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    by Milena Guberinic

    Last weekend was a long weekend! Family Day! Plus, it was SUPER cold (lower than -20C), so going outside for any reason was not an option. That means MORE GAMES!!!! YAY!!! ALL GAMES ALL THE TIME!

    What's New?


    Dadaocheng


    Dadaocheng came to my attention thanks to Allen's lovely "Glass Bead Board Gamers" blog. He acquired the game at Essen 2015 and kept playing it, which made me want to play it! I managed to buy it directly from the Taiwanese publisher...



    The Overview


    In Dadaocheng, players represent foreign traders in 19th/20th-century Dadaocheng, Taiwan. Throughout the course of the game, they obtain resources from a variable market and then use those resources to buy various buildings in Dadaocheng or ship those resources off to far-away lands.

    To set up the game, the 4 black resource discs are placed in the 4 corners of the market and the remaining resource disc colors are randomly arranged on the board with their "sun" sides face up.



    The ship cards are separated into 3 levels and shuffled (Junk Boats, Small Steamboats, and Large Steamboats).

    Buildings are separated according to their types (Mansion, Store, Market, Workshop, and Opium Den). In a 2-player game, 3 of each of Stores, Markets, and Workshops are used and 1 Opium Den is used.

    The Historical Event Card, "1851 The first commercial store was opened in Dadaocheng" is put aside, the remaining events are shuffled, and the 1851 event is placed on top.

    Each player gets a player card that corresponds to the color of the storehouse closest to him. Unused player boards are used to cover their corresponding storehouses, as those will not be used.



    A black cube is placed on the round track and the dice are placed on the "Temple."



    A 2-player game of Dadaocheng plays out over 10 rounds, each of which is divided into 4 phases.

    1) Plan
    This phase involves the market. The player must perform 2 movements, which can be any combination of swapping the positions of any 2 resource discs and flipping any 1 resource disc.

    2) Collect and stock resources
    Collect - First, the player looks at the market board to find any and all orthogonal lines of 3 or 4 adjacent identically colored resources discs. For each orthogonal line of 3 identically colored resource discs, the player collects 1 resource of that color. For each orthogonal line of 4 identically colored resource discs, the player collects 2 resources of that color.

    Stock - One resource cube of the corresponding color is added to each and every storehouse space adjacent to one of these orthogonal lines of identically colored resource discs.

    Corruption - Any storehouse spaces that now hold 3 or more resource cubes are emptied of all resources. The trader got too greedy!

    Exhaustion - The lines of 3 or 4 orthogonal adjacent identically colored resources are now flipped to their opposite sides.

    3) Collect full house reward
    Now each and every player checks his storehouses to determine whether they can recover some resources from a storehouse. Having at least 1 resource cube in each of the 4 resource cubes allows a player to select 1 of those storehouses and take all resource cubes therein.

    4) Make purchases and perform actions
    At this point, a player can take any of the following actions:

    *Buy ship cards - Pay the depicted resources to take a ship card. Some of the higher-level ship cards also have credit requirements, meaning that a player must have cards that provide a certain number of credits prior to acquiring the ship.



    *Buy building cards - Pay the depicted resources and take the building card into your tableau. Only one Store, Market, Workshop and Opium Den may be bought per turn and the abilities of these cards may be used once per turn.



    *Use the Temple - Pay 2 resource cubes to roll 3 dice and take the corresponding resource cubes or pay 1 white resource cube to roll 2 dice and take the corresponding resource cubes



    *Exchange any 2 resources for any other 1 resource cube

    *Execute Historical Event card - Use the Historical Event of the round



    Opium is a wild resource that can be used in place of any other resource. However, every time a player uses an opium cube as a wild resource, he must indicate the opium used by moving a black cube up one space on the opium track of his player card.

    At the end of his turn, a player may keep no more than 6 resources for the next round.

    At the end of the round, a new Historical Event Card is revealed.

    At the end of the game, players get points for:
    *Shipping cards
    *Building cards
    *1 VP per 5 credits
    *-1 VP for each used black cube
    *A player who owns an Opium Den loses the number of VP equivalent to the total number of opium cubes used by all players divided by the number of players
    *If the 1920 Event comes into play during the game, the player who has built the most buildings gets 5 VP



    The Review


    Played prior to review: 4x


    :)


    :) 1. The artwork is a dream
    The artwork is just so pleasing! It has an Asian stationary store vibe and I love it. I could stare at it all day.

    :) 2. Plays very well and very quickly with 2
    The 2-player game of Dadaocheng works fantastically well and it's quite quick. We get it done in about 45 minutes, which is perfect for a game of this weight.

    The only changes to the 2-player version are the exclusion of a certain number of building cards for each deck and the exclusion of 2 storehouses. And those are all the changes that are needed. The game works perfectly well and probably the most well at the 2-player count. The reason I am going so far as to say that the game is probably best with 2 players without having played with more is that I think that more players would add too much time to the game and make the resource acquisition portion too chaotic for me. Dadaocheng is a relatively light and tactical game. There isn't much you can be doing between turns, especially if the resource board is going to drastically change from one turn to the next (which would be the case with more players involved), so more players would mostly just mean more sitting around time. That said, more players would bring more storehouses into the game and add to the complexity of the puzzle you are faced with each turn, but I don't think the added bit of puzzle would be worth it for me. There's a wonderful strategic back and forth in the 2-player game and I wouldn't give that up for anything.

