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I finally got to play it! Okay, it hadn't been sitting on my shelf that long (3ish weeks), but I was dying to get it played! On Sunday I got to play it with 2 friends for a 3 player game. Here are my thoughts from that first game.
This was pretty smooth. The rulebook, in my opinion, is very good. I had no issues when I read through it a couple of times before teaching, and the handful of times during the game when we had questions, we were able to find answers. There is also a separate sheet that details what every single worker placement space does, which is very handy. Teaching it was easy, as well. For being what I would describe as a mid-weight game (maybe just on the lighter side), everything is very easy to grasp, and as far as I know, my friends didn't have any trouble picking it up.
The components are all of good quality. Nothing too amazing or over the top, but the resources and workers are decent wooden pieces that are easy to tell apart and easy to manipulate. The card quality seems to be fine, but I sleeved anyway (I have a problem). The board quality is also good. The player boards are simple cardstock, not thick chipboard or anything. That is fine, especially considering that you don't actually do anything with them during the game, just reference them for your abilities. The neat thing about them is that the back side has a player guide showing every step of a round. There are 8 player boards, and the game only goes to 4 players, so there are enough for each player to use one as a player guide. Awesome!
This is just about the only complaint I've seen for this game online, and it's almost entirely directed at the board. There's nothing wrong with it, but people think the board looks bland. It doesn't bother me, but I can see why people want a little more there. The art on the cards is great. Some of it is artist renderings of the actors in the new movies, but as it's not screencaps, I have no problem with this.
Very good. Everything is very easy to see and read, and there is a handy symbols guide on the back of the rulebook, so this first game, whenever a new symbol came up, we could just look at that and knew exactly what it was. Symbols have different colors, but I'm pretty sure that everything is color independent, so people with color difficulties shouldn't have any issues with this game.
Random thoughts on gameplay:
- It seems like there are many valid paths to victory. Do you focus on building purchase value, and buying several "Spice Must Flow" cards, which give you a point just for purchasing them? Do you try to win as many combats as possible to acquire points? Do you try to work your way up several of the faction influence tracks to gain those points and other benefits? Do you focus on card draw? Or on gaining Intrigue cards, to maybe get a few extra surprise endgame points? Or on culling your deck to maximize your turns? None of these things are easy to do, and every turn feels important.
- The deck building is slow. This is not a problem - it's not a pure deck building game - but it's worth mentioning. You're acquiring 1 or 2 cards per round (max of 10 rounds), with maybe a few chances here and there to add cards. There are not a ton of chances to remove cards from your deck. My initial impression is that on the "worker placement/deck-building hybrid" scale, this game leans slightly toward worker placement. Don't get me wrong, though, the deck building is crucial, and I could see myself changing my mind on this.
- The game is tight! And I don't mean "cool," though it is that as well. The final scores for this were 11-10-10. It is not easy to get points. I think that for the first half of the game, we were all below 3 points.
- The deck building and worker placement hybrid implementation is really cool. It makes the decisions of what cards you're using for your "agent turns" (worker placement) vs your "reveal turn" tough and interesting.
- The combat really elevates this game. It adds so much good tension and second guessing - "oo I really want to win this battle, and I know I'll be able to reveal 3 combat strength on my reveal turn, so I need to move some troops in...but how much is my opponent going to send into battle? Does he even want to win this? Does he have the resources to go that space that adds 5 tropps (that's a lot)? Will he reveal 8 combat strength on his reveal turn and swoop in for a last second victory? [This happened in our game.] Or will I send in 6 troops only to find that my opponents don't care to win this one, meaning I'll be losing more troops than necessary.
I want to play this again NOW. Does that tell you anything?
Pictured below: the final game state.
So I've been "in the hobby" for a couple of years, but this year is definitely my highest so far in terms of acquisition of games. I feel extremely blessed, and do not want to take it for granted. I am especially blessed because a couple of those games have been due to winning contests throught BoardGameAtlas, which was super exciting. Anyway, here are all of the games that I have added to my shelves this month. Many were Christmas gifts, and some were pre-orders.
Would love to see all of your additions!
- #Shards of Infinity: Deckbuilding Game - this was on my wishlist courtesy of @jameystegmaier's enjoyment of it
- #The Blood of an Englishman - interesting looking asymmetric card game
- #Mint Works - tiny worker placement!
- #Innovation - no clue if we'll like this, but I wanted to try it
- #Bruxelles 1897 - very cool looking heavier card game
- And last but not least, an amazing gift from @cbrady748, #Baseball Highlights: 2045! I'm especially excited to get that one to the table!! It will probably have to be once we're past family holiday stuff, haha.
Other December additions:
- #Orléans (not pictured because I forgot) - ordered this on Black Friday, but it arrived in December. We already have 3 or 4 plays of it, so it's safe to say we like this one!
- #Dune: Imperium - I am SO excited to give this one a try - I have plans to do so tomorrow!
