Monday, June 2, 2014

Dragon's Hoard, Metropolys, Dungeon Dice, Star Realms, Haaaaaaaanaaaaaaaaabiiiiiii

Hanabi - 10 Skies A-blazing

It seems like I can never go more than 2 game sessions without playing Hanabi.
Not by choice I must say, more like, everybody else wants to play it. I've played it so often now that I am almost tired of it. Haha.
The only way I am playing Hanabi in the next few weeks is if:
1) It's with a new group that would lead to different team dynamics
2) You've never played it before and it could introduce you into the board gaming world
3) You are female, hot, have extremely lovely eyes that I can gaze into while I pretend to look at your cards

Hahaha, ok I kid. I love this game. But, I do find that I take it out less often so that it is out of sight of the people who will always pick it over everything else. Out of sight, out of mind they say. After all, I have so many other games that need equal love on the table people! The play count is Hanabi - 72, every other game - barely 20.

Well, I played it again on Friday night. 10 times again. This was an unexpected game session. We had finished bible study and my friend took out her self made copy (impressed!) where she colored in the numbers and made simple symbols on her company name cards (she changed jobs recently). It was 3 of us and it was quite a hilarious night. We started at 2330hrs, and finished off our last game at 0400hrs!!! I was unbelievably tired by the time it was over. Our highest score was 22 (which could have been 24 if my friend had remembered the last 5 in her hand).

What I have realized after all my plays of Hanabi is that the hardest part for most people is their hand management. At first it seems like Hanabi is a game where you require strong memory elements. But I find that that is not truly the case. With proper hand management, you will be able to play the game without having to memorize everything that people tell you. In fact, the only time you need to remember anything, is when you need to remember who already knows what. That's where the biggest element of memory comes in. Knowing what other people should know so that you don't have to waste a clue. In our session, 1 of the players had very poor poor hand management skills. She would insert cards in the middle, close her hand and reopen them (card order did not change but for some reason her perception led her to believe they had changed). I was slightly frustrated at times. Haha. But I guess that is something that has to be learnt eventually.

Also, playing with people on the same wavelength as you is a glorious feeling. Its like, playing with another of yourself at the table. That sounds weird haha, but I truly believe if I played with 2 or 3 other players that thought exactly like me (or are as experienced as me in Hanabi), we would whip out 25 each and every time. Hahaha. Yes, my skin is extremely thick right now.
But anyway, those 10 games were supremely fun nonetheless and it was nice to be able to teach tricks to them when each game was over, like, how to change the flow of the game when only 1 clue is left, or about "prioritizing" cards based on probability. To see their eyes light up at new revelations is always exciting.

Well, I have a feeling I will be whipping Hanabi out again this Wednesday at a volunteer event, but we'll see. The last time I introduced Hanabi to children, there was a lot of cheating involved and I just stopped the game there. I don't condone such behavior. Maybe the kids this Wednesday would have better sportsmanship in game.

Dragon's Hoard - Counting Sheep while trying not to fall asleep

I obtained Dragon's Hoard from a trade recently, and I was keen to take it out to see if I would keep it or sell it at the next opportune moment. One of my friends came very late on Saturday, so I took it out for a 2 player spin since I heard it makes a great 2 player game.

Gameplay in Dragon's Hoard is easy to understand. You take some sheep at the beginning of your turn, then you play an action card plus a treasure card, or just one of the two, or you pass. Once a treasure limit has been reached, the game is equal turned and then over, player with the most treasure points is the winner.
Dragon's Hoard is all about set collection and hand management (and playing action cards that will annoy the hell out of your opponent). Each card can be played for its effect or used as a resource for other card effects. The decision on what to play and use as a resource was interesting, but not exactly difficult. And the action cards can be nasty but really fun to play at the right time.

