Hey board gamers, BJ from Board Game Gumbo here back with more tales of gaming down on the bayou. The pandemic has made it tough to get multiplayer games in, at least in person, but luckily, I have a few gamers at home, and some steady friends who will get together online frequently. So, as usual, our first impressions are generally either with small play counts (2-3 players) or online only.
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 Disney Villainous: Despicable Plots, Hunted: Mining Colony 415, and a new-to-us trick taking game, Vamp on the Batwalk!
No One Fates Like Gaston
Ravensburger keeps the Disney train moving down the track with its newest sequel to the massively successful Disney Villainous game, Despicable Plots, this time featuring The Horned King from The Black Cauldron, Lady Tremaine from Cinderella, and of course, a villain Disney fans have been salivating for, Gaston from 1991’s Beauty & the Beast. As with all of the sequels, gamers can play Villainous right out of the box just with this set, or mix and match with the original or other sequel sets previously published.
I’m a sucker for every new set of characters that Ravensburger puts out for Disney Villainous. I love playing Villainous with the family, limited to two or three players, of course, and I love exploring each new set. I try to play each different character as soon as possible. With my oldest son busy with school and my youngest son out on military duty and my daughter busy with work, I had to talk Carlos and Bradly (neither of them Disney fans) into playing, and I tried sweetening the pot by mentioning that this was the Target exclusive version with the special Gaston villain mover and box sleeve. They were not impressed but agreed to play. (Where oh where is my friend, Dean from Meeple Town, when I need him?)
I let them choose the characters, and so I ended up with Gaston. He is definitely the most straight forward from the new set. Rid your realm of eight obstacles (represented by The Beast tokens that slightly look like rose petals) at any time and you win. (No more “at the start of your turn” shenanigans from this set.) Gaston has cards in his deck that straight up get rid of the Beast tokens, or he can vanquish heroes and get rid of them that way. But, his fate deck contains familiar characters like Cogsworth, Lumiere, and Belle which will hinder the chase to remove the obstacles. Most of the fate deck is concerned with adding obstacles, or hindering allies and helping heroes, or in Belle’s case, preventing Gaston from removing any obstacles at all.
The Horned King is a little trickier. He has a “relic” card, the first we have ever seen, which is a tile called The Black Cauldron. Once he claims the Cauldron and powers it up, it allows him to bring out Cauldron Born, those wicked little nasties from Lloyd Alexander’s beloved series of Taran Wanderer books (my favorite fantasy series as a middle schooler.) If ever the Horned King has Cauldron Born at each location in the realm, he wins. We starved Bradly for power as best as we could, but he eventually exchanged each of his Ancient Soldiers for Cauldron Born for the win.
Carlos chose Lady Tremaine, an obscure name for a well-known villain, the step-mother from Disney’s Cinderella. She is definitely the trickiest of the villains in this set. She has no vanquish, so must rely on “trapping” heroes, which ignores their actions but still covers up precious actions on her realm. Just like in the animated feature, her goal is to marry one of her daughters to the prince, and getting an Invitation from the King so she can unlock the Ballroom on her realm board is the first step. We kept fating Carlos to try and get the Glass Slippers in play, because Lady Tremaine cannot win when they are in play. We probably should have focused on Bradly more, because Lady Tremain is tough to win the first time out.
Roux Dat Says: All in all, this is not my favorite Disney sequel at first glance, but re-reading the cards after the night gave me ideas on how to win both as Horned King and Lady Tremaine. I have long wanted to see both Gaston and Horned King in the game, so that is definitely a plus. I look forward to my sons returning to gaming at our house so we can try these new characters some more.
Why Does It Have To Be Aliens?
Carlos brought over a new solo / co-op game from the team at Barrett Publishing called Hunted: Mining Colony 415. Designed by Gabe Barrett with art from Drew Corkill and Jorge M. Velez, the game is a half hour version of Alien in a relatively simple card format. Players have to stalk through a space station exploring the chambers and shafts seeking out the Mother Alien and hopefully having enough ammo left to destroy her.
The gameplay is pretty straightforward. Players will draw cards from the main deck, each revealing locations or aliens. There is a cool push your luck mechanic built in. Too many aliens on the tableau or too much noise wipes the tableau and starts a fight. At that point, players have to choose weapons (small to large tokens) that are one time use only (although some, like the clip in the main gun, can be reloaded with an action) and start tossing tokens into the game box, where a round or square target (depending on difficulty setting) for the alien is set up. Hit the target and do damage, but miss and the alien will bite you.
Some of the cards can only be completed if skill checks are met, and again these are performed using big to small tokens, again by tossing them into the box. The aesthetic of the game is pretty slick, too. The artists used only three or four colors all complementary shades of the same blue and white to give it a comic book vibe. The fiery red colors of the Mining Colony version definitely helps to raise the tension.
Despite the best heckling money can buy from Carlos and Bradly as I explored the dank areas of the space ship, I was able to defeat the Mother Alien pretty handily on my first try. I did get a couple of good tips and pointers from both of them, so that definitely helped my case. I would definitely play a game from this system again.
Roux Dat Says: I really enjoyed the toss tokens mechanic instead of deciding outcomes just by randomly chucking dice, because it tricked me into thinking that I had more agency in the game. Playing this Hunted version definitely piqued my interest for playing the other games in the line. The game system seems infinitely expandable, too. Take a cool movie (Indy Jones?) and make a tense, thrilling, co-op style adventure out of it! For only $19, and with three different settings already to choose from, this may be one of the best values in solo gaming.
Strike An Undead Pose
Jay brought over a game from new publisher, Jellyfish Games, with a very unusual theme that raised our eyebrows and made us laugh. Vamp on the Batwalk is a trick taking game designed by Jon Simantov with a twist: you play your cards blind, Hanabi style! Players are fashionista vampires on a “batwalk” strutting the latest designs. Of course, vampires can’t see themselves in the mirror, so we have to rely on what we see on all of the other players’ hands and what we know from the card list in the deck to figure out the strength of our own hand.
The art from Michael Rankin has lots of tongue-in-cheek humor and really sets the mood. The game play is super quick, since there are only a half-dozen or so cards in your hand. Players try to win tricks by playing the highest card, but you can get a bonus if you match another player’s play. First one to ten or the one with the most points at the end of the game wins.
Vamp plays quickly, making it a perfect game for the start or end of the game night when you are waiting for the regulars to come to the game store to start a game of Coimbra or Fury of Dracula. The rules are so easy to teach — I think Jay had us up and running in just a few minutes — and the rock / paper / scissors nature of the trick taking just took a hand or two to engrain in our brains. (And the game comes with handy dandy cheat sheets to help remind players of the hierarchy.)
Roux Dat Says: Vamp was — surprisingly — a lot of fun. Sometimes I felt really clever, for instance, when I would notice that the card in my hand had to be one of only two cards and with a combination of luck and deduction, I guessed it right. Sometimes I had no clue what to play, because I had four cards of the same color in my hand and no idea which one was which! If the game were longer, the reliance on pure luck would bother me, but it is a rapid fire type of game that doesn’t seem to take itself very seriously. All in all, a great little game to play at the end of the night especially if you have had a few Abita root beers at a convention.
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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