It’s March! Or it was March. This post is about March, at any rate.
What was I saying?
Oh yeah, I played lots of new to me games last month because last weekend was a convention weekend. I played a total of eight new to me games!
This made all of my fellow cult members happy.
In fact, they were so happy that they baked me cookies!
They didn’t have to do that.
I’m not sure what’s in them, though.
Hmmmm….maybe that’s why I’m so tired.
I’d better finish this one before I pass out.
So without further adieu (all of my adieu was thrown over the barricades to mollify the Soviets anyway), let’s begin!
Designer: Brett Myers
Artists: Luis Francisco, Kwanchai Moriya
(Edit – 12/20/19: The review is live!)
I backed this one on Kickstarter because it sounded really cool and the gameplay looked really interesting.
I really liked it. (Editor – Really?)
The Russian Revolution of 1917 was a chaotic time of upheaval. In March, 1917, Czar Nicholas II abdicated his throne in favour of a conservative Provisional Government. Opposed to this government and wanting to impose a much more Marxist viewpoint was the Petrograd Soviet. The two players are representing these two factions as they vie for power and influence throughout Russian society.
Dual Powers is an area control game where you are trying to control areas of the city (which city is left unclear) in order to get the support of the people. The game takes place from March 1917 to October/November 1917 when the Soviets finally took over.
During setup, the six city tiles are shuffled. Two are placed face-up: one in the Unrest square and one in the Blockade space. The Unrest region will be scored during the round and the Blockade region will have the blockade set up on the connection of that colour. The blockade prevents movement via that crossing.
Each round, the Unrest tile is removed, the Blockade tile is moved to Unrest and a new tile is flipped over for Blockade.
Players are dealt five command cards. They will also have their remaining leaders (starting with three) for a total of eight cards (or fewer in subsequent rounds if you’ve used a leader or two, or even all three).
You’ll choose one of them as your objective for the round and keep the other four command cards for play.
On your turn, you play a card from your hand. First, the calendar marker is moved the number spaces on the card. This may prompt a special action or a change in the Will of the People.
Then, you can either use the recruit value (the gold bars) to recruit some more of your forces into the region that’s on the card or you can use the action that’s on the card. This action could be moving a unit one or two regions or refreshing an exhausted unit.
Leader cards can be played instead, which will allow you to place that leader in any region you wish. Each leader has a special action as well.
Mobilize protest moves the blockade to any other connection from where it currently is. Espionage lets you look at your opponent’s objective. Inspire the People gives you the Will of the People.
What is the Will of the People? Whoever has it has control of all the neutral (green) units on the board to either move around the city or when it’s time for scoring.
When four cards have been played, a scoring phase happens. You first resolve the Region of Unrest, which allows whoever has the most strength in that region to either score it (points based on the month you’re currently in) or to take a special action. Then the two secret objectives are revealed and those regions are scored (they could be the same region). Whoever has the most strength in the region gets the points that are shown on the objective card.
Once the scoring phase is over, all units in these regions are “exhausted,” flipped over to their exhausted side. If they were already exhausted, then they are removed. Player units go back to their supply while neutral units are out of the game.
Scoring support is a sliding scale, much like 13 Days or Iron Curtain. The track moves back and forth toward one side to the other. One way to end the game is for it to reach one end or the other, in which case that side wins.
The other way is for the scoring phase to happen in either October or November. If this happens, then whichever side of center the support marker is on wins.
The game does have a solitaire variant, though I haven’t tried it yet.
This was definitely an interesting game. It’s a fascinating time period but at its essence it’s a basic area control game. I do like how the cards dictate both what region you want to concentrate as well as where you can recruit your forces. Sometimes you don’t have the cards to dispute the Unrest region, so maybe you have to do more actions and less recruiting.
It’s also a game of bluff and denial too. In one of our games, my opponent already had a 2-1 strength majority (one 2-strength unit versus my 1-strength) in the region she had chosen. So she just ignored it.
Since I was concentrating on the Unrest region and my own, I didn’t think to look at that one, and she got some easy points.
I love the chunky cardboard pieces. These things won’t tear at all and feel quite hefty in your hand.
