New Board Games - Spring 2009 Catch All

As some folks know, I don a little mini-con around superbowl weekend and around Cinqo de Mayo every year (just some close friends taking over my house for three days, with my kids out of the house). In the spirit of preparedness, I spent some quality time researching and playing some of the new hotness, and plan on trying a bunch more of the next week. Here are a few thoughts (and the boardgame geek links to learn more).

Metropolys

Fairly simple bidding mechanics (I'll pay 10 to build a skyscraper here), but with a really cool twist -- you're on a territorial map and the bidding snakes around. You're never competing to build on the same space as the guy to your right, you're bidding to build next to whatever he just bid on. This leads to wierd snaking bidding lines across a city map. Several interesting scoring mechanics makign it better for you to build one place than another, and a nice "hidden goals" mechanic.

Pieces are butt ugly, but the game is a TON of fun, and quite hard to play well.

Dominion

Current big thing out in geekland, and completely deserving. Really interesting "build the best deck" game, which feels entirely unique. Magic players will love it, because it has all the "I don't want too much mana (gold) and I need to make sure I spend enough time attacking (buying land)" features of CCG deck building. The card pool everyone is building from can be different for every game based on obvious, synergistic sets or random selection. Depending on the cards used, the game can be full of conflict, interupts, and screw your neighbor, or it can be very much multiplayer solitaire. It takes very very little time to teach, rewards complex combo schemes, and would seemingly present a large, large number of variants that would keep you busy for a long time.

I only played a few games, all four player. Not sure how it would play with two, but I imagine pretty well (and very quickly).

The game screams expansions. Super recommended.

Ghost Stories

A cooperative game, in the vein of Arkham Horror. The difference is this is surprisingly abstract, and from what I can tell, can be very difficult. I didn't play it, but I listened as someone spent 45 minutes explaining the fairly finicky rules (to my ears) and a decent slog of gameplay. Really don't think this one's for me, but then, I don't like coop games in general. I know there are many out there fawning all over this game, but it seems an unlikely one for me to sit down and play. Caveat emptor.

Anyone else play anything new and fun lately?

I played Agricola over the holiday break, and found it really fun in the vein of Puerto Rico. According to BGG, this makes me something of a bandwagonner, but oh well. I don't get to play board games enough to have the privilege of being snobby about them.

As for the game, it takes what I loved about PR (your focus is on building your own little fiefdom, not tearing down someone else's) and refines it even further. In your first few games, you will be so busy trying to figure out when to expand your house and when to have kids that it's all you can do to keep your family fed, much less worry about what the other players are doing.

The game takes a *long* time to set up, though. =)

I'm a huge fan of Arkham Horror so I will defiantly give ghost story a try at some point. Dominion also looks right up my alley. Thanks rabbit.

On a side note I was looking for a way to store Arkham Horror and all its expansions and found this. Its completely made out of Legos and 100% awesome. Now I just need to figure out how to build one myself.

IMAGE(http://images.boardgamegeek.com/images/pic419226_lg.jpg)

Arovin wrote:

I'm a huge fan of Arkham Horror so I will defiantly give ghost story a try at some point. Dominion also looks right up my alley. Thanks rabbit.

So rebellious!

On a less snarky note, and hopefully not to derail rabbit's thread too much, can anyone recommend any other good co-op games that play well with 2 players? The Lovecraft theme for AH does not exactly resonate with my wife. Also, I think if she sees another huge Fantasy Flight Games box in our house, it might be curtains for me.

necroyeti wrote:
Arovin wrote:

I'm a huge fan of Arkham Horror so I will defiantly give ghost story a try at some point. Dominion also looks right up my alley. Thanks rabbit.

So rebellious!

On a less snarky note, and hopefully not to derail rabbit's thread too much, can anyone recommend any other good co-op games that play well with 2 players? The Lovecraft theme for AH does not exactly resonate with my wife. Also, I think if she sees another huge Fantasy Flight Games box in our house, it might be curtains for me.

