Happy New Year to everyone who reads our blog! I though Christmas was going to be a slow time for getting new games played, what with playing some simpler gateway games with the family and some friends over the festive period, but actually we managed to fit in two or three really solid days of gaming with Luke at The Broken Meeple and at a pop-up event run by Dice Portsmouth. We’ve also had a chance to try two of the bigger hits of the year - T.I.M.E. Stories and Pandemic Legacy, but I’m sorry to spoil it – you’ll have to read about those in our Top 5 list for 2015.
· Grand Austria Hotel is a game about feeding tourists their desired food or drink, whilst preparing them a room in your hotel. It’s your choice which tourists to try and please based upon which type of food you’re already preparing in the kitchen or which you think you can obtain, but also what colour their card is and trying to match that to a bedroom you’ve prepared. Your more demanding guests give you better rewards once you’ve satisfied their restaurant orders. When filling your hotel with guests it’s also good to work towards different end game bonuses or to fill different sections of your hotel to get completion bonuses. Finally you can also gain points from pleasing the emporer. There is quite a lot going on in this game, but because it makes quite a lot of sense thematically it’s really easy to pick up. There’s a set number of turns, so the game should always last 90-120 minutes. I did like this game, I don’t think it’s unique enough for our collection, but I’d definitely play again.
· Five Tribes is a game I’ve been wanting to try for over 6 months. We’ve loved almost all of the Days of Wonder games we’ve played, have plenty of Bruno Cathala titles and have heard lots of good things about Five Tribes. The game is all about tactical movement of meeples around the modular board. Each different colour meeple has a special ability which gives you different methods to gain victory points or hinder your opponents. Your goal is generally to collect a large number of the same colour meeples by collecting all the meeples from one tile and dropping meeples along a route to your desired final tile, where you can take your action and the tiles special action. If there are specific tiles you want to aim for then it’s probably good to bid high to be the first player, otherwise you could bid nothing and since the money you bid is also your victory points, I found going last to be a good strategy in my first game. Five Tribes is definitely a brain burner and Analysis Paralysis is almost unavoidable, so I think low player counts is the best way to go, but otherwise I really enjoyed it and I think it’s just the right weight of game for me and quite unique amongst the euro game genre.
· The Grizzled is a co-operative card game set in World War I and featuring the artwork of Tignous, one of the artists killed in the Paris Charlie Hebdo attacks. The game is played in rounds where each playes takes a number of cards depicting 7 different threats or negative personality traits. On your turn, you must play a card from your hand or withdraw from the fight. If ever any 3 matching threats are showing on the table then the mission is lost, you are further away from the peace victory condition and you start a new mission. However, as much as might want to withdraw because everything in your hand is problematic, it is also a problem to withdraw too early because with too many cards left in your hand you will also move further away from a peaceful end. There is not a lot to the game and it seems very difficult, but it is quite addictive to keep trying for a victory.
· ...and then we held hands is a small cooperative game for 2-players about balancing your emotions. Really it is an abstract game where you can select cards from yours or your partners hand to try and move your token onto the right colour but also to ensure that you haven’t played too many positive or negative emotions in a row. If anyone is forced to move into a positive of 2 positive or 2 negative then the game is lost or if there are no legal moves. We played 3 times in a row and failed really quickly each time, and sadly, although the mechanic was a nice, clean idea, the game was really not for us.
· Dice City was billed as dice building game and I suppose I was expecting something like the dice in LEGO games. I suppose what dice city achieves is something similar, but instead of actually building the dice there is a board which represents the 6 faces of the 5 coloured dice. What this allows is more manipulation, for example moving one of your dice to be adjacent to another. You can essentially upgrade the different faces of your dice by buying different basic cards or special cards that are face up. Alternatively you can spend resources or military to obtain victory points directly by buying victory point cards. Many of the dice-face upgrades also give end-of-game victory points. Dice City is a nice take on dice worker placement and resource management and is definitely one I would like to play again.
Looking forward to 2016, I’m sad to say that I don’t think we’ll manage to play quite so many new games. I’m starting a new job with long hours so we’ll only have weekends for gaming. But, on the bright side, I’ll be working in London and hopefully will regularly meet up with friends and head down to the Draughts board game cafe to try some new games. I’ve also been thinking about trying to start a lunchtime board game session, so if anyone has any advice for gaming with colleagues in your lunch break, please leave a comment!