Roux Dat #60: Ra, Viticulture World, and Lost In The Woods

Hey board gamers, summer’s here and that means even more gaming! So much to look forward to including our first convention trip of 2022 coming up. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, there are still games to play that are already in the Gumbo Pot!

So enough with the blather, let’s get right to first impressions of the games we played recently: Ra, the spectacular new edition of a Knizia classic from 25th Century Games; Viticulture World, a cooperative version of our top three favorite game from Stonemaier Games; and Lost In The Woods, a neat little solo card game from Greater Than Games.

Let’s geaux!

You Gotta Know When To Ra Them, Know When To Ra Them

Bidding. Bluffing. Feinting. Calculating. Do those words raise your heart rate in dread or perk your ears up with anticipation? As a big fan of No Thanks!, a game I’ve literally played hundreds of times and introduced dozens and dozens of gamers to, I’m on the excitement end of the above scale.

That’s why I was so pumped when Chad from 25th Century Games offered us a chance to preview the classic bidding game, Ra. Reiner Knizia’s a math wizard, and in Ra I have always heard that he conjured up a spellbinding concoction that has mezmorized gamers who find themselves wanding an elegant bidding experience. (Too much?)

The copy arrived on Monday, and the crowdfunding campaign ended just a day or two later, so I enlisted SneauxBunny to quickly help me try a two player game on stream. We watched a quick video to pick up the gist, and luckily had some help in the Chat Krewe with players familiar with the game.

What a powerhouse experience! Holy cow, as I was exploring Ra, it was like watching a taught thirty minute thriller, with twists and turns as each subtle mechanism in the game changed our understanding of the end game. In Ra, players bid on tiles that come out, tiles you need for set collection purposes (or one time drafting powers), with a couple or three unique twists.

First, you only get one chance to bid or drop out. Second, players intentionally choose the time to start an auction, or the chance of life decides, but either way, you’re bidding on some mix of tiles (sometimes even some that hurt you) plus turning in your winning bid tile for the bidding tile from the last auction. That’s rigth, you might be giving up the strongest bidding tile in the game for the weakest, but maybe you need to do it to get the set collection tile you REALLY need?! Now that’s a juicy crunchily delicious decision!

ROUX DAT SAYS: I think there is still time to get in on this amazing production from 25th Century Games. We played a prototype of the retail version, which itself was phenomonal, but if you like blinging out your games, there’s an upgraded edition, too. Take No Thanks and For Sale, and add Nidivilir and Tutenkhamen, and you get a sense of how good Ra really is. Yes, I know I’m late to the party and that most of the gamers that got in the hobby when I did have already played, but I’m glad I finally got it to the table.

Let’s Make A Vineyard

Viticulture is one of my top three games of all time (Concordia and Beyond The Sun being the other two), so you can probably already guess what my pre-game impression and anticipation level was for Viticulture World was. When we played it on stream, I remember The NameFather suggesting that it was the “co-op game no one asked for”, and I understand that sentiment. But once we broke open the box, everything changed.

Just in case you have been sheltering under a pirogue since Hurricane Audrey, Viticulture is a wine-making themed euro for up to six players by Stonemaier Games. It’s a competitive race to 20 points, which triggers the end game, and depending on the card set and expansions, is all about building a wine making engine (or digging for cards that can combo into points).

Stonemaier Games was kind enough to send us this review copy of Viticulture World. In this version, players work together co-operatively (no traitor, no hidden player, it’s all co-op) to meet objectives based on the history of wine in each region. For the first game, we were assigned Greengully, the fantastical land from Charterstone (because Antartica apparently doesn’t have a long wine making history yet).

Right off, I liked the premise that each player played their own board, which was super familiar for a gamer like me who has played Viticulture more than 30+ times. Sure, there were some unique issues with the main board — new way to do the turn and wake up order, some new spots, and a way to upgrade the actions, but the game comes with a well done tutorial that guides you through the first game. I also liked the conceit that alpha gaming is discouraged; there were lots of ways to help each other out, and the only way to win was for both players to reach a certain point threshold.

ROUX DAT SAYS: This might look like the “co-op game no one asked for”, but the reality is that it is a perfect way for up to three couples to experience Viticulture in a fresh way. So many euro games are solitaire games anyway; the idea that we can all play our own unique strategies even while trying to work cooperatively to upgrade the board and increase the strength of our actions was very well executed and a great way to experience Viticulture. I definitely want to try this with my wife on our next couples’ game night.

Ichabod Drain

Way back in 2017, I pledged to get a copy of Legends of Sleepy Hollow. I love Americana and history games, and enjoyed the first chapter preview Dice Hate Me Games sent me. It finally delivered this year, but my nephew, Jerod, and I are saving it for Halloween — appropriate, no?

Legends delivered with a bonus solo game, Lost In The Woods, based on the original Ichabod Crane story of being chased by the Headless Horseman. (oops, spoilers?) We had a ton of rain Tuesday night, so while waiting for Jerod and Dave, I broke open the little card game on stream, and literally learned it with the Chat Krewe.

Lost In The Woods is all about placing friendly forest cards, nine of them to be exact, between Tarrytown and the famous covered bridge. Ichabod’s arch enemy, The Headless Horseman, is there to harass you oalong the way, but the other scary elements from the story are there, too. It’s part push-your-luck and set collection — each time you have sets of cards in your draw phase, you can choose to stop drawing and move one card from each pair into the safe row.

But watch out! Dangers like Lightning and Graveyards are there to slow you down or even thrwart your attempt to get there before midnight strikes. I played it three times on stream, and it was tough! Even with Who Dat Dre’s help, I still lost twice! There is something about a good push-your-luck experience that is thrilling if done well, and as a player gets close to the finish, it becomes increasingly tenser to make the decision whether to draw or call it safe. If I had any issues, there were a lot of event cards to remember, but that was a minor quibble.

Roux Dat Says: I’m not a big solo player, but I love playing little solo card games like Solitaire or Onirim. This all of those elements — the rules are easy to pick up once you understand the basic premise of pairs being safe to extend your trip, and how each event card works. I’m keeping this one close by because if ever I am waiting on people to show up, I’m ready to break it out again. Fun little solitaire game.


So that’s it for our recent plays. We want to thank 25th Century Games and Stonemaier Games for sending us these review copies, and Greater Than Games for sending us a review copy of the prototype of Legends of Sleepy Hollow. Roux Dat will be back soon with more early looks at recent plays.

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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