My first impressions are a little late this week, as I wanted to try a few more new games on Saturday. This weekend is StabCon South, which is held twice a year in Southampton. We haven’t been able to attend as much as I’d like due to other commitments, but we tried to make the most of Friday evening and Saturday morning at this small convention. We crammed in another 1 or 2 new games earlier in the week too, so here’s my first impressions for the week.
· Dead Men Tell No Tales has been described by a few reviewers as a pirate version of Flash Point: Fire Rescue. I was therefore keen to try it since Flash Point is one of our favourite co-ops. In Dead Men Tell No Tales, your goal is to loot a burning ship of 4 of its treasures by fighting off the ship’s skeleton crew and trying to maintain control of the fire so that you and the ship do not explode. It is your typical co-operative with action points, special character powers and the bad thing you have to do at the end of every turn. I can’t put my finger on why, but currently I prefer Flash Point, perhaps because it’s a bit more intuitive. I would like to give this one another try though.
· Pandemic: On the Brink is our first expansion for Pandemic. We played with it twice in one sitting and have only tried the virulent strain variant. In our first game, the inclusion of the expansion had little effect. We did not get to use any powerful new roles and luck was so against us that the virulent strain effects didn’t get a chance to affect us before the black cubes overwhelmed us. However, in our second game, the virulent strain became key to whether we won or lost and did we win? We ERRADICATED EVERY DISEASE in an awesome set of final moves. I enjoyed this variant, but am keen to try the bio-terrorist and the purple disease cubes very soon!
· Concept is a party game in the style of Pictionary, charades or Articulate ie. you need to get the other people round the table to guess the word on your card. However, Concept is a unique style I’ve not seen before where you must place tokens on the symbols on the board to try and articulate what you want to say eg. a man, who is tall and green could be guessed as Hulk or Shrek. We played without scoring which meant that people could choose from easy, medium or hard clues with no real incentive to do anything overly complicated, other than fun. I personally think that the game could benefit from scoring, but it’s still fun as an activity so long as you don’t spend too much of your game evening getting sucked into it.
· Alien Frontiers is a dice worker placement game, that The Broken Meeple gave me the opportunity to try at StabCon. We’ve played Kingsburg once and it really didn’t sell itself to us (perhaps due to the 2-player variant), so I’m glad to have enjoyed Alien Frontiers. Like many worker placement games there are multiple paths to ultimate victory and timing can be everything in terms of ending the game when you’re in the position to have most victory points. There is a small dose of area control here too, in terms of who controls different areas of the planet and thus gains their special abilities which can be really powerful. The game didn’t seem to have too much downtime, even though it relies on waiting until you roll your dice to plan your moves, which is the downfall I found in another dice placement game, Artifacts Inc which we tried last week. I think this will replace Kingsburg in our collection, because you don’t need the expansion to make a good game and I think it will work better with 2 players.
· Rokoko is a euro game based around the theme of making dresses. It was nominated for the Kennerspiel in 2014, which is a promising sign. Needless to say the theme is a little lost, but it is there when you’re buying silk, making dresses and either selling them or displaying them in the house. There is a lot to learn in this game and those who don’t listen to rules explanations will end up complaining that they weren’t told about this method or that method to gain victory points. There’s a lot of different elements, including some deck building, action selection, area majority and set collection. It can be a little slow with four players, but I did enjoy the game and the choices once I’d got my head into all of the options. You simply need to focus on a few goals and hope they’re different enough from other peoples to gain you additional victory points. I think the game may have out-styed its welcome and couldn’t really justify the 2 hour length, but perhaps it will be worth trying with just 2 or 3 players another time.
· Cacao is another tile laying game and it plays somewhat differently from other tile laying games we’ve tried and is very clean and simple. Your goal is simply to gain the most gold, which can be achieved by selling cocoa beans for the highest price, doing some mining, having plentiful water or gaining favour at temples. There are two elements of tile placement to be concerned about, placement next to resources you want and the generation of more Jungle tiles which will give more resources or actions to you or possibly to other players, depending which you choose to place. For us this game is probably too simple, but it’s fun and quick and I can see it being a great gateway game or some variety for people who pay a lot of the Carcassonne base game.
Please note that the above opinions may all be tainted with the fact that I had a bit of a winning streak this week, which is VERY unusual given my wonderful fiancé’s tendency to always win!