Here are the games I’ve played this past month plus a bonus.
- Rurik: Dawn of Kiev
- The Search for Planet X
- Weather Machine
- Vindication + Leaders & Alliances
- Roads & Boats
- Unsettled (Planet: Zehronn, Task A)
Rurik: Dawn of Kiev
Played our first (and probably last) 3-player game. The map was nice and open, but my brother didn’t like the main action board. Still, it was nice getting to try it 3-player. Guess it’s back to 2-player only for this one. We’ll have to try out the expansion modules next.
The Search for Planet X
We had planned on playing Roads & Boats, but it hadn’t been completely punched and sorted yet and it was a nightmare of pieces. We were also expecting at least 3 hours for our first game, so we packed it up and played The Search for Planet X instead. For two of us, it was our second deduction game (Tobago being the first).
The rules and especially the player aid could have been better. The player aid was missing really important information (which actions require sight and how much you’re required to announce). Despite some hiccups, it’s a pretty neat game. Though, something about deduction games feels less like “games” and more like “activities,” but it was still fun.
This is our 5th Vital Lacerda game (others are Vinhos, Kanban, The Gallerist, and On Mars). It looks insanely intimidating with a very complex board and icons all over the place, but it has a somewhat smoother-than-expected play but not exactly what I’d call smooth. There’s a bit more abstraction than usual for a Lacerda game, but I don’t think we mind.
It feels like there are more rules than usual, and it could have been streamlined some (and there are some very unexpected graphic design issues). Most of his games so far have played pretty smoothly once you learn them. But even though this one isn’t as heavy as On Mars, it’s not a smooth play experience. But I think we still all enjoyed it, just not as much as most of the others we’ve played so far.
Vindication + Leaders & Alliances
Despite my friend having backed the all-in which had arrived, we played my copy (which he gifted!) because he wasn’t sure if he wanted to open his yet. But we were only going to mess with modules from the base game and first expansion anyway.
This was our first time trying one of the more complex modules (the titular Leaders & Alliances). After the games we’ve played so far, I suspected that some modules would really add to the game’s length since the end-game trigger cards don’t interact with the modules. And this was by far our longest game (roughly 2.5 hours) but it wasn’t a bad thing at all. We enjoyed the extra length, and not everyone was ready for it to end! Being able to adjust the length based on modules is a huge plus for me—you can have shorter games or long games based on how you set the game up.
I definitely liked what the Leaders & Alliances added. Felt like you had ways to use some of your leftover attributes that weren’t enough to get anything exciting. This also meant players weren’t stockpiling companions just because they’re the easiest thing to get. And the guild powers are pretty neat (managed to get a really cool loot card from the merchant guild).
After, my friend decided he liked the game enough to open his copy (instead of flipping it), so we punched and sorted everything and took a look at the new stuff. We’re all pretty interested to try out the new stuff. If this just had a better solo mode, it could honestly replace my #1 game. The solo is fine, you just can’t use modules with it.
Roads & Boats
We got to play it for real this time. Despite the millions of pieces, the setup is pretty quick.
Turns can go by really quick, especially early on. And though we were all mostly doing the same thing at first, we started branching out and doing different things after a few rounds. I was trying to build up a stronger network and get more transportation out. But the sequencing of some things is really difficult and important. I was ready to build a mine before I had the tech to build the specialized mine, and had to wait. Probably should have just built the regular mine first, but then I’d have to learn the expanded mine tech or build a second one (and there weren’t many mountain spaces).
It’s neat, though I wonder how long before everyone just does the same thing every game (very few places to earn points). At least my friend’s copy has the expansion stuff in it, so we can mix things up once we reach that point.
The plastic cover for the board sure makes it tricky to photograph.
If this isn’t the soonest we’ve played a new game, it’s pretty close. We’re usually way behind the curve on new games.
This absolutely feels like someone wanted Wingspan to just be more complex. That’s honestly all this is. But that’s fine. I enjoy Wingspan, but it is pretty light. Earth isn’t exactly a heavy game, but there’s more going on and more complex scoring. The “programming” element is also stronger here because you run all of your cards of the same color, not just one row. So, depending on how you build your tableau, you could be running several cards in one turn.
But one of my thoughts is that, between all of these “huge deck of cards, build a tableau” games like this, Wingspan, Everdell, Ares Expedition (and by extension, Terraforming Mars which seemed to popularize this style of game), how many do we need? TM and Everdell have more going on besides just a tableau, but Ares Expedition, Earth, and Wingspan all kind of do the same thing. For us, the coop mode for Ares is the only hope it has; we were pretty lukewarm on the basic competitive mode. And Earth might be more our style than Wingspan (though I still enjoy Wingspan).
Unsettled (Planet: Zehronn, Task A)
Previously, I was suspecting Unsettled was too easy. But after re-reading through some of the rules to refresh myself, I re-read that “Mind Set” section which warned players that basically the game wasn’t balanced for player count. Some planets would be easier with few, some would be easier with more and nothing scales. I feel like that’s a cop-out, but this was the first planet that we really struggled with.
Without getting into spoilers, this planet (at least, Task A) seems to need larger groups to spread out and collect discoveries much faster than usual. In order to have a chance at winning, you need to collect several and might need one or two extra. I can’t imagine how difficult 2-player would be on this one. We were barely past halfway before we ran out of time. And while there are some things we would do differently next time, I think the random elements present on all planets have a greater impact on this one. We lost pretty much a full round (3 ticks of time) because a random element wasn’t what we needed. Our map layout was also brutal, and it could have been worse! Still a fun game, but I wonder how many planets are extra hard if playing fewer than 4 explorers.
My friend and I also noticed that the writing for this planet was also much better than usual. The planet’s concept is really interesting, and the writing was much more focused on expanding the story than making jokes and being irreverent. I hope there are more planets like this.
There was a sale recently and I grabbed some more Legend of the Five Rings LCG. The order took a while to actually ship, but I was happy when it finally arrived. I doubt I’ll ever own everything (even when excluding the stuff that’s no longer available), but it’s nice having a good collection for making decks. A 2-player game day is coming up, and this is one I picked to play, so it’ll hit the table again soon.