Tabletop day! King of New York

We celebrated Tabletop day yesterday at Bart & Evelien’s gaming event. Thanks for inviting us, you guys!

We got to play one game that was new to us: King of New York. King of NY is the successor to King of Tokyo and it’s basically the same game with a few extra features taped on. The board is much bigger now and features all kinds of scenery you can destroy for more points, energy and health. Destroy too much in one location and you have a risk of retaliation. Every destroyed building becomes a tank, plane or army that can come hurt you if anyone rolls too many skulls (like in Roll through the Ages).

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Toyko has been replaced by Manhattan and it has three layers you can move up into every round. The longer you stay: the more points you get. You can also eat buildings in Manhattan, some of which will heal you. So you get a bit more staying power, basically.

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They took out the 1-2-3 numbers on the dice and replaced them with building destroying power, stars (three stars are one point, plus one for every extra star beyond that) and the aforementioned skulls you can screw people over with.

It’s still very much the same game in tone and feel – and in much of the gameplay. I wouldn’t buy this if I already had King of Tokyo because the games aren’t different enough to own them both. But they both seem equally fun.

I ended up focusing on victory points and then entered Manhattan to get to the 20 points required to win. The four claws needed to defeat me stopped at three, and so I became Queen of New York!

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We also played Tsuro, Sheriff of Nottingham (where we got thoroughly trounced by more skilled players who would yell “Worst Sheriff Ever!” after our turns. Hey!), Ugg-tect, McJohny’s, Love Letter and finally Cards against Humanity.

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Sheriff of Nottingham

Love Letter had a rather beautiful moment where I played the Baron on Jan and we compared our cards to see who had the lowest card and would be knocked out. But we were both holding princes, and just smiled awkwardly at the table as we drew our cards back, desperately hoping people wouldn’t notice. This was quite late in the game, so it was the easiest thing in the world for Freya to go “Julia, do you have a Prince?”, and have Christophe follow up with “Jan, would you by any chance also have a prince?”. Oops 🙂

I love this game – I love it to bits.

Gamesday tips!

It was fun to see a completely different gamesday to see how they run things. They ran only lighter games that lasted at most 1,5 hours: Betrayal in the House on the Hill was the most complex game I saw hit the table. This had a lot of positive benefits: it was easy to jump into games, and to switch up the player groups. If you got knocked out and had to wait for a new game to start, you knew for sure that you wouldn’t have to wait very long, and that made for a lot more relaxed gaming and hanging out experience. I’m not sure that would be popular here, we all love our big games too much, but it has a lot of advantages.

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Eleven player Cards against Humanity

Also, people who won a game also won a prize!  The prize in this case was a blank Cards against Humanity card to be used later in the night. Thus cleverly ensuring everyone would stick around for a whopping eleven player Cards against Humanity – very crafty. Though I didn’t end up using my blank cards, I loved the idea of prizes and an overarching gamesday competition. Definitely stealing this!

Croque and Spelen

As it turns out Croque Monsieurs and games make for an excellent combination.

Boardgame night traditions in our town of Leuven once started with Bread and Games then evolved into Pie and Games. I tried to take over Pie and Games but we soon found out I suck at making pie! So Croque and Games was born. We ate our way through three big breads, and I had to go find one of Belgium’s famous Bread Vendomats to resupply us. Turns out, you really can eat croques all through the day!

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Croque ingredient goodness courtesy of Leuven’s best butcher, Rondou

We ran three tables and that was good – any more would have been uncomfortable. Though in summer we could easily swing two tables outside…

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Stone Age!

The afternoon was mostly monopolized by one huge game of Vampire: Prince of the city, a board game set in the White Wolf world we all love (or have questionable experiences with). Bluffing, deal making, backstabbing and a fair amount of grudge matching was enjoyed by all.

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Vampire!

