I couldn’t have done this list a year ago but now I’ve played over 10 of them, and I have even more on my shelf that I need to play. Roll and Write games (or flip and write or flick and write) are a very …
Tag: Second Chance
It’s been a while since I’ve done a board game review. I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of Point of Order articles come up and go in that time because I can buy games, but I can’t play all that many of them. But one that I was able to play three times in person and twice via Zoom, plus about a million times on the app has been Ganz Schon Clever. I won’t be talking as much about the app today, but more about the game.
Ganz Schon Clever is probably one of the more influential games in terms of putting the roll and write craze over the top. There had been games before like Qwixx that were out there, but Ganz Schon Clever hit the market and took off because it made a game that was interesting and challenging and put in so many combos into the game. So many combos. In this game, you are playing a number of rounds, 4 to 6 depending on player count, more rounds for less players. On your turn you roll six dice, you can then use one of the dice in one of the five sections. Each section corresponds to one of the dice colors and then there is a wild die, the white one, that can be used in any section. The trick for what die you’ll use comes down to the fact that any dice that are of a lower value than the one you select go onto a platter (this will be important later). Then you roll the remaining dice again, repeat the process, and do it all one more time. At that point in time, all the other players can pick and use one of the dice on the platter. Then the turn passes, next person goes, and so on and so forth. Doesn’t seem that challenging, but there are so many interesting things in it, as each section scores differently and can then let you activate other areas, possibly chaining even more things together.
Let’s do a quick run down of how each section works. In yellow you cross off a number, and for rows and the diagonal that you complete you get some bonus, like crossing off a spot in another section or adding a number. The columns when filled in give you points. In Blue, you always take the total of the blue and white dice and fill in the corresponding number, the more spots you fill in, the more points you get, and filling out rows or columns gives you bonuses. In green, you fill in from left to right and the number has to be greater than or equally to the number i the circle to cross it off, the more you fill in, the more points you get, and if you make it to certain points you get a bonus. Orange is the easiest, it’s just the number on the dice, and then there are bonuses that you get for filling in certain spots, but you have to work left to right. There are also a few spots that double or triple in yellow. Finally, there is purple, in purple you go left to right and the number must always be greater than the previous number, so you could go something like 1, 4, 6. When you put in a six, you can start over again, and there are a ton of bonuses in purple. Finally, there is the fox bonus. The fox bonus shows up in each section and for the fox, you score the number of foxes you’ve made it to times your lowest score, so you can’t just skip one section, because then your foxes would be X time 0 which would give you no points.
Really, that’s probably enough to get going on the game and be able to play it. The game is simple, but there is strategy. Plus, you do get some other bonuses that I haven’t mentioned yet. You can unlock rerolls, you can get +1 that you can use to use an extra dice after people are done rolling, and you can just fill in a spot of your choice in round four. So sometimes you can use the +1 die to chain into something else and fill in a few spots, or maybe the filling in a spot will do that for you.
Like I said before, this game is pretty simple to learn. But to master it, you need to figure out the strategy for it. Sometimes you’ll want to reroll just because to use the die you need to, or want to, will lose you too many dice. Saving the +1’s towards the end can also be a good strategy because you can use them to combo more sooner, but sometimes I’ll spend a +1 to get a +1 when it’s a harder +1 to get than others, if that makes sense. So there is way more going on than just rolling dice and putting down a number, and scores can vary wildly.
Now, if you don’t like luck, there is luck involved. You might roll all ones, reroll and roll all ones again. It’s improbable, but not impossible. Or someone else might be consistently rolling higher numbers so they can score the orange and purple sections better. But with that said, since the game is fast, and since you are using dice that someone else has rolled, it is possible that you’ll get to use better dice, or if you don’t, the game will be over quickly and you can try again. The luck factor though might be a turn off for some, but I do think with all the combos that it is hard to get completely locked out of the game and doing well at all in it.
I’m also looking at this as a big fan of a lot of roll and write games. There are a number that I’ve talked about before, such as Welcome To… Second Chance, Criss Cross, and Cartographers, all of them great games, and a number that I like better than Ganz Schon Clever, but one thing that Ganz Schon Clever does differently from all of those is the combos. With those there might be other variability in the game, but you never will get that really satisfying chain of doing one thing and then doing another and another because of that first thing that you picked. Sonora, the flick and write, has that comboing if not more going on it, but that’s one of the only others I’ve played that does that.
