Tag: Ameritrash

What Type of Board Gamer Are You?

What Type of Board Gamer Are You?

Over the years, I have played a wide variety of board games and have a lot in my collection. I have pure Euro games and bit dice chucking Amerithrash games. This got me thinking about the different types of gamers that people are and which 

Back or Brick: ISS Vanguard

Back or Brick: ISS Vanguard

This is a special edition one because ISS Vanguard is a new game from Awaken Realms. This is a massive space game, and I have liked Lords of Hellas and Tainted Grail, but will I back this one? Unfortunately I can’t drop in anything more 

The Collection A to Z – Gee tHat’s a lot of Games

The Collection A to Z – Gee tHat’s a lot of Games

Yup, another double letter day with G and H. I really wanted to just do G by itself because of the great title that I have, but no such luck. So another combined letter day and tomorrow will also be a combined letter day as we blast through my collection, but don’t worry, there will be lots of games to checkout.

You can find my whole collection here.

Numbers

A’s – B’s – C’s – D’sE and F’s

G and H’s

Gloom

This is a fun little story telling card game, and one of the earlier “new” games that I picked up after watching it played on Wil Wheaton’s Table Top show. What drew me to this game was how creative and morbid they were with everything, and how a game could have such a silly objective, such as killing of your family for the fewest points possible to get the win. What keeps this on my shelf, even though I haven’t played it in a few years, is that it’s just such a fun time when you do play it. You get into the morbid absurdity of it and collectively tell such a tragic but absurd story.

Status: Played

Image Source: Cephalofair Games

Gloomhaven (Forgotten Circles Exp and Jaws of the Lion)

Gloomhaven is my favorite game of all time, so clearly I’ve played it a lot, and I’ve beaten it and the Forgotten Circles expansion, I haven’t beaten Jaws of the Lion yet. What I love about Gloomhaven is just the large, sprawling story that it tells and the very Ameritrash feel, but also the Euro game sensibilities in the combat and combat cards come through, and no dice. Now, I like dice chucking, but I’ve found that I really like that tactical nature of the game play in Gloomhaven where it is much more buttoned down than a pure dice fest. This is a massive game with a massive rule book, but not that difficult when you get into it.

Gloomhaven and expansion Status: Played
Gloomhaven Jaws of the Lion: To Be Played

Gravwell: Escape from the 9th Dimension

This is a game that I picked up in San Diego because I had a few hours to burn before seeing family and after I was out of my hotel, so of course I went to a game shop. This is one that I had seen played on Rodney Smith’s channel, Watch It Played, and that looks like it was a lot of fun. I’m glad I made the purchase as I’ve had fun with it, trying to time out things so that I can rocket forward by spending the right fuel as you try and get your spaceship to escape a black hole and get back to your own dimension. What makes this one fun is trying to read what the other players are going to be doing, you know half the cards they have, but what else might they have to power their ships, how fast will it go compared to yours will that move them closer or further from you. And I like how some fuels move you closer to the nearest object while others push you away or pull them all closer to you. It’s a clever idea that works well in a game.

Status: Played

The Grimm Masquerade

I almost missed this one, but you wouldn’t know that had I not said it. This game I like as a deduction/social deduction game. I think what works well is that it really is more deduction than anything else. In this game you are at a masquerade and you’re trying to guess what Grimm’s Fairly Tale characters everyone is. Now that should be obvious, Rumpelstiltskin and The Beast form Beauty and the Beast should be pretty obviously in why they are, but let’s say magic. What I really like about this game is the two cards you give or keep each turn. You draw one and you have the choice of giving it to someone or keeping it for yourself and they have an item on it that you might want, because if you collect enough of one, you can win, if it’s the right one for your character. The second card you do the opposite thing from the first one, so if I give it away, I have to keep the second card. But the downside is that you have a weakness and if you get enough cards of that type, you are out of the round and can’t get the rose which is worth a bunch of points. I like the push and pull of that as you have to consider, do I take something that’s just neutral for me because I know if I get another of a certain item I’ll be out? It’s just a really good and quick deduction game.

