play a little different than each other.

Terra Mystica is also a Euro. Streamlined rules. Little to no player interaction. Pasted on theme.

And this is why I rate it a flop. The bulk of the Muskegon Area Gamers would dismiss this game. The time investment and brain burn are not worth a game that is more or less a heavy version of Mancala. Lots of tedious moving of marbles from one pit to the next to gain a slight advantage over your opponents. This is the heart of any Euro. And it is why I usually stick to Ameritrash and wargames.

Rating: Flop

 

2. Risk: Star Wars

Risk: Star Wars Episode VI
Risk: Star Wars Episode VI

I’ve been able to play Risk: Star Wars three times now. All three times, the Rebels won. According to BGG, this is typical. It takes the Empire about 5 plays or so to get a handle on the game.

Despite this, Risk: Star Wars is quite good. It’s like Star Wars Queens Gambit light. It plays in 30 to 40 minutes which is ideal for its lightness. It offers a few different ways to approach the game so there is replayability. And the asymmetry between the Empire and the Rebels is interesting. This is by far the best game to come from Hasbro’s Star Wars Friday extravaganza a few months ago.

Rating: Hit

 

3. Nations: The Dice Game

Nations: The Dice Game
Nations: The Dice Game

Nations: the Dice Game is the latest attempt to dissolve a heavier board game into a simpler dice version. Normally this is a problem. Gamers like heavier experiences (as seen by my explanation under Terra Mystica).

However, I liked the dice game of Nations much more than the board game. The board game is like a worse version of Through the Ages. It’s long, tedious and boring. Nations: the Dice game is a 20 to 30 minute version of the board game. It captures the fun of the board game without the down time or the tedium.

If you are looking for a filler, check out Nations: the Dice game.

Rating: Hit

 

4. Eclipse Add-ons

Eclipse Nebula
Eclipse Nebula

Playing Eclipse with the Rise of the Ancients expansion is a no-brainer. It turns a good game into a great game. But what about the add-ons?

There are tons of promos for Eclipse like the Supernova, Nebula, etc.  Also there are faction specific ships which includes plastic starbases.

We played a 6 player game of Eclipse last Tuesday. We used the Supernova, Pulsar and the Nebula. We decided against using the ships for this game.

The Supernova was a bit of a bummer. It adds rules and randomness. But nothing much more. You roll some dice each round to see if it explodes. But it’s not worth any points so on the last turn it doesn’t matter.

The Pulsar adds a little something. It allows you a free gimped action. You can build, move or upgrade once each round. This is a cool ability but it’s not an amazing addition to the game or anything.

The Nebula is partitioned into three sections. This means moving through a nebula will take lots of time. This, like the Pulsar and the Supernova, don’t really add a lot to the game. Maybe a little replayability but that’s about it.

Rating: Indifferent

5. Panic on Wall Street

Panic on Wall Street
Panic on Wall Street

We were told by Rocky that Panic on Wall Street was a terrible game. He played it once and had a terrible experience. Before relegating it to the trade heap, I wanted to try it at least once. But I couldn’t be bothered to read the rules so I made Nick Sima* read them.

We had eight over a couple of Saturdays ago. We broke out Panic on Wall Street. After a rules explanation, we began. Kevin, Nick Sima*, Tasha and myself were the landlords. We rented properties to my brother Nick, Mike, Joann and Eric.

And we had a rousing time!

When the dust cleared, Kevin and Mike had won. But all of us were delighted by this game. What’s more, we couldn’t understand Rocky’s hatred for it. The game is in his wheelhouse. :/

*not his real name

Rating: Hit

 

6. Space Alert

Space Alert
Space Alert

Eric brought over Space Alert a couple of weeks ago. This is a Vlaada Chvatil game. Like Mage Knight and Through the Ages, you can expect Space Alert to be heavy on the brain burn. It’s a challenging co-op with tons of decisions to make.

Space Alert has programmed movement in it kinda like Robo Rally. You have a few seconds to make your programmed movements kinda like XCOM. Then you have to destroy the incoming aliens kinda like XCOM.

I enjoyed Space Alert the one time I played it. But I think XCOM has officially fired it. I will play Space Alert again if someone brings it over. But I would at least recommend XCOM first. XCOM simply does Space Alert better.

Rating: Fired

 

7. Swords and Bagpipes

Swords and Bagpipes
Swords and Bagpipes

Nick Sima* kickstarted Swords and Bagpipes. He’s been talking about it incessantly for months. It was supposed to be delivered to him a few weeks ago. Slow mail service from Europe delayed its delivery.

He managed to get it on the table today. We played a four player game of it. Players attempt to solve a “prisoner’s dilemma” situation. Help Scotland and get a little bit of money. Help England and get lots of money. But if you help England, you get a treachery card. If England wins four times, the player with the least treachery wins. If England does not defeat Scotland four times, the player with the most money wins. Should you help Scotland or should you help England?

When I first heard Nick Sima* describe this game, I was bored. It didn’t sound fun. But I was wrong. Dead wrong. It’s quite the nifty little game. The prisoner’s dilemma is done extremely well in Swords and Bagpipes. I think this game is as good as UN Article 27 and considerably better than Sheriff of Nottingham. If you are looking for a backstabbing, out think your opponent game, then Swords and Bagpipes may be for you.

Rating: hit

 

8. Where Hits and Flops happen