Now, last time it was basically games that only played two players. With three players, it isn’t often that you find a game that just plays three players. Most of the time games say 2-4 or 2-5 players, because that sells a whole lot better […]
Tag: Dead of Winter
Auction: Pretty straight forward concept in gaming, there’s some part of the game that you have to bid on to get. It could be something like turn order, which is my choice, or it could be the majority of the game where you are trying to bid on certain items to collect sets so you have points at the end of the game.
This game is a lot of fun because it has a mancala aspect to it and a full salad’s worth of points (point salad is a term meaning that you can score victory points in a ton of different ways). However, Five Tribes uses auctioning to determine turn order. It’s interesting, because sometimes you’ll want to bid high because there is a very good move, but other times there isn’t, but you end up having to spend a little money just because of how the previous turn order went.
Press Your Luck: Basic idea for these games is that you are seeing how far you can get into the game, trying for more and better points, or to be able to do more damage or something like that. I had a couple of options where it was about combat, King of Tokyo almost made the list this time. Clank! In! Space! is more of a deck building game, but there is an aspect of press your luck as you want to get the treasures that are worth the most. Press your luck is a great way to add tension into a game.
Dead of Winter
That’s my choice, there are a couple press your luck elements to this game, and while it’s a beast of a game to get to the table, it’s one that I like quite well. The first press your luck is one that you absolutely must do, and that’s move. You’re pressing your luck determining how many of your characters you move though, and once you’re out, if you move them the next turn, because you’re rolling a die that just might kill them or at least injure them. There is also press your luck in looking for items. You can make noise, and then at the end of the round, you have to roll dice to see if the noise attracted zombies. Normally you’ll have left, but maybe you just pressed your luck a little bit, and now you’re hoping that the roll isn’t the exact wrong one.
Pick Up And Deliver: Not a genre that I love in games, because they can be a bit straight forward, pick up and deliver is basically what it sounds like. You are looking or going and getting something and taking it to another spot. You’re trying to do that in the most efficient way possible. I prefer the ones where at least part of, if not more of the game is finding the items that need to be delivered.
My choice here is one that is much more about the searching. You’re trying to stay hydrated long enough that you can clear out piles of sand and put back together a crazy ancient flying machine after your own plane crashed in the desert. The game is a strong cooperative game that everyone can think through and that you never have quite enough options to complete everything you want to do. You have to first find the row and column for the item, go get the item, and then once all of them have been collected, bring them all to a central location so that you can build the ship and take off. It’s probably one of the easier pick up and deliver games, but a fun one, and not too easy.
Memory: And now I’m not just going to put down the game memory is used in a lot of games as you try and remember which portal is the active one, what cards were in a hand that is now being looked at by someone else. It is also used in who-done-it games. I don’t know that it’s always used to be the best effect, but I do have an interesting choice for it that I really like.
In Hanabi, you have a hand of cards, but the twist is that you can’t see your hand of cards. Everyone else can see their hand of cards though and you are trying to place cards down in piles of color going from one to five. The trick is that there are more cards with a one on them but only one card with a five on it, so you certainly don’t want to discard those. So you have to give people clues, such as, these cards are blue or these cards are twos, but you have to do that with every blue card or every two that they have in their hand. Then they have to remember which card is which, which they can do by sorting, but you still need to remember what you have. You’re trying to get five of those stacks completed, or as close as possible without making too many mistakes and before you run out of cards.
Time Tracks: Now, you are probably wondering what a time track game is, some of the games that board game geek has on their list I’d call victory point tracks, but basically it’s where you are playing the game for a specific amount of in game time either to a victory point level or until time runs out.
This game is one of the most straight forward time track games out there, because you are sent into the scenario for a specific amount of time. Every time you move, you use up more of the time. Every time you want to interact with something, you spend more of the time. It would work better if Bob actually told you what you were going to be doing in the past, but he really sucks at his job (Bob is basically your handler for sends you out on missions). But the game is a ton of fun, and you feel the pressure from the time track, because you don’t know how many of the places you need to visit and how many might just be useful to visit, and you can’t do everything because you’re up against the clock.
I’ll do some more actual list, action points and cooperative are the big two that are left for me to make lists off of that I’ve played a lot of those games. Do any of these mechanics really interest you? Do you have a preferred game for one of there mechanics?
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This one is a bit out there in some ways. I would say that there has been attempts at unique powers for a while and some solid successes, but there was a time where the difference between who you were and who I was in the game was that I was the thimble and you were in the iron in Monopoly.
For a lot of people, that’s what it is still in gaming. Even if they’ve progressed away from Monopoly and into games like Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan, and Carcassonne, the difference between you and me is that I’m blue and you’re red. Otherwise everything we do is the same. And that’s a-okay in a ton of a games. There isn’t a need for your character to be slightly different than mine, but in some games, it makes the game a whole lot better.