Status: Played

Hanabi

This is a weird game, in that you have a hand of cards and they don’t face you, so you can’t see your cards, but you can see everyone else’s cards. This is also a game about hold information in your head, not just for yourself but what clues other people have been given already about the cards in their hands. You’re trying to play down cards from 1 to 5 in different colors, but you are limited in how you can talk, and of course you can’t see your own cards. It’s a nice simple game, but one that has a lot going on when you really get down to it.

Status: Played

Hanamikoji

I was going to say that this probably my favorite game to play with two, but there is one that I like better, but it’s the best two player only game that I have. This game has you trying to win the favor of Geisha so that they will come to your restaurant, you do that by giving them gifts. But what works so well in this game is how you give the gifts, each player, per round, does four actions, put down two cards face down that won’t be used for gaining favor, one face down that will be used for gaining favor, giving your opponent the choice of 3 cards which they get one and you get two for gaining favor, or giving your opponent a choice between two sets of two cards for gaining favor. That’s it, and both of you can do those actions in any order, if you can figure out what your opponent might have, you can make them have some really hard choices as to what to take, but it’s always a bit of a risk. Great two player game.

Status: Played

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle

This is Harry Potter in a deck building game, as you face off against the different bad guys from the books with the characters of Harry, Hermoine, Ron, and Neville. What is really interesting about this game is that as you start you’re playing through the first book, then they add more cards and of things from the second book and you get more, and then the third, fourth, and all the way up through the 7th. It’s basically a campaign game that takes you through the whole Harry Potter series Now that does mean that the first game is pretty simple but later ones are longer and more challenging, but you can do cooler and different things than before.

Status: Played (partially)

Hats

This was one of my most anticipated games from GenCon 2019 after seeing it played by Man vs Meeple. This is an interesting game with an Alice in Wonderland theme, but really it’s a unique card game. in this game your hand of cards are cards you’re playing onto the table in the middle of the game, the cards you take off the table are the ones that you use for scoring. And scoring is fun as well, because there are more suits than there are spots at the table, and the table might have brown in two different spots, not everything will be scored, so you need to push for some colors, sometimes, and then hold one or two back so you can play it down and that color will be scored. But a card on the Mad Hatters table can be replaced if someone plays the same color or a higher number over that card, so it’s a real balancing act and puzzle, great at two very thinky, fun at four, but much more random.

Status: Played

Image Source: Board Game Geek

Hearts

Yes, I own a deck of cards. Hearts is a pretty fun trick taking card game. I don’t play it often, but I won’t say no to a game.

Status: Played

Heaven & Ale

This is a game that I talked about recently in a Point of Order post. It’s a euro game which normally isn’t my cup of tea, or pint of beer in this case. However, because of the beer theme, and a reviewer who I like their reviews and generally like their taste said it was one of their top games, and because it was deeply discounted for Black Friday, I grabbed it. This is a game that you can basically call a puzzle as you are putting out tiles, getting resources, trying to get the most victory points, I’m interested to try it when I can play with people in person again.

Status: To Be Played

Heroes of Terrinoth

There are some YouTube channels that you’ll see often on my posts, Rolling Solo is one of them. He highlighted this game a while back, and when I spotted it used at my FLGS, All Systems Go, I decided to grab it. In this game you are playing as heroes trying to defeat scenarios, which might be searching for something, going to different places and fighting monsters, and eventually dealing with a big boss. What I thought was interesting was how you had four abilities and you’d have to reset them at times, so it isn’t just about doing the same thing over and over again. Plus, you can upgrade those abilities, and how that lets you focus your character in a few different ways, just in the scenario itself.

Status: To Be Played

The Hobbit

I like Lord of the Rings a lot, so when The Hobbit game from Fantasy Flight was on sale, I decided to pick it up. This is a really interesting game as it’s almost semi-cooperative in nature. As a group you need to deal with a series of challenge points, and you can raise your stats to do that. But not one player will be able to deal with all of the challenges, so you need everyone to have raised their stats as well. To do this you are playing cards from your hand with numbers on them, the higher the number the further you’ll move in your group of travelers. But going the furthest doesn’t always mean you’ll get the best thing, but you also might not want to always get the best thing, because if someone is lagging behind too much in their stats, it’ll make it more likely that Smaug will move forward and everyone will lose the game. It’s a clever system that I enjoy.

