Archive for January, 2014

Review: Triassic Terror

Posted by James (admin) on 30th January 2014

Triassic Terror gameTriassic Terror is a dinosaur-themed, area control game by Peter Hawes – designer of Francis Drake (I will be reviewing this soon), Wars of the Roses and Heads of State.

During the game, players try to dominate the landscape by growing their dinosaur herds and moving them from area to area.  The board is split into 4 different terrains which are each split into 3 areas.  There are 3 positions within each area – the largest herd in an area takes the best position, second largest takes the next one, and third largest takes the last one.  If there’s a fourth herd in an area, it immediately dies – welcome to the harsh brutality of Triassic Terror.

The game lasts several rounds and Victory Points (VPs) are scored after each era (a group of rounds).   VPs are scored based the on position a herd occupies in an area – each area scores slightly differently but the most VPs are always for the better positions (occupied by the biggest herd in the area).  One side of the board is for 2-4 players, the other for 5-6 players – the difference being that the numbers of VPs scored are slightly different and all 3 positions in each area score in the 5-6 player game (rather than just the top two). Read the rest of this entry »

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Played: 2-player Euphoria, Tzolk’in, Panik

Posted by James (admin) on 29th January 2014

Euphoria gamePlayed: Euphoria

After playing Euphoria last week with 5 players, a couple of us wanted to try it with 2 players.  The game is mostly the same with just 2 differences: it takes only 2 actions to build a market (not 4 when played with 5 players), and there are only 2 spaces where stars can be placed in each territory (not 5 as with 5 players).

As before, I enjoyed playing Euphoria – the theme works really well with the game mechanics and working out how to use workers and resources is entertaining.  It worked fine with 2 players, although I think it’s more fun with more players as there’s more chance of your workers being bounced back to you, more chance of higher totals to earn commodities, and more development of the allegiance tracks and mines which make a big difference.

I think most of the issues could be solved with a few more rules for scaling the game, such as making the tracks shorter.  I’ll post more thoughts about this soon.

Euphoria worked well enough with 2 players – I would prefer to play it with more but, with the current rules, I think 3 players would be fine and 4+ would be best.

Played with 2.  (To find out more about Euphoria, you can read my main review.)

Tzolkin gamePlayed: Tzolk’in

It had been a long time since I last played Tzolk’in and it definitely showed as I tried to recall my previous games so I could create a decent flow of resources to then convert into points.

Tzolk’in is definitely a tricky game to balance which makes it a good challenge.  There are several ways to score points and I think you definitely need to choose to pursue just one or two of these in order to do well.

Tzolk’in works well with 2 players.  Each 2-player game can be a little different as neutral workers block some of the locations on the wheels (determined by randomly drawn cards at the start of the game).  I think the 2-player game may be slightly more forgiving as turn order can be quite brutal with more players because the last player in turn order can find the wheels packed with workers – whilst that means they could place their workers further around a wheel, it requires lots of corn.

Played with 2. (For more details on Tzolk’in, you can read my full review.)

Panik box and gamePlayed: Panik

Panik is a very quick, light game with some bluffing.  Players place their ghost hunters in front of mansions in order to score points equal to the mansion’s value; however, each player only knows what a few of the mansions are worth (and each player knows about different mansions).  Placing a ghost hunter can expel one already placed there to a different mansion (chosen by the expelled card’s owner) so there’s some jostling during the game. Various ghost hunters have special effects too.

With limited information on which to base to your decisions, the fun is from trying to read into what your opponent(s) have done.  However, that also means you need to work out if they’re trying to mislead you, and work out how you can mislead them too.

Panik worked quite well with 2 players (taking only 5-10 minutes for a game); however, I think it’s better with more.  The mind games and displacing other ghost hunters mean there’s more to it than it first appears, but there may not be too much more to discover after some replay.  Can work as a gamers’ filler game, but more for a lighter audience.

Played with 2 and 4.


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Posted in Board Games, Euphoria, Panik, Played, Tzolk'in | 3 Comments »

Played: Byzantio and Coal Baron

Posted by James (admin) on 25th January 2014

As writing full reviews takes some time and I often play more games than I have time to review.  As a result, there are many games that I play that don’t get reviewed for while, if at all.  Therefore, this is the first of a new type of post where I will post a few quick thoughts about the games I have played.  If there’s a game I mention that you’d specifically like a full review of, add a comment to let me know.

Byzantio gamePlayed: Byzantio
Byzantio is an area control game with a difference as each player only has a specific number of each of the different actions to use during the whole game so you need to ration them carefully.  Players select their own objective cities.

I enjoyed this game, although it felt lighter because there was a bit more randomness than I expected, with the dice deciding several of the action types adding most of that.  I don’t mind some randomness in a game, so it’ll be good to have that in mind when playing it again, and I hope it’s not too big a factor for my preferences.  There are a few things I’d do to add more clarity to the board, but these are polish rather than fundamental.

Still, working out how to use your actions and how to try and disguise your intentions added some good gameplay.

Played with 3.

Coal BaronPlayed: Coal Baron
Coal Baron is by the great team of Kramer and Kiesling (also called Glück Auf) which I previewed before Spiel in Essen.  This in an excellent eurogame – plenty of elements to balance but plays in a short time too.

It felt like a lean and well-oiled game design made up of only the most necessary and important elements.  There’s nothing revolutionary in the game design (although there is a nice small twist added to worker placement), but it impressed me with it’s elegance and how it delivered a tense, thoughtful game from such simple game mechanics.

