So, recently there’s been a trend in board games where apps or other pieces or technology are starting to get integrated into gaming. Then CMON announced Teburu a digital board set-up that allows the system to track where your characters are, have your player sheet…
Tag: Board Game
Oh yeah, it’s Halloween time again. I think last year I did a few Halloween themed articles, this year, I’m going to do top five lists every Wednesday on different Halloween themed things in various mediums. Not sure which all topics will be covered, but…
Let’s get under the hood of some board games again and talk about board game mechanics. These are the things that make the board game go. This time we’re talking about Real Time games.
Real Time games have been around for a little while, but there have been more of them coming out recently. In a Real Time game, you and everyone else at the table are taking your actions under the pressure of the clock or something along those lines, so you are moving as fast as you can. Some real time games have you work together all at the same time, while others are still going to use turn order to determine when you go, and some are actively pitting you against each other as fast as possible.
What Real Time is great for in games is ratcheting up the stress level. Now, instead of being able to plan and think about your turn, you are hoping to get it done fast enough that time doesn’t run out on you, you are able to sink the enemy sub before they find you, or you can make it to the check point to get more time. Some games can give you that tension by giving you difficult decisions to make, this one creates a similar tension by whatever constraint you are under. And often creates more of it than the difficult decisions, but you have all the time you need, do. I know for some people that it can create too much pressure for them, and so they won’t play them, which I feel like is a fair decision. So, know your crowd before you pull them out.
One area that Real Time games can be quite good, however, is dealing with analysis paralysis players. They need to make a decision immediately, so even if they want to figure it out, they can’t. If you are dealing with an issue with AP players, and they are up for it, a real time game would be a good way to cut down on that play in a game. Now, they also might be some of the people who get too stressed out by it though. You’ll have to see with their personalities, but they might not like the pressure keeping them from playing their optimal strategy. I know one AP player who wouldn’t ever play a real time game, but I also know a couple who own and play them just fine. Games that have an element of real time, which I’ll mention some below, those might be a better fit than a purely real time game as well.
What are some games that use this mechanic?
Image Source: Board Game Geek
One of my favorites that uses this is Captain Sonar. Now, in Captain Sonar, you and an opposing team face off against each other in a real time battle to sink the enemy sub. Each Captain is shouting out orders and their crew are responding. The sonar operator is trying to plot the enemies route so that the team can locate where they are, get close enough, and fire torpedoes upon them. All of this while getting the torpedoes online and keeping the systems in working order. This game is a lot of fun, and, while the concept seems stressful, I feel like it’s less stressful than some. The fact that there is no timer means that if you want to move very fast and keep the pace frenetic, you can, otherwise, you can let the other team move more than you do, but either way, it’s a fun game of cat and mouse with both of you trying to chase down the other.
Fuse is a much smaller real time game. In it you’re trying to defuse bombs. Sounds stressful, and it is as there is a timer that counts down and plays tense music. As a group you roll dice, and then you can discuss and each of you picks one of the dice to defuse one of the bombs in front of you. However, if you can’t use a die, everyone has to toss back a die of the same color or the same number. But, once you’ve defused a bomb, you put the dice back, grab another one and start defusing that one. This game is very stressful and short. I’ve had a good time playing it, and when I have played it, we’ve played multiple times. For a game that is stressful, that’s a good sign that they designed the game well. There are also levels of difficulty, basically how many bombs you have to defuse, so the stress level can be lowered if you want, though, it’ll still be stressful.
Image Source: Asmodee
One that uses it only in part of the game is Galaxy Trucker. In this game, you are building up a lousy looking truck from scrap and watching it get destroyed as it flies to pick up items and then drop them off over three rounds. What works well in this game, though, is the fact that you build your spaceship in a real time element. The first person to get their ship to where they want it to be then causes everyone else to feel a time crunch and rush to finish building their ship the best that they can. Then, you get a few seconds to relax before your ships start getting bombarded by asteroids, aliens, and whatever else might be out there. Then you go and do that again, two more times. Now, I might be messing up the rules slightly, it’s been a while since I played it, but the main idea is there. Galaxy Trucker does a good job with the real time as you hunt for that perfect piece to put into your ship, but doesn’t make itself too stressful because the game isn’t too serious.
