New to Me – November 2017

November was not looking like a good month for “new to me” games, but the last two weeks really picked it up.

I managed to end up playing four new games and two new expansions.

What is the Cult of the New to Me? Read about it here.

So let’s jump right into the gaming goodness.

Azul (2017 – Plan B Games) – 1 play

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I’ve been really attracted by the bright and colourful pictures of this tile-laying game designed by Michael Kiesling with art by Philippe Guérin and Chris Quilliams but had never had the chance to play it.

I was really glad I finally got to last week.

In this game, you’re trying to create a mosaic of tiles that fit the pattern on your board.

Azul - Board
Somebody’s bathroom!

You do this by taking tiles from the available ones that are out on the play area. You can take from any circle, but you only take one colour and you must take all of that colour.

You then have to place those in one of the rows on the left side of the board. Any leftovers you have can’t be put on a different row. They must be put on the bottom row (not quite in the picture, but you can see the minus points of it) and will score you negative points at the end of the round.

At the end of the round, when all tiles are taken (you can’t pass, which means you may be getting some negative points!), if a left-hand row is full, then the tile on the right of that row moves over to cover the square with the same design on it in the mosaic. The rest of the tiles get discarded.

You score points for each tile laid this way depending on what it’s next to when you place it.

Once a person has completed an entire row, the game ends and you total up your points. While you’ve been keeping track of points as you go, there is end-game scoring if you make columns (7 points) or cover all squares of a design (10 points).

There’s more details to the game, but that gives you a good overview.

I have to say that I loved this game, and I normally don’t do abstract games very well. There is almost no theme to this game whatsoever (I think you’re creating mosaics for a king’s palace or something?), which is why I call it abstract.

It’s gorgeous, easy to learn but hard to master, and is just tons of fun to play. It’s short too, so it makes a great game for the end of the night. It’s a bit thinky, just like many abstract games.

But I didn’t bounce off of this one.

My full review can be found here.

City of Iron (2013 – Red Raven Games) – 1 Play

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I’m not sure what I was thinking of when I kept hearing the name of this game, but for some reason I just never jumped at the chance when it was offered up at a game day.

However, when I was told it had elements of deck-building and a board to play on, I thought I should probably give it a try.

This is a game designed by and with artwork by Ryan Laukat, and like most Red Raven games I’ve seen, it is gorgeous to look at.

City of Iron - Board
Lots of beautiful landscape to explore!

In this game, you start with two civilian and two military cards, and each type has its own “deck”. You have a bunch of cards that are available to buy and put into one of your decks each turn, depending on your strategy.

Each round, you can take three actions (one action per turn). You can build one of the buildings along the building track (cards at the bottom of the pic), buy a science (book) token, draw a card from either of your decks, attack a city (cards above the board in the pic), “store” a building (take the building and put it face down, so you can build it later), or do an “executive action” (the top action of a card in your hand).

Using these actions, you will collect resources, explore new lands (each land can only hold so many buildings, so you need to explore to be able to hold more). Doing all of this stuff will get you victory points during the three scoring rounds.

It is basically a civilization-building game, but you can build it up peacefully or through war (each city will give you resource income of a certain type, as well as money income). Some buildings can only be built on a certain type of terrain, and your starting land may not have that type. So it’s good to explore a bit, no matter what your strategy.

It’s quite intricate and there are multiple avenues to winning.

Like most of these civ-building games, I tried to do too many different things at once and thus floundered in the back of the pack. You really have to stick to a certain strategy in order to win.

But it’s a fun game and I’d be interested in trying it again.

Le Havre (2008 – Mayfair Games/Lookout)  – 1 Play

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This is a heavy economic game designed by Uwe Rosenberg with art by Klemens Franz

Believe it or not, I have never played this Rosenberg classic. It’s one of Tom Vasel’s favourite games, and it’s widely regarded as one of his best.

I had tried the app version, but had no sense of how the game worked after the tutorial, so never really bothered with trying it. I had wanted to play it on the table.

And…I was ok with it.

I wasn’t floored, though maybe that’s because I’m not that good with economic games. It’s a pretty heavy game (3.76 out of 5 on the “weight” scale on BGG) and it definitely felt that way.

Le Havre - Board
That’s a lot of buildings

The game play is very basic.

Each round consists of moving your ship along the path of the water circles at the bottom of the board. The circular tile indicates what resources get fed into the “offers” at the bottom.