Overall, this seems to be a worthy addition to our lunchtime game line-up.
Designer: Xavier Georges
Artist: Alexandre Roche
This is an interesting card game about building up a city out in the Old West. It’s kind of like a tile-laying game except that it’s cards instead of tiles.
Each player is given a set of cards numbered 1-9 with a symbol on it.
You are trying to build up a city, chaining together terrain cards and symbols that will give you the maximum amount of wealth (victory points).
Each turn, four terrain cards will be available for auction (five in a 5-6 player game). There will also be one character card available as well.
Each player secretly chooses one of their auction cards and then all are revealed. Whoever has the highest gets to choose first (ties are broken by the symbols on the card and it varies round by round).
When you choose a terrain card, you have to put it on your city tableau, trying to situate it so that you will get maximum points. For example, mines (like on the middle top card) will get 2 points at the end of the game for every mountain that’s adjacent to it (so up to 16 points if you situate it right).
The same symbols can overlap each other when you place, and you are limited to a tableau 8 columns by 8 rows square.
There are 2 eras in the game and each one goes 9 rounds (hence the 9 auction cards). Once you’ve used an auction card, it’s out for the rest of the round, so choose wisely!
After you’re done, you may get a tableau like this.
Instead of taking a terrain card, you can take the character that’s up for auction. These characters can give you a special ability or just points for having a certain number of either symbols or other characters.
Making combos out of all this is the meat of the game.
After 18 rounds, total up the scores and whoever has the highest is the winner!
This was an enjoyable game, though it’s not up there in my “must play again” group. It was fun trying to chain the symbols together and I’d definitely be willing to play it.
Just not a huge drive to.
Warning for those of you who hate bots: apparently (and I didn’t see this since we had 5 players) the game uses dummy players for smaller numbers of players.
Designers: Jeff Grossman, Volko Ruhnke
Artists: Xavier Carrascosa, Rodger B. MacGowan, Chechu Nieto
Believe it or not, this is the first COIN (Counter-Insurgency) game that I’ve ever played! I’ve always been intimidated by their long play-times and what seemed to be complicated rules.
Cuba Libre is a game about Fidel Castro’s insurgency and eventual takeover of Cuba in 1957-58. It’s a game about counterinsurgency that has four factions vying for their own victory conditions.
The four factions include the Government (the Batista regime supported by the United States), the leftist movement of 26 July (Castro’s people), the Revolutionary Directorate (anti-communist, anti-Batista forces) and the crime Syndicate (even during revolution, you gotta make money!).
Essentially, it’s the government versus three insurgency forces.
Each faction has its own victory conditions which are all clearly shown (once you get used to it) on the scoring track.
The Government needs popular support to be above 18 and have all cities be at Active Support; the 26 July rebels need total opposition plus their number of deployed bases to exceed 15; Directorio needs total population in their controlled spaces plus their bases to exceed 9; the Syndicate needs more than 7 open Casinos and their resources to be above 30.
The game is played through a series of event cards, with 4 Propaganda cards sprinkled into the deck (the deck is divided into four groups of 12 cards and then each Propaganda card is shuffled into the four groups, one Propaganda card each).
Each turn, you can see what the next turn will bring, so you know whether or not to do something on this turn.
How does that work?
The action track along with the faction symbols at the top of the card will dictate what happens each turn.
Turn order goes by the symbols on the top of the current card. In that order, eligible factions will choose what they want to do. However, the first faction to move will determine what options the second faction to move has.
For example, the first eligible faction can choose to do a faction op without their special ability (this can be anything from March to Rally to committing a Terror act depending on what faction you are) or they can do a faction op with their special ability (this could include Kidnapping to gain resources when you commit a Terror act, if you are the 26 July faction).
Or, they can do the Event on the card.
Finally, if they don’t want to do any of those, they can Pass and gain a resource (Government gains 3 resources).
Why would you Pass?
Because if you do an action, you become ineligible to do an action next round. That’s why seeing the next card is so important. If your symbol is the last one in turn order on the next card, you might as well do something this time. You’re unlikely to be able to do anything next round.
However, if you’re first, and it’s a really juicy event for you, then you might want to Pass so you remain eligible for next turn.
