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This will probably be the last post about Origins as on day 5, I just ran around trying to make some more contacts and set up future interviews for the podcast. But day 4 was filled with some very interesting and exciting games.
My first stop of the morning was at the Renegade Games both and I stood over a table of Sentient until I could get a chance to sit down and play. This dice manipulation game is really interesting. At the beginning of a round you will roll your dice and place them on the appropriate color. I think this might be a game where my poor dice rolling abilities won't get punished. On your turn you will draft a card and place it on your tableau. The card will contain a point value for the end of the game if you can meet its requirements as well as symbols in the upper right and left corners of the card which shows you how the die above it will be manipulated. One minute you can have the perfect dice and then the next turn if you aren't careful you can wipe out any points you were going to obtain. You also have some agents that you can place on a card to negate the affect on the die. But you need to watch your utilization of these agents as they have a multi-purpose in the game. When you take a card, you also put a worker near it for scoring at the end of the round. The agents can increase your score for a particular pair of cards so knowing when to use them can become quite valuable. The game has a great look to it. The art on the cards is really gorgeous and the dice that come with the game have a great visual appeal. People who like math in their games will really enjoy deciphering this game.
After Sentient I moved to the other side of the Renegade booth to play their new two-player trick taking game The Fox in the Forest. It is really refreshing to see a two-player trick taking game come out and after playing it I can say that it plays great. My wife and I play a lot of games together, but trick taking games are normally for the higher player counts found down at our local game store. It will be nice to be able to sit around and play this game once it comes out. The trick taking game is very easy to learn, but the odd numbered cards have actions that can change game play and will really make you think about what to play when. The art on the cards is really nice as well so I have a feeling that once this comes out it will definitely be a fast seller.
After lunch I stopped by to check out a small Kickstarter game called Dragoon. I had seen this game once before, but I don't think I saw the deluxe version which has all metal components to it. Damn, did this game look great. The cloth mat and the metal figures and dice were just so sharp looking on the table. On previous podcasts I had talked about a game we play called Hoard on the Playstation 3. This game reminds me quite a bit of the video game, but there are enough differences to this board game that really intrigued me. At the beginning of a round you will roll dice to see which spaces on the board a territory tile will come out to. Each player then has three actions to complete. You can move, attack another dragon, attack a town, or just take over a town as well as a few others. At the end of the round depending on how many spaces you control, you will roll a die and figure out how much gold you get and this will be tracked on the gold cloth mat. I really liked the way this game looked and from what I can tell it will scale well from two to four players. I have a feeling that the deluxe version of the game will be on my list of owned games on BGG soon!
Then one of the last games I played for the day was a game that wasn't even at a booth. I was able to get in touch with John Zinser from AEG and set up a time to take a look at their game The Edge of Darkness. I have talked about this game before on the podcast and I can honestly say this was probably one of the best games I played at the show and it was still in prototype form. This game takes Mystic Vale and adds a worker placement component to the game that will make your head spin. There is so much going on with the game that after one play through all I could think of was when am I going to get to play this game again. On your turn you will draft cards from the center of the table and then count the number of cubes on your cards. You will be given the appropriate number of cubes and at the beginning of your turn you will drop these cubes into the tower. Once a monster card has seven cubes on it, the monster will attack the player with the majority of the cubes on it unless there are more black cubes on the card which will then signify that the monster will attack everyone. If you can't defend, you lose victory points on your track. Next, you will then utilize your workers to activate different actions on the board and try to collect as much influence as you can which is your victory points for the end of the game. To utilize an action on the board, you have to have that action slotted into one of your cards so building up your cards is important but it is not going to be as easy as you think. Once you are done with your cards, they go into a general draw pile which fills out spaces in the center board for drafting. The crazy thing is on a players turn they can draft whatever cards are available. So not only do you need to think about building cards for yourself, but you may be building a great card for someone else to use. When a player uses an action from a card that belongs to someone else, they have to pay a gold to use that action and then at the end of their turn, the card goes into the players draw pile who owns it. So you do have the ability to get the cards back you created, but it was probably just used by someone else. Additionally, they can slot the card with different actions as well. This game really builds on the base play of Mystic Vale and pretty much kicks it up to eleven.
