Monthly Archives: March 2016
More games have been crossed off The List and I have been delinquent in reporting our progress. Today’s update covers three games: Colonia, Discoveries, and Francis Drake.
We did not complete a full game of Colonia because it was taking too long with 6 new players. However, I think I mostly enjoyed the game. It is essentially a big chain reaction. Once turn order is set for the round players will:
- Get resources
- Spend resources to get goods tiles
- Spend goods tiles to get location specific money
- Spend location specific money on location specific cards
- Location specific cards are worth points at the end.
So there is a huge A-B-C-D-E type chain reaction in the game that forces players to manage their available worker pool. You don’t want to run out of available workers or you won’t be able to do the things you need.
I thought the most clever mechanic is the time-delay with workers spent in Round 1 not being available again until the appropriate time in Round 2.
Overall I think I’d like to play again with fewer players. The game has potential but I don’t think it’s a great game.
My friend J and I had been working on a Lewis and Clark game design some years back before the game Lewis & Clark came out. When it was released we were both pretty excited to see what the designer came up with. One of the things that was absent from his game that we had planned on including in ours were all the Discoveries made along the trip. So I was pretty excited when I learned about this game, which is all about the discoveries.
In Discoveries players will manage a fleet of dice that will be used to take actions. Actions allow you to obtain Indians (which gives you special abilities or other action spaces), go exploring and complete exploration routes, change your dice, and more. The goal of the game is to gain as much knowledge as possible.
I thought the game was pretty good. It was a little fiddly with having to change dice as often as I did. I think it would work better with three or more players rather than just two. I’ll play it again so long as it would be with more than two players.
I wanted to own Francis Drake since we demoed it at Gen Con 2013. I thought it was a really excellent game then but I couldn’t drop $80 for it. I found it last Gen Con at a nicely discounted price so I snagged a copy. We finally got it to the table during a game night and I still think it is excellent.
The game is divided into three Voyages. For each voyage there are two parts. The first part is a great worker placement goods procurement phase where players place their workers along the street as they approach the harbor. Only one player can claim any given spot. And you can never go “backwards” along the street, meaning once you have placed a worker somewhere you can only place subsequent workers closer to the harbor. I think this is a really fun way to obtain resources for the voyage.
The second part of a voyage is setting sail and completing missions in the four regions on the map portion of the board. These missions include attacking forts and towns, obtaining trade goods, and attacking Spanish Galleons. The tricky part about it is that players missions discs are numbered and they happen in numerical order. So someone may get to do an action before you because they have a smaller number on their disc.
Overall I really think Francis Drake is a fun game. There is a lot to think about in terms of the decisions you make throughout. And there are plenty of ways to score. I’m looking forward to playing again.
Continuing the crossing-off of games from The List today’s article provides blurbs from A-Game with approval from J for Cube Quest, Progress: Evolution of Technology, and 7 Wonders Duel.
Cube Quest was quick, silly, and pretty fun. The way it uses dice as the elements in a dexterity game is really cool, with the face determining what happens to your die when it lands in an opponent’s territory. There are different dice that do different things, but on the whole, I didn’t find those abilities all that useful. It felt like a strategic element in a game that just didn’t have time for a lot of strategy. It was over much quicker than I anticipated, which meant that setup took about as long as playing the game. So while it could be a good 2 player filler, it ends up feeling like a lot of setup with only a little gameplay. Component quality was below average, with hollow-stickered dice and a 3-piece mat that didn’t quite lay flat. 6/10
Progress: Evolution of Technology
Progress: Evolution of Technology was a great distillation of tech-tree mechanics from a lot of civ games. Technologies fall into 3 categories: Engineering, Science, and Culture. As you build technologies, you get resources and abilities that make future technologies easier to develop. Later Technologies build on earlier ones, with 7-wonders style combos allowing you to play a card for free if you built its predecessor already. The game uses an interesting time mechanic that allows you to develop a technology for no cost, but you need to wait several turns for it to come into play. On the negative side, I thought that the upkeep felt a little fiddly at times. There was a lot to remember each turn, with development timers to maintain, action points to track, rewards from newly played cards to adjust, etc. It was easy to forget something. I didn’t pay too much attention to my opponent, so it was essentially multi-player solitaire. And in the end, the winner was determined by the fact that I ended the game on my turn, robbing J of another turn, even though I had gone first in the game. Having one extra turn at the end of the game is a big deal. I think it could have benefited from being slightly shorter, and I don’t think I would want to play with more than 3 players. 6.5/10
7 Wonders Duel
7 Wonders Duel was fantastic. It’s exactly what I want a 2 player version of 7 wonders to be. The game preserves the feel of the original, but tweaks it in a way that makes it work tremendously well with 2 players. I think I like it even better than 7 Wonders in some ways. Where 7 Wonders suffers from a lot of turns where there’s only one obvious choice, I never really felt that way with Duel. Each turn had multiple possible plays that would help me, hinder my opponent, or both. I thought A LOT more about blocking and counteracting my opponent than I ever have in 7 Wonders. So in that way, it feels more interactive than the original game, but with the same interesting choices and combinations. I would change nothing. 10/10