The first faction to do an action will dictate what the second eligible faction can do, because they must choose the option that’s on the same line that the first faction took.
If the first faction chose the top line, then the second faction can only perform a Limited operation (I’m not going to go into the operation details here, but just go along with me).
If the first faction chose the second line, then the second faction can do a Limited operation *or* they can do the Event on the card.
If the first faction takes the Event (3rd line, covered up by a piece in the picture), then the second faction can do a full operation with or without their special activity.
This all results in a lot of pushing and pulling (and, yes, a lot of analysis paralysis at times) as you’re trying to out-think your opponents. I don’t want the event, but I certainly don’t want that lady to get it either, so I’ll do an operation without a special ability. That means she won’t be able to do the Event.
And then there’s trying to figure out where to do things on the map.
The bright colours will attract a lot of attention, but without sitting down and working your way through it, none of it will make any sense. I sometimes felt that way and I was sitting down playing it.
Ultimately, it does make sense, and it is all very cool.
When a Propaganda card comes up, that’s when you determine if anybody has actually won the game. If not, then you do a lot of step-by-step processing to gain resources, perhaps increase Control or Opposition, and all of the book-keeping before you reset and move on to the next round.
If nobody has won after the fourth Propaganda round, then you follow the step-by-step instructions in the rulebook to determine who’s the winner!
The COIN games have always intrigued me and Cuba Libre is supposed to be one of the easier ones to pick up if you’re a newbie, so it was a no-brainer for a first play.
I really enjoyed it, even though we only reached the third Propaganda card before I had to leave. That was after 3.5 hours, so that gives you an idea of the time required for this game.
Granted, we were all new, so some time would be shaved off of that total in future plays, but unless you’re really experienced the AP will still be there. This is not a fast game unless somebody jumps ahead and fulfills their victory conditions early.
The game has intrigued me enough to want to try one of the other ones, but I’m still intimidated by them, especially the length. I could see myself getting lost in one of them.
But hell, maybe at a convention or something, or a dedicated COIN afternoon.
That sounds like fun!
I would definitely play Cuba Libre again, and hopefully we could finish it.
Looking forward to our next one.
(The rest of these were all played at this year’s Terminal City Tabletop Convention and, in the interests of getting this out before, say 2025, I’m going to shorten the descriptions a bit. Also, the picture-taking there sucked, so there aren’t as many good pictures to use)
Designer: Isaias Vallejo
Artist: Mihajlo Dimitrievski
Yay! Mico art!
Valeria: Card Kingdoms is a dice-based game that has some small similarities to Machi Koro and Space Base, but it does go beyond that as well.
You start the game with a Peasant and a Knight.
During the game, you’ll be recruiting citizens to add to the tableau in front of you, in order to be able to do more things.
On your turn, you’ll roll these cool-looking dice, and everybody will check their tableau to see if they get anything.
Each citizen has dice effects on them. The effect on the left happens when you roll the number on the top left of the card. The effect on the right happens when everybody else rolls that number. So for the Merchant, if you roll a 2, you get either two gold or two magic. If anybody else rolls a 2, you get 1 gold.
The interesting thing about the game is that you get both the individual dice and the total. So you could potentially activate three types of cards if you have them.
If you don’t activate any cards, then you get to choose one resource to pick up. You’ll never go a turn without getting something.
You’ll use these dice rolls to collect resources. Red is for strength, yellow is for gold, and blue is for magic. Magic is a wild resource that can be spent as either strength or gold (though you have to have at least one of the resources you need. You can’t use just magic)
Once you’ve rolled the dice and gathered resources, you can do two actions, and they can be the same one if you wish.
You could fight a monster if you have enough strength.
Or you could recruit a citizen if you have enough gold.
If you have enough gold and enough citizens with the right symbols (top right corner), you could even buy a domain.
Monsters, citizens, and domains are put out on the table in a certain number of piles. Once a certain number of them are exhausted (equal to twice the number of players), that triggers the end game.
When scoring, add up the victory points collected during the game, plus the value of the cards you have (monsters defeated and domains). You also get bonuses based on the Duke that you chose at the beginning of the game.
Whoever has the most points wins!