I had always wondered why they released Mystic Vale first to just teach everyone the card building mechanic and after playing The Edge of Darkness I can see why. Having to learn the whole card building mechanic besides everything else that this game is bringing to the table would of probably been a mind blower.
These pictures below are of the prototype game components we played with and I really cannot wait to see what this game will look like in its finished format.
OK, sorry for the delay in finishing up my days at Origins, but trying to see so many games and talk to different publishers and designers is just crazy. By the time my days ended, my wife was ready to go out for a nice dinner and have some drinks and who am I to say no to that!
But let's continue with what I was able to see and play here at Origins 2017. Next up on my list was a game that after reading about it I was rather skeptical in whether this would even be able to be made into a functioning board game or not. When I saw and read about Pinball Showdown on BGG, I wasn't really sure what to think. After having the game explained to me and then sitting down to play a full game, I was pretty much sold that this card game about playing pinball actually worked. The game has several mechanisms to it that will make learning the game quite easy. But I can really see where this game will have some replay-ability to it due to the randomness of the cards dealt during setup to make your strategy change with each game play. You are basically playing the game over the course of a multi-ball session with a game of pinball. So, while the card game could last 20-30 minutes, you are really playing what would be considered 30 seconds of a pinball game. While this may sound a little crazy, you are playing what most people will probably say is the best part of a pinball game. During this time, you will be drafting and bidding on cards as well as using your resources of speed and control to attempt to get the best scoring card possible for the round. There are combos and various cards that you can obtain for completing sets, but you are also trying to complete objective cards which will then enable Wizard Mode for the next round. During Wizard Mode, cards will be placed in a 2X pile for scoring at the end of the game. If the speed of your ball ever reaches zero, you will have to deal with draining. If this happens during the first five rounds of the game, your ball just returns to play with a speed of five. But, if this happens in the sixth round or later, the game will end at the completion of the current round. I have to say, I was actually very surprised with how well this game played. It takes the game of pinball and successfully lets you play it in a card game format. From trying to control the speed of your ball to the actual control of the ball, you really need to think about when to push it and when you should maybe pull back a little. This is definitely a game that I can say that if you are a fan of pinball games you should definitely try. But, even if you are just looking for a nice quick filler with a push your luck component to it as well as a set collection and drafting, you should definitely give this game a look.
Next on my stop, I checked out a few games at Stronghold Games. One of the first games I demoed at their booth was Fields of Green. I had read a little about this farming game, but I had honestly not paid too much attention to it, but I am so glad I sat down and played through a round of the game. In this tile placement/resource management game each player is building a farm. You are placing tiles into your tableau to build out a farm to collect victory points at the end of the game, but you need to make sure that while building your farm you obtain the appropriate resources to maintain it. There are different colored tiles which will give you various rewards in the game so figuring out which tile to play where is crucial if you hope to succeed. I really want to give this game a full play through and will definitely be looking for this game at my FLGS now.
Next on my list at the Stronghold booth was a game that made my list of one of the games I wanted to play and that was Pit Crew. I can say this is definitely one game that if you don't like frantic games, then you may want to look at something else. In Pit Crew, you are trying to get the tires changed, car refueled, and in later rounds repairing the engine all as fast as you can before your opponents. The game can be played with a very interesting number of players being from 2-9. In a nine-player game, you will be playing in teams. I played a two-player game and the game still worked great and was a lot of frantic fun. You have a hand of six cards and you are trying to get four cards on each tire by playing a card one number higher or lower than what is already there. Cards also have a white or black number on them, for a set collection component. If you can get all the same colored numbers on a tire you will get a turbo boost at the end of the round. Once you repair all the pieces of your car being tires, engine and then matching the number on your race car, you can start rolling a die. Each six that is rolled allows you to move one space on the race track. You can continue moving along the track as long as one of your opponents is still attempting to repair their car. The game is a crazy fun filler and I definitely need to try this game with a higher player count.
