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.