Overall, this is clearly a game that I like a lot. I think that the play is pretty clever (the English translation of Ganz Schon Clever is That’s Pretty Clever). I like that the game plays pretty fast, I think slightly longer than the box says, but with that game speed, you never feel like you have much down time since you are doing things on other people’s turns as well. It scales well, and the rules are easy enough to teach that I think I could with most people, with just a few reminders during the game.
Overall Grade: A
Gamer Grade: A-
Casual Grade: A
Normally I wait a little bit closer to the Holidays to create these lists. There is speculation, and I suspect some of it might come true, that because of Covid, shipping is going to be crazy, so it probably makes more sense to get your …
So this is kind of a point of order article, because the games are already here, and I didn’t order them, but they are new to me, so I want to talk about what’s interesting in them that I’m excited for. These games were given …
So, after over a week off, though 10 Minute Marvel podcast still came out, for a little bit of a vacation and a chance to reset my brain during Covid-19 and protests, I wanted to come back with a Top 10 list that is a little bit more light hearted. These are games that you can play when life has felt stressful, these games aren’t always going to make you relax, but they are light, fun games, without too much in the way of stress inducing moments.
10 – Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger
If you’re familiar with the Choose Your Own Adventure books, you’ll know that they are silly books where they are taking you through some sort of crazy scenario, and if you make a wrong choice, generally almost at random, you’ll end up dying. Now, that doesn’t sound like that much fun, and it was annoying in the books at times where you’d feel like you were in a dead end and have to go back and start over again. In the board game version, something bad will happen if you die, but then you’ll reset to the previous decision and you always have a chance to go back. This game has some great writing, and is meant as silly fun for a group of players to sit around a table, make poor decisions and work through this cooperative story together. It’s extremely light and is just a fun time at the table for everyone as you go through the nonsensical story.
9 – Tokyo Highway
There are some games on this list because they are silly fun, there are others because the aesthetic is just amazing. Tokyo Highway is one of the latter. What’s basically is just little wooden cars and Popsicle sticks ends up looking like a piece of artwork on the table as the crazy roads interweave between everything. Can you get your roads to go over or under other roads in order to place your cars, and with that can you do that without knocking over precariously balanced roads with little to no room between them? The games rules are extremely simple, but there’s a little bit of tension at times as you place things, but mainly you’re just appreciating how cool it looks on the table.
8 – Small World
Now, I call this game a Risk killer, and for a lot of people, Risk isn’t a feel good game, so how can Small World be a feel good game? It’s because not only does it encourage conflict and encourage wiping someone else off the board as much as you can, it does that for everyone so you’re never down and out. If your race gets overrun, just get a new one and do it back to them, and you always have a special power, maybe you have something that makes sense, like pillaging orcs, but you might have something more out there like seafaring giants or flying sorcerers. Just the combinations, the massive swings from round to round, this game is meant to be light, and the combat doubles down on that, no more rolling lots of dice like Risk, now it’s just simply put down your tokens, and if you have two more than your opponent you take over their territory. If it wasn’t for the fact that you can always come back with another crazy combination, this wouldn’t make the list, but you’re never really down and out, and facing off wealthy ratmen against barbarian elves is just fun.
7 – Draftosaurus
If you haven’t seen Jurassic Park, you probably know about it. And the idea of a park with dinosaurs in just a lot of fun. Draftosaurus is a dinosaur drafting game where you’re trying to get pairs, as many different or as many the same, or other combinations, of dinosaurs to score the most points. You draft from a handful of dinosaur meeples that you have, and the game just is fun and vibrant. The dinosaur meeples look amazing, and the game play is very simple. The only thing that I don’t like about this game is that it doesn’t come with a score pad. It’s on the list of things to do for me to find one and print it off and laminate it so that the scoring will be more fun. That said, the game is simple, fast, and looks amazing because of the dinosaur meeples, it’s hard not to have fun when you’re playing it.
