So, this past weekend at Pax Unplugged, there was a big announcement, Frosthaven. This is a stand alone sequel to Gloomhaven, my favorite game of all time. In addition to having the well-known combat mechanisms of Gloomhaven, Frosthaven will feature much more to do outside of combat, such…
Tag: Board Game
New video up on the Malts and Meeples Youtube/Twitch channel. It is a bit shorter game than some, but it’s also not game play, it’s just an unboxing of Tainted Grail.
Tainted Grail is a big story driven game from Awaken Realms who have done games like Nemesis and Lords of Hellas. In Tainted Grail, you play as not that heroic characters who are pulled into adventuring as the Menhir (statues that drive back the wyrdness) are starting to go out. Can you keep them lit in order to complete the quests? It’s a story game, but also a survival game as you are dealing with diplomatic and combat encounters. I don’t spoil any cards in the video, don’t worry, or the adventure journal which really drives the game.
The beer last night was from O’Dell Brewing Co. A big barrel aged beer, I really enjoyed Barreled Treasure Imperial Stout. It’s barrel aged as I said with cold brew coffee as well. I think it’s a beer that is better a bit warmer because you get more of the flavors. It’s also sitting at 11%, so a good beer for a cold winter night.
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Alright, this whole week and probably for a little bit longer, but let’s talk about those things you can get for the nerdy people you have in your life. Or things that you can suggest that people get for you, since you’re the nerdy person…
It’s almost Thanksgiving, and with Thanksgiving being so late this year, it’ll almost be Christmas then. That means lots of time with family, so before I talk about what you might want to pick up for that new gamer or that person you want to get into gaming on your shopping list, let’s talk about the games that you can play with your family.
There are a few requirements that I put on these games. They have to be a theme that people will generally enjoy, that probably means not that much theme really. Because there will be some people who don’t like fantasy or sci-fi or horror or romance or whatever the theme might be. The games also have to look nice or have some interesting pieces to them. That attracts people to the games. The games also have to be family weight games and easy to teach. If it’s too complex, you probably won’t play it.
So let’s hop into some games that I think will work well in most groups:
Ticket to Ride: It’s a classic, but there’s enough game to it that it’ll be palatable for someone who considers themselves a serious gamer. But it’s also simple enough that when you play it, you can probably teach a grandparent or a younger cousin how to play it. The little train pieces are fun to play around with as well, so it looks good. This is probably the game that people will be most apt to have played as well.
Century: Golem Edition: Yes, you can do spice road, but that is just more bland. This version has more toy factor with the gems and the art work is very cute and looks good on the table. This is a bit more complex, but what you’re going to be doing on your turn is still simple and limited to one thing. That means that people, while they will have to strategize, won’t be swamped by too many things to do.
Pandemic: If you need a cooperative game, I’d recommend the classic. Pandemic has nice playability and it’s a bit more complex than some other cooperative games that I could recommend. The cubes and the player powers are going to be things that people enjoy. And because it’s cooperative, if you have someone in your family who gets too competitive, you’re all working on the same team.
Sagrada: This game is just beautiful as you are drafting dice to create stained glass windows. If you are worried about some of the tools being too complex, you can pick and choose to get the right level of difficulty. This game looks amazing on the table and it’ll draw people over so that they can join in and play.
Sushi Go Party: I actually considered putting down just plain vanilla Sushi Go, because that game is simpler, but Sushi Go Party offers more variety and people will probably want to play it again, so you can change stuff up. It’s a good fast and simple card drafting and set collection game.
Second Change: This is the game that you can pull out instead of Yahtzee, which I still recommend, but if you want to introduce something different in that drawing on paper. This one you’re putting together tetris types of shapes to see who can fill in most of the area. It’s a concept that people will understand easily and one that you’ll play again and again and again. Plus, you get to doodle.
Just One: Another cooperative game, and this one in the party style. I am personally sick of games like Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity that get pulled out around the holidays, and Just One is different than that. The cooperative nature is great, and the little bit of a Scattergories feel is a lot of fun, plus, trying to come up with a clue that will help, but that no one else will put down is a fun challenge.
Letter Jam: Even more cooperative game play, this time with a word game. Instead of pulling out Scrabble, teach people Letter Jam where you are all trying to figure out your own word and give clues. What this helps with is a runaway winner problem that games like Scrabble can have if someone understands game play better than other people do.
Splendor: I debated between Machi Koro and Splendor but either are good here. It’s all about building your engine in a simple way to get more things. These games look nice and are easy to play. Splendor gets the nod because that’s the one that has the poker ships that everyone loves.