In the time it took them to play out their Machiavellian fantasies, I got to play about six games. I managed to dust off Stone Age and Galaxy Trucker and play Bang! for the first time. I was particularly happy about playing Stone Age again, it’s one of my favorite light euro’s and it’s been too damn long. Nice game too, we had very divergent strategies: Chris was all about agriculture, Frans all about tools, me all about popping out as many meeples as possible and Geert was somewhere in the middle of all of this extremism. This gave us all a lot to work with, but I had been snapping up meeple multiplier bonus cards like crazy, and my slutty breeding tactics got me a nice 50 point bonus on top of everything else. Winning!

In the evening we rounded off with a few rounds of parlor games: 30 seconds/time’s up, charades, What were you thinking? and Never have I ever. My favorite part of this must have been Kris trying to charade Sex & The City in the most hilarious and lewd way possible. Or was it suffering to trying to get people to guess “All small furry animals gathered in a big cave to sing the blues?” Or playing “Never have I ever” where the goal quickly shifted from the normal “reveal as little about yourself while exposing others” to “setting yourself up to tell hilarious horrible stories about yourself”.

Note to self: When Bavo or Steven had you an open beer, think twice about drinking it!

Meanwhile, the people that aren’t much into parlour games, had set up for a game of Sherrif of Nottingham. I wish I had joined in this game, because it seemed like they were having a blast with it. All players had roleplay experience, and they hammed it up with bullshit stories about contributions to the orphan’s fund and the Sherrif’s re-election campaign. It seemed like a lot of fun!

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Sheriff of Nottingham

Talking Tango

 

Game Night: Uggtect, Between Two Cities and Rialto

Woah, I’m totally behind on games. I have been too busy for writing, I’d better be succinct!

9-year old Kaia really loved Uggtect. She had great fun being a Stone Age architect, thumping people on the head and yelling Karungu Karungu! Then she hit her mom in the eye with the included inflatable club! Not sure if It would make a great kids’ game or a great trip to the ER (probably both!)

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We tried out my Print & Play copy of Between Two Cities, a cooperative draft game that’s on kickstarter right now. What happens is you draft two tiles each turn and put one tile in the city to your left and one in the city to the right. The player to your left and right also contribute one of their tiles to that city, and you can talk and negotiate about which tile to put into which city. So when you’re drafting, for once you are not thinking “Oh, I can’t let my neighbour get this card, it’s too good for them”. You want to them to get it, and to put it in the city you’re sharing together.

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It’s an original idea, but the cooperation was fairly easy and didn’t really lead to interesting discussions or dynamics. You’re trying to build a city whose tiles will combo well with each other. To my right, we just built a city containing almost all factories, since they were worth a lot of points if you had the most of them. To my left we built a regular city with lots of variety. Both cities had pretty much the same amount of points, and we didn’t have a lot to talk about. Factories here, other stuff there!

It just felt too lightweight. I’m keeping my P&P, but not backing the Kickstarter. A shame, because it was a very European friendly one, and that doesn’t happen all the time.

Finally we played Stefan Feld’s Rialto, a card drafting and bidding game with some area control elements. It has that musty Euro look but, like most musty Euro’s, it plays quite well! Area control and bidding are not my favorite mechanics but here they are well done and not too overbearing.

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Gamesday @ Janna’s in Antwerp

We met up with Janna, Ken and Linde in Antwerp for a surprise day of games!

Janna turned out to be quite the Ryan Laukat fangirl! Ryan is the designer of The Ancient World and a whole slew of games that all have his beautiful signature artwork. Probably the best artwork in games today. At the end of the day I was pretty sad I didn’t back his latest game Artifacts Inc. on kickstarter! So we spent a lot of the day catching up on old Laukat games we didn’t know yet.

