February didn’t feel like it was going to be a good month for new to me games, mainly because I was horribly ill during one weekend and missed a game day.
Thankfully, the other days had a good variety of new games as well as some older classics and I was able to get a sizeable post done.
So sizeable that it’s almost a week late!
I don’t think the
minions cult members are liking that.
They’re also not liking that over half of them were published last year.
The Cult of the New to Me can’t have that!
In my defense, the other two are 2016 games, which is considered ancient by this point.
I don’t hear anything.
I may have to rethink their sedative doses.
But that’s beside the point.
Without further adieu (all of my adieu was thrown through a stained glass window and washed away in the nearby river anyway), let’s begin!
Designer: Michael Keasling
Artist: Chris Quilliams
However, as I mentioned in that post, if I had played this one before doing my rankings, it might have been replaced.
In Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra (not Sinatra, as my autocorrect put in when I posted my picture on Instagram), you are making a stained glass window in much the same way you were tiling an emperor’s bathroom in the original game (or something like that).
The scoring is even more complex than the original, meaning that is a bit more of a “gamer’s” game than that one was. Not to say gamers don’t like both (I certainly do), but this one is a bit more complicated.
You start with a randomized player board consisting of eight columns (the layout of these columns is the randomized part) and a base that they are attached to, plus a glazier pawn that you put at the top.
These pieces tell you the tiles you need to get to fill them up. The far left column, for example, will only take red ones.
Your glazier starts above the left column.
Much like the original Azul, there are a bunch of circular areas with four tiles on each of them. You’ll be choosing one colour on an area and placing the rest of the tiles in the middle.
Or, you can choose all of a colour in the middle but you must take all of them and if you’re the first player to do that, you take the “1” broken glass marker.
In the original, that just gave you -1 point.
However, in Sintra, that moves you down on the Broken Glass track. Sure, the first couple only cost you a point each. But then you get to -4 points, then -8, etc.
What do you do with these tiles?
You place them on your board in the column where your glazier sits. If you took more of that colour than you have room for, the rest become broken glass (and also move you down that negative track).
However, you can move your glazier to a column to the right of where he’s sitting if you want to use more of the tiles (or any of them if you took a colour that’s not in his column).
The problem with that is he can never move back to the left except when you take an entire turn to move him. You can’t say “oh, there are yellow tiles required in this column, I’ll move him to the left.”
Doesn’t work that way!
You have to waste an entire turn to do that, taking no tiles.
Once you finish a column, scoring happens (a bit too convoluted to get into here, but maybe if I do a full review). You move one of the tiles down to the first diamond shape in the base board (using the same column), discard the rest of the tiles as broken glass, and then flip the column to its other side.
The colour of the tile you keep can be important for endgame scoring, so keep that in mind as well.
If you fill the column a second time, you choose another tile to keep (place it in the second diamond on the base board in the same column) and remove the column.
Some endgame scoring is based on how many columns you’ve removed.
You get extra points when scoring a column for each tile used that matches the colour on the round track.
There are 6 rounds in the game. At the end of the game, do the final scoring, and whoever has the most points is the winner!
Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra is an intricate game that has the feeling of the original Azul but ramps it up into some really thinky decisions.
Do I take the one clear tile I need for this column while I can? Or do I move my glazier forward and take those three yellow tiles so I can fill up the yellow part of this column instead? Then I’ll have to eventually move backward before I can fill that first column.
Also, points earned during the round are based in sequence of completed columns from right to left, so the order that you do columns can also be important.
Because scoring is so dependent on efficiency, I of course sucked at this game.
However, it’s a lot of fun, easily blasting Azul off of its Dave pedestal that it was on.
I really want to play this one again.
Designer: Hisashi Hayashi
Artists: Hisashi Hayashi, Adam P. McIver, Ryo Nyamo
Wow, another game with Adam P. McIver art. Now that’s two months in a row!
In Yokohama, each player is a merchant in the emerging harbour city at the beginning of the Meiji era as Japan opened itself to foreign markets. You are trying to become the most prestigious merchant in the area by building stores, satisfying orders, and building new technologies.
Players start with a player board, some stores to build, and a few resources along with a President pawn.
The city locations are set out facedown in a set configuration depending on player count. Then they’re turned over, the Port A Order Form Board is set up next to the Port A Area Board and the city cards are randomized and placed on the city locations. I like that the board can be different every game.
On your turn, you start and end with an optional “Additional Action Phase” that I’m not going to go into too much. It’s basically where you can use your foreign mercenaries, fulfill order cards and achievements, and can be done either at the beginning or end of your turn.
The meat of the game is the main action phase.
The phase consists of two steps: Placement and Movement.
First, you place player cubes into locations on the board. They can be anywhere. You can either place three cubes in three different areas or you can place two cubes in the same area. If somebody’s President pawn is in the location, you have to pay 1 yen to that player.
