It’s been a while since I’ve done a piece about our most recent game acquisitions. I’ve completed a few trades to acquire some of the games below. I also cashed in some Speedway reward points for eBay gift cards to buy some of them. Let’s take a look at The Gaming Annex’s latest offerings.
1. Empires: Age of Discovery
Once upon a time there was a game called Age of Empires III. This was a PC game that was quite popular during its day. It spawned a board game of the same name. Published by Eagle Games, Age of Empires was teeming with plastic army
units and other goodies.
We played the game once many years ago. The game didn’t go over very well with Jon. He hated the game so much he used the game as a Christmas tree prop until he traded it.
Eagle Games kickstarted a deluxe edition of the game. The deluxe edition has phenomenal components. But they also overhauled the rules. I think the new edition is going to give Clash of Cultures a run for its money as our standby civ builder.
Empires: Age of Discovery is largely a worker-placement game. It’s also largely an area control game. Ugh! Worker-placement with area control?! That’s been done a billion times!
I know, I know. But Empires has a different take on worker-placement. There are different workers. Depending on which worker you send, you get a different benefit. Send a soldier to New Granada and you will be able to pick off your opponent’s units. Send a missionary and he converts a local, granting you an additional worker. Send a merchant and get a cool cache of, well, cash.
Because of warfare, there is a constant flux in the area control aspect of the game. This makes every decision super important. It also keeps players engaged while their opponents are taking actions. This is what will ultimately set Empires apart from other worker-placement games.
There are some designers that come up with clever mechanics. Rüdiger Dorn is one of them. Genoa, Istanbul and Jambo are all examples of his handiwork. Any discussion about the greatest game designers will invariably give a nod to Dorn.
And then there are some publishers that make really good games. HABA makes children’s games, albeit very good games for children. When I saw HABA had decided to enter the family game market I was intrigued. When they announced their intent to publish a Rüdiger Dorn game it was a foregone conclusion that I would own a copy.
Karuba has the puzzle aspect of Genoa. You will place tiles onto your player board to complete routes from one end to the other. But Karuba is a family game so the heavy min/max aspect is removed. Karuba is a multi-player solitaire game where players strive to complete their own player board first.
The reviews for Karuba are glowing. The game will be in the Top 100 for family games on BGG. It may even make it to the Top 10–the game is that well liked. I’m really looking forward to getting this to the table with some lighter gamers to see if it’s a huge hit.
3. Fire and Axe:
For several years I was trying to find the quintessential pirate game. It took many tries for me to come around to Merchants and Marauders. In the past several years, publishers
have been pumping out pirate themed games like crazy. It’s now one of the more common themes around.
Now I’m looking for the quintessential viking game. We gave Fire and Axe: a Viking Saga a try several years ago. I thought
the game had potential. But I also thought it had a hefty price tag: over $100 for used copies (it was out of print).
The good people at IDW Games got the rights to reprint Fire and Axe. I was able to trade for a used copy of the reprint recently. Now I have to get Nick Sima to read the rules so he can reteach me the game.
In Fire and Axe, players get seven actions on their turn. They can load goods onto their longboat, set sail, raid or trade. You will complete objectives like “Raid Dublin” so you can score points. You will draw rune cards to help you move and raid more effectively.
This sounds like a perfect viking game. And it sounds like it’ll be a good fit for the group if we give it a chance. I have the feeling that in an upcoming “Hits & Flops” entry that Fire and Axe: a Viking Saga will get a high mark.
4. Sea of Clouds
Speaking of pirate themed games, I picked up Sea of Clouds. Sea of Clouds will not replace Merchants & Marauders. But it could fill an important niche in my library: a lighter game to wrap up the evening.
Sea of Clouds takes one of the core mechanics of Cleopatra: Society of Architects and makes it into its own game. There are three cards drawn and placed face down. You may look at one of the cards. If you want it, you add the card to your hand. If you don’t, you add an additional card to the pile. Then you may take a different card pile.
The cards have different colored backs that allow you some information as to what you might be picking. The cards do different things like score points, sets to be collected or pirates with cool actions on them.
Sea of Clouds will not be the main course of a game night. But there are times when we get done with a big game and need something lighter. I think Sea of Clouds will fit into this category. I’ll bring it to CabinCon. I’ll post about it in an upcoming Hits & Flops post.
5. Adventure Land
I mentioned earlier that HABA is making a play for a larger share of the family game market. They released Karuba from famed designer Rüdiger Dorn. They also published Adventure Land from Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling. This is the team that brought you Torres,
Tikal and Australia.
With this much going for it, how could I not pick it up?
In Adventure Land, players move their 10 pawns on a 10×10 grid. Pawns move like rooks in chess. However, they can only move right or down. So you have to be clever in your movement in order to get the goodies that spring up on the board.
Swords, monsters, herbs and gold all appear on the board. Players score points for collecting gold and killing monsters. Players use swords and herbs to kill the monsters. Swords give you dice and herbs are added to the dice value after you see the roll.
I think Adventure Land, much like Karuba, will fill a niche in The Gaming Annex’s library. This niche would be “the primer”–a game you start the night off with. It whets your appetite for the meatier games. After you play a primer you are really raring to feast on the main course.
I’ll bring Adventure Land to CabinCon as well. I’ll let you know how it goes over.
6. Other recent pick ups