Weekly Board Games!

Years ago, I used to have a regular game day scheduled with a friend of mine.  Each Sunday, one of us would go to the other’s house and we’d throw down on various games.  Originally, it had started out as a weekly 40k game, but it eventually evolved into any game that sounded like fun (and even some that didn’t). 

I’m happy to announce that we’ve started this tradition up again, and over the past couple of weeks, I’ve gotten to try out a bunch of new board/card games.  I thought I’d share my opinions of those games with you all here.

Below you’ll find a list of the games we played, and a brief synopsis of my thoughts on each.  Also note that the title of each game is also a link to the review of the game on Boardgamegeek.com if you’re interested in learning a little more about each one.

Awful Green Things from Outer Space

Awful Green Things - by Steve Jackson Games

I enjoyed this game, though not for the quality of the components.  Conceptually, one player plays the “humans” (which are really assorted races of Moon people, robots, and other cartoon characters) trying to eradicate a hostile race of “Awful Green Things” from their ship.  I immediately thought of the film “Ice Pirates” and the infection of “Space Herpes.”

So, yes, it won me over on theme.  Gameplay was all about little tiles that move around the map, wherein you compare strengths and constition, trying to achieve specific die rolls to elliminate opposing pieces.  This has a classic feel to it, and being a great fan of similar games (such as Battle for Armageddon & the original Horus Heresy board game), I took a shining to this as well.  The thing that differentiates this game from the others is the use of weapons on the ship; which have random effects on the aliens.  Sure, some kill them handily, but others actually make them multiply and grow.

The one section where the game severely lacked is in components.  You get a bunch of flimsy cardboard cut-outs on a glossy paper mat, and six dice in the box.  In short: there is definite room for improvement on the components. 

All in all, I thought it was a decent game, and worth playing if someone else has it.  This is not one that I’d go rush out and buy though.

Infernal Contraption

Infernal Contraption by Privateer Press

This was a card game wherein each player concentrates on building a machine to defeat the other (by running him out of cards).  Your machine runs in a first-in-first-out (FIFO) method processing each card (assuming it’s powered) and proceeding down the line.  Cards do things like force your opponent to discard, allow you to draw cards, allow you to take cards off the top of another player’s deck or off the discards and put them in your hand or on your library, etc. 

I thought the cards were nice, glossy stock, and nice art.  Each card had a unique name that seemingly had very little to do with what the actual card does–though it does add in part to the theme of the game.  The only real complaint I had with the game is that the cards that allow you to take cards from your opponents library and play the immediately seem vastly overpowered.  When coupled with various “doubling” cards, you can quickly eat through an opponent’s deck, leaving them with very little to do in retaliation. 

Because of this, I’d recommend a limit on that card, as getting one out quickly with some doublers made for painful games.  Otherwise, I’m not sure how much replayability is in this game, but it was indeed fun to play.  With MSRP at $15, I think this is worth the investment.

Buyer beware: you should have a LARGE table to play it on.

 

Memoir ’44

Memoir '44 by Days of Wonder

We only played a single mission of this game, so I don’t have a lot to go on.  It pits the Axis vs. Allies in a quest of world domination (in a much smaller scale), recreating famous battles around the world.  The mission we played: Pegasus Bridge pit about 9 of his American units vs. 5 of my Nazi infantry.  His objective was to capture my bridges and kill my guys, wherein my objective was to simply kill him. 

Movement/attacking in the game is done through a series of cards.  Each player draws a hand of cards from a central deck and can play one per turn.  In this mission, he had six cards in his hand whereas I had only 2 (which after two turns eventually wound up with me having 4 cards in my hand).

For those that are paying attention, this meant that I had fewer units, fewer possible ways to score points, and fewer cards in hand.  What did I get to make up for that?  Well, I got a sandbag emplacement (which is good, mind you, but easily overtaken).  In short, the game was completely imbalanced.

Which isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy myself: I was outgunned and undermanned and still managed to come close to pulling off a victory.  Halfway through though, I had realized how badly the odds were stacked against me.  I had assumed that we’d missed something in the rules that would’ve balanced things out, but after some serious digging I found that the game just isn’t fair.

Since it’s based upon historical battles, very few of the missions are at all balanced.  I found that to be a bad thing for a game, especially one for new players.  I expect when I play a game to have some sort of equality between the sides, but this game lacks that completely.  In fact, after thumbing through the booklet, I couldn’t find a single mission that seemed to be balanced.

