June 2020 Game Play Journal
Another game journal written during the CoronaVirus. Only good thing about this month is I was able to see a gaming friend and visit my brother Nick and his roommates to play some board games! I got to check out two Unlock! Games and two versions of Catan as well as some other new games. Many of the reviews this month are based on the first impressions of the games. So let’s dive in!
June 1, 2020
I don’t want to give any spoilers but I will say that the use of your cell phone as goggles is so cool/impressive! Also, be careful overlaying cards for clues. We got the wrong number. This Unlock game was marked as the easiest level even though I thought “The Formula” was easier but that might be because this was my first attempt at an escape room card game. I thought the theme of being trapped in a video game was unique. The artwork was on point and the story of saving a princess (very Mario). The only issue I had was we got the last card of the game which meant we won but it wasn’t clear enough so we continued to play into losing. Then we flipped all the cards to realize we won 15 minutes earlier. Overall, a good introduction to this game genre and I look forward to playing more.
June 7, 2020
This game was designed by a designer in a few of my Chicago Game Design Groups and published by Breaking Games. Sadly, this game has not been publicized enough. There are no reviews, videos or really images out there. So, I learned the game the old fashion way just by reading the rulebook without any videos and it was fine. The game is easy to learn, quick and fun. I do suggest playing with more than two players though. It’s too easy to mess with two players. I like the art and hope more people get a chance to try the game out. It’s a simple concept of trying to continue a single patterned ribbon across all your cards by taking actions like “swap”, “flip” and “draw”. This is a great puzzle-like filler game.
June 9, 2020
We all know and love this game. The original Catan! If you don’t know it, give it a try. It was one of the games that got me back into playing board games, I can easily blame it for my huge collection of games. We taught our friend Paul and it was easy for him to pick up. The only thing is he got himself a little stuck as far as resources go since I set up the board randomly. Next time, I will use the preset example in the rulebook for a new player. In Catan, you are building and expanding settlements into different territories that produce different resources when you roll the number on it’s hexagon. You use the resources to build roads, settlements, cities and buy development cards. It’s a huge rulebook for how easy a game it is to teach. Just make sure to explain the importance of where you place your initial settlements and the road directions to new players.
This party game was a cool idea. You draw a card with a scenario like how you feel when you learn you can fly. Then all the players get a minute to choose a song for the card. The thing that bothered me is I thought this would include an app with a ton of audio files to pick from. I love music but have a terrible memory for song titles. I also don’t own a pandora account or any music account that removes the ads. So, I had to use youtube and have the ad play while my phone was muted. Eventually I got to play the song. It was a fun idea but not having that music easily accessible without ads frustrated all of us. I wouldn’t buy this game again personally.
June 21, 2020
This is a tile placement game where you collect potions, money, valor and gems to be able to buy more and more things to try and get the most victory points at the end. You need to place tiles that connect to each other and sometimes they give you bonuses or complete keys to unlock chests featured on the tiles. The little tokens were crazy small which bothered some players but I was okay with it. There’s almost a push-your-luck auction element in the beginning when choosing what tiles you want. But I think it fell flat. Most times I didn’t care if another player got the tile I wanted. Overall, I thought it was a cute game and I’d play it again. The graphic design and art were well done and the rules were easy to pick up. I do think they just slapped the fantasy theme onto the game though. I would suggest trying this game before you buy it.
I loved this version of Catan so much that I keep looking at the price of $100 and wondering if it would be worth me buying it. The game has a lot of unique components including a spaceship so the price makes sense. I just don’t know how many people will be willing to play Catan Starfarers with me when you need 3-4 players. I’m not normally that big into space themed games but this one was great. It was similar to Settlers of Catan where you roll dice to retrieve different resources to expand your roads and cities. In this game the resources match different planets you place your stations on. You have space ships that help place space stations to get you resources or alien powers. You also get to move your ships according to the amount of different colored balls that get shaked inside your plastic space ship. Those balls also help you decide what happens if confronted by aliens which happens if you get a black ball in the movement phase. I’m not going to lie. The aliens were after me and I couldn’t catch a break. In the future I will invest more in upgrading the guns and boosters on my spaceship. Another thing I like about the game is if you don’t have your number rolled and you only have a few victory points you get a random card or two from the resource pile that helps make players happy and gives everyone a better chance of catching up if they’re losing. I was one turn away from winning the game when Lynn beat me. I highly recommend this version of Catan. I honestly think it’s my new favorite Catan variant.
When you put a roll and write and a cat theme together this is what you get! Players take turns rolling dice and choosing in clockwise order which numbers they want. Then they use them to determine which cat themed symbols to draw and what tier of the cat tree to place it on. At the end of the game you will score the different symbols according to the scoring guidelines. I ended up winning by using the pillows and mouse toys but there are many interesting ways to score. I’d say this is probably my favorite cat themed game and a great filler for a game night. It only took 10-15 minutes to play and the only confusing rule was about the cat house giving you a different score for filling up the whole tower.
June 25, 2020
I’ll start by saying I’m not a big RPG player so this game probably wasn’t meant for me. Each player was given a character to play as and I was the last to choose so I got stuck with the wizard. This was annoying because I carelessly ran into battle without reading my character sheet and learning I’m basically a walking medic with terrible fighting skills. So lesson learned, read the character sheet. As this character, I felt like I basically just followed the group around the dungeons and healed them from whatever creature we ran into. It was very slow going and honestly not my style of game. I think I would have liked it more if I wasn’t the wizard but still not something I’d buy. I did think they did a great job making the game of Tabletop Simulator. Even the character pieces were animated and moving which was so cool!
June 28, 2020
I’m not going to spoil this escape room but I’m happy to say me, my brother and his roommates got through it with very few hints in less than an hour. In the game, we have been told to go underground to search for a formula a scientist has left behind. The coolest part was a bizarre message that we uncovered that as a hint you’ll need to play backwards to solve the rest of the game. I would have never thought to use snapchat had it not been for Nick’s roommate suggesting it. Having four people play was helpful even if some people helped solve more things than others. I helped solve a lot of it but also got us the most penalties so not the MVP of this escape room...
I’ve played this game quite a few times at this point and I’m still surprised this was a unique idea. In the game you are trying to get rid of your hand of cards similar to Uno except all you care about are the numbers. You have to play them in ascending and descending order to win. As soon as one person gets rid of all of their cards the other players are stuck with what’s in their hands. So, if you have a number 5 card you will get 5 penalty points. The game ends when a player gets 40 points. This is a great entry-level game that can be turned into a drinking game. Every time you decide to take a card or fold you take a drink. This makes it more interesting. We also started yelling “llama” and “Uno” as we played, causing tons of laughter. I think this is a nice small cheap game that people should own.
I’m excited that we have moved from quarantine to social distancing giving me a chance to play some games in person as well as online. I especially appreciate the amount of new games I’ve been able to play thanks to my friend Josh, the Board Game Kaptain. It looks like sometime in the future I will be appearing in one of his youtube episodes so stay tuned! Until then, I look forward to playing more games in-person and online with friends.