I feel like I should just dump the rest here now because if I get talking about them, they turn into mini-essays XD what can I say, I love talking about board games I SAID THAT ALREADY anyway, maybe pictures are worth a thousand words or whatevs here are the links and I’ll try and keep it simple:
Dice Town (2009)
This is a super fun, super interactive game about rolling dice to make poker-hands. You make specific hands to go for certain things in Dice Town but ultimately over the course of the game you fuck each other up. That’s probably a good description. Shouting encouraged. Wheeling and dealing explicitly permitted by the rules. Not for the shy. Made better by the expansion if not sliiiiightly more complex, probably worth playing once without it, but also prolongs it a bit I’ve found, so I’d reduce the two end-game conditions if playing with the expansion (take out 10 properties and 10 gold pieces).
Alien Frontiers (2010)
The notorious very first Kickstarter board game that started it all. I don’t know at this point if the boxes on shelves include the bits for 5th player or if you’ll still need an expansion, either way, if you can get it to play 5p, it’s worth it. Once again about chucking dice, your dice a space-ships and you ‘dock’ them in different locations and do different things with them depending on their values. Collect resources and sometimes get more dice (to an extent), ultimately to drop colonies on, em, Mars? A planet? It’s in space. On a space-sphere of some origin. OK so it works on majorities and has a kind of elasticising score-condition due to the nature of who’s dominating what space or who has what certain card that gives you a point, so the area-control element you may not like, and some don’t like that the scoring can obscure who’s within striking distance of winning (a single turn can swing this wildly for the win) but I actually still like the overall dynamic of the game. If you like dice and using them as workers instead of straight-forward worker placement, worth a try, and a great theme.
This is very much inspired by Alien Frontiers above, but instead players are in a straight-up race to ‘put 10 stars on the board’, so it’s similar, but at least linear, as there’s no elasticity due to changing dominance. It also has a charming theme as dice-values represent how intelligent workers are, and you kind of want them stupid ie. ignorant, otherwise if they’re too intelligent in specific situations, they figure out they’re enslaved and run away XD I like that bit. Anyway, resource management and a race, nothing new, but great graphic design (I guess that’s subjective) and a funny theme with some nice flavour text around the place. Looks complex but ultimately not.
Core Worlds (2011)
SPACE. There aren’t enough space games, and there are A LOT of space games. Still - MOAR SPCE.
If Dominion (which I still enjoy) is the ultimate completely themeless deck-builder, Core Worlds is for me the ultimate thematic deck builder. Where Dominion can be done in 25 minutes, Core Worlds will keep you going for up to 2 hours or more. Where Dominion has you nut-out the most efficient path, nail it and shoot for the endgame, Core Worlds has you build options and pivots within your deck so that when opportunities arise, you have things you can do and when the right moment arises, you strike with satisfying impact.
Core Worlds utilises cards as military units for strength as well as purchase value, so you don’t just buy more units from a pool, you conquer worlds as well, all the while hurtling towards the centre of the galaxy and the eponymous Core Worlds, and you hella want to conquer at least one of those if not two. The good news is, everyone gets a summary of the strengths of those Core Worlds so you know what you’re working towards. It’s the tricky timing of getting there, though, and getting your deck to a place where you draw the divine hand just at the last turn to do it, and yes, once you master the game, you can and will do that.
It’s a bit fiddly to begin with if you’ve only played streamlined deck-builders like Dominion before, but the theme for me shines through. You bring out units from your hand, but you don’t have to use them once deployed, so they can carry-over between turns, this means your draw deck is always in a state of flux. You can also ‘settle’ worlds you conquer, which is how you thin your deck of lesser units, increasing the draw probability of the better units you acquire as you go. I also adore the illustrations in this.