- #Dale of Merchants (all of the games) - I've been waiting on this one for a few months! I backed the KS for DoM3 in the spring and just went all in. We're really enjoying it so far! We've only played with I think 9 decks, and of course you can mix and match for a new game every time! I did the math, and there are almost 3000 distinct combinations of decks for a 2 player game! Even more with more players!
- #Inis (with #Inis: Seasons of Inis Expansion) - I've been wanting to pick this up for a while, so as soon as it came back in stock in the USA, I bought them both! This was what I bought with my bonus I received (well, the one fun thing I bought for myself). We played a 2 player learning game, and we both liked it! It's definitely a weird game, and my wife said she'd have to be in the mood to play this one, but that she did definitely like it.
Details of note:
- Preorder late October, ships in November
- Yellow eggs
- Box size: 296x215x40mm - "it’s a very specific size for a reason you’ll know soon." - my theory is another playmat to bring the game to 6 players
- "we are currently working on a big box solution with a built-in organizer designed to hold all Wingspan content (past, present, and future); it should be ready sometime in 2021. It will be just a box and a modular organizer–no gameplay content."
- 10/01/20 UPDATE - the expansion includes all new player mats. A complete set of different player mats. You can read the design diary for October 1 to get Jamey's description.
- 10/02/20 UPDATE - new food type: nectar. The nectar can be treated as a "wild" resource, and it matters where you use it. See Jamey's design diary for more info. There will also be a new set of dice to accomodate the new food type.
- 10/03/20 UPDATE - bin chickens!
- 10/04/20 UPDATE - new bonus cards and goal tiles. Examples - "no goal" tile, bonus cards for ascending/descending wingspan sequences in a given row
- 10/05/20 UPDATE - yellow bird ability - game end powers
- 10/06/20 UPDATE - flightless birds with * wingspans (considered wild)
This is basically 10 games whose art I really like. I didn't spend a ton of time coming up with it, so there are probably some I missed. By "art", I generally mean the cards, box, board, and sometimes tiles, though I guess some other small components could be included as well. Without further ado:
10. #Roam - no list about art without Ryan Laukat! I have not played this game, but I love the art.
9. #Wingspan - lovely birds, lovely boards, lovely box. What more do you want?
8. #Century: Golem Edition - awesome cartoony golem art
7. #Bruxelles 1897 - really cool Art Deco theme
6. #Tapestry - hard to argue with the aesthetics of Tapestry. I especially love the board, but the buildings are a really neat touch, price inflation aside.
4. #Nemo's War (Second Edition) - I love the look of old maps, and this game looks great all around. Ian O'Toole, yet again.
3. #Inis - this game has some insane Celtic looking art on its cards and I can't get enough of it
2. #Everdell - the most adorable anthropomorphized animals with an awesomely overproduced board and extra components make for one of the most eye-catching games you'll find.
1. #Oceans - is anyone surprised? This game is gorgeous. The watercolor art is super colorful and eye-catching, and the almost 90 cards in the Deep deck all have unique pieces of art on them. Amazing.
And that's it! What are your favorites?
- How would you describe your board game preferences?
I'm not sure I've played enough games to really be able to nail down my preferences; I'll just list a few likes and dislikes.
~Likes - nature/animal themes (especially real animals as opposed to anthropomorphized ones, but those are fun too), sci-fi themes, abstracts, cards, engine-building, super-thematic competitive games (e.g. #Dune, #Western Legends), big games in small boxes
~Dislikes - dungeon crawling, co-op games, card dueling (MtG, etc), bluffing/lying (e.g. hidden traitor games), miniature-focused games
- What are the favorites in your collection? Why?
#Evolution: Climate & #Oceans - these games are awesome, cutthroat, thematic engine/combo builders with a theme I love, and gorgeous art.
#Everdell - probably my favorite game to play with my wife. It's a really great tableau builder with tons of combo potential, a fun and cute theme, and again, fantastic art.
#Dune - Dune is my favorite book, so when I learned there was a board game about it, I had to have it. Only a few months later, they announced a reprint, and I was over the moon. This game is awesome if you have the right group of people.
#Santorini - my favorite abstract - I could play over and over.
- What is your least favorite (or least played) game in your collection? Why?
Least played are a couple of party games that we just haven't had occasion to use yet. #Wavelength and #Don't Get Got! I expect to enjoy those, though. My least favorite is #Fluxx. My wife bought this on a whim a while back without knowing much about it. So much randomness.
- What do you like about your collection? Is there anything you'd change?
I like that we have a pretty good variety, and I like (pretty much) everything in there. I like that there are games I play with my wife, games I play with my friends, and games we bring out for non-gamers. The only thing I'd change is to add maybe a couple more games that my wife really likes, but that's just an exercise of trial and error, it seems. She's cool with most of the games, but she only loves a few of them.
- Which game would you absolutely LOVE to add to your collection and why?
#Baseball Highlights: 2045. I love baseball, and I miss it. This game is apparently great, so I'd love to have it and convince my wife to play it with me, haha.
#War Chest looks like a really awesome abstract(ish) game that I'd really enjoy. I don't think my wife would be into it, but I have some friends who would be.