After a week of being away, how about a big “New Games I Played in May” post as a return?
May was a good month for new games for me, and three of them were actually 2016 games! That’s kinda new, right?
Anyway, on to the list. There are definitely some good games on here.
Imhotep (2016 – KOSMOS Games) – 3 plays
This one has to be my favourite new game of May, though some of the others are damned close.
In this one, each player is trying to help build various monuments in ancient Egypt and get the most prestige/glory/whatever the heck they call it in this game (it would be nice if games picked one name for victory points and kept it).
The game is interesting because each player is building on the same thing. Players have their own stone quarries that they get stone from, then put on ships that will be going to four of the five locations. One of the locations, the Market, gets you cards that you can either save for later, you have to use immediately, or get you end-game victory points.
The others have various ways to place your stones to get the most victory points, but stones are unloaded from boats from front to back, so where you have your stones on the boats can be very important.
And you don’t even have to have stones on a boat to ship it to one of the locations, so you can seriously screw with somebody if you really want (though that does waste a turn where you’re not getting any benefit, so it’s not something to do willy-nilly).
I love that these decisions on what to do on your turn (get stone from your quarry, place a stone on a boat, send a boat to a location, or play a blue card) can be quite difficult sometimes.
And it’s such a simple game! Non-gamers can easily play it (one of the players I introduced it to, and who loved it, thought another fairly simple game looked way too complex, so that tells you something). It teaches fast, it plays fast (40 minutes easily), and it’s interesting.
What’s not to like?
Jorvik (2016 – Stronghold Games) – 1 play
A Viking game that’s not about conquest?
Jorvik is the Norse name for the English city of York, and it’s about the Viking settlement of that area.
Players assume the role of Viking Jarls, trying to earn the greatest number of Prestige Points (Not glory? I’m so confused…) by having the best village. You can gain cards that will earn you resources to buy other cards that give you prestige points, or maybe the craftsman card you bought will give you prestige points for a certain type of resource that you place on it? You’ll need to get some military power to hold off the violent Pict hordes that show up every season as well. If you’re the worst at fighting them off, it’s curtains for you!
Ok, actually, you just lose a few prestige points, but tell that to young Olaf…
What I loved about this game was the buying mechanism for the cards. The deck is divided into the four seasons, and each turn 10 cards are placed out ready to purchase. (The basic version of the game only has 5 cards, but this game looks terrible if you only play that version, so we didn’t, as the advanced version doesn’t really add much complexity).
For the five cards at the bottom of the board, players place their viking meeples (veeples?) beneath a card they want, one at a time in turn order. However, others can place their workers there as well behind yours.
If you placed your first, then you get first crack at buying the card. However, it costs the amount of gold equal to the number of vikings beneath the card. If there are four vikings there, it costs you four gold.
If you decide not to buy it, you remove your viking and the next player gets to decide whether or not to buy it. But it costs one gold less, because there is one less viking there.
So you can drive up the price of a card and maybe get it for yourself if you wish.
The cards at the top of the board have a similar mechanic, but you reserve a card to purchase instead. You place your viking on a card, and that goes to the next available “reserved” space. Nobody else can bid on it.
However, the cost of your card is equal to the number of reserved cards. So if three other players reserved a card and you reserved your first, that card will cost you 4 gold. If you decide not to buy it, the card is removed and the next player can buy their reserved card.
For one less.
You can see how that can get a bit difficult.
I loved this game (full rules detail will be in any future review). Definitely needs some more plays, as I tried to do too many things at once in my play and failed miserably.
Royals (2014 – Arcane Wonders) – 1 Play
This game is a step up from Ticket to Ride, but does have some of the same mechanisms. Totally different them, though, as you are vying for influence in four European countries over a period of 150 years (17th-18th century). You collect “country” cards to then play to influence various titles (Marshal, Princess, King, etc) within a certain country. Some titles will only cost one country card to influence while somebody (like the King) will take 8!
Intrigue cards can help you boot one of your opponents off of a space and let you take it over too.
The game looks glorious and it looks more complicated than it actually is (there’s a lot of little counters to place on the board or beside it). It’s actually very easy, though deciding where to place your influence can be tricky sometimes.
Each run through of the country card deck is a period, and you do a scoring round after that.
At the end of the game, whoever has the most…we’ll call it victory points because I can’t be bothered to figure it out…is the winner!
Another relatively quick game that I’m glad I’ve added to my collection.
Colony (2016 – Bezier Games) – 1 Play
It’s a post-apocalypse world (this time, it’s a nanopocalypse which is much more interesting than a zombie apocalypse) and each player is trying to build the best colony using dice! Yes, dice as resources, and it’s actually a pretty interesting mechanic in this case.
Resources can be stable (white dice) which allow you to keep them if you haven’t used them in a turn, and unstable (grey dice) which have to be used that turn or be lost. You use these resources to do a number of things, most importantly build buildings from the available buildings card piles. These buildings are added to your colony, adding…prestige…no, glory….no, actually just victory points.
Also, buildings give you various abilities that you can use to gather even more resources, or attack other players (and defend against such attacks as well).
It’s a fun game, and I would really like to get it to the table again and rectify my horrible last-place finish (I can never win the first plays of my own games for some reason).
This is a fabulous 2-player adaptation of the always fun to play 7 Wonders card game. It was much-needed because the 2-player variant for that game…well, it sucks.
However, Duel is awesome. It has an interesting mechanism where the cards available for purchase are in a formation where you can only buy the cards that are not covered by another card. Also, some of them are face-down so you don’t know what they are.
If you buy that card, you may be opening up a card that your opponent *really* wants. But you have to build up your civilization as well, so you can’t do too much about it. But it’s a consideration.
You can also discard one of the available cards for gold if you’re broke, or use the card to build one of your wonders (you have 4) if you can afford the cost of building it.
There are three ages in the game, with cards getting more expensive each age.
The player with the most…ah, hell, I think it actually is victory points in this case…at the end of the game wins!
The Pantheon expansion adds gods and god-powers that give players more options and more considerations.
I played one basic game and one with the expansion, and I have to say I preferred the expansion. The basic game is really good, but the expansion just adds so much great stuff to it. Makes for more decisions and less “obvious” plays.
Both games are great, though.
Five Tribes (Days of Wonder – 2014) – 1 play
This game looked really complicated every time I stopped by for a moment to watch others play it. There are so many meeples out on the board! What are they all doing?
But sitting down to play it, it’s remarkably simple yet has some complex decisions as well.
Tiles are laid out in a pattern, and these tiles give special bonuses when you land on them. You take a pile of meeples and then, one at a time, drop them onto successive tiles in a path to the tile that you want to ultimately land on. And you have to decide what colour meeple you want to land on that tile too, because that could be important for taking control of it.
The mancala mechanic works really well in this game.
Doing all of these things will grant you…I think victory points (?) at the end of the game, though you don’t keep a running total. Everything is added up at the end, which can add a bit of intrigue.
We played with the Artisans of Naqala expansion, and it really adds to the game I think (though I haven’t played the base game alone, so what do I know?). The artisans actually gave me the victory, so I may be biased.
So what new games did you play in May?
Let me know in the comments, or if you have a comment about one of the games listed above, leave one too!