Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Weekly Route - From occupied France to laying track in Japan

The Weekly Route is never planned, sometimes there may be lots of stops and occasionally just one or two. This is where I like to take a look back at the previous week and check out the stops my gaming hobby took me to.

As always thanks to all that make this journey possible each week through my gaming groups.

Imperial Settlers
I did get a chance to learn this the week before, but managed to sit down for another play after my first game went for a little long. From designer Ignacy Trzewiczek this is a re-working of another game of his 51st State. It is a civ-building card game with an endearing cartoon style art that belies the deep yet mean gameplay below. As you build up your own tableau of locations before you, you have opportunities to raze your opponent's to gain valuable resources and take points away from them. My second play of this was a two player against my wife, the game played easily in under a hour, with a great feeling of back and forth between us. Certainly want to pick this up for myself.

Operation F.A.U.S.T.
Deep in occupied France during World War II a war inside a war raged as independent art partons tried to prevent the Third Reich from plundering all the cultural valuables. Through bluffing and deception players must attempt to acquire works of art with the help of spies, allies and the French Resistance, the player who recovers $1,000,000 worth first is the victor. The game uses a hidden role mechanic similar to Coup, where each player has at least two roles in front of them and they can choose to use the abilities of the ones they have or bluff something from one of the other roles. Unlike Coup though, there is no elimination if you lose a role through a challenge you just draw a new one, keeping you going.We just got a couple of playthroughs of this in and it felt like lying wasn't absolutely necessary as you tried to attain the paintings. I feel more plays will surely be needed to get into the depth of this one.

I had seen this game being played within my group over the last week and I finally got a chance to
get in on a game last night. It is revised and expanded version of a 2002 game, players buy and sell railway stock, trying to outsmart opponents through a push your luck bidding system and stock retention. The more stocks on the table, the more they are worth, but as other's sell the same stocks ones in front of you will become worth less. I see this as a gateway game to bigger stock manipulation type games, easy to understand what you can do, but not quite as easy to understand what you should do each turn. Just need to mention the one component that really makes this game is a wooden bowl that you use to drop your bids in each round, it is a unique head turning that gets people interested in this one.

Small World
Need to make a honorable mention to one of my early tastes in the hobby gaming world. Been a while since I had gotten this to the table, often distracted by the new and shinies that cross our tables each game night. If you want to get a non-gamer who thinks RISK is the be all of area control, then this is the game that can get them into our wonderful world. Small World takes an easy to understand system to attacking opponents, just have more units and you win the area. The game is filled with fantastic fantasy races with crazy powers that you manipulate to your benefit as you run rampant through the lands, spread yourself thin, then kill off your race and start up a new one. So glad I got to visit this old friend again this week.

Taking a deckbuilding mechanic and tying it into laying tracks across Japan doesn't sound like the most fun but this is far from it. Gameplay is so smooth and quick as you use your hands to lay tracks, build stations and purchase more powerful improvements for your deck, as you race to collect points across the map. Each game will have a random selection of cards to purchase, so the variability inspires repeat plays. 
I like trains. I enjoy deck building. I love Trains! 

Other stops
Heard a gentle rapping at my chamber door, Nevermore... Anger the gods in Tzolk'in... Searched the depths in Abyss... Built, collapsed and re-built with Rhino Hero... Attempted to protect a village with our Samurai Spirit... lied to my friends as a Good Cop Bad Cop and in the courts of Avalon.

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