Hits & Flops: January 2016 edition

It’s time for another installment of Hits & Flops. For those of you new to this blog, every month or so I do a hit piece on the games the Muskegon Area Gamers have played. Games are played once, considered briefly and then judged (sometimes harshly). We’ve had several new games played in the past five weeks or so. Here’s a look at what was on the docket.


1. Battlelore 2nd Edition

Battlelore 2nd Edition
Battlelore 2nd Edition

Battlelore 2nd Edition is a great game. It fires on all cylinders, even a few cylinders I didn’t know it had. Now I’m kicking myself for waiting so long to pick it up.

I wrote a brief review of Battlelore recently. But since that time, many others have played it with me. And the responses have all been positive. Darrin was impressed with it. Kevin thinks it’s a great game. Nick Sima offered an opinion, probably positive. This game has been a hit.

Battlelore 2nd edition: HIT!


2. Dune

Classics like Dune from Avalon Hill are favorites in Muskegon
Dune from Avalon Hill

Dune was a welcome surprise. The bad taste of Rex: Last Days of an Empire had finally subsided. John S. loaned The Gaming Annex a copy. We’ve played it a few times now. And each time it gets better and better.

This game is a classic for a reason. I wrote a recent review about this game too. But for the purpose of this blog post, I’ll simply say:

Dune: HIT!


3. Fury of Dracula 3rd Edition

Mina Harker from Fury of Dracula
Mina Harker from Fury of Dracula

Fury of Dracula was revamped by Fantasy Flight. The third edition streamlines many of the flaws of the second edition.

One is the dice used in combat: they’ve been eliminated. Combat is 100% card driven. This is a move in the right direction.

Another is the way Dracula scores points. The new system is more interesting than the previous. The Dark Prince must still poop out vampires. And he must survive long enough to score points. But the point system isn’t a bore two points for everything like it was in the 2nd edition.

And despite this, I cannot fully endorse Fury of Dracula. It’s a good enough game…but Letters from Whitechapel is better is almost every way. Of course, our group still hasn’t delved into the strategy of Fury of Dracula yet (Dracula has won all the games thus far). So it’s possible a good game is still there waiting for us to bring it forth.

But until then: Fury of Dracula: Flop


4. A Study in Emerald

A Study in Emerald 2nd Edition
A Study in Emerald 2nd Edition

Kevin was happy to get a copy of A Study in Emerald. He’s a fan of the literature and he’s a fan of Martin Wallace. But he wasn’t a fan of paying $200 for the first printing.

When the second printing came out with a <$60 price tag, picking up a copy was a no brainer

Martin Wallace's A Study in Emerald
Martin Wallace’s A Study in Emerald

He taught Tasha, Nick Sima and myself how to play. I’ve never read the book so I cannot say if the theme is fully represented.

But I do have to give credit to Wallace. He makes mechanistically profound games. A Study in Emerald is like a multi-player version of A Few Acres of Snow. With a blurb like that, you know I’ll be calling this one a hit.

A Study in Emerald: HIT!



5. Star Wars: Imperial Assault

Star Wars Imperial Assault will hit the gaming table a lot in Muskegon
Star Wars Imperial Assault

Well I finally managed to log my first play of Star Wars Imperial Assault. This reskin of Descent 2.0 is everything it’s cracked up to be. I’m really looking forward to playing a campaign of this.

Star Wars Imperial Assault fixes a few things with Descent 2.0. And Descent didn’t need that much fixed to begin with. This game even made a Jon do a 180. He disliked Descent but admired SW:IA.

Now, if we can get Mongo to show up half the time, I might be able to play this HIT! a little bit more often.


6. Dungeon Boss

Dungeon Boss
Dungeon Boss

I’ve owned Boss Monster for some time but hadn’t played it. About a week, I coaxed Nick Sima into teaching me how to play. He warned me that it wasn’t a deep game. But that alone does not bother me–I need a large library of games to meet numerous situations.

Boss Monster uses a similar mechanic as in Restaurant Row and Dungeon Lords. In all of these games, you compete for “customers” with your opponents. Then you score points for those customers who come to your “venue”.

Boss Monster is like the super-light version of Dungeon Lords both in theme and in mechanics. While Dungeon Lords is a very highly rated game, I rather despise it. Too much upkeep, not enough payoff.

But Dungeon Boss does not have the upkeep hang ups that Dungeon Lords does. But Dungeon Boss is so light, that there isn’t too much decision making taking place. It’s not a bad game. It’s just not a good game. I’ll keep it around for now to see if it grows on me.

Dungeon Boss: Undetermined.


7. Tiny Epic Kingdoms

Muskegon is a Tiny Epic Kingdom
Tiny Epic Kingdoms

New Jeremy has been a fairly new member of our group. New Jeremy, you may recall, replaced Jeremy Scott Pyne when Mr. Pyne moved away.

New Jeremy is an avid follower of Kickstarter, something I still haven’t committed to. Jeremy taught four of us how to play Tiny Epic Kingdoms, one of the more successful franchises from Kickstarter.

Tiny Epic Kingdoms works mechanically. You have to make tough decisions each turn. The decisions you make and the planning you do will affect your outcome. But that’s about it. There was not flair. No spark. It’s just a game that works but not a game that’s fun. I’m hoping Tiny Epic Galaxies works better.

Tiny Epic Kingdoms: Flop.


8. Junta

Junta from AEG
Junta from AEG

Several years ago, I brokered a deal between Jon and someone on boardgamegeek. It involved Jon coughing up his copy of StarCraft. In exchange, Jon got Perikles (out of print) El Grande and Junta (then out of print).

One by one, Jon played and dismissed all of those games.

He’s finally forgiven me for helping arrange that deal. The bad taste left from our first play of Junta subsided and we gave the game another go. And it’s not half bad. In fact, with the reprint from AEG, the game actually scratches the same itch as Republic of Rome. But better.

Junta is a game of tactics, negotiation and timing. It doesn’t have the failings of Republic of Rome (which makes RoR all but unplayable to me). Junta has failings but I am really enjoying it so far.

I checked out the entry on BGG. AEG has announced an expansion for Junta. This seals the deal. Junta is a HIT!


9. Where the Hits & Flops get played





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