The next game I saw took up the remainder of my afternoon and became an instant buy for me. I stopped by to see the guys at Capstone Games to check out Lignum. This was another game on my list of games I wanted to try and I was very glad I did. I walked up just as a game was about to begin so rather than have them wait for me to learn it, one of the guys from Capstone started playing my turn while I was taught the game at another table. I jumped in at the end of the second season I think it was, and we played through the full two-year game. Wow, Capstone has brought over another great game and I can already see that this one is going to get played quite a bit. The strategy and forethought you need to put into the game will probably give me a headache each time we play, but it will be an enjoyable one. In this game, you are running a lumber mill in the 19th century and you need to try to control all facets of this lumber industry. You need to make sure you have workers to cut the trees down, then transport the wood to your lumber mill, then have sawyers cut the wood. From here you need to figure out if you want to try to age the lumber by letting it dry or if you want to just sell it for some immediate money or utilize the lumber to complete different objectives. The whole game is built around a rondel like board where each player moves to different locations on the board in turn order to complete an action. The crazy thing is, you can move around the board as slowly or quickly as you would like to, depending on the actions that you want to complete. You will need to decide, do I need to stop at this space for a piece of food to make sure I have enough food for the winter, or do I risk passing that up to be the first one to the sawyer square to possibly get an additional worker that you can obtain. There are so many decisions that you will be forced to make at times you may not realize when you have made a good move or a bad one. There's also another really interesting mechanic in the game in that you can try to plan for the future and place tokens on various cards that if you can complete them in future seasons at the right time, you will get bonuses for it. This forward-thinking aspect is one that I can see will be very tricky to master but very rewarding when you do. This game will definitely fall on the heavier end of the spectrum, but after my first play through, I don't think that the rules are too difficult to pick up on, but it will be the strategy and optimization you will need to master that will make this a great strategy game to play for years to come.
So yesterday was a busy day with a lot of games played as well as several interviews conducted. By the time I ate dinner and sat down for a few minutes I crashed. So here's an early morning update from yesterday.
The first booth I visited yesterday was the North Star Games booth. I was shown an early preview of the app they are creating for the game Evolution. It sounds like they are in alpha testing right now and it will be released on Steam(for PC), as well as Android and iOS. The early preview that I was shown was actually very well done. The UI was very intuitive and the tutorial explained the game quite well. There were some really fun animations that were added into some of the cards to just give the app that little bit more. One of the really cool things that I was shown was that the more food that is in the watering hole, the more lush the vegetation is around the screen, which may seem like a small addition, but when you are playing the game its these little things that set apart a good game to make it a great one. I will definitely be following the development of this game as Evolution will make a great game to add to my app collection.
After that I was shown several of the new additions coming out to the actual physical edition of Evolution. There is a redesign coming for the main Evolution game with a smaller box footprint as well as a smaller price point. The game includes a smaller watering hole and screens instead of bags for you food scoring, but the game still looks great. There is also a new neoprene mat coming out which can be used in place of the board for Evolution: Climate. If you already own climate and you aren't keen on the puzzle piece board, then this very nice double sided mat may be exactly what you are looking for to use in your game. One last thing you will notice in the picture below is a new boxed game with the Evolution name on it called Evolution: The Beginning. This game is actually a stand alone game from the rest of the Evolution line and while game play looks similar to the Evolution, this game is played strictly with cards. I didn't have time to demo this one, but I am very interested in seeing how this one plays.
The last thing I saw at their booth was a new addition to the Wits and Wagers Party game which is a huge two sided neoprene mat which looks amazing. I was informed that this will be hitting Kickstarter and I have a feeling that Wits and Wagers Party players will really like what this will add to the game. Check out the pictures below.
As you can see, North Star Games has been keeping busy and it looks like they are continuing to expand on some great lines of games. I can't wait to see what else we are going to see from them.
I did see much more on day 3 of my Origins visit, but I am writing this one up before hitting the show floor on Saturday and I think I'm going to have to finish writing about the rest of my day later as I need to get to the show floor to see more games!