Wow nice catch on the typo. I guess that does work in context

May I suggest Pandemic as a good coop game. Work as a team to stop viruses from wiping out the worlds populace.

Dominion is a great game. My only real issue is there's not a ton of depth. You need to focus on getting gold into your hand and it seems like whoever does that most efficiently - no matter what action cards are out there - tends to win. Given how quickly the game plays, though, that's fine, and the way you get gold into your hand will change based on the set of action cards. The game is wicked easy to teach which is awesome. You can teach the base rules in a matter of minutes and the rest of the rules are on the cards. Highly recommended.

I've played one game of Ghost Stories and wasn't blown away by it. I really enjoy coop games but this one just didn't do a whole lot for me. In some ways it reminded me of another new coop, Red November. The concept behind Red November is pretty cool: you are working to keep your sub from sinking/blowing up/getting eaten by a kraken. There are some really cool mechanics in Red November, but the problem is that the game just continues to beat you down each turn. It is almost impossible to keep up with all the bad things happening so it really is just a game of survival. I prefer games where I feel like I'm making progress in some fashion. Ghost Stories gave me that same beat down feel. Pandemic, on the other hand, is an awesome cooperative game. Yes, sometimes the card draws don't work in your favor but the game often feels manageable and you at least feel like you are accomplishing something.

Got to play Brass for the first time the other week; it is the new hotness from Martin Wallace and shot up on the BGG rankings. I think it is a pretty interesting game and has a lot of depth given how quickly it plays, but the game is typical Wallace: horrible rule book and lots of little, extremely easy-to-forget rules. My first play was actually pretty frustrating because I made some really rookie mistakes, but now knowing the rules I'm looking forward to future plays. I'm not sure it is quite as good as the BGG collective seems to think it is but it did show promise.

Probably my favorite new game right now is Battlestar Galactica. It is a semi-cooperative game like Shadows over Camelot where people are secretly assigned loyalty/traitor (in this case human/cylon) cards at the start of the game. What really makes the game work is that roughly halfway through the game a second set of loyalty cards are dealt out, meaning it was possible for you to have been a human during the first half and end up a cylon during the second half! Absolutely nails the theme of the show and the suspicion flying around the table is off-the-charts. It also uses an extremely clever challenge system where the players are collectively playing cards to try and get through events that pop up. The challenge needs cards of a certain color; two random cards are tossed face down to start the pile and each player can toss in cards face down as well. Mix up the cards and all matching cards count towards passing the challenge while non-matching cards work against it. It is such an awesome mechanic because it is very easy for cylons to slip in evil cards to mess things up; at the same time, tossing in too many evil cards makes it easy to figure out who the cylons are.

My only real complaint is that they use stills from the show and mugshots of the actors in the game, which is really going to date the game quickly. I'd rather they used original artwork. Thankfully the game itself is so awesome that I don't mind. In my mind there is almost no reason to ever play Shadows over Camelot again. Battlestar has more depth, keeps players involved each turn and adds to the suspicion level. Awesome, awesome stuff.

Dreaded Gazebo wrote:

stuff.

I haven't played enough Dominion for it to get old yet. I think you're right, that the core of the game is get gold to get provinces. But then, the core of any German game is usually get points, so that in and of itself doesn't bug me.

LOVE Agricola. Horrible theme though. "Be the worlds least depressing subsistence farmer!" If you just inserd a post apocalyptic adjective before every card, the game is so much better. I'm not kidding. Instead of buying a cow, you're buying "pure-strain DNA cleaned feeder cattle." Instead of Pigs you're buying "Meat-algae." Your "hearth" just became a small-scale nuclear food processing system.

Red November I found pretty meh.

Hated Camelot. Watched BSG, and had the same reaction to the art.