City of Iron

First City of Iron which looks and plays a lot like The Ancient World. It’s set in this very evocative steam-punk world of captains, explorers, beast men and demon-powered airships. You spend the game building up your production machines, but also exploring new lands, conquering new cities *and cycling your employees in the deck building part of the game. Just like The Ancient World, this game wants to do a lot of things at the same time! I’m still not quite sure if that works well or makes a good game, but it is a bit like playing will all the toys in the toy store at the same time. And that brings it’s own fun!

Janna and me tried to take an early lead on science, but it ended up as a very slow start, while Ken and Jan built up their military and managed to carve out quite a lead on production very early. We ended up closer in the end but Ken destroyed Jan’s cities and won. Yes, destroyed! Much like in Race for the Galaxy, if you take the war path you also open yourself up to get attacked. Just another toy in the toy store!

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Eight Minute Empire: Legends

Another Ryan Laukat game: Eight Minute Empire: Legends. This one is very different than the previous Laukat games, though, it’s a land grab game like Small World or Risk. But a small minitature version you can play in eight minutes. If you hurry, 20 minutes is more likely. Jonna warned us that we needed to spread our cubes around the world fast because the game is over so fast. And it’s true!

You play by picking cards that have an action (move cubes, get cubes) on it *and* a card or ability bonus. You can either pick the first card, or jump ahead and spend your money to buy one further up ahead. The catch is that you can’t get more money than your starting amount! So it’s quite possible to run out of money and have to pick up scraps for the rest of the game.

I usually hate land-grabbing games. I find the strategies involved boring and the games take far, far too long. This one is really short and half of the strategy revolved around card picking instead of cube management. A big improvement, as far as I’m concerned! This game is going on the wishlist!

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Story Cubes

We played some Story Cubes during dinner prep. I’ve seen the game around but I never got to play it. You take 9 story dice,roll them and make up a story: one line per die, using the icon on the die. It’s very cute and quick! You can throw your fellow players for a loop, I started one story with “A long, long time ago, in a country far, far away, a man couldn’t get his paperwork in order to register for health insurance”.

I don’t have a picture of the cubes, but I have one of Janna’s cat!

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Chtulhu!!! Hastur La Vista Baby!

Then we played Chtulhu!!!, the variant of the classic Zombies!!! games that we’d never got round to playing before. I called the cultists zombies throughout the entire game because it just has that feel. But, no, in this version you battle cultists and try to tear down three cultists sites without ending up on the altar yourself and becoming instrumental in summoning Hastur (who?).

It’s a fast little ameritrashy push your luck game where my luck kept ending in death and other people did quite well. Because, like all good zombie (cultist!) games, it is a competi-coop and you throw other people for a loop while you pretend to work together. It was cute but somehow managed to go on forever! It would be great at maybe a 30 minutes playing time. Maybe I’m just getting really enamored of short, quick games. Though Janna and Ken certainly kept busy with their infinite byakki conga line!

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Q.U.B.E

(Hijacking my boardgame blog to add a videogame. I don’t play enough videogames to dedicate a blog to it, so bear with me here. It’s fun, it’s puzzly, it has blocks, if you’re a board gamer you might love it!)

Q.U.B.E is a first person puzzler that, unfortunately, is doomed to share a genre with Portal and will forever come up short. There is no wonderful story voiced by excellent voice actors, no story emerging through play (though I hear the director’s cut does a bit of that).

It’s a shame, though, because if you take QUBE on its own merits, it’s a lovely little game of puzzling, physics and shooting pointing at blocks with gloves.

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QUBE’s puzzles are based around said gloves that can manipulate blocks in various ways. QUBE stands for Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion, by the way.

As per custom, puzzles start simple and ramp up so graduately you don’t notice that you are a frog in boiling water. Before you know it you are up to your eyeballs in block, there is no way out and you are enjoying the shit out of yourself.

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I love it, I get such a rush from clicking and deducing my way out of these puzzles. The reward cycle is just so satisfying: explore (ooh?) – frustrate (grrr!) – solve (aaah). Wash rinse repeat happiness! It’s so addictive and the puzzles are challenging. Most of them are also blissfully cerebral and don’t require much dexterity or timing at all.