    :) 3. High replay value
    The replay value of this game has two sources. The first is skill in manipulating the resource-acquisition puzzle. Trying to get better at that portion of the game is like trying to get better at chess - it takes time and practice and warrants many sessions of play.

    The second is the event deck. Not all cards in the event deck will appear in every game and the order in which they appear will be random. This means that the same strategy will not be the best strategy in every game. Mansions might be the better source of points in one game if they are bolstered by the 1920 scoring bonus and/or the event that reduces the cost of Mansions for a round and/or the event that allows players to turn two building cards into Mansions, but ships might be a better source of points if these events do not come into play. It's probably a good idea to try to straddle both worlds until events that lead you in one direction or another show up. Also, the Opium Den might make for a good investment if the event cards that allow you to reduce the number of opium cubes used appear...A lot of variety in the way the game plays out is created by the unpredictable events.

    :) 4. Very interesting resource-acquisition puzzle
    I love the resource acquisition portion of this game. It's an intense puzzle that can really wreak havoc on your brain cells! Abstract games like the resource-acquisition puzzle portion of Dadaocheng are generally uninteresting to me, but the fact the puzzle is a means to an end really gets me motivated to do it.

    I have not played a million abstract games like some people have, so I cannot compare the resource-acquisition portion of Dadaocheng to any other game. The fact that the tiles are flipped over once a row/column has been used and the fact that players have to consider not only the income they will receive from creating rows/columns, but the income their opponents will receive are very interesting aspects of Dadaocheng's resource-acquisition puzzle. These aspects add much for players to consider when trying to select the best moves. Players must think about the colors of the tiles they are lining up not only when these tiles are face up during their own turn, but also the colors of the tiles they will become when they are flipped to their opposite sides in order to prevent giving their opponents a resource advantage.

    Trying to corrupt opponents and preventing yourself from getting corrupted (i.e. losing all resources from a storehouse containing 3 or more resources) is another challenge and encourages strategically removing resources from certain storehouses.

    The entire puzzle is quite an intricate affair. I did not expect for it to be quite as involved as it is, but I love how involved it is!

    :) 5. Playing around with the various buildings is fun
    I really love the building powers in Dadaocheng and I love trying to optimize the buildings I buy to my strategy. The powers are not wildly exciting (turn one cube into another, reduce the number of green cubes required to buy a ship, block off one storehouse space in your storehouses to make the Full House Reward easier to obtain, turn one opium into 2 resource cubes), but trying to find the best combination and racing for multiples of the good ones (the Market, that allows you to turn one resource cube into another color is a great one to collect in multiples) is fun. The Opium Den is also a lot of fun (turn one opium into 2 resource cubes), but you end up having to take even more negative points for using it, so there's a tradeoff.

    :)6. The gambling is fun
    I mentioned the Opium Den above. The Opium Den and opium in general are a bit of a gamble. You might get lucky and happen upon an event or two that allows you and all players to reduce the number of opium cubes used, making it possible to use more opium with less of a negative impact on your final VP, or you might never see such an event. So taking an opium den or using a lot of opium is a gamble and a tradeoff. It's powerful during the game, but it's painful at the end of it.

    The Temple is another fun place to visit because monks promote gambling! Rolling dice to multiply or lose your resources makes for an interesting decision point in the game. It certainly does make the game a bit lighter than it would be otherwise, but I appreciate the option and it's one that is used quite often in our games. We always have a laugh when a 1 and a 6 (i.e. you get nothing!) are rolled.

    The risk taking in Dadaocheng is also not at all frustrating. It's a conscious decision I have made and I have to live with the consequences. The game never imposes this on you; you take your own chances.

    :) 7. Simple rules, brain burning gameplay
    Dadaocheng features very simple rules that belie the heft of the puzzle involved.



    :soblue:


    :soblue: 1. The various parts of the game don't gel together perfectly
    Dadaocheng doesn't feel cohesive. There is the resource acquisition puzzle, then there are the events, then there are the buildings/ships you can acquire with your resources, and then there is the gambling den, as I like to call it, and all these parts feel somewhat disconnected from each other. That's not really a knock against the game because all those parts are fun both separately and together, but the game just doesn't feel like a smooth, cohesive whole...That's just a nitpick that doesn't really adversely affect my enjoyment of the game, but it's something to consider.

    :soblue: 2. Not the best game for those susceptible to over analysis
    I wouldn't want to play with Dadaocheng with someone who likes to consider the ultimate outcome of every eventuality before taking a move. The resource acquisition puzzle is very interesting and very fun, BUT ONLY IF YOU AREN'T SITTING AROUND WAITING FOR SOMEONE TO THINK THROUGH HIS MOVE FOR 20 MINUTES! :P

    :soblue: 3. The rulebook is written in Engrish, but it's comprehensible
    We did many things incorrectly in our first game, but we wrote it off as a pure learning experience. We had to consult the rulebook a number of times and make the most logical interpretation of the rules at several points, but we managed to get everything cleared up by the end of our first game.



