Roux Dat #57: Brew, Rolling Realms: Libertalia, and Coimbra

Hey board gamers, down here in south Louisiana, we just wrapped up another successful Easter week. For us, the week is all about food, food and more food: planning out the crawfish boils for Good Friday, cooking burgers with friends on Saturday, and then preparing the ponce bourre for the Easter celebration! What are your traditions during this holiday season?

All right, that’s enough blather, let’s get to the games we’ve been playing lately. This time we are chatting about Brew, Rolling Realms: Libertalia, and Coimbra!

A Brew For You

Jay Bell has a keen eye for games that use cards in new ways or that get a lot of game out of small choices. Right before SoBo, and again on our Twitch Tuesday channel, Jay brought over Brew from Pandasaurus Games. It’s designed by Stevo Torres and plays two to four players, with our games running a tad bit over an hour.

In Brew, we step into a fantasy world filled with tons of magical woodland creatures. The problem? The climate has gone inexplicably wrong, and it’s our job to navigate through the unstable change of seasons and score the most victory points. Over the course of four rounds, players will roll dice and use the die results to claim area majorities and resources in one of few different lands in the world. Grabbing those lands whenever has run out of dice means more points for you, but it also means you can recruit more woodland creatures to live with you and score more points.

It’s called Brew for a reason, though, and that’s due to the potions that you can make using those ingredients you find. Each of the potions also scores you points, but they break the game in tiny ways, too. You might have one that let’s you re-roll your die, or add another turn, but in any case, smart players will use them to grab spots out from under the noses of other gamers or recruit a woodland creature that has an ongoing power that really changes the dynamics of the gameplay.

ROUX DAT SAYS: The artwork is fun, if a tiny bit busy, and it is very satisfying to roll those big chunky dice that lets you pull off a combo using a potion and a creature or three. Longtime readers of The Gumbo know that area majority is my least favorite mechanic, but for some reason, the pace of play the fact that the capturing of the cards is quick and easy, and all of the ways you can upgrade your own player with potions and animal companions makes me overlook the area mechanics and just focus on trying for some combolicious turns. It’s not a game I need to own, and yet, I won’t turn down a play as I enjoyed it much more the second time.

Give Me Dice Or Give Me Death

Jared and I opened up the Rolling Realms box to set up the play-to-win game for Southern Board Game Fest. Since the game had dry erase markers, we figured it wouldn’t hurt to learn the game so that we could teach people at SoBo. Rolling Realms was surprisingly good, enough to where Jerod bought a copy for himself after we finished.

When I purchased my copy of Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest, I had the opportunity to throw in a pack of Rolling Realms cards for the realm of the same name. What a marketing coup; not only has Stonemaier Games made a fun roll-n-write game, but they have a built in series of expansions everytime they come out with new releases (and they recently announced licenses with other games, like Terra Mystica).

Jerod brought his Rolling Realms copy to teach Jay on our Twitch Tuesday night. We intentionally seeded the first round with the Libertalia cards, since we have played almost all of the realms in past games. The Libertalia one is fairly simple but super hard. Players have to take a die roll result and add it from left to right in a series of a “pirates” on the cards, each number being successively higher.

Sort of. Each pirate has two digits, with one missing. So the two digit number has to be higher, not the number you add. That makes for some tricky decisions, because if you don’t play the right number, you can be locked out of that card for the rest of the game! (Until Stonemaier releases a Realm that lets you erase other numbers.) Of course, the only way to get the stars on the card is to make it to the last few pirates, but along the way, you’ll get lots of cool bonuses just for trying.

ROUX DAT SAYS: I did terrible in my first game with the Libertalia realm. I was rolling along, making great use, and then got stuck having to use a number on the card that just gummed up the rest of the round. Oh well, that just means I need to try the Libertalia realm again. In any case, adding the pack of cards for $5 is an easy call if you are a fan of Rolling Realms.

City By The Sea

After playing with Jerod so much, since he and his wife moved back to the area, I’m getting a good feel for games in my collection that he would probably like, and certainly be good at it. One of those is Coimbra from eggertspiele Games. Readers of Roux Dat already know that I am a big fan of the Italian designers club designs – Grand Austria Hotel and Coimbra being my favorites. I knew right away when thinking about what to play with him this week that the combination of the multi-use dice choosing mechanic and the card powers would easily ensnare Jerod.

I was right. We set up the game board right in the kitchen next to the big windows so we could let the cousins play in the backyard while we explored the beautiful city. I’ve never been to Portugal, but it is in the my top two places that I want to visit. Not only is my family lineage from Lisboa, but I love the food, culture, and language of the Iberian peninsula, and the Chris Quilliams art here that represents the denizens of Coimbra is whimsical and fun.

Coimbra is easily in my top ten euros of all time, with a sweet pace of play and deep strategy that belies the fact that we use the same cards every time (just in a different order due to random shuffling.) Players have a player board that teaches the game (more sweet lagniappe!) and tracks your coins and shields – the two resources used to buy the cards you need.

But the really cool thing in Coimbra, even more than the diabolical dice drafting mechanism, is the fact that you can send your meeple exploring around the countryside visiting monasteries and getting tons of bonuses or scoring points. Plus, there’s a way to dump those extra coins and shields on taking voyages that can score you even more points!

ROUX DAT SAYS: Coimbra is beautiful, elegant, quick playing and satisfying in its combos and decisions. It’s always reminded me of the flavor – not the mechanics – of a good game of Elysium, with the addition though of the awesome monastery visits to juice up your resource collection. Throw in the fact that you are battling heartily with your opponents to move up the four tracks that correspond to the four different types of cards you play, and you’ve got a crunch, juicy, delicious game that every euro fan should play. Jerod gave it two thumbs up.

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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