April 2017 roundup

April was a better month for gaming than March was, as I managed to play 31 games of 23 different titles, with 13 of them being new to me. The new games were:

== NEW GAMES ==

Mmm! – 3 plays –  8 
First Published 2015

This Knizia co-op game is marketed as a children’s game and it is very simple to play but the more challenging side of the board is good for adults too and, having played three times without a win, it’s not a pushover. Liked this one a lot.

Wettlauf nach El Dorado – 2 plays –  8 
First Published 2017

Another game from Reiner Knizia and this is his take on deck-building combined with a race game. Cards are used for movement or to buy better cards and the modular board allows for a huge number of different courses to be built. Not a heavy game by any means but this is a lot of fun and players are challenged to adapt their deck to the terrain ahead while not allowing them to fall too far behind in the race.

What’s My Word? – 1 play –  8 
First Published 1972

Can’t believe I’ve never seen or played this 1972 game before. However, this is a super deduction word game for two players that must have taken Mastermind as its inspiration. Each player is trying to work out their opponent’s secret 6 (or 7) letter word by inserting words into a grid – a two letter word in the first round; 3 letters in the next up to the full 6 letters in the 11th (final) round. You score 250 for each correct letter and 1000 for it being in the correct position. Very simple but very satisfying.

First Class: All Aboard the Orient Express – 1 play –  8 
First Published 2016

This is Russian Railroads the card game and it does a very good job of distilling that game into a card drafting mechanism. You need to balance extening and upgrading your train with moving your conductor and extending your route over six rounds where you take only three actions (although you’ll generate bonus actions along the way). Very good.

Yamataï – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2017

The newest Days of Wonder big box game from Bruno Cathala is a bit reminiscent of Five Tribes (although there’s no mancala aspect). It’s thinky with multiple ways to score and there could be a bit of an issue with downtime with more than two players. But it is a solid game.

A Night in Deepwail Manor – 2 plays –  7 
First Published 2013

This is a solitaire print and play game that I put together, themed around kids exploring a haunted house, trying to amass as many exploration points as they can before being terrified out of their wits. A nice push your luck game that is very compact and plays in about 10 minutes.

Saboteur: The Duel – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2014

Takes the route building of Saboteur and turns it into a 2-player competition to get the most treasure. Works pretty well and the solo rules also work ok.

Magic Maze – 2 plays –  7 
First Published 2017

Co-operative real-time race against the clock to manoeuvre four characters through the Magic Maze shopping mall, steal equipment and escape before the sand timer runs out. This is frantic fun and, as you’re mostly not allowed to communicate and each player has access to different moves, co-ordinating the moves is quite tricky. Not sure if I like the solo version as you have to cycle through the deck of actions so much, it gets a bit tedious going past lots of other actions just so you can reset the deck to get to the action you need.

The Game of 49 – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2014

This is Connect Four mashed together with an auction game and it works really well although everyone needs to make sure one player doesn’t get too much of a head start and is able to generate much more income than other players; otherwise there is a definite runaway leader issue. However, I liked this a lot.

Balloon Pop! – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2017

Ordered this from Amazon US as it’s not available in the UK at present. Another fun roll and write game. Rerolling comes at a cost in this game as you have to roll an additional die and you don’t really want to have to mark off too many balloons at once. Once a balloon colour or symbol hits the top of its column it pops and a scoring takes place, with the popped balloon scoring less than other high-flying balloons. After three scorings, highest total wins. Another fun push your luck game.

Jump Drive – 1 play –  7 
First Published 2017

This is a re-skinning of The City to bring it into the Race for the Galaxy universe. A bit more complex than that earlier game but still lighter and shorter than Race. Games will typically last just six or seven rounds. Nice puzzle to combo the various cards into a money and point generating machine in a race to 50 points.

Honshu – 1 play –  6 
First Published 2016

Landscape building game linked with a trick taking card game. It worked ok but I felt the trick taking aspect diminished the map building part. Not for me.

Haru Ichiban – 1 play –  6 
First Published 2014

Two player abstract game from Bruno Cathala which I quite liked but Jan did not and I’m getting to the stage again that these pure abstracts are not how we like to spend our gaming time so I really shouldn’t buy any more (even though Santorini looks very pretty).

== OTHER GAMES PLAYED THIS MONTH ==

2x Limes
2x Habe fertig
2x Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
1x Say Anything
1x Love Letter: Batman
1x The Oracle of Delphi
1x AttrAction
1x Rolling Japan
1x Lucky Numbers
1x Herbaceous

We’ve now completed Book 5 of HP: Hogwarts Battle and are looking forward to Book 6. Glad to have got Lucky Numbers and Habe Fertig back to the table. It’s been a while since I’ve played either game and they are good fun.

== STATE OF THE COLLECTION ==

I added 11 new games to the collection which were: Wettlauf nach El Dorado, Jump Drive, Das Vermachtnis des Maharaja, Bucket King 3D, Best Treehouse Ever, Magic Maze, Yamatai, Mmm! Balloon Pop, Yangtze and Sultaniya. My total collection now stands at 593.

My list of unplayed games remains at 18 and my Game of the Month was Wettlauf nach El Dorado.

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