Another week has gone that means I had some opportunities to play some mother trucking board games!
Wednesday night brought with it a mixed bag of gaming. It was another packed night for the members of Bishop’s Stortford Tabletop as we once again broke our most people in attendance record! Things seem to be really taking off for Wednesday Nights at Water Lane and it is great to see people bringing a good variety of games along. Sadly, I only managed to play two games on Wednesday, one that had potential but felt lacking, the other a personal favourite. Then there was Halloween which brought with it a lot of death, mayhem and zombies because there are always zombies!
The first game on Wednesday was Buck: Legacy a card based casual-ish RPG featuring ponies, pegasi and unicorns in a fantasy setting with the art style of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic. So while finding out one of the group was a self confessed Brony and the whole thing made me think of The Equestranauts episode of Bob’s Burgers I watched recently, I endeavoured to look past my preconceptions and give the game a go. Plus I got to have a cool pony figure so it had that going for it.
The game was very mixed. It has some good systems and ideas but the execution felt slightly off. Also it didn’t help that it didn’t seem to fit with most of the group who were playing it. So we played one long, slightly painful round of buying things then adventuring. The end when you want nature of the game helped bring it to a semi-satisfying close quickly but I would be interested in playing some more in future, perhaps in a more RPG friendly setting. I could tell that the game’s core loop is its progression system and how you improve your character the longer you play. It also had a nice tongue’n’cheek flavour to it that had you smiling and laughing at some of the items and abilities you come across.
The main problem I had with it was the amount of downtime you experience for what is presented as a pick up and play RPG. The town phase of the game feels mostly pointless and could easily have been incorporated into the adventuring phase. Then in the adventuring phase you have this awkward thing of the player order being broken depending on if players have encountered monsters. Basically it is what I would term as an overly fiddly game. There a little things you need to keep track of and plan for and the style and humour is definitely not for everyone.
After Buck: Legacy people splintered off into various tables and I ended up playing a game of Suburbia with my wife and another group member. Like I said earlier it was a busy night at Water Lane and by sheer chance we ended up playing Suburbia on a table in a dark corner of the room. Which lead to an interesting Suburbia by torchlight game!
Suburbia is a favourite of mine because it is a relatively simple puzzle of a game. On your turn you buy a tile and add it to your city. You then action the effect of that tile, any tiles next to it that it triggers, then any tiles in your suburb and finally you check to see if any tiles other players have are affected by it. (SIMPLE!) The main things you have to keep track of are your money, income and reputation. Money is self explanatory, income gives you more money and reputation adds to your population every turn. The player with the highest population at the end of the game wins.
When you first play Suburbia it can be a mess of tiles, text and various effects as you get to grips with what works well together and what you need to keep an eye out for. Eventually it will click and you will realise things like adding certain tiles to your suburb will earn you back the money spent on buying it and then some just for placing it. Or you will pick up on what type of tiles the other players are going for and proceed to block them by taking those tiles for yourself by various means. The game also has a brilliant catch up mechanic that stops any player from getting too far ahead. On the population board there are red milestone lines which when crossed knock you down a peg on both income and reputation. It is a minor setback at first but towards the end game when players are placing tiles that can give them huge boosts in population it can end up crippling them. Allowing the other players to catch up.
I also really enjoy Suburbia in part because it reminds me of city building games like Sim City. You want to craft a perfect little town each game. You want to try pushing for that goal bonus that will make your suburb different from the other players. You want to buy that Casino Tile despite it not really fitting in with the rest of your town. Competition wise it is not overly aggressive. You can if you wish just sit down and get on with it. However some of the best games I have had of Suburbia involved a lot of player back and forth as everyone worked out what the other players needed and proceeded to screw each other over.
Saturday brought Halloween with it so I decided to host an evening of horror and spooky games. In the end we only managed to play one long game of Dead of Winter but it was really, really good. Being the second time I have played Dead of Winter and the first time for everyone else playing we decided on playing the recommended “Short” introductory scenario.
It took so long because:
- We had the worst luck imaginable!
- It took longer than expected to explain the game to people.
If you have not played Dead of Winter and you are a fan of things like The Walking Dead you need to grab a copy of the game ASAP! It is probably the best zombie based board game on the market at the moment and there are a lot of zombie based board games! The reason why it is so good is that it captures what is great about zombie fiction: the survivors and the fight to survive. Every move could be your last, every decision could lead to something awesome or something terrible happening, every ally a potential enemy. It is beautifully realised.
The game has a hefty web of systems to bring the theme to life. There is a lot to take on board simply because the game offers its players so many options on how to tackle the problems it throws at them. Our game involved one bad thing after another happening mainly down to my own bad luck.
To sum it up:
- My first dice roll killed my best character.
- My last dice roll killed my last character on his way to hopefully get the last bit of fuel we needed to survive the round and win the game. His death caused colony morale to drop to zero ending the game with the colony collapsing.
- In between these two notable deaths any other character I got my hands on or went near to died, horribly.
We didn’t have a betrayer in our group which is still something I have to experience but I suspect I will be playing a lot more Dead of Winter in the future.