June was a very slow month for new to me games. Only two! And one expansion.
Man, were they great ones, though. The expansion is to my favourite game of all time (at least for now) and I got another COIN game in!
I think the low number is mitigated by the fact that one of the plays was of a 2010 game.
That’s almost elderly in this day and age!
When I presented it to the Cult of the New to Me, I thought there might be another revolt. I’m not really living up to my cult leader status with only two new to me games played
I didn’t need to worry, though. This was their reaction.
I hesitate to tell them what July’s probably going to be like, though. They may just be being lenient on me this time.
So, without further adieu (all of my adieu disappeared into the desert during a clearing operation anyway), let’s get started!
Designer: Brian Train
Artists: Rodger B. MacGowan, Chechu Nieto
Having already tried Cuba Libre, I was itching to get another COIN game in. Colonial Twilight is an unusual one in that it’s only a 2-player game. You don’t have four factions squaring off against each other, sometimes allying and sometimes fighting.
It’s just you and your opponent, mano y mano (look at me, I’m so cultured)
Colonial Twilight is a complex game, so I’ll just go over the basics (if I ever do a review, maybe there will be more).
The game is about the 1954-62 war for Algerian independence from the French. One side plays the French and the Algerian forces (you control French troops, French police, Algerian troops and Algerian police) and the other side plays the insurgents (mostly from the Front de Liberation Nationale or FLN, but also some other minor insurgent groups that are lumped together for the sake of the game).
The map encompasses the entirety of Algeria, with Tunisia and Morocco just on the two sides of the board bordering the country.
The country is divided into Wilayas (named and numbered and corresponding roughly to the system the FLN used) and each Wilaya is divided into sectors. These sectors are where you will be placing your pieces.
Each side has its own victory conditions.
The French win if Total Support (as shown by support counters in the various sectors) plus the French commitment to the war exceeds 35.
The FLN win if Total Opposition plus the number of FLN bases deployed on the map exceeds 30.
The game comes with 60 event cards that are played one at a time in a really unique system that’s quite masterful. In the COIN games I’m familiar with, each card has an order on it that states in what order the factions decide what to do on their turn.
Being a 2-player game, Train had to come up with something slightly different.
Hence, the Initiative Track.
One side starts the turn with initiative (the FLN starts the game and each post-Propaganda card turn with the initiative) and thus are 1st eligible to choose.
If they decide to execute the card’s event, execute a Limited Op (meaning an operation in only one sector) or pass, then they retain the initiative next turn. If they do an Op with a Special Activity, or they do an Op in multiple sectors, then they lose initiative and the 2nd player becomes 1st eligible next turn.
It’s really quite intricate, especially how it limits the 2nd eligible player as well.
See, the 2nd eligible player can only do an action that’s adjacent to what the 1st player did. So in the picture above, the Government forces chose to do an Op with Special Activity. Now, the 2nd eligible player can only do the event, execute a Limited Op, or pass. They can’t do an Op in multiple sectors.
If you were 1st, didn’t want the event but also didn’t want your opponent to do the event, you would either execute a Limited Op or an Op without a Special Activity.
Players are vying for control of the various sectors and trying to increase Support/Opposition in those that have population, as that is what will lead to victory.
Government forces will be trying to deploy police or troops, getting bases out there so that they can use them to root out FLN forces, either exposing them or actually destroying them.
The FLN will be rallying the people to their cause, popping up guerilla units all over the place (literally all over the place, with only cities and Government Support sectors being exempt, a rule which we got wrong and thus really hamstrung the FLN player).
They are supposed to keep popping up, perhaps performing Terror attacks or what have you, and the Government almost has to play Whack-a-Mole on them.
The Government also has to pay attention to French commitment to the war as that’s part of their victory conditions. The two players will be trying to affect the France track which will adjust commitment after each Propaganda round (when a Propaganda card is revealed from the deck).
The further left it is, the better for the Government player as they will lose less commitment and the FLN will get fewer resources.
Both sides are also paying attention to the Border Zone track once Tunisia and Morocco have gained their independence. The FLN player can use these countries as safe havens, rallying guerillas and using the countries as staging areas.
The Border Zone track denotes how well the Government is inhibiting movement across the borders.