    Final Word


    Dadaocheng is a wonderful game. I was expecting to enjoy it from what I saw of it prior to acquiring it, but I was not expecting to enjoy it quite as much as I did. I'm not typically a fan of abstract games, but the combination of tableau building with the abstract resource-acquisition puzzle in Dadaocheng makes it very interesting. The myriad of special powers granted by the buildings create some interesting decision points and tradeoffs. The bit of gambling that takes place in the game also adds some pizzazz and isn't frustrating at all. Overall, Dadaocheng is a beautiful, well-produced game with broad appeal. It's just too bad it isn't more widely available.

    MINA'S LOVE METER :heart: :heart: :heart: SOME LOVE




    ***


    Signorie


    I always get excited about What's Your Game? games because they are invariably interesting, tight, and challenging. How did Signorie fare?



    The Overview


    In Signorie, players take on the roles of Lords of Italian Renaissance families, aiming to increase their influence and power by strategically marrying and employing their offspring.



    Each player receives a player board, 5 Florins, and 4 Male and 3 Female offspring in his color. Players also get 3 player discs, one goes on the VP track, one on the Initiative track, and one on the Order track.





    There are two sections on the Reward Tile track. The first section, which consists of 5 slots, is populated with a random assortment of 5 Reward Tiles without crests on the back. The second section, which consists of 2 slots, is populated with a random assortment of 2 Reward Tiles (scoring tiles) with crests on the back.



    Cities are populated with a random assortment of Alliance Tiles. Only 3 cities are used in the 2-player game and 2 Alliance tiles associated with each family are removed from the game.



    Ten Assignments are randomly placed in slots above the 5 dice slots.



    Signorie is played over 7 rounds and each round consists of 3 phases:

    1. Round setup
    *Populate cities with Alliance Tiles. Each city has 2 slots. The left slot represents a marriage and the right a diplomatic mission.
    *Roll action dice and place them in the slots of their color (only 2 action dice of each color are used in a 2-player game)
    *Randomly arrange the Assignment tiles above the dice slots

    2. Perform actions
    Each player can take up to 4 actions per round. To take an action, a player must take a die, place it on his player board on the correspondingly colored slot. Placing a die on its slot fills that slot and eliminates the possibility of taking additional dice of that color during that round.

    If the die value is higher than the value of the action slot, no further action is required. If the die value is lower, the player must pay the difference in coins.

    At this point, a player has 3 options:
    A) Perform the Signoria action associated with the slot
    Yellow - Take 3 Florins



    Red - Perform a Marriage action by taking one female family member from your personal supply and placing her in a city, paying at least the number of Florins shown in the slot in which she is placed. For each Florin paid, the player will receive 2 VP. A player's board shows 3 Career rows and a Marriage row. The Marriage row on the bottom shows the crests of the Alliance tiles associated with families into which the player's female offspring may marry. A player may only have 1 of each crest in his Marriage row. If a player does not have already have an Alliance Tile with the same crest in his Marriage row as the crest on the Alliance Tile in the Marriage slot of the city in which he places his female family member, he may take that Alliance tile and add it to his Marriage row.



    Purple - Make offspring by rolling dice equal to the number of a player's married family members.



    Grey - Perform a Diplomatic Mission action, taking 1 male family member from a Career track and placing it in a city on the lowest-valued empty slot. The rank of the male must be at least as high as the value of he empty slot when he is removed from the Career track. The player scores the VP indicated on the Career slot from which the male family member was removed and may take the Alliance tile from the Mission slot in the city if his player board shows the crest depicted on that Alliance tile in the Career row associated with the Career track from which the male was removed.



    Blue - Get 4 action points for moving up the Career tracks and/or Initiative track. Each action point allows a player to either place a male family member onto one of the 3 Career tracks (Political, Military, and Religious) or move a male family member up one space up one of the Career tracks. When a male family member ends up on or passes a space that depicts a bonus (Florins or Initiative track movement), he receives that bonus.



    B) Perform the Assignment action associated with the slot
    The player may select one of the two Assignments on the tiles above the color of the die he selected and spend 1 or more male/female family members as depicted on the chosen Assignment slot to perform the bonus action depicted on the Assignment tile. In an official variant, the used Assignment tile is then removed from the board for the remainder of the round. If not playing with the variant, the Assignment tile remains.

    C) Hire a Helper as depicted on the slot
    The player may hire one Helper by taking a Helper disc from the common supply and placing the Helper on an empty Helper slot of the color depicted on the Action slot he is using. The player must then pay the number of Florins shown on the Helper slot.

    3. Rewards
    A) Score Initiative track VP
    B) Turn order changes according to the order of the Initiative track
    C) Score Reward tiles - Each player compares the sum total of the pips on all the dice he used during the round to the required threshold (which is 13 by default, but can be increased by using an Assignment). If his total is below the threshold, the player will receive the reward for the round and be able to marry the next descendant in his family line (depicted on the left side of his player board). If his total is above the threshold, he will not receive the reward. In the 6th and 7th rounds, the rewards are actually scoring opportunities.

