Holy moley, true believers!
October is usually a quiet month, but a gaming marathon at the beginning dumped five “new to me” games all in one day and it was only upwards from there!
That was the exciting part of the month. I was going to share it far and wide to the rest of the Cult of the New to Me, but unfortunately they all took great advantage of Canada’s new cannabis legalization laws and, well, this happened…
That seems to happen a lot when I’m talking, actually.
It’s obvious that fatigue is an on-going problem in our society.
Anyway, with nine “new to me” games on the list, my pal David over at Roll to Review should be happy.
So without further adieu (all of my adieu was taken by some dwarf and used to forge some stupid hammer named Mjölnir anyway), let’s get started!
Designers: Michael Palm, Lukas Zach
Artist: Jarek Nocoń
I started the month of October with a 12-hour marathon gaming session for charity (for Zero Ceiling, check them out and give, or take part in next year’s marathon!). This marathon contributed over half of my new games this month, beginning with The Dwarves.
The Dwarves is a cooperative game based on the Die Zwerge series of novels by Markus Heitz. In the game, you and your fellow players are trying to stop the forces of Evil (that’s with a capital E!) from taking over Girdlegard.
Each player takes a Dwarf role from the novel (or the expansions offer some other non-Dwarf characters from other books, I guess).
The scenario deck is created using a certain number of cards from three different difficulty levels, which means that the story will ramp up as you get closer to completion. There are also minor adventures that will give you stuff like equipment or other bonuses.
As you are trying to solve the scenario quests, monsters are slowly flooding into the land through various gates.
Each turn, the Hero marker advances and the player will roll the monster dice (except there are a few times where the Dwarven Council track will decrease by 1 or 2 threat cards will be shuffled into the Quest deck instead of rolling monsters).
Each type of monster (Orcs, Trolls, and Älfar) is represented by a die that is the same colour as the monster. When you roll, you place that many of that colour monster on the appropriate gate (the gate will change each turn).
If five or more monsters are on a space, that’s when they move. You draw a Perished Land tile, place the arrow appropriately, and move the monsters as indicated on the tile.
The monsters will slowly make their way toward the Blacksaddle, which is bad news (I guess going to the Whitesaddle would be good news, right?). If monsters ever reach there, then the Doom token will move one space toward…well, Doom.
You go through the game, completing quests and trying to get to the end of the Scenario Deck before you lose the game.
What are the outcomes?
If you complete the Scenario Deck, you win!
If either the Doom Marker meets the Hero Marker on the turn track, or if a Hero dies, then you lose.
It’s that simple.
I didn’t give a complete overview, obviously, but that’s the gist of the whole thing.
This was actually a pretty fun game overall, though I do have to say that the colouring of the game is quite drab. Lots of various shades of brown, though the artwork on the cards is very good.
The gameplay is interesting, though it did seem easier than it really should be. I think we might have had an unusual game, as the owner of it who we played with said that he’s seen a lot of Perished Land come out pretty quickly.
The difficulty of the game can be changed by removing a certain number of A-level (easier) quests from the scenario deck, and I don’t know if he removed any. I also think we may have played the Adventure Deck wrong. I’m not sure.
I’d be willing to play this one again, as it was an enjoyable experience.
I’m just not sure I am hungry for another play. It’s a decent game.
Designer: Keith Matejka
Artists: JJ Ariosa, Luis Francisco
We all remember the fun of creating our Dungeons & Dragons character, right? (That’s not a copyright violation, is it?) (Editor: probably not, but you’d better watch yourself)
Rolling the three dice, grumbling that your Elf wizard with the 17 Intelligence just happens to also have a 4 Wisdom (what do you mean, “why didn’t you just re-roll?”).
Ah, the memories.
Roll Player has you covered if you are feeling nostalgic for that.
This is a dice game where you are basically rolling up your character, among a few other things.
