Hey board gamers, BJ from Board Game Gumbo here, back with more Louisiana flavor and tales of board gaming. It’s time for more post-game QB-ing after our recent Gumbo Game Night this week.
Five tables of card and board gamers braved sub 65 degree weather and a brutal 5 mph north wind to enjoy a busy night of gaming at Anubis Game & Hobby! And we stayed late, hoping the energy expended in playing brand new board games would carry us safely back through the unnaturally chilly weather to our vehicles.
In Space, Everyone Can See You Roll
First up for my table was Space Base, a 2018 game published by AEG, and designed by John D. Clair with art by Chris Walton. The premise of this game is simple: take everything bad about Machi Koro, bag it up in one of those clear plastic baggies you find in the CSI: New Orleans prop department trash can, and light it up on your Old Smokey. (Just don’t add any lighter fluid if you are using Kingsford MatchLight Charcoal, because then the baggie will be inedible.)
Maybe a little more clarity is in order.
Players will take turns chucking two six-sided dice to generate energy for their space base, which they can assign to the various ships in their fleet so long as they have a card matching the numbers generated. The ships will then generate bonuses — money, victory points, or other effects.
In a twist on these games, players can take either the sum of the two dice, or the two individual die results — whichever one is better or more strategic. The even better twist is that everyone else can do the same thing, as if you could peek over your friend’s shoulder and watch bootleg copies of Mork & Mindy in sixth hour Civics while the teacher is busy with a parent conference. The only difference is that rolls on your turn affect the cards on your base only, while the roll results on other interstellar travelers’ turns affect the cards above your base (called, of course, ‘deployed’ cards because they have been de-played and the designer prefers the more astronomically sounding “oy” instead of “ay” sound.)
So, right off the bat, players are spying cards in the marketplace of available ships, looking to build an engine of sorts on their base. And yes, Dustin, that creates endless delicious decisions right on the very first turn!
Do I go for ships that I can assign to my 6, 7, or 8 numbered spaces (which sends the card already there into the “de-played” stack, so that I can get those benefits on other players’ turns?) Or do I go for the lower numbers which will come up more frequently because of the “use either or both dice rule” even if the bonuses aren’t as tasty? Or better yet, do I go for the 10, 11, and 12 spaces because they are just so darn over-powered even though they rarely hit? These decisions are so diabolically delicious that I can almost taste drops of Dale’s Seasoning still on my lips from game night.
We played five players this week, with all but me having never touched the game before Wednesday. The four other players picked up the game right away, and Chris made some great decisions to focus on the green track on his board and stomp on us for the win. He focused on moving his green cube up not only because scientifically it really is the best board game color, but also because the third twist in this game is that when you spend your hard-earned coins on a new ship card, no matter the cost, you spend ALL of your money on the coin track. (This rule is easy to remember if you have ever wasted even an hour in the numerous casinos we have in Louisiana, where no matter your intention, your wallet will be empty at the end of each visit.)
The green track acts as a base line or back stop each time you spend coins. At the start of your turn, instead of having zero money, your coin marker will magically appear on the same spot as the base level green track marker. This can be really powerful in the endgame when you are purchasing the high victory point cards (called “High Point Cards” or you can use the acronym “C.O.L.O.N.Y.” cards for short).
The green cube strategy is certainly not the only way to go, however. All four of Chris’ opponents….well, all except for me….so I guess I should have said, “all three of Chris’ non-me opponents”…..were within striking distance of the win. Sagan had a cool two card combo where he needed to place three cubes on one of his cards to win automatically, then figured out a way to smuggle those cubes on that card without actually rolling a draconian 12. He had one left to go when Chris hit 40. Matthieu and Ben were using big money cards in different sectors of the board and enjoyed watching those eights and nines hit pretty often.
Me? I was a little too busy yelling at Kaylee to fix that gollum press regulator, stat, to be bothered with developing a winning strategy.
Roux Dat says: The whole game took about an hour from teach to finish, which is the perfect board game night warm up game, especially if you are a big fan of dice chucking, engine building, space themed, race games that take about an hour. My only complaint is that a handy dandy cheat sheet for each player regarding the quirky rules on the cards and the VERY IMPORTANT flow of the game would be helpful (and likely pretty cheap to put in the box, right?). But other than that, Space Base is a keeper.
