Spotlight on Southern Designers: Derik Duley of Lagniappe Games

At Board Game Gumbo, we celebrate gaming in the Deep South, with a Louisiana flavor. I’ve befriended another Southerner on Twitter, and here is his story…

profile_pic-originalDerik Duley was raised near New Orleans (coincidentally in the same town as Mike Becnel, designer of Battle Roads Miniatures) but made his way to the big city of Los Angeles. He is the designer of Hot Pursuit, a card game coming out from his company, Lagniappe Games, in 2017. We had an interesting email chat about his gaming experiences, his ongoing projects, and his love of andouille sausage. Hope you enjoy!

Derik, thanks for chatting! How did a Louisiana native end up in The City of Angels? 
Howdy! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me  Well, long story: my father owned Hit Videos, a video store chain that spread from Destrehan and Luling, across to LaPlace and Reserve, and all the way out to Gonzales. Unfortunately, in 1999 the competition with Blockbuster and a few unsuccessful business gambles led to our downfall. So, we fell back on our financial safety net: his parents. My twin-brother, father, and I moved in with Grandma at the northern edge of L.A. county, finished high school, and carried on with our lives.

Are you a full time designer or do you have another career?
I wish but I’m definitely not full-time, yet. For the time being, NASA pays the bills in exchange for working as part of the “Protective Services”. The job sounds awesome and involves a LOT of training, but is actually quite boring.
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How long have you been into hobby gaming? 
This is a tough question for me. I grew up only playing Uno as a family bonding exercise or getting my butt handed to me in Monopoly by my “youth champion” older brother. In ’95 I was finally introduced to a real game: Magic: The Gathering, but didn’t really get to play much until Freshman year of High School. In college, I REALLY learned how to play tactically. Daily, eight of us would push the lunch tables together and do our best to finally beat the guy with the “Power 9” deck. However, I was a broke college student, so I didn’t get to do the big tournaments. Then, I grew up and got a job… which required me to work over the weekend. Without friendly competition and chances to burn my brain on dynamic problem solving exercises, I was left with a gaping hole in my life.

Like most of the country, I didn’t know there was anything outside of mass-market games until 4 years ago. Thank God, I made some new friends at hockey who introduced my wife and me to CarcassonneStone Age, and (one of my favorites) 7 Wonders. Now, I’m all over BBG and Kickstarter (130 backed projects).

What kind of games tickle your acquisition disorder?
I enjoy strategic games but LOVE tactical games – making the most of what I’m dealt to overcome the odds with a big win is what gets my heart thumping. GruffX-Wing (for the dog-fights, not the miniatures), and most drafting games are my cup of tea. Asymmetry really grabs my attention, too. I’m so jealous of your Gen-Con party because you got to play and/or buy almost everything at the top of my wish-list right now.

Card in HandThe Krewe de Gumbo definitely had a great time at Gen Con 2016! So, how is the board game scene in LA? With that big of a city, it would seem pretty easy to game every night if you chose.
Unfortunately, “L.A. is big” is a misconception – L.A. County is pretty huge, though. The city proper is more interested in industry, music, booze, and t.v./movies. I used to be in a small group (max 8 guys) here but it has recently collapsed thanks to everyone either moving away or receiving new work schedules. I’ve tried to get everyone at work involved, but it’s just not their thing. The board game scene, like the hockey scene, is nowhere near me  We only have a tiny, struggling game store in town. However, I’ve met some guys with good size groups roughly 2 hours east and south from me, and there’s a great Unpub group down in San Diego. Starting to think I’ll have to make the commute if I want to keep playing – not having any more testers to work with is really killing me.

Are you a con-goer? 
So far, I’ve only been to small conventions. Strategicon is a local organization that puts on 3 cons a year at the Hilton just outside of LAX Airport. The first year I went to play and meet. This year I went trying to publicize Hot Pursuit just before the Kickstarter campaign. It uh… well… unless you have an existing, hyped up game to sell, it’s a lot of time and money for little return. Next year, I will DEFINITELY be at Gen Con and BGG Con – not just because I need to publicize, but because I desperately want to enjoy new games and meet these designers I’ve talked to on Twitter. Hopefully, I can even find you guys and we can spread some southern fun ūüėČ

Absolutely! Do you get to travel back to Louisiana and game?
No. Because of my job, I don’t get to go back often, and when I do, it’s to visit family, eat food, show my wife the sights, and stuff my luggage full of andouille (11 lbs on the last trip) <ed. note: andouille sausage, a traditional spicy pork and beef sausage made in Acadiana>. However, I’m really hoping to visit Avery Island on our next trip. It’d be awesome if I could talk my wife into a slight detour through Lafayette.

Definitely, come by and we’ll sample some Lafayette cooking.


Hot Pursuit Side BarHot Pursuit was a crowdsourced game that did not quite make its goal. I read on an interview with The Inquisitive Meeple that you compared it to a “big” version of Love Letter. How long have you spent working on Hot Pursuit? Tell us some of your design influences that led to the creation. 

I love that you read that interview! Hot Pursuit has only existed for roughly a year-and-a-half and has changed very little in the last year. I was specifically looking to make a party style game – something simple enough for lots of table-talk and able to scale up for large player counts. After 4 different ideas ballooned into bigger, Dark Moon sized games, I was venting to my lead tester. As a huge fan of Love Letter, his best suggestion was a bigger version of that. Well, I couldn’t do THAT, but his desire for a “secret” card that players were trying to find and hide led to the base of Hot Pursuit (bringing together 2 “key” cards). I can’t say any other game influenced this particular design – I just focused on the design goals: I didn’t want players to draw/discard/play because working from a finite deck severely limits scalability; if players had to get two specific cards together, I had to limit their ability to hoard; and so on.