Status: Played

Image Source: Board Game Geek

Homebrewers

Have I mentioned that I like beer? Homebrewers is a game all about being a home brewer and in a home brew club where you are trying to brew the best beer to get points at Summerfest and Oktoberfest. You do this by getting ingredients, putting them on your beers, brewing those beers, and then each ingredient has some power of some sort, it might be you get $2, or you could move up another beer on how well you can brew it, it all depends on the ingredients that you have on the beer. So if you’re smart with how you do it, you can brew one beer to influence more or to make things easier. It’s a nice engine building game that gives you a lot of fun options and things you can do, and it also plays well at two players.

Status: Played

Hues and Cues

Final game for the letter H, Hues and Cues is a fun, new, party game from The Op, formerly USOpoloy. What I like about this game is that it’s a different kind of party game. In so many you are trying to make people laugh, or something like that by what you do or write, Hues and Cues challenges you to give good one word and then two word clues to get people as close as possible to the color you want. I like that you want people to guess right, but also for the players, guessing close works as well. But you can’t just say something like Sky Blue, as that tells you that the color is some shade of blue, but your one word clue could be sky, so what do people consider sky, or maybe you give a clue that has people going in the wrong way, you then can give another clue to get people closer again. It also works pretty well via Zoom, just everyone should be looking at a monitor to get the colors as close as possible to each other.

Status: Played

What’s your favorite game from the G’s and H’s? Is there one that stands out as one that you’d want to try or one that I should try that I don’t have in this letter range?

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Board Game Styles: Dungeon Crawl

Board Game Styles: Dungeon Crawl

So last board game mechanic I was talking about area control or area majority and Dungeon Crawls got mentioned in that article. I said I was going to do something about that mechanic, but when it comes down to it, it’s really not a mechanic. 

Top 10 – Campaign Games

Top 10 – Campaign Games

Recently I did an article talking about the different types of games, and one that I mentioned was campaign games. These are games that tell a story throughout as you play them and you are playing scenarios that tie together over time and create one 

What’s a Game and What’s an Activity

What’s a Game and What’s an Activity

So, I’ve been sitting on this topic for a while, because there was a popular game last year (I’ll review it this week) called The Mind. It was very popular but also got a bunch of dislike around it because people saw it not as a game but as an activity. I wanted to talk about the differences between the two and if that really matters in the long run.

Taking from the Oxford dictionary, the definition of a game is:

“a form of play or sport, especially a competitive one played according to rules and decided by skill, strength, or luck”

Oxford Dictionary

According to that definition, is my example of The Mind, a game?

Basics of the Mind are that you are trying to play cards in numerical order without talking, you can see your cards but there is no communication, so you have to guess, based off of feel when to play them down, and you’re trying to get through a certain number of rounds.

By the definition of a game, it doesn’t really take skill or strength, but it is very much luck. And, I think that something that I’d say for a definition of a game, it needs to have a win condition of some sort, I think that competitive is trying to cover for that, but I think a win condition is clearer, because cooperative board games are definitely games even though you’re not competing against someone. So, the Mind, by the technical definition is a game. But, when looking at the definition, it feels like it’s lacking a little bit of what is normally a game because it is just luck based.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

So, maybe it’s a combo of a game and activity. I think that you could say that all games are activities. And with the Mind, because you’re mainly just guessing when to play down a card or when to use a special ability, it feels more like an activity to me. And it is a fun group activity as you try and use body language or other non-verbal queues and non-spoiling clues to get other people to play or to have a rush of playing when the numbers are close together. For me, the Mind is more of [redacted – come back for the review].