The game comes with shorter scenarios or you can play the full campaign of 60 Event cards and 5 Propaganda cards.
If neither side has won after the final Propaganda round, then the winner is determined by who was closest to their victory conditions.
Wow, this is an amazing game, even more so probably once you play it correctly (we made many rules errors).
The push and pull between the two forces makes the game very tight. Each side has to do what they do best or the other one will run over them (kind of like my Government forces did when the FLN player didn’t realize she could Rally guerillas anywhere other than cities and sectors that are at the Support level).
The artwork is really good and the map is beautiful. The cards use real events from the war and have something for both sides which will make choosing what to do an agonizing decision.
I really want to get this to the table again with proper rules implementation, just to see how much I still like it. We played the short scenario and it took 3 hours, so I’m not sure about time. Part of that time was because we were both new, I’m sure, but how much time will be shaved off with the next play?
I guess we’ll find out.
Designer: Matthias Cramer
Artists: Loïc Billiau, Harald Lieske
Glen More is an interesting little tile-laying game about making the most successful clan in 17th century Scotland.
(I will not try to do a Scottish accent in this post, I promise)
You’ll be taking tiles and creating a province/district/who knows(?) in front of you. These tiles will do everything from resource production to resource conversion to just looking pretty (that gets you points, right?).
How do you choose tiles?
That’s where the market board and the really interesting turn order mechanism come in.
Tiles are laid out on the market board with each players turn order marker placed on empty spaces. There should be one empty space behind the final player marker.
Whoever’s meeple is in the last place position can choose any tile to take and add to their design. They then place that tile in their area and move their meeple to the empty slot.
Then, the now-last place meeple does the same thing. If the first one jumped far ahead to grab a juicy tile, it’s possible that the player won’t get a turn for a little while as the other players gobble up the tiles behind them.
(In a 2-3 player game, there is a die placed on the track as well. When it’s in last place, you roll it, count the number of tiles ahead equal to what was rolled, remove that tile from the game, and place the die there)
Tile placement has a couple of interesting requirements. You start with a Village and one clansman on it. If there is a river on the tile, it must be placed with the river connecting (there is one river running north-south). If it has a road, it must be connected to the road on another tile (there is one road going east-west).
Secondly, there must be one of your clansmen on a neighbouring tile (diagonally is fine).
Once you place a tile, you activate all of the neighbouring tiles around it. Production tiles produce again, resources for VP tiles can be done again, etc.
Neighbouring Villages & Castles will give you “movement” points for your clansmen. Each point allows you to move a clansman one tile (even diagonally). This will let you reposition them for future tile placement.
Or, you can spend a movement point to remove a clansman and make it a chieftain. That is important for scoring.
Some of the tiles are “special” tiles (castles and lochs, etc) that may give you some immediate benefit or perhaps some ongoing thing. They are also important for scoring.
The tiles are divided into three piles. As soon as a pile is empty, a scoring round occurs. You score the number of whiskey barrels you have (because whiskey’s so important up there), the number of chieftains you have (and some of those special tiles will count for this), and then you score the number of special tiles you have.
Scoring is really interesting. It’s all based on who has the least of each one and how much you have in relation to that (unless that’s actually you! In which case
you suck you don’t get any points.)
Whoever doesn’t have the fewest of each scoring item looks at the above chart to see how many more of said item they have than the one who has the fewest. You get the indicated number of points.
After the third scoring round, the game ends and there is one more calculation.
Have you been a tile hoarder? Do you have a bunch more tiles than everybody else?
Whoever has the fewest tiles laid out in front of them is safe. The other players compare how many tiles they have more than that player. And they lose three points per extra tile.
It doesn’t pay to get greedy!
Whoever has the most victory points wins.
This was an interesting game. I like tile-laying games, though they’re not my favourite type of game. Glen More has some interesting mechanics that sets it apart from the others.
I like the way turn order works, where you can jump ahead to get a great tile but then it won’t be your turn for a while. However, if the others clean up all those tiles behind you, they may get penalized at the end of the game for having so many more tiles than you do.
The placement rules for tiles can be a little confusing at first, but they do add to the strategy and make it so you have to get some villages or castles in your formation or you won’t have enough clansmen.
