I’m doing something that’s a bit different style, I realize that there can be a lot of terms for various nerdy hobbies that might be a bit confusing. So I wanted to, for board games, run through what some of these terms are, if they […]
Tag: Board Game
In the vein of classic wrestling of Jeff Hardy feuding with Matt Hardy, we get two season of Pandemic Legacy. Season 1 vs Season 2, which of the two in the family line will be supreme? Let’s start by talking about their father, Pandemic. Pandemic […]
Let’s meet the contenders:
Machi Koro: Machi Koro is a city building game where you are working on building up enough infrastructure that you can then build the bigger attractions for your city, like a harbor, shopping mall, and other things. The first person to build up all of these attractions wins the game.
Splendor: In Splendor, you take on the roll of a jewel merchant in a race to fifteen victory points. You collect gems to buy cards that give you permanent gems until you can start to buy cards without spending gems.
Century Road: Golem Edition: You’re a miner who is going out and buying and trading gems to be able to power up the golems, which give you victory points. You do so by buying cards, upgrading gems, and getting new gems.
What’s in Common?
The reason all three of these can face off is because they are all about building up your engine. Century Road: Golem Edition is the outlier in that you don’t have a tableau of cards out in front of you, but it falls into the similar engine building category and hand building category. You are building up your card base whether it’s buildings, gems, or mining/upgrade cards, so that you can, while using the fewest expendable resources, get as many victory points as possible on your turn.
Thematically they are different, but that’s generally going to be the case. You could even argue that Century Road: Golem Edition and Splendor have a bit of overlap, but mechanically, what makes them different from each other. In Machi Koro, there’s more interaction on other peoples turns with the buildings that you can buy. Even on someone else’s turn, you can be generating income. This make Machi Koro feel a bit more interactive. Along with that, Machi Koro has a die roll that determines what sort of money you get each turn, based on the buildings you have, so while there is strategy in building up your engine that gives you the money, there’s also some luck involved with the game. This is a nice balancing factor for the game. Splendor on the other hand is much more straight forward, the only “take that” sort of aspect to the game is that you can reserve a card to take it away from someone else. There’s some strategy as to what gems you take early game as well, and the extra points from the nobles who can become your patron is unique to this game as compared to the other two. Century Road: Golem Edition is definitely the most unique of all these games. Whereas in the first two you have a tableau of cards in front of you that assist you every turn in either getting money or buying more gems, you are building up your hand of cards and playing them down. The reason that it can fall into this category of games is because you are still building up your engine, and there isn’t the randomness of the draw that you get from a game like Dominion. Century Road: Golem Edition, when you buy cards and pick up the cards you’ve already played, you can have access to all of your cards to play, which is similar to both Machi Koro and Splendor.
What Stands out in Each Game?
Machi Koro has a mechanism with the die roll to determine what money you get that I really like. It means that there isn’t that much downtime for players during the game, because at the start of each person’s turn, they roll the dice, and it’s possible that you’ll collect money. It’s also interesting, because you can diversify with the cards that you have so you get less money more often, or there’s a strategy of going for a lot of cards of a single type to get a lot of money less often.
Splendor is probably the most straight forward of these games and the easiest to teach. Also going for it are beautiful components. The cards have a great finish to them and feel nice. While the artwork is a bit generic Euro game artwork, they are nicely done. Along with that the expendable resources are heavy duty poker chips and they are very nice.
Century Road: Golem Edition has the component piece as well. The gems in the game are great and the coins that aren’t used all that often in the game are still metal. The oversized cards allow for very nice artwork and have a nice feel to them. Along with this, the hand management and hand building aspect to the game are pretty unique for games that I’ve played. I know that it isn’t a unique concept totally, but for what I’ve played, it is pretty unique.
What’s a Weakness in Each Game?
With Machi Koro, I’d say that one weakness is that where you sit matters some. Not because you might miss out on something, but restaurants are on strategy to getting money in the game. But because of how the money is paid out, it’s possible that you could buy up some restaurants and because someone is sitting to your left who has the same ones, you won’t end up seeing much money and they could see a lot.