    At the end of the 7th round, players score VP for:

    Trained male family members - Each male on the Career track scores half the VP on his slot
    Alliance tiles - If a player has at least 3 Alliance tiles next to a Career or Marriage row next to his player board, he scores the VP indicated on the Alliance tiles in that row. Otherwise, he scores no VP for that row.

    The Review


    Played prior to review: 4x


    :)


    :) 1. The interconnections between the various aspects are interesting
    I really love the interconnections between various game aspects in Signorie. This feels true to What's Your Game? style. You have to think about your total pip value and make tradeoffs between spending money for using low-valued dice and missing out on bonuses or extra actions, you have to think about aligning the career choices for your male family members with the available Alliance tiles and those you need for Career row scoring, you have to consider the right combination of Helpers to hire given the round 6/7 scoring reward and the timing of their hiring in relation to the order of dice you take in order to maximize the number of times you will trigger the Helper's effect, you have to consider the round 6/7 scoring rewards in relation to your offspring...There are many such interesting connections between various aspects of the game and they make for some very interesting decision points.

    :) 2. The dice drafting mechanism is unique and interesting
    I really love the dice drafting in Signorie! It is my favorite part of the game! Having a low pip total ensures that you can reap the end-of-round bonuses, but may also necessitate taking one fewer action or paying to take an action with money, which is a relatively scarce resource, so you constantly have to think about whether that tradeoff is worth making.

    :) 3. Interesting competition between players
    The dice and set collection elements in the game create some interesting competition between players. While every player will be able to take all the colors of dice he wants to, he will not necessarily be able to get the pip values of the dice he most wants. This mean that each player will want to first take dice from the pool that would leave the worst die remaining for his opponent. However, doing this may interfere with his ability to make the most of the action taken, as some actions might demand taking other actions first (such as moving male family members up Career tracks prior to sending them off to Diplomatic Misions). In this way, the game creates a bit of tension between players and between players' desire to take actions in a certain order and also gain the end-of-round rewards.

    Competition between players is also generated by the city Alliance tiles. When high-valued tiles become available, players are sure to race to acquire them.

    :) 4. Child management is interesting...
    Managing your kids is another interesting aspect of Signorie. The sex of your kids affects which path (i.e. marriage or diplomatic mission) you can follow more easily, but the fact that the game allows players to manipulate the sex of their offspring (which is very, very strange, but I'll go with it) means that you are always able to take the path you think would most benefit you in any given game. And the best path to take will differ from game to game as a result of the round 6/7 scoring rewards. In some games, sending lots of boys to the cities on diplomatic missions might be advantageous, while in others, marrying lots of girls might be better. Managing your children is a nice aspect of the game.

    :) 5. Replayable
    As I hinted at above, the random assortment of round rewards and scoring rewards makes every game play out differently. The best strategy to take in any given game will depend on the combination of round 6/7 scoring rewards and all the players and the combination of these round 6/7 scoring rewards will differ in each game, as more are provided than will be used in a single game.

    The round 1 to 5 bonuses are also randomly arranged and more of these are provided than will be used in a single game as well, meaning that the ease of doing certain things will differ from game to game.

    Finally, there are a number of ways to score points in Signorie, including Helpers, Diplomatic Missions, Marriages, sets of Alliance tiles, and the Initiative track, so the game presents players with a variety of options to explore over a number of sessions.

    :) 5. The theme kind of works
    While I don't think the theme comes through while playing the game, I do think that the theme works with the mechanisms if you take the time to think about it. Personally, while playing, I'm usually just counting up pips or trying to match the families available to be married into or aligned with the ones required by my player board rather than thinking about the theme, but I'm sure it will work for some people.



    :soblue:


    :soblue: 1. The game takes too long to play and there are too many rounds, which kills the tension and makes the game feel repetitive
    Played by the rules (i.e. 7 rounds), Signorie takes 75 to 90 minutes to play. That's simply way too long for me for this game. In that time, I could play Mombasa or Trickerion or Terra Mystica and all those games are much deeper, more interesting, and less repetitive. The duration of Signorie also came as a surprise because other What's Your Game? titles take less time to play and provide a deeper experience.

    I would place the blame for the imbalance between the play time and depth on the number of rounds in the game. Seven rounds make it too easy to get everything done, reduce any potential tension that could be created in the game, and make the game feel very repetitive. The official short-game variant suggests removing the first round and playing through the remaining 6. My preferred way to play is to remove the first round and merge the final two rounds into a single round (thereby combining evaluation of the scoring Reward Tiles in the round 6 and round 7 slots in a single round) to play 5 rounds. This reduces the sense of redundancy in later rounds, increases tension, and makes the game's duration more sensible. This is a combination of the official variant and Paul Grogan's variant. I need both!

    :soblue: 2. The available Alliance tile pool just rots with 2 players
    Because only 3 cities are used in a 2-player game, there is a limited supply of Alliance tiles and because there are only 2 players removing the Alliance tiles, if the available ones are unwanted, they just sit on the board to rot, clogging up the available Alliance tile pool for the remainder of the game. We tried wiping the cities clean and replenishing all Alliance tile slots each round after the second round instead of replenishing only the empty Alliance tile slots, which reduced the clutter, but also reduced the ability to plan ahead. I'm not sure which version of this rule I prefer.