Games like Unlock and Exit are also real time as your score is based off of how well you raced against the clock. In these games, you are basically in an escape room, but it’s a board game, or a card game. You look at these cards, use items together, and try and find a way out of the situation that you’re stuck in. I personally like Unlock better because it’s reusable, in Exit you might destroy everything. And I like that Unlock has an app that counts down, versus Exit where the pressure is just trying to get it done in as little time as possible, but it’s just counting up. The pressure is definitely there more so with Unlock as you can watch the clock count down. I also like Unlocks solution to check if you got it right better than Exit. But both options are a lot of fun.
There are a lot more real time games out there as well. Magic Maze is a difficult cooperative one, but unless you’re playing with a somewhat dedicated group, you’re not going to get the full depth of that game. Plus a large number of party games use a real time mechanic as well. A game like Scattergories, Catch Phrase, and many others have that timer limiting how long you can think about things or how long you get to guess. Though, with some of the other games like Magic Maze and Fuse, when that time runs out, it determines if you win or lose, which is something you don’t get from those party games.
I’ll be curious to see what interesting ways real time can be used in board games. It definitely has been used well a number of times, but there seems to be more design space out there for new games to come out that are challenging and real time. And I know that there are a number I’m interested in, that I haven’t gotten to play yet. What are your favorite real time games? Or as they too stressful?
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Join me as I look at Kickstarter and see what games I’ve saved and am or was considering Kickstarting. Dice & Ink: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/… Aeon Trespass: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/… Up Your Game: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/… Isofarian Guard: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/… Detective City of Angels: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/… Monster Cards: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/… Time of Legends: Destinies…
There are times when you want to play games with a larger group of people and you don’t want to play a party game. Now, there are starting to become more with social deduction games, or games like Tsuro, but how about games that allow you to have a larger number of players that offer a bit more strategy? I think that Sushi Go Party! is a good fit for that realm with how it plays and the variability in the game.
In Sushi Go Party! you are drafting cards to collect sets of various foods you might find in a Japanese restaurant. These foods will score you different points for how they are collected. Eel, for example gives you 7 total points if you have two or more, but if you only have one, you lose 3 points. Or with tofu, if you have two they are worth 5 points for the pair, but if you get a third, they aren’t worth any points. And there are a lot of different appetizers, deserts, rolls, and specials that you can use. You draft three hands of cards, first passing left, then right, and then back left, resetting the cards, each time. Except the dessert cards which you score at the end of the game, because you have to wait for dessert.
What makes Sushi Go Party! a good game, besides the simplicity of the drafting, is the variety of cards that you have. You only ever play with a single dessert and a single roll, so with three of them, you can create a variety. There are a lot of specials that you can use that change up how you draft and score in interesting ways, and then the appetizers, while there are three of them, you have a good variety of them. So you can make it a very friendly game where everything scores you no points or positive points and end up with a very high scoring game. You can also tailor the combination to be really tough. If you had eel, tofu, a dessert like pudding or fruit, you can create a combination that is really mean and I’ve seen someone get negative points to start the game.
This ability to tailor the combination of foods makes the game for a good variety in types of players. If it’s a more casual group where you want points, you can do that, and vice-a-versa. And the variety in player count works as well. On the Board Game Geek page, the recommended number is 4-5 players as you can get more strategy, but the game can play as few as 2 and up to 8, so you have a big range of players. I personally would say that 4-8 is where the game is ideal because you get the full party effect then, and a smaller number is too strategic in your drafting, and if you can remember cards and count cards, you are going to be at an advantage.