Splendor on the other hand doesn’t have a seating issue because the interaction is non-existent. That’s not the issue with the game though, the game itself is a little bit too generic. The theme of being a gem trader could be replaced with almost anything and it would make just as much sense. It’s a little bit like the Dominion of deck builders where the game is fun, but thematically there’s nothing that ties it together. This also means that there isn’t a ton of diversity in strategy for the game either.
Century Road: Golem Edition’s weakness is probably that it’s the heaviest of these games. Whereas the other two are very simple and light to teach, Century Road has a bit more going on with the game. You need to think a whole lot more about the engine that you are creating in this game as compared to the others since it is in your hand, and you might want to use a certain card in your hand every turn, but that isn’t possible so there’s more planning out your engine since there isn’t that availability.
And the Winner is:
Century Road: Golem Edition
This game has the components like Splendor while having a more interesting game play than either of the other two. While it is a bit more complex, it is far from being a heavy game and the complexity helps create diversity in strategy. The gems and metal coins and the artwork on the card, everything in that aspect is on point with the game as well. And while there is possibly the least ability to have a “take that” sort of strategy in Century Road: Golem Edition, that’s abated in making the game interesting just by the hand building aspect that has a good puzzle like feel.
Now, just as a word of disclaimer, I have all three in my collection and I don’t think that any will be moving out. Machi Koro and Splendor have a nice value of being very easy to teach to people and still enjoyable to play. I could see eventually getting rid of Splendor and completely replacing it with Machi Koro, but right now all are enjoyable.
Which is your favorite of these three games?
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Welcome to an expedition into the jungles of South America (or somewhere). You’ve hired some expert guides, and you easily going to find the lost city of Z, It can’t be that difficult, can it? You have some food and bullets now, you just need to take a nice easy walk in the jungle.
In The Lost Expedition, you are trying to traverse of a number of land cards, number depends on difficulty, while keeping your guides alive and not being killed by a venomous spider or fall into a ravine. Your travel is split into two phases, morning and evening. Each player is given a handful of cards, in depends on number of players, but generally four. During the morning phase, you go around playing cards from your hands and placing these cards in numerical order. While the game is cooperative, you can’t talk about the cards you have in your hand, you can however, talk about the cards you are traveling on during the day. This allows for some strategy and planning but doesn’t let a single player drive the game. Then, as a group, you discuss your options and work your way down the path of cards played. You do the same thing in the evening, but instead of the cards being played in numerical order, you traverse them in the order that they are laid down.
These cards are the way that you win the game. However, you always are trying to balance the resources on the cards, so that you don’t use up the health on your guides. When a guide dies, they are gone, and when all of the guides die, you lose the game. The cards give you a few different resources, like shelter, bullets, food, directions, and jungle knowledge, as well as advance you. But these cards are generally a lot worse than they are good. Most of the time you are spending a resource that you want to keep for later in the days travels, but it’s better to do that then to spend the health and exert a guide. But it could be more than that, some of the cards give you an option to just kill off a guide, maybe to advance on the track to the lost city of Z.
The cards have some other interesting mechanics as well. They might add random cards to the end of the half days travel, but they might also remove a card, allow you to reorder a couple of cards, or even skip over a card. But will they be in the right spot that you need them? Or maybe you end up having to add two cards to the line because you need the good affect the card offers, or because it isn’t optional.
That’s the other fun mechanic in the game. There are three different sets of instructions on the cards. The yellow boxes are always required (with one exception, but for the swap ability, it is never required to be done). There are red boxes on cards, and whenever there are red boxes, there are multiple red boxes. These you pick one to do and you don’t do the others. Which is good, because if you had to do all of them you would die. Finally, there are the blue boxes. Blue boxes are completely optional, so you have to determine if you spend a resource, is it worth it for what you’ll likely be getting back from a blue box?
Finally about the game itself. It is a fun game to look at. The art style on the cards is reminiscent of the Tintin comics and has an older feel to it. The components have also been done really well in this game. Which is nice, because beyond the cards, there isn’t much to this game. A few cardboard pieces to keep track of resources, the bullets, health, and food and a couple of meeples to mark your progress on the daily trekking and your progress in the game.
So, is this a good game or not?
