Roux Dat #21: Venice, Fort, Stringamajig, and Papayoo

Hey board gamers, BJ from Board Game Gumbo here back with more tales of gaming down on the bayou. This has been a tough time for getting in person multiplayer games in, but luckily, I have a few gamers at home and I can usually get the Gumbo Krewe or the Gateway & Filler Games Group to play games online. Hit us up on Twitter or on Facebook and let us know what games you’ve been playing during this crisis.

But that’s enough blather, let’s get to the games!

Gondola Hollah, Ya’ll!

Ragusa was one of my most played euros last year, and made my top six of 2019. So I was super excited when Lewis & Emily from Braincrack Games asked us to help with their debut of the follow up to Ragusa called Venice at UKGE’s Virtually Online.

Designed by Andrei Novac and Dávid Turczi for a playcount of 1-5 players, Venice puts players as merchants picking up and delivering goods as they ferry their gondolas along the beautiful canals. Of course, there is a seedy side of Venice, and getting in touch with it gives players extra points toward victory. But you have to be careful — having too much intrigue at the end of the game will attract the attention of the Venetian Inquisition and the player will be arrested and automatically lose the game.

Leading up to the UKGE, I was able to get in two or three plays, and then a full streamed play with Sagan and Don at the Virtually Expo. The first play was shepharded by Lewis, the owner of Braincrack Games (thanks for the intro Emily!) who expertly guided us through the rules. Every play after that allowed me to get deeper into the mechanics.

Players have two gondolas but only one gondolier, so moving their boats around the canals to interact with the various buildings and markets will take some careful planning. It is basically a pick up and delivery game, but with a twist that each building will take in your assistants. That gives you free actions every time you pass by that building on a later turn, so the game quickly ramps up into lots of bonus actions. The later turns are so much fun! Lots of excellent combos where you dangerously increase your intrigue, and then spend it all for victory points and zoom into the lead.

Well, that’s how it was supposed to work for me but worked better for Sagan on the live stream. Don and I gave a good effort, but ultimately Sagan was victorious. I think the physical version will be even better, because the 3D look on the table of the boats stacking up and crossing each other in the canals will be very attractive. There is still a chance to get in on the pre-order if you want to pick up a copy yourself.

BJ says: Every play has been better than the one before. Venice is a combolicious engine builder of the highest magnitude, and the movement of the boats, play from the influence cards, and player interaction really makes the game a lot more thematic than other euros of its type. Big recommendation!

Geaux Fort and Prosper

My friend, Jason Dinger, has raved about his plays of SPQF, a small box card game designed by Grant Rodiek. I almost backed the Kickstarter, because the theme is very appealing to me. But, I knew that the theme might not go over with my family or scout game night buddies. Surprise, surprise: I had Patrick Leder stop by the show to promote FORT — Leder Games reimagining of SPQF into a cute, kid-friendly deck building concept of neighborhood friends building cardboard forts.

In FORT, players take turns using a hand of cards to score points by building the best Fort. The twist? The cards represent neighborhood “friends”, and any card you do not use in your hand (except your two BEST FRIENDS of course) does not stay in your deck. Instead, they are left out in front of your tableau where other players can grab them on their turns.

I’ve been playing this on TTS with some of the Gumbo Krewe, waiting for my hard copy to arrive. As soon as it came in, I gathered the Scout Dads for a socially distanced, masked-up game night. Very quickly the dads realized that drafting cards that synergize well together, leaving very few cards for others to steal, is an important part of the game. We only played once together, but every play for me gets better and better as I understand how each different suit works.

BJ Says: FORT has great art, great production, simple rules, and yet deep, deep strategy with just enough luck to keep everyone in the game. If we have one quibble, it is that the made up rules seem to be a little unbalanced, but I guess that is part of the strategy — get that for built quickly! I am four plays in so far, but FORT gets two thumbs way up from me and I am ready to play it again.

The String’s The Thing

What happens when you invite an engineer over for a little Scout Dad night during the midst of the Pandemic? You break out Stringamajig from Fireside Games, of course. Stringamjig is a party style game that was a little tough to play during the first four months of the crisis, but we are finally getting a chance to play.

Players have a timer of about a minute, and during that time, will use a long string to “draw” pictures from a random pull of cards in a deck. Each card has four words, and players will have to draw / interact with the word(s) represented by the numbers on the back of the cards remaining on the top of the deck. Players will get a point if someone else guesses their word, and the player who guesses the word correctly will also get a point.

The scoring is simple and intuitive, but there are advanced rules that can be played. Want a little bit more of a challenge? Go for two points by teaming up with a player, or getting the other players to guess your word without saying “the forbidden word”. We played the base rules that night, and had a great time.

BJ says: As the engineer said that night — this is the kind of charades that people that don’t like to act in front of people can get behind, because it combines the creativity of building things with short bursts of action.

Papame? Papayoo

The joy of playing simple card games is pretty self-evident. The rules teach is simple, it makes a great end of the night / start of the night event, and it allows for chatter while you are playing out the hands.  I am always on the lookout for games like this. While watching I Heart Board Games back in July or August on Twitch, I ended up joining them for a game on BGA called Papayoo, a card game from Gigamic that I had never heard before playhing the game that night.

The premise of this five suit trick-taking game is easy.  Players try to score as little points as possible (a la Golf), by avoiding taking any of the “Payoo” cards, which are all negative points from one to twenty in one suit. They also want to avoid the “7” card of one of the other suits — but which one is determined by a dice roll after players are dealt their hand, and then pass a few cards to the player on their left.

I have now played this game eight times since, and I love the way it plays like a slippery eel. Just when you think you have the game locked up and figured out, it slips out of your hands. And when it does — the red negative points can really pile up!

BJ Says: I am going to get a copy, a real paper copy, of Papayoo soon and bring it to all of the family gatherings this winter. It is the perfect game for gamers and non-gamers alike.  

THE WRAP UP:

So that’s it for our recent plays. Roux Dat will be back for more early looks at recent plays, especially in this uncertain time when it is tough to get a group of gamers together for a more proper review. Is there a game out there that you or your friends are curious about? Hit us up with a tweet @boardgamegumbo and we will see if we can get our hands on the game!

Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!

— BJ @boardgamegumbo

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