Monday, 20 June 2016

New Games - Good Times


So we got through a fair number of new games on Saturday (well, new for me anyway)
So felt like doing ya'll a little write up.

We started the day with myself and Will cracking out a starter team game of Guild Ball. This was the 2nd time I had played it and i definitely feel like I'm finding my feet with it as a game.
In fact, the more attention i find myself paying to it the more layers seem to be revealed. Theres definitely a lot of strategy on a few levels there.
My initial assumption for the Morticians was that, being a tricksy team, I would be required to use that to out maneuver and out score my opponents. But Wills Engineers seemed like much better ball players than my guys and their knockdown ranged attacks made it difficult for me to keep the ball, so for this match-up I was much better off just bashing and crashing and taking his guys out.

By the time we finished our match Anthony had arrived so we got stuck into his Birthday gift for me, The Gallerist.

As you can see from the photo, theres a lot going on here, I'm not going to go into massive detail as its a very deep game with a lot going on. The basic gist the players are gallery owners working on advancing their reputation and bank balance by discovering new artists, buying, exhibiting and selling their works, promoting them in the media and doing other deals on the international market.

Bad news first, I think this is quite a hard one to talk someone through and have them properly 'get' it without having played a game, so your first go is likely to be a write-off, and at a rough play time of 90-120 minutes, thats quite harsh.
On the plus side though, its a gorgeous product, the design is great, the cardboard pieces are all very chunky and bright and the stacks of unique art are a really nice touch.
Its con also adds to its plus, the fact that its got quite a lot going on gives it a good amount of replay value to try out some different paths to victory.
I also feel that, as with the other games I've tried by this guy, the flavour does come through nicely, partly thanks to the visuals and partly thanks to the mechanics.
One of the things i did notice and like, but was probably one of the things that makes it difficult to pick up quickly, was that often a route to try and race ahead would become apparent, but you find youre held back by other factors. For example, promoting an artist, i quickly both works from a photo artist and tried to beef up their reputation in the media, but these actions only gave marginal gains and i realised (a bit too late) that i needed to get more collectors into my gallery to improve the effectiveness of my media work. But to get more collectors i'd need to spend more time selling works of art i have on display. There are a lot of interconnections like that going on which mean you cant just spam one route that no-one else is to race ahead on your own. You have to have a somewhat balanced approach.
Ant took our first game comfortably but I'm looking forward to cracking this one out again soon now that I've got a better idea of how it plays.

By this point, Rob had also arrived to fill our complement of gamers for the day and our first 4 way game was a little ditty Anthony brought along, Mission Red Planet. I'll have to admit, seeing it laid out in front of us ready to go, i was a bit skeptical. But almost immediately I got right into it, its nice and straightforward, theres some great shaft your neighbour mechanics (that can sometimes backfire) and it didnt feel like it dragged on at all. It feels like a perfect example of one of those games that slot in at the midway point of a gaming day in between some longer fare.

After finishing Mission Red Planet and chowing down some slap up grub, we cracked out Food Chain Magnate for the shorter starter game. The visuals are a bit basic and some of the way the mechanics work are slightly odd (billboards only advertise to houses directly adjacent?) but it seemed like it had a good amount of depth. I'd definitely up for cracking this one out for the 'full' game at some point.

Next up was Dead of Winter, one that I've been eager to try for a while. I'll keep this short as i know most of you have played it by now. I found this to be a worthy successor to the Battlestar slot, the fact that people start getting suspicious even though they may not be a traitor at all is great fun. I was somewhat hamstrung by the fact that the 2 characters i chose had very strong colony abilities and therefore didnt leave the colony at all throughout the game, but it was fun, tense at times, often accusatory and we completed the mission. All good!

Lastly we cracked out another one of my Birthday games, Matt Leacocks new release, Knitwit.
Its a kind of word association game, but its kind of difficult to explain this one without any visual aids, so i'll share one i pilfered from SU&SD.

Players take it in turn laying down loops that have words attached then placing numbered spools within the loops. Once all the loops and spools are down we get started, having to come up with something for each spool that matches the descriptors attached to each loop that surrounds that spool.
Once everyones done we have to read out our answers for each spool in turn, if any of the answers are a bit suspect one of the other players can call 'knitwit' and the player then has to justify their answer before all players take a vote whether to allow it or not. Answers are worth a number of points equal to the number of loops involved in the answer, highest score wins.
This feels like a great game for a few rounds at the end of a games day/evening or at a family games night, its not particularly serious (in fact the rulebook encourages 'creative' answers) and we had some great laughs.

We called it a night after 2 rounds of Knitwit, but i think that was a pretty good innings for a game day. Good times!


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  2. Great writeup bro! Glad you enjoyed The Gallerist :D I think it's another great design from Mr Lacerda, unapologetically complex but everything in the game feels like it has a clear purpose.

    And yes Mission Red Planet has become a hot favourite of mine because I can take it pretty much anywhere and it'll go down well. Cute minis & other bits, can be taught in a few minutes, great little mix of mechanics, plays with 2-6 players in an hour tops. Although I'd usually prefer to play games on the Gallerist / Food Chain Magnate end of the spectrum, they're certainly not for everyone.

    Cheers for hosting and thanks everyone for some great gaming :)