Not a winning tableau

I thought the game was ok, it did take much longer than expected though. Our 2 player game took 45-50mins. Which I think made it outstay its welcome somewhat. My friend thought it was elegant, but I, I think I need to give it one more go. I don't think it will survive very long with me but for now I am still keen to give it a multiplayer play before I send it packing. I will say though, the art is fantabulous! Fantastic and Fabulous! Both my friends were awed by it too, wishing the cards were bigger to reflect the art more. Oh, also, the Unicorn expansion is a nice action that is added to the game. Having protection for one round gives you the ability to plan ahead and make use of a battle card that you were intending to keep for other purposes.

Metropolys - Building where the Trendy Lady Lives

Next up was the heaviest game for the day (which isn't very heavy anyway) Metropolys. 
I have been wavering on buying Metropolys due to the price for the OOP English edition. But I found a real good deal on a french gaming website, and since I was buying other items, I could no longer say no.
I have only played Metropolys once prior, and I remember loving my play of it. I wasn't sure if it was because at that time I hadn't played many other types of games, but I decided that after reading the rules again, it still seems like the type of game I would enjoy.

A bid is on the way (top of the board)

Metropolys is a bidding game where players are trying to use their limited but fixed resources to control areas on the board to score points via set collection, goal achievement, and end game bonuses.
Each turn, the start player places a bid token on an area on the board. In turn order, each player may then pass or outbid the previous bidder. If the player chooses to outbid, he must place his token on an adjacent area and his token must be of a higher value. So once you start your bid on a spot, if you are outbid, you will not be coming back to that same spot till a new bid begins and that spot is chosen by the starting player (or if the new bid moves towards that spot again). Basically, the outbidding process brings to tokens further away from the original area and spread out across the board. Once a winner is determined, he/she flips the token and starts the next bid anywhere he/she desires.

White (me) started really slowly, but it is a game of patience this one

At the start of the game, players are given goals that dictate what they are aiming for and how many points each area is worth. These are unique to each player but the areas they need to form tend to overlap in some form or another, so you will be indirectly competing for certain areas on the board.

I came out on top in the end, by quite a wide margin. This was mainly because I have played it before and knew how to control the flow of the game. I weeded out the high bids from the others and that left me to my means to go rampant all over the board by cornering and executing comfortable mid level bids.
What I really like about Metropolys is how the bid area changes and moves in a certain direction. You really need to be sneaky sometimes to get players to go where you want to go as well. Knowing what their goals might be will help a lot in reading their plans and intentions. The pieces are awesome to hold and look at and really makes the game stand out as well. At the end of the day, it is a straightforward bidding game coupled together with area control aspects. I generally don't like area control, but this is enough for me to swallow.

White towers above all !

I do think that some of the goal cards are much harder than the others, although more points are given, but I think that might be a small quibble on what is a very enjoyable game for me.

Dungeon Dice - Will you help m.... NO!

Up next was a big blind buy from me. I had grown tired of dice games during the past year and proceeded to sell off all my dice games. But for some strange reason, I had decided that Dungeon Dice might be an interesting enough dice game to keep handy in my collection. And since I was in a spend all my money to feel better mood, well, I bought it and told myself to try and like it. Haha

Dungeon Dice is in the vein of a lot of games recently - race to a set number of points. In Dungeon Dice's case, it is a race to 4 fame points. Each turn, the active player draws a monster dice from a bag and rolls it. This will tell the player a few things
1) The type of monster he/she will be facing
2) The monster's ability
3) The monster's level
4) How many Fame points it is worth (if any)
5) The goody you will get for defeating the monster

Then, the player may decide to either confront the monster, or to run away (without repercussions).
If the player chooses to stay and fight, he/she may not enlist the help of 1 other player who will go in to fight side by side. The benefits of this is that each player will level up if they win (allows the player to roll more fight dice) and the players also get to split the treasure or perhaps roll off for it. The drawback is that if the fight is lost, the players each get a wound (temporarily lose a fight die). Otherwise, instead of drawing a monster, the player could also choose to rest and not go into the dungeon at all.