Metropolys, for what it's worth, has the single worst map I've ever seen in any game, ever. Thankfully, its usable, but it's the ugliest thing ever.

Checking out that Arkham Horror picture, there are investigator cards for Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple? Is there a new expansion out I haven't seen yet?
(sound of receding footsteps running to the fantasy flight games website)

rabbit wrote:

LOVE Agricola. Horrible theme though. "Be the worlds least depressing subsistence farmer!" If you just inserd a post apocalyptic adjective before every card, the game is so much better. I'm not kidding. Instead of buying a cow, you're buying "pure-strain DNA cleaned feeder cattle." Instead of Pigs you're buying "Meat-algae." Your "hearth" just became a small-scale nuclear food processing system.

Really? I find the theme charming as all get out. I even like the amateur-ish art. To me, it's a nice change from the forced grandeur of a lot of other games, and makes it really easy to get "in character" after a fashion. I do wish it came with the vegemeeples and animeeples though.

I just picked up Dominion but have not had a chance to play it yet. I also recently picked up some light-medium complexity wargames:

Combat Commander
Conflict of Heroes
Fields of Fire

Combat Commander is superb. It is completely card-driven but a bit meatier than a game like Memoir 44. I am still learning Fields of Fire. It is a solitaire system, somewhat akin to Ambush! but looks like it will be a lot of fun once I get my head around some of the rules.

Dominion expansions in the works, should be playtesting them late spring.

I've played Ghost Stories, and i think part of it's appeal lies in the theme. You'll definitely get more out of the game if you're a fan of Tsui Hark and the Chinese Ghost Story movies. Game-play wise, I'd have to say it's really more for the hardcore co-op game fan.

rabbit wrote:

LOVE Agricola. Horrible theme though. "Be the worlds least depressing subsistence farmer!" If you just inserd a post apocalyptic adjective before every card, the game is so much better. I'm not kidding. Instead of buying a cow, you're buying "pure-strain DNA cleaned feeder cattle." Instead of Pigs you're buying "Meat-algae." Your "hearth" just became a small-scale nuclear food processing system.

That'll be the Steve Jackson edition that comes out in 5 years.

I almost want to buy CoH having never played it, but I'll have a chance next weekend, and I can wait until then.

I did just order the new Talisman and the new Cosmic Encounter from FFG. Two games that desperately needed the FFG treatment.

jakeleg wrote:

I just picked up Dominion but have not had a chance to play it yet. I also recently picked up some light-medium complexity wargames:

Combat Commander
Conflict of Heroes
Fields of Fire

Combat Commander is superb. It is completely card-driven but a bit meatier than a game like Memoir 44. I am still learning Fields of Fire. It is a solitaire system, somewhat akin to Ambush! but looks like it will be a lot of fun once I get my head around some of the rules.

Love Combat Commander. I swear, i really want to get a game of this going over Vassal, Jakeleg, time permitting.

Word is that Fields of Fire has a VERY challenging rulebook, think Avalon Hill circa 1979. Check out this thread of someone learning the game, lots of good tips.

I really have nothing to add except that I am completely envious of you all. When I moved I left behind my gaming group and other than a weekly D&D group I don't get a chance to play anything new.

I wonder if I could talk my wife into trying Dominion...

Double-post... Still envious.

I haven't read a single word of this thread yet but I can already feel it costing me money. Bastards.

rabbit wrote:

I almost want to buy CoH having never played it, but I'll have a chance next weekend, and I can wait until then.

I did just order the new Talisman and the new Cosmic Encounter from FFG. Two games that desperately needed the FFG treatment.

Definitely let us know what you think of CoH... I am very interested to hear more.

I was gifted Cosmic for the holiday, and I gifted Talisman to a friend; we've played them both very recently.

