This is my quarterly listing of games that I played for the first time ever. As usual, I’m offering my own thoughts on these game, not a more general assessment of whether they’re good or not. If you like euros more than American games; if you prefer things on the casual-to-medium side of the spectrum; and if you don’t mind controlling some randomness, you might agree.
As you can see, I’ve labeled this the Season of Feld. It’s not that there were a lot of Stefan Feld games out this quarter; it’s that Christmas was just past, and I got Feld for Christmas. So, I got an opportunity to try out some older Feld games that I’d missed … and La Isla finally showed up in local stores too. Mind you, my Great games for the year were Feldless (but I liked the Feld I got).
Roll for the Galaxy (2014). While we first played this dice-game variant of Race for the Galaxy (2007), one of my friends asked, “Which is better, card play or dice play?” My answer was that dice games tend to be more viscerally exciting (when done well), while card games tend to allow for more depth. That suggests that a dice game could raise itself up to the next level if it combined the raw excitement of dice rolling with the depth of a game with more components … and Roll for the Galaxy is that game.
Matt Leacock is well-known as the designer of Pandemic (2007), Forbidden Island (2010), Forbidden Desert (2013), and related games. I interviewed him about his designs a couple of years ago, following the release of Forbidden Desert. Now that Modiphius Entertainment is Kickstarting his newest co-op game, the Thunderbirds Co-operative Board Game, I was thrilled to talk to him again, to see how it fits into his evolving design philosophy.
Shannon Appelcline: Between the Pandemic series and the Forbidden series, you’ve become one of our industry’s definitive co-op game designers. What led you to create this new Thunderbirds game for Modiphius?
Matt Leacock: Chris Birch approached me at Spiel in 2013 and pitched the idea of a Thunderbirds game. Growing up in the States, I had never seen the show but agreed to check it out. Chris is good at making a pitch and there was such enthusiasm and excitement in his eyes — I could tell he was passionate about the project. I went home and watched some of the shows and immediately understood the appeal. I also thought Thunderbirds and the world of International Rescue was a natural fit for a cooperative game, so I signed on. Continue reading →
I’ve enjoyed watching the deckbuilding genre emerge over the last several years. However, only a few of the deckbuilders have caught my attention enough to become regular members of my gaming catalog. Dominion (2008) and Ascension (2010) were both early members of that club, racking up 100 and 21 plays to date respectively. However more recently another one has really caught my eye: the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game (2013). Though I’ve only been playing it since last April, I’ve already recorded 23 plays of the game, which has put my group almost halfway through the Rise of the Runelords campaign.
The Cards Quickly Become Manageable. When I wrote my original article, I said that you could easily get lost in your hand. Because the cards are all quite unique, it’s hard for a first-time player to track everything that they can do. However, I found that this problem resolved itself within several plays. Now I can sit down with my familiar deck of cards and instantly know what everything does. Continue reading →
Last year, I talked with my friend Eric B. Vogel about his first published deckbuilder design, Zeppelin Attack! Now that he’s got his second deckbuilding (and first worker placement!) design, Don’t Turn Your Back, on Kickstarter, I couldn’t resist talking to him again, to see how his ideas about deckbuilding have evolved in the last year.
Shannon Appelcline:Don’t Turn Your Back is your second deckbuilding game, following Zeppelin Attack! Why did you return to the genre?
Eric B. Vogel: For me it didn’t feel like a return to the genre so much. That’s because when you’re playing, the worker placement element feels most prominent. You really only shuffle every turn or two, buy one or two cards a turn, but you place 4-7 workers every turn. You also have the area control elements. I would say this game is 1/2 worker placement, 1/4 deckbuilding, and 1/4 area control. So to me, I felt more like I was creating my first worker placement game, instead of my second deck-building game.
This article brings Alea past the mid ’00s and through the rest of what I think of as its lowest peak. After Palazzo and Rum & Pirates, following on the heels of Fifth Avenue, I was wondering if I should give up on the series … and then the good Feld games started appearing (in part seven!). I think it’s notable that I haven’t played any of these three games since my alea-thon of 2009, though two of them remain in my collection.
The object of Palazzo is to build Renaissance palaces composed of multiple floors. You bid for those floors in auctions and/or purchase them. Each floor is made of a specific material, has 1-3 windows or doors, and bears a number from 1-5 (which must be placed in increasing order as you build). The final value of each palazzo is dependent on how many floors it contains, whether it’s all made of one material, and how many doors and windows it has.
Strengths: Auctions & Options
Both the auctions and the options in Palazzo include some clever design.
Over the years, my board game writing has very much been a labor of love. So, once a year I like to remind readers that they can help to support this writing, and ensure that Mechanics & Meeples continues into the distant future.
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This past Christmas I got a very generous present from my long-time friend Christopher Allen: a beautiful wooden box for storing my Dominion cards, complete with labeled dividers showing which cards went where. It’s a thing of beauty — and also a solution for a few different problems that I’d had with Dominion over the years.
The Problem with Dominion Boxes
Previously, I had a mighty stack of square Dominion boxes atop one of my book cases, running from the original Dominion (2008) to Dark Ages (2012) — with a few of the smaller boxes located somewhat nearby. Unfortunately, I always found the individual boxing of Dominion supplements to be troublesome. It might seem a silly thing to complain about, but boxes can have real repercussions for how you collect and play games (as I’ve written about in the past), and I think that’s particularly true for Dominion.