Tag: TableTopTakes

TableTopTakes: Photosynthesis

TableTopTakes: Photosynthesis

A week ago, I got a new to me game to the table. This game was talked well about by the main three on The Dice Tower and it looks amazing on the board. Photosynthesis walks a line between thematic and completely abstract in an […]

TableTopTakes: Just One

TableTopTakes: Just One

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten a new board game to the table, it’s mainly been playing a ton of Gloomhaven, which is awesome as always, but I’ve been wanting to get new games to the table. So this Saturday we had a board […]

TableTopTakes: Blossoms

TableTopTakes: Blossoms

Another two player game, the one that I mentioned in the Hanamikoji article. This one is a much simpler game, but still a very fast two player game with a cute table presence.

Image Source: Rebel

In Blossoms you are trying to grow and cut the best group of flowers. There are four flower pots and six different types of flowers. You start your turn always by growing a flower, drawing a card and flipping it and adding it to a pot if you can. Otherwise you bust and the turn passes. Then you can push your luck and grow some more. You also have two cards in your hand that you can use to grow the flowers as well, if they match the right type. Finally, you can always use a special ability to reserve a flower and then also give yourself some ability. If you ever cause a flower to grow over seven cards tall, it breaks and your turn ends. If you decide to cut a flower, or if you ever try and grow a flower and it isn’t one of the four types out, your turn ends. You do that going through the stack of flower cards, and whoever scores the most points, based off of the number of flowers collected and how large they are wins.

This game is very straight forward. You are basically pushing your luck, deciding how many times you want to grow the flowers and hoping not to bust before you can cut a flower. However, sometimes the first flower you draw is the one that is going to bust you and end your turn before it even gets started. There is one of the special actions that can prevent you from busting once, but with that, you can’t do that before the first flip, which has to be the first thing you do on your turn. That too me isn’t too mechanically sound, but it does balance itself out somewhat over multiple games, if you decide to play that way.

Image Source: Board Game Geek – gorkyx

The special actions are where the real decision making comes in. It helps you in two different ways, it might allow you not to bust, look at the top 3 flower cards in the deck and arrange them, draw another card, or play a flower from your hand onto a pile that it doesn’t belong on. But it also means that until your next turn when the token comes off the other player can’t cut down that flower. So you can possibly have two well grown flowers and protect one of them for a future turn, though, your first grow might bust that time. It is a bit of a bummer though that there aren’t more pots, which have the special actions on them, than the four that come with the game. They could have easily done six or eight pots total and ended up with a game that has more variety and strategy, because the strategy is going to generally stay the same between games because the special powers don’t change.

There’s another downside downside, that is basically you’re only real decision. Otherwise you are just pushing your luck, and if you push too far, you get nothing. Or, it might be that you and the person you are playing against do the mandatory grow action and bust several times in a row so you’re just burning through cards and nothing is happening in the game. I do think with the scoring though, it does encourage you to push your luck, because a stack of two flowers is worth a single point, but a stack of six flowers being cut at once is worth fifteen points. That helps create a bit of tension in a game that is otherwise pretty straightforward and just pretty to look at on the table.

Overall, this is a decent game. It doesn’t offer much tension or a ton of difficult decisions. It does look really nice on the table, and the card board pots and the plant cards are really well done. I like the nice big card size as well. They say that you can play without the special powers to make the game simpler, but it’s already quite simple, so I wouldn’t do that. It also is easy to teach, which means that you can play it with non-gamers easier than some other games as well.

Overall Grade: C+
Gamer Grade: D
Casual Grade: B

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TableTopTakes: Hanamikoji

TableTopTakes: Hanamikoji

Back with another hot take on a game that’s been out for a little bit. This one is different though as I’ve been reviewing bigger games recently, and this is a small two player game. In Hanamikoji, you are trying to win the favor of […]

TableTopTakes: Legacy of Dragonholt

TableTopTakes: Legacy of Dragonholt

This is a game that I’ve talked about some in previous articles, but I wanted to do a proper TableTopTakes review of it. Legacy of Dragonholt is a combination of an RPG and choose your own adventure book. However, it does feel different from something […]

TableTopTakes: Cry Havoc

TableTopTakes: Cry Havoc

What, another TableTopTake in such rapid succession? How does that even happen? It happens when Kristen has people over to watch a miniseries, so I get together with some people have a board gaming day from 2:30 until 11. We got to get two new games to the table, Root and Cry Havoc as well as a couple of other games, The Lost Expedition and Sagrada. So we get to have two TableTopTake posts in back to back days!