Talisman is exactly what one would expect: FFG kicked up the components a notch or three (even after Black Industries made improvements on the art front), but the game play is ultimately what you remember (if you're a longtime Talisman fan). The one new thing is the ability to spend Fate(?) points to re-roll a die. Otherwise, it is the same random, around-the-board affair. Expect luck to swing wildly between players towards the end game. Some people love that, some don't, but if you liked the old one, FFG gave it the royal treatment.

This incarnation of Cosmic is the first I've had the opportunity to play, but my god. I love this game, I just really wish that FFG had added one more player's worth of components. It plays fast, is loads of fun and ripe with interaction.

If you're ever back in the Bay Area Rabbit, or for that matter, any other Goodjers in the BA, and want to get together for some board games, hit me up! My wife and I get together with another couple (and often some other folks too) on a near weekly basis. You can see my modest collection here.

Finally, I have been toying with the idea of using Fantasy Grounds to run a game of Battlestations...

Mousetrap wrote:

Checking out that Arkham Horror picture, there are investigator cards for Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple? Is there a new expansion out I haven't seen yet?
(sound of receding footsteps running to the fantasy flight games website)

I believe those where custom made by the poster of the pic, not 100% sure though.

jonnypolite wrote:
jakeleg wrote:

I just picked up Dominion but have not had a chance to play it yet. I also recently picked up some light-medium complexity wargames:

Combat Commander
Conflict of Heroes
Fields of Fire

Combat Commander is superb. It is completely card-driven but a bit meatier than a game like Memoir 44. I am still learning Fields of Fire. It is a solitaire system, somewhat akin to Ambush! but looks like it will be a lot of fun once I get my head around some of the rules.

Love Combat Commander. I swear, i really want to get a game of this going over Vassal, Jakeleg, time permitting.

Word is that Fields of Fire has a VERY challenging rulebook, think Avalon Hill circa 1979. Check out this thread of someone learning the game, lots of good tips.

I am looking forward to it. scrub also has CC and wants to try some Vassal with it. There are some folks working on a CoH Vassal module right now. Vassal is a godsend for folks who don't have lots of gaming buddies nearby. And yes, Fields of Fire is extremely complex. I am plowing through the rulebook, but there are some concepts that seem counterintuitive to me. I assume they will make sense once in context.

Dominions, by the way, is perfectly implemented at Brettspielwelt.de

Cosmic encounter is the root game for a lot of things in the last 20 years, most especially Magic: The Gathering. The last version (Avalon Hill) bears almost no resemblance to the wonderful game of old. From everything I've read, the new version is the original, fixed up.

I do get to the bay area once in a while, generally I'm all about Endgame Oakland, as Chris Hanrahan has become a friend.

HedgeWizard wrote:

If you're ever back in the Bay Area Rabbit, or for that matter, any other Goodjers in the BA, and want to get together for some board games, hit me up! My wife and I get together with another couple (and often some other folks too) on a near weekly basis. You can see my modest collection here.

I'll be in the Bay Area next week, but I don't think I'll have too much free time (besides during the day, when everyone else is working).

I also looked at the collection and I was envious. I assume that's what you were going for.

If I end up going to law school in the bay area expect +1 or +2 attendance to your game nights.

Sweet thread. I went ahead and added Dominion and the new version of Cosmic Encounter to my Amazon wish list, for future birthday goodness.

Yea, Dominion sounds pretty cool, I may check that one out.

I'm glad we have you front line boardgamers out there sorting the wheat from the chaff. I recently bought my first "niche" boardgame, Power Grid, and it's pretty tough to find the right group to play it with. I can't imagine being able to participate in the 2009 board game thread (though I wish I could).

Scapism, or any Goodjers in the NYC area, if you're even in the area and want to play some games, hit ME up! I've got a full semi-regular game night every other week, but would love to get some more game playing in.

Here's a link to my collection.

I recently picked up the new Asmodee version of Formula De, rechristened FORMULA D:

IMAGE(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51iqgXo1VXL._SL500_AA280_.jpg)

I know a lot of people here aren't big fans of the original, but I still love it when played with the right group of people.

