Thursday, February 13, 2020

Board Game 100 Challenge #52

Board Game Geek, also referred to as BGG is a great website for looking up board games to find rules clarifications and video tutorials and stuffs like that. I find that site difficult to browse if you're just wanting to see what's out there and don't have a specific game that you are wishing to research. But for focused research, it's great!
One of the tools that it has that I find most useful is the way that it grades the difficulty of games on a scale. I found that despite my proliferation of board games, I really do tend to favor board games that are on the lighter side in complexity.
I've found that most of the games that I like fall at around 2 on BGG's difficulty scale. To understand what that means, I have provided a list of some more well known games and their difficulty ratings from Board Game Geek for comparison.
Uno 1.13
Monopoly 1.67
Life 1.18
Sorry 1.17
Checkers 1.78
Chess 3.73
Poker 2.46
Now let's look at my top 10 favorite games of the moment and where they land in complexity.
10. Batman: Gotham City Under Siege 2.20
9. Cacao 1.82
8. Luxor 2.00
7. Red7 1.67
6. Fabled Fruit 1.63
5. Ethnos 2.02
4. Above And Below 2.53
3. Century Spice Road 1.77
2. Quadropolis 2.20
1. Explorers of the North Sea 2.06
That's an average complexity of 1.99, with Above and Below being the highest in complexity at 2.53. Above and Below used to be my favorite game of all time, but I've not been able to get it to the table in many months so it's fallen a bit from grace. I also expect that Batman will rise higher than its number 10 spot should I get the chance to play it a few more times.
This complexity rating tool has become very useful to me in recent years as I consult it before purchasing new games. Case in point, the game that Julie and I played last night: Oracle of Delphi.

Now, I did in fact like this game quite a bit. By the end, I felt like I had fallen into a rhythm, figured everything out, and was enjoying the experience. But, it was WORK getting there. BGG rates the Oracle of Delphi a 3.02 in complexity.
That's considered "medium weight" in the board game community. For me, it's just on the edge of what I am comfortable with. It's not about intelligence. I had no problem at all figuring everything out and constructing a strategy for winning (which I did.) It's that games that require a substantial investment of time and energy like these stop being fun for me.
If I have to work at it very much, suddenly, I care if I win. It might seem silly for a person who plays games as much as I do to say this, but ... I don't want to care if I win. I don't enjoy being competitive. I like to keep things light, fast and breezy. Oracle of Delphi is a splendid game. It's multi-player solitaire which I like. I enjoyed the theme, the game play ... everything. But, for me at the end of the day, it was just a smidge' too much of a good thing.
There were a great many components to set-up which took time (too much time for me) and a lot of fiddly little details that had Julie and I consulting the rule book again and again. We both agree that we would play it again. The problem for me is, if I have to choose between this and a lighter, faster, more accessible game that I like just as much, I'll choose the lighter game every time.
Oracle of Delphi is game number 52 in my Board Game 100 Challenge. Only 48 more games to go!
Originally shared on Facebook on 5-6-2019.

Board Game 100 Challenge #50 - #51

Julie and I played two board games yesterday. First we played a cooperative card game called: Outpost Amazon. I wrote yesterday about Imperial Settlers and shared my point of view regarding the "take that" element of board games. The ultimate answer to this is the cooperative board game.
In a cooperative board game all the players work together to collectively defeat the challenges and puzzles presented by the game. The players work together and win or lose as a group. It is truly multi-player solitaire. I love cooperative board games. So, Outpost Amazon is guaranteed to deliver an enjoyable game play experience, right?