What makes Dungeon Dice different from other dice rolling dungeon delving game is that each player starts with 2 equipment dice, and 2 one use dice. These equipment don't just give you attack values, they also give you special abilities. For example, the bow lets you draw 2 monsters and choose 1 to confront; the hammer allows you to open locked chests without a key. The one use dice may allow you to get a bomb to use during battle, or to allow you to heal or use various spells.

Pictured - Level dice, Fight dice, One Use Potion, Artifacts, Equipment

So on and on you go, fighting, leveling up, losing, winning, trading, dealing, all this till someone wins the game. The game is seriously luck based. You can draw a low level monster that you don't need help with, or you could even draw an unguarded treasure or equipment. But despite the luck and the randomness, I found the game fun. More fun than it has any right to be. I looked forward to the monsters I would face, I desperately sought out the artifacts of legendary power, and just wheeling and dealing with my friends was interesting. There were ways to sabotage each other and we gleefully took the chance. No one was spared from mocking and yet we flipped the page fast enough when we wanted in on a fight to level up or get some goodies.

There are a few drawbacks that made the game slightly less interesting. The first is the constant need to find what the abilities of the monsters do to you. There are multiple abilities and each one have special rules in the game. Also, the timing of executing certain actions and abilities is wonky. Some must come first, some say anytime but then the anytime might really mess around with what is happening in game. Lastly, the game comes to a standstill near the end when each player only needs a fame point to win. So when the active player rolls a monster that awards 2 fame points, no one wants to help in order to let the other player win. And then the player will fail, and then that happens again and again till someone is fortunate to get a 1 fame monster that might be easier to kill by himself/herself.
Oh, the times when you roll a monster and get an unguarded treasure instead also made things very anticlimactic. We hated getting free stuff. That just seemed wrong. Haha. We thought of houseruling it to be a must fight or to deduct 1 level if the player accepts the gift from the gods.

Overall I liked it quite a bit, but I have a feeling my friends were not so enthusiastic about it. It did take longer than the advertised 20mins - our game went on nearly 45mins, and none of us were AP-ing in any way. I really hope that I can get the game to the table again, I am starting to feel the excitement that comes with some mindless simple dice chucking.

Star Realms - All alone in a Galaxy Far Far Away

We ended our games day and took a show at a nearby cinema. Managed to catch X-men: Days of Future Past. The movie was decent, so that was that. But its always nice watching the X-men, just the nostalgia is enough for me.
Anyway, when I got home, I took out Star Realms to try out the solo challenge that I received in the BGG Promo Set 1. I had hoped to try the raid mode or the co-op mode during the day but there was just too many games to play.

Pirates of the Dark Star easily overwhelmed by the Blobs

I managed to play the solo challenge twice - against the Pirates of the Dark Star - and it was HORRIBLE.
It was way way way too easy - both times. Granted, a lot of blob faction cards came out, so my attack strength was through the roof. But really, the Pirates only had 25 authority. That is lame. 25 authority vs 75 authority was just too much to overcome (for them). My first game lasted 5-7mins, the second lasted slightly longer at 10mins. But in both cases I was easily triumphant. It was a HUGE disappointment. I was hoping for a nice back and forth or to sweat things out a bit, but please, that was awful in so many ways.

This is embarrassing. I would hardly call it a challenge

I hope the co-op doesn't suck as bad as the solo, that would totally mean Star Realms will never hit the table again. So I should thread carefully before I decide to spring the co-op mode on them. There is another solo challenge but I don't have that yet, but right now I am not feeling it and think it would probably end up just as pathetic. Once I do have the second solo challenge, then I will report back on that. But man, that was a disappointment of gigantic proportions.

I actually managed to get 2 other games played on Saturday - Camel (C)Up and Trieste
But since this post is already so long, I will chime in on those 2 another time.


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