Had a slightly quieter week this week, with no impromptu gatherings of friends for a board game night and no Monday night gaming group, but plenty of games hit the table over the weekend and we’ve snuck in a few extra two-player games in the evenings. So here are the Yellow Meeple’s first impressions of games played this week.
· Letters from Whitechapel has been a game I’ve been meaning to try for a while. I’ve played Scotland Yard and admittedly not enjoyed it, so was not expecting a lot from Letters from Whitechapel, but you don’t know until you try. We played a 6-player game and only the player playing Jack had played before. During 4 rounds of the game the Police must attempt to arrest Jack by figuring out his location. All they know is his starting location and how many moves he is making per turn and they must generate clues by moving around London and searching for his trail. In our game this felt quite futile, we were finding it almost impossible to locate any clues, never mind Jack himself and it turned out our best guess for the general location of his lair was entirely off for the whole game, which is why we’d been failing so miserably. Every so often, when the game got momentum, it was enjoyable, but overall it was just a bit too slow paced for my liking. I’m not sure that hidden movement style deduction games are for me, but I’m glad I know.
· Libertalia is a game that we’ve enjoyed 2-player at home, but that finally hit the table with more players this weekend. Libertalia has broadly been considered as Citadels bigger brother. It is a role selection game in which rank can be key in each round to weather you obtain treasures or curses or whether your characters survive at all. Each round is played with a random hand of characters, but each player has the same pirates to choose from, so in each round you must out think your opponents to gain the most advantage, and ultimately gold. I was disappointed that the game did not go over very well. I really think this game is learned through playing a few rounds. By the end of the game, some players enjoyed it. The jury is out on this one, we’ll play it at home a few more times before deciding if it’s a keeper.
· Spyfall was being played when we arrived at our game group on Sunday. We have played this one before, but haven’t felt compelled to buy it yet. In Spyfall, all but one player is dealt a card depicting the same location, except for the spy who does not know which location you are in. The players take turns to ask each other questions and give answers that are obscure enough so the spy cannot guess the location, but specific enough so people know you’re not a spy. The spy wins if they can determine where you are and the rest of the players win if they can determine who is the spy. With the right people, who get into character and have enough imagination, this game plays great. On this occasion there was a little too many Yes/No answers to really get the game going, but it still worked as a quick filler.
· Tikal has been sitting on the shelf for a while after being a bit of an eBay bargain. It was known to me for being a Spiel des Jahres winner and being quite well-known as one of the few older games that has stood the test of time. In the game each player has a team of explorers on an expedition to discover the most impressive relics of this Incan world. In each scoring round (when Volcano tiles are drawn) points are awarded for having found treasures and for having uncovered the most impressive temples that other expedition teams are not paying attention to. In spite of its simple rules the strategy and tactical decision making in this game can really get quite deep. We really enjoyed laying with two players, but it was apparent that perhaps 3-players would create a better game with less reactionary back and forth movement between tiles. Really looking forward to playing this again and don’t think it’ll be too hard to find willing players who’ve heard about this game but not come across it.
· Carcassonne Inns and Cathedrals is the first big box expansion we’ve tried for Carcassonne (we have played a couple of the recent mini expansions). We were really quite impressed with the new rules, especially the Inns on the Lake, which double the value of a completed road, but negate the value of an incomplete road. The cathedrals have a similar effect in cities, but in our game were used for pure evil, destroying my mega-city with two cathedrals which was left incomplete, so I can’t say I enjoyed it. My opinion would of course be very different if I’d drawn the one last tile I needed to complete my approx. 50 point city! The large meeple which essentially have 2 influence on a contested feature ended up redundant in our game as, predictably, they both ended up in the one large field. For me the large meeples were the weakest feature, but maybe this was just in our game or would just be a feature of playing with 2-players. We have a couple more expansions to try, but I think this one will end up in most of our games because it is a solid addition which alters the rules just enough to make the game more interesting, but no more complex.
So it’s been a bit of a mixed bag with new games, confirming some wise purchases but not firing anything new onto my ‘to buy’ list. Thankfully this week, some old favourites also hit the table too. Star Realms and Hanabi in particular kept us amused as “train games” last Saturday and Flash Point: Fire Rescue, Mysterium and Tsuro were enjoyed by our Sunday game group.