New to Me: Summer 2017 — The Season of the Expansions

I love returning to my favorite games and playing them in new ways. That means that I’m usually a fan of expansions, and I played a good number of them this summer. But, there were new games too, including a surprising number of variants on old mechanics — whether they be Poker resolution or classic deckbuilding. As usual, this is a listing of games according to how much I like them, as a medium-weight euro-gamer, and they’re new to me (although I was pleased to play a lot that were just flat-out new this time around).

The Great

Hocus (2016). I am not a fan of Texas Hold’em, which I consider a bluffing exercise with probability memorization thrown in. Sure, you can be better at it than other people, but I don’t find it a fun game, or even a game. And, Hocus uses Texas Hold’em mechanics … but I love it.

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A Bagbuilding Look at Automobiles

I long ignored Automobiles (2016) because I thought it was just a variation of the simplistic deckbuilder train game, Trains (2012).


I was fooled by AEG’s Trains-Plains-and-Automobiles (“Destination Fun”) branding, which is actually three different games with three different mechanics. Except Automobiles is a bagbuilding game, so it actually is in the same category of gameplay as Trains, and even offers the same mix of relatively simple ***building play with a physical board.

The Game

In Automobiles,you’re racing cars around a track. Each turn, you pull some cubes from the bag, and use those to your benefit. White, gray, and black cubes move you around the track in specific lanes — but they also give you worthless brown wear cubes. Special blue, green, purple, red, and yellow vary their effects from game to game and tend to give you improved movement on the track, improved purchasing power, or the ability to junk those annoying wear cubes.

Each turn you’ll use some of your cubes to buy new cubes and some for their special powers. The ultimate object is to get around the track faster than your opponents.

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New to Me: Fall 2014 — The Season of the Mediocre

Sadly, Fall 2014 just wasn’t a great season for gaming for me — and especially not for new gaming. A few plays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas kept some gaming nights from occurring, while rain and rioting cut other game nights short. Even when I did play there were six plays of current obsession Pathfinder Adventure Card Game (more on that next year!), six plays of prototypes, and three plays of Kickstarter prereleases. I’m actually pretty surprised I managed ten totally new games, which I’ve detailed here (plus one that was only new in my mind).

Also sadly, the games that I played weren’t (on average) that great. This wasn’t another season of the very good … but instead a season of the mediocre. Ah well. Maybe winter will be better. Continue reading

A Deckbuilding Look at Trains

Trains_boxtopAEG has already published some classic deckbuilders like Thunderstone (2009) and Nightfall (2011), so with this new release, Trains, it seems like they’re pushing harder on the deckbuilder genre than anyone else. It’s a combo train/deckbuilding game that’s one of the few deckbuilders to come with a playing board.

The Game

The core elements of Trains feel a lot like the premier deckbuilder, Dominion (2008). You have (blue) cards that are cash and you have (yellow) cards that are victory points (“veeps”). You use your cash to buy more cash, to buy (red) cards that do different actions, and eventually to push for victory.

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