You start with a dice template for your character with a certain race on it. Humans are boring, so get not adjustments, but other races get positives and negatives on certain abilities (such as my Orc that has +2 Strength but -2 Intelligence, because Orcs are always stereotyped like that).
You then choose a class (Warrior in my case, which likes Red dice). Warriors get 4 points if you end with a Strength of exactly 18, 2 points if you end with a Dexterity of either 16 or 17, 3 points if you end with a Constitution of exactly 17, and so on.
Then a backstory is chosen (An Orc Aristocrat! Who woulda thunk it?). This denotes a pattern of dice that will get you bonus points if you match it on your grid at the end of the game. For example, the third dice spot on Strength needs to be a Blue die. The more you match, the more points you get.
Finally, an alignment card is chosen (An Orcish Aristocrat who’s actually a Rebel! Wow, I know how to pick them). Your alignment cube starts at the center of the card, and during the game you’re trying to maneuver it into the “plus” points area.
The player whose turn it is rolls dice equal to the number of players plus one. These are then placed out in numerical order on the initiative cards, with the player deciding which order in the case of ties. A gold piece is put onto all of the middle initiative cards to entice people to be middle of the road (nobody likes an extremist).
That player then chooses which die they want to place on their player board. When you place a die, you get to do the action for that attribute. For example, placing a die on the Strength attribute lets you flip any die on your sheet (even the one you just placed). Dexterity will let you switch two dice. And so on…
Once each player has placed their die, they can buy equipment/traits/skills from the market of cards.
Weapons can give you some kinds of abilities, and Armor can give you certain points at the end of the game. Armor is kind of a set collection process, as the more different cards in the set you get, the more points you get.
You can also buy Skills, which will allow to manipulate dice or do other things (like buy from the Market discard pile!).
The neat thing about using skills is that it can affect your alignment. See the arrows next to the two actions above? That’s the direction your alignment cube moves if there is room.
Because stealing from discard piles will just make you more evil.
And then there are Traits, which will give you other end-game scoring bonuses.
So what if you can’t get one of your Attributes above the required 14? Maybe you can get a Trait card that will let you get points for having something low (like the card you can barely see the bottom of in the pic above). Or maybe you can make sure you have the right amount of cards.
Once players have filled their character sheets, the game ends and you total up your reputation points.
Whoever has the most is the winner!
I have been chomping at the bit to play this game since it came out in 2016, and I finally got the chance to play it.
It was worth the wait.
I played this as a 2-player game, so don’t really feel like I had the whole Roll Player experience, but I did enough of it that I know I really liked this game. I want to play it again with more people and see how it goes. (for example, in a 2-player game you don’t come close to seeing all of the dice).
I loved the interaction of everything and the fact that you can manipulate the dice, and other things like your alignment. While the Market is, by definition, random, you can still usually get some cards that will help the character you are trying to build.
It is a very elegant system.
Of course, some people wish that they could then use this character they’ve created, and my understanding is that the expansion helps deal with that.
I definitely want to play this again, and am very happy I finally got it to the table.
Designers: Michael Kiesling, Wolfgang Kramer
Artwork: Oliver Freudenreich
A card game by the great Kiesling/Kramer duo?
What’s not to like?
Well, this game, I guess, though perhaps it just doesn’t work well as a 2-player game.
In Linko, the object of the game is to get rid of as many cards in your hand as possible. Each played card is worth one point while every card in your hand is worth negative one point.
How do you get rid of your cards? By playing sets of a numbered card down in front of you.
When it’s your turn, you lay down a card (or set of cards) on the table in front of you in a stack (separated from each other in that trick-taking game method of alternating horizontal and vertical placement is probably the easiest).
Then you compare them to the top stack of another player’s stack. Was the number on the played card higher than the number of the other player’s stack? If so, was the number of cards played higher? If so, then you have to snatch the other player’s stack.
You then decide whether you want to keep them or discard them. If you keep them, they go in your hand and the other player draws the same number of cards. If you don’t, then the other player decides whether they want to keep them or if they want to discard them and draw the same number of cards.