You sound like a big fan of Jamey Stegmaier and Colby Dauch in your blog. How much have they influenced your work as an independent, up-and-coming publisher?
Mr. Stegmaier was HUGE for my initial growth and education in the business side of crowdfunding as an indie-publisher. I read that guy’s blog every day! Like probably every indie-publisher, I’d love to follow his example in building a successful company that can employ me full-time. (*Side note: he also spoiled me. He offers a subscription option for his blog so that I can get every post in my mailbox. I can’t remember to keep up with blogs I can’t subscribe to). Mr. Dauch, on the other hand, I kept up with for morale purposes. I don’t have a group of nerds to geek out over games with. So, listening to him and the crew on the Plaid Hat Podcast talk about games, and conventions, and design challenges kept me excited. In addition to these two “pillars” I get to look up to, I’ve been a fairly regular follower of Mr. Grant Rodiek’s blog at Hyperbole Games (the designer behind FarmageddonHocus, and Cry Havoc). He runs his blog exactly how I’d like to and has the same exact goals for his company and game designs that I do. It’s been pretty reassuring following him – like I might not be completely out of my mind ūüôā


I read a good quote from Jamey Stegmaier, something about not funding a Kickstarter project can be as useful or important as funding one (I am paraphrasing of course.) What is the top lesson you learned from Hot Pursuit’s Kickstarter campaign, and what are your plans to change?Project Image 2

Yes sir, NOT funding can be a crucial lesson. In this case, I was able to see that, although I had a bigger support group than I expected, it wasn’t very far reaching. A surprising number of the backers I didn’t know came from Kickstarter and other outside sources – not referrals. The two biggest problems with the game itself (not my marketing/advertising) were the very polarizing artwork and the gimmicky sounding player count (1 – 10 players). Now, I’m no dummy. I completely understand that such a wide player count is a huge red flag for most backers – it looks like I’m either over-reaching or just a terrible designer. For now, I’m working on improving my marketing material and publishing “How-to-play” videos to help people see how the game works. If people can see that I HAVE tested the crap out of it, that it IS fun, I think I’ll be able to get a lot more traction next time. Also, Dawson Cowals has stepped up to help redo/improve the look of the game – which can only help.

I am fascinated by play testing. How has your experience been with Hot Pursuit or your other projects? Frustrating or good feedback? 
Playtesting is one the biggest hurdles for new designers. We can NOT put out great games without thorough testing, but, without a reputation, it can be quite challenging to collect together a sufficiently large group. I cannot adequately explain how helpful constructive criticism is for a designer. Boy, could I tell you stories of observations, comments, and thoughts from testers that completely saved my games! Unfortunately, with Hot Pursuit, my feedback has been…weird. The form responses always felt like the writers are being polite, but I’ve managed to pick up a few hardcore fans, too. That being said, playtesting is the only reason I still believe in Hot Pursuit’s viability. The plays have been great! The laughing, the trash-talking… the way the table goes silent with thought and then lights up again with smiles, nudges, and knowing nods, is just amazing. The fact that I can put together a great experience for any number of players who were willing to sit down with me has been wonderful.

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Any favorite designers out there? Is there anyone that secretly you consider an “insta-buy” if you see their name on the box?
Man, that darn Scott Almes guy… I just can’t stop buying his Tiny Epic games. Tiny Epic Galaxies has a little bit of everything I love in a small box. Because of my “dead” group and videogame loving wife, I can’t really auto-buy any designer. However, Ryan Laukat (Red Raven Games)Teale Fristoe(Nothing Sacred Games), Grant Rodiek (Hyperbole Games), and Jonathan Gilmour definitely have my attention.

All right, time for some quick questions. Robert Crais or James Lee Burke? 
Uh… I ain’t read either. Don’t hate me! I have a lot of free time at work and I’ll definitely be checking in to Deputy Dave Robicheaux, though. I’ve actually been looking for novels exactly like these!

Boudin or beignets? 
Fried boudin balls with remoulade on french bread! Any other way, though? Beignets win.

Best place to get authentic street Mexican food in L.A.? 
Vallarta (a hispanic grocery chain). San Diego has some great restaurants, though.

Any juicy rumors you can give us about your upcoming projects?  What should we be on the lookout for with Lagniappe Games? 
Hot Pursuit is coming again at the beginning of next year. I already have a distributor interested and am excited to share the new art.

Web Banner*Juicy rumor-ville* I love Hot Pursuit, but I’m literally trying to get it “out of the way” so I can bring out Into a New World (a tile laying, abstract strategy, territory control game for 2 – 4) and SPACE BACON (*yes, you have to yell it like that*, a space racing card game for 2 – 4). Into a New World is my absolute FAVORITE game. Period. I’m not very good at perfect information strategy games like this, but I just can’t play it enough and no tester has been happy with only 1 game. Space Bacon is from a long time friend of mine.spacebacon_final_boxtop I commented to him that I wanted to make a racing card game. This is what he came back with. After a couple of games, I knew somebody HAD to publish that thing. Thankfully, he’s trusting it to me  Assuming I can get enough testers to make sure the games are as good as I think, they’ll be seeing Kickstarter in the second half of 2017.

Sounds great! Can’t wait to keep an eye out for Lagniappe Games. Thanks for your time and you are always welcome to come game with us when you make it to Acadiana. Laissez les bon temps rouler!

B.J.

Spice it up! with Stockpile

One of my go to games for introducing hobby games to new players is that classic bidding game, No Thanks!

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Designed by Thorsten Gimmler, it is super easy to teach, has a simple main mechanism¬†— how much is a player willing to¬†bid to avoid high numbered cards if the object of the game is to score the lowest points — and plays quickly. If you listen to the Dice Tower at all, you will definitely have heard Tom Vasel extol its virtues many, many times.

 

The edition I have is published by Z-Man Games and comes in a small box with good quality cards and nice bingo chips. No Thanks! is a true classic, and should be in everyone’s collection.

But it is a filler game, and after dozens and dozens of games, I am always on the lookout for that next step in bidding/auction games. Is your game group looking for a good auction game? Are your game nights getting bland with lots of filler-type bidding games and your group is ready for the next level?

Then Spice it up! with¬†Stockpile, an insider trading game from Nauvoo Games. Stockpile is a 2015 release designed by¬†Brett Sobol¬†and¬†Seth Van Orden. The game is made for 2-5 players, and plays in about 45 minutes to an hour (the shorter time is for players with experience — your first game will probably last a little over an hour).

I was lucky enough to be taught the game by one of the designers, Seth Van Orden.

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Coincidentally, my thumb is pointing at the designer. Somehow, he taught two games at one time!

Stockpile is essentially a buy low, sell high stock market type of game, with unique twists on bidding and stock information.  Each player can purchase one of six stocks, whose value fluctuates throughout the game. The key is that each player privately knows the movement of one of the stocks,  as well as all players sharing in the knowledge of one other stock.

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Good shot of the more advanced, wilder backside of the game board.

Next, the players randomly are given stocks and movement cards that are put into piles for¬†the players to bid on. That’s the best part of the game — each player is given a colored meeple representing his bidder. They take turns putting down a bid for the pile that they want, but can be outbid by other players. Once all piles have one bid on them, the auction ends, and the stocks are divvied up.