One year ago at Gumbo Game Night, seven players descended into the battle royale known as Scythe, and only one member came out alive. Okay, that’s a little melodramatic, and in truth, we are all still very much alive. But we just had to celebrate the one year anniversary of Adam building a more efficient engine and threatening combat. And I can think of no better way to celebrate Adam’s win than to play another game of Scythe!
For those of you scrounging for game bits inside an overturned pirogue, Scythe is the multiple award winning 1-7 player exploration, engine building and combat game designed and published by Jamey Stegmaier and Stonemaier Games. Players take on rival factions in a post-Great War landscape that vaguely looks like Europe if my three year old granddaughter redrew the borders with her etch-a-sketch for fun. Players will employ their workers, create mechs, and use amazingly detailed character miniatures complete with mascots to cheer their way to victory. The game ends when one player completes six end game goals (called “stars”), and then the money earned during the game is combined with money earned for various end game objectives to declare the winner.
It is hard to believe that it is almost 2.5 years since Jamey delivered this beauty to Kickstarter backers, and yet, my juices still gets flowing every time we play. With experienced players, we can play Scythe in about 90-100 minutes even with a full five to seven player count, and for me, it is non-stop heart-palpating excitement the entire time. Plus, we had the joy of playing on Bradly’s tricked out Scythe set, which includes every expansion and every upgrade. I think he even has the very secret alien faction from the Crystal Skull expansion, but I have not tried it yet because my Mayan is a little rusty.
We had one new player, Matthieu, who flew all the way from France just to try out the blue Nordic faction. Kyle played the purple Togawa faction, but was disappointed in some of his early round decisions. I am pretty sure I tipped at least two of his traps. Kent and I laid siege against each other, taking the yellow Crimean and black Saxony factions respectively. And Adam took on the green faction, dropping those Kermit-colored pieces all over the alternative 1920s europa map with cackling glee and reckless abandon.
In the end, my blitzkrieg Saxony combat strategy netted me first to six stars, but the Albian faction out earned me for the win. The end game money calculations were just like my brother and I going to the Acadiana Lanes and comparing wallets at the end of the night, circa 1986, all over again. But just like those amazing Friday nights, even if I had the lighter leather, I had a blast and would do it again.
Roux Dat: I have heard that Scythe is all hype and no substance. Nothing could be further from the truth! It is still my favorite game from 2016, and still a blast to play. For sure, I understand the complainers calling it a “euro dressed up as a dudes on a map” game, but there are plenty of other hybrid games out there who are still beloved. For sheer sweaty palm goodness, Scythe deserves to be in most gamers’ collections, so long as they do not have a doctor’s note diagnosing them with an allergy to fun.
Bradly: I have spent absurd amounts of money on several games. Along with the actual cost of the game I am an obsessive sleever, and have a tendency to buy way too many ‘upgrades’ offered, whether they be screen printed meeples, organizers, metal coins, expansions, promo packs, etc. My bank account has contacted an attorney on several occasions due to the abuse I put it through. And there are some games that, I’ll be honest, I regretted ‘blinging’ out to the Nth degree. Scythe is not one of those games. I don’t have everything for it (even I had to draw the line at the metal mechs), but I am close. And it’s been worth every penny, even if it doesn’t get to the table as often as I’d like. It was my clear Game of the Year in 2016 and still one of my top 10.
The History Must Flow
Faithful readers of this blog know that The Flow of History is one of the all time favorite end of the night games for Gumbo Game Night. It is a card based civilization game designed by Jesse Li and published by Tasty Minstrel Games that plays 2-5 players in about 45 minutes. We have talked about Flow many times in this blog, so check out our previous posts or our review here if you need a detailed description.
Bradly is a pretty tough cookie to beat in The Flow of History. But, Men Of The West, Hold Your Ground! Carlos, Kent and I battled as hard as we could over every card, and all employed different strategies than we usually do.