    Final Word


    I REALLY REALLY REALLY LOVE the idea of Signorie. Trying to stay under a certain total of pips while dice drafting in order to reap a reward sounds really cool in theory and works really well in practice, but some aspects of the game just don't feel quite right. With the rules as written, the game feels as loose as a worn-out pair of underpants. It goes on and on, and it just lacks the tension that I've come to expect from What's Your Game? Perhaps my expectation of a tight, intense, challenging game experience is inhibiting my ability to enjoy Signorie more than I should, but I can't help it. I love the ideas in this game, but they don't add up to a whole I can really truly love. However, with a reduced number of rounds and replenishing all Alliance tiles each round after the second, I do enjoy it a lot and intend to keep playing and exploring its options.


    MINA'S LOVE METER :heart: :heart: LIKE




    ***


    Race for the Galaxy: Xeno Invasion


    Race for the Galaxy is one of Peter's all-time favorite games and I love it very much too! Of course, I love Roll for the Galaxy a bit more than Race right now, but this expansion has reignited the Race flame!



    The Overview


    In Race for the Galaxy: Xeno Invasion, players not only have to build up their galactic empires, but also defend their empires against increasingly strong waves of xeno invaders, determined to wreak havoc on their worlds. Players earn points for defending their empires each round and have their worlds damaged if they fail to do so.

    Each player receives a Produce: Repair card, which allows him to repair a damaged world in the Produce phase. Each player also receives a bunker, which allows him to discard a card to receive 2 defense against Xenos.



    The Xeno Invasion cards are separated into their 3 levels and a number of wave 1 and wave 2 cards equivalent to 2 x number of players are selected from those levels. All the wave 3 cards are shuffled and placed on the bottom. The selected wave 2 cards are placed on top and the selected wave 1 cards are placed on top of those.

    The "Repulse" value is set according to player count and determines the total value of general military and xeno-specific military of all players that will trigger the end of the game.

    There are 2 end-of-game bonus chits: "Greatest Admiral" and the "Greatest Contributor." The former gives 5 VP to the player with the most general military + xeno-specific military at the end of the game. The latter gives 5 VP to the player who contributed the most resources to weakening the Xenos.

    In the first two rounds of the game, the Xenos do not hit. In the first round, a Settle phase automatically occurs, whereas in the second, there are no special rules. In the third round, the total military strength of each player is determined by adding his general military to his Xeno-specific military. The total military of all players is also added together. If the total general military and Xeno-specific military is greater than or equal to the current repulse value, the game ends. If not, one Xeno Invasion card is drawn from the top of the Xeno deck for each player. Xeno Invasion cards are assigned to players in order of most to least Xeno attack strength for most to least military + Xeno-specific military strength. So the player with the most military will receive the strongest Xeno to fight. If a player has as much or more military strength than the strength of the Xeno attack, he successfully wards off the Xenos and receives (in a 2-player game) 1 VP if he had more military strength and 2 VP if he had less military strength. Players are able to use their bunkers to discard a card and receive +2 defense against Xenos to add to their military strength or use other powers in their tableaus during this phase in order to ward off the Xenos as well.

    If a player fails to ward of the Xenos, one of his undamaged worlds is damaged (flipped face down). If every player fails to defend against the Xenos in a given round, the doom marker is flipped from 0 to 1. If this happens twice, the game ends.





    The Produce phase is also modified in the Xeno game. At the start of the Produce phase, each player may discard any number of goods to receive 1 VP and reduce the repulse value for the Xenos by 1 for each good discarded. VPs gained this way are kept separately from others to determine the Greatest Contributor at the end of the game.

    In addition, in the Produce phase, players may repair a damaged world by discarding two cards from hand, discarding a good, using a repair power, or using the Produce: Repair bonus.

    Race for the Galaxy can now end normally (VP pool exhausted or 12 tableau cards), empire defeat (everyone fails to ward of Xenos two times), or by the total military of all players exceeding the Xeno repulse value.



    The Review


    Played with expansion prior to review: 5x


    :)


    1. Adds a number of interesting decisions and competition between players
    I really love all the decision points that the Xeno Invasion expansion adds to Race. Not only are you trying to create the best combination of worlds and developments for your tableau and trying to pump out points with shipping or maximizing 6-cost development points, but you are also trying to be mindful of your military in relation to your opponents. Having the biggest military DURING the game is not necessarily a good thing, as it means facing against more powerful Xenos and receiving fewer VP for doing so, but having the biggest military at the END of the game can get you an extra 5VP, so falling behind in military isn't the best idea either. Constantly balancing your military and defense and being mindful of where other players stand is an important consideration when playing with Xeno Invasion.

    Xeno Invasion also adds a number of high-scoring military worlds, which can encourage players to assemble strong military forces for easy points.

