It’s always fun doing the Hits & Flops column. This is where I pan games after a single play or, less commonly, heap mounds of praise on them. This month we will look at Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition, Legacy of Dragonholt and a Stockpile. Hope you enjoy!
Hits & Flops December 2017
Dusty loves social deduction games. They are his favorite genre. The typical attendees at The Gaming Annex, however, are lukewarm on the genre. To be sure, there are a few very good social deduction games: Werewords and Avalon for example. But there are some that fall flat.
The reason why I don’t care for games like Werewolf, One Night Werewolf or One Night Revolution is because I don’t know what team I am on. Typically in these games, you will get a role. Then someone could swap your role. And then you do not know what team you are on. So you could play the game thinking your are a good guy only to be surprised at the end that you are a bad guy.
Games where you have your role switched like this are problematic. Think Battlestar Galactica where you could become a cylon at the half way point. It’s rather annoying.
And there is role swapping in Crossfire. Uh-oh!
But the role swapping in Crossfire isn’t terrible. You get to see your initial role card. Then you pass it to the left. And then it gets shuffled and dealt to one of the players to your left. And then you get to see your new role. This fixes a lot. Players know what role they are. Players have some information about the other players but it’s scrambled. And the game only lasts 5 minutes.
We played it a couple of times. The game wasn’t terrible. But I’m not ready to say it’s a hit yet. There is a journeyman quality to social deduction games. And our group hasn’t made the journey yet.
2. Mansions of Madness 2
I’ve written about Mansions of Madness (1st edition) a few times on this blog. I was not a fan. I tried it three times and hated it each time. The game was dismissed by most of the people in our group in fact.
Our partner at Iggy Games owns the new edition of Mansions of Madness. He brought it over for us to try. And it was amazing. I rated the 1st edition a measly “3” on boardgamegeek. But I give the 2nd edition a solid “7”. Here’s why.
The 2nd edition is app driven instead of requiring a game master. This means there is no tedious set up where Jeremy (Scott) Pyne spends 30 minutes poring over which components to include or exclude.
Because there is an app, there is much less set up time, the game is fully cooperative and there is less upkeep. All of this helps make the game a bit better. But the app also has a sound track. And this is the real charm of the game. The soundtrack, when paired with a Bluetooth device, adds ambiance to the game. Every creaking door, every foreboding exploration and every lurking monster. Players will be fully immersed in the game.
The game play is so much better than the 1st edition, I should write another blog about “games that fired other games” Not only does Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition fire its first edition forebear, it fires Betrayal at House on the Hill as well.
Verdict: Unequivocal hit!
3. Legacy of Dragonholt
Fantasy Flight released Legacy of Dragonholt in Q4 of 2017. This is an immersion into their Runewars universe, a milieu they are fleshing out since losing their Games Workshop licenses.
Legacy of Dragonholt is an RPG/board game fusion. Players make characters. Then they read paragraphs from the book. They make decisions about what to do as a party based upon their characters’ quirks and the game’s narrative. The game encourages players to make character decisions more so than optimal game decisions. This will appeal to some players.
But not to me.
I prefer my games to have hard-and-fast objectives. I don’t find games like this or Tales of the Arabian Nights particularly good. I do enjoy Tales of the Arabian Nights because it is a game filled with so many laughs. But Legacy of Dragonholt is not filled with laughs. It’s a slog.
To be sure, this game is perfect for the right players. To the right group who wants to explore and create, Legacy of Dragonholt will be a great fit. To a player who wants a story experience more than a game experience, Legacy will find a place on the shelf. And FFG will undoubtedly support it with expansions.
But for me, the game was a flop. A rather loud one at that.
Making a good stock market game is tough. How do you capture the idea of wheelin’ and dealin’ on a stock exchange, make it simple enough to learn while also making it fun to play? That’s a tall order.
But that is exactly what Seth Van Orden and Brett Sobol have done. They have made what will probably end up being my favorite stock game.
Players will get a handful of cards. They can look at them. Then they place them either face up or face down in the auction offering areas.
The “wheelin and dealin'” part of Stockpile has been replaced with a rigid auction mechanic like in Vegas Showdown. This works nicely in Stockpile.
Players will bid on an auction offering. Because some cards are face down, you will not know what cards your opponent put there. Most cards are good: additional stocks, the ability to move stock prices up or down, etc. But some cards are “broker fees” where you must pay $1 to $3. Since the object is to have the most money, these cards should be avoided.
Players also are given an incomplete forecast of the stocks. Each player will secretly know how one stock will perform. Plus another stock’s information is public to all players. And some stocks are hidden from players until the end of the round. This makes for speculation–just like in the real stock exchange.
Stockpile isn’t just a good stock market game; it’s a good strategy game and a good family game. Stockpile should find its way into most player’s collection. If you haven’t tried it, you should. And if you have tried it, you will likely buy it.
Verdict: it’s a hit!
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