One of many games played at The Secret Cabal meet up Gen Con 2016

The auction takes only a minute or so, but has some very spicy and deliciously tense moments as players try to decide if they should go one more bid for their favorite pile. Of course, stocks can split or go bankrupt or give our dividends. And after the set number of rounds, the player with the most amount of money after selling all of the holdings is the winner!

Let’s talk about¬†the components. Wow, what a presentation! The game comes with a two-sided board, with one side being the beginning or basic board and the back side containing the same set up but with a more wilder way for the stocks to move.

Ah, look at all the lonely meeples…

The meeples are all high-quality painted wood bits, and the stocks and action cards are all on good quality stock. The money is a very nice touch. I fully expected your typical Monopoly-and-or-Payday type of paper money, but instead, I found that we had been given tons of colorful, good-quality, laminated money cards. Nice touch!

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Trust me, the pieces won’t move if you hold your finger on top of them.

How easy is the game to teach? The game play is best taught in steps, walking your new players or your experienced game group through the first turn, pointing out how the bidding and selling and stock movement works at each step. I promise you, once one turn is complete, even your greenest gamers will have the game down.

Does the theming carry through? As we say in Louisiana, this game “a la poche plein” (has its pockets full) of theme!¬†Games like this can sometimes seem random or just plain math-y, but at no time have we felt like that in the numerous games we have played. Instead, it really does carry the theme of inside traders eyeing each other to see who is bidding what, and trying to guess why. Does the purple player know something about the computer stock? He must know something, because he is bidding everywhere else — and now he is dumping all of his shares! Time to sell!¬†No doubt about it, this game is dripping with the theme of the game.

The dice from the Continuing Corruption expansion (will cover in a later blog post.)

Why is this game spicier than other auction bidding games, like No Thanks! and For Sale? Those are great games, some of my all time fillers, but they are lighter games that set up and play in about 15-20 minutes. Both have great decision making, and the bidding mechanics are fun, but there is not a lot of depth to them (and they are not designed to be deep games).

At our bi-weekly game night, one of the Krewe de Gumbo members, Bradly, turned to me during the last game. He remarked that this is a game he doesn’t mind losing (which mind you, in our game group does not¬†happen often). ¬†I am paraphrasing, but in essence, his point was that the experience captured by the auction, the joy in buying low and guessing correctly that your pick is moving up, and the delicious tension in deciding when to sell is all part of a very¬†fun ride. That’s pretty high praise indeed.

At some point, your group is going to be ready for a deeper experience that simulates the fluidity of the stock market. ¬†The conceit that everyone is aware of in Stockpile is that the movement is random — but that’s not the point of the game. The real genius in the design is that the game is not focused on the random movement, but instead the game is all about¬†reading your opponents, weighing¬†the movement cards that are public/private knowledge, and knowing when to gamble and when to play it safe. ¬†Plus, the auction/bidding mechanic described above is a brilliant touch and is the real standard bearer for the game.

Obviously, we are big fans of Stockpile and can see why it was on many “Best Of…” lists last year. Patrick from Blue Peg, Pink Peg said in episode 80 that it was his pick for family game of the year in 2015, and we can see why. If your game group loves auction / bidding mechanics, but your game nights are getting bland — if your group would love a game with lots of juicy decisions, quick game play, just enough depth and great presentation, then pass by your local game store and get yourself a copy. ¬†I give it four out of five cayenne peppers.

Until next time, Laissez les bon temps rouler!

B.J.

 

 

Take Two Links of Boudin And Call Me In The Morning…STAYING HEALTHY AT YOUR NEXT CON

Recently the wonderful people of Board Game Gumbo took a trip to Gen Con 2016. We had a fantastic time, played amazing and not so amazing games and generally enjoyed the whole experience. Best of all, not a single member of our large group brought back any unwanted additions to our growing gaming stockpile. (To my knowledge at least)

Staying healthy is easily the most important event anyone will undertake at a convention. In the recent blog posts¬†about the Krewe de Gumbo’s¬†Gen Con exploits, Bradly and I were called “the experts” because we had been to Gen Con before. Despite this being our third year (and I personally have attended many cons before Gen Con), I hardly consider myself an expert. If I were¬†such a thing, I wouldn’t have come home last year with a new game for my immune system to play.

So since we all hate being sick, and we must the face the reality that we have to return to work healthy,¬†I offer you¬†some basic guidelines on keeping “con crud”¬†at bay.

  1. Wash your hands, you filthy animals. Now you might be thinking, ‚ÄúBut Bryan, I’m not filthy, I wash my hands all the time.‚ÄĚ Awesome, you are one less person who needs to be reminded. But there are plenty of people who are just too busy to wash, preoccupied with all the awesome convention stuff, or worse, they just don’t think about it. Then this amazing thing happens–those very same filthy people proceed to touch everything: the doors, the tables, the chairs, the game pieces, even the merchandise you thought was safe to handle is now home to everything anybody all day was carrying on their hands. So for the love of everyone’s health, wash your hands. If you find yourself in a rush, keep hand sanitizer handy, it helps. (ed. note: Go to Walgreens or CVS, buy the little bottles of hand sanitizer that has a clip attachment, and ATTACH TO YOUR BAG!). At the very least rinse your hands. A recent CDC study found that just rinsing will remove a reasonable amount of germs from your skin surface. THIS IS NOT TO REPLACE WASHING, but better some effort than none at all.

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    If that’s what it takes…
  2. Diet is very important when it comes to fighting off disease. I, like most people, have a (probably unhealthy) love of cheeseburgers. But at convention, as B.J.¬†mentions in an earlier post, it is essential to keep your immune running strong. If you are like me and know full well that your con diet is something heart surgeons refer to as ‚Äújob security‚ÄĚ then at least take a multivitamin. Basically, if there is any way you can make sure you get at least some healthy stuff into your digestive system, then just do it.

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    More of this, and less cheeseburgers, at least once per year.
  3. Sleep: Lack of sleep is a leading cause why people get sick. Once your body is exhausted, it becomes much more susceptible to disease. This is probably why I ended up making microbial friends last year. In short,¬†dear reader, don’t be like Last Year’s Me —¬†go get some sleep.

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    Cat nap, anyone?
  4. OK, so normally one would expect exercise here, but really I know myself. If I didn’t exercise before, I’m certainly not going to start now. So instead, I’ll offer advice that most places won’t. If you are not used to being on your feet for several hours and miles a day, for the love of meeples, make sure you take breaks. Stop and rest, don’t exhaust yourself. Drink water, your body will lose water through breathing and bathroom, and it needs to be replaced. This falls into the same idea as getting enough sleep, an exhausted body is vastly more susceptible to illness.

