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The List – Patchistory, China, Rome: City of Marble

Three more title are being crossed off The List! While I didn’t play all three I wanted to remind you of the criterion for crossing a game off the list. A game shall be crossed off when at least two of our core group of 4 have played the game.

So while I own games that I have played, they might still be on the list since they do not meet the criterion.

Also, since I did not play Patchistory or China I am bringing in A-Game and J to share their perspective. But let’s start with Rome: City of Marble since I have now played it twice.

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Rome: City of Marble

pic2586529_tI love this game. I loved it in prototype form and I love it in final production. I am friends with the designer, Brett Myers. The way he designed this game to utilize rhombuses is intriguingly clever.

In Rome: City of Marble players have two actions per turn. Their objective is to build the city of Rome. This is done by obtaining and placing rhombus shaped tiles onto the city map. Whenever a hexagon shaped intersection between tiles is completed, a building or a fountain is placed at that location. If a player have influence over that location by having their magistrate on the correctly colored tiles, then they claim that building. If no player has influence it becomes a fountain.

Over the course of the game players earn points by completing buildings, having proximity to fountains, being connected to aqueducts, and more. I like that the balance of scoring is about 50/50 in-game versus end game. So you don’t know exactly who will win unless you are an uber nerd who crunches the numbers after every single action taken in the game, which kind of takes the fun out of any game, so don’t be that person.

Overall I am looking forward to playing Rome: City of Marble many more times.

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China

This was played by J and A-Game among others at Board Game Night. Here is J’s review:

pic63275_tChina is an old school euro. An old school euro to me is a collection of rules, mechanics, and scoring that drive the players to difficult or interesting decisions but do not embrace the ‘theme’ of the game.

In China there is a network of roads and towns on a board and the board is divided into areas. On your turn there is basically one action you can take (placing pieces on the board) and the action is limited by various rules (the three cards in your hand plus rules about how many pieces can be placed). The scoring is tied to having a majority in an area and having a majority across two bordering provinces.

I like old school euros because they are usually easy to learn and teach and don’t often take more than 1 hour to play. However, they are almost always lacking a theme that is well integrated with the mechanics. This game fits both of these conditions to a tee. The game is easy to learn, teach, plays quickly, and has some good decisions. However, the only reason it’s called China is because that is the graphic they chose to put on the board. The interplay of mechanics and scoring is clearly front and center here and that’s ok by me.

Old school euros have a lower ceiling and higher floor for me. I don’t typically have great gaming experiences with them but I’m also rarely disappointed by them. If you need a recommendation for an old school euro that delivers a really good experience I suggest Taluva. If you’re looking for another collection of mechanics and scoring conditions consider China; it will meet those expectations.

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Patchistory

This was played by A-Game, Bosun, and J over the weekend. Here is A-game’s review:

pic1949968_tI was looking forward to playing Patchistory. So I was glad when we brought it out for a three player game night. The focal point of the game is a patchwork map building mechanic. Each round, players bid on terrain tiles that provide different resources. These tiles are placed overlapping so you have to cover part of one tile in order to play another. Mixed into the terrain tiles are great leaders from history and architectural wonders. These tiles are permanent, so you can’t later over them. It was a cool mechanic that presented some very interesting decisions.

If the game was primarily centered around the map building, I think I would have really liked it. Sadly it was not. The remainder of the game consisted of bookkeeping and a long list of potential actions you can take each round. All the actions required the same resource (political points) so politics became the most important resource. If you don’t have a lot of politics, you can’t really do much. The actions themselves often felt uninteresting or unimportant. The only one that stood out to me was the ability to offer aid to your neighbor, which they can accept or reject and you score points either way, giving you the opportunity to offer something you know they will reject, so you can score points at no cost.

As the game goes on, the terrain gets more powerful, but the actions get more expensive, so it is basically a wash.

On the whole, the game had a few bright points, with a lot of fiddly bits in-between.

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I’d like to thank A-Game and J for contributing their reviews. We’ll keep it up as the year progresses and we continue to cross games off The List. Thanks for reading!

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International Spieltage 2015 AKA “Essen”

The logo could use some graphic designer assistance.

Tomorrow marks the start of the International Spieltage in Essen, Germany. It is the grandest of board game exhibitions in the world*. While I won’t be attending I thought I would share some things to pay attention to or look forward to regarding the convention. To learn more check out the official website: http://www.merz-verlag-en.com/

*Some may argue that Gen Con is the grandest and I would not fault them for that.

For the remainder of this article I will refer to the convention as “Spiel.” There are hundreds of games that are released at Spiel and the awesome, talented, and overworked W. Eric Martin of BGG (Board Game Geek) News has been compiling a list of those games ever since Gen Con concluded. You can find that list here:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/174654/spiel-2015-preview

I want to point out a few titles that look intriguing to me, but I’ll get to that in a moment. One of the highlights of Spiel, as a non-attender, is watching the BGG live feed. Game designers and publishers sit down with someone from BGG and explain or teach or describe their games. This is always such a great thing because it allows us to learn about the game in great detail. I’ll update this article tomorrow with a link to the live feed, otherwise you should be able to find it on the BGG website.