These assistant cubes must be in your supply. They can’t be on your player board (you have to take an action to move them from your board to your supply).
Then, you move your President pawn. It can only move into an adjacent area where you have at least one assistant. If another President pawn is there, you have to pay 1 yen and you can’t stop there. Otherwise, you can choose to either stop or keep moving depending on whether you have an assistant in an adjacent area.
When you stop, you then take the action of that location. The power of that action is based on how many assistants and buildings you have on that tile. You’re guaranteed at least two power (unless you did a special action with a foreign mercenary) because your President gives you one and you have to have at least one assistant.
Doing the action may give you other benefits based on strength. Four or five strength actions let you put a building on the city card if you can afford it. A five strength action may also give you a bonus.
At the end of your turn, you pick up all of the assistant cubes on that city card, putting them back in your supply so you can use them in later turns.
You can get Order cards from one of the two port areas if you go there.
The Order cards are one of the ways to determine game end. When the last order card is placed on a board, endgame is triggered and you finish out the round (going to the start player). Then each player gets one more round.
Another way to trigger endgame is to have a certain number of assistants in the Church or the Customs Management Board, or building either all 8 of your Shophouses or all 4 of your Trading Houses.
Then there are endgame scoring bonuses, like the Church, Technologies, and Customs board majorities, along with set collection of the foreign markets that you’ve completed orders for or taken technologies from.
Whoever has the most points is the winner!
That was an incredibly simplified description, but I think you get the gist of it.
This is an incredibly fun game with a movement system that’s similar (but yet very different in some ways) to Istanbul. Personally, I think it improves on it because you can move as far as you want, as long as you have seeded your (limited) assistants properly.
It helps that I won, beating a guy who usually does very well at these games. But even without that, I love how the game board will vary every time, with parts of it missing depending on player count. I can imagine it scales very well (my game was a 3-player game).
I like how you have to chain your actions and there are multiple paths to victory. I concentrated on orders, but mainly because a few orders gave me imported goods that helped me score at the Customs House. You have to analyze the board and see what methods might work better for you.
Technologies majority can really do well for you, for example. Whether it’s a good thing to concentrate there may depend on what technologies come out, however.
In my game, I ignored the Church, but went heavy to the Customs House and had two technologies which allowed me to score the majority there as well.
It’s just such a juicy game. I’d love to play it again.
Designer: John H. Butterfield
Artists: Chad Jensen, Kurt Miller, Douglas Shrock, Mark Simonitch
Space exploration is a wonderful theme for a game. There are so many of them that it may be easy to get lost in the crowd.
However, John H. Butterfield has crafted a really interesting space exploration game that can be handled in different ways depending on your interest and the time you have.
The game says it takes 30-210 minutes.
And that’s not really a lie.
SpaceCorp is divided into three eras, and you can play just one of them, two of them, or all three.
When we played, we decided to make things easy on ourselves because we weren’t sure if we’d have time for the full game.
We played the first two eras (Mariners and Planeteers), learning the rules of the game. That way, when we decide to play all three, we have the first two down (which we did end up doing). We will only have to learn the unique rules for the third (Starfarers) where you go out and explore the galaxy.
In SpaceCorp, each player is a company that is trying to maximize profit (i.e. Victory Points) by exploring first the solar system out to the asteroids, then the rest of the solar system, and then finally many star systems within our galaxy.
The first era (you can start in the 2nd if you want) is the Mariner era, and the corporations are racing to reach the Asteroid Belt and explore the areas near Earth.
Each turn, you can take one of a number of actions.
You can research to draw more cards.
You can move one of your teams (cubes) on the board.
You can explore a site that you’ve moved to.
You can build a base on an explored site.
You can produce on explored tile(s) that have a production number on them. You earn that much profit.
There are also a couple of other actions that will show up on your cards that you can do.
On your action, you can play cards from your hand to get points to power the action.
You can also use either your or one of your opponent’s HQ “infra” to get more points to power the action.
If you use an opponent’s infra, they will get to draw a card after you finish your action.
These points will give added power to the action. Moving requires a certain number of movement points. Building requires the same, as with Exploring (either 1, 2, or 3 points).
Producing points allow you to produce on a number of discovery tiles based on how many Produce points you generate.
The era ends when either the era’s deck runs out or if 6 of the 7 contracts have been fulfilled.
Then, you set up the 2nd era (Planeteers) and start exploring the rest of the solar system! There are a few new rules, all new cards and exploration tiles, and lots more fun (frankly, the Mariner era is a good setup for the rest of the game, but I can’t imagine playing it by itself).
You put the new board out, flip the Mariners board to its other side which contains the Breakthroughs and Adaptations you can get with Genetics and Revelations and set that board next to the new one.
