Roux Dat #49: Motor City, This Didn’t Happen, and Ticket To Ride: Italy

Hey board gamers, it’s 2022! I’ve decided that my new year’s resolution is more gaming. That’s right, I’m going to play even board games in 2022! I played just a few games shy of 200 new games to me, and I think I can do better this year!

How many new games did you play last year? What games have you played recently? I’d love to know!

Speaking of new games, here is our first impression of three games we played this past month, but I would love to hear what you played! Hit us up on Twitter @boardgamegumbo or leave a comment on Facebook or right here.

Enough blather, let’s get to those three games! This month, we are taking a look at Motor City, This Didn’t Happen, and Ticket To Ride: Italy.

Board Gamers, Start Your Paper Engines

Matt Riddle and Ben Pinchback continue to explore the tremendous opportunities for the randowriter in Motor City, an ode of admiration to their home city and state’s love of car racing (and fittingly, the namesake of their own imprint, Motor City Gameworks.) Set to hit Kickstarter soon, we were lucky enough to get an advance copy from The Fleeples and co-designer Adam Hill.

Fan of Fleet: The Dice Game or Three Sisters, are you? If so, then you already know the premise and have some familiarity with the concepts. Motor City is a BIG roll-n-write, not from a size standpoint — although graphic designer, Chris Kirkman, has packed a ton of stuff onto those two oversized sheets — but from a gameplay standpoint. The Fleeples aim to make roll and writes into full fledged board games, and Motor City does it in style.

Thematically, it is simple. Players are plant managers at a large scale automobile company in Detroit. Think engineers, and testing grounds, and innovation at its highest. No time for Ford Pintos in this game! The two sheets represent different areas in the factory, and for eight rounds, players will try to use a shared pool of dice to draft a die each round that can combo their way to the most impressive factory (I.e. one with the most points.) When you draft a die, I love the fact that instead of just getting one reward (like most randowriters), you get in essence three — one for the die choice, one for the column it is in, and one for the area of the plant that you use it (and all three could be completely unique choices!)

Each part of the factory operates just a little bit differently. In the testing area, players choose a car, and then cross off spaces on the differently built tracks. In the sales showroom, players keep track of “money” that is used to buy upgrades and other cool stuff. And in the engineering and production areas, players click off boxes that stack toward points and bonuses. It’s all meaty and thinky and delicious at the same time.

The operative words for these randowriters from MotorCity Gameworks is “combotastic play”. Nothing seems to be left to haphazardness. Thinking ahead on your turn can really give players the satisfaction of popping off spaces that give you double or even triple what you started that round. I like to call these games “bubble wrap poppers”, because a well placed mark can set off a chain reaction akin to a child wrapped in bubble wrap rolling around on the ground popping off bubbles with gleeful delight.

ROUX DAT SAYS: I love the clever feeling good randowriters give you as you plot your way to the end of a track, and that’s why I have loved my plays of Motor City. Between the three randowriters that Riddle & Pinchback have released, I think I like Motor City’s theme the best, although calling any roll and write thematic (even this one) is stretching it a bit. Motor City knows what it is all about: it’s there to test your brain and your ability to plan, and give you punctuated bursts of cleverness each time your chosen die sets off a satisfying myriad of chain-reacting results. This is just the prototype look, and I can’t wait to see how it comes out in the KS project.

Time After Time

Movies and TV shows and books have long mined time travel themes. I remember my first journey was Mutiny In The Time Machine, a pulpy book written by Keith Monroe long before I was born, about scouts journeying backwards and forwards in time to stop a long-forgotten but surely evil plot.

Board games do not always seem to capture the flavor of time travel very well. I think because they get the ‘time’ right but not the ‘travel’ (I’m looking at you Anachrony.) But the folks at Island of Bees Games sent us a preview copy of This Didn’t Happen, designed by John Heffernan.

In This Didn’t Happen, players work cooperatively to stop the Big Apocalypse! Monsters running loose in time wreaking havoc on innocent civilians! I was especially intrigued because I’m not really a solo player, but enjoy playing shorter solo type puzzle games.

