Euphoria Review and Thoughts and Dystopias… er whatever

A look into Euphoria: Building a Better Dystopia

This is 2-6 player game that plays in around 60 minutes.

My thoughts on the game begin at minute 24… and my tangents go a little undone. whoops!!

I found the bits in the box to be superb! Beautifully done. The strategy is not deep, but the politics and faction-play keeps the game exciting.

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Welcome to the Foo-ture Ginkgopolis Review and Overview

Ginkgopolis is a 1-5 player game from Z-man Games. I love it!

Skip ahead to minute 20 to skip the rules overview. Play from the beginning to… not skip the rules overview.

Overall I’m delivering a 7.5/10!! Loves it!

Components are top notch. Nice-feeling cards, lots of wooden bits, not-useless(almost) player screens.

The gameplay is rather simple, but the rulebook is tangential and hard to decipher.

Playtime is short due to simultaneous action selection.

Review of Terra Mystica

game setup

setting up the board

This week begun my journey into Terra Mystica. I’ll start this impression by saying that i loved this game even before the second playthrough.  It was like Hansa Teutonica, but even more advanced!! I love the use of non-randomized favor pools, asynchronous play with different factions, and many paths to victory. This one is going in my plus column, so i’m not going to be objective.

The nitty gritty:
Theme: 9/10  I love how each race has their own strategy and motivation. No one faction feels out of balance with the rest of the game. It has been so much fun just to discover all the different races(i’ve played 7 out of the 14 so far) and try to best compliment their strengths while slowing down my opponents.
Components: 8/10 Big, chunky wooden bits and beautiful player boards/maps. My only complaint was my box splitting down the side after a week. Purple duct tape to the rescue!!
Length: 40 minutes per player the box says 30, but it’s going to take some time to get to that point. Most plays will include one or more new players, playing new factions.
Mechanics : 9/10 What a lovely dance!! The motivation for players to directly compete for space  is great. Each action seems to serve a great purpose. The rivalrous nature of the power actions as well as the map make for tense sessions.

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a look at the player board (a little messy, whoops!)

A little explanation of gameplay: The game involves a number of cultures, each of whom would like to expand their home territory. Each faction has a kind of terrain and the power to terraform surrounding terrains into their own. Each faction also has an inherent ability. This ability ranges from where they build, how they build, and methods of moving up in the temples of various cults.

The game takes place over six rounds. Players spend each turn taking one of seven available actions until they pass. Once a player has passed, they will choose a bonus for the next round and wait until all other players have also passed. Each faction is trying to expand from their initial placements by creating new dwellings, houses and temples. Each new building has a power value. Towns are founded when a player creates a group worth seven points. Towns net an immediate bonus of some victory points and a resource bump.

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mid-game in the first playthrough

In our second game, we used the recommended beginner’s setup. This means we had halflings, mermaids, nomads, and witches. The halflings’ strategies seemed pretty straight forward. The halfling player wanted to terraform and soak up each bonus victory point that they could. The Nomads had an advantage of a free terraform each turn; He went to set up many different townships to turn them into cities in the last few turns. The witches get to set out dwellings on an extra green space each turn. He spammed out the board and worked toward bonuses on the cult track. The mermaids can make cities over river spots. I floundered a lot. I needed to spread out quickly and then work on making cities. I worked on leveling up my player board first, allowing my fellows to corner me out of much of the map.

 When a player builds adjacent to an established building or buildings, the established player will have an opportunity to exchange victory points for power. Power is used to gather any of the basic resources, or to take special actions. This keeps players interested in cozying up to the other players, so they can glom some free stuff as players work on establishing their towns.

 The six rounds of the game feel as if they fly by. Each is marked at the beginning of the game with a bonus marker. Bonus’ are accrued by some means during the turn(such as 2 points for building dwellings) and a cult-track bonus at the end of the round(a worker for every space climbed in the air cult). The end of the game replaces the resource bonus with the end-game scoring for the most connected structures on the map and the highest levels achieved for each cult.

Why is this game so special?

TM is reminiscent of Hansa Teutonica, Eclipse (and a little Settlers thrown in

the cult track to begin

the cult track to begin

for good measure). Terra Mystica still stands on its own, giving players neat interactive play. The 14 different races included are so well-designed. There are literally 100’s of ways to play it.

What’s the rub?

A game with this many decisions can lead to long decision-making. A group prone to analysis-paralysis should be weary. That and my poor, poor game box splitting is the only thing i can fault TM for.

Whatever its faults, this is one of the best designs I’ve played in a while. I cannot recommend this game enough. From what i’ve seen it is selling out everywhere so pick it up if you see it in the wild!!

Lords of Waterdeep

Wizards of the Coast surprised everyone this year in making the Lords of Waterdeep. It is a worker-placement game which takes place in the city of Waterdeep. Players are wealthy lords, hiring the locals, and completing quests for cash and privilege  Each lord has a specialty which is kept secret from the other players. These are used to net them bonus points at the end of the game. Waterdeep plays 2-5 players and takes around an hour to complete.

The board itself is beautiful, large and detailed. Great care was taken in choosing what the agents, money and markers would look like. This gives great contrast to the fact that your knights, rogues, clerics, and wizards are generic square cubes. Customized meeples aren’t necessary for most board games; Waterdeep’s choice of plain squares is directly contradictory to the flavor and theme of this game. Once playing, i insist that my players keep with the theme and ‘hire two rogues’ rather than ‘gaining two black cubes’. This is where the fun of questing and intrigue can be found.

On a turn, players can send their agents out into the world to inquire after new quests, hire various characters to complete active quests, or build new buildings in the city. This is done in turn order, first player being one thing that agents can acquire. Waterdeep’s harbor can also be used to play “intrigue” cards on fellow Lords. These cards can be anything from innocuous, to annoying, to downright mean. After each move of an agent, players can complete any one quest that they might have the resources for. Quests are either flipped over and points recorded, or they may carry an ongoing benefit.

There are eight rounds to the game. Each round, one new building(sans special powers) can be purchased and built by players. Use of player-owned buildings will also net some small benefit for the builder. Getting your hands on a desirable building is ideal early game, so that you can sop up the owner benefit as often as possible.

  • Components: gets high marks for originality and sturdiness.
  • Gameplay: is light, interactive and immersive. There are no ~bad~ plays, even a throw-away agent spent at the end of a turn nets you a small something.
  • Replayability:  After a few plays with the same group, you’re going to feel like you know how any game might end. The design fights this idea with the randomized quests and intrigue cards. An experienced board-gamer will want less obvious and more abundant choices. This may be what the upcoming expansion will fix.
  • Biggest downside? There are no deterrents in this game. Everything on the board gets you ~something~, even if it’s small. Players not being able to use their own buildings might be an idea. Re-placing after everyone else has played if you went to the harbor also seems very powerful.

Overall, Waterdeep can be taught to just about any kind of player. It uses a light system of optimizing every move, planning the next couple of turns and fun interactive cards which throw wrenches in gamers’ plans. I cannot commend Wizard’s enough for making such a fine game. They realize the power that European-style games have on the market and they want to make their mark as well.