New to Me – May 2018

Sorry for the super-long delay in posting here at Dude Central (not counting yesterday’s repost).

I had a mission, should I have chosen to accept it, that I had to take care of.

Yes, you are looking at Tom Cruise, why do you ask?

Ethan

Anyway, I’m back now and hoping to keep up the blogging goodness that you all (well, my one reader anyway) are expecting.

And why not start again with this month’s “New to Me games” post?

It was a pretty lean month for games (I was away saving the world, you know) (Editor: Ssshhhh!!!! That was classified!). But I did manage to get four new games in, and three of them were pretty good!

First, though, we are recruiting new Cult of the New to Me members. We especially need somebody to be treasurer because…well, let’s just say that the books are pretty much the opposite of balanced.

But that’s not important right now.

So without further adieu (all the adieu went up in a fiery explosion in the jungles of Brazil anyway), let’s get started!

Porta Nigra (2015 – Stronghold Games) – 1 play (owned)

pic3060256

Designers: Michael Kiesling, Wolfgang Kramer

Artist: Michael Menzel

2-4 players

Part of the “Great Designers” series put out by Stronghold Games, Porta Nigra is a game about buying bricks and using them to build structures in the ancient Roman city of Porta Nigra (hey, I just realized that’s where the name of the game came from!)

Smart

In Porta Nigra, you’ll have a Master Builder that is going around the city buying bricks, and then using those bricks to build impressive structures around the city for huge gobs of victory points (ok, sometimes they aren’t *huge* exactly, but they’re definitely gobs).

Porta Nigra - 2
Those horses must get dizzy…

The Master Builder is represented by a guy on a horse, and the markets where you buy bricks are in the center of the board.

Each player has a small deck of cards of which they will always have two in their hand (until there’s only one card left, of course). They choose which card to play and they can do the number of actions on the card based on the torches at the bottom of the card. These actions will involve buying bricks, placing buildings, getting influence, getting more torches, or getting more money. They then draw another card at the end of their turn.

The trick is that the board is divided into four districts. You must move the Master Builder from one district to another (say you want to buy brick from a different district, or build in a different one), you must pay one money per district traversed, and you must go clockwise. Then, if you want to buy brick, you can pay money for that as well.

As you can see, money can be tight in this game sometimes.

The round ends when you’re out of cards. Mid-game scoring means counting the number of bricks you’ve used to build so far, doubling it, and then choosing to split that number between victory points and money. It’s very tempting to take a lot of money there.

Porta Nigra - 3
It’s a little known fact that Romans of different colours liked to stand on top of buildings and just preen. Look it up!

The game goes two rounds (three rounds in a 2-player game) and then the city will look beautiful (if incomplete) with lots of colour.

And you will get area scoring as well as other types which I won’t get into now.

I really liked this game. It’s fairly simple to learn and to teach (Editor: Dave won’t tell you about his solo learning game where he forgot that you had to actually pay for the bricks) and we finished in under 90 minutes for a 3-player game. Some of that was learning the game and how it goes. And then the agonizing “argh, I need money to do that!” feeling.

The “bricks” being grey plastic pieces that only take on a colour when placed in certain spots is actually an interesting cost-saving mechanism, because there is the potential for all of the bricks to be out. If the game came with a set number of bricks painted in each colour, that would be unnecessarily limiting.

Overall, I’d definitely say this is a good game that I hope to get to the table again.

Citrus (2013 – DLP Games & Tasty Minstrel Games) – 1 Play

pic1759308

Designer: Jeffrey D. Allers

Artist: Klemens Franz

2-4 players

While this game came out in 2013, I played the souped-up North American version of it that came out from Tasty Minstrel Games just recently in 2018.

However, I’m considering it a 2013 game for my “I’m not a member of the Cult of the New!” mantra (really, we have T-Shirts).

I posted a pic on Instagram when I played it, with the caption “Who knew citrus harvesting was so cutthroat?” which Tasty Minstrel really liked.

Basically, you are building citrus groves and harvesting them for points, but you are at war with your fellow citrus growers.

Citrus
The many colours of plantations in Citrus

On your turn, you will have your choice of two actions. You can either buy a row or column of plantation tiles from the market place (which I forgot to get a picture of!) (Editor: There will be beatings) or you can harvest one of your plantation regions.

When buying tiles, you will have a choice of between one and four tiles to buy depending on what’s left in the row/column, and you have to pay one coin per tile you take. You have to then place them on the board following two rules.

A tile must either:

  1. be attached to a region you control of the same colour
  2. connect directly to a free side of one of the fincas (houses) that are on the board. However, that finca must not already have a plantation of the same colour directly attached to it. You then put one of the meeples on your player board on that newly-created region

If you can’t meet those placement rules, you cannot buy the row of tiles.

When you harvest, you take your little farmer meeple back to your mat and get points based on how many tiles in the region that your meeple was in. You also get money based on how many meeples you now have on your player board.

When a finca is fully surrounded (all squares around it have a tile on them), then the finca is scored based on who controls the most plantations surrounding it.

That’s the really basic version of the game. It would require a full review to say more than that, but I have to say that I really liked this game.

The Five By podcast reviewed Citrus and had a great quote: It’s like a knife fight in a phone booth. I couldn’t have said it better (Editor: believe him, he tried!). It seems like a nice, scenic tile-laying game, peaceful as you are creating this beautiful countryside of colourful citrus groves.

And then it gets mean.

I love it!

I would definitely try this game again. I had a large region that scored big points at the end of the game along with helping me score a few fincas, but unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough.

I need to replay this so I can get that victory that was denied me! (Editor: He’s not bitter or anything)

Anyway, give this one a try. The Tasty Minstrel edition is wonderfully-produced and I really recommend playing it.

