Hey board gamers, BJ from Board Game Gumbo here back with more tales of gaming down on the bayou. Hit us up on Twitter or on Facebook and let us know what games you’ve been playing and what games you think we should play!
But that’s enough blather, let’s get to the games!
This time, we are looking at Furnace, ArchRavels, and Disney Sidekicks.
How Much For That Iron In The Window?
Ever since Jeremy Howard stopped by on a Christmas episode of Gumbo Live! and talked up Furnace from Hobby World and Arcane Wonders, I have been dying to play. Engine building, simple mechanics, and a diabolical bidding system? Sign me up. Bradly picked up a copy for me at GEN CON, and we’ve played it two or three times already, including on stream.
In Furnace, Ivan Lashin (Smartphone Inc., developer of Aquatica), has streamlined an engine building game down to its very essence. Buy cards, and churn resources for points. But to get those cards? Ah, that’s the rub. Players have four bidding tokens of different values, and the kick is that the highest bid wins the card for their tableau, but the losing bids get bonus resources for their engine. How cool is that!
The game also comes with unique player powers, and an advance variant (that we have yet to try) that changes how you run your engine. The theme is kind of pasted on, basically industrialists trying to build up an empire of manufacturing. But the artwork is very thematic and the symbols on the cards are easy to figure out. This is a true One Hour Wonder that is simple to teach, but feels like it has a lot of depth. In fact, it has enough depth that I am not certain that the player powers are really needed or add value t the game. We played without the player powers for our last game, and honestly, it was my favorite play. .
ROUX DAT SAYS: I am super glad that I picked this up from GEN CON, and for me it kind of replaces The Flow of History in that vein of 30-60 minute card games that you can play a couple of times back-to-back at the end of the night. I love the tension of the bidding — can I convince other players that I really want this card, or am I bluffing just to get resources? I worry a little bit about replayability, as I am not sure after 2-3 plays whether there are enough unique strategies to warrant multiple plays. But, so far, this has been a big hit for me and one I am ready to play again.
Cats, Why Did It Have To Have Cats
Bradly is known for playing games involving dwarves and wizards and warfare, so it was a little surprising when he brought back a copy of ArchRavels from XYZ Games Lab from GEN CON. But, this is the year for unusual themes in board gaming, and this game allows up to four players to compete as rival yarn crafters purchasing different colors of yarn, making mittens and scarves and hats and trading them in for points.
That’s not a theme that is overused for sure! We played it live on stream recently, and first off, I have to say that XYZ knocked the production of this game out of the park. The game trays are perfect, every bit and bob and button in the game is thematically done, and I did enjoy the fact that each player has a different starting player power on their sharply done player boards.
Players will take turns picking up yarn from a central market, and making stuff. The actions have a modified action mechanic where you can’t take the same actions twice in a row. Maybe one turn you are crafting more, and another you are getting tons of yarn. But each turn brings on new yarn to the market which also has the potential for triggering events that can really mess with the strategy.
Without spoiling your first play, the one thing I was not that happy about was the cat event cards. I was in last place already most of the game, and got cat visits tow or three turns in a row. That put me even further in a hole. I get that they were trying to add some player interaction, but honestly, for a game of this weight and breeziness, the cat cards feel like something that could easily be taken out. But a keeper for sure is the “special request” mechanic, because for hobby gamers, it adds plenty of meat to this game.
ROUX DAT SAYS: ArchRavels is a perfect game for my casual game night with friends. It takes just a few minutes to teach, and each turn is so quick that there won’t be much downtime. I could even see this game being appropriate for the most casual of family game nights, especially if you take out the special request cards and the cat mechanic cards. This is one I would definitely play again.
You Got A Friend In Me
Disney board games area always on my radar, and so Eric Lang’s announcement of a light co-op game themed around the universe of the Disney heroes and sidekicks piqued my interest immediately. Jerod and I got a chance to play it twice this week, both times with different characters. In Disney Sidekicks, from Spin Master, the heroes you know and love (like Peter Pan and Belle) take backstage to their beloved sidekicks (like Pumbaa and Lumiere).
There’s a double sided board for either two players or three-four players, and the game comes with five sidekicks: Timon & Pumbaa, Tink, Abu, Lumiere, or the sisters from Sleeping Beauty. The art on the box cover doesn’t really match up to what you see in side, which is very much the animated feature type of recognizable art from all of the Disney releases.
If you have played Pandemic before, then you essentially know how to play this game. Players need to open up the 3D castle set in the middle of the board by collecting stars, defeat at least one of the villains, and do all of this before the castle is overrun by villagers and henchmen. Players will travel around the board on an outer path and an inner path, saving villagers and battling the bad guys, all the while collecting stars.
That’s my favorite part of the game, that juicy delicious decision about what to do with the stars. You need five of them to open up the lock that is holding your hero, yet, the only way to win is to upgrade your character. There are three random powers that your character can earn, and all of them break the game and getting at least one of them is essential to victory. But they also cost the same stars you are saving for the locks! Great decision by Eric Lang to add tension to this game.
On the downside, we had to “plus” up our game a bit. I get that this is a mass market release, and it has to fit a certain price point. The board, cards, and minis in the game are all pretty standard and done well enough. But the teeny tiny tinsy tokens that represent the villagers and henchmen and stars are just plain annoying, and we immediately replaced them with meeples and cubes. So much better!
ROUX DAT SAYS: Jerod and I are both pretty burned out on Pandemic, having played it dozens of times over the years. But we still want to bring the occasional co-op experience to our game nights. We both decided that exploring the different ways that the Disney Sidekicks can be used against their comparable villains is a fun way to end our campaign nights (currently running through Mice & Mystics now after finishing an epic 18 hour Sleeping Gods adventure). I am a little worried that after we explore all five characters, there won’t be much more to do.
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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