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    You, right before the Gen Con 5k, right?
  5. And finally,¬†don’t kiss the coughing chick or dude. Look, I know we are having a good time, and it is a social event, but when someone looks like death warmed over, it is best to avoid them. If they are playing in a demo or sitting next to you in a panel, be sure to wash and/or sanitize after, preferably before you touch anything. They aren’t trying to get you sick, but those germ jerks don’t care what either of you want, they just want a home where they can settle in, have a good warm environment and proceed to screw up your convention and/or weeks after.

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    You like that new game on Kickstarter, Pups? Me, too! Want to come with me to Steak and Shake? 

Look, this is all basic stuff I admit. But I think most of us would be surprised to learn how often you will see people at conventions not following these very simple suggestions. So until next time, stay healthy, keep gaming, and have fun.

–Bryan “I am not a doctor” Barnes

 

Top Ten Stories at Gen Con 2016, Part Deux

Gen Con: the con where a million different publishers vie for attention with a trillion different gamers.

Hyperbole? Of course.

But it is true that many different stories bubble up to the surface during the Best Four Days of Not Sleeping, 2016 edition. (If you missed number 10-6, click here).

Here is a look at the next five of our top ten favorites in part two of the two part series:


5. Stronghold inks deal for strong, historical design

Showman extraordinaire Stephen Buonocore pulled out all the stops at the Dice Tower Live show. Donning a monk’s robes right in front of Tom Vasel, with appropriate music (and an wardrobe malfunction!), Stephen announced that Stronghold Games had signed a partnership with German publisher Spielworxx to bring to the USA Sola Fide: The Reformation.

This is the latest historical game designed by superstar team Christian Leonhard and Jason Matthews. These are the designers who brought you 1960: The Making of the President, and Campaign Manager, two very well regarded games. Jason is also the co-designer of Twilight Struggle, which was the number one game on BGG for a long time.

What a coup for Buonocore, who loves making a splash but also really, really loves bringing great games to the public. According to the press release, the game is scheduled for public debut at Essen 2016.


4. Biggest Dice Tower Live show….ever?

The Krewe de Gumbo arrived on different days of the show, after driving over 1000 miles from Louisiana to attend. The Krewe had the pleasure of re-assembling all together at the Dice Tower Live Show on Friday.  The time period was a bit inconvenient, as the Fantasy Flight In-Flight Report (a very popular event for some of the Krewe) was scheduled by Gen Con at the exact same time.

Yet, even with one of the yearly most anticipated events going on, Tom Vasel and friends sold nearly 1200 tickets to their two hour live show. And when the time came to open the doors, the lines were stretched all through the convention hall.

The Krewe barely reached their seats along the left wall in the back just as the show started. This was a very professionally put together show from start to finish. It was in Gen Con’s largest ballroom, with plenty of comfortable seating. The room had professional sound with large screens for better viewing.

We saw Patrick from Blue Peg, Pink Peg frantically handing out raffle tickets along with Marty from Rolling Dice, Taking Names podcasts, so we knew there was a huge crowd.

You can catch the show on YouTube if you missed it the first time. Suffice it to say that the banter was friendly and good natured, the songs were mostly right on point, and the news was surprising and fresh. Speaking of news, there were announcements of new games from Eric Lang, a new company from Rob Daviau, and a new game coming out from Stronghold (see above.)

We predict that the Live show will not grow any bigger, but that it will grow in importance each year. Having designers with the stature of Lang, Daviau, Englestein and Matthews all attending the show will bring the crowds in (and press) each year.

3. Sell outs, sell outs, sell outs.

Not all of the stories are completely one-sided happy stories. For the board game designers who wanted buzz about their games, the numerous sell outs that occurred¬†just on the first day generated tons of free publicity for their releases. ¬†The sell outs ranged from the expected (SeaFall) to the not surprising (Cry Havoc, Harry Potter) to the surprising (The Networks) and many others.The bad news? For those gamers who wanted these games and did not shell out for VIG passes (“very important gamer” passes, which are expensive but give insiders an early bird hour to shop), they left empty-handed and disappointed.

But the good news? As Tom Vasel says over and over, all of the sold out games will get to your local game stores and/or online merchandisers eventually. And, the buzz that was generated around these games will hopefully generate more in sales down the road.

The side benefit? Those with a fixed board game budget at Gen Con but were disappointed in not getting the first game on their To Buy list, had  room now to pick up other games. We saw lots of people pivot to good titles release in the last year or so, or check out the little known or little hyped games being released at the Con. Maybe you were one of those that picked up a Murano or a Celestia or an Imhotep or an Imperial Settlers instead of the Hotness?

2. Legacy games are here to stay.

Pandemic Legacy was a critical runaway hit, zooming to the top of the BGG charts. SeaFall sold out in minutes on the opening day of the Con.

If this news didn’t cement the Legacy concept as the newest flavor, then surely the news that Ted Alspach’s hit franchise being extended to the Legacy format will.

One Night Ultimate Werewolf Legacy? Color me intrigued, at least.

But seriously, where does it stop? I believe there is much more room to grow in the Legacy concept. There are plenty of games out there that could be made better with a campaign style, destroy-some-cards customization.

But when a game company announces Uno Legacy, I’m out.

1. Cry Havoc, everybody’s most-wanted.

Not to take anything away from SeaFall, which had considerable hype going in and did predictably brisk numbers on day one, the real fire that burned through the Con was the Grant Rodiek-designed, Portal-sold four player slugfest.

The buzz was inescapable. Everywhere we went, people were talking about the game. The lucky few were even playing it.

Reviewers were crowing that they had found the next Kemet or Blood Rage.

Will this game have the staying power of a Dominion or Ticket to Ride or even Blood Rage? Who knows, but at least for four days, Cry Havoc was king of the hill.


So there you have it, the top ten stories that stirred the Gumbo pot at Gen Con 2016. Leave us a comment here or @boardgamegumbo on Twitter if you agree or disagree.

Until next time, Laissez les bons temps Rouler!

B.J.

Spice it up! with Imperial Settlers

Every December, BSA Troop 10 holds a board game / video game camp-in called the Cyber Camp-in.

One scout troop. Twelve computers linked to a home brew network. 12 straight hours of gaming, with Age of Empires/Mythology on every screen!

