Hey board gamers, BJ from Board Game Gumbo here, back with more Louisiana flavor and tales of board gaming from the Krewe de Gumbo. Let’s get down to the Roux!
Since the outbreak, almost all of our gaming has been online. We have been able to play some old favorites with friends around the country, and even a few brand new games and new-to-me games. But, I miss my local game nights, including our Gumbo Game Night at Anubis and our scout dad Fridays! Who knows when we will get together again? Until then, hit us up on Twitter or Facebook (@boardgamegumbo) with your thoughts if you have played any of these games.
Enough blather, let’s get to the games!
Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s sprite for me
I am always intrigued when Plaid Hat Games releases a new game. It is probably because Colby Dauch and his team produce games with very strong themes that catch my eye. Some of the games have been a hit with us (Ashes, Summoner Wars) and some have been so-so (Dead of Winter). When I heard the Secret Cabal talk about this next one on their show, I couldn’t wait to try.
Forgotten Waters is the next Crossroads game from Plaid Hat, this time with a pirate and nautical theme. I love the Master & Commander series of books by Patrick O’Brien (which to be honest is more about sailing and has very little to do with pirating), so I had the envie to play.
We fired up the TTS version, and I was very impressed with the interface. We actually used the audio from the first scenario through Discord so we could get all of the flavor of the game. I am very impressed so far. By the end of the first scenario, which took us a little under three hours counting the rules teach (three players), I really felt like my survivor pirate had taken on his own unique identity. A brawler and an impetuous lad by nature, he could be counted on for quick decisive action and lots of muscle.
The beauty in the system is in the way that you develop the character. It is so multifaceted, and intuitive. The more you “practice” doing things by choosing those actions in the game, the better (for the most part) your pirate becomes at it, which makes sense. And, as you level up, you also have your fate and constellation chart, where you record any special upgrades you receive during the game. Collect enough of those, and you will receive an exclamation point token, which gives you access at certain points in the game to a Madlibs-style flavor text area on your board for even more character development.
There is also a story book map to explore. In the first scenario, our goal was to outrun the British ship chasing after us, while exploring the coastline in search of clues for the McGuffin. I won’t geaux into any more detail, because there are major spoilers in the game, but it is my understanding that while the linear nature of the story sort of stays the same, multiple plays generates random encounters, islands, and sea battles that play out differently each time you play.
The combat is fun, the treasure system is a blast, and there’s a constant dogfight for supremacy on the pirate ship that makes this a cooperative-until-its-not game, one of the Krewe’s favorite types of games. Our least favorite part was the Madlibs mechanic, but it was such a small part of the first encounters that it is a picayune complaint.
ROUX DAT SAYS: All in all, the first play of Forgotten Waters was not only a rousing success, but I am itching to buy it when it finishes the pre-order and starts hitting our local game stores. This could be the next big hit from Plaid Hat, for sure.
Arcana Do It Captain, I’m Giving It All She’s Got
Dave wanted to play Res Arcana, a game I think he bought on our trip to BGG Con. (Remember conventions?) I like most of Lehman’s games, and I’ve heard it is a new twist on the typical Magic: The Gathering / engine building mashup.
Players choose mages, and receive some starting “essence” (basically, resources), and a small deck of “artifact” cards. They will use the resources and cards to play the artifacts to their tableau. The artifacts themselves will give more resources, or special powers that can be used on later turns to help claim cards from a central market called Monuments and Places of Power.
The goal is to be the first mage to score ten points. At first, grabbing a point or two is easy, but the hard choices come because you never really add cards to your deck. So, to make some of the combos work, you actually have to discard cards from your tableau and get them back into your hand somehow. This is complicated by the fact that you only draw one card per round, but by turn three or four, I figured out that the tableau we build is like a mini engine builder that keeps getting wound up.
The art is really good — the artifacts practically pop off of the cards, even in the digital version that we played. I was surprised at how easy the game was to learn, and the scores were pretty tight by the end. We didn’t play with pre-made decks, and if I played the game again, I think I’d rather explore the synergy in the pre-made decks rather than just getting random cards that did not seem to work well together.
ROUX DAT SAYS: Plays quick and has a unique economy that has a tiny bit of player interaction. The tension in the racing aspect of the game is mitigated by the fact that players are churning through the magic items and resources and cards very rapidly. I’d definitely play it again.
Ohhhh, But We Are Golems, Golems!
ThunderGryph Games had a successful Kickstarter for a series of “Matchbox Games”, and the gimmick was these were five games that each fit into a small box container, but all had deep gameplay even despite the tiny components and footprint.
My nephew backed the KS, but wanted to play the games now. So, he taught me Golems, a quick playing very thinky card drafting and set collection games designed by Francesco Testini. Players spend gems trying to draft cards from the center offerings. Pick the best card in a particular set, and it’ll cost you gems, but wait for a card you want or need, and you just might make the other player pay for it instead.
Cards are multi-use: they could be resources, or set collection, or even bonuses. Keeping track of the different ways cards can be used, plus how many gems you have available, makes for some very delicious decisions all through the game. It is geared as a two player game that only takes about 20 minutes to play, and that was our play time during this try.
ROUX DAT SAYS: I’m actually intrigued to see this in its physical form. If it is really as portable and accessible as advertised, this would be a fun game to throw in to the game night bag as something to start the night out — a good “tapas” game as the Name Father likes to say.
THE WRAP UP:
So, that’s it for 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.
One final note: getting good pictures off our plays on TTS has been challenging to say the least. So, I had to supplement some of the photos of the games above from their Kickstarter campaigns. We’ll be back to our high quality mediocrity as soon as this crisis fades from our memories.
Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!