Roux Dat #63: Obsession, Sunny Day Sardines, and Brian Boru: High King of Ireland

Hey board gamers, we are on the road to Dice Tower East 2022! I’m in the passenger seat, listening to the radio (a good mix of Matt Nathanson and Matt Maher, of course) while my beautiful bride drives, so it’s a good time to recap some of the best plays we had this week. 

This week we are serving up first impressions of Obsession, which felt like an episode of Downton Abbey come to life; Sunny Day Sardines, a super fast card game; and Brian Boru: High King of Ireland, where trick-taking meets area control with a Gaelic flavor. 

If you find yourself wandering the halls of the Dice Tower Con East, and see a familiar looking logo on a hat or shirt (ye olde meeple chef stirring the gumbo pot!) make sure you stop by and give us a hearty “Laissez les bon temps rouler!”

Enough blather, let’s get to the games!

We Do Not ‘Disc Golf’ at Downton Abbey, You Cretin

If I say “Jane Austen, Downton Abbey, and Henry James”,  what do you think they all have in common? That’s easy. They’ve all been combined into a fun little worker placement game designed by Dan Hallagan!  Obsession was first published in 2018, and due to a lot of good word of mouth reviews, has been continuously yet sporadically printed by its publisher since then. 

No, it’s not easy to get, but it is easy to learn. Players are in control of an upper crust family i England, playing cards out of their hand to take quiet little adventures like lawn bowling or dancing to score points and burnish their reputations. Each family has a tiny little unique power — mine was a widow dowager who added an extra card to my starting hand, meaning I had to rest later than everyone else.

I liked the way the game steers you to search for more valuable tiles representing the aristocratic activities the family would like to partake in, yet you also have to convert the chosen tiles into more powerful (and higher scoring) flip sides if you want to win. Balancing the act of adding tiles with the desire to convert them into more powerful sides, is one of those juicy little decisions you cannot avoid. 

It is also like a lot of games I’ve been enjoying lately, where you have a big mess of cards in your hands (think Concordia or Boonlake) 

ROUX DAT SAYS: This one came very highly recommended by my buds in the Gateway & Filler Games Group on Facebook, and I can see why. Combine a neat little economic engine with an interesting market mechanic and a theme that we just don’t see very often, and you’ve got a different experience for your tabletop. It felt a little scripted, perhaps? But that’s probably just because it was my first play, and I was going with my gut and taking the obvious plays in front of me. I’d definitely play it again.

Reel Tin-Tin

Every game bag needs a couple of little box games and little card games. You never know when three gamers will be waiting for the fourth to start a big game of New Bedford or Beyond The Sun, and need a small little card game to pass the time waiting on them to arrive. 

25th Century Games has one in its catalog called Sunny Day Sardines. It’s designed by Jeremiah Acevedo, and has a premise that is recognizable in just a few seconds. Grab sardines, trade them when you match set collection cards in the market, score points. Sardines come in various colors, and the set collection cards all look for different combos: maybe you are gunning for a card with one blue and one yellow sardine, or the big one where multiple sardine pairs are needed to score. 

Yep, the game play is that easy! Have you ever played a card game where everybody knows the rules, and can play super fast? I used to watch the scout troop play games like Egyptian Rat or Spit at lamplit tables under the tarp, and playing Sunny Day Sardines was the closest thing I’ve had to that experience. In my own house, we’ve played so much Dutch Blitz and Pit and Rummy that it almost feels like we can play those games on autopilot while we laugh and chat with each other. 

Sunny Day Sardines fits right into that groove. As soon as Jerod explained our goal, Mitchell and I were off and running. Sardines were flying off the table like sockeye at Pikes Place landing in patron’s arms. It can’t have taken much more than 5-10 minutes for us to reach the finish, which is when the last card in the deck fills the market.  We laughed at each other while we counted up the scores, catching our breath from the flurry of activity, put the cards away, and closed them up in the cool little metal tin that the cards come in. 

(A copy was provided by the publisher.)

ROUX DAT SAYS: There’s not a lot to this game. It’s just one of those games you can pull out at any family game night or holiday game party and teach anybody, I mean anybody! This is one is definitely coming with me to Dice Tower Con, and it’s definitely staying in my bag as a replacement for Fuji Flush.