Usually, the adults and Eagle alums play board games like Kingdom Builder or Betrayal at House on the Hill or King of Tokyo or a hundred other board games. Most of the younger scouts gravitate toward the Minecraft servers. But, I will admit that a big highlight has been setting up multi player contests of RTS games like Age of Empires.

As much as I like board games, I always get a special smile when I see the guys on the big AoE / AoM server.

My sons and I have had many, many nights battling each other in those classic RTS games. Sure, Civ gets a lot of the awards and crew, but to me AoE and AoM just seem more fun. (And faster, too!). I am always on the look out for a board game that can duplicate that classic feeling of searching the landscape for resources, building your little settlement into a powerful civilization and declaring victory.

So, there I was at Gen Con 2016, at the Portal booth for probably the third time, when I swept my eyes over Imperial Settlers, Ignacy Trezewiczek‘s big seller the last two years. Although Imperial Settlers has some great expansions, tons of good pub, and a rabid following, I have never played the game.

I have been looking for a good game to get my 16 year old back into board gaming. He is at the age where he thinks bytes are more interesting than bits, and CPUs are more impressive than cardboard. Oh, he still loves Viticulture (and he really enjoyed playing Cry Havoc recently) but he would rather jump on his favorite MMO any night.

So, I asked Ignacy to give us his best 30 second pitch — why should we buy Imperial Settlers.? He took one look at my son, Jack, and asked if Jack had ever played a computer civ type game. “Sure,” was the reply, and Jack immediately mentioned Age of Mythology. Ignacy’s eyes lit up, and he proceeded to describe his game.

It is a card board version of your favorite civ games, said Ignacy. You will send scouts out, develop your civilization, add production and buildings, and even attack opponents if you want, he promised.

All of that made my heart sing, and my son eyes widened. We snapped it up right there. But is it enough to entice an RTS fan to put away the keyboard? (With a big thanks to @thediceyreview1 for the germination!)

Well, if your family game nights are getting bland or even nonexistent, and your family loves RTS civilization games like Age of Empires, then Spice it up! with Imperial Settlers.


First, a little bit about the game. Imperial Settlers is essentially a civilization game, with a race for victory points lasting five rounds. Building cards, action cards and special featured cards which can all help you gain victory points all come in a common deck from which all players will draw.

But, the base game also comes with four factions (Romans, Barbarians, Egyptians and Japanese), each with a unique faction deck.  

The players send their “scouts” out to look for more territory (in other words, draw faction and common deck cards) as the first part of the round. (Aside: we use the three card round robin drafting style now instead of the basic draw as it is quicker and more fun, plus it seems more thematic).

Next, the players “produce” resources from the buildings they have built and the trade deals they have made. Then, the players use their cards and resources (meeples, coins, fruit, wood and stone) to build buildings or take actions from the cards to produce effects like more production or more victory points.

The players take turns doing one action in round robin fashion until all players have passed their turn.  During those actions, the players can target their own common cards or even each other’s common cards using “raze” tokens (the little sword tokens shown below) which can help to generate resources or even slow an opponent down.

 This helps keep the game from being a ‘solitaire’ contest of civ building, since you always have to watch out for the other player’s buildings. Knowing just the right card to raze (either in your hand or your opponent’s territory) is a big key to winning the game.

After five rounds, the bonus points from building your faction and common building cards are tallied, and a winning civilization is declared.

So why is this game spicier than Age of Empires or Age of Mythology computer games.?

First, well, it is a board game, right? Here at the Gumbo, we are all about analog cardboard treasures, rather than pixelated solo games (yes, I know AoE and AoM can be played multiplayer, but the vast experience is playing solo).

Second, I love the playing time. Ignacy has built an engine type game with only five rounds to play, so players with experience can knock out a good game in about 45-60 minutes. (Your mileage will vary depending upon experience and AP prone issues.) There is something delicious about playing a relatively quick game that has so much depth to it.

Third, I love the asynchronous play of each civilization. The factions play differently, and while luck is always a factor (this is a card drawing game, right?), luck can be mitigated with good strategy and recognition of the combo opportunities that each faction deck provides.

I have read on BGG many posts suggesting that one faction is better than the other, and that just tells me that Ignacy has done a good job with the fourth important factor, namely, balance.  In our early games, the Egyptians seem to be the strongest, but already the wheels are turning as to how the Romans and Barbs can get around the Egyptian money stronghold.

What about art and aesthetics? Here is where the game really shines. I love the artwork on the cards. Each tells a little story, and you can tell that someone really thought about the design of the player boards, the iconography and the placement of art on the cards. Really well done.  I have to point out one flaw — the type on the cards is way too small for comfortable reading. I would go with bigger type in the next printing, because it is noticeably too small.


I have not tried the solo option, but I will as I usually like learning about the depth of the game during solo play. I also have not had the opportunity to play the Japanese faction, but will update the blog when I do. We have had so much fun playing the first three factions, and we all feel like we are still scratching the surface on strategy with these three.

Portal Games has already put out at least one new faction (the Atlanteans) plus expansion cards for the factions and common cards (Why Can’t We Be Friends, 3 Is A Magic Number), with more on the way. So, if you are worried about the staying power of your game, there is always ways to spice it up.

We love this game! Just as I hoped, my son and his friends really latched onto this game. It goes on a short list of board games that feel enough like a video game to attract the attention of the video-obsessed teens. We agree that even after a half-dozen plays, there is still so much more to explore. Plus we have the expansion packs, the new factions, the Aztecs on the way…poo-yie, that’s a lot of game!

I give Imperial Settlers 5 out of 5 cayenne peppers, and congratulate Ignacy Trezewiczek for a tight, elegant civilization design. So next time you want to drag your teen off of the latest civ game he is playing on the computer, Spice it up! with Imperial Settlers.

Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!

B.J.

 

OUR GUMBO-FU IS STRONG

The guys from the Gumbo have received lots of emails and texts checking on the Krewe. Yes, the pictures of Louisiana don’t do the devastation justice, but our little communities have come together like never before to help each other clean up, clear out, and move forward. Our gumbo-fu technique is the best.

There are still lots of people heartbroken due to the loss of property or vehicles, and the flood waters have not yet receded. Muddy bayous that run “black as Coca-cola” (as Radney Foster would say) are still rising. Unfortunately, there have been tragic stories of lives lost in the confusion from the storms. The rains were unexpected and unprecedented. As an example, one of the members of game group built his house two feet higher than a 500 year flood requirement — and saw water lap up to the edges of his door jamb. That’s a lot of rain.