    The changes to the Production phase in general and the ability to discard goods to reduce the Xeno repulse value in particular also add another interesting layer to the game. Not only are you able to ship goods for VP, but you are also able to use them to ward off the Xenos and potentially gain a bonus 5 VP at the end of the game if you end up contributing the most goods to this effort. This is another aspect of the game in which players have to be conscious of each others' actions and like the military aspect, it goes a long way to improving the "interaction" in Race. The game is still far from interactive, but Xeno Invasion does encourage players to at least pay attention to what others are doing and that's a good thing.

    3. Adds virtually no extra time to play
    Despite the added step and extra decisions to make, Xeno Invasion does not add any significant amount of extra time to play Race. This is a bit of a miracle because I expected it to add a lot of time to the game after reading the rules. I think that this doesn't happen because there are now additional triggers for the end of the game and players are generally focused on military, which allows them to take over worlds and develop their tableaus more quickly.



    Final Word


    Peter and I are in love with the Xeno Invasion expansion! We have enjoyed every expansion to Race, but we are 100% in agreement that this one is the best one. If I could pick one expansion to have for Race, this would be it. I love the added layer of decision making, interaction, and tension Xenos add to Race and I love the fact that the game still feels as smooth as it does without the Xenos.









    ***


    What's Not So New But Still Exciting?


    Glass Road + Die Glasstraße: Oktoberfest + Glass Road: Advent Calendar Expansion
    Glass Road!!!!! YAY!!!!! OK, so this game of Glass Road was the absolute highlight of my week!!!! I MADE..............37 points!!!!! 37!!!!!!!! :)

    Ok, now that I'm done gloating, let's see how I managed to do it. First, when I play Glass Road, I typically have brown scoring-building tunnel vision, while Peter has purple ability-building tunnel vision. In this game, my brown-building tunnel vision worked in my favor because it led to my building 4 scoring buildings, most of which were worth 7+ points. The first one I built was the Glassworks because I love the 9-point potential that tile holds. Then, knowing that I would focus on using bricks to build buildings and save my glass, I built the clinker plant (1 VP per used clay). Because I also acquired the tile that converts pits into clay and sand, I decided to go for the Glassmaker's Village (1 VP per sand at the end of the game). AND THEN, because I had effectively cleared my board, I picked up the Village Church, which was worth 8 VP at the end! :) Oh the glorious happiness of a perfect game of Glass Road.



    Mombasa
    Peter was tired one day and had to make coffee at 10pm, which prompted him to suggest we play a game that features coffee. The first thing he thought of was Mombasa and why would I turn down Mombasa!? Of course, I jumped at my chance! And, of course, I wiped the floor with tired Peter.

    I ended up winning thanks to the bookkeeping track! I built up a good combination of books to allow me to collect a good chunk of money and only needed to push up the track 3 times. Peter ended up with 0 bookkeeping track points, while I had 30! :) That was the deciding factor for sure!



    Myrmes
    It had been so long since our last game of Myrmes that we forgot how to play the game well. We didn't forget the rules. Those were still in our heads. But we performed SO POORLY! It was atrocious. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I sent my nurse to complete an objective that ate up ALL my larvae in the first round. That left me without nurses and without a way to acquire them for most of the game. It was a tough slog. Peter and I both ended up completing only 1 objective each, but Peter was able to make a lot more soldiers and do a lot more stuff because he multiplied his nurses early in the game. He also strategically blocked me. It was a bad, bad game for me. I still like Myrmes a lot, especially with how quickly it plays, but I need to remind myself how to be smarter about how I play.





    Far Space Foundry
    And now, no week is complete without Far Space Foundry! This was a super fun game because I set a record score! AND WITHOUT A MILLION ALIEN PILOTS! YAY ME! :P What I did do was steal all the cool blast fodder (one rubion for one cannon fodder). I KNEW that Peter wanted some because he collected a bunch of rubion in the first round, but I just went straight for the cannon fodder and he never got a chance! :P This game is always a lot of fun!





    Small City
    I received my copy of the Small City: The Big Expansion Tiles #1 this week and because it had been forever since of last game of Small City, we decided to play the base game to refresh our memories before we dove into the expansion.

    I did really well in this game, ending up with 60 points, while Peter ended up with something in the teens. I took a serious risk by taking the 18-point objective that required 3 of the large industrial buildings. I was sure I would die of pollution for doing that, but I didn't realize what a boon the factories would be to my ability to build cultural buildings. I build the university in the second or third round and started collecting 3VP per round with zero effort immediately. I built enough parks to countervail the pollution, but I did lose a few people. Oh well! I guess I built a pretty sweet city! Super excited to try the expansion now!



    Le Havre
    Whoa! I played Le Havre! I actually wanted to play Le Havre! :what: Peter warned me about how frustrated Le Havre left me feeling after our last game. He didn't want me to play it, have another bad experience, and then shelve it for life, but I was adamant about playing again. We decided to try the short game because why not!? We had never tried it before. In the short game, the special buildings are not used, there are fewer rounds, and players start the game with a bunch of resources. The end result is a very easy version and significantly less stressful version of Le Havre. However, it is also significantly less interesting. The lack of special buildings and true shortage of resources makes the game feel somewhat bland.

