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 Hadrian’s Wall, Honey Buzz, and Siege of Valeria
Brick By Brick, We Can Build It From The Floor
Dave brought over a game that we both have had the envie to play since we saw it on the socials. Bubble wrap games like Three Sisters and Ganz Schon Clever, where one action could lead to three or five or ten microactions, are a big fave in the Gumbo. Hadrian’s Wall, designed by Bobby Hill with art by Sam Phillips and published by Garphill Games and Renegade Games, is just such a bubble wrap popper.
In Hadrian’s Wall, players plop two gigantic sheets of paper in front of them, hopefully with a sharp pencil or full marker. Trust me, you will need plenty of ink or lead for this one. Over the course of six rounds (ages?), players will flip over two cards — one for resources and actions and the other to score end game victory points if they meet certain conditions. They will get any resources that their production buildings give them, and then it’s time to get poppin’.
For fans of randowriters like the Ganz series of Fleet: The Dice Game, this is pretty familiar stuff. punching in bubbles up one track inevitable gives you the resources to pop other bubbles on other tracks, and the winner is usually the one who gets the most actions for the least amount of resources. but besides the depth of this game (it is NOT a light flip-and-write by any means), the other unique thing is the fact that you have actual non-living and non-breathing resources in standard euro fare, namely chunky wooden pieces.
Having the ability to work through the progressions of your choices both on paper (for points and other bubble bursts) and in tactile form with the resources is the way EVERY game of this nature should handle the issue. Plus, the designers obviously tried to inject as much as theme as possible in terms of what Roman legions did in building the wall. Each set of actions corresponds to different sections of the sheet, making you feel like you really are building a wall, or building out the empire behind it through buildings and citizens.
ROUX DAT SAYS: It’s hard to give it two thumbs up even though Hadrian’s Wall deserves it, because this is one of those games that the first impression only parses out about 1/2 to 3/5 of what is actually in the game. There’s just so much to do! I’d say there were still about a half dozen sections that I completely ignored their effects, focusing on building out the wall and defenses as fast as possible. This is one of the most satisfying randowriters that I have ever played, because it really gives you a feedback loop every time you chain up a bunch of cool moves. Every randowriter fan should play this game, and frankly, I’m ready to play it again this week.
More Than The Bare Necessities
Ol’ Baloo had it right, the bees are buzzin’ in the trees to make some honey just for me. And Elf Creek Games delivers on a game that I frankly passed on a few times because I thought it might be all hype and sizzle but no steak. How wrong I was!!
Honey Buzz is a game for one to four players designed by Paul Salomon with art by Anne Heidsieck. You know Elf Creek from their previous releases like End of the Trail and Atlantis Rising (and the long awaited Merchants of the Dark Road). The premise is simple: players are queen bees trying to develop a market of honey to sell to the local critters. But, the game play? Beeeeeeeautifully diabolical.
On their turns, players choose a spot for their … ahem .. worker bees to land. The spots usually give tiles to add to the honey comb, which creates patterns that can turn into types of honey AND give multi-combo action turns. Oh yeah, this game is not for the faint of heart or analysis paralysis suffering, and that’s because the decision as to which of the six or so tiles to grab, each with a different action, and then the decision of where to place that tile to maximize the production of honey AND the multi-actions can send even the strongest gamer into a blue screen.
But once we got the hang of the basic mechanics, the joy of building out the coolest combos washed over us. Sure, we tried to maximize the turns and their efficiency, and yes, our goal was always to try to make the best sales for points, but at some point, I stopped worrying about the win and just enjoyed putting together the best combination of actions.
And finished last, of course.
The production of Honey Buzz has to be mentioned, at least in the form that Jay brought back from GEN CON (I think it’s the base game plus the KS upgrades you could have purchased separately at the booth). Every piece is an amazing addition, from the fuzzy bees to the hefty pollen to the cool acorn victory points. Everything is thick and chunky and looks amazing on the table, as you will see from our upload from our Twitch livestream which should be going up soon.
ROUX DAT SAYS: Our Louisiana Board Gamers FB group has been … erm … buzzing about this game since the Kickstarter deliveries happened. I can see why. I love abstract puzzle games, and the addition of the worker placement aspect (with the ability to grab more workers a la Viticulture) to this genre makes sense and ramps up the fun. That being said, I’m not sure I need to own it myself, but I am glad we have a few copies with friends of the Gumbo and I’m willing to play it anytime.
Bubble Wrap, Part Deux
Glenn Flaherty from Board Games and Bourbon and I started as board game segment contributors around the same time on The Dice Tower’s podcast, and we hit it off on social media right away with a shared love of board games and music. But I had no idea that Glenn had an itch to create board games as well as video content!
Daily Magic Games sent us a review copy of an upcoming Kickstarter designed by Glenn, with art from The Mico. It’s called Siege of Valeria, and fits into the Valeria Card Kingdoms series. I’ve never played any of the Valeria games, so this was my first entry. Siege of Valeria is a solo card game with bits where players try to protect the castle from invading hordes of enemies and siege weapons. The copy we had was a preview, and so not all of the art was in place, but the core mechanics were supposedly all in. Over the series of seven rounds, players have to spend magic and strength to defeat the enemies rushing in which primarily come from red and blue dice but can also come from card play. Survive by destroying all of the attacking siege engines without losing one of the five turrets protecting the castle, and the player is victorious.
Right off the bat, in turn one of the very first game, I could tell how much I was going to enjoy my experience. Glenn has a mechanic where the cards that are attacking you can be defeating by paying enough magic and/or strength — but those cards do not geaux to the discard. Instead, they either form part of your hand (in the case of the invading soldiers) or turn into a champion (an ongoing or one time bonus power) when you defeat a siege weapon.
That is just so combotastic! I loved surveying the five by five tableau, and figuring out a path to getting the best cards in my hand that I would of course use to somehow take out a siege weapon or two. Planning for those back-to-back-to-back plays and combos is very satisfying, and even more so when you pull off a big combo that knocks out a siege engine and brings a few baddies down, too.
I was able to knock out two games in about an hour, winning one and losing one in spectacular fashion when the dice weren’t in my favor and my choices to augment my dice results were less than satisfactory. Every turn is smooth, and there is even a handy dandy cheat sheet in the back of the rule book that does a good job of explaining what all the major cards do.
ROUX DAT SAYS: I can’t wait for this to show up on Kickstarter, because I can heartily recommend the game to any fan of quick playing solitaire card games. The addition of the resource and dice management system to the basic solitaire format is perfect for this weight of a game. Thumbs up for me on Siege of Valeria, and I hope to play it live on stream soon.
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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