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Sadly, the difficulty ramp runs itself off of a cliff at what the game proudly proclaims are the first and second “hardest puzzle in the game”. Those are both very, very hard and very finicky. They didn’t really seem to suit the general tone and play mode of the game, or themes for any of the levels. I happily looked up walkthroughs for both of these puzzles, and even then enacting the solution was pretty tense!

Hardest puzzle in the game! (thank the gods for youtube)

That’s just a minor aspect of a great game, though. It’s a highly recommended bit of fun!

 

 

Say Anything

I traded Onirim for Say Anything (demo’ed here on TableTop) and that seems to have been a worthwhile trade. Say Anything is an easy to play party game with little embarrassment factor. One player asks a question and everyone else tries to come up with a great answer. The question man or woman will then secretly select their favorite answer, and everyone else bets on what the winning answer will be.

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Sadly a lot of the dry erase markers weren’t working, and we kept on losing the voting tokens, leaving us with a bit more upkeep than we like in a relaxed party game. Though squabbling over who had the working markers was its own kind of fun. We had to buy some replacement markers to keep on playing.

As you can imagine, turns can be really entertaining. There’s a ton of question cards and the questions are very varied. You can pick family friendly questions, pop culture questions, lewd questions, personal questions. You can pick “Who was the most influential pop icon of the past 100 years?” or “What’s the worst thing to have in your mouth?”. Whoever made this game was keenly aware of the different environments it would get played in and designed for it. It means you can really pick the tone for the type of game you want to play. Very impressive.

It’s quick, easy and very amusing. We played it about three times in the week.
Some of the better questions and answers, obviously all very inappropriate:

What’s the worst thing to have in your mouth?

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What is the best way to impress a man?

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What is the worst thing to say on a first date?

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I’m not sure if it’ll have a long lifespan, but I think it’s a keeper for a few more years at least. Good trade!

Ugg-tect

I FINALLY got Ugg-tect on the table! I’d bought it ages ago, but had some trouble finding a good occasion to put it in the table. This is not a game for people who hate looking silly. In Ugg-tect, you play stone age neanderthals trying their hand at architecture. One of you will be the architect who has a picture of the structure that needs to be built, the others are workers that are ready to fulfill his building commands.

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Those commands can be tricky, though, because the architect can use only six pre-defined gestures to identify blocks (Shaking your hips means the green block), and can only use six pre-defined words to explain what to do with them. Manungu means “foward”, but “Manungu Manungu” means backward. How much backward? In relation to what? Good luck trying to get that message across! The preset words are laughably deficient, and you’ll have to get very creative to get your building exactly right.

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The game also comes with giant inflatable clubs that you can use to wack your builders over the head with. Once if they do something right, once if they do something wrong. You can also hit yourself, if you said something stupid just now that the builders should ignore. Did I mention the builders themselves can only communicate in grunts and stomps?

And that’s it, that’s the game! I love it! It’s fast, hilarious and a great team activity. I can’t wait to take this one to work 🙂

Christmas game: Tsuro!

We never play games at Christmas, but after the traditional Christmas picture there was a lull, so I swooped in and put Tsuro on the table. Literally the simplest game in the world, *and* you can play with eight. Grandma was all like “I don’t know this game, is it new?”. I got six players in the end, the entire game took fifteen minutes and everyone enjoyed it a lot. Sweet, I win Christmas! I considered whipping out a second game but I didn’t want to push my luck. I’ll save that for next year!

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Gaming with coworkers: Time’s Up! and Tsuro

Time for gaming with coworkers! A last gaming lunch was requested to round off this year. I was a bit nervous, because we have two interims that I didn’t want to feel pressured to play, but they both looked like they were having fun.