There’s one tiiiiny concern with 5p… I think because of the rigidly set number of turns, one player may get first player a bunch more times than the others? Or a bunch of times less? And I’m not entirely sure certain players are rightly compensated for it - there may be a fix for this in the forums on BGG and apologies that you may have to trawl for it - ultimately this should have been considered - either that or you can look up the rules or posts for the expansion, Galactic Orders that may change 1st player depending on a player-state which would be much more ideal (you could probably easily decide this yourself ie., the weakest player - or the strongest, whichever gives the advantage/disadvantage in the right direction - I imagine first player is an advantage so I’d give it to weakest player - how to determine that, though may be difficult, as units currently deployed doesn’t directly translate to weakest player).
Very little player interaction in this other than snatching cards before others do, it’s a VP race effectively which is obscured until endgame as much of your VP is buried in your deck (heroes are worth VP, highest class ships are worth VP) but it’s fun laying out your fleet and looking at your behemoth of an army at the end! Definitely a medium to medium-heavy game, probably just medium but it take some getting around at first.
Mord Im Arosa (2010)
OK this can be difficult to get a hold of at times, but not impossible, and I’m purposefully switching gears for this one. Translating as “Death At The Arosa (Hotel)”, this game is actually sort-of about sound. You read that right XD but I say sort-of, because you’re going to think you heard something but really, you’re going to be wrong XD a lot!
In short, you build a tower of cardboard pieces representing the hotel, each floor having a square hole cut-out in its centre. You then seed it with two murdered bodies - red cubes - then with two cubes of each players’ colour - which is traces of their movements in the hotel because of some party or something it doesn’t matter, BUT the more you make something interesting up for the roleplay, the better the game plays, so ham it up big-time.
The first phase of the game involves you looking for those two bodies and recording them on a clue-sheet that mirrors the floors of the hotel. The second phase of the game involves either accusing others of being present on certain floors that you’ll reveal and hopefully be correct, or attempting to cover your tracks by stating you weren’t on a certain floor. What happens in those instances is: if you accuse one or more players of being on a floor and reveal that floor and you’re RIGHT, you replicate their clues on the investigation board - for every cube of theirs present in the hotel, they reproduce on the board, BUT only the people you accused. For every player you accused WRONGLY, you must ADD a clue of YOUR OWN to the tower upon re-assembling it, dropping it in from the top, representing you running around like a mad thing in the hotel making wild accusations. When you want to cover your tracks, you state a level of the hotel and reveal it, hoping to find cubes of your own colour there - if you’re RIGHT, you get to remove clues of your own colour from the investigation board, so it only makes sense to do this if you have a big presence on the investigation board. If you’re WRONG, you guess it, you’re adding more of your clues to the hotel.
The game ends when a certain player has a certain presence on the investigation board, I think 10 cubes total, and a murderer (or murderers!) is/are convicted circumstantially! For every clue of yours found on the same level as a murdered body/crime scene, you score 3 points. For every clue found on a level adjacent (above or below), you score 2, for any other clues found in the hotel, you score 1 - highest score(s) is/are the murder(s), lowest score(s) are the winner(s).
Yes, it’s almost completely random, and the whole thing is determined mostly by lucky guesses, but sometimes you need a break from super-strategising - also people who aren’t great at strategy games can win it against those of us who can extrapolate and calculate until the cows come home (I can tell you as an accused murder of several times!) and that makes them feel great about winning, especially playing up to the theme. It’s silly, but it has great table presence and is hella fun.
Cinque Terre (2013)
Last one for tonight before I post the others for you later this week, keeping it simple, Cinque Terre is about the eponymous five cities on the Italian coast. This is one of a growing number of games known as alternatives to Ticket To Ride. It functions on drawing simple cards and playing them to execute simple actions, usually collecting goods or claiming routes or locations, in this case, goods. It might feel a little rinse-repeaty and/or long for 5p but it’s still fine if folks want to just relax, chat and play a delightfully colourful game about collecting and delivering fruit in the famous holiday destination. There’s not really much more to it - very much a family game and I have nothing against that.
UNTIL NEXT TIME!!!