Light enough for newer players, and enough decisions for experienced gamers wanting a short game.  Very impressed.

Played with 4.


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Review: Old World, New World

Posted by James (admin) on 24th January 2014

Old World New World game

Old World New World is a fast-moving and simple game by Victory Point Games.  The winner is the first player to get 3 of their units to the scoring locations on the furthest side of the board from where they start, and each player is heading in a different direction to the other players.

Gameplay is simple: At the start of the game, the board is blank – consisting of just the card frame – but this gets filled-in with landscape cards as the game progresses.  Each card has 4 smaller squares on it showing land, sea or mountains – some land spaces have camps on them and some sea spaces have ports on them.  On their turn, a player has a hand of cards and can take two actions.  An action can be to place a card to fill in any empty square of the board, or they can discard a card to add new units, move existing units, or use a special card for its special effect.

There are a few important gameplay mechanics to mention.  First, all players’ units are double-sided (soldiers and ships) –  a player can move one of their soldier/ship units across land/sea by discarding a card showing a camp/port symbol respectively.  Second, when you move a unit, you can move it as far as you want in a straight line so long as (a) the move is all on land (soldiers) or all on sea (ships), and (b) it doesn’t pass through any other unit.  (Note that only soldiers units can only move into mountain spaces and must stop after 1 space).  Third, a unit that is on a camp/port can perform a free move without using an action.  Finally, a unit can be converted from a soldier unit into a ship unit if the unit is next to a port and the player plays a port card – this flips the unit over onto the adjacent space (and ships can be converted into soldiers in the same way using camps). Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Spyrium

Posted by James (admin) on 23rd January 2014

Spyrium gridSpyrium is a eurogame with an interesting worker placement game mechanic.  It is designed by the creator of Caylus and Caylus Magna Carta (the latter being one of my favourite games) so I was keen to try it out.

The game has a steampunk-ish setting and players are each head of an industrial conglomerate in Victorian England and spyrium is a mineral high in energy.  The player who scores the most victory points (VPs) by the end of the game wins.

Each round 9 cards are drawn from the deck and laid out in a 3×3 grid – I’ll call this ‘the grid’ from now on.  Players take turns either placing a worker or activating a worker; however, once a player starts activating their workers, they can’t return to placing workers during the current round.  As a result, you have to choose carefully when to switch from placing to activating.

The cards in the 3×3 grid are either characters (one-off benefits that all players can use), buildings (which can be bought to give special actions), and patented techniques (which can be bought to give on-going abilities plus they score VPs at the end of the game too).  When a building or technique is bought, it is removed from the grid and placed in front of its owner. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Euphoria

Posted by James (admin) on 21st January 2014

Euphoria gameSet in a dystopian future, Euphoria is primarily a worker placement game, with lots of moving parts and a few new ideas.  The winner is the first player to place all 10 of the authority tokens on the board and these can be placed in a variety of ways.

Players have workers (dice) which they place on the board to be able to earn commodities (food, water, energy, bliss) as well as resources (gold, stone, clay).  The board shows a city divided into 4 main areas – each area belongs to a faction and each faction specialises in one of the commodities.

Euphoria is a gamer’s game.  It’s not massively complicated but there are a lot of working parts to the game mechanics.  Rather than try to explain the whole game, I’ll explain some of the main gameplay areas one-by-one to give the highlights.

On their turn, a player can place one of their workers (more if they have the same value – remember the workers are dice), or they can retrieve one or more of their workers from the board.  All actions require a worker to be placed on the relevant location and most actions cost resources/commodities to use them.  For many locations, a worker is returned to its owner if another worker is placed on the same location; for some other locations, multiple workers can be placed and the benefit earned is based on the total value of all the workers present; and for a few locations, only one worker can occupy the location.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Theseus

Posted by James (admin) on 20th January 2014

Theseus game

Theseus is a sci-fi game set on a space station where the different factions (soldiers, scientists, aliens and greys) are trying to take control.  The setting and photos may give the impression it’s a complicated game, but it’s actually a eurogame that is relatively quick and contains some good tactical play.

Players take turns moving their units around different locations (sectors) on the space station.  Each sector is a separate board piece and these are arranged in a circle: one sector for each player’s faction, plus one each for the Corridors, Control Room and Tech Bay.  Each sector has 4 rooms (in the circular area) as well as several spaces for action cards (the oblong areas) which players will place during the game.  Each player has their own unique deck of action cards.  These first enter the game by being placed next to sectors (called ‘pending’ cards) which may get to be placed (‘installed’) on a sector later.

On their turn, a player must move one of their 3 units a number of sectors clockwise equal to the number of units currently on the unit’s starting sector, i.e. if there are 2 units on a sector, then a unit moved from there moves 2 sectors clockwise.  A moved unit is placed in one of the 4 rooms (arranged in a 2 x 2 grid) on the sector they move to.  Some rooms have walls between them which block combat.  If all 4 rooms are full, the arriving player ejects one of the units there into space and takes their position.  If a unit’s move means all the rooms in the sector are now full, all units belonging to the player whose turn it is attack other units in that sector.  (Only soldiers start with combat ability; whereas, other factions’ units need upgrading first.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Board Game Review, Board Games, Essen Spiel 13, Spiel 2013, Theseus | 1 Comment »