You can draw cards from either the deck or the card row of six cards that was placed out on the table at the beginning of the game. If you take from the card row, you don’t replenish until you’re done drawing.
With multiple players, you can snatch from multiple people if you fulfill the conditions mentioned above.
The game ends when either somebody has played all of their cards or the draw pile and card row are empty.
While the artwork on the cards is incredibly cute, this just isn’t that fun as a 2-player game which was how we played it (we were waiting for a couple more people to join us for my next game). You’re just going back and forth and I felt very “meh” about the game.
I’d like to see how it plays with more people, but for now I just can’t say too much positive about it.
Designer: Paul Dennen
Artists: Rayph Beisner, Raul Ramos, Nate Storm
Readers of this blog know that I’m a huge fan of Clank!In!Space! but I have never played the original game.
I finally got the chance to rectify that.
In Clank, each player is an adventurer who’s invading the dungeon to try and steal a dragon’s artifact, and then get to the surface with their prize before the dragon kills them.
Much like Clank in Space, you do this by playing cards from your hand that will give you the opportunity to move around on the board, buy more (and better) cards, and to fight monsters that are in the market row.
As you move around, some cards will cause you to make noise, making you put “Clank” cubes in the Clank area. When certain cards come out onto the card market with a dragon symbol, all of this clank is put into a bag with some black cubes and any previous Clank put into the bag, and then a certain number of cubes are drawn. If your cube is withdrawn, you take a hit. Take too many of those, and you die!
If you die above ground (above the green line on the board), then you will still get victory points. You just won’t get the extra victory points you would get for fully escaping.
If you die while still underground, you get nothing (and may qualify for inclusion in my post about playing a game and getting no points).
Most points at the end of the game is the winner!
Inevitably there are going to be comparisons between the two Clank games, and this is the original one so I should keep that in mind when I say that I much prefer the space version of the game. It’s more of a “complete” game to me, mainly because you have to do more in order to succeed.
That being said, Clank in Space is a longer game (often close to 2 hours). We finished Clank in around an hour, so any comparison might come down to what you want out of the game.
Clank does not have the factions that power up certain cards, which I kind of missed. However, it does offer you plenty of options for how you want to score points (as long as nobody does the “Steal & Dash” strategy that makes it so you don’t have too much time to dawdle in the dungeon).
The fact that you can finish this game in about an hour once you know how to play makes this a good game for when you have an hour to kill, rather than Clank in Space where you do have to dedicate a good gaming night to it.
Thus, while I do prefer the Space version, I see the appeal of this one (not to mention the fact that there are three expansions for it while only the one for Space so far).
I’d definitely play this one again.
Designers: Chris Dupuis, Mike Mearls
Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate is the Dungeons & Dragons version (and also supposedly much-improved) of the classic traitor game Betrayal at the House on the Hill.
In both games, players are cooperatively exploring an area, adding tiles to the map as they go. In Baldur’s Gate, you are leaving the inn and exploring the streets and catacombs of this famous city in the Forgotten Realms.
Each player gets a character along with four really fiddly markers that are sometimes hard to use to indicate their four stats: Might, Speed, Knowledge, and Sanity.
On a player’s turn, they can move a number of tiles equal to their speed. However, if they move through a door to an unexplored area, they draw a tile from the stack corresponding to the colour of the door (Streets, Rooms, and Catacombs). They then move onto the tile and do something based on the symbol in the bottom right corner.
There may be an event to draw, or maybe they’ll find some item.
Or you could get a raven, which is an Omen.
Omens are good and bad. Good, because they can be some pretty good stuff. Bad for two reasons. One, there’s usually some bad negative effect if you lose whatever the omen gives you.
But even worse, you may trigger the “Haunt.”
Whenever you draw an Omen card, you must roll a number of six-sided dice equal to the number of Omens already out (the dice have numbers from 0-2).
If you roll a 6 or higher, then you will trigger the Haunt.