But the good news is that all¬†of the Krewe members survived with our health, although we are down a couple of vehicles and a lot of carpet! We’ll keep playing, and posting, and preparing the ingredients for the next Gumbo. ¬†If you can’t laugh at life, Life laughs at you.

So thanks for asking, and Geaux Gumbo!

Until next time, laissez les bons temps rouler!

B.J.

(Thanks to my buddy Timmy B. for sending me this rainbow over the river.)

Top Ten Gen Con Stories of 2016, Part One

Gen Con is huge, noisy, exhilarating, and intimidating all at the same time. Is it about buying games? Or playing games? Or seeing friends? Or making new ones? Regardless of why you went to Gen Con, here are our top ten stories that developed during the Best Four Days of Not Sleeping, 2016 edition:

 

#10 — NAUVOO GAMES GETS NEW LICENSE

Any Brandon Sanderson fans out there have to be pumped with the news that The Reckoners has been licensed by the guys that brought the excellent insider trading stock game, Stockpile. I actually visited with Seth Van Orden and Brett Sobol on Saturday after our demo of the Stockpile game, and they hinted that the game is in development and should be faithful to the series.

According to the press release:

Today, Nauvoo Games announces the acquisition of the license to design, produce, and distribute a board game based on The Reckoners series by Brandon Sanderson.

The Reckoners series is the #1 New York Times bestselling series featuring the novels STEELHEART, FIREFIGHT, and CALAMITY. Each book hit the top of the charts upon it’s one of Brandon Sanderson’s most popular series to date. Featuring heart stopping action, laugh out loud quips, and some of the most unique superpowers, this is one of the top action-adventure young adult properties of the last few years.

The Reckoners board game, designed by Seth Van Orden and Brett Sobol, allows players to take on the roles of the novels‚Äô protagonists and work together to save the world. In The Reckoners board game, players must overcome multiple ruthless and power-hungry ‚ÄėEpics‚Äô ‚Äď the equivalent of supervillains ‚Äď that each have unique, game-impacting abilities. Players must decide how to resolve these competing priorities together to eliminate epics and ultimately win the game. How, when, and where you act will determine your victory or failure.

Consistent with Nauvoo Games’ mission, The Reckoners board game will be easy to learn, quick to capture your attention, and enjoyable to play over and over again. Experience the thrill of fast-paced action planning in The Reckoners, coming soon.

Easy to learn? Quick to capture attention? And enjoyable, too? Sounds like the perfect game.

#9 — RESTORATION GAMES

At The Dice Tower Live show on Friday, Rob Daviau announced the formation of a new company, Restoration Games. I can’t describe the company any better than he and his partner do on their home page:

We take games from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s and fix them up for the modern gamer. Because every game deserves another turn.

Truer words have not yet been said. If I went by sheer buzz, this was one of the “buzziest” stories during Gen Con or in the Twitterverse. Their brilliant marketing ploy was to ask a gamers attending the con (or you can go to their website and vote) a fun question, “What favorite game from your childhood would you like to see brought back but updated?” Holy meeples, Batman, that’s like asking the Pope if he would like to say a few words about forgiveness.

By the way, the only true answer to that questions is “Dark Tower.” You’re welcome.

Good luck to Restoration Games, and can’t wait to see their first production.

#8 — GEN CON NUMBERS — HOLDING STEADY???

According to various news outlets, Gen Con LLC pulled out all the stops to increase the turnstile attendance for this year. The for-profit company added tons of new exhibitors, expanded into Lucas Oil Stadium with True Dungeon and Cosplay events, and eased the crunch on gamer wallets with a “value priced” four day badge.

Did it work? Is Gen Con topping out?

The seven year streak of ever increasing turnstile attendance continued, with over 201,852 attendees in 2016. That figure was up 2.5% from the previous year’s attendance. The downside was that unique attendance was flat, ending just over 60,000 (about the same as last year, hence the term “flat”, Mortimer.)

The 4 day badges were popular, with a 4% increase in unique holders. And the events themselves were much higher. Did you know that there were over 16,500 different ticketed events? I didn’t (especially since so many were sold out by the time the Krewe got serious about attending.)

Next year, Gen Con turns 50. That will generate one heck of a marketing push, I’m sure. They have already expanded into the stadium, so I am not sure what else the con can do to increase attendance, but let’s keep an eye out over the next year. See you August 17-20 in Indy!

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#7 — QUIET GAMES MADE HEADWAY AND STOOD OUT FROM CROWD

One of the pleasant surprises at Gen Con was the fact that “little” games from “little” companies can really rock the convention. Sure, the big titles (SeaFall, Cry Havoc, etc.) dominated news coverage leading up to the con. Sure, there was a mad scramble for those games when the Con opened.

But, everywhere we went, people were talking about smaller companies and smaller games.  Case in point — Celestia was being played everywhere and selling for a good price (I even saw a small group playing it behind the “stage” at The Secret Cabal meet up on Saturday night.)  3 Wishesseemed to be selling well, and a tiny company like Formal Ferret Games could have a big hit with The Networks, even up against all of the marketing hype of the Asmodees of the world.

That’s great news for our hobby, and great news for smaller publishers. Gamers love to game, and if you give a gamer a great time, word will spread.

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#6 — BGG HOTNESS = BIG HIT!!

If you were hanging around the Board Game Geek forums right before con (and if you weren’t, are you really a board gamer or did you just stumble onto this page because you like Cajun food???), then inevitably you saw a wonderful thing happen. Somewhere, somebody mentioned playing hot games from the 2016 releases.

Bingo bango, the next thing you know, Eric Martin and his wonderful crew at BGG took over. They sent the call out to the publishers to bring in copies of the best and brightest games from 2016. There were at least 60+ games in the room when the Krewe de Gumbo made our way to the Hotness Room!

What a great idea — with the mayhem going on in the Exhibitors Hall and in the board game area, it was nice to find a quiet area away from the craziness where you could sit down for two hours with your friends and try out that hot game you have been wanting to see. We here at the Gumbo went straight for Imhotep, by Phil Harding-Walker, a game that so many people have raved about. Unfortunately, none of the members of the Krewe de Gumbo own the game, so it was never going to get played until we checked it out.

Three plays later, the game is a firm hit in our group (and has already been played again at our Gumbo Gen Con-Con.)

Hopefully, the crew at BGG (that’s Board Game Geek, not Board Game Gumbo, Mortimer,) can keep the BGG Hotness Room going in 2016.