Kokoro: Avenue of the Kodama (2017 – Indie Boards & Cards) – 1 Play

pic3566028

Designer: Eilif Svensson, Kristian Amundsen Østby

Artists: Kwanchai Moriya, Daniel Solis

1-8 players

This game is another in the unbelievably popular genre of “roll and write” games, except this one doesn’t have any dice to roll. It’s card-based, but many gamers who like roll and write games do tend to incorporate the card ones into the genre as well.

The enchanted forest of the kodama is doing very well, but with growth comes overgrowth. All of the paths are getting overrun! You have been charged with clearing those paths again so that all of the sanctuaries are accessible again. You will be charting a path to the sanctuaries, trying to run into places where you can gather offerings for the guardians, and restore the forest to its peacefulness.

And win their favour as well.

And these forest spirits are real a-holes. It’s not enough that you’re clearing paths to all of the sanctuaries, but the paths have to be longer to the next sanctuary than it was to the previous one!

If you don’t succeed, you lose points.

The nerve of those jerks! I’m not really feeling very pleasantly disposed towards them right now.

Anyway, you start with a map like this.

Kokoro - Map
Ok, you start with a map like this *without* the paths already drawn. It’s your job to draw them.

Then each round, a sanctuary card is flipped over. This is the sanctuary that you need to trace a path to.

Kokoro - Sanctuary

However, you can’t just draw a line anywhere. That would be too easy!

Kokoro - path cards

Instead, path cards are turned over and then everybody draws that path piece somewhere on their map. Lines cannot intersect, so if you have a line going into a square that already has a line in it that doesn’t connect (like in the top left corner of the map picture above), you will never continue that path.

The round ends when three yellow cards appear, so you never know when you will have to stop. You will get one point per square on your path that goes through that sanctuary.

And here’s the kicker (as you may have noticed from the map picture) – in each round your path must be longer than previous rounds or you will lose 5 points! That will restart you at zero, so at least the next path after that can be of any length, but it’s still difficult.

You have to join previously-drawn paths in order to keep that increasing length going, though. If you’re not planning well, you’ll be hooped.

You also get points for going through offering spaces and such.

Whoever has the most points wins!

I don’t know. It’s a beautiful game, the artwork is great.

I just think the roll and write genre isn’t for me. While I don’t mind playing them, they don’t really enthuse me either.

The other problem with Kokoro for me is that it involves spatial planning, which I have never been good at. Foreseeing how things should go to move efficiently is not my forte.

The fact that I came in second totally surprised me.

If you do like the genre, this one may be worth a try.

But I don’t need to play it again.

Inis (2016 – Matagot) – 1 Play

pic3112623

Designer: Christian Martinez

Artists: Dimitri Bielak, Jim Fitzpatrick

2-4 players

Inis is a game that relies heavily on Celtic history and lore, where each player is trying to become king (Inis) of a steadily growing island (not literally growing, as this game doesn’t take place over millennia, but you know what I mean).

Inis - Lands
Those blue clans are just living peacefully in the Meadows, waiting for somebody to come and try to move them out.

You do this by playing season cards that will allow you to take certain actions, either moving your clans, placing clans, placing citadels or sanctuaries, and maybe even collecting Epic Tale cards that will let you do even more awesome things!

Inis - Cards

When you control territories (have more clans than any other player in that territory) at the beginning of the round, you will get that territory’s card which will let you do other stuff.

Inis - Clans
I will refrain from making a lame “limp spear” joke

The clans are neat little plastic miniatures that you can place on the board, coming in four different types (the types don’t mean anything, they just look cool).

There are three winning conditions that can be fulfilled:

  1. Be the leader (have control) in territories where there are a total of six clans of the other players
  2. Have your clans present in six territories
  3. Have your clans in territories where there are at least six sanctuaries

However, during the round, you must spend a turn taking an action to declare yourself Inis. You take a token but others can lay claim to the throne too.

At the beginning of the next round, victory conditions are checked. For everybody who claimed the title of Inis, they must meet at least one of those victory conditions.

The winner is the player who has fulfilled the most victory conditions. If there is a tie, the Brenn (leader of the territory where the capital is) breaks the tie and wins the game.

I really did like this game, though it dragged a little bit near the end with all of the jockeying for position among the clans (you only have 12!) and vying for control. There were multiple turns where two players met conditions, but once you declare you sort of paint a target on your back.

I actually had the game won because I was going to meet two victory conditions, and I had played a card that let me look at a player’s Epic Tale cards. I looked and there was nothing that would stop me.

I had planned my move and it was brilliant!

But he drew an Epic Tale card the next turn that actually negated my whole move when I was able to take it.

Curses!!!!

He then went on to win the game.

Double Curses!!!!

Anyway, it was an interesting game that I would love to play again, but I hope the length was due to inexperience. The fun was starting to peter out at the end of the game. It would have gone even longer if I hadn’t made a mistake that basically handed him the game on a platter (I had misread one of my cards).

Still, the artwork is beautiful, the game is fun, and it has some interesting push and pull strategy as you’re trying to assume supremacy.

So that was my month of “new to me” games.

What was your month like?

Let me know in the comments.

 

 

4 thoughts on “New to Me – May 2018”

  1. Understand from Twitter you are down a bit on this blog. Please keep it going as I find your taste and my taste in gaming similar and I appreciate your perspectives. I find myself using twitter as the “react to the moment” medium for expressing myself and my blog for more think pieces. I end up posting less, but find I need it more than I give it time. Feel you are in similar situation.
    Whatever you decide, the most important part is to keep gaming!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much for the words. I definitely do plan on keeping it going. It’s just tough sometimes. Going through a bad patch, but I’ll be ok.

      Could be worse!

      Again, I very much appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

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