Is it bad that it might be more of an activity than it is a game? No. I think that many party games, they are best when they are treated more as an activity than a game. When you are playing something like Stipulations and trying to come up with an answer, it’s better to put down something that you think is funny. Same with Balderdash or a game like Cards Against Humanity or Apple to Apples. Even if it isn’t the best answer or the answer most likely to win, it’s a lot of fun just to create moments where you can laugh. And you play until laughing is just starting to fade, and you’ve had a great activity without caring about who wins because you can just be goofy. If you treat them as a game, you won’t get the in-joke answers, you’ll get people trying really hard, and that’s less fun. Yes, you might be removing the game aspect from it or going against the spirit of the rules, but it’s a party game, and a party is supposed to be fun. That’s why I have issues with “party” style games that don’t led themselves to being an activity because they can’t have the same level of fun. I’ll talk about what makes a good party game later as well.

So, with the Mind or party games, they can border on an activity, and that’s fine. I think what’s not fine and some of the reason why I’m writing this article, is because there can be a sort of snooty thumbing of the nose towards these games and the people who play them. Yes, it’s not that complex a game or activity, but are the people having fun, yes. Can it be a gateway for getting people into the heavier and more complex games? Yes. Will it always do that? No, and that’s fine. We want to encourage as many diverse gamers to join the hobby as possible as that will keep the hobby growing and from becoming stale. It might not be a 4X game, an 18XX game, a euro game, or an Ameritrash game, but that’s fine depending on the group, and if they don’t want to move on to those sorts of games, it might be that game group isn’t the right one for you, but don’t disparage someone for having fun in their own way.

What is a light game that you think works better or is more of an activity? Have you tried The Mind, and do you like it? Let me know in the comments below.

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TableTopTakes: Gloomhaven Part 4

TableTopTakes: Gloomhaven Part 4

What, more Gloomhaven, how is that possible. Well, before we’d just been playing scenarios and I was talking about what I liked, we’ve officially beat what seems to be the final story of the main quest. We have more side quest and an expansion that 

My Top 100 Board Games – 10 to 1

My Top 100 Board Games – 10 to 1

We’re down to the top 10 of My Top 100 Board Games, it’s been quite a ride. If you want to see them all in order, I will be posting an article that links to each of these other articles so you can run through 

TableTopTakes: Sword & Sorcery

TableTopTakes: Sword & Sorcery

When it comes to dungeon crawling games, Gloomhaven was the first one that I played and is the one that I love the most. But, with the start of the Malts and Meeples streaming channel, I decided that I should get some more dungeon crawlers because a lot of them you can play solo. Now, if you’ve noticed, Sword & Sorcery hasn’t been played on Malts and Meeples, but I am playing through it now with a friend, so not even solo.

In Sword & Sorcery, you control a character who is an ancient hero brought back in this time of need. You are exploring and different scenarios, getting options presented to you as to what to do, and making choices based on the sort of party that you have. During each scenario, you are fighting monsters, collecting soul points, getting money and other loot and hopefully leveling up your character. Then, as you win, you advance to more scenarios. All in all, the basics of what you’re doing in a game are pretty standard.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

Sword & Sorcery does have some unique things, the biggest one being death in the game. When your character dies, you were an ancient soul that has been brought forward in time, so you become a ghost, instead of just being dead. You can do a few things as a ghost, but the main thing you can do and what you want to do, is get to your soul respawn point, respawn, and get back into the fight as fast as possible. Because, if your teammates go down as well, you’ll lose the scenario. This feels unique to me in the game because death isn’t the end. In Gloomhaven, it’s possible to have a character go down half way through a scenario, and while there is plenty of things that player can still help with in terms of running the encounter, you are done playing your character for that scenario. Sword & Sorcery handles that differently allowing you to hop back into the fight, but at a cost. To respawn, you have to use a soul point. And while that doesn’t seem like much of a cost, the soul points are what you use to level up as well, so you’re slowing down your leveling progression, and when you get knocked out and turned into ghost form and come back, you lose a level.

