So, recently, as I’ve been posting out, I’ve finished a playthrough of Pandemic Legacy Season 1 solo on Youtube. You can find that on Youtube at Malts and Meeples or on the Nerdologists. But, I wanted to go back to this game and write an […]
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 game night and since a FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store) was doing a video game giveaway, where I get the games for Cartridge Capers from, and a sale, I went in and picked up Just One.
I actually went in there looking for a roll and write game that would accommodate a large number of players. But they didn’t have any, and I saw Just One on the shelf. It’s a game that I’ve been interested in, because it’s a cooperative party game. We got it to the table two times for that game night, so we clearly liked it.
Just One, while being a party game, does a few things differently. It follows the pretty normal trope for party games where there is a word and players are trying to guess the word. However, in this game, the person who is it picks a number, one to five, and on their card that is the word that they are trying to guess. The other players can see the word and must write down one word clues on their boards. But if any of those one word clues are duplicates, the person guessing can’t see that clue. For example, we had the word “Karate”. Two people wrote down the word “Kid” and the other two people playing wrote down “Discipline” and “Style”. We got lucky on that one, and the person guessed “Karate” but was definitely a tricky one when getting words eliminated.
The big reason for picking this game up was because we needed more games that can go to higher player counts. Technically the game is 3 to 7 players, because that’s how many player boards there are, but I think you could go higher than that. You’re going to have more clues that can’t be shown at a higher player count, so I don’t think that it should make it too much easier. While I like games like Scattergories, Sushi Go!, Wits & Wagers, Tsuro, and Stipulations, there is only so many times that you can play them. Basically, at times, how the games work, just kinds of runs their course, so it’s nice to add in some more starter games for a night to the collection.
So clearly I like this game. There are a couple of reasons that I like this game. The first being that it is cooperative. It’s rare to find a cooperative party game like Just One. Most party games are a race to points based off of guessing or team based. That’s fine, but it’s nice to have a game that you feel the tension for, but isn’t cut throat or won’t end up with one person falling so far behind, like you can in most other party games.
I also like it because while it is a word guessing game, it makes it simple. Something like Balderdash, you are writing definitions to words, or what Acronyms mean, you have to think more about it. In Stipulations, which I love, you have to write a complete Stipulation and come up with that weird, funny, or good stipulation by yourself. Here, it’s simpler, because you’re coming up with just a single word. Sure you have to think about how clever you want to go, or try and guess what one word other people might be writing down, but it’s still only a single word.
I think where this game will really shine is that kicking off a board game night or with people who don’t like to play games as much. This is the sort of party game that most everyone is going to be able to understand and play. There is a bit of reading, and there are a few words on the cards that are tricky. So I would say that is one downside to the game, there are going to be some words on cards that people don’t know. And I think, I’d preface the game by saying, if someone picks a word that someone doesn’t know, and this is by blind luck, the person picking the number can be asked to pick again.
Overall, definitely a fun game. Definitely a game that will go into that party game rotation. Was one of the highlights of gaming that night, though I did play another new game that was an interesting twist on push your luck dice games, what game was that, you’ll have to see. Just One is a game that seems like it should work in most any group, and I’d definitely recommend going and finding it online or at your FLGS.
Overall Grade: B+
Gamer Grade: C
Casual Grade: A
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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 like Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger as in that game you just have the choose your own adventure, you don’t have a separate character, everyone just plays as a single investigator. You do the RPG like thing of creating a character before you start playing Legacy of Dragonholt.
Let’s talk about character creation first. It’s a very simple and fast process compared to character creation for something like Dungeons and Dragons. In here you are still working off of the normal selection process of race and class, but you aren’t rolling up stats and everyone doesn’t have all the skills. In some ways, the best way to compare skill selection is in D&D classes you have a certain number of skills you can pick from a list of skills to be proficient at. You do the same thing based on your class and race in Legacy of Dragonholt, but you don’t get to have all the other skills that you can try to do. If you are “proficient” at the skill, you can use it, if you aren’t, you can’t use the skill. This means you have to diversify more across the group, but you generally will want to have a few of the more common skills and a true fighting skill. While this does make character creation a whole lot faster, because of how turn ordering works in the game, and because you can’t just try to do things, you’ll probably end up missing out on some story at times that you might have liked to get into.
So, how is the other big part of the game, the choose your own adventure side? To tie it back into the skills, I do really like the ability to use skills to open up story that feels more specific to your character. So that is a fun part of the story and making choices. When you have that skill ability though, you almost always feel like you should be doing that part of the story than one of the more mundane options. The writing isn’t extremely consistent on tone as well. I feel like they shy away from anything that would make it feel mature, but then sometimes you get situations where you’re fighting someone and you get a pretty detailed description of the damage you have caused, but then they try and stay away from saying that the person you were fighting died. It’s just an inconsistent blend in something that feels like it’s pretty often dumbed down and targeted to a young audience. I don’t think this is bad, but it needs to be feel more consistent and actually nail down what it wants to be. That said, the story is most definitely fun. I will say that I haven’t played through the whole story yet, but from what I’ve heard, the inconsistency does stay. I’m also not sure how you get around that feeling without either targeting only the younger or older audiences.
