Roux Dat #54: Kabuto Sumo, Now or Never, and The Hunger

Hey board gamers, the boudin has been eaten and the boxes are put away. Another amazing Southern Board Game Fest has come and gone. But the games continue! If you missed us this year, we look forward to seeing you at SoBo 2023!

All right, that’s enough blather, let’s get to the games we’ve been playing lately. For a recap of what we played at SoBo 2022, make sure to go to https://boardgamegumbo.wordpress.com/2022/03/26/southern-board-game-fest-2022/

This time we are chatting about Kabuto Sumo, Now or Never, and The Hunger!

Stagger Leach Was Really Junk Yard Dog Tick In Disguise

Some of my earliest memories are driving over to Chataignier, Louisiana to visit with my grandfather’s brother, ‘Nonc Lastie. My dad would drive the whole family over there every once in a while for a Saturday family visit. I still remember walking in to the house, and seeing a television showing Mid South Wrestling live on the tube when my great-uncle got off the coach to greet us.

I was never much of a wrestling fan, to be honest, but the concept of Kabuto Sumo really intrigued me. It’s a game designed by Tony MIller and published by Boardgametables.com. The theme is admittedly pretty clever and cute in its execution. It’s a sumo wrestling match between colorful bugs with even more colorful names. But the mechanism employed to accomplish the match is probably not what you are thinking – and yet makes perfect sense for this theme.

You know those quarter-eating machines at truck stops and arcades where you slide a quarter down a ramp and you hope it lands just perfectly on a pile of quarters that it sends a big pile of them your way into the receiver at the bottom? That’s the conceit of Kabuto Sumo – players will push their champion bugs over a slide onto the main wrestling floor into a big pile of other bugs, and they are hoping to knock off the featured wrestlers of the other players.

There is a lot of chaos involved, because the main pieces are all round in shape and push each other in unexpected ways. But some of the bugs have special powers that let them place odd shaped pieces on the board, which makes for even more hilarious movement during the game.

ROUX DAT SAYS: Kabuto Sumo is quick, colorful, and catchy. We had a blast playing Jay’s copy live on our Twitch Tuesdays in the Gumbo Pot, and I could see myself springing for a copy at the next convention that Boardgamestables.com presents its wares. Kudos to Tony, this game is one of those perfect quick playing root-beer-and-pretzels games that I love.

If Only Elvis Were Here

Sleeping Gods was my favorite game of 2021, and Near & Far has long been in top ten games of all times. Even with that history, I still try to experience (and review) each of their releases on their own, without prejudging fairly or unfairly the next release.

That being said, I have to admit that there was a lot of anticipation for Now Or Never in the Gumbo Pot. We love the Arzium world and the artwork, and feel very comfortable seeing the denizens that pop up in each game. Jerod and I cracked it open as soon as we got the review copy, and set up a two player game.

If you are expecting the fractured storylines of Above & Below and Islebound, rest assured that these stories seem to be much more connected which in my mind is a very good thing. (We only played one scenario so far, so this is really just a ‘first impression’ of the game.) But, if you are expecting the elegance and smooth gameplay from Near & Far, sadly, we were disappointed in that regard.

Where Near & Far’s tank-up-and-geaux-explore-some-more experience seemed very well thought, balanced, smooth and dare I say, enjoyable from end to end, our first play of Now Or Never just did not meet up to those expectations. The map seemed disjointed, the puzzle on your player boards seemed superfluous, and the combat seemed a watered down version of what we have seen in other games.

There were some things to like. I thought the way that each player can upgrade their character in unique ways was very interesting, and the diversity of the artwork was pleasing. I even liked how you could ‘borrow’ the powers that other players’ companions had, just buy paying a few tins to the bank. But, I was not a big fan of the way we track resources – after loving how chunky all the bits and bobs were in other Red Raven Games, having a big blob of wooden pieces represent every single resource on a track that was not designed for the pieces seemed like a poor decision. Were these little problems enough to push me away from further plays?

ROUX DAT SAYS: They are not enough to push me away. I’m ready to tee up a few more chances at Now Or Never, mainly because I want to explore more of where my character was going. Plus, there’s something about the artwork that keeps drawing me in. I may have to recruit another player or two to finish it up, as I think Jerod’s tapped out after only one play. Or maybe even solo the game. Pity for those frogpeople.

Duran Iran Weallran

I have been hearing a lot about The Hunger, Richard Garfield’s shot at designing a deck-building-plus game. Jerod just happened to have a copy, so I was happy to play it with him a few times. In The Hunger, players clank their way as Vampires across a countryside full of juicy humans just waiting to be mesmerized.

But there’s a catch. Each vampire has a small deck of cards to use to wander through the villages, mountains and forests, but they have to hurry. After 15 turns, the sun will rise and any vampire caught outside the castle will forever perish … i.e. lose the game. The game has a market, of course, since this is a deck builder, and grabbing cards that help you get more humans is just as important as collecting sets of cards to score points.

The map itself is interesting. There are a number of routes to head hither and yonder, all spiraling to a Weenie at the end that gives you a chance at big points. But be forewarned – if you waste a lot of time getting to the end, you won’t have enough time with your likely clogged up deck to get back in time.

ROUX DAT SAYS: This is a Richard Garfield game with cards. Do I need to tell you that it is combolicious? Of course not, but it is. Discovering those card combos is oh so satisfying, as is racing around the board befriending humans and convincing them to join you. Sure, they clog up your movement in the deck, but there are handy little areas on the board where you can give them the rest they deserve. After two plays, I guess you could say that I’m hungry for more. You’re welcome, Jay.

THE WRAP UP:

So, that’s it for our first impressions and post-game musings of three new-to-us games. The Roux Dat will be back with more commentary and reviews about the games we are playing. Is there a game that you would like us to play? Let us know in the comments, or hit us up on Twitter or Facebook @boardgamegumbo and we will see if we can get a copy!

Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!

– BJ

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

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