The new version keeps nearly all of the same rules, the same dice mechanic, etc., and adds a few more tweaks-- new fancier "dashboards" with pegs (instead of the old scratchpad), 20 painted cars (10 F1 cars, and 10 street racing cars), a new street racing course map (on the reverse of the traditional F1 track map), new rules for playing unique driver characters (different drivers get special bonuses or powers), and new rules for said street racing (stuff like having to roll to see if you get shot at while driving through a "bad" neighborhood).

The game becomes more fun the closer you get to the full 10 players, and while races can be long and some people dislike the luck component, I spent the best 16 weeks of my boardgaming life playing through a full "season" with 9 other interested players.

http://www.amazon.com/Asmodee-FDUSAS...

Arovin wrote:
Mousetrap wrote:

Checking out that Arkham Horror picture, there are investigator cards for Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple? Is there a new expansion out I haven't seen yet?
(sound of receding footsteps running to the fantasy flight games website)

I believe those where custom made by the poster of the pic, not 100% sure though.

...well, the Black Goat of the Woods expansion is apparently out according to Fantasy Flight Games. That's a new expansion to me, anyway. It might or might not have said characters; although they mix genres slightly - so I should have been suspicious.

I bought Munchkin Quest last week. I haven't played it yet but will soon. Maybe even this weekend.

Just reading the rules, though, there are 20 pages where Munchkin has 4 so it's a bit more complex. A lot of the stuff is the same but with slight additions. Take for instance, die rolls in combat that are added to your total. Completely new stuff mostly pertains to the board since, well, it's completely new. It's these new rules that as I read I say to myself, "Not gonna remember that. Or that." I'm probably wrong 'cause new games always make more sense once you get the pieces and the board in front of you but stuff like monster card stands associated with players by color seems unnecessary.

Scaphism wrote:

I also looked at the collection and I was envious. I assume that's what you were going for.

That wasn't my intention no, but the end result is fine by me

From my vantage, my collection is pretty small and defined compared to a lot of other folks out there who own 30-50-100 games...

But I figured it would be a good way to show people what I have in case they were in the area and interested.

On a side note, we have some pretty good law schools out here. I almost attended one myself (was accepted but the wife who is already in grad school herself decided now was the time to have a baby).

I completely forgot to mention one of my new favorites: Rails of Europe, the first expansion map for Railroad Tycoon. I enjoy Railroad Tycoon quite a bit, my main complaint is that the map is far too large - especially with fewer than six - and parts of the map are too crowded while other parts go virtually unused. There's also a lot of room for arguments over the river cost rules.

Rails of Europe fixes everything that was wrong with the original and turned it into a really tense, exciting game. The map is significantly smaller and the rail cost rules have been simplified a bit. Due to the map layout and the different scale on the score/income track the game feels completely different from the original. It is much more cutthroat, easier to cut people off and you really end up in the mix of things. Fantastic game and it really makes me hope that they come out with other expansion maps soon. Really awesome. I've playes a few different rail games and Railroad Tycoon is hands-down my favorite. It hits the perfect mix of depth versus simplicity.

As for Agricola, I think it is a decent game but not necessarily deserving of the top spot on BGG. It is really challenging... I've found that I have been doing worse with each play You need to do a little bit of everything and if you get off to a bad start you are pretty much screwed. Now that I know how the game works I end up over-focusing on the areas I did poorly in last time and fall behind in new and exciting ways. I don't like that someone with a better hand of cards simply has an outright advantage; I've seen some awesome combos that I simply couldn't compete with. The theme works well and the mechanics are solid, I just find that I like other worker placement games better. What really blows my mind is that some folks on BGG treat it as the ultimately family game and write up session reports playing it with their five year olds. Yes, there is a simplified ruleset that doesn't use the cards but it is still a very complex game. I don't know what they are playing but I guarantee you it doesn't at all resemble Agricola!