So, does this work as a game? I think it does, though it might be as much of a story activity as a game. It kind of walks that line where it doesn’t have extremely tough choices that you have to make, it’s always just choosing at a story point. But it is also clearly not just an RPG or clearly a board game. It certainly has been fun playing, and even though I’ve only played through the first chapter twice, once by myself and once with Kristen, it was fun and different enough each time. There were no extremely different new paths that I came across, but there were a few new things that happened in it that told a slightly different story than I’d play through before.
There’s also the question if this is something you can come back to again and again once you’ve played it? If you’re a completionist and must go down every path, I guess there is a lot of replayability, but having played through the first scenario twice now, I don’t feel like I’m going to want to come back to it any time soon, and the chunk of time between plays helped. It is probably something that I could come back to eventually and have a few story points forgotten, but as it’s not an extremely complex story, you’re going to generally know what happens once you’ve played it before. I don’t know if Fantasy Flight has plans to add in expansions, but that would certainly be a way to continue the game. Bring in new adventures that another adventuring party could face in a stand alone expansion. I hope, in some ways, that it happens as I could see playing this game as a family activity or an introduction to RPG’s.
Overall, it’s a fun time. If you’re looking for a grand and epic game, you aren’t going to love it, if you’re looking for amazing writing, you’re going to be disappointed. But if you go into the game just looking to have a fun time with it, it can certainly meet those expectation. And as an introduction to RPG’s, I think it works quite well. Probably the next step if someone likes the House of Danger game.
Overall Grade: B-
Gamer Grade: D
Casual Grade: B
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“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?”
“And the hydras?”
“Alright, mechanical armored security.”
That’s how I imagine it went as they set off for this unknown planet. And I don’t know how anything could go wrong as you fend off wave after wave of monsters as they throw themselves against your base. Xenoshyft: Onslaught is a cooperative deck building game where players upgrade troops and equipment while trying to keep the base working through nine rounds of creatures attacking. The feel of this game is somewhere between Alien and Starship Troopers. Definitely not as silly as Starship Troopers, but you are still fighting off waves of bugs for at least part of it.
Xenoshyft works really well as a deck builder as compared to something like Dominion, it has more game to it and feels much more thematically involved. As compared to another heavier deck builder, it doesn’t run into the situation of Marvel Legendary where you can just get stuck at times with the combinations and with money. The fact that each hand you get to add in a dollar for the first wave, three for the second, and six for the third means that you always can make a purchase. That along with being able to use the wave one troops to discount future troops makes the game scale a whole lot better.
And that’s a good thing, because this is a very tough game. Even without getting the wave bosses at opportune times, such as early in the wave, this game is really tough to beat. For each player the base gets an extra 15 hit points, but possible, early in the game, you can get down to half the points before you’ve gotten into wave two. You can often right the ship and push through wave two, but then wave three hits and now you’re dealing with a whole new level of creature. Maybe we should have just stayed on earth, but there was so much money to be made.
Another fun thing in this game is that you can help other people when they might not be getting what they need. Some of them are using abilities of your troops to help them fight the creatures. However, when you play a troop, weapon, or gear that the troop wears on the other players side of the defense, that card then goes into their deck for good. It makes for an interesting tool, because you want to empty your hand as much as possible each turn so helping other people can do that. I also like it because with the cooperative nature of the game, if one person wasn’t drawing well, it could come down to their side of the base that caused you to lose, but with trading weaponry, troops, and helping the other players out, it’s definitely more of a team game.
Finally, one of the biggest unique things is the idea of the combat lanes. When I say each side of the base (or mine), I mean that each player has a small player board where they can have four troops. These troops can then be outfitted with armor and weaponry. Then four enemies are dealt onto another player board, face down, and you face off against them one at a time. The monster attacking the first troop in your player board, figuring out damage, and then repeating as need be until that monster is killed or until the monster has killed all of your troops. Then, if you have no troops left, any monsters left end up doing damage to the base. But having these unknown monsters means that you have to guess when you might want a stronger troop, because you might not want them right at the front. Or you have to decide, do you want to use an item to help you troop stay alive longer or do you need to save that because a worse monster is coming?
Overall, this is a very fun game. I have only one once, and that was because we cheated slightly in our advantage. The other four times I’ve played, we’ve always made it to the third wave of creatures, there are three difficulty levels/waves, and in each wave, you face off against them three times. But it’s a game that you want to reset and play right away, and in some ways, it feels better to make it further, and it’s less about winning the game, because it might be a while until I can win the game again. Components of this game are okay, the cards are very nice, but when I called them player boards, it’s more like player cardstock, so that part of the game feels a little bit cheap. The plastic health and shield tokens also feel a little bit chintzy. If you’re a person who wants all the components to be amazing, this game might not be for you, though the game play is very good. Or if you’re someone who doesn’t like cooperative games where you lose more often than not, this game is definitely not for you.
Casual Grade: C+
Gamer Grade: B+
How do you get an A out of those grades? I really like this game, I’d play it whenever anyone would want to play it. However, I think that there might be a touch much going on for a more casual player, and with the grittier artwork and look of it, it might be a bit little going on for someone who thinks they are a heavy gamer and wants a lot of conflict. But for me, it’s really enjoyable.
Have you played this game before? Have you beat it before? If so, what has worked well for you in this game?
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