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  • Writer's picture Danielle Reynolds - @TokenGaymer

July 2020 Game Play Journal

This month I started it out right on the Fourth of July with a game I’ve never played, Ishatar: Gardens of Babylon which may be my favorite of the games I played in July. As with the past few months I have been lucky enough to find a few core friends that I have been partially quarantining with as COVID-19 continues. This has allowed me to play some older games in my collection and occasionally try some new things.

July 4, 2020

I have reviewed this game in the past but I would like to point out a bad experience that came from this playthrough. In this run we found ourselves rarely receiving any resources which made the game last much longer then previous games. I have had this issue in the past with other older versions of Catan which they found a fix for in Catan Starfarers. If you only have a few points you receive free random resources. I think I may home rule this. One friend who is normally the most positive gamer I’d ever met was getting so frustrated he continually tried to end the game. We eventually decided to make the winning score lower to end the game faster. I know in many ways this was random chance that made this particular game annoying but it is nice that there can be an easy home rule added to help with those sour feelings.

Ishtar intrigued me right off the bat with it’s interesting components and interestingly shaped tiles. In the game you are using a rondel (going around in a circle drafting tiles to play). Players take turns grabbing garden tiles to play on the desert floor with the goal of collecting gems, building large gardens that you claim with your colored meeple, planting trees, connecting to the fountains and gaining bonus actions. Different tiles will show different action symbols of what you can do like gaining additional apprentices that can claim different parts of the garden. Something that I learned quickly is you could add garden tiles to set up a great high scoring spot but another player could play an apprentice in the garden I was preparing and take all the points. So, you need to try not to make something too enticing if you don’t have an apprentice action that turn. I made that mistake on my first turn. I did really enjoy collecting gems to buy trees and other upgrades though. I tended to spend my gems as quickly as I collected them. Besides the set up taking a while this game is worth checking out! I’ve added it to my birthday/christmas list, I enjoyed it so much. My only thought is it did feel like it ran a little short and I’d like a few more turns.

July 11, 2020

I had this game on my list to purchase ever since I heard about it. Who can beat a ton of Quacks trying to sell random potions that may or may not flop? The hardest part about the game is trying to spell/say it. My friend Tommy and I sat down to play and quickly found that we loved the rat tail catch up mechanic, the pressure from the push-your-luck and the interesting ingredients. We were having so much fun that we started to lose track of the rounds. We were neck and neck the whole game until he pulled ahead in the last two rounds to win. In the game, players are pulling ingredients out of a bag to move a certain amount of spaces in the cauldron. Depending on how well you do, the score will go up and you’ll be able to purchase more ingredients. Some ingredients even get you extra points, rubies or abilities. The only catch is you are pushing-your-luck. If you go over 7 points worth of the white ingredient your potion blows up and you lose potential points or money. I really enjoyed how easy the game was to play once we started. I will be keeping this in my collection. I look forward to playing with more friends and trying different ingredient powers.

I love the Gothic artwork and ease of play in Crows. Players are playing their towers to attract the most crows to gain points. Depending on the tiles you place and where you put your tower you can gain special abilities. The game is quick, somewhat puzzely and filled with choices. I would recommend the game at a higher player count then two though because we were very neck and neck throughout game. I have had the same experience previous times I’ve played. Also, the dark color pallet is cool but also makes the game somewhat hard to see if you’re like me and have terrible lighting in your apartment. Overall, this is a fun game that plays in around 30 minutes.

July 15, 2020

If you have played the card game Sushi Go learning this version of the game is incredibly easy. To set up, you’ll hand out menu and chopstick tokens to players and have players grab a certain number of dice from the bag to roll and place on their conveyor belt board. Each round starting with the first player you will draft a die from the conveyor belt, switch conveyor belts clockwise and at the end score up the points according to the score guide. A minor difference between this and the card game is you can turn in extra menus and chopsticks for points. Beyond that, it’s the same game with different components. I enjoy drafting dice but honestly if you already own the card game you don’t need to own Sushi Roll.

In this game play we played with my two siblings. One who has played a larger version of Ticket to Ride and the other who has never played the game. My brother liked the New York version because it was smaller and didn’t take hours to play like the version he was introduced to which I believe was Ticket to Ride: Europe. But he did feel like he enjoyed the added strategy of the other game more. My sister who had never played before caught onto the rules of the game very quickly and enjoyed her time. Her only frustration came from having a road taken before she could get to it which is a normal frustration for this game. I continue to enjoy the New York edition because of how quickly you can play and because it’s a great entry level game.