Because we were with seven (quite a big turn-out) I had my eye on Time’s Up (also known as 30 seconds), a really fun partygame that does well with big groups and plays in under an hour. Most people knew it already, but we managed to get some fresh recruits as well. Fun was had! There were some Flemish people we didn’t know (Donald Muylle? Felice? Kabouter Lui?) in there, and even our mainstream nerd references (Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins) were considered tough. But overall we had a great mix and our teams were diverse and worked well. Sweet!

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Highlights were interim PJ doing a pitch-perfect imitation of Flemish Writer Herman Brusselmans and no one being able to think of the Quentin Tarantino. It’s not that hard, people! We actually locked ourselves in the office so no one could walk in on us while charades-ing. Like bosses.

After that, everyone stayed around so I put Tsuro on the table. Tsuro’s a pretty good coworker game. Very little explaining, quick to play and easy to grasp. We played with sound effects on, of course. It was pretty exciting when all the dragons started converging on the same spot, and Jan was the last dragon flying. Cute and quick fun, though I don’t think anyone is going to run out and buy it.

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Players: Anke, Fran, PJ, Tine, Jan, Sarah
Enthousiasm level: High and medium

Boardgame shorts

We are having busy times! A lot of games and not a lot of time to write about them. I’ll have to settle for writing up a few blurbs as they happen for now. Here’s our latest play experiences.

Alchemists

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A logic puzzle combined with a worker placement game with the use of an app. Woah! No one can blame Czech games for not being original. One play is not enough to be able to say much about the game yet. With four players we had cracked the code fairly quickly, and I was disappointed the logic part of the game was over so soon. I’d focused on the buying and selling of artefacts and potions and the publishing part of the game didn’t really click for me yet on this first play. I’d happily play it again, but I’m not as excited about it as other people are so far (then again, that’s the case for most Czech Games worker placements for me).

Mysterium

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They call it ‘Dixit with a purpose’, but the play experience is utterly different. In Mysterium one of the players is a ghost and the others are investigators trying to figure out how she died. She gives people hints that point towards certain people, locations and objects (hello, clue!). The hints are in the form of Dixit-like cards. The cards are richly illustrated with lots of little details. There is far less associating and far more “Oh, there’s a chair on this card and a hairdresser sits in a chair so it must be that one!”. More puzzly and analytical. It also plays quite quickly. It’s a neat concept, but I’m not sure it’ll be fun to play for long.

CV

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A card game about building up a successful life. What a cool theme! It instantly reminded me of all the fun I had with Alter Ego and Keeping up with the Joneses. Unfortunately, this resource building and card buying game turned slow and tedious with four. We tried to put some storytelling or roleplaying into it, but it couldn’t keep up the spirits for this game. Alas!

Spyfall

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The only hidden traitor game I like! I hate hidden traitor games with a passion. They make me nervous and I just generally get no enjoyment out of them, regardless if I win or lose. But I have no problem playing a traitor in a roleplay game. The idea behind this game seemed to be much more of the latter variety.

Every player gets the a card that has the same location on it, everyone is in that same location. One person, however, only receives a card that says SPY on it. Then the players ask each other questions to uncover the spy. They have to walk a fine line, though, because if they are too overt about where they are, the spy will catch on and guess the location. Everyone also has a role on their card (eg. Nightguard, caterer) that they should adhere to. This makes it even harder to catch the spy.

It’s really hard. It’s such a challenge to come up with good questions and good answers, that everyone is sweating: not just the spy!

The fact that it’s so hard and tense will probably also mean it won’t get played a lot. After all, most of these type of games are party games and they tend to go with a bit more of a relaxed atmosphere. Happy I bought it, though!

Deus

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We played Deus at Peter and Jen’s last night. It’s a hand management game with some light area control and a lot of combo potential. I’m not sure what to think of it yet. The combo’s were powerful but… I don’t know, not exactly satisfying? I finished last in the game, so perhaps it just didn’t click with me. Jan and Rob had a great time with it, so perhaps it could just need a few more plays.