Uh, no. While I recognize that Imperial Settlers is a good game and simply not for me, Outpost Amazon is simply a bad game. It was random in a bad way. Game play was confusing and fiddly. Its narrative element was weak to non-existent, and worst of all, it just wasn't fun. I didn't like it. Julie didn't like it. Outpost Amazon is not recommended.
So, wishing to get the taste of bad board game experience out of her mouth, Julie asked if we had played Ethnos yet in our 100 challenge. We had not. Ethnos is a neat area control board game with fantasy races and a map of a fantasy world just waiting to be conquered. The fun of the game is in the card play which is very engaging. The game features a dozen races that each bring a new way to play the game. Each game you only play with a random sampling of half these races, so replayability of the game is high.
You collect sets of matching cards either by race or color and play these sets in order to place units on the game board to score points. For each set that you play you declare one member of the set as the leader. This determines the special benefit that you gain from playing that set. These benefits vary greatly and really keep the game interesting.
Another really interesting aspect of the game is that when you finally play a set from your hand, all the other cards in your hand are discarded face-up into a draw pile that your opponent then gets to draw from. There is a real push-and-pull that happens as you struggle with what to play and what to leave for your opponent.

Julie and I love Ethnos. We would both place it among our top ten favorite board games. We needed a great experience after the last few less than stellar ones. We enjoyed it so much that we played it twice!
We've broken the halfway mark! We are 51 games into the Board Game 100 Challenge!! Only 49 games left to go!!
Originally shared on Facebook on 4-21-2019.

Board Game 100 Challenge #49

Many people who enjoy playing board games accept that "crushing your opponent" is part of the fun. It is just a game after all. One of the grandest early board game experiences the children of my generation have to call upon is Monopoly. In Monopoly your objective is to bankrupt every other player. It was fun, right? Being bankrupted wasn't fun. Having the properties that you built up being torn down or taken away wasn't fun. It was only fun when you were winning. That's how board games work, right?
Not the games that I play. Any board game where the "thrill of victory" comes in direct correlation with someone else's "agony of defeat" is called a "take that game." Another more polite term is "player interaction." Most in the "gaming community" feel that a game isn't a game without a healthy dose of player interaction. One of the games that we played recently that I enjoyed a great deal: Explorers of the North Sea, is criticized by some for its lack of player interaction. Games like it with little or no player interaction are sometimes said to be, "multi-player solitaire." This term is often used as a negative thing.
I like games with little or no player interaction. Board games that are a structured exercise in parallel play where you compete with your neighbor to accomplish your goals faster or better are my favorite. Among "real gamers" this places me firmly in the minority. Which is probably why I haven't been able to fit in at my local gaming store's game night, and why I wouldn't make a good board game reviewer. Still, I like what I like and that's good enough for me.
Last night Julie and I played: Imperial Settlers. This is a highly regarded board game by a highly regarded game designer. It was released several years ago to rave reviews and I picked up a copy. When I first moved to Baxter Springs with Kaylee, I had left all of my friends and everything that I knew ... and I was lonely. I started buying board games like crazy. I guess I thought if I had the games, somehow I would find someone to play them with. "If you build it. They will come." It didn't work that way, but it explains why I still have so many games on the shelf that I have never played. Back then, I didn't have anyone to play them with. I just bought the games and put them on the shelf. This Board Game 100 Challenge is helping to rectify that. Of the 130 board games in my collection, only 19 remain that I have never played. Until yesterday, Imperial Settlers was one of those.

Imperial Settlers is a good game. It's very well designed and balanced and strategic and challenging. I hated it. A key aspect of the game is called "razing" whereby you attack the buildings created by your opponent. Julie and I actually played a "friendly" game and basically refused to attack each other. As I was playing the Romans and their primary asset was their ability to attack the other players, I felt pretty restricted during the game. There are other factions that you can play, but Julie and I chose to play the factions described in the rules as being the easiest to play. The game was fairly complex as it was.
This game wasn't for me and I can't see keeping it in my collection. If you don't mind a healthy dose of "take that" in your board games you might feel differently. Still this one counts in our board game 100 and is game number 49. Almost half way!! Only 51 games to go!!
Originally shared on Facebook on 4-20-2019.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Board Game 100 Challenge #48

Yesterday, Julie and I played Quadropolis! Wow! This one is a winner! It's basically a drafting game at heart with players taking turns selecting tiles to use in the building of their own little modern city.

