Welcoming in the new year: the game(s) is afoot

The gameplan

As alluded to in the previous post, I both got some games for Christmas, and then got to play a LOT of games over break, particularly on New Year’s. Prepare yourself for a little bit of nerd excitement. Only a little.

1) King of Tokyo: A game belonging to Jeff, this is a peculiar entry.  The only “board” is a small piece representing Tokyo with 2 spaces on it (one in the city which is always open, and one in the sea for larger games).  Each player gets a monster standing cutout, and then a card with victory points and hit points.  Victory is achieved by reaching 20 victory points, aided by cards and the dice (which can roll numbers, additional hit points, energy to use to buy cards, and attack other monsters).  The purpose of Tokyo is to assist in gaining points: if your monster occupies it, you gain victory points and your attacks hurt all the other players, but all of their attacks are directed at you.  We played many rounds of this over break, and I definitely would rate this in the top 15 games I have played.
2) Eclipse: Another game of Jeff’s, this is a brand new German board game composed of many pieces, surprisingly low complexity after you read the rules for 3 hours, and a lot of heartache.  At least, a lot of heartache if you were me the first game we played.  Basically, its like Civilization in space, with hex board pieces – this means that the board changes each time you play based on number of players as well as randomizing the hexes.  The point of the game is to expand your empire by exploring new tiles and colonizing any planets there, while defending yourself from the other players.  The heartache piece comes in because I didn’t know that once an opponent matches the number of ships I have in a territory, their additional ships can move beyond it… which meant that Jeff met the number of ships in my Defensive Square and then flew behind them to my unguarded colonies (which he proceeded to virus bomb to death).  Losing my production colonies meant I couldn’t compete in the fight, and so Jeff ended up sweeping that first game.  Even with that in mind, still an excellent game, one I am considering purchasing.
3) Fluxx: This is an extremely simple to learn and play card game; in some ways, it might be characterized as the Gateway Game, as I fully plan on using this to addict non-gaming friends here in New Haven and then get them to play harder and more complex games.  As the title suggests, the game is based on constantly changing circumstances – the initial Basic Rules are always “draw 1 card from the deck, play 1 card from your hand.”  From there, cards in the deck are either New Rules (as the name suggests, they add to and/or modify those Basic Rules); Actions (which involve reading the card and performing whatever it says); Goals (the combination of things you need in front of you to win the game); Keepers (positive items you can put in front of you, towards Goals); and Creepers (mostly negative items in front of you which can sometimes be game-winning).  The game by its nature cannot be strategic, only tactical, due to the constant shifts in rules &c. A really great game to try, if ever you stop by Winchester House.
4) Bohnanza: A classic German card game, this bean planting experience was shown to me by my good friend Josh from back in DC.  Simply put, this game involves dealing with opportunity costs in order to plant the highest values bean cards into your bean fields (via drawing, trading, and most importantly playing from your hand in the exact order you got those cards).  It is one of those games where the rules sound much more complex when explained than when merely demonstrated for a few turns.  Another great introductory game for people new to this hobby.
5) Super Dungeon Explore: This is another one of Jeff’s that he got for Christmas, and it is also a fairly new game.  This is essentially an amalgamation of anime-artwork and story, 8-bit video game art and mechanics, and Dungeons and Dragons.  As such, every player receives a character with a miniature, except for the person who is the Dungeon Master. The DM gets to play all the enemies, place the items, and so forth, and so it is a cooperative grid-based miniature combat game with some light RPG elements.  Overall, a fairly good time, though the game seems slightly too difficult for the DM to actually win (by killing off all of the players), from the one time we went through it.
6) Cargo Noir: I got this for Christmas, and it is the usual for a Days of Wonder board game – it is extremely easy to learn, and then has a high amount of replay value.  Basically, each player controls a rival cargo smuggling crime family, with ships and bidding coins.  Random cargo is spread across the ports that comprise the game board, and then players (in turn order) make initial bids and then deal with each contested port, with the winner receiving the cargo and the loser(s) getting back their coins.  The game is won by victory points, which are cards purchased by turning in certain combinations of cargo (having many of the same kind is worth a lot more than turning in sets of 1-each of different cargoes).  The artwork is really imaginative, and its a game anyone can enjoy, assuming they have a halfway decent poker face.
7) 7 Wonders: This is a game that Joe picked up on sale at the mall, and it is fairly entertaining.  As the name suggests, this game involves each player working to build their own selection from amongst the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World (Library at Alexandria, Colossus, etc).  Around their in-progress wonder, each player takes cards each turn in order to build various other buildings, including raw and refined materials production, military encampments, research buildings, and point-scoring buildings of various kinds.  At the end of the game (when the third and final deck of cards has been used), the players tally their various scoring cards and tokens, and the highest score wins.  For additional replay value, each wonder board is two-sided with an A- and a B-side, with B being more difficult and requiring a very different style of play to win.  A game I enjoyed a lot, but probably not one I am going to purchase
8) Munchkin: This is a very old game that Jason has, with approximately infinity expansions, add-ons, sequels, booster sets, and reduxes.  Its a card-based game where you are a hero attempting to reach level 10 by battling monster cards, with the help and/or handicap of whatever items/curses/etc you draw from the deck.  As per Fluxx, it is a game worth playing as a palette-cleanser between longer, more complex games.
9) Twilight Struggle: The cream of the crop has been saved for last.  All of the links to the titles of these games to you Board Game Geek’s website; they rate Twilight Struggle as the best game around right now.  It is a two player game that manages to simulate the entire Cold War, from 1945-1989.  Neither side directly attacks any of the countries on the board; instead, it is (as per real life) a contest of spreading, keeping, and stealing levels of influence in key areas at different points.  To make that complicated process more fun and difficult, the game also includes a DEFCON counter to nuclear war (the person who causes it loses); a Space Race track to give points and perks to whoever is able to keep trying to research; and then several decks of cards from the Early, Mid, and Late War (all tied to real historical events, and often only allowing you to help yourself if you also enable the positive effects for your opponent).  Clearly, for people who enjoy complex and complicated games, this one requires a lot of different areas of awareness from each player at all times (while also being not that difficult to learn or that long to play), making this an extremely enjoyable gaming endeavor in my book.  I played one “lets stumble through and figure this out” round of the game with Jason at home and enjoyed it (incorrect rules-reading and all), so I am triply excited to get actual rounds of the game, properly-played, with any and all foes.  Consider that an open invitation, O ye readers of this blog 😀

Photos

As per the above order, plus a couple more (of the locale where we did my mom’s birthday dinner, an Asian stir fry place near my house).

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