Brief Board Game Reviews 3

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It’s under 50 days until Board in the City CIC opens a cafe in Southampton, so we’re working hard to play a lot of games so that we know what to have in our collection. Sorry for the low quality pic but here are some of the games I’ve been playing this week (still got a few months to go on Pandemic Legacy so a final review will have to wait for a little while. These are more first impressions than anything because we have so many games to get through that right now we’re just seeing which ones work and which ones don’t, so that we are able to teach them to people when we open, and so that we can write games menu with the information etc.

Galaxy Trucker – This is a frantic game in which players are building ships using tiles. The aim is to get various parts on your ships, like cannons and cabins and engines etc in order to deal with the space journey you’re about to undertake. The twist is that all the tiles are face down and there’s a time limit. If you finish first you’ll get an advantage, but if your ship isn’t built correctly there will be penalties to pay! The game is played over three rounds and the ships get bigger each time.

Some people are going to hate this because it can be stressful trying to get everything just so and all balanced, but I don’t think this is a game you can take seriously. There were a couple of times when I felt satisfied with what I had built only to look at it when they building phase was over, realizing that I only had one cargo pod and not enough batteries. Oops. The adventures are random and can really mess you up. The main difficulty in the game is making sure that your ship is legal, because we had a couple of points during the game when a player realized that they had made a mistake. It’s fun and fast and I enjoyed it, but it’s certainly not going to be for everyone.

Scooby-Doo The Cyber Chase Game –

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This game was either going to be amazing or terrible. I’m a huge fan of Scooby-Doo, it’s my second-favourite cartoon (Road Runner if you’re wondering) and this game was really quick, I’m talking like five minutes. The goal is to collect three snacks and a magnet and then make it around the board to the lab, the first player to do this is the winner. The board is colourful and the player pawns are nicely sculpted versions of the characters. The challenges you have to overcome for each snack are different, and I had fun with it. Much of what you do is out of your control and you’re at the whims of the spinner, but it’s so fast that I didn’t mind this so much, and if you’re like me and love the theme then you can throw yourself into it.

Shafausa –

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Look at all this stuff! Yeah I couldn’t make heads nor tails out of it. There are two versions of this game, a ‘geek’ and a ‘family’ one. The family one said it takes 15 minutes per player so figured that we could get a quick game in before midnight. No such luck. The rules are horrible. I couldn’t figure what anything did or what the point of the game was. There are so many moving parts and it’s difficult to keep track of everything. I mean, the game looks beautiful and it comes with nice ways to store all the cubes, and even a poster of the fictional land! But we didn’t even get one turn in before giving up. It took us about 45 minutes to get to that point and we still weren’t any the wiser. The buildings are on small tiles and it’s difficult to know which buildings do what, the rules don’t make anything clear, and I don’t have time for games like these. And the thing is, from what little I could glean from the rules I don’t think the actual game is worth all the effort it requires.

Once Upon a Time –

Some of you may know this from the first season of Tabletop. It’s a storytelling game in which players are dealt a hand of cards and are given an ending. The goal of the game is to steer the story in a direction so that you can play all the cards in your hand (cards are played when you mention that thing) and are able to say your ending. I wasn’t sure about this at first because even though I am a writer I’m not that good at improvisation, and I was afraid that if you don’t have a creative mind or are bad at improvising then the game will fall flat. But I fell in love with this game and I can only imagine it getting better and better with more plays and more people.

Having the hand of cards allows you to plan ahead and try and form a story that will hit certain beats, and it also enables you to listen to the other players. The best part of the game was handing off the story to each other and seeing what each other comes up with, it’s like a tug of war but also a collaborative effort, and as you tell the story certain themes emerge and in-jokes come out which add to the fun. It’s a wonderful game and I fell completely in love with it after just one play. This one is definitely going to be in the cafe and it’s one that I will get for myself at some point as well.

Lost Legends –

This is a drafting/combat card game in which players take control of an adventurer and go through three levels of a dungeon, trying to be the most legendary. The game is split into three rounds, and these rounds into two phases; drafting and combat. Players equip gear and skills, and then venture into the dungeon to fight. After you kill monsters you level up and get stronger and stronger.

The rulebook for this was pretty bad and it took us a while to get going, but when we did we found that actually it’s a fun game, and it’s not that hard to pick up. There are a few nuances to the rules, and there’s a lot of symbols so it can take a round or two to get used to how everything works together. But while it’s a fun game, it does feel short, and bit bare-bones. I felt like there needed to be more of an arc to the game. For the first couple of dungeons things are progressing slowly, then in the third level you get some really cool equipment…and then the game is over. But I’ve discovered recently that I really like drafting, and my only complaint here is that I wish there was some more variety in equipment as I never felt like I was having to make a really tough decision. I do like, however, how you can either use a card for the equipment or the skill, which will then give you a discount on future cards you purchase.

The artwork is fantastic and there’s a bit of player interaction in that you can pawn monsters off to someone else if they don’t already have a monster in front of them, but it’s not directly PvP. This is one that I think could be better, but as it is it’s a decent game.

Steampunk Rally –

This is another one where we had trouble with the rulebook I mean, seriously, rulebooks should be tools that help you get playing, not a challenge in and of themselves. There should be a regulatory committee for rulebooks or something. Anyway, this game is a Wacky Races-style thing where inventors are building machines to try and win a race. Everything happens simultaneously, although for the first round we played in turn order just to make sure we were doing things correctly. There’s drafting and dice placement, and at first the mechanics can be confusing regarding how you take dice off etc, but this is one I’m definitely going to have to play again because I made the mistake of taking too much damage and exploding early on in the game. I took so much damage that I was only left with my first cabin, and I was never able to build back up and I was just left in the dust. I was Alexander Graham Bell so I just said that it proves you shouldn’t use the telephone whilst driving.

The thing that worries me is that if that happens then you’re basically out of the race and the game is pretty much over for you (obviously on this occasion it was my own fault) but my friends enjoyed it, and I think once you get your head around how the dice work etc it’s pretty fun. I like the theme, and enjoyed learning about the different adventures. I just wish that it had better rules.

So those are the new games I’ve been playing this week. More to come soon!

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