Another thing that is really strong in this game is the artwork. I realize it might be too cute for some people or make people think it can’t be a strategic game, but they have branded it well and made it very accessible for gamers and non-gamers because of the artwork. When you pull it out as compared to other drafting games, for example, 7 Wonders, Sushi Go Party! is going to be easier to get to the table because the artwork is going to be more attractive to most people. Now, like I said, it can be a turn off for some, but especially for casual gamers, I think that it helps sell the game. And it is also going to be attractive to most children, so if you want to get them to more complex drafting games like 7 Wonders, Sushi Go Party! is going to be a good starting point and an easier sell based off of the artwork.
Overall, this game hits the table pretty often. It’s a good game for board game nights because it can handle that higher player count. And a game of it doesn’t take too long because everyone is drafting at the same time. I like this game as a warm-up for a board game night as it gets people thinking more than a lot of party games as well and the game length allows it to fit into that filler category so you still have time for longer games later.
Overall Grade: A
Gamer Grade: B-
Casual Grade: A+
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There are some games where the look makes a difference as to how interested you are in the game, and Century: Golem Edition is one of those for me. When I saw Century: Spice Road, I thought it looked like a fairly boring cube pushing game, but when the Golem Edition, the artwork and the games made the game look way more interesting to me. Now, they are the same game from what I know, but I still haven’t played Spice Road because I have Golem Edition and you don’t need both of them.
Century: Golem Edition is an engine building, hand management game where you are trying to convert games into different types to get the right combination to get golems. To do that, you have to collect gems, upgrade gems, and get cards. With the cards, they let you get more gems or upgrade/change the type of gems in different ways than your base cards do. So you are trying to build up a combination that helps you get gems faster, but also gems that are going to allow you to get the golems. Every card you get is added to your hand, and you play down cards and only return them to your hand when you decide that you want to. Eventually you’ll need to, though, because you’ll want to get the cards of the engine back into your hand so that you can get it working again.
Century: Golem Edition is a really slick engine building game. With cute artwork and a cute theme, you expect the game to not offer that much strategy, but there is a good amount of strategy there if you want to find it. The cards, and how valuable the card is to you really determines what you might want to do. The engine building, too, never becomes too much, because while you are building up an engine you are only playing a single card a turn. That means that you are either getting more gems or changing out gems, depending on the card. Then the next turn you play the next step to the engine. If you were playing all the cards at once, turns would last a long time, but instead, the turns fly by because you are only firing off part of your engine each time. That really makes it as an accessible engine building game and a good introductory engine building game. It would be easy for there to be too many things to keep track of otherwise.
The components also really sell this game on the table. The gems are amazing looking and just fun to play around with. And their holding bins work really well and are another nice aesthetic piece, but it’s also highly functional. Then there are metal coins that just add a little bit to the potential scoring of the golems and make getting some of the passed over golems more valuable. There is no reason that the coins need to be metal, you could have just put in a +1 and a +2 cardboard chips, but the metal coins feel amazing and look great. Century: Golem Edition really goes above and beyond the expected quality of a game with nice large cards, a great insert, an the other things that I’ve mentioned above. The game pops on the table and people are drawn to the game to see what is going on.
Finally, Century: Golem Edition is a very good introductory game while still not being a game that more “serious” gamers are going to find boring. The engine building piece is interesting and offers different choices each game, the random golems mean that you have to vary your strategy, so it helps keep the playing field a bit more balanced. Plus, there is the determination of when you bring cards back to your hand, because that is your turn. If you do it at the wrong time, someone might beat you to a golem that you’ve been angling for. This isn’t going to be game that more “serious” gamers are going to always want to play to fill that strategy itch, and the game isn’t one that has a ton of strategy, but they aren’t likely to be bored with it either.
Overall, I enjoy this game a lot. I think that it works well for a mixed crowd of players and I love the speed that game plays at. If you are looking for an engine building game to teach the concept and strategy of engine building, Century: Golem Edition stands out in that field. You can definitely use Century: Spice Road, but if you are playing with very casual gamers, Golem Edition is going to draw them in a whole lot more. I definitely recommend this game to people to help fill out that introductory game collection for when new gamers are around.
Overall Grade: A
Gamer Grade: C
Casual Grade: A+
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