The name says it all really, we’re going to be doing a zombie apocalypse. However, we aren’t going to be playing the game where the players are trying to stop it. Instead, we’re going to pull from things like The Walking Dead, Dead of Winter, […]
Month: May 2019
Disclaimer before the videos: I made two mistakes, the first one isn’t a huge deal, I forgot to hit stream and instead I hit record. That just means that the video wasn’t going out live. Not a big deal, but I do want to stream […]
A week ago, I got a new to me game to the table. This game was talked well about by the main three on The Dice Tower and it looks amazing on the board. Photosynthesis walks a line between thematic and completely abstract in an interesting way.
Photosynthesis is the process of plants turning sunlight into energy, food, so that they can grow. In the board game, there is a sun that is rotating around the board, and you are planting, growing, and harvesting trees in order to get the most points. But you have to think about where you’ve played everything, because a misplaced tree could end up blocking one of your other trees from getting sunlight, or you can block your opponents tree from getting sunlight. After the sun has completed four rotations of the board, you tally up your score and see who has the most points.
The game is really about figuring out the puzzle of where to plant your trees and when the harvest the trees. At the start of each round, every tree you have that isn’t being shaded by another tree gets you a number of light points that you can spend in the next part of the round. After that, you can spend those points to buy more trees and seeds and to harvest your big, old trees for points. There’s a balancing act, however, as you figure out when you harvest your large tree, which gets you three light points per round, and possibly could blocking more trees, since it has a shadow of three. That puzzle is a very strong abstract feel in the game. However, the shadow system and the rotation of the sun actually feel very thematic.
Photosynthesis does have one aspect that everyone might not like. Because of the shadow mechanism that might keep players from getting light points, it’s possible to have an absolutely terrible round. I think it was mid game when Kristen had a turn, just because of shadows that netted her no light points. That can obviously lead to a frustrating round since while I and the other player had several points to work with, she did nothing, and that put her behind. It wasn’t intentional ganging up on up her though, but just bad luck. This game could have a strong aspect if blocking other people if you wanted it to, but it would probably also be hurting you half of the time. You’d have to be able to think a lot of steps ahead to make blocking someone an effective strategy, and it probably would still cause issues for you.
For me, that’s the one negative of the game, someone can get behind and stay behind because of that. However, since this is a more abstract game versus a thematic game, it works. It really is a giant puzzle to get your engine up and running and running consistently throughout the game. Even though Kristen had that one bad turn, she was only about one tree harvest behind the rest of us in terms of gaining points, so it didn’t cause her to be completely out of the game.
I think that Photosynthesis is a very good game. I think it’s a very pretty game, and I think that it’s probably a game that most people will enjoy. There are a few bits that might not work for everyone, but for the most part, I think it is easy enough to grasp, even if it doesn’t always make perfect thematic sense. I do think that Photosynthesis also has the chance to be poor game for analysis paralysis prone players, but that’s going to be the case for most games.
Overall Grade: B+
Gamer Grade: B+
Casual Grade: C+
Have you had a chance to play Photosynthesis?
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Last night we got into our third game of Pandemic Legacy Season 1. I make a couple of corrections to mistakes that I’ve made before and try and correct them this time. If you aren’t familiar with Pandemic Legacy, you can find information here on […]
Board Game Battle – Star Wars Imperial Assault vs Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth vs Mansions of Madness
We have a triple threat match this time as we have three heavyweights from Fantasy Flight facing off. The reason that they get to face off is because all of them have app integration.
What this means for all these games is that you don’t need to have someone playing the bad guys. Too often in a pseudo dungeon crawl you can have a situation where it feels like the one person running the monsters is up against everyone else and more facilitating their fun than having as much fun themselves. There are then games like Gloomhaven where no one has to run the monsters, but everyone still has to do stuff on the monsters turn. In these games, you get an app that does that, it tells you the rules for moving the monsters and what you have to deal with them. Or where to place tiles and what the puzzles are.
Let’s meet the contenders.
Imperial Assault is a Star Wars game where you are playing adjacent to the main characters, since you wouldn’t want to play as Luke and have him die before he can blow up the first Death Star. You, instead, play around the edges of the Star Wars world and the big stories that are happening in the original trilogy. It uses it’s app to help you know when to activate storm troopers and other troops out there, but you still have to go through, when someone activates and see which of the moves that they need to do.