When that happens, you consult the Haunt book. Depending on the Omen and the room that triggered the Haunt, one of 50 adventures will happen.
Usually (but not always), the player who triggered the Haunt will become a traitor, trying to do something that the other players are trying to stop. The game then becomes a one vs many game. If the players stop the traitor, they win! If the traitor succeeds in their objective, they win!
There are usually special rules that come up at this point, and players can finally die (they can’t die in the preliminary part of the game).
The game is listed as a 60-minute game. Sadly, the Haunt we triggered was the “everybody for themselves” one where the last character standing wins. Some haunts have no traitor and all players are cooperating to complete some objective.
We were lucky enough to hit the Haunt where everybody was the traitor, and that made the game drag on interminably. It took us around three hours before somebody was finally crowned the winner.
I was the first player killed, so I had a lot of downtime, unfortunately.
The exploration part of the game was really fun. I loved the uncertainty of putting the tiles out there and seeing what presents itself.
Having played the original House on the Hill game (where I also triggered the Haunt and became a traitor, so maybe it’s all my fault), I know the fun that can come from the Haunt.
This one was just not fun, especially dying early.
I would really love to play this again and experience a more “regular” Haunt and see what the play time is like with it. This game would be incredible as a 60-minute game.
Designers: Alice Davis, Matt Jacobs
Artist: Claire Donaldson
It’s kitten pirates versus kitten ninjas!
Can the world survive?
Kitten Klash is a very quick (like maybe a minute or two?) card game of speed and a bit of dexterity (as least in trying not to jam the other player’s fingers).
Basically, you are dealing out your cards, one at a time from left to right into three stacks.
Any time there are two adjacent stacks (either both of yours, both of theirs, or one each) of the same colour card, the first person to grab them both wins those cards. Then you keep going.
Players keep doing this until they are out of cards. You then count your cards. You get a point for each of your cards collected and two points for each of your opponent’s cards.
Whoever has the most points is the winner!
It probably took me longer to type all of that than it did to play the game.
The artwork is incredibly cute, of course (it’s cats, so the Internet says that it must be cute) and the gameplay is very nice.
I also like how colourblind friendly the game is. In addition to the cards being a certain colour (red, pink, blue, yellow, green, orange and white), they also have different patterns on each colour (red cards have stars, orange have squares, etc).
I’m not a huge fan of dexterity and speed games, but I did ok with this one. What’s hard to figure out, though, is how to keep your rhythm of laying out cards when there’s suddenly an opportunity to grab cards from the table.
You have to be laying out cards steadily just so that it’s fair for both sides. But stealing cards can throw off that rhythm.
It’s fun, it’s quick, how can you say no to it? It’s only going to take a minute.
Designers: Matt Hyra, Ben Stoll
I like a game that basically tells you what it is in the title. This isn’t DC Comics Worker Placement Game!
Unlike the sometimes-compared Marvel Legendary game, this game isn’t cooperative in the least (that game is semi-cooperative, so it’s possible for everybody to lose). In the DC Comics Deck-Building Game, each player is trying to get the most points by acquiring cards and defeating villains.
Each player chooses (randomly, preferably) a hero to be from one of the iconic DC stable. Each hero has his/her own ability that will come into play (Flash lets you draw an extra card once per turn if a card tells you to draw cards during your turn).
Then each player is given 10 starter cards (3 vulnerabilities and 7 punches) that will form your initial deck.
The Supervillain stack is created, with Ra’s Al Ghul always on top of it. It will consist of 8 of the 12 villains available (you can add supervillains to it if you want to lengthen the game, but why would you?).
Then there is the card row consisting of cards that you can use your Power to buy/defeat. These cards consist of Villains, Heroes, Equipment, or Superpowers and will be available to you once you have shuffled your discard pile back into your deck.
It follows the standard deckbuilder tropes, though there is one interesting difference. There’s only one currency: Power. Power will let you buy cards from the card row, defeat villains from the card row, or defeat the top Supervillain. You don’t have separate currencies to buy cards and defeat cards.