The set up is interesting and unique. Cards are printed to be placed at angles, forming “v”s or “hearts” on the table. The game is separated into three ages, medieval, the great war, and the future, and players will bounce from the time machine all over these three eras. To do what, you ask?

To stop the apocalypse, players must locate symbols on all of the locations that in essence cancel out the effects of the apocalypse. We could do this one card at a time, but that’s kind of inefficient and we’d probably lose the game. Time moves quickly, you know.

Instead, we want to trigger little cascades of changes in the time line WITHOUT creating those awful paradoxes. You could even flip your character into alternative versions of themselves, including different powers, during the middle of the game!

Trigger the right changes, without damaging our characters and the time machine — or even worse, getting Lost In Time — and we win.

Luckily for us time travelers, the events we face can be changed and the apocalypse averted by playing cards out of our hand to change the flow of history. Resource gathering is one of the actions on the turn and essential to winning, and there’s a selection of stuff in each era.

I played the game on the easier settings, basically the first hazards that we have to face. I was not a fan of memorizing where each of the symbols we needed to locate were, so I house ruled that once I looked at a location, I could keep looking at it! It made my second play much more enjoyable. The game is coming out on Kickstarter soon, and the game is still being tweaked a bit, so everything you see is subject to change and/or upgrade.

We had a lot of problems with the rulebook, but the designer (who is very responsive) has been working on a much better version that we found much clearer than the original (the one other reviewers have referenced in their videos). I’m not a fan of moving the cards around as the prototype version of the cards are pretty slick, but I’m hoping that will be addressed during the project. Or just do like we do for many small box card games, use your own spare meeples for the character cards and cubes for the damage and effects.

ROUX DAT SAYS: This Didn’t Happen is geared toward those who like solving puzzles. It’s a pretty intricate puzzle to beat in each scenario, and there’s plenty of toughness already built in. The game comes with a lot of content with ever tougher scenarios to face. I’d recommend This Didn’t Happen to those who like to check out small box games and enjoy a good solo puzzle; it fits everything into a tiny card box about the size of a deck protector in M:TG.

A Ferry Good Expansion

Ticket To Ride has tons of expansion content, from big box editions to the small 15 minute series. I’ve played all the little ones, but up until now didn’t have much experience with the big expansions for the base game. We recently received the Japan / Italy box as a Secret Santa gift in the Chuck’s Gateway and Filler Games Group exchange, and recently we got to play the Italy map a couple of times.

What’s different about this one? (I bet some of you asked yourselves, ‘Why Do I Need More Ticket To Ride Maps’? too). In Italy, this elongated map has a gorgeous representation of The Boot, and even connects Italian cities to countries on the northern borders as part of the game.

There are a few twists here. First, it’s a giant peninsula, so there’s lots of ways to get around to the city you need by taking water routes. In this game, the ferries do the trick, shuttling players to connects for short distances or even a few that geaux six or seven train car lengths (for tons of points, too). To connect them, you will need in part some wild locomotive cards OR you can grab from the market ONE ferry card (and hold up to two in your hand at any time). Locking up the ferries is a big key to winning this game, because they allow you to do the second change more efficiently.

In Italy, players start out with five destination tickets, and can get the chance to get four more during their turns. That’s a lot of potential points, and long haul cannot be ignored in this game.

But there are even more ways to get points, as players can vie for connecting all the different districts (instead of the “longest train” award) which can really ratchet up your points, especially if you corner the towns at the bottom which give bonuses too. Finally, players will also be able to use destination tickets and trains to connect to whole countries on the edge of the map, a cool thematic touch.

ROUX DAT SAYS: Hey, I still love Ticket To Ride so take this with a grain of salt, but this is one of my favorite maps ever. I love the Destination Ticket Roulette it encourages, where players will take ever increasing chances of grabbing tickets that are high points for their score — but could backfire with high points that they can’t complete. But, I really just love the way the map operates and the cool way that the unique card resource (the ferry cards) introduces even more sidelong glances into the game. Two thumbs up and I’m happy to play this map anytime.

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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