    Anyway, I ended up building a million buildings and won the game! Peter was trying to make lots of coke to ship for big bucks, but it wasn't enough to overcome my wharf-side town. :)

    The thing about Le Havre for me is that Ora et Labora has the good resource conversion parts of Le Havre combined with a super awesome spatial puzzle and the super awesome spatial puzzle makes it infinitely more interesting to me. Plus, no feeding!





    Carson City: Big Box
    I love how different each game of Carson City plays out depending on the combination of characters in play. This was the first game that we played with the Singer and Peter became obsessed with trying to profit from her dice multiplying effect. It didn't work out for him AT ALL. He kept rolling double 1s or a 2 and a 1. Needless to say, he didn't win. I kept taking the Grocer (the one that doubles the income you receive from one type of building) and that worked out very well for me. I also made my horses very valuable and Peter was left in the dust.



    Imperial Settlers
    We played the base game of Imperial Settlers this week, but we added the Refugee and Amber Road promo tiles. These give the player who has fewer VP a bit of a boost each round. I really enjoyed them.

    I drew the Japanese and Peter drew the Barbarians. Peter does not like the Barbarians. I do like the Japanese :). It was a tight race because Peter managed to get the building that gave him VP every time he razed quite early in the game BUT I also managed to get the Japanese building that gave me VP every time I made a deal quite early in the game, so that evened things out. I had a tough time increasing my population production early in the game, but managed to correct any of those issues about halfway through with my mad apple farm! :) My major end-game point source was the Shrine, which I managed to fill with apples...Japanese like apples...those giant Fuji ones are REALLY good. :)





    Dilluvia Project
    Dilluvia! Yay! This was the first game I asked to play this week because it makes me happy! :) And this particular game made me particularly happy because I did SO WELL even though I was convinced that I would lose THE WHOLE TIME...and then I somehow won by a loooooooooong mile! I'm not even sure how I managed to do that. Peter started off by building 2 of the level 0 buildings that provide an additional action disc, while I didn't get another action disc until the third round. So he had 2 more action points than me for 2 whole rounds! What I did do was focus on building as many gardens as I could and getting my prestige income going as soon as possible during the game. I did that quite a bit earlier than I had in the past (when I only stood to gain 4 VP for every 10 prestige), but I guess it was a good idea. The gardens are also very awesome. I love trying to build the best configuration of buildings around them, hoping that Peter won't interfere...:)





    Shipyard
    Peter and I both love Shipyard and are always happy to play it whenever it pops into one of our heads. This week, I had some fun objectives - one was the doughnut one and the other the canal tile one (sorry, I have no idea what these are called in the rulebook :P). I had the canal tile one in a recent game and had lots of fun with it, so I decided to try to do better with that one. I collected lots of doughnut ship parts in the first round and that helped me settle on the doughnuts for the green objective. Over the course of the game, I set my canal tiles up so that I had to traverse the least distance to cross them and then built ships that were perfectly suited to each (focusing on the doughnuts the whole time). I ended up completing 5 canals to score 20 VP for that objective!





    Trickerion: Legends of Illusion + Trickerion: Dahlgaard's Gifts
    This was such an awesome game of Trickerion! We played with the magicians powers and the first power I got was the "Path of Greatness" (ignore the Fame requirement when learning additional magician powers) and that truly set me on a path to greatness. Despite having only 1 Specialist the entire game (the Manager), I was able to accomplish everything I wanted to. I did hire an extra apprentice, which also contributed to the scoring of the Seance card...I was most happy with my ability to shoot up the scoring track quickly. It's important to do that in order to access the higher-level tricks and picking a more advanced starting trick that required more material but provided better payouts certainly helped me accomplish that. I'm so proud of my little magic troupe. :)



    Argent: The Consortium + Argent: Mancers of the University
    This week, we tried the Well of Souls scenario. This is a heavily spell-focused scenario in which players may send one of their available mages to the Infirmary to reduce the cost of a spell by 3 mana. In some rounds, players get free wisdom/intelligence tokens and in others, they gain research! And because the game was so spell-focused, we ended up acquiring lots of spells and doing lots of research! Somehow, I ended up acquiring the most of nearly EVERYTHING even though I never blasted Peter into the Infirmary and he messed with my mages several times. He had a really good spell that allowed him to double the damage done to him (i.e. wound or banish TWO of my mages in response to my wounding or banishing ONE of his), so I decided to let him be quite quickly. I focused on shadowing and doing other things. And I ended up winning! :D





    Karuba
    Peter keeps asking to play Karuba! ALL THE TIME! I won both games we played this week. In the first game, I built the best path ever in the first half of the game and then pushed my little explorer people to the temples in the second. Peter kind of worked backwards, starting his paths at the temples, which left him unable to push people forward when he couldn't place a tile. I ended up more than doubling his score.



    Of course, I did the same thing in the second game because that's what you have to do and I managed to push my explorers to their temples before the tiles ran out! That took Peter by surprise, as he was counting on those final tiles to get him to the end.