And then the choice: do I turn one clansman into a chieftain? It may hinder my tile placement, but chieftains are points!
The decisions are quite nice in this game, but not brain-burning. It’s a fairly light game overall.
Which makes for a good final game of the day!
I’d like to play this one again.
Designers: Wray Ferrell & Brad Johnson
Artist: Rodger B. MacGowan
Did it really need an expansion? It’s a great game all by itself, but an expansion could certainly add some interesting possibilities.
Boy does The Age of Iron & Rust do that!
In addition to adding bots for either solo play or to fill in for missing players if you don’t have four, this expansion adds just two things, but they are both awesome.
First, it adds new cards. For each colour (Blue: Senate; Yellow: Populace; Red: Military), the expansion adds a new card for each level (2-4). You can either play with all of the cards, mix and match which ones you want to use, or have it be kind of random (a stack of Blue 2s, but you don’t know if the next one will be original or expansion).
These cards give new possibilities to your deck-building prowess, and I like how they seem to interact with other colours sometimes.
For example, Mobile Volgus will let you use Populace points to reduce support in enemy provinces. And it also gives you 3 Populace points to boot! Or Ambitus which adds one vote to the number of votes you have when trying to take over a province.
Or there’s my favourite, the 4-point Military card Spiculum. Not only does it give you 4 Military points, but before dice are rolled in a battle of your choice where you are the Attacker, you can roll 2d6 and hit on a 3+ (6’s explode, as usual), doing damage to the Defender’s units before they can even fight back!
The blue Senate cards aren’t quite as fun, but there are definitely some good choices there. Princeps Senatus lets you use any unspent Senate influence from the card to buy cards at the end of your turn. Or Triumph gives you extra legacy when defeating barbarians. Because Roman Emperors were all about fighting barbarians!
The other really cool thing with this expansion is the different types of emperor you can be.
When you become emperor, you can become a “basic” Senate emperor, with your house in Rome. Nothing changes from the base game pretty much (just a couple of minor things).
However, The Age of Iron & Rust offers you two more options.
You can become a Military Emperor! As emperor, you’re all about that glory in battle thing. You place your square emperor marker on one of your armies. Every time that army wins a battle, its legacy gain is double what it would normally be.
In the picture above, destroying those two barbarians would normally get you four points (two for winning and one each for the barbarians). As a military emperor involved in the battle, you would actually get eight points!
As a military emperor, the army loves you (for the most part), so players can’t play the Praetorian Guard on you either. If they’re going to take Rome, they either have to do it the old fashioned way or they have to kill you in battle.
However, for every wound your army takes in a battle, you have to roll a die. Roll a 5 or 6 and your emperor dies, just like that.
Battlefield injury, or maybe your army just decided it didn’t like you anymore and ran a sword through you. Who knows?
You can also become a Populace Emperor.
You’re an emperor that’s out in the provinces rather than sitting on your ass back in Rome, because you are a man (or woman) of the people!
A Populace emperor gets legacy equal to twice the support level of the province where they’re located. This can also be quite lucrative.
Also, since the people love you so much, other players can’t place mobs in your provinces and all mobs that are in place when you become emperor go away.
However, the people may love you but being so far away from Rome makes it hard to keep support in the actual Senate.
If somebody tries to become emperor, they automatically have two votes against you already.
Pretenders, of course, also subtract from the extra legacy you earn from these emperors, just like they do when you’re a Senate emperor.
These two new options add so much to the game that is there already.
Previously, becoming Emperor with not much support (say just one province) really didn’t benefit you much other than adding one to your “Emperor Turns” total.
With these two options, though, you can get some nice legacy gains before inevitably losing the throne.
For example, if you have only one province but you build it’s support to 4, then you can get 8 quick points as emperor before being deposed.
Military emperors can also get some quick, sweet legacy before falling to their doom.
The decision space in Time of Crisis was already quite high, but the expansion just adds so much to it!
I haven’t played with the bots yet, so I can’t comment on those, but I will say that this is a must-have expansion. Especially if you have played the base game a lot.
It changes it in so many great ways.
Highly recommended! After only one play, of course…
What new to you games did you play in June?
Let me know in the comments.