Alright. It’s been a month since we did our last hit piece. We’ve played many new games in that time. This list only comprises the games I ‘ve played. We tried out many uber popular games like T.I.M.E. Stories, Marco Polo and the expansion to Istanbul. Let’s find out if I loved them or panned them.
1. T.I.M.E Stories
T.I.M.E Stories was published just last year. And it’s already #40 All Time on boardgamegeek. This game has all the elements that board gamers like nowadays.
T.I.M.E Stories is a
one and done game. There is no replayability. The game is a cooperative. Players take on the roles of time cops, working together to investigate strange happenings. T.I.M.E Stories is an adventure more than it is a strategy game. You experience it rather than concentrate on it.
T.I.M.E Stories is a good game system. The mechanics are solid. The expansions are reasonably priced, giving players new missions to investigate. And the game sessions last for an entire game night. This gives you value for your purchase.
2. Istanbul: Mocha & Baksheesh
Istanbul was surprisingly good. At least to me. The users on BGG, of course, loved it. It’s a medium weight Euro that plays in a small to moderate amount of time.
Designer Rudiger Dorn lifted mechanics from his other games like Jambo and Genoa and honed them for Istanbul. That’s why it’s rated 98 on BGG.
The much anticipated expansion, Mocha & Baksheesh, has been a huge success. The expansion adds new board pieces, a new resource (coffee) and a few new mechanics.
Sick Nima has been ahead of the curve on strategy in Istabul, besting our Thursday night group somewhat regularly. He read the rules to the expansion and taught it to us last week.
The expansion adds new interactions on the game board, interactions that we could not possibly scratch the surface of in one play through. And some of the new mechanics like power tiles from the Tavern were largely ignored by the group until late game. The expansion will undoubtedly add tons of replayability to avid fans of the base game.
And despite this, I cannot call it a hit. Not yet. It felt a bit of a distraction from Istanbul. Not bad. Just not good. Oh, I’ll play it a few more times to come to a more reasoned conclusion. But in a blog post about “hits & flops” and I cannot call it a hit.
3. The Voyages of Marco Polo
Marco Polo, published by Z-Man Games in 2015, shot up the ranks on BGG. It is currently sitting at a strong #39 on the all time list with a staggering 8.03 user rating.
Marco Polo is like Kingsburg or Alien Frontiers but supercharged with bells and whistles. Players chuck dice and then place the dice onto areas of the board, collecting resources, more dice, cards or victory points. There are a myriad of ways to mitigate the values you
Did I say this game was like Kingsburg? Nah, it’s more like Troyes. It’s a brain-burning version of Kingsburg. Tons of strategy but no soul.
Sick Nima often mocks me for calling a game a soulless Euro. But that is how I feel about Marco Polo. It’s the type of game that Rocky or Dr. Steve love but it’s the type of game that makes me long for Clash of Cultures of Battlelore.
Verdict: Flop 🙁
4. Junta (the 2nd printing)
For me, Junta fires Republic of Rome. I am not a fan of Republic of Rome. Lots of downtown, tedious voting over petty scraps and virtual player elimination (but not actual player elimination) punctuate your standard six hour game of Republic of Rome.
Junta offers the same feeling of working together but also betraying your buddies. It has some voting but not over the petty stuff of Republic of Rome. Junta is also less complex. While Republic of Rome is far more complicated than Junta, it’s not deeper. Junta offers the same depth.
Jon picked up the 2nd printing of Junta. AEG changed a few things. We decided to give the game a play through even though I rage quit during our previous play of the 1st printing–witnessed by a bemused Sick Nima who still comments about it.
Junta is a good adventure + political game. It scratches the itch of Republic of Rome and possibly Diplomacy. And if you disliked Republic of Rome or Diplomacy, you may want to try Junta out anyway. It’s a tactical combat sub-game that these other games lack.
5. Space Empires 4X: Close Encounters
Space Empires 4X is a wargame in space where you manage your ships and colonies with an IRS ledger. You carryover dollars from each year and add them to your next year’s income, pay for upkeep on your empire then purchase new equipment. This process repeats until someone’s homeworld (probably Dusty’s) gets conquered.
Our first game of Space Empires 4X was inauspicious. Jon’s passion for the game and his superb teaching skills could not raise the game out of the mire of mediocrity. When he bought the expansion, I felt I had to give the game another shot.
Close Encounters adds tremendous material to the game. Most of it good. Players have faction powers. There are now reasons to attack the NPC aliens. There are several new ship classes, changing the meta of the game. We gave the game plus expansion a play through last month.
After 10 hours, Kevin and Sick Nima managed to defeat Jon and me. The game ending was thrilling. Had they not won, we would have won on the following on our next turn.
The expansion is quite good if you like the base game. In fact, the expansion is a no-brainer. If you like the base game. I just cannot see myself playing 10 hours of this game very often. The arithmetic is excruciating after that length of time.
It pains me to give this a flop so I’m adding an asterisk.
6. Tiny Epic Games
I had the joy of playing Scott Almes’ Tiny Epic Galaxies recently. This slightly larger than pocket sized game packs a lot of fun in a small package.
A player rolls some dice on their turn, taking actions with the icons that are rolled. Other players may follow the same action by spending Culture. Players move ships around the galaxy, colonizing planets with unique powers.
The interaction of the planets makes the game have lots of replayability. And there must be 100 unique planets in the game.
My one complaint about the game is that it takes a bit too long with five players. The game would be about right for two or three players. Too much analysis paralysis and downtime with four or five players.
7. Star Realms
I had heard that Star Realms was very similar as Ascension. Maybe so similar that it could be described as a reimplementation of Ascension. I’ve played Ascension a few times. I didn’t care for it. I played Star Realms a couple of weeks ago.
And I loved it. It’s soooo much better than Ascension. The theme is better: sci fi spacefaring versus fantasy combat tripe. The artwork is better. Star Realms sports professional artwork that is beautiful. Ascension’s artwork is amateurish–and why did they choose such a muddy palate?
Star Realms is a deck building game where your goal is to inflict damage on your opponent to bring his influence to zero. You purchase ships with unique powers and bases and outposts to defend yourself. The mechanics are simple. But the game is quick and fun. A definite hit.
8. Lanterns: the Harvest Festival
Jeremy brought over Lanterns: the Harvest Festival to the Brew House last month. I had followed it obliquely on BGG. I like trying new games so I sat down and played with him.
Lanterns is a tile laying game.
That’s the long and short of it. Do you like Carcassonne? Then Lanterns is up your alley. Me? I was a bit bored.
Poor Jeremy. It seems every time he brings over a new game, I pan it. I believe in you, Jeremy! You can buy and teach me games I will love.
Verdict: Flop :/