Saturday, 26 September 2015

First Plays - Thoughts on Some Games I've Played Recently

I've played a few new games recently, and while I've not yet played them enough to form an opinion (most of these I've only played once), I thought I'd set out what I thought.

Roll for the Galaxy

I've played Race for the Galaxy quite a few times, and I do like it, but I'm very bad at it, and find sometimes it is hard work trying to do well which detracts from the enjoyment of the game. Enter 'Roll for the Galaxy'. In many respects it is very similar to it's older cousin, but instead of using cards, you use dice to build colonies and developments. You roll your dice, and while you can choose any action, the symbols which are face up on the dice determine whether you can use roles selected by other players as well.

I thought this game was really neat, I already like it more than Race for the Galaxy, and although there's still a full range of different strategies you can choose from, it feels less work because you often have less options to choose from when making decisions and less things you can build at any one time.


I've had this game for quite a while but never played it before, but had a couple of games at the club this week. Boy am I bad at this game, I was eliminated very early on in both games. To me it is a bit of a mix of The Resistance and Love Letter. Some people may think this is slightly bizzare comparison but that is what it was like to me. Like Love Letter, you (at the start of the game anyway) have two role cards to choose from, but unlike in Love Letter you don't have to play it. You take an action either based on one of the roles in your hand, some default actions not related to a particular role, or by bluffing and pretending you have a roll card. People can call your bluff though, and one of you will lose one of your two roll cards then.

I certainly don't love this game (I don't think I ever will), and as I said, I'm very bad at it, but I'd be up for playing again sometime. Certainly it's okay as a quick filler.


This is a really nice looking worker placement game, set in a sort of post-apocalyptic future I believe, not that the theme matters. It has got some really interesting mechanisms. Your workers are represented by dice, I think you start with two but can acquire more. You initially roll all your dice, and can play only one at once, unless there are two or more the same in which case you can play all of them that turn. Once all of your dice have been played on the board, you take a turn to recall them and then re-roll them all in your play area. There's a snag though. If the total of all your dice is more than a certain number, you lose one of your dice/workers. So you want to get more workers to get too many or you might lose one.
From Board Game Geek

There are all sorts of action spaces your workers can go on, many of them are better the higher the dice number (but sometimes the reverse can be true). There's spaces that affect your maximum dice roll before you start losing workers, there's spaces that increase your card hand limit, and there's the usual spaces that get you resources, cards etc. There's also a rather neat mechanism whereby you can use resources to help build a building. It does tie up workers for a while, but it gets you a victory point star and what's more once it's built anyone who didn't contribute to the building suffers some sort of penalty or restriction to what they can do. Haven't seen this sort of thing before.

Overall a really interesting worker placement game, I enjoyed a lot. It didn't hurt that I won either, after my friend Neil (whose game it is) announced in no uncertain terms near the end of the game that he had definitely won. Victory is sweet!

El Grande

I included this in my list of 'Top 10 Games I Missed Out On' on my blog recently, and my friend Gareth noticed and brought it along to one of our next games evenings - thanks Gareth! I really enjoyed this game. It is one of the grand-daddy's of area control games as it came out 20 years ago now in 1995. It is a deceptively simple game, you get a hand of cards numbered one to thirteen and you choose one to play each round. These cards do two things. Firstly, they indicate turn order - the person who chose the highest numbered card goes first. It also has another number on which indicates how many pieces you can take from your stock to your supply (i.e. bring into use to be able to play on the board). The low turn order numbers have more stock-supply markers, the higher numbers don't allow you to bring in any pieces, so you've got to carefully manage which cards you play when.

The players then, in turn order, choose a card from one of six action cards available. These also have two functions, firstly to dictate how many pieces you can play on the board, and secondly it gives you a bonus action you can take which can be anything from 'move five of an opponents pieces anywhere on the board' to 'score an area'. Unless otherwise indicated by cards, there are three scoring rounds in the game, and you'll get different number of points for having the most pieces in an area, second most, third most etc.

In many respects this is such a simple game, but I really like it a lot. Shame it is so hard to get hold of an English version. Though I've just read there's a big box version coming out later in the year...

Mice and Mystics

I've wanted to play this for quite some time, and as it is advertised as for 7+ we thought we'd be able to play this with our six year old daughter who plays quite a few 8+ games quite happily now. I was therefore surprised at just how complicated this game was. By that I don't mean there's lots of really complicated strategy, there really isn't. It's just that there is a lot of rules to remember. There's all the general rules, then there's specific rules for the scenario you are playing. That's a lot of rules to remember and get straight. I watched the 'How to Play' video a couple of times, and read the rules before I'd got it completely figured.

In the end, I decided not to play it with my daughter, so my wife and I played instead. I liked the story aspect of the game, but because we kept checking what we were supposed to be doing it detracted from it a little. Probably not my preferred type of game, but I'm glad I got to play, and think it will be worth picking up again in a year or two and playing with my daughter.