Once you finish the Planeteers era, you can stop or continue on to the Starfarers era where you are out exploring star systems instead of our own solar system.
As I said, we stopped after these two eras, but this last Sunday (March, so maybe shouldn’t be included in this post) (Editor – You are such a rebel), we did the Starfarers era too.
The map is amazing and so much more open than the first two eras. The travel distances are huge!
In addition to exploring star systems, you will be establishing colonies in these star systems. These colonies will give you profit at the end of the game, and some have immediate effects that will give you profit as well.
At the end of the game, whoever has the most profit wins.
This is an amazing game, though it really comes into its own when you play all three eras. The Mariners era by itself just seems boring. It’s not boring in a multi-era game when you know you’re setting yourself up for the future, but when you know that this is all that you’re doing, it seems kind of pointless.
Even just playing the first two seems somewhat incomplete.
However, this is a long game, especially with all three eras. When we did the first two eras, it took us around 3.5 hours because we were learning everything. Nothing was familiar.
On Sunday, playing all three eras and already knowing the basic rules, we managed to complete that game in 3.5 hours as well. So I think learning the basics for the first two eras is an excellent way to get the full game done in a reasonable amount of time.
I do think (and this could change with more plays) that this game plays better at three players than at four.
With four players, we burned through the deck so quickly that we didn’t really feel we accomplished as much as we wanted. We did manage to get 8 colonies built in the Starfarers era, but it still left a little bit of a “oh, we’re done already?” feel to it.
I do intend to play it some more and get better impressions of it.
This game is well worth the time it takes to play it.
Designer: Chad Jensen
Artist: Chechu Nieto
(Edit – 12/20/19: The review is live!)
Another GMT game! But this one is so totally different.
In Welcome to Centerville, players are civic managers who are attempting to amass wealth and prestige within the city of Centerville.
You do this by establishing buildings in appropriate areas of the city, maybe establishing greenery on the outskirts of the city, building villas along the river, getting educated, and getting seats on the city council.
What’s cool about this game is that it’s ultimately a dice game, but with so many moving and interacting pieces that there’s always something you can do. You can’t really have an overall strategy because you are technically at the mercy of the dice, but you can generally get something accomplished.
The map shows you the city of Centerville along with all of its outlying areas, the Education/Vocation track, and the political offices.
You are attempting to gain both wealth and prestige, but there is a catch.
Much like Tigris & Euphrates, your total score will be the lowest of the two. You can’t concentrate on one at the expense of the other or you will lose. You need a balanced approach.
On your turn, you will roll all of the dice. The black and green die have hourglasses on one side. Those are…well, they’re not bad, but they’re the timer of the game.
Unlike the other dice, they can’t be re-rolled. You will get a very small benefit but the timer will also move toward the end of the round.
You can reroll any dice you want (except hourglasses) twice more, for a total of three rolls. You have to keep what you have at that point.
The rest of the dice have various faces.
The purple/red/yellow/blue dice have two faces that are contracts. They will let you put cubes in the city based on the colour of the dice. You only need one contract of a colour in order to place a cube, but then you’re looking at the total number of contracts you rolled and can combine them in multiple ways.
So if you rolled a blue and a purple contract, you have some choices.
You can put a cube in the Level 2 district of either the purple or the blue area, or you could put a cube each in the Level 1 district of both purple and blue.
You can flip your status marker from 1-star to 2-stars if you roll 4 contracts, which will add to your status scoring at the end of each round.
The dice also have trees on them. This can increase your rank on the Greenbelt track, which will score you more points on the river. Or, if you roll three trees, you can develop on an empty river space. Four trees will let you put a cube in an empty Level 4 space in the city.
If you roll education (the graduation hat), you can spend those dice to get vocations, which are a kind of set collection at the end of the game. There are nine different vocations, with a certain number of tiles available of each type (there are two Transport tiles while there are four Tourism tiles, and so on).
Vocation collection works in an interesting manner for endgame scoring. For having at least one of each different vocation, you will get a certain amount of prestige depending on how many you have. However, within each vocation, you will get wealth based on how many of that vocation you have.
It’s a really elaborate system that, once again, rewards a broad focus rather than concentration.
You can also roll votes, which you can spend to get political offices. You need at least two vote dice in order to take over one of the offices. Like the contracts, you only need one vote of a certain colour in order to get that office. So rolling a vote on the blue and yellow dice lets you take either the blue office or the yellow one.
However, if you want to take the office from somebody else, you have to roll more votes than they have cubes already there. For the green office above, you would have to roll three votes, not two.
Each office gets an immediate effect and you are scored at the end of each round for how many offices you hold.
