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 Imperium: Classics, Cuphead: Fast Rolling Dice Game, and Ticket To Ride: Japan. Allons!
Rolling In The Macedo
Imperium: Classics and Imperium: Legends are games with all of the elements the Krewe de Gumbo usually loves. Cool art, lots of combo-y card play, and a civilization theme? Sign us up. We mashed the two boxes of civs together and tried them out recently in a three player game. Did it meet our expectations?
Heck, yeah. Osprey Games has a solid civ card builder designed by Nigel Buckle and David Turczi, with art from The Mico. The game takes about two hours to play, and it is most certainly not a gateway civ game. There are so many things to consider! Players take on the role of mythical or historical civilizations, like the Macedonians or Atlantians, and get a deck of cards representing everything about that civ. A market of cards exists, too, where you can add lands, leaders, smaller nation states that can help you expand, fame cards to score points, and of course, the Unrest cards.
Yes, not only do you have to build up your civilization, figuring out what your empire does best and maximizing that potential through your card play and card purchases, but you also have to contend with cards that jam up your deck and lower your score. Plus, if you and your fellow players aren’t careful, too much unrest in the game can trigger the end!
One of the cool things about Imperium is how it really gives you the feeling of a small nation state expanding into an all powerful empire. I played as the Macedonians, and we started out with a couple of neat tricks and the use of Barbarian cards that helped us grow. We were all about expanding our territory and I bought in heavily. As we got more powerful, we eventually tapped into the Empire cards, which are definitely juicier, and our expansion really exploded. But it was hard to keep control over all of these territories — they kept bouncing in and out of my tableau. At some point we had to call on help from Alexander the Great, but I just was not efficient enough to really utilize his help.
Roux Dat Says: For my brain level, Empires of the North scratches the same itch and is a lot less complex. Imperium is a really meaty version of any card based civilization game, and it also has a lot of player interaction from some of the cards that can mess with other players. That being said, with sixteen different civilizations already out of the gate, there is a lot more for me to explore in Imperium and I would not turn a game down. Imperium is well done, gorgeous to look at, and very thematic for each civilization. Two thumbs up.
No Thank You, My Cup Is Full
I’ve been seeing lots of smiling, laughing faces on the convention circuit lately playing Cuphead: Fast Rolling Dice Game from The Op. That game has to win an award this year for Name That Encapsulates All Of The Mechanics, because it is truly a fast rolling dice game all about Cuphead. I’m not familiar with the Cuphead IP, but apparently it is a classic run and gun action game available on Steam or on the Sinclair ZX80 where players dive into a world inspired by classic cartoon art of the 1930s and engage in boss battles.
If that’s what the Steam game is like, then Cuphead the board game captures all of that spirit. The artwork is definitely reminiscent of those early cartoons (think Betty Boop or Felix the Cat), and the pace is super frenetic. Each round, players will face a box of villains, and to get past them, will have to roll dice as fast as they can. We played with 20 second timers, but I’ve heard players are playing with timers as quick as ten seconds (which sounds outrageously difficult to me.)
Each villain has certain symbols that are required to defend against the attacks, and if you are really lucky, you can not only defend against the attack – which saves your health to the next round – but also do damage back to the baddie. Some of the villains were pretty easy, just needing one die to match, which gave you plenty of opportunities to roll punches to hit back. But some of the villains were a lot trickier, especially after we hit airplane mode, which changed the perspective of some of the dice.
Speaking of the dice, some of us had a pretty major issue with the dice faces, which in my opinion were too muddled and close to each other to distinguish in the split second you need to identify a die roll before moving on. In fact, Carlos’ dice colors were really hard to pick up the symbols against the background, and when we hit airplane mode and I had to distinguish between some of the faces upside down and sideways, that just melted my brain too much.
Roux Dat Says: Nope. Not for me. We blasted our way through a few levels, I think a level one and level two boss, and I barely survived each round. Apparently my brain-to-dice-to-picture skills are pretty lacking. I actually don’t mind real-time rolling games, if the element is short and not the entire focus of the game. That’s why I much prefer Steam Park (where the rolling is just to set up the actions and turn order) to Escape: Curse of the Temple (where the rolling is the game). Look, I get why Cuphead is getting the love — it’s well done and all — but it’s just not my kind of game.
Sharing Is Caring Until It’s Not
As much as I love Ticket to Ride and talk about it on the streams, the funny thing is that I’ve only ever played the base game, my 10th anniversary edition, and the European base game. (Oh, and the small box 10 minute games from London, New York, and Amsterdam, too.) I have never played any of the dozens of expansion maps that have been sold or fan created.
Until now. My secret Santa at the Gateway and Filler Games Group on Facebook sent me a copy of one of the maps I have always wanted to play, the dual Japan / Italy map. It’s got bullet trains! My wife loves TtR, so for a recent date night, we set it up and learned it as we went along.
There are just a few changes. Players start with a lot less trains (only 20) but have access to a big pile of those bullet trains. Instead of turning in cards to grab train routes and score points, players can instead turn in those cards to put ONE bullet train on a bullet train connecting route.
Building that connecting route gives EVERYONE access to that route connection, not just the player who made it, and it moves the player who built the connection up a separate bullet train track. This is important because at the end of the game, the person who contributed the most track improvements on the bullet train connections will score a ton of points, and people who didn’t contribute as much (or at all) will either gain less, or even lose points.
Since everyone is pretty limited in the amount of points they will score using their own trains, the focus in this game seems to be grabbing juicy destination tickets, one of the most fun parts of Ticket to Ride. And that brings in the second major element — two of the towns on the maps (one was Tokyo for sure) have “blown up” maps on top of the board. In those expanded sections, we see that there are additional routes and stations to grab, some with bullet train connections, and that gives players access to even more destination tickets that are worth a lot of money (since you not only have to connect to the main city but then onto the smaller map, too).
Roux Dat Says: Ticket To Ride: Japan was a big hit for date night. It energized our play of Ticket To Ride, bringing a focus on destination tickets that made it exciting and nerve wracking each time we dove into that deck. Knowing when to get more points by putting our your own trains versus making tons of connections through the bullet trains to score your destination tickets is the key to winning. The map board is huge, but the board itself feels pretty crowded and it worked very well for two players. We have not yet tried the Italian map but after this play, we are definitely looking forward to it.
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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