I really did enjoy this game. However, I don’t think it’s as elegant or straightforward as Space Base. It’s a bit of a table hog compared to that one. However, I do love how you get to use both individual and total dice to get your resources.
I like how you get a resource of your choice if you don’t activate things, and I like the fantasy aspect of this one. Fighting monsters, buying domains, recruiting citizens, it’s all a good time.
It also takes about an hour to play, which is par for the course for these dice-rolling games.
Overall, I’d give this one a thumb’s up and I’d like to play it again.
Designer: Gary Kim
Artists: Marie Cardouat, Patrycja Ignaczak
It’s the deduction game of miscast spells!
Each player is a wizard who…I guess is trying to kill the other wizards?
I don’t know.
Anyway, it’s a family deduction game (ok, maybe not kill then, maybe just inconvenience?) that has some similarities to Hanabi except that it’s not a cooperative game.
Each round, you get 5 spell stones, but you don’t know what they are. They’re facing away from you.
You can see what everybody else has, however.
The rest of the stones are placed in a pool, except that some are removed from the round (only if there are 2-3 players; 4-5 players don’t have any removed)
On your turn, you will attempt to cast one or more spells, but you can only do so if you have a stone for that spell.
You can try to cast more than one spell if you like, but you can only cast either the same spell or a spell with a higher number than previously cast. So if you cast a Magic Drink (#8), you can only try Magic Drink again on your turn.
Some spells do damage to one or more players. Some heal you. One (Night Singer #4) lets you look at one of the four stones set aside for it so you have a little more information on what’s available than everybody else.
The number of the spell also indicates how many of that stone are in the game (though some may have been pulled out this round!) When you successfully cast a spell, you place the stone from the five in front of you and put it on the board to indicate it’s been successfully cast.
Thus, you are using logic, deduction, and a little luck to cast these spells.
If you try to cast a spell that you don’t have the stone for, you immediately lose a life and play moves on to the next person.
As soon as somebody is eliminated (has lost all 6 life tokens), the player who eliminated that person gets three points. Every other survivor gets one. However, if you end up killing yourself through accidentally miscasting a spell, then nobody wins and everybody else just gets one point for surviving.
First player to 8 points wins!
This is a fun little distraction that takes about 30-40 minutes. The pieces are nice and chunky, the spells are fun, and it’s hilarious to shout “bzzzzzt!!!” when somebody miscasts a spell.
We played it 3 players, and it loses a little something with that player count (and I imagine with 2 players as well). One of the spells does damage to the player “on your left and right”. In a three-player game, that’s both other players.
It’s not a huge issue, though, and the game itself is quite fun and silly.
I’d play it again.
Designers: Matthew O’Malley, Ben Rosset
Artists: Laura Bevon, Agnieszka Dabrowiecka, Bartłomiej Kordowski, Noah Adelman
This game mashes the two together into an interesting-looking stew that’s actually quite fun.
Unlike the original Castles, you are attempting to team-build two whole castles by laying out tiles. You’re building a castle with the player on your right and your left.
Each one starts with a throne room.
This room will give you up to 4 points at the end of the game depending on how you place rooms next to it. The throne room above will give you 2 points if a Basement tile or a Corridor tile are immediately underneath it.
There are two rounds in the game, and each round you’ll take 9 tiles. You’ll choose two tiles and then pass the remaining tiles to the person next to you (to the left during the first round and to the right in the second).
Of those two tiles, you will talk to the people next to you to see which tiles would fit best in which castle, and where to put them. Most likely, when you chose them you know exactly where you want to put them, but you may be convinced otherwise!
You can get reward tiles once you have placed three of a certain type of room (Outdoors, Basement, Living, Food, Utility, Corridor) and these are extras that will fill out your castle and make it prettier (and hopefully score more points)
Play continues that way (discarding the extra tile when you have 3 tiles left to choose from) for both rounds, and then you add up the score of each castle.
Your score is the lower of the two castles you are responsible for. Since that will most likely (or even definitely?) end in two players tied, whichever tied player has the highest score in their other castle is the ultimate winner!
I really did enjoy this game. I love the tile-laying aspects of Castles of Mad King Ludwig, but the fact that you are cooperating with two other players makes this one even better.