Luck of the I Wish

Dave Doooooogas has been salivating to play Brian Boru: High King of Ireland for months, ever since we saw some chattera about it on social media. So of course, when Mitchell (the honorary founder of the Beans & Dice Podcast) brought his copy over to stream with us, Dave had other engagements. 

Tough luck, Dave. Brian Boru is Boru Real. 

Peer Sylvester has taken two very well worn mechanics — trick-taking and area control — and piled them together on top of each other. We used to love a game with a similar feel, Joraku from Tasty Minstrel Games. But where Joraku kind of broke down after a few plays because of a severe kingmaking problem, Brian Boru feels elegant and smooth as butter. 

Players have a hand of cards with different sizes and suits and play their best cards in order to win tricks and put influence markers all over an ancient map of Ireland. Or will they? Sometimes it is actually better to dump a trick because each card is multi-purposed. You can play them for their card strength in order to win the trick, but the higher cards come with less powerful actions and more expensive costs.

Or you can fake your opponent into playing a high card to win the trick and dump a lower card that gives you a bonus action you need — like more money for your next play. Or maybe you just barely win a trick by the lowest card you can manage, that way you can add more influence for cheap!

Area control games already have an element of mind games, but this adds to the tension and ante in ways that really clicked. Plus, there are ways to earn bonus power cards by adding influence to the marriage track, there are vikings to defeat for points, and other distractions that can give you a leg up on points at the end of the game.  That’s a lot going on from a scoring standpoint, but I started to understand all of the other areas of the board better as the game went on. 

Roux Dat Says:  Two thumbs up for my first play.  Long-suffering readers know that area control is my least favorite mechanic, but I really enjoyed how fast this played and how satisfying it was to win a trick that got you just enough to take control of a certain region of Ireland.  I’m ready to play this again. Guess I’ll have to talk Dave into getting that copy sooner rather than later! 

THE WRAPUP:

That was a great week of gaming!  The biggest thing we’ve ever done — almost twelve hours of streaming on my birthday, with tons of different games played. I’ve got plenty to talk about on the blog over the next few weeks, but the next entry will be all about our adventures near the Mouse House at Dice Tower Con East. I’ll try to give you a head’s up on some of the new releases there and an inside look at the brand new Dice Tower Con library! 

Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!

— BJ from Board Game Gumbo 

Roux Dat #63: Obsession, Sunny Day Sardines, and Brian Boru: High King of Ireland

Hey board gamers, we are on the road to Dice Tower East 2022! I’m in the passenger seat, listening to the radio (a good mix of Matt Nathanson and Matt Maher, of course) while my beautiful bride drives, so it’s a good time to recap some of the best plays we had this week. 

This week we are serving up first impressions of Obsession, which felt like an episode of Downton Abbey come to life; Sunny Day Sardines, a super fast card game; and Brian Boru: High King of Ireland, where trick-taking meets area control with a Gaelic flavor. 

If you find yourself wandering the halls of the Dice Tower Con East, and see a familiar looking logo on a hat or shirt (ye olde meeple chef stirring the gumbo pot!) make sure you stop by and give us a hearty “Laissez les bon temps rouler!”

Enough blather, let’s get to the games!  

We Do Not ‘Disc Golf’ at Downton Abbey, You Cretin

If I say “Jane Austen, Downton Abbey, and Henry James”,  what do you think they all have in common? That’s easy. They’ve all been combined into a fun little worker placement game designed by Dan Hallagan!  Obsession was first published in 2018, and due to a lot of good word of mouth reviews, has been continuously yet sporadically printed by its publisher since then. 

No, it’s not easy to get, but it is easy to learn. PLayers are in control of an upper crust family i England, playing cards out of their hand to take quiet little adventures like lawn bowling or dancing to score points and burnish their reputations. Each family has a tiny little unique power — mine was a widow dowager who added an extra card to my starting hand, meaning I had to rest later than everyone else. 

I liked the way the game steers you to search for more valuable tiles representing the aristocratic activities the family would like to partake in, yet you also have to convert the chosen tiles into more powerful (and higher scoring) flip sides if you want to win. Balancing the act of adding tiles with the desire to convert them into more powerful sides, is one of those juicy little decisions you cannot avoid. 

It is also like a lot of games I’ve been enjoying lately, where you have a big mess of cards in your hands (think Concordia or Boonlake) 

ROUX DAT SAYS:  This one came very highly recommended by my buds in the Gateway & Filler Games Group on Facebook, and I can see why. Combine a neat little economic engine with an interesting market mechanic and a theme that we just don’t see very often, and you’ve got a different experience for your tabletop. It felt a little scripted, perhaps? But that’s probably just because it was my first play, and I was going with my gut and taking the obvious plays in front of me. I’d definitely play it again. 

