Roux Dat #44: Neoville, Yeti Trek, and Bat Flip

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 dishing on our recent plays of Neoville, Yeti Trek, and Bat Flip! You can see our live plays of all three games right on our Twitch channel where we stream live games every Tuesday night!

The Difference Between Knowing the Path and Walking The Path

Whenever a guest on Gumbo Live! brings up a Phil Walker-Harding game, it generally gets the Chat Krewe very excited! Walker-Harding’s games range from quick card games to fun euros and everything in between. Blue Orange Games sent us a review copy of Phil WAlker-Harding’s latest, Neoville, and we got it straight to the table! Neoville pits players as rival city builders, trying to create the most harmonious place to live with parks and sports arenas and gorgeous 3D skyscrapers.

Each player takes turns slowly building a four by four city by choosing a square tetromino from their hand of three tiles, and then making the even tougher decision what building, if any, to put it on that tile. Why so tough, you ask? Because Walker-Harding has incorporated a cool betting mechanic, sort of a one-time push your luck mechanism. Think you can build out a large area of water tiles? Grab that 12 point water based skyscraper and plop it into the city, but if you miss, you miss big — not completing your buildings costs you that many points at the end of the game. Plus, there are two different buildings: skyscrapers are limited to one per the type of district you are building (water, grass, stone, or desert) and can score big points, but the utilities can be put just about anywhere except a park or athletic facility and can gobble up cheap and easy points, as they just need to match the design of your city or be in the right sector of tiles.

And of course, since the buildings are limited and varied in value, it’s also a race element to see who can grab the higher point or lower point / easier buildings first. Sure, there will be quiet moments because of the puzzles that have to be worked through as you fit your tiles in the city, but the breeeeeezy pace of play means there will be lots of good natured chat and ribbing as the cities are built. If we had any problems, some of the color choices in the buildings made it hard for us to tell which was which, but there were no other issues with the production or the game. Blue Orange makes beautiful games, and it was fun watching our little small tile beginning turn into a majestic city skyline by the end of the game.

ROUX DAT SAYS: On our first play, we found that Neoville had it all: quick turns, thinky puzzles, stomach clenching decisions on whether to push our luck, and of course, that tense feeling any game with even a modified race element like this one gives you. We are certainly looking forward to another play, and I think Neoville is going to be the perfect date night game for me and my wife.

Ice Split, Yeti You Choose

Jay brought over a game on crowd sale right now, Yeti Trek, from Junk Food Games. It’s a quick two player game that incorporates a mechanic that not many games do or do well — the “I split, you choose” mechanism. Players are competing yetis trying to race up a mountain that has three unique terrains. Each of those can be scaled using dice matching that color, but one person rolls and separates the dice into two piles, while the other chooses first which pile to take, leaving the remainder for the rolling player.

At least it feels like one player is “leaving the remainder” when you read the rules. The reality is that because of the way the luck rolls, every turn will usually leave the splitting player an agonizing decision. If your opponent has an opportunity to skate past the hardest part of the mountain, you certainly don’t want to make it easy for them. But will you leave them a lot of other dice that they can use to combo up a big move on the easier path?

The decisions as to which dice to split up, and then which pile to choose are deliciously done, especially because of the spatial puzzle of combining your dice into big moves across the crevasses of the glacier you are traversing. It drills down what is essentially important about the splitting mechanic — creating a façade of fairness yet the reality of making one side slightly stronger than the other.

ROUX DAT SAYS: Yeti Trek fits into that game space of games in a small package that feel a lot bigger: games like Celestia, Joraku, etc. Sure, there’s a hefty amount of luck, but it feels like you can control the outcome of the dice rolls with the split / choose mechanic. It’s probably an illusion, but I like the tension that it creates on every turn.

There’s No Crying In Bat Flip

The World Series is over, but that does not mean that baseball is done. It’s Hot Stove League time! What better way to prepare for the inevitable movement that free agency and winter trades brings then to play a baseball themed board game. The folks at Scorelander Games reached out to us with a review copy of Bat Flip, a game coming to Kickstarter soon.

Ever get that deja vu feeling when you visit a retro ball park? Watching your favorite team in action sometimes calls to mind previous plays, or previous games, or some of your all time favorite ballplayers. Jay and I played Bat Flip, and I got that feeling a bit while working through this three inning recreation of the highlights of the beautiful game. Anyone who has played Baseball Highlights: 2045 (or the computer game, Microleague Baseball) will understand that concept — turning a nine inning four hour slog into a twenty to thirty minute highlight of the best plays in the game.

But even thought Bat Flip and BH2045 share the same destination, the journey is completely different. In Bat Flip, players will take two decks from an initial starting set of about a half dozen different teams, mash them up together Smash Up style, and then try to use their half inning’s worth of three outs to score as many runs as possible. In this way, it feels a little more like it’s older brethren Magic: The Gathering then other games, because you are really trying to get cards out on the table that combo well together for a big inning.

Everything is pretty thematic for such a short, tight game. Pitchers are good against wild walks, each team has a unique power taken right from the pages of the writing of Glenn Waggoner, and every decision feels critical. We played two games already, one to learn the rules and then one on Twitch Tuesdays live stream, and both of us want to explore more.

ROUX DAT SAYS: The joy of board gaming is discovering a game that on the surface looks like it might be yet another deck building / hand management game, but turns out to be way more fun than it ought to be. I think this would work for any player who likes combolicious card games, but for the board game baseball fan, this is a game you ought it to yourself to check out. Plus, there’s almost an unlimited amount of ways to expand the game, so content should never be a problem.

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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