I love the aesthetics of your castle and how different they all can look. You can do what me and one player did and make a low-rise castle with one massive tower!
I have to say that this is also a lot less fiddly than the other Ludwig games (I’m looking especially at you, Palace).
I would definitely play this again, and I may even buy it at some point.
(And great news about the digital version coming this year!)
Designer: Steffen Bogen
Artists: Dennis Lohausen, Chris Quilliams
This is a classic filler game that I have surprisingly never played.
And no, it is not Camel Cup. It is Camel Up.
It’s time for a camel race! Players are betting on which of the five camels will make it across the finish line first. Or, perhaps, which one is going to finish last.
The cool thing about the game is the interesting pyramid that works as the dice roller. All five dice are placed inside the pyramid and, when it’s time to roll, you shake it, push the tab in, and deposit exactly one die out on the table.
On your turn, you can take one action. You can take a pyramid tile and shake the pyramid to roll a die (I think some people do it just to be able to shake it). This is how you move the camels.
There is one die in the pyramid for each camel. The die that comes out of the pyramid dictates which camel moves and how far.
Ah, but notice the stacked camels above (or below)?
If the camel that’s moving has one or more camels on top of it, then they all move! And they stay in that configuration.
You can take a betting tile for the current leg, which is basically saying that you think that particular camel will be in first place at the end of the current leg.
A leg is complete when all five camels have moved. You then see who gets (or spends) money based on their betting tiles, distribute the one money for each pyramid tile taken, and then put all five dice back in the pyramid for the next leg.
You also have betting cards that you can lay down to say who will win or lose the entire race. The sooner you bet, the more money you will get if you’re right. But don’t bet too early because you could lose money if you are wrong!
Once a camel crosses the finish line, the game is over. Award or spend money for your bets, and whoever has the most money is the winner!
This is a quick, silly filler that has a lot of hilarity to it. I’ve seen it being played but never actually joined in myself until the convention this past weekend.
It’s a lot of fun, and I’d never say no to it, but it’s not something that I would necessarily choose to play. Lots of randomness and lots of laughs.
An enjoyable time was had by all! Sadly, I wasn’t the best judge of camels.
It was our last game of the night, so I’m sure I was just tired.
(Editor – yeah, right. You just suck)
Designer: Régis Bonnessée
Wow, we have card-crafting games, but I had never heard of a dice-crafting game until Dice Forge came out in 2017. It was all the rage, but I never got it to the table at all until last weekend.
What’s that? Dice-crafting?
Yes, you start with a pair of dice but during the game you will be replacing dice faces with ones that give you more and better stuff.
On each player’s turn, everyone will roll their dice and get the resources that are on the dice. Then, the active player can take an action.
They can spend accumulated gold to buy new dice faces for their dice. You can buy as many as you can afford, but you can’t buy two of the same face at the same time.
Or, you can move your pawn to a space on the board, spend the required energy, and purchase a card at that location. If you displace another player, that player gets to roll their dice and collect the resources.
You keep track of your resources on this tracker. You can spend two Sun energy to take another action if you wish.
The game lasts for nine rounds, so everyone will get nine actions.
At the end of the game, total up the VPs earned, as well as the VPs for your cards and the player with the most points wins!
I did really enjoy this game, but it’s much too fiddly for me to get to the table often. When popping off the dice face in order to replace it, I was always afraid that it would go flying. Once it almost did.
That being said, the game is pretty fun. I like that you get resources on everybody’s turn (and you can buy cards that will get you an extra roll once, or perhaps a resource of your choice on your turn). I like the displacement mechanic that gives you even more resources if you get to a spot that somebody else wants to go to.
We played with the introductory setup of cards, so I’d like to play it again and see what else the game has to offer. There are a bunch of cards in it and a new expansion coming out sometime this year.
I’d definitely play this again!
Though I’m more likely to play it online.
Wow, that’s a hefty list! Conventions always do that to me. Even worse that the convention was on the last two days of the month, delaying this post even further.
But I’m done!
What new games did you play in March? What do you think of these (since there are some older games in there)?
Let me know in the comments.