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 past week, we played more Trans-Siberian Railroad, the new expansion for Aquatica, and some more Trickerion: Legends of Illusion!
Choo Choo, My Friend
So, in our last episode, we admitted that we struggled getting the strategy down in Trans-Siberian Railroad, the cube rail game from Amabel Holland and published by Rio Grande Games. John convinced us to take another crack at it, and I am so glad we did!
John played the game in between Roux Dat #34 and Gumbo Game Night, and said we could not attack the stocks in the same way we do other cube rail games.
Trans-Siberian Railroad is a cube rail, stock investing train game for up to five players. The players are investing and building various railroad companies in Russia across the Siberian landscape.
There are basically two phases to the game, the first where players are trying to take train companies public (by buying enough stock to start building out the railroad lines) and the second where the players are desperately trying to beat two more railroad companies jumpstarted by the government AND prevent the companies that are in place from becoming “nationalized” (or bankrupt, in other words).
Getting to that second phase with healthy companies gives you the chance to sling shot into big points, but it takes some thought and skill. We are still neophytes into the cube rail system, but in the other games we’ve played, there is definitely a little cooperation but only long enough to jettison someone and zoom to first.
In this game, we really had to work hard to keep pumping money into the stocks (by buying shares) and yet building in a careful manner. Trains were spreading out everywhere, jumping over each other at strategic points.
The yellow train had the full middle of Siberia locked up, yet barely stayed ahead of the other train companies which were busy making strategic moves toward the edges.
But the entire time, the building that we did in each of the train companies was more thoughtful and deliberate than the last time and it paid off. No more double stock / double track lay turns every single play for us. Nope – we were too smart for that this time!
Needless to say, the tension provided by the game, knowing when to invest and how much you can risk on any turn to build up your rail lines is one of my favorite things about TSR.
It clearly turns Trans-Siberian Railroad into a cooperative-til-it’s-not game, and reminded me a bit of QE, but with train development as the basis.
Who was going to get left holding worthless stock? The last person to get off the rocket, for sure.
ROUX DAT SAYS:
I could definitely play Trans-Siberian Railroad game again next week, because John beat me in a close game, and I really feel like it came down to just a few strategic moves between us. Kudos to Amabel Holland, this is Stockpile + QE + Ponzi Scheme + trains all wrapped up in about an hour and a half cube rail game. Really enjoyed this play.
Under The Icecap, No One Can Hear You Scream
One of my favorite all time engine builders is Aquatica, the absolutely gorgeous underwater game from Cosmodrome Games. Ever since BGG 2019, when the Board Boys Podcast krewe taught us the game, it has been a game night favorite of the Gumbo.
I have been salivating about bringing Aquatica back to the table with the new expansion material for the game ever since I interviewed the designers way back at Gen Con Online 2020, which interview you can catch right here.
Dave came over to Gumbo Game Night and also to The Gumbo Pot this past week and brought with him the brand new expansion and second edition of the base game from Arcane Wonders, who picked up the US license for the game.
As promised, Cold Waters is more of what we love in Aquatica.
In Cold Waters, a volcanic eruption hit our underwater universe, heated up the world’s sea flows. Humans never knew this, but there is life deep below the northern polar cap — and the superheated waters opened up this wild and dangerous area. Beautiful creatures emerged, bringing with them more powers, more cards, and a new area for the game board.
That’s probably the biggest thing that split the Gumbo. Half of us loved the new board area, which consists of a row of cards divided equally into two areas. On one side players can trade in banked locations and/or money for cards that give points and a little bit of engine building – some kind of bonus to be used while playing.
The other side of the new board is all about scoring big points with goals, replacing the randomized set of four goals that are the hallmark of the original game.
The other half of the group thought that the racing aspect of the four random goals was a better fit, but not me and Dave. We were all in on the new area of the board.
I love how you can quickly scan the cards offered, and see how they can synergize during the game, offering you a lightly traveled pathway to victory if you can just identify the faint signs ahead.
ROUX DAT SAYS:
After two plays, I definitely need to explore Cold Waters more, because …. well …frankly speaking, I am terrible at this new expansion. But no matter, the additions are perfect for the game, with new goals, new creatures, new kings, and new locations — and of course, new mantas and decks in a new color (white).
And for my next trick…
Carlos is a tough nut to crack. He hates almost every euro we bring to Gumbo Game Nights, but every once in a while, the combination of a cool theme and cool mechanics turns him into point chasing machine.
Thankfully, my new gotta-play-it-tonight game, Trickerion, made his cut.
Trickerion is not a new game, but I know it is not that widely played, so I’ll give a brief description. It came out in 2015, designed by Richard Amann and Viktor Peter with absolutely amazing steam punk inspired art from Villő Farkas and László Fejes.
Mindclash published the game on Kickstarter, and has supported it with numerous expansions, all of which are collected in my absolutely freakin’ stellar Collector’s Edition.
Shoot, I could spend an entire Roux Dat blog post just talking about how deliciously over-produced the Collector’s Edition is, but you’ll just have to see it for yourself at a con someday if you don’t have access to a copy.
In short, every piece fits perfectly into some of the best GameTrayz inserts I’ve ever seen, and the artwork just pops off of the boards, player boards, cards, and rulebooks.
Trickerion can be summed up as The Prestige in board game form, where rival magicians compete using well known stage illusions and just a touch of the Dark Arts to garner the biggest amount of fame in the land. The game essentially is researching new tricks, securing the money and equipment necessary to prepare the trick, hiring assistants to help your main magician set up the trick at the three local theaters, and then scoring tons of points by putting on an amazing performance.
Each of the mechanics used by the designers to push the stages of a player’s turn are very thematic, but even more than that, the way that the systems revolve around each other, and the tightness of the economy and worker placement spots makes each turn feel oh so important. Throw in a unique worker strength set up, and spice it up with a little bit of quick programming before each turn (quick being a relative term, your AP friends will geaux blue screen on you for sure), and it really feels like a game turned into a movie and a marathon.
ROUX DAT SAYS:
Not since playing Scythe for the first time has my brain buzzed in my bed just thinking about how I could play this game better the next time. After three full plays, using the base game plus the Dark Alley plus the prophecy cards, Trickerion has rocketed into my top worker placement games. I’ll geaux a step farther, and say that if I did a top twenty this year of games I’ve played all time, Trickerion has a chance to be at or near the top.
THE WRAP UP:
So that’s it for our recent plays. Roux Dat will be back soon with more early looks at recent plays.
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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