Park Benches allow you to place a cube in the park at the center of the town. This is important because these cubes are considered to be in all four sectors of the town for scoring rounds. Once you have cubes in the park, the benches can also be spent to adjust your status.
Finally, there are the question mark “Fate” rolls. These are wild and can be used to copy any die that you rolled except hourglasses. It copies these dice directly, including the colour. So if you want to copy a purple contract die, then it becomes a purple contract die.
Scoring in Welcome to Centerville can be quite complex. You first score each sector of the town for either wealth or prestige (which one is indicated on the board). Whoever has the most “value” in the sector, including one value for each cube in the park gets six points of whatever type you’re scoring. Whoever has the lowest value in the sector loses three of whatever type you’re scoring.
A cube on Level 2 counts as 2 value, on Level 3 is 3 value, etc, when computing who has the most.
Then you score cubes on the river, either wealth or prestige. Then the number of political offices you hold gets you some points (or negative points if you don’t hold any).
Finally, you score status.
At the end of the game, you also do your vocation scoring as described above, as well as villas on the river.
Also, each player is given a secret legacy tile at the beginning of the game. This is also scored, with the player having the highest of whatever it asks scoring 6 points of both wealth and prestige and the player having the fewest losing 3 points of each.
The trick on that is you only know the one legacy that you have. You don’t know what others have. There are six possibilities, and only a maximum of four players, so some of them aren’t going to be scored. You may have to pay attention to what others are doing to get an inkling of what might be coming.
As mentioned before, you get the lowest of your wealth or prestige as your final score. Whoever has the highest final score wins!
I really liked this game a lot.
As is typical with GMT (just look at the previous entry!) the player aid is remarkable. It literally has everything on it except what each legacy tile is and what the four disasters are (that’s something else you need to watch out for).
The game is quite intricate for what is basically a dice game. You have to pay attention to everything and try to make sure you’re not at the bottom of too many areas where you will be scoring points (or potentially losing them).
I like how it appears that different strategies can pay off for you even if you let a few other things slide. The trick is knowing just how much you can let some of the other areas slide.
I’d have to play it again to see how well it plays with 4 (and maybe even 2, I think I will try that next month on my vacation). Our 3-player game went pretty well, and it doesn’t outstay its welcome. After learning the game, I would think it can be played at about 20 minutes per player.
Welcome to Centerville is really high on my “must play again” list.
Designer: Helmut Ohley
Artist: Michael Menzel
Ok, first, I’m not typing the full name again. (Editor – lazy ass)
Secondly, First Class is an interesting type of train game where you are trying to maximize your route, your passengers and your bonus points in a dance of clashing priorities.
In First Class, you have a starting board where you will be stretching your trains from as well as your route cards. The route that your train will take extends to the left from the top of the card and your two trains will stretch to the right where your two conductors are.
The available action cards are put out in three rows of six each.
On your turn, you will take one of the action cards. This will let you either improve one of your train cars, let you extend the route that your train can move, actually move your train, give you money, or perhaps give you a contract that you can fulfill for points.
As play goes around the table, the rest of the cards in a row are removed as soon as a number of cards equal to the number of players is taken from that row. So if you have three players and all three take a card from the first row as their first action, the remaining three cards in that row will be cleared after the third player goes.
You can take any card, though, so you don’t have to go row by row.
After all of the cards are gone, you check and see if a scoring round is coming. There are three stacks of cards that you will be using (created at the beginning when you decide what two modules to use) and each stack will be enough for two rounds.
If a stack is empty, then you will have a scoring round where you score how far your train is along its route and how far along your trains your conductors are. You get route bonuses for your train that can get you a lot of cool stuff and scoring can be quite involved.
Once you’ve scored, you start the second stack of cards, rinsing and repeating the above actions, and then the third after the next scoring round.
At the end of the game there is scoring for endgame cards and any remaining coins that you have.
Whoever has the most points wins!
That’s a really barebones description of the game, as you can get points a lot of different ways depending on which two modules you choose (there are five in total). There are too many ways to explain here.
However, at the end of the game, your trains and routes can look pretty cool.
The scoreboard looks really wonky, and you are literally given four cubes of your colour because you are going to lap around the board at least 2-3 times.
Since this was our first game, we played with the first two (easier) modules and I have to say the game is pretty fun. I’d like to try it again with different modules and see how well they work.
The artwork is pretty cool and the design is very clean. It’s a very easy to learn game but the layers of strategy give you multiple ways to win.
In our game, one player’s train barely left its home station but he had multipliers on his train cars and improved many of them to their maximum level, giving him a huge number of points just for that.
He didn’t win, but he wasn’t that far off.
First Class is definitely a first class game that I would love to play again (Editor – ewwwww you went there, didn’t you?)
So there you have it.
A bit late, but all of the new to me games I played in February.
What new games did you play last month?
Let me know in the comments.