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.
But that’s enough blather, let’s get to the games!
This month, we are discussing Dune: Imperium, the new worker placement / deck builder from Dire Wolf Digital, as well Carpe Diem from Alea / Ravensburger and Winner Winner Chicken Dinner from 25th Century Games.
The Spice Must Foe
Dune: Imperium is the newest deck building game from Dire Wolf, the designers of Gumbo fave’s Clank! series. This time, players take on the personalities of some of the famous (and not so famous) characters from the Dune series of novels, written by Frank Hebert. With a new movie coming out soon, the hype is high and Dune: Imperium is burning up the hotness charts.
Our physical copy is stuck in delivery limbo, but I played a game with my nephews and with Evan (designer of After The Empire) on TTS while we wait for the copy to arrive. I expected a dry resources-for-points type of experience, and I was way off base in my expectations. Dune: Imperium is about four fights: fighting over spaces on the board, fighting in the conflict area of Arrakis, fighting for the top spot in influence with the four political factions, and something that likely only happens to me, fighting with your deck as you try to balance grabbing powerful cards from the market with trimming the bloat that develops. This is one of the most interactive euro I’ve played in a while.
We’ve only had the one play, but Dune: Imperium is yet another one of those games this year like Beyond the Sun, Cubitos, and Lost Ruins of Arnak where I was immediately thinking after the game what I would like to do next time, and thinking about when that next game would be. I like the friendly graphic design, that was very easy to intuit, and I love the cat-and-mouse game that results each round as players cast a sidelong glance at other players’ machinations in the garrisons.
Roux Dat says: Dune: Imperium deserves the hype. The combination of some really cool twists on the deck building mechanic (players don’t use their entire hand, and instead, the cards that you don’t play provide resources, combat points, special powers) and the thematic elements of the Dune universe (the struggle for water is real!) has me jazzed up to play again.
Seize The Change
Turn the clock back to BGG Con 2019. Ravensburger debuted a new Feld game, Carpe Diem, along side their expansions for El Dorado. I played a few turns, but the combination of the movement of the player pawns and the graphic design of the tiles and board underwhelmed me.
Fast forward to 2021. Ravensburger has a new edition of Carpe Diem coming out this week, and sent us a review copy to check out. What a difference a little freshening up makes! Brand new cover with an elegant design, and tiles that have warm but vibrant colors that bring out the details of each different type of terrain. I love how the coin bags ‘spill’ out onto the blueprint sections of the board, giving it almost a 3D sidewalk art effect.
But what about the gameplay? It is no secret that other than Aquasphere, which has a theme I just love, I much prefer the “lighter” Feld games like Castles of Burgundy or Castles of Tuscany to the heavier ones like Trajan or Forum Trajanum. If you are like me, Carpe Diem will slide right into your wheelhouse. My wife and I have played it all weekend, and we loved the way it combines short term goals (like matching the edge bonuses and getting goods) to long term goals in the forum phase.
It definitely rewards long term planning without feeling too punishing. If there is any downside, for a euro game, this definitely has the potential for some meanness. The round scoring cards have plenty of spots for two people to play, but there is always a chance that someone steals the optimal double scoring cards that you wanted to play. Sure, I can hear people say “focus on staying ahead of your opponent in turn order”, and that’s true, but there is definitely a strong opportunity for someone to “hate draft” your best point cards.
That being said, I love it when I teach my wife a game, and by the end, she is already talking about what she will do better next time. (Even after beating me by 25 points!) We both enjoyed the way that the combo-ing up the tile powers make you feel clever when you pull them off.
Roux Dat says: Carpe Diem’s original edition was clunky and ugly. There’s just no easy way to say it. The new Ravensburger white box edition looks classic and timeless, and the movement of your player pawns makes so much more sense. Yes, I realize that some have noted that going from the star pattern to side to side is basically the same from a mathematical standpoint, but I’m talking feel here. The new way of moving FEELS right.
You Callin’ Me Chicken?
We have been having fun going through a box of games that 25th Century Games sent us for review. You’ve seen our recaps and reviews of plays of Christmas Lights, or saw our interview video for Curmudgeon with designer Grant Lyon or read about our plays of Space Explorers, for instance. I recently got to try a couple of games of Winner Winner Chicken Dinner, a game designed by the owner of 25th Century, Chad Elkins.
My daughter plays a lot of games with her boyfriend and his family, lots of classic card and dice games as they are not in our hobby…yet. One of those games is Yahtzee, a game I loved as a kid. Chad took the basic elements of Yahtzee — roll some dice, lock out what you want, and roll a couple of more times to get better results — and added some friendly and not so friendly elements.
Players are trying to grab chickens from the coop, stuff them in their bags, and turn them into chicken dinners for points. Yep, that’s a theme all right! With an oversized rubber chicken for the winner to cluck, and lots of whimsical artwork, this is definitely a game geared toward families who love dice chucking but want more than the basic mass market game.
I liked how each player has a unique power that they can use, and I liked how you were able to fairly easily get special power cards that don’t break the game, but definitely amp it up, especially in terms of player interaction. Oh yes, a game about stealing chickens from a chicken coop for dinner is definitely going to have player interaction, and Winner Winner Chicken Dinner has a ton of it. Players will steal each other’s chickens, player special powers, and generally try to score their own points from their own resources or from stealing other players.
Roux Dat says: Unfortunately for me, this was my least favorite of the 25th Century Games. I haven’t had enough plays to do a full review, but it does not take many plays of a game like this to see what the target audience is. While I would definitely play this over Yahtzee ANY DAY, there are a number of other dice games I’d rather play. Now, when the bugs are old enough to understand the special cards, I can definitely see playing this, and hopefully it will give them plenty of practice in making critical decisions like whether to bank points or geaux for a special power. But for now, this is too simple for my game group and too mean for the kiddoes.
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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