In short, I thought the game was cute, and if I was really into historical reenactments, this would likely be a great game.  Likewise, if you’re that much better of a gamer than those around you and need to handicap yourself, this might also be a good game to pick up.  I will not, however, be buying it anytime soon…

Galaxy Trucker

My personal favorite: Galaxy Trucker by Vladimír Chvátil

Holy cow, I loved this game.  True, we only played a single game (well, one round of a game, plus another full game), but the net effect is that we were able to play the game four times (since each round is roughly the same as previous rounds with a little added difficulty thrown in).

The concept of the game is that you’re space truckers that need to deliver goods across the galaxy.  You need to create a ship to do, containing various parts: engines, crew compartments, storage containers (of multiple types), shields, weapons, and other miscellaneous widgets.  Each serves it’s own purpose, and essentially all are necessary in some capacity.

This is a classic “euro” style board game to me in that you have limited resources and lots of decisions to make.  It’s possible to be overcome with “analysis paralysis” when trying to build your ship, but I think the best strategy is to roll with the punches.

A ship is constructed from face down tiles that, when flipped reveal one of the available components.  These must be added to your ship to form connections with similar structures already on your ship.  In effect, this becomes a bit of a puzzle game in how you assemble your pieces.  But you’re racing against your opponents for the same pieces.  There is no turn order: each player scrambles as fast as they can to get the best ship possible.  To add to the chaos, there’s a time limit as well.

Once your ship is formed, you fly through space together using a process of cards, encountering things like abandoned ships, slave traders, and asteroid fields (you did remember to put shields on your ship, right?).   You win by collecting galactic space credits for delivering goods quickly, safely, and in a fancy ship.

The components were great (thick cardboard, good art, and many stylized meeples to look like astronauts, aliens, and energy crystals), and the game was great fun.  All in all, the only down side here is the hefty $75 price tag (which it’s probably worth, but that is a fair chunk of change to spend on a game).  I think there’s definite replay value here, so of all the games we tried, this is the one that I think I’ll likely  go out and purchase for myself.

Godzilla: Kaiju World Wars

I think I need to start by saying that I’m not a Godzilla fan, though my partner in crime, Derek, is.  We setup this game of toy monsters and proceeded to smash through a city filled with military units.  Honestly, we didn’t play more than a couple of rounds of this, as the game just didn’t capture our attentions.  The pieces were a combination of plastic children’s toys (for the monsters) and cardboard tiles (for military units).  The buildings were stackable grey squares which proved to be fairly unique and give the game theme, and the board was relatively good.  The cards that came along with the game were very basic though, and didn’t seem to have that much effect on the game.

In short, I didn’t enjoy this game myself, nor did Derek (who quickly claimed this was a waste of $70).  I don’t know that I can honestly rate this as I didn’t give it a full shot, but my first impression wasn’t terribly positive. 

Mag Blast

Mag Blast by Fantasy Flight Games

Unlike the rest of the games on this list, Mag Blast is one that I’ve played before.  Years ago when we gamed on a regular basis, this is one that we had tried.  It’s billed as a “fast, fun, and explosive” card game from Fantasy Flight (originally I’d thought it was from Steve Jackson Games since it was illustrated by John Kovalic–the guy that’s responsible for things like Munchkin and the Dork Tower).

Despite having played it before, the game looked only vaguely familiar, but very quickly the memory came rushing back.  The game played very quickly (as you get to empty your entire hand each turn), revolving around creating various fleets to protect your mother ship while attempting to destroy your opponents.  In a two player game, I found that the game goes a little too quickly.  Once one player gets ahead, they can effectively pummel the other into oblivion—except that since the victim gets to reload his hand each turn, he typically has just enough to muster a weak defense—leaving him perpetually in the defensive position.

Ironically, despite this, when we played and I was in the defensive position, I was able to win the game in a single turn by moving one of his ships to the side and smashing everything I had into his mother-ship. 

I think the game lacks something to keep it from swaying radically to one side or the other.  It was cute, and I believe I enjoyed it the very first time I played it, but it wore out it’s welcome by now.  Halfway into our game I remembered how the game played out last time, and sure enough it was very similar this time.  Again, I think this is one of those games that isn’t horrible, but in my opinion, it’s not worth purchasing.

