First off, Happy New Year all Windsor Gaming Resource readers! 2016 was an amazing year for board games and it's looking like 2017 will be just as good. I know everyone keeps saying that we are in a golden age and I have to agree. So many great games. Gaming becoming more and more mainstream (did you see Arby's latest social media campaign?). Gaming cafe's popping up all over the place (we could have 3 here in Windsor by the end of the year) and most importantly to me: more and more gamers out gaming!
Every year for New Years Eve I host a Gaming in the New Year party at my place. It's always been an awesome way to say goodbye to the previous year and welcome in the new one doing what I love the most: gaming with friends. This year was an epic event. We gamed for about 13 hours total and the last game didn't wrap up until about 7am. Personally I played a total of 10 different games, with a total of 14 plays due to playing a few of those a couple times. I think that's a NYE record for me. Then yesterday, New Years Day we got some more gaming in. A friend came over and we got in two more rounds.
I was looking over pictures from last years Gaming In The New Year party and noticed far too many games were still in my current Pile of Shame (games I've bought but not played yet) that were there a year ago. Those are games I owned for a full year but didn't play. I can't let that happen again.
One of my goals for 2017 is to get games out of my Pile of Shame. Specifically to get all of the games that were in my Pile as of Dec 31st 2016, out of it by Dec 31st 2017. No more owning games for more than a year without actually playing them!
I started on this goal at the Gaming in the New Year party and continued working on it New Year's Day. As of this morning I was able to eliminate 7 games from my Pile of Shame. Here's a short review of each of those games.
Neuroshima Hex! 3.0 - Technically I had played this once at one of the Windsor Gaming Resource events last year. It was a bit of a mess of a game though. Someone else had bought the game, opened it at the event and read the rules. We muddled through that game and I learned that it seemed cool but I'm not sure I would count it as actually trying the full game. Plus, until NYE I hadn't played my personal copy. I liked this game more than I thought I would. It's much heavier than I though. It's a chess like game that felt a bit like The Duke advanced to me. Lots of AP but well worth it. Only played two player and looking forward to playing with more.
Favor of the Pharaoh - Favor won the Mensa Select award in 2016, which made me assume that it would be a heavier, thinky game. It was not. It was much lighter than expected. It's one of the better Yahtzee based games that I own. This one is "Yahtzee the Engine Builder" or perhaps the dice version of a deck builder. You start with just 3d6, you roll them, each roll you have to lock at least one die. If you have dice left you can re-roll. Based on what you've locked you buy tiles. There are tiles for all kinds of combos: pairs, tripples, all odd, all even, totals of 20+, runs etc. Tiles give you more dice or ways to modify dice in future rounds. The eventual goal is to roll at least 7 identical numbers. If you do that you claim the Queen. Then everyone gets a chance roll a better of set of numbers, either more matching dice or matching dice of a higher value. The variety of tiles and set up boards really ads a ton of replay value.
German Railroads - This is an expansion for Russian Railroads which is one of my favourite games of all times and probably my favourite worker placement game. German Railroads adds three expansions to the game which can be used in any combination. We played with the new German Railroads and the extra tiles but did not use the Coal expansion. I really loved what the German player boards added to Russian Railroads. It made the game asymmetrical which is cool. While building your rails players get to choose different sections of track which offer different bonuses. no two sections of track are the same so each player's board ends up unique by the end of the game. The extra tiles were also good additions and I don't see why you would bother playing without them. The German boards did change the game quite a bit so I can see choosing to play with or without them in the future. I'm really looking forward to adding Coal to the game next time.
Broom Service - There a trend in reviews for this game. People pick it up because it won the Kennerspiel Des Jahres award in 2015. They look at it and read the rules and comment about how it doesn't sound that great, doesn't look like it deserves the Spiel. Then they play it, and come back with a review of: Wow that's better than it sounded. Well guess what? This review is just that. You really need to play this game to get it. It's a pick up a deliver game that sounds really simple. It even looks a bit like a kids game. The main mechanic is a bluffing version of action selection. Each round you pick 4 of 9 role cards that you will play during the turn. When you play one, you have to decide if you want to play it brave or cowardly. Brave actions give better results than cowardly ones. If you play it cowardly then you just take the action on the card. If you play it brave, you go around the table and if anyone else has chosen the same role and chooses to play it brave as well, they get to do the action and you don't. You have no idea how much fun this mechanic is until you try it. How rewarding it is to be first player and have a brave action go through or being the last player and snatching away an action at the last minute. The game includes some variant rules that add more complexity and I haven't had a chance to try those yet.
Cry Havoc - This one is similar to Neroshima Hex! I have tried it once at a WGR event. but his is the first time playing my copy. Plus this play I got to read the rules which really helped me grock it. The thing that has grabbed me about this game is how short it is. It's no filler, but you expect a strategic area control dudes on a map game to last longer. This one reminds me of Kemet as it's fast and furious. You are only going to get 12-15 actions for the entire game and you have to make them worth it. This is the one of the most asymmetrical game I own. Every faction plays very differently. Trying a different race almost feels like playing a different game. The combat system is something I've never seen before and is brilliant (and a bit too complex to fully explain here). If you dig area control you have got to check this one out.
Quadropolis - This one so far is the biggest disappointment. We only tried the classic mode so there's a good chance that the game is much better in the advanced mode. I'm hoping so. I will admit I did have fun playing the classic mode. It is a good game, it just wasn't as good as I expected. This game has a lot of hype and gamers who's opinions I respect have given it a lot of praise. The game is an abstract city builder that reminds me a lot of Between Two Cities. Each round you use engineers to select tiles from a shared main board. The neat bit is that the engineer number determines which tile you take and where you have to place the tile on your board. Engineers point at a row or column and only one engineer can be in each spot. There's also a pawn that gets moved to the spot the last tile was taken from and stops players from playing engineers in that row or column. Scoring is based on different things based on tile type. Apartments need to be stacked, stores need customers, wharves need to be in a row, etc. When you get a tile you also get resources in the form of either meeple or energy. These go on the tiles to activate them. Only activated tiles score and any extra resources generate negative points. It's all very abstract and we found it really hard to tell how much we were actually scoring as we played. This is one I need to play again, and with the expert rules. I have a feeling it will get better with more plays and the advanced rules. At least I hope so.
Keyflower: The Farmers - This is an expansion for Keyflower that adds animals and farming to the base game. I love Keyflower. I had been told that The Farmers adds breadth to the core game. It adds more options and choice to Keyflower without changing the core gameplay. That is an apt description. The new tiles give you new resources to collect and manage in the form of three types of animals and grain. Some of these additions address minor issues with the base game that have been found since it was released. For example the addition of grain mitigates the lack of transportation points that can be an issue in the core game. We played using all of the new Farmer tiles, which really changed the focus from building, upgrading and storing resources to collecting and moving animals. I'm looking forward to playing it with a mix of the expansion and core tiles, where you would get some of the new farmers tiles alongside more of the original tiles. Overall this expansion took a great game and added a cool new thing to it. It adds some new ways to score and things to think about without adding any bloat. Recommended if you like Keyflower, and how can you not like Keyflower?
So far I've got a good start on reducing my pile of shame, mainly due to our annual Gaming in the New Year Party. Do you do any gaming on New Years? If so what did you play?