Back in 1949, there was an attempt to make “unique” characters when Clue came out. Professor Plum, Mrs. White, Mr. Green, and the rest of the cast allowed you to pick your favorite based off of more than just color of the pawn you were using. Now, they gave you some art, but it really wasn’t a unique character at that point. You were really just picking a color still. But in some ways that was the start of having unique characters. It gave some foundation that could be built off off later.
Now, we see two prominent ways that unique characters are done in board games. There are more ways beyond that, but there are two major ways. The first is the special power route. Your character has something specific they can do that no one else can. The other way is the asymmetric route. Definitely the harder of the two to pull off, because what you do in the game is always different than what I do in the game.
The first type, is the special power or action that only you can take. A great example of this is Pandemic. In this game you have a base set of actions, treat disease, move, trade cards, etc. that everyone in the game can do. But each character has their own special action that they can take or improvement upon one of the other actions. For example, all characters can treat a disease by taking a cube off of the city they are in, but the medic can take all of the disease cubes off of the city they are in. The dispatcher, on the other hand, can move people on their turn, versus just having to move yourself. The rules still apply the same way for how they can move other people’s pawns.
You can start to see from Pandemic how having unique powers can make the game different each time in different ways. In fact, unique powers are a really good way to keep a game replay-able over a long period of time.
There are games that keep the base action for you, but allow either for changing your unique power or setting up your own unique powers. Two examples jump into my head quickly. The first being Smallworld. Since the races and powers are randomly shuffled, you might end up with flying wizards one time, and wealthy wizards another time. In this case, the game, like in Pandemic, dictates what your unique power is.
There are games, however, that allow you to determine how unique you want your character to be. This is the other example, Blood Rage (also Seafall does this), where you can spend action points that upgrade your clan. A pair of warriors can be made to be worth more in battle for you, or you can gain points when your warriors die in battle and go to Valhalla. Maybe your clan leader is now worth more points, or you can move your ship in a certain way. Maybe you have access to monsters now. Based on how you draft cards, you can shape your own player board to be unique. This type of game is interesting because at the start of the game, your clan is the same as everyone else’s clans. But as the game progresses, the clans play more and more differently depending on your cards, and which ones you choose to use. In Seafall, had the game been good, it was similar where you started out with the same base at the start of the first game, but you could buy upgrades that left from game to game, but you could also put in permanent upgrades as well, so the more you played the more unique you were.
Now, that has been the simpler type of player powers to talk about. The more difficult is the asymmetric player powers. The reason that this is tougher is because even if there is the same base to the game, everyone plays with that differently.
A great example of this is Root. In Root everyone has some pretty similar actions, but how they go about doing all of them is completely different. While you all might be moving troops and trying to control areas, the cats, to gain more troops have to build up various buildings, where as the birds are trying to create an order or cards that they play. The woodland creatures are just trying to get onto the board by using cards in yet another way, and the Vagabond is doing something else different with their actions.
This type of game is very interesting, and Cry Havoc is another example. There is one fairly big downside to a completely asymmetrical game. The time spent teaching the game the first time you play it is pretty to extremely high. In Root, for example, you have to explain a fair amount about each character, even though some of the base actions might be the same. In Vast, this problem is made even larger by the base actions being a greater variety. Cry Havoc is probably the easiest of them to teach, because the base actions for everyone are the same, just the buildings, objectives, and special powers mean that how you play the game as each faction is different.
You can see how this has all moved on from Clue where you had a name for your character, but that was about it that made you unique from just being a different colored pawn.
There are a few more ways that games try and add differences. The other most common, though what you can do might not change, is the hidden traitor role in a game like One Night Ultimate Werewolf or Resistance. These games, what everyone does is basically the same, some expansions provide more variability to the game, but in the base, you can hide your actions because you are doing the same thing as everyone else.
This has then been expanded upon with games like Dead of Winter and Shadows Over Camelot. Shadows Over Camelot gives the bad guy more that they can do, if there is even a traitor in the game. In Dead of Winter, each player has a hidden objective. So while you have the exact same set of powers, you are trying for a slightly unique state of the game when it ends, mainly what you have in your hand at the end of the game. For me, these games can be a bit more hit or miss, because depending on if there is a traitor or not, it can greatly hinge the game on various things, and it can at times force you to look like the traitor to actually win the game. If there was some balancing mechanic for it, it would make the game better, but potential hidden traitor and hidden objectives is very hard to pull off well in a game.
That’s a lot variable player powers and the range that can run. Personally, I’d be interested in seeing a reworking of Clue so that Professor Plum can do something different and better than Colonel Mustard, but that’s already been done in some of those investigation games, like Fury of Dracula.
What are some of your favorite variable player power games? Are there some where certain combinations are too broken to play with so you’ve banned them at your table?
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THIS IS HALLOWEEN! With possibly my favorite holiday coming up, probably Christmas then Halloween, I thought it would be a fun to toss out some of my favorite or good ideas for scary books, board games, movies, anime, or anything else. They are going to […]