***

Though not all of the games were hits (in my book), I really enjoy getting back into gaming on a more regular basis.  If you have any questions about any of the above, please feel free to ask and I’ll do my darnedest to answer…

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7 comments on “Weekly Board Games!

  1. I hope you’ll have lots more reviews!

    I’ve also been playing board games semi-regularly on Sundays.   It just seems so much easier to organise than 40K, and with less potential for a disappointing game.

    We’ve got a handful (5 or 6) games that we’re playing and although I’m constantly on the look out for new ones, we’re still enjoying replaying all the ones we’ve got.   And I don’t see the fun wearing off any time soon.

      • Chaos in the Old World, Ticket to Ride, Bang!, Puerto Rico, War on Terror, The Horus Heresy, Zombie Survival Game…   A few others too, I think.

        Could be the subject for an article (long discussed but never actually forthcoming) if you’re interested?

        Do you know any of them already?

      • I actually did a smallish review of Chaos in the Old World earlier this year. I like the game, but don’t get much opportunity to play it. The problem with that one is that most people I play board games with aren’t into warhammer, and though the concept works for people that don’t know the history/lore, it’s just not as compelling to play for them. Well, maybe I’m making assumptions there, but as soon as my wife hears “warhammer,” she turns off all interest.

        Ticket to Ride is actually my favorite board game, and Bang! is great (but only when you have at least five people–which is a bit of a rarity when we game). I’ve played the Horus Heresy (but only the original–not the new Fantasy Flight version), and liked that as well. Of those that you mentioned, Zombies and War on Terror are the only ones I haven’t tried (or even heard of, for that matter).

        I’m surprised that you listed Puerto Rico though. When I started getting into board games, I looked up the top rated games on boardgamegeeks and saw that was overwhelmingly #1, so I went out and purchased it. We’ve only played it once, but nobody enjoyed themselves that time. I just didn’t get the point. You really like that one? What am I missing?

      • I have to say; Puerto Rico I’ve found can be really fun, or a bit dull.   It’s the sort of game where if you have to persuade people to play it, they’re probably not going to enjoy it.   When I first played it I loved the idea of it: Settlers of Catan but with more options, more control, more ‘roleplay’ and less opportunity for a single dice roll to leave you stuffed for half the game.   I was also playing with a Spanish version which meant I didn’t always understand the cards, but it just seemed to add to the charm.   Since then I’ve had good and bad games depending on who I’m playing with.   I think you need players who don’t just like ‘a good, fun boardgame’ but like ‘a good, fun, resource-management boardgame’.   Some people seem to just ‘get’ it quickly (even if they don’t know what all the buildings do, what the best strategies are, etc.) and then the game runs quickly and is fun.   If people are constantly struggling to work out what they’re doing (and bothered by the fact that they don’t know) then the game, I would agree with you, isn’t so good.

        Ticket to Ride is a game I zealously force people to play and then sit back and smile as they go out and buy their own copy / request that I bring it with me every time we meet.   Of course – we talked about this previously, I remember now – I have the European version, which I prefer to the North American one.

        Chaos in the Old World (and now with Horned Rat expansion) is still great fun, but it’s true – you do need several players.   I’ve only played it with less than 4 once or twice.   I find that quite a lot of people are at least vaguely familiar with ‘warhammer’.   Anyone who’s not, I just say the game is about 4 evil Gods competing to destroy the world: the Gods of war/violence/bloodshed, disease and decay, political corruption and magic and moral corruption and selfishness.   I don’t try to hide the warhammer background, but telling people that the above is all they need to know I find is fine.   If they like the concept (whether or not they know warhammer), they’ll probably get into and enjoy the game.   If they don’t, then they probably wouldn’t be interested even if they did know the warhammer background.

        Bang! again is a game where you need as many players as possible.   I first played this in Norway and found that playing with people who spoke English as a second language made the game even more fun: having people shout ‘I’m going to bang you’ just adds a whole new level of juvenile hilarity…

  2. I’ve heard much hoopla about Twilight Imperium (although, most of the records are just to use it as a comparison for other games: “yes, it’s long, but it’s no Twilight Imperium!”).

    How long does a game of that take, anyway?

  3. Pingback: Board Games Galore! | Warhammer 39,9999

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