Your ships are leapfrogging each other, so you will only get 2-3 actions per round before it’s time to feed your workers (because of course you do, it’s a Rosenberg game) so you have to make your moves as efficiently as possible.

On your turn, you can either take an offer (sometimes those offers can get quite full…maybe you really want 12 fish!) or you can move your worker from one building to another.

Some buildings let you build (or buy) additional buildings, which can then also be used. Those buildings, if they’re in your tableau, will give you points at the end of the game. They can also be used by other players, though some have a cost that they must pay you in order to use them.

It’s an intricate dance, and I often found myself one move short of what I wanted to do, or one resource short (that always happens to me).

Not to mention that it dragged out for almost 3 hours at three players. I’m sure that can be lessened once everybody’s familiar with the game, but it was a bit too much for me.

I would like to play it again to see if it’s something that I can learn to enjoy and figure out.

Dragonfire (2017 – Catalyst Game Labs) – 1 Play

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We only played the quickstart scenario for this cooperative deck-building game. It’s a game with 10 designers and no artist, according to BGG.

In this game, each player is a character in a Dungeons & Dragons adventure. Depending on the number of players (it plays up to 6), you may be missing out on a Rogue or a Wizard or Cleric, or a Fighter.

Each character has its own deck of starting cards, so a Fighter will have more martial cards in their hand and a Wizard more Arcane cards. There is a pool of cards available for purchase as well.

Dragonfire - Monster
That guy needs a shave

At the start of the round, a number of Encounter cards equal to the number of players is laid out, one encounter in front of each player.

On your turn, you will play cards to try and defeat the monsters, either your own or those in front of other players.

Each monster has a number of levels that must be defeated in order. The Ettin above requires 5 damage of any type, and then one martial damage and then another martial damage to finally kill. If you kill it, you divide the 7 gold (in the top left corner) among the players, one each starting with the player who actually killed it.

If you don’t kill it at the end of your turn, it will do damage to you, the number in the bottom right corner (the Ettin above will do one damage).

You can then use any gold you have to buy more powerful cards to add to your deck. Unlike most deck-builders, however, you will be adding these cards to your hand, so you can use it next turn.

Players win if there is at least one player still conscious (you don’t “die” in this game, you’re just unconscious) when all monsters are defeated.

Since we only played the quickstart scenario, we didn’t use a lot of things, like the actual Dragonfire cards and the locations. This can probably add some interesting aspects to it, but it can also add even more to the main fault I had with the game: it’s very fiddly.

There are lots of wound indicators to move on the various monsters, some monsters add “tokens” that you must kill too or they will attack you. You have wound indicators on your player board to keep track of. If you are having a good combo turn, you have lots of damage types to keep track of as well.

I’d like to try this with one of the scenarios to get the full game experience, but there are definitely better cooperative deck-builders out there.

Expansions:

Terraforming Mars: Hellas map

TM - Hellas
Lots of green stuff!

I’ve loved Terraforming Mars since the second time I played it (wasn’t enamored the first time) so I’ve been itching to try the expansion maps.

The map has some new milestones and new awards which will change your strategies a bit.

No new cards or corporations, but the map is nice. Especially that south pole area that will give you a lot of heat so you can increase the temperature.

It’s a fun map with some interesting terraforming locations making for interesting decisions.

Would need more plays before I figure out which one I like best. But I definitely did enjoy this one (and came in 2nd!)

Tyrants of the Underdark: Aberrations & Undead

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Tyrants of the Underdark has quickly become one of my favourite games, so it was only natural that I’d be jumping onto the expansion that gives you two new faction decks.

I played a game with just these two factions earlier this month and I have to say that I really liked how they worked together.

Undead cards are really good at resurrecting the dead (no, really?), with some allowing you to use the top card of the “Devoured” pile as if it was in the Market, and others allowing you to deploy troops from a player’s victory pile out onto the board. There are some other interesting  mechanics as well.

Aberrations can be used a lot to force others to discard cards, or to prevent them from doing it to you (or giving you a beneficial effect if you do have to discard).

I’d like to see how well the factions work with the base game factions, but they are really cool overall. Some might be considered a bit too overpowered, but I didn’t find them that way.

Also, it must be noted that there is the problem with the cards themselves. They feel different than the base game cards and they are slightly bigger than the base cards too.

It’s not a huge deal, especially if you sleeve them, but it is something to be aware of.

So what new games did you play this month?

Let me know in the comments.

 

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