The leveling is also interesting in this game. It’s interesting because it’s not a standard leveling. Characters don’t level up based on XP that is gained, there isn’t a divided amount of anything that gets you closer at a regular rate. You have a group pool of soul points, and you don’t get soul points all that fast. You also have to keep a reserve of soul points because if someone goes down and you have none, they are extremely limited in what they can do until they can get back into the fight. Leveling up is also not a cheap affair. You are spending soul points equal to the level squared that you are going up to. So at level 2 it’s 4 soul points, at level 3 it’s 9 soul points, at level 5 it’s 25 soul points. The game hands them out fairly often, but that’s a lot of soul points to get up to the higher levels.

Another part of the game that I really enjoy, is the character creation/skills aspect of the game. Each character has two sides, a lawful side and a chaotic side. When you start the game, you, as a party, decides if you are going to be lawful or chaotic. That is going to give you a different unique character power than if you have played lawful. It also gives you the opportunity to get different abilities. And when you pick abilities, you have a large variety to pick from. So how you build up a character over time is going to be different than someone else might. Because of that, you really do get a good variety in the game and it adds back in some replayability, even if you know what is going to happen in the scenarios. And, depending on if you are lawful or chaotic, you are locked out of picking some abilities which limits your choices some in an interesting way.

They also have some cool rules for characters and monsters in the same area. If there are more heroes than monsters in the area, you have majority, if you have have twice as many you dominate the area, and just for that, you get an extra hit. But it isn’t just for you, it’s also for the monsters, so if you get swarmed or split up, it’s possible that you’ll be taking extra damage. It’s a nice way to make the majority feel like it means something, but it also means that you can get piled on quickly if you aren’t careful. This is one area that strategy is added into the game where it isn’t just the die rolls.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

The game has a massive rule book, however, and like a lot of dungeon crawlers, that can be a deterrent from people getting into the game. I don’t think that the rules are all that complex, however, once you’re used to them. Most of what you need to know is explained on the cards for your abilities, and resolved by die rolls. So, once you know how to interpret those rolls, it goes fast. I feel like that’s fairly common for larger dungeon crawlers where they need to cover the edge cases, but most of those things will be fairly rare so the focus of the game is actually pretty straight forward.

One downside to the game is that it’s a bit fiddly. I bought a ton of small plastic bags and that helps keep things sorted. But the game itself does not come with those, which means that it would be a lot of work finding stuff. I think that a tackle box or a cross stitch thread box would work nicely as well. I feel like this is a common issue with a lot of dungeon crawlers. Without an organizer or organization strategy for Gloomhaven, it would have the same issue as well. Also, because of the size of the maps and the amount of tokens, you need a fairly large table to play the game easily. Once you’re into the game you know what you need and it’s easier to keep track of, but set-up can be a lot, thankfully tear down is a lot faster which is to be expected.

I also will say that right now I’m playing the game two player, each of us running a single character. I think that we’re going to consider going to two players each. The reason for that was that we’ve had good luck. The friend seems to roll defense like no ones business, so their character has never been in danger and is often the one focused on. And I’ve had a lot of luck doing large amounts of damage so it’s been fairly easy. I don’t know how much more difficult it will be controlling two characters each or what that will do to the length of play, but we’re hoping it bumps up the difficulty a bit. It should because you flip an encounter card after every heroes activation, so theoretically characters will get hit more. We also have two magic users, so we are limited in what we can use for equipment and want to get more variety.

I have enjoyed this game a lot thus far. I don’t think that it’s as good as Gloomhaven, but it’s a lot of fun. The story has been enjoyable, and I like the fact that when you’re knocked out, you really aren’t knocked out of the scenario. I wish it felt a bit harder or had a good way to scale the difficulty. But there are unique aspects to the game and I’m excited for playing more of it. There are also a lot of interesting characters to play and way more than I will probably ever get to, plus expansions. This is definitely not a game for those who don’t like the luck of the dice though.

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

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The Evolution of Area Control

The Evolution of Area Control

So another mechanic that I like a good amount is area control. Area control is the mechanic in which you get a bonus for having the most figures in the area or the only figures in the area, so, you have control of the area.