The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth
JiME, as I’ll shorten it to, takes place between the movies, I believe, and it gives you an interesting combination of characters to play with. You can play as Gimli, Legolas, Bilbo, or Aragorn from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, but they also have created two separate characters for the story as well whom you can play as. In my opinion, I get why they picked some main characters, but I’d have preferred if all the characters were side characters who no one has heard of because they aren’t in the books, and you run across characters like Gimli, Legolas, Bilbo, and Aragorn. The app, in this case, runs a ton for you. You build your board, you put down markers, and you have you cards and character information in front of you, but when you’re interacting with a marker or fighting a bad guy, the app helps walk you through what you need to know. With the map, it also will be unique each time.
Mansions of Madness
Welcome to the world of HP Lovecraft. It’s almost impossible to a Fantasy Flight Board Game battle without mentioning something to do with Lovecraft. In this one, you take on a role of an investigator and you try and find your way through a mystery as you’ve been called to a mansion or somewhere else where something mysterious to do with the elder gods is happening. The app helps create a unique setting every time you play through the game or at least a few different ones, for each scenario. It also gives you those tokens to interact with that you place on your unique board and as you delve into the story being told. It also controls the monsters, letting you know what they can do or whom they will go after. It also keeps track of when the end game is coming up for you.
I should point out that all of these borrow from each other, though, Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth, borrows a lot from both of them. You can kind of tell the order that Fantasy Flight put them out because of that. JiME works well, and I like the campaign aspect to it, which you get in Imperial Assault, but you don’t get in Mansions of Madness. I also like the combat in JiME, it works well, and comes directly from Mansions of Madness. It’s simple and clean and lets you know what to do, whereas with Imperial Assault there’s more that you have to dig through to make the combat work.
I do think what separates them the most is the story. Now, I like all the worlds that they are set in. Lord of the Rings is a great fantasy setting. Star Wars is an iconic Sci-Fi . Lovecraft is synonymous with horror. So Fantasy Flight has basically everything covered that I like. I would say that JiME, thus far, seems to have the weakest story. Now, I don’t think it’s all that week, I guess I should say, JiME feels like you should be playing something more epic than you are because you have Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn, and to a lesser Bilbo, you want to play through the trilogy or The Hobbit, but instead you’re off dealing with bandits. Imperial Assault would have had that feel, but you get to see moments with Vader, you are playing through parts of the movies, but because you’re the E-Team (not even good enough to be the B-Team), it doesn’t matter if you die, and it doesn’t matter if you orbit out from the main Star Wars story for a while. And with Mansions of Madness, you’re playing a single story at a time, and there isn’t a particular story that people really expect when they are getting something from Lovecraft, they just know Cthulhu.
JiME gets the early advantage because it takes mechanics from both and it’s able to counter the moves. However, it ends up throwing some predictable moves when it comes with the characters that it has. It gets bounced, but puts up a good showing. We get down to Imperial Assault which throws some strong nostalgia haymakers but eventually tries a complicated move with it’s bad guys and gets caught.
1…. 2…. 3….
Mansions of Madness
The champion of the app companion Fantasy Flight games is Mansions of Madness which has done so much creative with it’s game and it isn’t just in Mansions.
Now, I will say, I’d always be glad to sit down and play any of these games. These are three of the top contenders out there to take down Gloomhaven, Gloomhaven is just too good, but I’m going to be getting these to the table coming up here on Malts and Meeples.
Have you played these games? Which one is your favorite?
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I’m back two nights in the row with the second game. I had a ton of fun playing it again, remembering what was coming up, or more likely, not remembering how quickly things show up again.
Hopefully it was a good time, and I apologize for the little technology glitch that cut off the last few seconds. I like that I’m going live with it, and I want to interact with people because of that, but because it’s live, there’s more chances for fun with technology.
Last nights drink was from Indeed Brewery out of Minneapolis, MN. The beer, their Mexican Honey Light, is a lager with honey in it, a good light drink. I wouldn’t call it amazing, but for a lager, it’s good and tasty.
So join me for this game, and bottoms up!
Back with another book review, looking at the second book in the series by Luke Chmilenko, Ascend Online. Now, you can see that this is kind of the second book because it isn’t #2, but is instead #1.5. The reason for this is that this […]