DISCLAIMER: I am reviewing Myrmes after one play (2-player). Why do I review games after one or two plays? Because It’s the first two plays that will determine whether or not I want to play it again! If I don’t like a game after those first two plays then I’m definitely moving on since there are so many other good games out there. Now on to today’s review…
Time for another Friday Board Game Review! Today’s game is one with an interesting theme: Building an Ant Colony!
In Myrmes you are in control of an ant colony. It is up to you to manage your workers, soldiers, and nurses to improve your colony as best as you can. Throughout the game you are faced with thematic decisions. Should you sacrifice a worker above ground to provide food for your colony? Should you leave a nurse behind and score points by completing an objective? Should you make more babies??? These are all serious questions, people! And when you play Myrmes you’ll have to make these sorts of thematic decisions! Over and over again!
Here’s a look at the board and components (image via BoardGameGeek.com):
So after one play what did I think? Let’s find out…
- COMPONENTS: This game has a bunch of components and they are almost all of very nice quality. The best, of course, are the little plastic ants even though they sort of look like spiders.
- ARTWORK: I think some of the artwork on this game is outstanding! I really like the player mats with the ant colony. The artwork there looks really nice and it feels like you are underground in an ant colony.
- THEME: I thought things fit the theme very well. It felt like you had to decide how to run a real ant colony.
- COMPONENTS: While quantity doth not make great a game, quality can ruin one! The hexes that are placed onto the board look and feel nice, but they are not the same size as the hex grid on the board. Therefore they don’t fit properly.
- ARTWORK: While the player mat artwork is really nice, the overall continuity of artwork in this game is non-existent. The player mats are so different from the board, which has about four different art styles (the score track leaves, the distressed seasons, the background, etc.). It just doesn’t seem to be the same style throughout all the components.
- THEME: By fitting the theme of an ant colony I asked myself, “What’s fun about an ant colony?” Aren’t I supposed to be playing a game and having fun? Are ants fun? The most fun I ever had with ants was burning them with a magnifying glass.
So that was interesting. For the first time I listed the same categories as both upsides and downsides to the game. I suppose that goes very well with my mixed feelings about this game.
Designer Perspective – What I Would Change:
While I can understand the desire to make a game that so thematically fits with the idea of running an ant colony I just wonder why they actually designed this game. There was very little interaction and I often felt like I was just doing things to do them. As a designer I would have tried to inject more tension in the game. I think this would be best accomplished by having all players be part of the SAME ant colony. Either they could each have their own role (i.e., one player could be a worker, another a soldier, a third a nurse, and so on) or they could control one part of the colony. Then the idea of the game could be to contribute the most to the colony. You could compete over the use of the colony’s resources. Doing it that way sounds like a much more fun game!
This is a difficult game to pair with a beer. But since the game felt more like work than fun I suppose I should pair it with a working man’s beer. So I’m pairing Myrmes with Working Man’s Lunch by Fullsteam Brewery. I’ve never had the beer so this pairing is based on name alone.
I didn’t really enjoy Myrmes. It was very ‘meh’ feeling to me. It felt more like work than like fun. The decisions weren’t very intense. There was nothing that stopped me from doing what I wanted. The interaction seemed minimal, though that could have been due to it being a two player game. And overall I can’t rate this higher than a 6 out of 10 according to the BoardGameGeek.com rating system.
Another Board Game Review! This time I’m reviewing Last Will by Czech Games Edition and designer Vladimír Suchý.
In Last Will you have received an inheritance of sorts from your deceased Uncle. But before you can “earn” the inheritance you have to prove yourself worthy of it! How do you do that? By spending an allotment of cash faster than your cousins. You’ll have to buy residences, farms, and mansions. You’ll have to throw extravagant balls. You’ll have to hire outstanding workers. And more! If you can go the furthest into debt, then you win!
This game has players fighting to get rid of their money the fastest. Can you outwit your cousins and spend you allotment first? Or will you be stuck with valuable properties? If you’re ready to spend spend spend, then it’s time to play Last Will (Ben McQuiston’s 2012 Game of the Year! – personal shout out)
Here’s a sneak peek at the game:
Okay… that’s obviously not the game, but it’s the same idea!
Here’s a look at the setup of the game (Image from BoardGameGeek.com):
ARTWORK: This is easily some of my favorite board game artwork! Everything is thematically cohesive. It looks amazing. The colors are brilliant. And they spared no expense! I also like that they avoided game-dependent text on the cards, despite the fact that I have to reference the back page of the rulebook for the iconography about two dozen times per game. Really outstanding artwork!
THEME: The theme for this is fresh, unique, and interesting. Having a game where you have to get rid of all your money is so different than the majority of games out there. But all of the mechanics in the game fit the theme really well.
DOWNTIME: One of the things that can take a good game and turn it sour is an abundance of downtime. In Last Will there is very little downtime. This is because in the main action phase all the players can perform their actions at the same time. That’s pretty solid game design!
FIRST PLAY: The first time you attempt Last Will will likely be rough. New players typically have no idea what to do. Why should they buy a building? How does depreciation work? What do companions do? There are a lot of areas where they can get confused. If you’ve only played this game once and were confused, I highly recommend giving it another shot.
ICONOGRAPHY (SYMBOLOGY??): There are a lot of icons (symbols?) in this game. Like I mentioned above, I have to reference the table on the back of the rules multiple times throughout the game. This can be overwhelming to non-gamers or light-gamers.
AP-PRONE: Yes, there are an abundance of decisions to make in this game. And they are tough decisions. I don’t recommend playing this with your AP friends unless you plan on talking with your non-AP friends a bunch during the game. Or you’re incessantly patient.
Designer Perspective – What I Would Change:
As a designer I can really appreciate how well this game is balanced. The design process must have been a beast for this game. There are so many interweaving things within the design. The gameplay works really well. The artwork is outstanding. And the theme is great. The only thing I would be tempted to change is the iconography. It looks nice, but I think the icons could be a little more clear on what they represent. They just are not very intuitive.
This seems like a gentlemen’s (lady’s) game and I prefer to play while enjoying a gentlemen’s beer. And to me a fine example of a gentlemen’s beer is a Scotch Ale. I’m keeping it close to home with this beer pairing and I’m recommending Lake Louie’s Warped Speed Scotch Ale. It’s an excellent beer that goes well with this excellent game! A secondary local option would be Ale Asylum’s Sticky McDoogle! That’s also a great Scotch Ale that is as enjoyable as this game. Either way, you can’t go wrong!
I’ve played Last Will a half dozen times. I’ve enjoyed each play. There is a great amount of variability. The theme and artwork are awesome. And there is a lot of awesome strategy that keeps me wanting more. I yearn to be better at this game. I’ve won at least once and I’m hoping to win again soon, but just playing this one is a lot of fun! Just get past that first play and this game really becomes outstanding. I’ll rate it 8 out of 10 according to the BoardGameGeek rating system: