We’re continuing going through my board game collection, seeing what games I have, what games I need to play and why I got some of the games that I have in my collection. We did the numbers yesterday, now we’re going for the A’s. You …
As a “good” board gamer, I get excited about new games all the time, there are always new games that come out and while I’m excited about them, I generally don’t write about them, unless it’s a Kickstarter Back or Brick article, or maybe something …
We started this series last week to go along with the Board Game Mechanic, where we look less at the specific inner workings of a game but instead look at a general category of games. I like to think of it more as a genre of games where they all share some of the same story DNA and feel.
So, most people are going to be somewhat familiar with the idea of an escape room. They have been something very popular in the US at least over the last handful of years and have been a concept for longer than that starting in 2007. The idea of these are that you and a group get placed into a room with a time limit on how long you have to escape. You need to work together to find clues, solve, puzzles, and get out of the escape room. These are generally themed around something, maybe you are trying to get out of an asylum or you are doing a jail break.
They’ve taken this over to board games in a few different ways and series of games. Some of the games are intertwined stories that expand over time as you go. Others are one off games that pit you and a group against a certain amount of time or will give you a score based off of how long it takes and how many clues you use. In these games you have things like ciphers to break, numbers leading to the next thing hidden on cards, in images, and so many more different puzzles.
Players in these games work together to solve these puzzles, it might be somewhat on their own, but generally there is free communication and collaboration around the table as you try different solutions and race against the time. Fairly often that means that these games could play an infinite number of players, but since everyone needs to see what is on the cards, there is limited real estate to do that, so more than a handful starts to become a little bit cramped.
But let’s look at some games in this style:
Unlock – This is a series of games that aren’t connected except around mechanics. In these games you are using cards to find items, figure out puzzles and get to the next room so that you can eventually escape. It might be something like escaping from Oz or a submerged submarine or a haunted house. What these games do different than some is that you buy them as a one off or in a set of three. And each is playable once by the same group, but they aren’t destructive in nature. What I mean by that is not pieces need to be modified to solve any of the puzzles. It also uses an app integration for the timer and for entering in codes to see if you can unlock some doors or open a safe. This allows them to create some nice thematic tension with a sound track for the game you are playing.
Exit – Now, there isn’t a massive difference between Unlock and Exit, both of them are pretty light weight, Exit is just going to have you stretch your brain more because you have more puzzles and more almost disconnected puzzles in it. Along with that, Exit is a destructive game. That means that you might end up pulling apart some of the box to get something or cutting up a piece of paper in order to able to easily solve the puzzle. The reason I say that this is medium weight versus Unlock’s gateway level is because that you can’t just focus directly on the puzzle, you have to go over everything because you don’t know where a clue to solve the puzzle might be hidden so it stretches the brain more but can be more frustrating as well for that reason, but if Unlock seems to easy, Exit is a slight step up.
TIME Stories – Now, I actually, again, don’t think that TIME Stories is too heavy, and there might be some people who disagree with this being an escape room game, but it certainly has a lot of the elements of it. You’re trying to figure out what is going on in a timeline after you and your team are sent into the past, future, another dimension, to stop something that is about to royally mess up the timeline. Your memories and knowledge are put into a body there so you can blend in, You go on runs trying to solve the case, and if you run out of time with the event happening the TIME agency can send you back in again, equipped with the knowledge that you have to try and solve it again. For this reason TIME Stories, while once you complete the case is basically a one and done, has a longer playing time and more game that you can get out of it. It’s also is easier to play over multiple sessions because you can more easily save between the runs that you make. Overall, not an extremely complex game, but it has more moving parts than the others do.
There are a lot more Escape Room games out there or games that have a similar feel to them. I did a Board Game Battle recently between TIME Stories and Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game, and while there are similarities, TIME Stories has more of an escape room feel versus Detectives more deductive feel. What are some of your favorite escape room style board games? Do you like escape rooms in real life, if so, how do the games compare to the places?
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So, this won’t be my main article for a day normally, but I’m going to have a little bit of fun with this and start up a new series of articles for when I order a new board game. Now, this will exclude Kickstarter board games, look for those in Back or Brick articles every Wednesday.
Point of Order is going to be me running down the game(s) that I ordered and why I picked them up. The reason for doing this is kind of a sneak preview as to what’s going to be coming for reviews in the future, but also help show why I thought some games might be a good fit for me and maybe, give you some insight if into if they might be a good fit for you.
So let’s run them now, it’s a bigger order this time, so it’ll be a bit of reading to get through it, but hopefully enlightening.
