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 Endless Winter, Viscounts of the West Kingdom, and Three Sisters.
Winter Is Coming and I Wish It Were Here Already
The era of the deck building / worker placement hybrid is upon us. Recently, you’ve read our first impressions of Dune: Imperium and Lost Ruins of Arnak, or seen our chats with content creators like Jeremy Howard about the games. Ah, but there is another entry in the fold coming to retail at the end of this year from Fantasia Games.
Endless Winter: Paleoamericans is a new worker placement game with deck building concepts from designer Stan Kordonskiy. We loved his Lockup: A Roll Player Tale so I was excited to see what he could do with a deck builder. In Endless Winter, players are a struggling tribe of paleoamericans, who are migrating across the North American continent in search of food, tools and culture. We played this on the TTS version, so I can’t comment on the production, but the art style from The Mico is gorgeous and instantly recognizable.
Compared to the other two games, Endless Winter feels bigger and just a tiny bit more complex. The cards are multi-purpose — you can use them to strengthen your actions on the worker placement board, or hoard them for the end of the round bonuses. There are four main spots for your three workers, and you are never locked out of the choices, but there is a race to get to a spot first to take the strongest action. Plus, it feels like there are so many different pathways to victory — building up the megaliths (little temple looking squares that turn into ziggurats), an area control component with the tiles, and the main board where there is competition for resources, cards, and animals.
It took me a round or two, but I really came to dig the way that the hand management is done. It is a little similar to Dune, in that you have to make a choice whether to use your cards during the round or use them later after the round to get the bonuses and try to move up in the player order. Why is that important? Unlike almost every other game, player order is not as critical in terms of taking actions, although there will be times you want to get the bonus that comes from being the first to take a worker placement spot. But, you also get bonuses from the board just for your player order, and the best geaux to the players at the top of the food chain. This “play cards now or play cards later” mechanic is really growing on me.
Roux Dat says: There’s a lot to love about Endless Winter. A fellow content creator told me it is his favorite of the three above games, and I can see why. I’m so ready to play it again, and that’s the mark of a good game. I went from not really being that interested in the Kickstarter, to looking for ways to get the game later because it is just not as satisfying to play a big worker placement game like this on computer.
Greetings, I Am Viscount von Viscount
Our friendly local game store, Anubis Game & Hobby, had a tidy little after Christmas sale, and I snagged a copy of the newest Renegade Games release, Viscounts of the West Kingdom. Viscounts is gorgeous! The game’s theme is a little thin, but I was taught the rules and have not broken out the rule book yet, so maybe there is more in there. Players take turns moving their meeple around the beautiful board, laid out in a rondel fashion but with a twist in that players can stay on the outside track to do some actions, or dive into the inside track to do others.
Players have to gather specialized people to help them grow their influence with the king (as best as I can figure out), work on manuscripts, constructing buildings (that help us break the rules of the game), and put workers in the 3D castle that dominates the middle of the board. Speaking of that board — this is a game I wish I could have broken out at a convention! Garphill Games has a well deserved reputation for quality productions, and out of the four games I’ve played from Shem Phillips, this is easily the best looking game on the table so far.
This was my second play, after an online play with Alex Goldsmith and Joe from Stonemaier last summer. The mechanics came back to my brain pretty quickly, even as chunky as it is, and I think it is because many of the actions feel intuitive. The card iconography makes sense, and the way each card interacts with your player board seems to flow naturally.
On the down side, Bradley and I played this one as a two player, and unfortunately, it felt like the center castle part lacked a little tension with only two players vying for spots. Both Bradly and I kind of did our own thing during the game, and of course, he doubled my score, so I guess I should have been watching more closely! It’s only been a couple of plays, but I felt like my three player experience was much more interactive. I definitely felt a lot more friction in the three player game last summer than I did just at two this week.
Roux Dat says: One of the most gorgeous euros in a compact box that I’ve owned in a long time, but a lot heavier in game weight than the North Sea series of games, more akin to Paladins. Between the two, I’d much rather play Viscounts. I love the rondel mechanic, and the way that the piety track plays out, and I’m ready for another round.
But I Have Four Sisters, Who Is Missing?
The Brandt from the Portal Games Podcast and The Dice Tower was the biggest honking horn for Fleet: The Dice Game back in 2019. And he was so right! Fleet: TDG did not feel like a randeauxwriter, it felt more like a board game with paper and dice. The Fleeples are back, with what looks like the spiritual successor to Fleet: TDG.
Three Sisters has an absolutely delicious theme. Apparently, three crops planted in conjunction with each other (squash, beans, and corn) makes for better production, and so Motor City Gameworks put all of that together in a roll and write. It fills two pages — and I mean fills! — full of combolicious goodness.
Players take turns drafting dice from a rondel of actions, using the dice not only to add crops, water them to enough height for scoring, but also to take additional actions on the other sheet, things like adding fruit or bees to your garden, or grabbing cool tools and toys to help you get bonus actions or more points or the ability to mitigate your luck.
The game goes through eight rounds, and at the end of each round, players take one more additional action based on the specific action of that round. Players may have to water their gardens, upgrade their sheds, or other actions. It gives one more chance for the players to plan out their turn by leaving one final action that can play as a call back to their turn.
Roux Dat says: If you like roll and writes, but don’t want another numbers based puzzle, keep an eye out for Three Sisters coming to Kickstarter sometime in March. By the second half of my first solo game, I went from making a scratch or two on the sheet to popping circles all over the paper like I was a kid rolling around in bubble wrap.
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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