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You are halfway there through the Biggest Stories from Gen Con 2016. Come back soon for the second half, and as always, we welcome your feedback.

Until next time, Laissez les bon temps rouler!

B.J.

 

Mais, Put Dat Game In Dat Bag: Gen Con 2016 Wrap up, Part Trois

It has taken me a week just to recover enough sleep to write the end of our Gen Con saga. But even as the best tasting link of grilled boudin has a finite end, the Best Four Days of Lack of Sleeping had to come to its glorious finish.

After the long night of gaming and dehydrating at The Secret Cabal meet up, the Krewe was slow starting on Sunday. But by exhibit hall opening, we were ready to make one last tour.

I learned that at Gen Con the list of things you don’t get to do — that you really, really wanted to do — is a much, much longer list than the things you do get to experience. Ah, well, c’est la vie.

Sunday morning started bright and early with Mass at the nearby cathedral. Beautiful Mass, and the bonus was that the priest was a huge gamer who came in for the week. He and his brother priests gave the local priest the week off, while they gamed and covered all of his Masses.After an early morning Mass, nothing beats fueling up. Phillip and I jaunted over to the breakfast at the Westin Hotel. While I loved the hotel, I was not that impressed with the breakfast. I give the buffet 2 out of 5 cayenne peppers (for the fruit and oceans of orange juice.)

 

Father O’Connor from KC, as I recall.

Next up, was admiring the New York 1901 minis and Goons of NY expansion that Bradly and Bryan braved the crowds to get for me on Thursday.

 

Check out those awesome pre-painted figures. Great detailing and painting on each color. The well made package comes with enough to replace all of your architects, and even a free little variant so that you can still use your originals as part of the game. Plus, Blue Orange printed up the expansion / variant designed by high school kids in an after school game design club. I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks very challenging and breathes some new life into the game for those that have played it multiple times.

 

Limited edition! Not shown in actual size. 

 
I just knew that by Friday or Saturday Blue Orange Games would be sold out, and they were! That’s good news for NY 1901 fans craving for a new board, right? Let’s get on the horns (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and convince them to green light any future enhancements to the game.

 

Ah, now the doors to the dealer hall finally opened. The gang spread out, in hopes of catching the last of our to-do list. First up for Dustin and Dave was trying out Merchants & Marauders.

 

“You think Elvis Costello is a genius? Bruh, you crazy.”

 

Phillip went to the Pokemon booth to pick up something for his daughter, while I checked out The Dice Tower’s corner booth in a back alley. And there, I ran into this guy…

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Third letter unfortunate accidents provided by….SeaFall

Eric Summerer was kind enough to visit with me about the Board Game Gumbo segment. He shared with me that his number one hottest game at the con was¬†Harry Potter:Hogwarts Battle. That’s not surprising given the IP, but what was surprising to find out was how much the few people who have gotten their hands on it (it sold out its very limited release early each morning of the Con.) It is such a rich intellectual property that I hope this is the first stage of a long road of good quality Potter games.

 

Then it was off to Portal’s booth. By this time, Dustin had already gotten his minis problem from Cry Havoc taken care of. Even though the game had long sold out, Ignacy was able to find a damaged copy and traded out all of the good miniature figures for the mad amount of robots in Dustin’s game. Dustin was one happy camper at that point. Again, big props to Ignacy’s team at Portal. They were wonderful people to meet and provided excellent customer service even under trying times.

Anyway, I asked Ignacy to give me a good pitch for Imperial Settlers. I liked it so much, Phillip and I ran back to the board game area to watch a game. I liked that so much that I ran back to Ignacy’s booth and promptly bought the game from him:

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And I was standing on a six foot tall box wearing David Bowie platform shoes, too. 

Ignacy is much, much taller than he looks on video. He joked that he has to scrunch down when he does photos with Stephen Buonocore so that they don’t look too incongruous together. If you ever get a chance to watch a demo by Ignacy or even just talk board games, you will see (1) his command of English is rapidly improving; (2) he has an enthusiasm for gaming that is unmatched in the industry; (3) his work ethic is legendary and well deserved¬†and (4) he is just a fun guy to be around.

There were a few more stops, all quick hits for us. We looked at the very nice but very expensive Kingdom Death Monster new sculpts. We watched demos of The Networks and Trekking the National Parks (very close to buying the latter, and will buy the former as soon as it hits retail). We even snuck in a great demo from Adam Rehberg¬†who had been pitching a new craft beer game called¬†Brewin’ USA.

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Mmm…..craft beer. But no Abita yet.¬†

You can tell that Adam loves the theme  because it shines through in his presentation and in the components. If I had not been so tired and a little ready to hit the road, I might have hung around that booth longer and picked up the game. It looks very intriguing.

That ended the tour of the hall. While waiting for the Krewe to assemble for the long trip home (a pirogue can only be paddled so fast), we grabbed a quick few turns of King Chocolate.

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Count de Chocolate

Here is a game that I am puzzled by the BGG fan reactions. Yes, the box is a little plan, and the artwork could use a boost. But, the game itself has some interesting mechanics in how you chain the chocolate production. It would seem a reach at two players, but we found there were a lot of strategy calls with three. I am not ready to buy it, but I would certainly play it anytime someone brought it out to the table.

That wraps up our Gen Con tour for 2016. I will have one more post with my final thoughts and Top Ten News Events at Gen Con.

Until next time, Laissez les bon temps rouler!

B.J.

 

 

New TCG? RIP, my bank account

Good news, all you Gumbo fans out there. We have a brand new, to the USA at least, ingredient to add to all those gaming cook pots. The Japan Expo had some new and exciting things going on with it but the announcement that the Final Fantasy TCG would be translated and coming to America was definitely one of biggest for me.

For those who don’t know the TCG Hobby,  Hobby Japan and Square-Enix collaborated to make the game and it has been in Asia since 2011 and is now coming to the West with translations to English, French and Spanish.

 

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The game plays similar to vanguard in the idea of having front and back line characters, the fact that you have no life total but instead discard cards from your deck and are ‚Äúdead‚ÄĚ once there are seven in your damage pile. The game also has some elements of Magic the Gathering in that you need to generate resources from your hand and back-line to play cards in the first place. Also these cards must generate the proper kind of resource for the card you wish to play.

The reviews I have found or been able to translate with Google Translate and my limited knowledge all say the game plays in a unique fashion not found in other games. It is supposed to play fast, as little as 20 minutes, which is really good for tournaments and game stores.