The Lost Expedition is a fairly simple game with nice mechanics behind it. Easy mode for this game is actually quite easy, so I don’t recommend it on easy besides for learning the game. While the concepts are tricky, the game has a nice light weight puzzle like aspect to it. It also allows each person to have to puzzle everything out themselves, there can’t be an alpha gamer running the show for everyone. That is really nice as well, because that can ruin the cooperative experience of some games. And a final thing that I like about the game is the speed that the game plays. Because the rules are light and simple, it’s quick for people to pick up, and while you do have some choices to make in the game, generally you have a good idea of what you are going to do, and there isn’t much downtime between playing cards. Then working your way through the days travels is also a group puzzle activity.
Overall, I think this a good game, and very good game for the mixed level of gamers. It allows, during the travel phase, a chance for the more logic focused players to really be able to puzzle out how to get through the whole track without spending resources too poorly. But at the same time, the playing the cards and the concepts of the game are simple enough that people can pick up quickly. The artwork is also huge in this game, it can also pull people in a whole lot more that might not be big gamers.
Overall Grade: B+
Gamer Grade: C+
Casual Grade: A
Yes, this is a four way showdown between the heavy hitters that I’ve played of the Lovecraftian world. Now, there are lot more Lovecraftian/elder god games out there, including Eldritch Horror that could have joined the list. In fact Eldritch Horror would have made a […]
Now, I didn’t play this one, but it was played in our games and was our first mercenary to retire. The Scoundrel is a rogue type of character that moves fast, hits for a good amount of damage and can get extra damage if the conditions are right.
The Scoundrel, like the Tinkerer (and I didn’t mention this in the Tinkerer review), had a lower number of hit points than some of the other characters. Where as the Tinkerer has 12 cards to play around with, the Scoundrel had considerably less with nine cards. This gives it a different feel in a game where your cards are generally what determine if you make it to the end of a scenario or not. Whereas the Tinkerer would end up with a lot of it’s cards in the trash, the Scoundrel’s cards didn’t give out as many experience points, and didn’t get trashed all that often. Those that did get trashed, our player never really had those in his deck with the exception cards that he could use without the card ending up in the trash.
One of the other differences that I saw was that the Scoundrel also had the disadvantage of being in the mix always. So with fewer cards and less health than some, they had to do other things to stay alive. As they got to higher levels, they started to get cards that would let them go invisible, but adding gear quickly was key for the Scoundrel. There other advantage was the amount of damage that they could do, and the speed that they could go at. The other two characters had basically a similar speed, but the Scoundrel had several single digit cards that generally allowed them to go ahead of the bad guys. Two things came form this, they were able to potentially kill a threat that would do damage to them, or it would allow them to hit the person they were next to and then run away.
A cool thing about the Scoundrel was how their damage would increase depending on the situation. There was at least one card that damage would go up for the Scoundrel if the enemy was next to an ally, so it would go from a base 3 damage to a base 5 damage. Then, if the enemy was next to none of it’s allies next to it, it would be an additional 2 damage added to the attack, so the base damage would be 7. Now, it sucked if the base damage was 7 and you got the damage cancelled, but because of how you can build the Scoundrel’s modifier deck, there was almost no chance of that happening or chance of pulling a negative card. While the Scoundrel was in place, I definitely left the Tinkerer more as a healing option versus the damage option it became later, because the Scoundrel was so good at fast damage.
We didn’t end up seeing some of the higher levels for the Scoundrel as they were the first character we had to get retired. I would assume that those cards would have continued to enforce the trend of acting fast and doing extra damage in various situations. I should also point out that the Scoundrel, as compared to some of the other characters we’ve opened, does not have a ton of area attacks or ranged attacks. It’s an up close and personal fighter who deals their damage that way.
I think one of the things that can be the most fun with the Scoundrel is the speed. If I were to go and play the Scoundrel, that would be why. You get to set the battlefield, you get to hit for a lot of damage and determine who attacks who, because you go before everyone else. The more straight forward nature, seemingly, of the Scoundrel would also make it strong for a player who might not be ready to tackle a character with more moving parts. It’s also a good one for a person who plays more video games than they do board games and might need more time to learn a character. They are going to understand what a Scoundrel is doing if they’ve played rogue characters before.
Have you had a chance to play the Scoundrel, if so how did you like it? Do you generally like to play rogue type characters?
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