Reel Tin-Tin

Every game bag needs a couple of little box games and little card games. You never know when three gamers will be waiting for the fourth to start a big game of New Bedford or Beyond The Sun, and need a small little card game to pass the time waiting on them to arrive. 

25th Century Games has one in its catalog called Sunny Day Sardines. It’s designed by Jeremy Acievedo, and has a premise that is recognizable in just a few seconds. Grab sardines, trade them when you match set collection cards in the market, score points. Sardines come in various colors, and the set collection cards all look for different combos: maybe you are gunning for a card with one blue and one yellow sardine, or the big one where multiple sardine pairs are needed to score. 

Yep, the game play is that easy! Have you ever played a card game where everybody knows the rules, and can play super fast? I used to watch the scout troop play games like Egyptian Rat or Spit at lamplit tables under the tarp, and playing Sunny Day Sardines was the closest thing I’ve had to that experience. In my own house, we’ve played so much Dutch Blitz and Pit and Rummy that it almost feels like we can play those games on autopilot while we laugh and chat with each other. 

Sunny Day Sardines fits right into that groove. As soon as Jerod explained our goal, Mitchell and I were off and running. Sardines were flying off the table like sockeye at Pikes Place landing in patron’s arms. It can’t have taken much more than 5-10 minutes for us to reach the finish, which is when the last card in the deck fills the market.  We laughed at each other while we counted up the scores, catching our breath from the flurry of activity, put the cards away, and closed them up in the cool little metal tin that the cards come in. 

ROUX DAT SAYS: There’s not a lot to this game. It’s just one of those games you can pull out at any family game night or holiday game party and teach anybody, I mean anybody!  This is one is definitely coming with me to Dice Tower Con, and it’s definitely staying in my bag as a replacement for Fuji Flush. 

Happy Wife, Happy Ireland Life

Dave Doooooogas has been salivating to play Brian Boru: High King of Ireland for months, ever since we saw some chattera about it on social media. So of course, when Mitchell (the honorary founder of the Beans & Dice Podcast) brought his copy over to stream with us, Dave had other engagements. 

Tough luck, Dave. Brian Boru is Boru Real. 

Peer Sylvester has taken two very well worn mechanics — trick-taking and area control — and piled them together on top of each other. We used to love a game with a similar feel, Joraku from Tasty Minstrel Games. But where Joraku kind of broke down after a few plays because of a severe kingmaking problem, Brian Boru feels elegant and smooth as butter. 

Players have a hand of cards with different sizes and suits and play their best cards in order to win tricks and put influence markers all over an ancient map of Ireland.  Or will they? Sometimes it is actually better to dump a trick because each card is multi-purposed. You can play them for their card strength in order to win the trick, but the higher cards come with less powerful actions and more expensive costs.  

Or you can fake your opponent into playing a high card to win the trick and dump a lower card that gives you a bonus action you need — like more money for your next play. Or maybe you just barely win a trick by the lowest card you can manage, that way you can add more influence for cheap! 

Area control games already have an element of mind games, but this adds to the tension and ante in ways that really clicked. Plus, there are ways to earn bonus power cards by adding influence to the marriage track, there are vikings to defeat for points, and other distractions that can give you a leg up on points at the end of the game.  That’s a lot going on from a scoring standpoint, but I started to understand all of the other areas of the board better as the game went on. 

Roux Dat Says:  Two thumbs up for my first play.  Long-suffering readers know that area control is my least favorite mechanic, but I really enjoyed how fast this played and how satisfying it was to win a trick that got you just enough to take control of a certain region of Ireland.  I’m ready to play this again. Guess I’ll have to talk Dave into getting that copy sooner rather than later! 

THE WRAPUP:

That was a great week of gaming!  The biggest thing we’ve ever done — almost twelve hours of streaming on my birthday, with tons of different games played. I’ve got plenty to talk about on the blog over the next few weeks, but the next entry will be all about our adventures near the Mouse House at Dice Tower Con East. I’ll try to give you a head’s up on some of the new releases there and an inside look at the brand new Dice Tower Con library! 

Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!

— BJ from Board Game Gumbo 

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