So, this is one that I got a chance to play at GenCon and since it was such a small game, it kind if paled in comparison to some of the other games I played there, and I thought it was just okay. But then I downloaded it to my phone, and I’ve had a lot of fun just knocking out a fast game of it against the computer. What keeps drawing me back to it is the simplicity of the game. In Silver, you are trying to get your village to score the fewest points, there are werewolves because it’s Bezier Games, but that’s a mute point to the game. You do this by swapping cards out from your face down group of five cards. However, you don’t know what all your cards are. At the start of each round, there are four, you look at two of your cards. Then on your turn you look at the top card and either swap it with a card in your five or use it’s power, or you can use the top card of the deck to swap into your row. Now, the swap is 1 for 1, unless, you have two of the same card from the five in front of you that you can swap. So if I had two sixes, I could swap it for a five, now I’d have four cards in front of me and be scoring 7 less points. Once you have less than four cards, you can call for a vote if you want, and if you have the fewest points on your villagers, you get 0 points, but if you’re wrong or you didn’t call for the vote, you get the points on your villagers, and plus 10 if you were wrong when calling for the vote. It’s a push your luck, bluffing (kind of), and memory game. It plays fast over four rounds and because of enjoying it more on my phone, I decided to pick it up.
This one one will be way shorter to write about, because I’ve already don’t a TableTopTakes review of it. This is a flip and write map making game with some fun scoring. The map making part is pretty loosely themed on there, but the scoring puzzle is a lot of fun, and the fact that it’s an interactive flip and write is great. So for the scoring, you have four different scoring things, A, B, C, D. And you score two each season, for A & B, then B & C, C & D, and eventually D & A. So you have to think about both short turn and long term scoring. Plus, then, you have your own board, but if a monster comes up (and they will) you have to pass your board to the left or right and that player will put a monster somewhere on your board in spot that’ll surely mess things up for you. I really enjoy roll/flip and writes, and this one stands up as one that has a fun theme and some more interactivity going on.
Now, some of why I got this was because I needed to make it to $100 for free shipping and nothing was jumping out at me. But I really love Ascension, in my Top 10 Gateway game list, it was #10, because for me it’s an ideal introduction to deckbuilding for the base game. And the expansions add more and can be combined with it. So I’m excited to try out this one and to try out Dreamscape the other expansion that I have. I’m curious to see how the strategies might change, and sometime play a massive six player game with one of the expansions mixed in. This is one where I know I’ll enjoy the expansions, and even if they don’t come off the shelf a lot, I’ll still get them played once and a while.
Silver & Gold
So, this isn’t related to Silver. Instead it’s a flip and write game where you are drafting island cards and trying to fill them in, which scores you points, and combing covering up palm trees, treasures, and I think more to allow you to cover up more things. This game was interesting to me after I watched Board Game Geeks Game Night Youtube Show with it. What was interesting about it was that you don’t have your own play sheet that you’re filling in. You are drafting/taking island cards and actually writing on those cards. The cards are dry erase so that you can play, score, erase, and play again. That just seems like a novel idea and I’ve really been digging roll or flip and write games recently.
Clank! Acquisitions Inc Legacy
Multiple things drew me to this game, first it’s a legacy game. I think I own, have owned, or have played most legacy games out there. They are just a blast generally in my opinion, and are very fascinating to see how they end up working. With Clank! Legacy, I already know that I like Clank! In! Space! and while this is fantasy themed, that’s fine because I love Acquisitions Inc. podcast/video series that Penny Arcade does at their #PAX conventions. From what I’ve heard about this, it implements it really well and creates an interesting story throughout while being a really fun game to play. And while none of the others take themselves seriously in the Clank! line of games, this one I’ll get more of the in jokes because I’ve watched all of Acquisitions Inc. And easy purchase, just was waiting to have a group to play it, but it was on sale, so I decided to pick it up anyways even before having a group lined up.
This one I’m really excited for, but it’s a pre-order. So one of my favorite games is Dead of Winter. And what makes it a lot of fun is that it uses crossroads cards. These cards get triggered sometimes where you go some play, do some action and all of a sudden you’re interrupted because you triggered this crossroads event where you have to make a decision that will affect the game in some way, but you don’t know how. Forgotten Waters is a pirate themed game that uses that, plus it has an app that tells you things to do and helps you set-up scenarios, plus you’re using a storybook type thing, similar to Mice and Mystics, Aftermath, and Stuffed Fables. I think all of that combined together sounds really cool, and I’ve been looking for a cool pirate themed game that is a bit more tongue in cheek than something like Merchants and Marauders which is a fun game, but a bit heavier.
Marvel Champions Neoprene Playmat
Final item on the list, and it’s not a game. There are several reasons that I wanted to get this, the first is that it looks cool, and it’s big so you can play with a bunch of people using mat. The other is that whenever I cut my finger nails, I can never pick up cards. So on a neoprene mat which I’d be able to use for other games as well, though it does have a layout for Marvel Champions, I won’t be trying multiple times to pick them up or scooting them to the edge of the table so I can grab them. I won’t say that this really makes Marvel Champions that much easier to play, but it can help keep the table neater, plus easier to pick up cards.
So, that’s the order that I have coming in. I’d say that some of that is thanks to Covid-19 because I’m bored and I think that some of these games will be good ones that I can play with my wife while waiting for board game nights to happen again.
Are there any of the games that seem the most interesting to you? Any that you’ve picked up or want to pick up?
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