Another week down and I got through a good number of games (my weekly average need to be 2.2 to ensure I finish them all). This is due to the fact that my normal gaming group has been pretty cool about helping get me play games from the list. Of course, when you have about one hundred games still to play, I can make sure that some of the games I bring will be entertaining for the group at hand. I can see a time when I have four or five ‘average’ games and we will have to play through them instead of something better. That happened when we played Chrononauts; it’s a step up from Flux (which I really don’t enjoy) so playing it to cross it off the list was a bit painful. Funny since Guillotine is also a real simple game (play a card, kill the noble at the front of the line, draw a card), but didn’t elect such a groan from the players! I couldn’t tell you why.
A Great game that was played this week is technically a Print-n-Play game but since I spent the time to make it, I had it on the list. In RoboDerby: Express, each player is controlling a robot trying to move through a maze. On your turn, you get to roll five specialized dice and use four of them to create your program. Then each phase, all players move their robots as programmed from the highest to the lowest speed. Robots bump each other about and damage each other with front firing lasers. Think Roborally but with dice! The same designer went and produced a very similar game using Kickstarter called Pirate Dice: Voyage on the Rolling Seas. I can’t recommend either enough.
Also played was Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Rune Lords. The group I have been playing with is in the second adventure path. The ability to level up your character and the unique deck building has made this one a favorite for my group. The reason that it doesn’t make it to the table as much as it should is that we are trying to play with same six people for each scenario so if one of us can’t make it, we don’t play it. I’ve heard complaints that it’s fairly random and repetitive, but I haven’t felt that way while we play. I’m pretty excited for the next base set (called Skull & Shackles with new heroes and everything – coming sometime this year).
Next game was Witch’s Brew. Game play is as follows: each player picks 5 role cards (out of 12) for the round. The first player takes one of their roles and announces, for example: “I am the Wizard”. Each other player that has that same role must either say: “So be it” and get to take an action immediately or state that they are the role in question (“No, I am the Wizard”). Only the last player to announce that they were the role (say the Wizard above) gets to take the main action – if you didn’t state “So be it” and aren’t the last player to announce it, you get nothing!
Of course, game play gets entertaining when three or four people have the same role and the conversation is like this:
“I am the Fortune Teller”, followed by: “No, I am the Fortune Teller” and finally: “You must be mistaken for I am the Fortune Teller”. This type of banter happens all the time when I play this one and why I’d never turn down playing it.
The last two off the list actually form the discussion point for the week. Simply put, the right number of players can make or break the game experience. This happened not once, but twice during the week. Just because a game can handle the number of players, doesn’t mean that it should. This can be too many players or not enough players for a fun experience.
The first game is Space Cadet with four players. If you don’t know, Space Cadet is a cooperative game where each player takes the role of a member of the bridge crew on a starship. Each player is tasked with a small mini-game for their respective station. For example: Engineering is using tiles to form complete symbols to power the starship for the following turn while the gunner is using Tetris shaped pieces to fill in a puzzle card. Did I mention that each mini-game is happening at the same time with a 30 second time limit! In all there are 5 main stations that have a mini-game to be played all at the same time (with a sixth core breech issue when – not if – your ship takes too much damage). But we only had 4 players, so how does it work? The Action phase is split into two phases and three things happen followed by a second phase when the other three happen. For some reason, the split of the action phases really messed with our heads and we ended up not enjoying it as much. Of course, that might be due to the fact that we totally forgot about the core breach repair in a second action phase and retrospectively blew the ship up. Still that said, I’m going to be hard pressed to play that game with less than five players.
This issue also occurred during Mage Knight: The Board Game with four players. I really love this game – it has hand management, deck building and character advancement. The mechanics for the game make it one of my top board games, but I resolve never to play a four player game without all being experienced players. It’s a complicated game and it takes a couple of plays to get comfortable with how the mechanics work and how to play your turns. I’ve played it enough to know what sort of cards I have in my deck, what I should do based on my card draws and what limits I can push and still succeed. New players just don’t have that knowledge and it isn’t something that can be taught – it must be learned. So the game dragged to a screeching halt for those new players and I’m sure that the experience wasn’t all that enjoyable.
Until next time – game like no one is watching!