Some games in my collection just sit there but I don’t get rid of them even though they don’t get played. I guess it is a throwback when I was a collector of games and not a game player! Still, these games are exempt from the yearly cull in my mind for one reason or another. Some are too long of a time commitment and while others it due to the fact that it will be too hard to explain it in a normal game session. Still others are too nostalgic to sell or trade away. I believe it is for those reason alone that I am trying to play every game in my collection – to finally get those exempt games to the table. I can finally say that I can cross one of those exempt games from the list, at least for 2014…
The first game played was High Frontier. This is a game of space exploitation of our solar system which isn’t all that exciting or original. This real difference is that this one was designed by an astrophysicist and it is grounded in real world technology and physics. What we learned is that space exploration and exploitation is hard. The game isn’t in itself hard – the rules are pretty straightforward once you remove all the fluff (you see, all the cards are real patents and technology – I know this because half the rule book talks about them in great detail). The game mechanics boil down to two things to do on your turn. Move your rocket ship if you have one and perform an operation (for example: gain income, boost your rocket pieces into Low Earth Orbit – LEO, or claim an ET site). Of course, that sounds easy, but to move your ship you need to know your dry mass, your wet mass (water is fuel and money in this game), your rocket’s thrust and fuel consumption per burn. To top it off, you have to plan in advance to get anywhere in space! I actually got this game to the table twice this week. The first was a ‘learning’ game with the normal game group. Once the initial shock was over and they got the rules down, they were really starting to make progress when we had to quit. The second game was with someone who had played a couple of times and we got through the full game in about 2 to 2.5 hours. Not bad considering. After playing, I located and purchased the expansion – I’m nothing if not predictable.
The second game played was Descent: Manor of Ravens. There isn’t much to talk about this one since I have beaten this game into submission. I will say that the mini-campaign of 4 scenarios is a nice change. I believe that we could finish this full campaign with just one more game session. Also, with all players (heroes and overlord) starting with four experience points, it really allows for some powerful hero combos which is something I haven’t seen. At the end of two games in the campaign, it’s tied one game apiece.
Skyline is a quick dice game where players are trying to complete buildings for their skyline. I had hoped to sell this one at Gen Con, but I am kind of glad that I didn’t. It’s simple, but does have a lot of strategy – mostly ways to mitigate the luck of dice rolling on your turn. A game turn consists of deciding which three die types (ground, middle or top floor) you want to roll from the construction yard or taking all the dice from the abandoned building pool. After each roll, you must play a die to your skyline (starting with a ground floor die, a number of mid floors and lastly for mid-rise or high-rise building a top floor), place one in the abandoned building pool or destroy a building in your skyline to place that die back to the construction yard. Once a building is complete, you gain points equal to the number of dice in the building squared (so a 2 dice building is 4 points, but a 5 dice building is 25 points). At the end of 9 rounds or if someone building a size 6 building, the game is over with the player with the most points wins.
Two of the four games played this week are games that I have already talked about in a previous column. I had the opportunity to acquire Quantum so even though it was already played this year, I felt that I had to play it again (like I did with Wok Star). I did get to play a two player game and it is an intense and good abstract strategy game. It isn’t for everyone since luck can play a factor, but I find that the refreshing part of the game. I can’t wait to get this to the table more – it is a lot of fun!
After we played a couple of scenarios in the Manor of Ravens mini-campaign, we went ahead and tried the co-op version of Descent – Forgotten Souls. I must say that we got farther than we did the first time, but failed to complete the mission. The co-op variants are a lot of fun and really make the game feel like a dungeon crawl. I honestly wish that the descent game had monster reaction cards for more types of enemies. This expansion uses four monsters and the next co-op adventure also uses four but since I own a lot of descent, it would be nice if more monsters were represented. Of course, in the end that’s why I bought all of Shadows of Brimstone!
Until next time – Play a Game!