Image Source: Portal Games

Unintentionally, both new games were asymmetrical games where the different factions/races/groups have different ways to score points. In Cry Havoc it’s a little bit different through as you’re fighting on a planet over crystals. We played at the full player count, so one person played the humans, one played the machines, I played the pilgrims, and one player native creatures, the Trogs. You are battling, producing crystals, building up technology, and recruiting troops.

Cry Havoc is part area control game, but it’s really more of a crystal control game. Depending on what races are played, you might not worry as much about controlling areas, but it is something that players have to be concerned about. It also has a bit of deck building aspect to the game as you add cards into your deck that allow you to do the actions of building, recruiting, and moving your figures around the board.

Besides the different races, which I’ll talk about some more soon, one of the interesting thing is combat in this game. In most games with area control you’re looking at a few different standard ways of doing combat. It could be rolling a bunch of dice based off of what troops you have, it could be rolling dice and playing some cards, it could be simple numbers and playing some cards. Cry Havoc does it a little bit differently. It splits up combat into three different parts.You have control of the territory, capturing of troops, and killing off of troops and you split up your combatants over all three areas. In the top part, controlling the territory, the person who has the most troops there wins control of the territory. Whomever has the most on the second part, capturing enemy troops, will capture a troop, this gives a point each turn. Finally, any troops who are put on the bottom section, killing off enemy troops, then kill off a troop. You go from top to bottom figuring out what happens, so even if in the third part someone kills off a person’s majority in troops, that person still maintains majority. However, each player gets a chance to play combat cards which may allow them to change troops, or might change the order that things are figured out in. It’s a very unique combat system and I enjoyed it, though, I was playing the Pilgrims and they aren’t a combat heavy race to play.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

Let’s talk a little bit about the different races:

Humans are a fairly straight forward race to play. They are primarily about controlling as many territories as possible and they can take over territories without actually moving into them, as long as they are empty. They have, also, a number of buildings that can help them control an area of combat by adding the equivalent of extra troops to some area of combat.

The Machines are focused on killing things. Their buildings are known as Shred Drones and Orbital Strikes, the Shred Drone can take out a troop in a neighboring territory prior to combat, and the Orbital Strike can remove someone from anywhere on the board. They want to soften up spots for battle and then walk in and take over without much trouble. Then they can leave bunkers behind to help them defend areas after they’ve moved on to their next conquest.

The Pilgrims are not a combat focused race. These four armed aliens really just want the crystals. I could have won with them, but I forgot to use their special ability one round. But they want to find their own corner of the map, hunker down, produce crystals and score points often with a lot of crystals. They are the only ones who can store crystals instead of just scoring for where they are on the planet, and that’s what I forgot to do. But along with producing crystals, they really need to build a lot, because that’s how they produce the crystals both into their own pool and onto their locations.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

Finally, the Trogs are only a playable race if you are playing four players, otherwise, while they are always on the board, they are the native inhabitants of the planet and there are a lot of them. However, they are always going to be spread out because there are Trog nests all over the planet that you have to deal with. The fact that they are native to the planet means that they can move around the planet easier, but it also means that they can get spread out on a lot of fronts if they aren’t careful.

I enjoyed this game a lot. It has a nice presence on the table, the game play is pretty straight forward, so once you are into the game, you can just move along quickly and each round is made up of three actions, but you go around taking those actions one at a time, so peoples turns don’t really bog down. However, the rule book, while pretty well written, does run into some issues. The game is made by Portal Games which is out of Poland, and their rule books are not known for being the best translations into English. Most of the stuff for this game makes sense and is laid out well, and they do have examples which is nice, but the explanation for the end of game isn’t great. If you’re looking to learn, I’d check out Rodney Smith from Watch it Played on Youtube and either watch him play the game with his son or watch his how to play video for it just for clarification before you play the game the first time.

Overall this is a good game. It’s pretty straight forward, and all the races seemed to play differently. The combat mechanisms aren’t going to be for everyone, but they are unique and I like them for that reason. This is a game that works well and felt very balanced in my opinion. I mean, for our game, we had the Trogs win, but they one by two points, and then two of us were tied for second, the Machines were lagging behind, but their minis looked the coolest on the board.

Overall Grade: A-
Gamer Grade: B+
Casual Grade: B

Have you played Cry Havoc before? What are your thoughts on it if you have?


