Roux Dat #18: Recaps & Reviews of our Recent Plays of Succulent, Roar And Write, and Tales of BarBEARia

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. (Unfortunately, it is tough to take good pictures of some of the games).

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!

All The Single Tiles, All The Single Tiles (Wa-oh-oh, Oh-oh-oh!)

First up, let’s talk about a brand new game from Renegade Games. Alex Goldsmith from the Dukes of Dice podcast taught Succulent , designed by J. Alex Kavern.

Succulent is a two to four player tile laying game with some fun engine building built right in. Think Spring Meadow by Uwe Rosenberg mixed up with a little bit of higher order Splendor. Alex had played it this weekend at Renegade’s online convention, and knew it well enough to teach it to us on Tabletopia.

Here’s how it works: Each player is given a board, made up of five garden plots, each with a different type of flower on it with spaces to hold water droplets. You only have two things to do in the game. The first is to move your garden tiles onto the main board, covering up those same flower colors and getting water drops for your garden.

The flowers that you end up collecting are useful for completing public objectives which give you lots and lots of bonuses and game scoring. The teardrops can be spent as resources later.

But the coolest little mechanic lies in the other action you can do on your turn. Besides putting out tiles, you can take your player piece and place it on one of the objective cards. This not only gives you more tiles to work with but also gives you the opportunity to get a bigger water droplet if ever anyone completes that objective, including you.

What’s the difference between the small and large water drops? The small ones can help you get more resources, but they are spent when used. The big blue water droplets not only give you access to more resources of the color (à la Splendor), but they can also cover up spaces that give you end game points.

All of that sounds like a lot to think about, but the reality is that the decisions are all relatively small and quickly made. In fact, the beauty of this game is that it takes those familiar Patchwork style mechanics of covering spaces to score points and gives it the added punch of engine building and set collection in a very satisfying, clever way. Alex did a great job of teaching this game, well enough that the Name Father beat me pretty handily.

BJ SAYS: I love tile laying games, and adding the engine building component made for a good mix of potting soil and nutrients that’s sure to sprout up some fun. Yep, I went there. Thumbs up on our first play, and I would really like to see how it looks in person instead of on the digital screen. This is definitely something to pick up for playing on date night with my wife.

Some of The Baby Animals Are Now Ten Years Old

The golden age of the rando-writer continues! Our friends over at Galactic Raptor Games are publishing a roll and write successor to Animal Kingdoms, an area control game design by Steve Aramini that has garnered good publicity in the past year.

Carla Kopp over at Galactic Raptor used the base principles of the board game, and then played with them a bit into a quick playing 15 minute roll’n’write called Roar And Write. Carla designed this version and was nice enough to send us a review copy in advance of the Kickstarter coming up on June 30.

I played the game solo at first, then taught Steve, and Jeremy “The Game Geek Ninja” joined in. Jeremy was very familiar with Animal Kingdoms, so he gave us some of flavor while we played comparing and contrasting Carla’s version.

All the usual tropes are present: the active player will roll six normal six-sided dice, and all of the players will use those dice to fill out their player sheets. Players can use one of the die rolls on the upper half of their player sheet called the Kingdoms area. This are is where players score points by matching objectives. For instance, if you can write in two pairs of numbers that match, you will score a certain number of points at the end of the game. But only one number per dice roll (and there are three rolls to an age, and five ages to the game) so choose wisely.

A player could add more numbers to the Kingdoms area, but if they use more than one die from a roll, they will have to mark off spaces to be used in the other area of the sheet, called the Council Offerings. In that area, players will also try to match objectives, but this time, instead of just being for end game points, players will score each round when they complete an objective. The game incentives scoring more just the same objective card over and over, however, by giving you access to bonus points at the end of the game the more you explore the other areas of the game.

This one tickled my brain hard in the first five minutes. Trying to juggle all the math in the different areas made for some very delicious decisions! But once we had gotten midway into the first age, we started to see the patterns that we needed in terms of dice rolls to score points. It took us a while with all of the jawing, strategizing, rules questions and visiting to get the first game in, but I easily think we could play in 15 minutes now that we know what we are doing. And since the dice that are rolled are pooled for the community, there really is no limit to how many people can play the game.

BJ SAYS: I love tile laying games, and adding the engine building component made for a good mix of potting soil and nutrients that’s sure to sprout up some fun. Yep, I went there. Thumbs up on our first play, and I would really like to see how it looks in person instead of on the digital screen. This is definitely something to pick up for playing on date night with my wife.

Bears, BarBEARians, and Battle Star Galactica

When Jambalaya says he has a game for me to try, I am all ears. Jeremy Howard finds some of the coolest themed games around. So, when he texted me about jumping on to a game of Tales of BarBEARia with him, I signed up right away.

Greenbrier Games published the original BarBEARian Battlegrounds, a dice based worker placement game with a unique theme of bear barbarians that promised quick play and simultaneous action. Now they have a new version coming out called BarBEARian Battlegrounds: Tales of BarBEARia.

Tales of BarBEARia aims to step the game up a notch. Sure, the dice placement is still there, but there is so much more. The tag line “They are cute, but stabby” really fits this game well. Players will roll dice secretly, and then use the dice on their player boards to try and gather resources. But bears apparently don’t play friendly, because it is a tight little area majority game where we will compete with the strength of our dice in getting those resources and actions. If there is a tie, a quick roll off battle will occur — but it is never easy, because during the game, players can upgrade their board and mitigate dice rolls with resources and special abilities. Besides fighting over resources, players can also just flat out fight — sending bears to fight or to defend attacks.

The whole point of the game is scoring points, though, and there are some tracks that have to be spied on to ensure that you are not falling behind too much in battles, for instance. I was lucky enough to get a teach from the developer, Julie Ahern (who will be on the show Tuesday night!), and had a great time playing even if both Julie and Jeremy stomped me. (In truth, we were finishing up the last round when TTS overloaded itself, but Jeremy had a good lead).

BJ SAYS: I love the premise of the game — cuddly little bears who will not hesitate to tussle over the victory point areas. There is a lot of great art, and lots of juicy decisions built right in. Will you go for resources or upgrades, or will you control the points? Will you rely on your luck and play for the tie and try to win the roll off, or will you geaux all out? It is your choice! Tales of BarBEARia presents a great blend: an interesting theme mixed with efficiency puzzles that injects just the right amount of intense player interaction.

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.

Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!

— BJ @boardgamegumbo

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