I found it a bit hard to get used to.
Once all of the Supervillains are defeated, or if the card deck runs out (I can’t see that happening unless you really extend the game), total up all of the VP in your deck and whoever has the most wins!
Another interesting aspect of the game is that villains (and supervillains!) go into your deck as well, and they give you an effect when you play them. Often it’s an attack on the other players, but sometimes not (Penguin just lets you cycle your deck, funnily enough).
Thematically, the game is a mess compared to Legendary, as you are one hero getting to use a lot of other heroes’ stuff. I was Flash using Batman’s utility belt *and* Wonder Woman’s lasso. There’s also a hero version of each one that you can be, but obviously it’s not called the same name. For example, you can play as Superman, but there’s also a Superman hero in the card deck that’s called “Man of Steel.” Weird if your opponent buys that card!
Also, why are villains going into your deck and helping you?
Our first play went a little long at almost an hour, and it felt like it should be shorter than that. Thankfully, the second play went under half an hour, so I think it was just learning the game and system.
I do plan on playing this a bunch more times so we’ll see if that remains an issue as we gain familiarity with the game.
It’s a fun game, and one I’d like to play again (and maybe with some of the expansions?).
It just doesn’t hold a candle to Legendary.
Designers: Daniele Tascini, Dávid Turczi
Artist: Odysseas Stamoglou
I have been dying to play this game since I saw the Heavy Cardboard playthrough and teach video. It’s coming out in November and I have it on pre-order, but a buddy of mine has it from a Kickstarter of Dice Settlers.
Does that make me a Cult of the New guy?
Anyway, this is a game that fits perfectly in my “Many uses of dice in games” post, because you are not rolling any of these dice.
Instead, the dice are your workers that you are moving around the board in a rondel fashion.
First, let’s get a look at the entire board, as there is a lot going on in this game.
Each space has a “main” action and then the ability to lock one of your workers into worship mode (allowing them to either take a discovery tile, move up on the temple track, or potentially both). Some will give you resources, some will let you do things.
Each worker starts at “1” and when you move it to a space to do the main action, you will often be able to power up a worker, increasing the number to 2, then 3, etc.
What happens when the die reaches 6?
It has achieved ascension, which gives you a bonus and it resets the die to a 1. While the die goes back to the first space on the board, you get to choose from those options pictured: gain 5 cocoa (the resource to pay for actions as well as to feed your workers), 5 points, move up on one of the temple tracks, spend 2 cocoa to move up twice, or you can get a 4th worker that starts at level 3.
See the white and black markers above on the semi-circular track? The white marker moves down a space every turn and the black one moves up every time a worker ascends. When they meet, the round end is triggered. Play continues to the first player and then all players get one more turn.
At the end of the round, there is a bunch of scoring and you have to spend cocoa to feed your workers (they don’t work for free!).
You do three rounds and then do some end-game scoring as well.
Whoever has the most points wins!
That is a very light description of what happens in the game (if I ever do a review, I’ll go into a bit more detail, but even that won’t cover everything), but one thing I want to showcase in this post is the beautifully tactile aspect of the game: the pyramid.
One of the end-game triggers before the end of three rounds is the pyramid being completed.
You may have noticed the incomplete pyramid in a couple of the pictures above. One of the important point-scoring mechanisms is using the stone you’ve accumulated to build the pyramid from the ground up. If you match symbols when you place the blocks, you get even more points!
I love the feel of those blocks in my hand and it’s a neat idea. The pyramid when built looks awesome, and the artwork in general in this game is breath-taking.
Yes, the board looks busy and there is a lot of stuff to do. There are multiple paths to victory, and you can’t spread the wealth and try to do everything. (Editor: If you do that, your name might be Dave)
What’s amazing is no matter how busy it looks and how much there appears to be in the game, the basic mechanism is very simple: move a worker 1-3 spaces, pay for the action if necessary, and do it.