UPDATE: Here is the LINK to the live feed.

Use this link to see the schedule of games they will be covering.

Games of Interest

If I were attending Spiel I would be interested in these games. For the sake of my bank account it is a good thing I’m not attending, as this is a pretty long list. This list is in my order of interest with the most interesting being the first two and then decreasing interest as the list goes on.

Rome: City of Marble

Rome: City of Marble is a must-buy for me. I am personal friends with the designer, Brett Myers, and I had the privilege of playing this prototype. I couldn’t be happier for this game to come to market via R&R Games. It is a solid mid-weight Euro style game that is easy to teach and play. I can’t wait to get a final copy on the table!

The hook with this game is how players use tiles to create different type of buildings. I’ve never seen such an awesome use of Rhombuses in a game before!

Gold West

Gold West is also a must-buy for me (which I will likely do since it has been released here in the US). I am also friends with the designer, J. Alex Kevern, and had the privilege of playing this prototype. It is also a Euro-style game. This game, by Tasty Minstrel Games, utilizes a fresh twist on the Mancala mechanic where you drop resources in bins and get to use all the leftover resources for your actions.

There is a great amount of strategic planning to be done with the options available to you. Planning your moves with your resource bins is a lot of fun!

Dice City: (BGG link) This game looks intriguing as it allows players to upgrade their dice throughout the game and increase their options. Check out the great Designer Diary.

Karuba: (BGG link) I love when a game offers the same information to players and allows them to use it differently. Karuba does just that. Plus, this game looks light enough to be able to get it to the table quite a bit.

Taverna: (BGG link) The artwork on this game looks amazing. The colors really pop and it is vibrant. I am a sucker for good artwork. That said, there are a few cards with some scary or revealing images. Overall, though, this looks like it could be a fun worker placement game.

Grand Austria Hotel: (BGG link) I love Euro style games and this one seems to fit that mold, especially since it has artwork by Klemenz Franz. There isn’t yet that much information available for the game but I’m intrigued none-the-less.

Burano: (BGG link) This looks like another good Euro-style game. It has some cool color mechanics and the board art is visually stunning.

Istanbul: Mocha & Baksheesh Expansion: (BGG link) I love the base game of Istanbul. This expansion looks like it will add quite a bit to the gameplay while perhaps relaxing some of the interaction on the board.

The Prodigals Club: (BGG link) I love Last Will. It’s probably in my Top 10 games. This game, while a stand-alone game, is designed within the Last Will theme and can be integrated with Last Will. I’m looking forward to trying this one.

Nippon: (BGG link) By What’s Your Game, this looks like an excellent and deep Euro-style game.

Signorie: (BGG link) Also by What’s Your Game, this looks like yet another excellent and deep Euro-style game.

Side note: If you enjoy Euro-style games you should probably pay attention to the games that What’s Your Game is coming out with. I previously owned Zhanguo and I am wishing I hadn’t traded it away.

Trickerion: Legends of Illusion: (BGG link) I wish I had backed the Kickstarter for this. I love the magic theme and the way it’s integrated into the game. It sounds like it takes a while to play, but I think it’s probably a lot of fun.

Camel Up: Supercup Expansion: (BGG link) I love Camel Up. It is easy to teach, quick to play, and so chaotic that it leads to crazy moments of fun. This expansion looks like it adds quite a bit to the awesomeness in the game by offering more betting opportunities and more chances for camels to mix it up.

Hengist: (BGG link) I love games by Uwe Rosenberg and I own both the Agricola and Le Havre two player games, so I’m looking forward to this one as well. Plus, there’s a dragonship!

Liguria: (BGG link) I like the game Fresco and this is a prequel to Fresco so I’m hoping for good things from it. Russian

Favor of the Pharoah: (BGG link) Despite the uninspiring artwork of Bezier Games, the games themselves are a lot of fun. I expect the same from this Tom Lehmann game from Bezier.

Russian Railroads: German Railroads Expansion: (BGG link) Russian Railroads is a fantastic game. It’s kind of long so it doesn’t hit the table very often. But it’s so good, so I’m definitely interested in this expansion.

Quartz: (BGG link) I really like the artwork and theme of this one so I’m interested in seeing more about it.

Ticket to Ride Expansion #5: United Kingdom & Pennsylvania: (BGG link) Whether you are a completionist, a train fanatic, or just like the Ticket to Ride series of games, you’ll probably wanna pick this one up.

That’s list “short” list of interesting games that are available at Spiel 2015. What games are you most looking forward to?

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