Ice Cool: Sometimes you have young kids in the group. While they might be able to get games like Ticket to Ride, if they aren’t familiar with games at all, you can still play Ice Cool, and I’d recommend getting Ice Cool 2 for the holidays so you can play a massive 8 player game. This is just a simple and silly 8 player game that you can play with young kids or likely have fun with aunts and uncles who are up for a silly good time.
Now, that’s only 10 games, there are so many games out there. But I wanted to give a variety. What I like is that Ice Cool with Ice Cool 2 and games like Letter Jam, Just One, Second Chance, and Sushi Go Party!, they are all able to handle a larger player count. That means if you want to get everyone involved you can.
What are some games that have been pulled out at family holidays? Are there some that you never want to see again? Are there some family favorites that get played every year? What would you introduce your family to this year.
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What, more Gloomhaven, how is that possible. Well, before we’d just been playing scenarios and I was talking about what I liked, we’ve officially beat what seems to be the final story of the main quest. We have more side quest and an expansion that we’re going to do, but we’ve “beat” the game. So I wanted to do some final thoughts about it.
I knew, going into Gloomhaven that it was a beast of a game but I was up for that. I thought that I’d enjoy it from the get go because of how the combat worked, how the scenarios worked, and how there was story to the game, and it’s been almost two years of playing almost every other Tuesday, plus some long Saturdays knocking out a bunch of scenarios, but it was worth it.
If you’re been following my Top 100 Games, you would know that I had Gloomhaven as my #1 game. And there are a lot of reasons for it, the story aspect, the unique combat, and the giant epic nature of it all really speak to me and have helped me figure out that I like games like that a lot. Also the bit of a legacy aspect to the game is a ton of fun as well. Is it a perfect game, I don’t think so, but it’s the closest that I’ve found.
Let’s talk about it a little bit more in detail, because I think there are two primary things that hold people back, besides the size of the game, and that’s, do the characters feel different, and do the scenarios feel different?
Do the Characters Feel Different?
I think that this is a clear yes for me. We unlocked every character in the base game and we’ve played all but two of them (plus there’s a new one in the expansion), and the characters have felt different. Some of them were great at healing, some of them would boost others attacks, some of them would go fast and do bits of damage, but always been in and out. Others would go in there and tank and even others would do massive amounts of damage, but were a bit of a glass cannon. There were ones that slung spells, and some that played riffs. Each of the characters felt unique and basically all of them felt like you can tailor them a little bit to how you wanted to play. And while I always wanted to find a tank, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything by pretty often playing a support type of character in the game, because how the supported was different for each character. And yes, we all probably had our favorites coming out of the game, but I don’t think any of us hated a character that we played or even disliked a character because they felt weaker or anything like that.
Do the Scenarios Feel Different?
Now, while the characters feel different, I think that this is one of the areas that Gloomhaven isn’t perfect. It’s not much of knock, but there are a lot of scenarios where the win situation is just kill everything, so that part of the scenario feels the same. And we also happened to hit the run in, grab this thing, and run back out a number of times in a row. But, while the end goal most have been similar fairly often, the story leading in was always interesting and helped the scenarios feel different, but more so than that, the monsters made scenarios feel different. A black imp is very different than a drake which is very different than a skeleton archer in what they do. So you had to play now you played each scenario differently and that’s often where you got most of your differences. Plus, then, you have the unique characters. There were some scenarios that we had to wait until we had a better team to come and deal with it, but that was part of the fun of the game that made scenarios feel unique, there were some characters that were just better in different types of scenarios, and generally, even if they weren’t ideal, you still had a chance to figure it out.
Overall, I don’t really have complaints about Gloomhaven. Maybe that some of the scenarios or more of them anyways, could have been goal oriented, but combat is easier to explain and make as a goal than something that’s trickier, and there was good variety in combat anyways. While I don’t think that Gloomhaven is going to be the game for everyone, I think that a lot of people will enjoy it. The combat is a bit more tactical than your standard Ameritrash game and there is more story than Euro games. And while it is big, the game, once you’re into it, isn’t that difficult, it might just take a couple of scenarios to teach someone who doesn’t do dungeon crawl games all the time.
Overall Grade: A+
Gamer Grade: A+
Casual Grade: C+
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There are so many board games in the world, and while I would like to say that I have a massive room dedicated only to board games where I can fit in lots of Kallax shelves from Ikea, I don’t. I was able to fit…