Teotihuacan is the spiritual successor to another great worker placement game by one of the same designers, Tzolkin. However, this game (to me, at least) makes sense. That one, I do enjoy playing it online but even after many games, I don’t feel like I know how to play it well. I just can’t wrap my head around it.
I didn’t feel like I played Teotihuacan very well either, but I do feel like I could.
Which is a great feeling. (Editor: a feeling Dave’s not that familiar with)
Designer: Stefan Feld
Artist: Lalanda Hruschka
Carpe Diem is a tile-laying game where you are a Patrician trying to build up the best Roman city district (it helps if you don’t have any buildings that are half-finished!)
Each turn, you will be moving your Patrician on the board to get a tile to place in your district. The districts are randomized in a fairly unique way in that while you do get a basic board, the outer edges of your district come in four randomized sides that you then fit together.
When placing tiles, you will start with the shovel square, and then every tile you take has to be placed next to a tile you’ve already placed (not the sides of the board!). The player boards themselves are randomized too, so your shovel square will be different from an opponent’s.
How do you get these tiles? You do that by moving your Patrician on a sort-of rondel that’s 7-pointed star-shaped (what would that be called?) instead of circular.
Instead of moving around the circle, you instead have to move along one of the two lines that is leading from your area to another one.
When you get to a space that has tiles on it, you choose one of the tiles to place onto your board. If there are no tiles on the space, you bounce around until you hit a space with tiles.
But Dave, you might ask, if you were here watching me type this (and how boring would that be for you?), how do I decide where to put the tile I take?
My you are an impatient one, aren’t you?
Some tiles have one end of a Dwelling, or part of a landscape. When you place a tile, the edges have to match with any tile it’s connected to. So if the edge is half of a yellow building, you can’t connect it with half of an orange building, for example. The outside edge is grass, so only grass sides of tiles can be placed against the edge.
If you complete a Dwelling or Landscape, you get a bonus as shown on your player aid. Completing a Baker gets you two bread, for example.
If you complete a Landscape, you get the appropriate type of ware (fish, grapes, leaves and chickens) equal to the number of tiles in the Landscape minus one.
If, when placing your tile, you cover up one of those little scroll counters, then you move your player marker up one on the “Banderole” track (the track at the bottom of the board in the picture way above here).
When all of the tiles are gone from the main board, then the phase scoring occurs. In player order based on where you are on the Banderole track, you choose two adjacent scoring cards that are on the side of the board.
If you meet the condition on the cards, you get the bonus or victory points shown. For example, in the 2nd row from the bottom, there is a red card for grapes & fish and a green card showing 3 buildings. For each grape & fish pair you turn in, you get 3 points. On your player board, for each three completed Dwellings you have, you move your Banderole marker up one and get a loaf of bread.
There are two main things to keep in mind during the game, however. When you place your marker between the two scoring cards, that marker stays there. It can no longer be scored by anybody. Which means you have to find some other pair of cards to score.
Secondly, if you can’t meet the conditions of a scoring card, you lose 4 points. So you could potentially lose 8 points on a scoring round late in the game if the only options left to you are cards that you can’t fulfill the requirements.
The game lasts for four phases, and then there is end-game scoring. You get points for a variety of things in your district. Whoever has the most points wins!
I found this an interesting game, though it’s not my favourite Feld at all. He always seems to find intriguing ways to score points as well as move figures around the board. He likes rondels, so I’m glad that he put a little twist on that here.
Also, having unique scoring cards, where once a pair has been scored it can’t be again, really made the game thought-provoking.
My terrible sense of space made the final scoring for me really terrible, though. You get points for certain orientations of Dwellings and Landscapes in your board based on what’s on the outer edge, and I did a terrible job of accounting for that in my one game.
It’s a game I’d like to try again, but I won’t be too unhappy if I don’t get to it.
It’s a middle of the road Feld for me.
What new to you games did you play in October?
Let me know in the comments (also let me know if you want to join the cult. Dues are cheap!)