I chucked my usually reliable monument strategy to try to combo end game cards from the blue and orange. Kent forwent his usual military strategy to grab the monuments I wanted. Carlos went all out on military, and spat hard on my proffered handshakes of tribute and trust. Bradly started off way slowly with his pretty reliable handshakes strategy, but made up a lot of ground at the end when he grabbed the perfect card for his tableau. But in the end, it was not enough and Kent complained his way to victory.
Roux Dat Says: I do not know when this game should be considered as published, so I will just say it is my favorite card game of 2016, 2017 and 2018, except for those I like better. Suffice it to say, Jesse Li has two amazing games under his belt (Ponzi Scheme and The Flow of History) but you better like player interaction and have a good ticker. There is tons of tension in these two games. The Flow of History is in my collection, and I will play it almost any time I’m asked.
Bradly: There are three copies of this game in our fairly small-ish group of about a dozen regular attendees on Wednesday nights. That alone is a mark of just how good it is. Of the three, I am the only one rocking the non-deluxified version; and the truth is, I prefer it. Although I really do wish that TMG would sell the deluxified buildings separately, I absolutely love the footprint of the retail version. The box is about half the size of the deluxified version, and that makes it my favorite small box game of all time. There are few small box games that feel like MUCH larger games, but Flow of History sits atop that list for me.
Best of the Rest…
I may or may not have non-signed a non-disclosure agreement, so I can’t talk about the super secret game Carlos is working on loosely based on a HEYHEYWHATDOYOUSAY theme about SOMEONETOOKYOURPLANSAWAY that plays in about SOWHATSALLTHEFUSS. All I will say about the play test is that if you like THEREAINTNOBODYTHAT, then you will really enjoy SPIESLIKEUS when it comes out.
John taught this pirate themed game about using a high school geometry compass to discover hidden treasure to a group of three players. He said it had wonderful components and amazing table presence. The hidden treasure, along with Long John Silver’s conniving clues, made for a very memorable gaming experience.
Bradly: I got to play this one at BGGCon with some other Gumbo regulars, and I am really looking forward to another play. If you like one-against-all or hidden movement-style games, this is definitely one to be on the lookout for. Although vastly differently in theme and even some mechanics, there’s a similar feel between Treasure Island and Fury of Dracula. If you like one I really think you’d like the other, but Treasure Island has the benefit of being an overall simpler game and playable with a larger audience. However slightly finicky the different components of the game can be, the gameplay more than makes up for it.
John said this was the pleasant surprise for him. He was not expecting to enjoy Inis, but the card drafting along with the sudden death victory conditions sets this area control game apart from a crowded field.
Istanbul: The Dice Game:
John taught a newcomer to Gumbo Game Night this quick dice throwing filler from AEG, that is based on the original Instanbul, the 2014 SdJ winner. (See our full review of the dice version here.) John said he still enjoys the original, but for him, the dice version totally replaces Istanbul. The Dice Game maintains the feel of the original, while cutting the playing time in half. A top shelf filler.
Another gem from the mind of Ganz Schon Clever’s designer. John said this pleasant five minute filler asks you to determine which card has the most of a particular color on it, and then arrange the cards in order from most to least. Each card has different shapes and multiple imagines in four colors (red, blue, yellow, green). On the back of the cards, it tells you the percentage each color that was represented on the front. A fine choice to bring out every now and then.
Nations: The Dice Game
I spied Bradly and the rest of the gumbo gang playing Nations: The Dice Game while we were in the middle of Space Base. I am not sure if they were able to get in the new expansion that I think Bradly picked up from Stronghold Games’ booth at BGG Con. The expansion is high on my list to play, because I like the base game a lot and I am interested to see what it adds.
Rajas of the Ganges
R&R Games has a lot of fun euro games that they bring in through their partnership with Hoch. Rajas is one of those games. It has an interesting combination of tile laying and a head on race game, where the game ends when players’ markers starting on opposite sides of the board finally meet. Plus, it has a lot of colorful dice, almost a smorgasbord of pips! I was playing Scythe when they set this one up, so I did not get to get a second play in.
So, that’s it for Gumbo Game Night and our post-game quarterbacking session. Roux Dat will be back with more commentary and reviews about the games we are playing. Is there a game that you would like to suggest for the next Roux Dat? Send me a tweet @boardgamegumbo and let’s chat about it.
Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!