New to Me – August 2017

August was the month of the Dragonflight convention (38th edition, see you there on the 39th maybe?) so it’s to be expected that I would get some new games in.

But surprisingly, not as many as I expected. I did get a couple of new ones in there, but we played a lot of the old mainstays, which is also never a bad thing. Still, three of my six new games were played there, and I also played for a second time one of my August new ones.

I always like a good mix, and August was definitely one of those (though there would be one more new game in there if it hadn’t been aborted on Turn 3 for reasons).

So why don’t I stop blathering and let us get to the good stuff?

Century: Spice Road (2017 – Plan B Games) – 2 plays

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Designer: Emerson Matsuuchi

Artists: David Richards, Fernanda Suárez

Players: 2-5

This was definitely my favourite new game of the month. It’s so quick, so easy, and yet if you don’t plan things well, you’ll find yourself on the outside looking in.

You start with two cards, one that gives you two yellow spices and one that lets you convert spices to other spices (in order of “value,” they are yellow, red, green, brown)

Century 1
The two starter cards are purple, and on the left in this picture. The other one I got later.

Yes, you are basically using cards to turn one colour of cubes into different coloured cubes in order to fulfill contracts (5 contracts and you win), but for some reason it just works. It would be easy for a game like this to overstay its welcome, which is why the fact that this is a fast game (our 5-player game at Dragonflight clocked in at 34 minutes) really helps.

Some have called it a Splendor-killer, and I can’t totally disagree, though that game does have its own highlights that make it worth playing. And it has new expansions!

Definitely an August highlight.

My full review can be found here.

Broom Service (2015 – Alea/Ravensburger) – 1 Play (owned)

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Designers: Andreas Pelikan, Alexander Pfister

Artist: Vincent Dutrait

Players: 2-5

This is an interesting game that I highly enjoyed just for the “know your opponent/taking risks” aspect of the game.

In this game, you have two witches that are delivering potions to various towers on the board.

Broom Service board
The vast expanse of territory that you’ll be delivering to.

Each turn, you will take four cards from your deck and on your turn, decide whether you wish to do the action as “brave” or “cowardly”.

If you do it cowardly, then you do the cowardly action and your turn is done. The players in turn sequence have to play the same card if they have it in their hands, and each one has to make the same choice.

Broom Service cards
“Brave” witches let you fly *and* deliver. “Cowardly” ones just let you fly

If you play the card bravely, then you don’t get to do the action until it goes around the table and nobody else plays it bravely. If somebody does, then you don’t get to take the action at all.

This is what I loved about this game: trying to figure out what your opponents are going to want to do and predict whether or not they will have chosen the same cards as you.

It does get a bit chaotic with four players, but I definitely enjoyed my time with it.

Covert (2016 – Renegade Games) – 1 Play (owned)

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Designer: Kane Klenko

Artists: Luis Francisco, Hokunin, Scott Nicely, Chris Ostrowski

Players: 2-4

I have had Covert in my collection for a few months but have not managed to get it to the table yet. I was a bit intimidated about teaching it.

So when I saw there was an organized game of it at Dragonflight, I immediately signed up. This way, somebody will teach me!

This is a game about Cold War spying. Well, sort of. I mean, that’s the theme, but it’s basically set collection combined with completing “missions” that will give you victory points at the end of the game.

Covert dice and cards
My mission cards, my dice, and my combinations I’m trying to crack.

It also has a nice dice selection mechanic, as you roll your dice at the beginning of the turn and then alternate with other players to assign dice to various actions that you can do. You can travel Europe to make sure one of your agents is in the right city/area to do something, you can collect cards that will give you a multitude of abilities, or you can obtain/complete missions.

Covert map
The map of Europe as well as a couple of places where you can assign your dice.

I do like how you have to actually assign a die in order to complete a mission. It’s not just “I have the necessary stuff, here you go.”

Now that I know how to play, I’m anxious to get my copy to the table. And also anxious to play it correctly, as I know for a fact that one of the rules the volunteer taught was a house rule.

Fun game I definitely want to play again.

Hanamikoji (2013 – Kosmos Games) – 2 plays

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Designer: Kota Nakayama (中山 宏太)

Artist: Maisherly

Players: 2

This is a neat little card game that also plays quickly (both of my plays were on the same night).

You are trying to attract the favour of four of seven Geisha whose cards are laid out on the table. You do this by playing item cards that are used by the same coloured Geisha

Hanamikoji
Beautiful artwork!

(yeah, it’s basically playing the proper coloured cards to win the highest-point cards, but let’s just go with it).

Each player is dealt six cards, and on their turn they draw another card. You have four actions that you can do, once per round.

You can secretly save one of your cards that will be assigned to its proper Geisha and scored at the end of the round. You can secretly discard two cards that will be out of play. You can play three cards and have your opponent choose one that they play while you play the other two. Or you can create two sets of two cards and have your opponent choose which one they want to play while you play the other.

At the end of the round, each Geisha is scored and whoever has played the most cards to that Geisha earns the favour. If it’s tied, then the favour doesn’t move (first round, it stays neutral but in subsequent rounds it stays where it was at the beginning of the round).

The first player to earn the favour of four Geishas, or eleven points worth of Geishas (you can see the point values in the corners of the cards) wins!

I loved the push and pull of this one, and the agonizing decisions, especially when knowing that you are giving your opponent cards to play as well.

A quick game, very small footprint so it’s easy to travel with, and it’s a lot of fun for two players.

My full review can be found here.

Orleans (2014 – Tasty Minstrel Games) – 1 Play

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Designer: Reiner Stockhausen

Artist: Klemens Franz

Players: 2-4

Orleans is a game that I had heard many good things about but just hadn’t been able to find an opportunity to play it. I finally did early last month.

This is essentially a bag-building worker placement game, in that you will have a bunch of meeples in your bag and you will draw a certain number of them (depending on what level you are on the Knight track)

Orleans
The Knight track is red

You place these workers on your board in a place of appropriate colour and they will eventually do things for you when you have enough of them.

These workers will either get you more workers (letting you advance on the appropriate track as well), or will let you move your merchant on the trade board, or a few other things, all that will give you victory points at the end of the game.

Orleans 2
The trade board and the unknown goods that moving will get you (though they are flipped at the beginning of the game so you do know what you’re getting)

You don’t know how many victory points you have really until the end, and that’s one thing I love is when games don’t give you a running score. It’s nice to add everything up and go from there.

I really enjoyed it and would love to play it again. And then play it with the expansion.

Harbour (2015 – Tasty Minstrel Games) – 1 Play

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Designer: Scott Almes

Artists: Max Holliday, Rob Lundy

Players: 1-4

This is a game that we played just as Dragonflight was opening, and we had a lot of distractions.

It’s basically a fairly small footprint game of trading goods for buildings. It was kind of fun, but with all of the other stuff going on (going down to the registration desk to get our con badges, checking in to the hotel, etc), it wasn’t as fun as I think it might have been otherwise.

Harbour 1
Place your worker to get the building effect. And maybe eventually build the building!

I want to give it another chance before I pass any judgement on it, because I do see the seeds of a good game in there when I actually pay attention the whole time.

Harbour 2
Your wharf and your own goods track. Lots of stickers in this game!

I do see a lot of potential in it, though, and am looking forward to a subsequent play!

A full month of new games.

What did you play this month, and how many of them are new to you?

Let me know in the comments.

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