The whole game looks very interesting and the publisher stated when the game released that it was meant as something for both beginners to learn on, yet have the complexity that veteran players crave. The starter packs are 14.99 EUR which is about 16 USD while the 12 card booster packs (which is new as previously boosters were only 8 cards) is 4.50 EUR so about 5 USD.

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All in all I’m very much looking forward to this new addition to things that drain my banking account. I like the blending of mechanics from other games, well known characters from all across the Final Fantasy lore, and settings. With any luck, this will be a good release and give all of us card game players out there something to look forward to.

The release should be in September of this year with three main theme sets being released in either Final Fantasy 7, 10 or 13. Each theme deck corresponds to an elemental pairing. If you want more info here is a link to a French review: (google translate works) as well as the images courtesy of this French site.

Until next time, keep stirring the roux.

-Bryan

Reviews & News — Recap of Gale Force Nine’s GEN CON 2016 Offerings

Gale Force Nine is a company that may be more familiar to fans of Dungeons and Dragons than to board game enthusiasts.  For years they’ve been releasing collector’s edition models from the D&D world along with supplemental items used during roleplaying games.

Two games currently being released by the company should be bringing them quite a bit of attention from board gamers, however.  The Krewe de Gumbo had a chance to get first hand looks and plays at these two offerings.

The first is Tyrants of the Underdark, a game from the designers of Lords of Waterdeep but that plays more like Ascension with some added territory control.  

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Area control + deck builder = winner

 In the game you play as warring houses of Drow using allies and political intrigue to gain control of various territories in the Underdark.  The brain trust at Dice Tower were lukewarm on the game, but also were not big fans of the theme.  I absolutely love the theme, as I am a diehard Dungeons and Dragons fan, so this one is on my must buy list.

The other game currently being released by Gale Force Nine is Star Trek: Ascendancy.  I had a chance to demo this game at Gencon 2016 and really enjoyed it.  This is a 4X game where players take control of entire nations within the Star Trek world and fight to become to dominant species of the universe.

Playing the game with me and forty of my closest friends at Gen Con 2016

The game starts out simply enough, with each player choosing one of the nations to play as and taking control of that faction’s home world.  At release the game will only come with three options:  The Federation, Klingons and Romulans.  Each home world produces one of each resource a turn; the three resources being production, research and culture.  Production is used to build things, research to either advance technologies or upgrade ship weapons or shields, and culture is either used sparingly to found new colonies or advance your faction’s Ascendancy, which is one of the win conditions (if a player ever reaches 5 Ascendancy they win).

Each faction has an additional way to gain culture.  For the Federation it’s exploring and finding either space phenomenon or other civilizations, while the Klingons gain culture for killing enemy ships in combat.  And then each race has a weakness as well.  The Federation, for example, cannot invade planets or colonize any primitive civilizations; they have to follow the Prime Directive.  

The game plays through dual phases, with players first taking a Building Phase.  This is where they can use resources to build more ships, one of the three resource nodes on a colony they control, or they can build additional colonies on unpopulated planets.  They can also assign research to technologies and upgrade their weapons and shields.

The second phase is the Command Phase.  Each nation begins with 6 commands a turn.  They can use these to do things like moving ships, invading systems and starting space battles.  Once a player is done with their command phase you move on to the next player who starts their Building Phase.  This continues around the board until the end of the turn, when players bid with resources for turn order for the next turn.

One of the most thematic aspects of the game is exploration.  Each player begins with only their home world and nothing else on the table.  But by moving ships away from their home world they discover new planets and possible space phenomenon.  To do this you first roll a die to determine how big of a space lane there is from one place to another.  The die will result in a 2, 3 or 4.  You then place that sized space lane, connected to the location you started from, to a new location drawn from a random pile.  Your ship shows up in that new location, which may be a hazardous space nebula that has the potential to destroy your ships, or a habitable world, or a space phenomenon.  You then draw a card from the Exploration deck, which tells you what you encounter at that location.  Maybe you come across another advanced society, or maybe you’re attacked by pirates.  You might even stumble across benevolent species that will help you research one of your technologies or allow you to upgrade your ships for free.

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Close up of some excellent bits

These locations stay on the table for the rest of the game and are usable by anyone who can get to them.  Explore enough and you’re bound to run into the opposing factions.  This is called First Contact, and from that point you have the option to exchange trade agreements with the opposing players.  Each player has three Trade Agreements and can give them freely to any player they have had first contact with.  You can also recall the agreements at any time for any reason.  Trade Agreements cost you nothing, but they give your opponents Production each round that they can potentially use against you.

Fights between players are either space battles or planetary invasions.  In space battles you’re trying to destroy the other player’s ships.  You roll a 6 sided die for each ship you control and they roll one for each ship they control.  Players start with weapons that hit on a 5 or higher, but this can be modified (each time you research better weapons, you hit on one less).  Players can also research Shields, which decrease opponents’ chance to hit their ships.  There’s even the chance that a player researches enough Shields that they are unhittable by an opponent (if you hit on a 5+ and your opponent has Shields of 2 then you need 7+ to hit; there’s no 7 on a 6 sided die).  

In Planetary Invasions you’re trying to take over an opponent’s colony, or possibly a neutral one.  Your ships attack the planet, and if you score more hits than the planet has defenses you overwhelm it and take control of the planet entirely.  If you tie or score fewer hits than the defenses of the planet then you have to destroy a number of resource nodes on that planet equal to your hits.  You may end up taking the planet, but you could destroy everything of value on it first.  Both Space and Planetary battles continue in rounds until one side surrenders or is obliterated.

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Go where no man has gone before…

Star Trek: Ascendancy has just enough complexity to allow for numerous strategies while still being simple enough to grasp in a single playthrough.  In that regard, for me, it joins games like Scythe and Forbidden Stars in terms of complexity (just enough, but not too much).  It also has multiple win conditions; the most common path to victory is by advancing your Ascendancy to 5.  However, you can also win by controlling a total of 3 home worlds, as long as one of those is your own.

I thoroughly enjoyed my demo of Star Trek: Ascendancy, but I’m not certain I’ll be buying the game just yet.  The idea of a game that can only be played with 3 players worries me a little bit.  And then there’s the price; $100 MSRP for a 3 player game is asking a lot.  In the end, although I do enjoy the game, I think I will have to wait until the 4th and 5th player expansions are released before I can convince myself to buy it.  Those expansions are already in the works, so I shouldn’t have to wait long.

— Bradly Billingsley¬†@BradlyBillingsl