July 17, 2020

Hearts is an older trick taking game you can play with a standard deck of poker cards. It has also become my brother’s latest obsession over quarantine. In the game you are trying to have the lowest score to win. You have to play cards and follow suit to try and rid yourself of some of the less desirable cards like the hearts (1 point) and queen of spades (10 points). You win the hand if you’ve played the highest card in that suit. Once all the cards are claimed the game ends and you total your points. Personally, I’m not the largest fan of the game but my siblings enjoyed it and that’s all that matters.

This time we played with the correct rules and I still enjoy the idea and text on the cards but it’s not as fun as I want it to be. I still prefer Joking Hazards.

My friends enjoyed Skulls so much that they wanted to play twice in a row. In Skull, players are using coasters to bet and push their luck. Players will place coasters face down with either a skull or flower on it or call out a number of coasters they think they can successfully turn over without getting a skull including themselves. It’s fun because some players like myself enjoy pushing the number up in hopes of other players getting a skull. My friend Eric decided to start randomly placing a coaster to see what happens and he lost very quickly. If you’re unsuccessful in revealing the number of coasters you said and get a skull you lose one of your coasters. This is a great little game that’s a perfect ice breaker game for larger groups.

This game is always hilarious and a go to party game for my friends and family. It’s also now available in Target!

We all know and love Jenga, the game of pulling wooden pieces from a tower and hoping it doesn’t fall. It’s always a great end to a game night. Not to mention a classic.

July 19, 2020

Since it was my brother’s first time playing he decided to not use the god powers for the game. He enjoyed the game but also felt like it was too easy to steal territory away from other players. I think if we had used the god powers or added more players he would have enjoyed it more.

In this game you are competing to have the best party by collecting different tetris shapes tiles to fill in your individual boards. Once you have two of a color you collect a meeple. If you have the largest grouping of a color you get the cutest couple. If you get a row filled you add a white meeple to the top banner. These will count as additional points as long as your tiles don’t hit into it. I’m a fan of the little wheel you use to draft and the fact that the other player can choose where the next cards will go to possibly mess with the other players. It’s a cute theme and easy to teach. If you like tetris style games this is a good entry level one. Just make sure to pay attention to the number of cards you are setting up for different player counts.

July 20, 2020

This game has a simple concept. Put together the best comic strip using the Cyanide and Happiness comic cards. Each round the judge draws a random card and places it down. If it has a black border they will place a second card from their hand then the other players will hand a card face down to the judge. The judge will decide what the most amusing comic strip is and award that player a card as a point. If the starting card has a red border players will submit the first two comic strip cards instead of one for the judge to choose from. This game is similar to Cards Against Humanities but way more fun. I have introduced this game to many different groups and people get hooked every time. I also love all the different expansions. I was able to fit three expansions on top of the original cards that came in the box. If you want a card based party game I suggest checking this out. It does have adult content as a warning.

This party game has a simple idea that became a massive hit. Players try to get one person to guess a word like “Dracula”. Each player writes a clue then compares. If they have the same word it cancels out so the player guessing will have less information. This makes the game fun and interesting. You don’t want to be too obvious in your hints so you don’t cancel each other. But you don’t want to be too out there in case you become the only hint. This is a group game where you are working to get the highest score you can. I bring it out a lot for larger groups at the end of game nights since it requires less brain power.

July 26, 2020

I learned from this game that my cousin who is almost 9 years old can not listen or pay attention to rules once he hears we can throw the burrito at each other. The game mostly became how many times can Vince lie and hit us with a burrito. Weirdly enough, I think I only enjoy this game with adults more than kids.

This was a fun month of games that I’ve had on my shelves but haven’t had the chance to play in awhile. The two new games Ishtar and Quakes of Quedlinburg were both terrific games that I look forward to playing again in the future. This month I have started clearing out some of my games and actually sold/donated 50 of them. I am finally getting to the point where I only want to keep the best games/ones that actually get played. It’s always sad when there’s a game you like but no one ever wants to play it. As a collector, I’m finally getting to the point of needing to make the harder decisions of when to purge a game because it’s not getting played.

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