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TableTopTakes: Root

TableTopTakes: Root

It’s a peaceful life in the forest, the birds are ruling up in the trees, the woodland creatures are frolicking along the forest floor, and the raccoon is finding shiny things to play with. Then the Marquise de Cats and all of his cats come […]

TableTopTakes: Xenoshyft: Onslaught

TableTopTakes: Xenoshyft: Onslaught

“There’s so much on the planet, all this money to be made.” “What about the giant bugs?” “Hire some good security for the mines.” “And the scary looking brain scorpions?” “More security.” “And the hydras?” “Alright, mechanical armored security.” That’s how I imagine it went […]

TableTopTakes: Fae

TableTopTakes: Fae

A couple months ago I had a chance to play the game Fae where you’re playing a fae creatures who are trying to get the most druids matching their color to complete successful rituals. It’s a fun pretty light weight game in terms of your actions, but has a fair amount of strategy to it, and has hidden scoring that makes it an interesting game.

Image Source: Z-Man Games

This is a very pretty game as you try and get rituals started. The board has a ton of colors on it and while that can make things look busy on the board some times, in this case it helps keep things clear. There are also a lot of druid figures in the game that work very nicely in the game. Oddly enough, the fae creature artwork might be the best artwork of the game, but that artwork is hidden for the game because you don’t want people to know what color you want to get points.

There are a few interesting mechanics in this game. The first being the interaction of the hidden roles with scoring in the game. In a lot of games with hidden roles you score based off of that role and you’re trying to make it not that obvious who you are going for, and because the scoring happens for every color in a ritual. If you think that someone might be a certain color you could try and cut them out of rituals, and that guessing aspect is part of the game. But you’re also trying to hand out points evenly enough that people can’t guess which color you are. Also, if you can cause rituals to happen, you get points for kicking off the ritual.

Along with that part of the game, the action that you can take on your turn is interesting. All you do on your turn is move a druid from one location to another location until a group of druids is separated from the rest of the druids, and that’s when a ritual happens. However, things can go poorly in the ritual for the druids depending on certain conditions. If every color is present for the ritual you remove one druid of each color, so you have to think about that, but the more druids in a ritual, the more potential points that you can get. It’s a balancing act of giving out as many points as possible, creating the best rituals for your color, and trying to keep your opponents from scoring points on a good ritual.

Image Source: Z-Man Games

 

Beyond that, with rituals, you have to think about where you are completing your ritual. There are certain bonus cards for rituals that you go through in order that adds points into the ritual. So you can add additional points to the ritual itself if it’s on the favored terrain, or bad things will happen if it’s on the cursed terrain for the various point cards. Those cards also give you more points at the end of the game, so you are trying to cause rituals to get a number of them, but you don’t want to cause rituals to happen that could potentially be bad for you.

For me, this game hits a nice balance of strategy and randomness. Because you, especially at the start of the game, don’t have any idea what color people might have, you can start out rushing for completing rituals to get the point cards, but you can also accidentally be setting someone up with that. And as you get further into the game, the turns take longer as your thinking through what might be happening and how to maximize your remaining points so that you end up ahead. The game has a good balance of pushing your color ahead while also causing you to give points to other colors at the same time.

Image Source: Z-Man Games

Overall, I think this is a very well done game and one that is quite pretty to look at. The only thing that I very odd about the look is that the board wraps, and I don’t mean that the board goes the pacman run from one side to the other, I mean that the paper on the cardboard on two sides doesn’t have a border to show the edge of the board, but instead wraps around the edge of the board. It made me feel like it was missing another board or so. Beyond that, though, the game has a nice blend of strategy and deduction to it. If you can figure out what colors other people might have, then it becomes purely strategy, but really, you’re going to have a best educated guess. When I played it, both the other person and I thought each other was the same color so that adds to the fun of the game, trying to guess. I also like this game because there aren’t that many rules and while it could be an abstract game, the theme doesn’t add much to the game play, but adds to the look of the game. This game ends up being one that is easy to sit down and learn or easy to pick up and teach to people who might not be heavy into board gaming.

Overall Grade: B+
Gamer Grade: B
Casual Grade: B+


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PS. I should mention that this is a re implementation of Clans. Basically the same game.

TableTopTakes: Charterstone

TableTopTakes: Charterstone

This has been a game that I’ve been playing for a few months now with the group of people who joined me for Risk: Legacy and another game. We’ve been looking around for more session based games that build off of each other, and Charterstone, […]