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 Blazon, Berried Treasure, and Ubongo 3D. Let’s dive in!
Going Out In A Blazonry Of Glory
Crests and heraldy have always fascinated my family, so Jerod and I were excited to unwrap a prototype / Kickstarter preview edition of Blazon, a “game of Medieval Heraldry” for two to four players coming to Kickstarter soon from 25th Century Games. We’ll have a video play soon, but Jerod and I were able to learn the rules and play a two player game this week.
In Blazon, players use drafting to grab various heraldic designs from a common market to score prestige (victory points) for their shield. Each player gets their own shield to decorate; they will grab cards representing tincture and device elements to use as decoration. The rulebook contained lots of history and explanations that got us in the mood of the theme.
I love the draft-and-place-stuff mechanics in Sagrada, so I knew this would not disappoint. Where Sagrada is drafting beautifully colored dice to fill up a board, and does not really feel like you’ve made a stained glass window, the theme of choosing design elements that say something about the shield and crest we are creating felt more thematic and definitely enticed us into playing.
The gameplay was very intuitive — we figured out right away that there will be touch choices on every turn. Essentially, you have to commit to which part of each element of your design will be used, and that affects the decision on other areas of the shield, too. ‘The decisions won’t be easy because of the limitations on placement, but you’ll score prestige along the way. Plus, there are random end game bonus cards that come out each game that will boost up your prestige and affect how players put together their blazon story.
Note that we were playing with the pre-project materials, and we expect a lot of the graphic design, artwork, and actual production value to change during the campaign. 25th Century Games usually likes to bling out their euro games! But, keep an eye on the Kickstarter project for more details, and our thanks to 25th Century for sending us this preview copy.
Roux Dat Says: Two things intrigued me about Blazon right away. The puzzle was the first thing, but even more important was the idea that story of the heraldry we created was part of the gameplay. It was more than just scoring points, it was also a way to tell a story of the family behind the crest and shield. We play Bad Company or Call To Adventure like that, too — sure you want to win, but you also want the game to tell a good story! Blazon’s theme and ability to generate stories about your finished work makes it one to look out for on Kickstarter.
The Square Root of Pie is Pie
I love introducing games like Can’t Stop to gamer friends who have never played. The simplicity of Sid Sackson’s designs always astound them — how can something so easy to teach, with so few rules, be so thrilling even without all the thematic bells and whistles? I need to play more Sid Sackson games, so I was super excited when Restoration Games sent a review copy of Berried Treasure.
That’s because this is Restoration’s refresh of another Sid Sackson classic game, this time from a pirate themed card game called Buried Treasure (that has a history described in the game manual that goes even further back.) In the new edition, players are little rascally animals eyeing a baker’s rack of sweet treats hungrily. Each turn, the players will grab one of four types of cakes or pies, and after all the cards are gone, will compare the totals against each other and against the round card.
Over three rounds, the players have to go head-to-head to find out who has the most in each of the types of desserts. The round cards matter, because each round, the desserts get a different bonus for coming out first or second or even third. Since there are four treats, and four different sets of round bonuses, players will never know exactly what will come out each game, adding some replayability to the mix.
The game is so easy to teach, just four or five simple rules. Players will need to quickly learn how some of the cards have special powers like letting a player grab an extra pie or even stealing pies from other players. At the end of the three rounds, players total up their points and declare a winner.
I played this one a couple of times with my wife both before and after we started the live stream on Twitch. To my surprise, the game got thinkier and more fun with each play. I wasn’t expecting something with so few rules to engage as much as it did. There’s that usual tug-of-war tension in taking a card from the baker’s rack and then having another player steal it right back. Timing is key, and knowing when to take a card that benefits you know versus another that might be a bigger, more powerful turn, is a great little puzzle.
As far as I know, this was a final copy of the game. It comes in a smaller sized box, the size of A Fistful of Meeples or maybe Dinosaur Tea Party, and the artwork on the cards is well done. The rulebook lays out everything you need, and has some fun art of the notorious animals that are out to steal the treats. I didn’t think the victory points would have been necessary, but it made it so much easier to track the points from round to round (which also plays into some catchup mechanics built in to the game.)
ROUX DAT SAYS: A total surprise, even though it should not have been a surprise at all based on the pedigree. Combining the brilliance of Sid Sackson’s design with the restorative work from Restoration was a no-brainer. This should be a big hit with the family gamers come Christmas time and I cannot wait to show them the game.
Some Days You’re the Bongo, Some Days You’re The U
I am always on the lookout for little fifteen to twenty minute games for my wife and I play during school season. During the week, her early morning teacher duties make it tough for us to play any long games. That’s why I looked at Ubongo 3D, a review copy sent to us by KOSMOS, with some excitement. A tetris style game that plays one to four players in only 25 minutes? Sign me up!
In Ubongo 3D, players get eight colorful tetris style plastic pieces and a handful of puzzle cards in difficulty ranging from easier to really hard. (Players should agree on the level of brain melting they want to do before the game starts.) On each round, a two minute timer is flipped, and players have that amount of time to recreate the puzzle using the eight pieces they are given.
Alas, my wife really struggled with the tetris pieces part of the game when it was combined with the timer element. Me? I loved it, although admittedly I only tried it on the first two settings of difficulty. Each puzzle card contains a shape that we are supposed to use our pieces to fill in. The shape has to be two blocks high, and none of the Ubongo pieces can extend over the edges of the puzzle card. Since there are four sets of puzzle cards to choose from, players can just decide amongst themselves how to handicap the players by choosing different levels of puzzle cards for this game.
We played off stream for a while, but it was clearly not her taste. (That’s okay, we have plenty of other games she can kick my behind in, like New York 1901 or Cape May!) So, she headed backdown stairs while I streamed a one player game, which is essentially competing against yourself to solve as many puzzles as you can solo in a certain limited time.
Roux Day Says: Here’s another game I cannot wait to bring to Christmas board game nights with the family. The box recommends players be at least 8 years of age, and provides a way to scale up the difficulty depending on the ages and experience. With that kind of age and experience expectations, I fully expect some of the older teens and young adults to get a kick out of the puzzly nature of the game, and also enjoy the competitive juices that the sand timer generates.
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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