Roux Dat #26: Paleo, Call To Adventure: Stormlight Archives, Christmas Lights

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 some steady friends who will get together online frequently.

Hit us up on Twitter or on Facebook and let us know what games you’ve been playing during this crisis and what games you think we should play!

But that’s enough blather, let’s get to the games! This month, we are discussing Paleo, the new Call To Adventure stand alone release, Stormlight Archives, and the Yuletide approved card game, Christmas Lights.

Paleo

My fellow Games & Filler Group Facebook group member, Jay Bell, passed by Gumbo HQ for some socially-distanced gaming across my big conference table recently. He brought with him a new Z-Man release that I had been intrigued to learn, Paleo. It’s an early humankind themed game, where players try to develop tools and survive a series of challenges in true cooperative fashion.

 

One of the issues with co-op games is the quarterbacking conundrum, where one alpha player seems to dominate the game and tell everyone the “optimal” moves to play to win. That issue always makes the line between co-ops and solo games a little blurry in my mind. But, Paleo tries to fix this by having each player use a separate deck AND making the draws blind. It is not as easy to tell another player what to do when you do not really know what is on the hidden side of their card draws, so I think they were successful in that regard.

Players have tasks to complete before they run out of lives on their workers, who have skills that help pass those tasks. The trick is that the actual tasks and rewards are not public until they are picked. We played the very first scenario, which Jay had played and won before, and we were victorious. Turns alternated between super easy tasks to overcome all the way up to super difficult, so there was a good mix of smooth sailing and tension throughout.

Roux Dat says: The artwork is kind of funky in a cool, minimalist way, calling to mind cave paintings but somehow in a modern style. I’d call it “Caveman Advertising” style, if that is such a thing. Overall, an enjoyable co-op that left me wanting to explore more of it, but one that I’m just not sure would geaux over well with the scout dads or family gamers.

Call To Adventure: Stormlight Archives

If you are a fantasy fiction reader from the 90s, you are familiar with The Wheel of Time series, which stalled out a bit after the decade flipped to the 00s. But, Brandon Sanderson took over the Dragon Reborn series, kicked it into high gear, and saved the franchise. That high energy finish was my first introduction to his writing, and after finishing The Reckoners series, I dove straight into the Stormlight Archive. We had already played Call To Adventure a couple of times at the Gumbo, so when we saw a module for Stormlight Archives on TTS, so we jumped in to see what were the changes.

Stormlight Archives is a stand-alone addition to the Call To Adventure series. Everything you need comes in the box, but it definitely helps if you are familiar with the base game. This time, you are a building a character in the Stormlight Archives world. In the past, we have always wavered back and forth between going for more points to win the game, or just grabbing cards that really fit with the story you are trying to tell with your character. That’s something you don’t see in every game, and we wondered if the same would happen here.

To our surprise, it was even more true than the base game. So much of the Archives plot and characters and flavor are built right into the cards and the art, that it is hard not to get caught up with making less than optimal decisions that help your character arc. The game takes less than an hour to play, so its not like you are emotionally invested in your score so much after only twenty minutes of play.

Roux Dat says: Brotherwise Games continues their hit ways with this stand-alone edition. I’ve now played the base game, the Rothfuss inspired expansion, and the Stormlight Archives stand-alone, and by far, this is my favorite iteration.

Christmas Lights

With the weather in the 60s, gumbo pots boiling on every stove in Acadiana, and the online shopping sites promising “free delivery with $100 purchase”, it has clearly reached the Christmas season here in Louisiana. My wife and I had some Harry Connick Jr playing in the background, and she had just finished wrapping up another set of presents, when she asked to play a game as a good break.

The folks at 25th Century Games sent us a copy of a Christmas themed game called Christmas Lights that looked perfect for a wrapping presents break. The rule set was pretty small — think a competitive version of Hanabi with the spatial puzzle of putting christmas lights on a string in order as per your private objective cards — and we were off and running in just a few minutes.

I got behind pretty early with some bad bulb choices, and my wife picked up the strategy right away. Before I could even get a strand done, she was finishing up her last bulb and won.

Roux Dat says: Christmas Lights is a light little card game with the Hanabi mechanic of not seeing your cards and having to deduce what is in your hand from what other players’ tell you. It is way more engaging than I expected, as I tried various strategies of either dumping cards quickly for more info or desperately trying to memorize the placement of a few key bulbs. The theme actually comes through a bit due to the simple yet appropriate graphic design of the bulb strands.

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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