6 – Century: Golem Edition
This game is such a simple but beautiful game as you are building up an engine through a hand of cards to trade gems for other gems and get more gems so that you can activate golem that give you points. This is a feel good game because the artwork is amazing, the metal coins are nice, but it really comes down the gems that you are trading around. The gems are just beautiful translucent plastic pieces, that you can find in other games as well, but they just make the game because it’s fun to play around with them. In the end, you’re really playing a solitaire sort of puzzle with a shared pool of cards to purchase from. The game move incredibly fast as you have a card that you’ll play or purchase each turn, so you don’t have a lot of things to think about. There’s a more standard version as well where you are trading spices, but in my opinion, the Golem Edition looks better and is more feel good.
5 – Homebrewers
I wasn’t sure if this game was going to make the list, but as I thought about it, as a beer fan, I feel like it really is a feel good game. It might be less so for people who won’t like/drink beer, but what makes it feel good might even give them a good laugh as well. In this game you’re trying to build up the best engine to become the best homebrewer out there. You do this by adding ingredients to your beers and brewing them. What is fun about it is that you can make all sorts of crazy combinations. If you want a beer with smoke, oyster, and lime, you can do that, and you might end up with that because that makes the most sense for scoring points. At the end of the game, which is a fast game, you can look and see what crazy beers you’ve created. So even though the game is competitive, it’s over fast and not that cut throat in it’s competitive nature, and the beers are just a fun thing to see what you come up with.
4 – Second Chance
This roll and write, or flip and write, is just a fun little game where sometimes you are pulling for a shape to come out, but most of the time, you’re just doodling in the various shapes with their own unique look so that at the end, your board looks different than everyone else’s board, and has it’s own artistic flair to it. In the game you’re trying to fill in as much of your board as possible so that you have the fewest empty spaces left. Whomever has the fewest spaces left is the winner. But the game encourages you, as you’re filling in Tetris like shapes to have some fun with it and doodle in different backgrounds for the shapes so that you know what you put where, but also so that you have your own unique board when you’re done. If you give people the time they need to doodle, it is a very relaxing and feel good game.
3 – Sagrada
Now, with Sagrada there are some more stressful moments, at times, as you hope the right number is going to be rolled on the right color of dice to help you complete your stained glass window, but it’s hard for it to be too stressful because you are making stained glass windows. The game is just beautiful on the table, and the rules are quite simple, really, so when you’re drafting dice, you know what you’re going to want. The fact that the dice are translucent makes it even better because the aesthetic really is reminiscent of a stained glass window. The game also plays quickly, so the end game where you’re more worried about the dice that come out, goes by very quickly and then you can look at what you put together.
2 – ICECOOL
Dexterity games can sometimes be stressful, late game Jenga where you’re worried about knocking the tower over, might not be a feel good game for some people. But ICECOOL does a good job of not making it stressful. You can get good at ICECOOL, but with a theme of being high school student penguins who are trying to skip class and not get caught by the hall monitor because they want to get fish, the whole game is just silly. And whether you are trying to jump a wall, or get a crazy ricochet and go through several doors, it’s just a fun time. The theme and game play seems like it’d be best for younger kids, but I’ve had great success with this just with adults as it’s always just a silly fun time that everyone can enjoy.
1 – Marvel Champions
This game is just a fun game to play. It’s shown up high on a lot of my lists, but that’s because it’s a good game, and because you get to play as your favorite superhero. All the schemes of the bad guys are super villain schemes, and being able to play as Captain America and throw your shield to hit Ultron or Black Panther and break out all the Wakandan tech to take down Klaw is just a fun time. It feels like playing as the comic book characters, and while there is a good amount of strategy to the game, it doesn’t feel bogged down in that, and most of the time, you just do the thing that feels coolest and most like the hero would do and it works well.
There are more feel good games out there, cooperative games can as a whole lend themselves to that because you’re working together. But I didn’t include things like Gloomhaven and Pandemic, because while the end can be a feel good moment as you beat the game, there is a lot of stress in the game. I think out of the ones that I put down, I’d say that only Marvel Champions has some of that stress to it, the rest are very much lighter games throughout. And even with Marvel Champions, playing as a super hero is just so much fun that it has a lot of a feel good vibe to it.
What are some of your favorite feel good games? Are there any that you want to checkout from my list, or that you think I should checkout?