It's the way that you select, place and score the tiles that pulls this all together. Tiles are in a grid and you have a worker that tells you where from within that grid you may take a tile. That same worker also tells you where within your city you can place your newly acquired building.
Each player has 4 different workers which give you many options at first. But these options dwindle away as other players make their selections and your variety of workers declines. But don't worry, once all 4 workers are deployed, the board is reset and you get to start with a full team of 4 workers again.
The game lasts 4 rounds which go very fast. During this time you're trying to find ways to place the tiles that you have collected into your personal city in such a way that you can score the most points. On top of this, some tiles that you take give you population while others give you energy. You use population and energy to activate your tiles. It's not enough just to place them. If your tiles aren't activated then they don't score.
It's puzzley. It's interesting. It's easy and quick in both setup and game play. It balances all of this while staying challenging. It reminds me a lot of playing Sim City on my 486 personal computer many years ago. I love it!
Quadropolis is game #48 in the Board Game 100 Challenge! Only 52 games left to go!
Originally shared on Facebook on 4-14-2019.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Board Game 100 Challenge #45 - #47

Last weekend Julie and I played Shipwrights of the North Sea. This was the third game in the North Sea trilogy of games. Julie and I agree that this was the weakest entry of the three. Julie liked it more than I did. It was okay, but not a favorite. Explorers which we played 2 weeks ago on the other hand was an absolute favorite!

Last night we played Dingo's Dreams a puzzley little game that's half bingo and half those little sliding number puzzles that we used to play as kids. It's fun, quick, and challenging... A perfect little filler.

Finally we played Hero Life, which is my game that I designed. Its been about 6 months since I have gotten this to the table. This version had quite a few design changes following my last play test which was pretty disappointing for me. Last night's play through was quite the opposite. Everything worked!

The Hero Life Game Board.

I finished the game last night filled with new vigor and drive to continue this project. Very happy with Hero Life right now.
That's 47 games in the Board Game 100 Challenge! Only 53 games to go!
Originally shared on Facebook on 4-13-2019.

Board Game 100 Challenge #42 - #44

Played some board games this weekend. Friday night (date night) we played: Raiders of the North Sea.

In this game you are Vikings sailing to the mainland to raid! It's worker placement with a twist because you place one pawn and take the action of that space and then remove a different pawn and also take the action of that space.
It's simple, yet puzzley and challenging. Julie took her time to build up resources while I hit the ground running and started raiding as quickly as I could. Julie beat me 107 points to 62 points.

Saturday we played: Planecrafters. This is a great little card game about building airplanes. Again this was a case of simple game play meets challenging strategy. I got this game from a Kickstarter that I backed. It's not in stores yet! We loved it! Julie won this one too, but it was close! I had two big planes ready on the factory floor, just one more turn and I might have won!

Then tonight we played another game in the North Sea Saga. We played: Explorers of the North Sea. This might have been our favorite, but all three games that we played this weekend were awesome! In Explorers you are Vikings sailing out and exploring the sea discovering islands and conquering settlements and bringing back the spoils.
That makes 44 total games in the Board Game 100 Challenge! Only 56 more to go!
Originally shared on 3-31-2019.

Board Game 100 Challenge #41

Julie and I played Royals on Thursday night. Royals is a neat little set collection game where you use the sets of cards that you collect to claim areas on the board. The board shows keys cities in European countries: England, France, Germany, and Spain.

I love the game board. The whole thing is beautiful. Game play is simple. Either draw some cards, or play some cards to place tokens on the board. What you place where and when is how you get your points, and points will win you the game. Game play is simple but there is a lot of different ways to score. There's lots of variability here.
The overall experience is reminiscent of Ticket to Ride. Fans of that game should be right at home here. Julie and I both loved the game and give it big thumbs up!
Royals is game 41 in the Board Game 100 Challenge! Only 59 games to go!
Originally shared on Facebook on 3-23-2019.