    ***


    Fresh Cardboard


    1. Xenon Profiteer - A low-priced, cool-looking deck-building game about profiting from xenon!? Sign me up!
    2. Tanto Cuore - A game in which players objectify and subjugate Japanese cartoon girls! YAY!? Um. Yeah. Before I am lynched, let me explain. I got Tanto Cuore because.........I don't know. The theme is awkward (you're trying to fill your house with the best maids and make your opponents' maids fall ill or develop bad habits) and the artwork is a bit risque for North American sensibilities, but I find it amusing for some reason. Everyone knows I have a thing for anything Japanese and I just had to try this one...so I got EVERYTHING for it. It's essentially Dominion with maids, so I know I'll like the mechanisms. Also, when I review this one, I'll be able to throw boobies in the title and deliver real life cartoon human boobies! I think we will try to get a game of Inhabit the Earth with the cartoon animal boobies at that time as well for a super duper boobie double feature! Just don't disown me, guys. I'm a child. :shake:
    3. Heart of Crown - I feel like I've been watching this game for eternity, but it hasn't really been that long at all. It's funny how time gets distorted when you're waiting for something. Anyway, this thing finally arrived on Kickstarter and I hope it arrives in my house sooner rather than later because I am so excited! SO EXCITED! BUT I'm not very excited at the CAD$90 price tag for the base game...I might end up having to back out of the Kickstarter...

    4. Stronghold (2nd edition) - Stronghold from Stronghold! Cool! I was curious about this game when it was in its first incarnation, but never bothered to seek it out. Well, it's here in its second incarnation and it looks very cool!
    5. New Dawn - New Dawn has elements of my second favorite game ever, Eclipse, so I look forward to trying it out.
    6. Among the Stars: Revival - Peter and I really enjoy Among the Stars and this two-player expansion/stand-alone version seems very cool. I'm excited to try the new drafting rules, which I guess I could have tried with the regular old AtS...
    7. Space Cadets: Away Missions - Space cadets away missions LOOKS stunning and it has received quite positive reviews. I can't wait to play with those little toys! BRAINS!
    8. Oh My Goods! - Alexander Pfister. That's all I need to hear.

    ***


    Next Week...


    Look forward to Adventure Land and a couple of something elses...I just can't make up my mind...:P

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  • 02/19/16--09:07: New Image for Le Havre
  • by filipgavril

    <div>My Le Havre storage solution 2/4
    </div>

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  • 02/19/16--09:09: New Image for Le Havre
  • by filipgavril

    <div>My Le Havre storage solution 1/4
    </div>

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  • 02/19/16--09:09: New Image for Le Havre
  • by filipgavril

    <div>My Le Havre storage solution 4/4</div>

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  • 02/19/16--09:09: New Image for Le Havre
  • by filipgavril

    <div>My Le Havre storage solution 3/4
    </div>

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    by jerryboy86

    Hey guys,

    I'm looking for a new board game and Le Havre caught my eye

    Here are some reasons why:
    - Wife (99% of the time my board gaming partner) likes real life-y, economic-y (she has fond memories of acquire) themed games
    - I want to try getting into the world of Uwe Rosenberg and since an anniversary issue is coming out next year for Agricola, I thought I'd start with Le Havre (gates of loyang don't seem too interesting for us at least until now)
    - Rated high on BGG list and reddit list

    I would describe my wife and I as intermediate board gamers. We're way past gateway games, but we're also not interested in super uber heavy games that have a lot of rules and take 2 hours or more. Games we enjoy very much are: Castles of Burgundy, Roll for the Galaxy, Keyflower, Pandemic, Race for the Galaxy (been replaced by RollftG), and Biblios.

    Here's the problem: I'm planning on getting Agricola next year, but am not sure whether getting Le Havre before getting Agricola would be a good idea. I read that Le Havre is a bit heavier and more complex than Agricola. It also seems to take longer than Agricola.

    The worry is that, first, since we're not really used to very heavy games, we might not find Le Havre fun. Maybe getting Agricola first to get used to the complexity and heaviness of the world of UR would be better? Next, I'm afraid it might reduce the entertainment value we get when we buy Agricola next year, since people seem to say that Le Havre is a bit more deep and complex than Agricola

    What do you guys think?

    Thanks for reading the slightly long post and I thank you in advance for your replies

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    by dkeisen

    Don't sweat it. They're about the same level of complexity and depth. No particular reason to get one over the other.

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    by 8bit Geezer

    Go for it!

    Le Havre is a great 2p game. No reason to wait until you play Agricola. It has a "short" version you can play your first time to get used to the mechanics.

    Have fun!

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    by Shadrach

    I own and love both, but Le Havre is a 10 for me, it is just *fun* to play, all the little micro steps you get to take make it feel like you're accomplishing so much more than in Agricola.

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    by garypgary

    Personally I would get Caverna and see if you can try the other two before you buy them. Caverna has very easy and clear rules, lots of great animal meeples included, and seems to work very well with 2 - 4 players.

    Caverna is a re-package of Agricola and pretty much retired Agricola for us - I do not miss all the cards at all - much nicer having all the "improvements" laid out for all to acquire.

    I found Le Havre quite "spreadsheety" - obviously your experience may differ.

    I would also recommend Nations as a very accessible lighter euro in which you need to be a little more focused on your opponent's moves and actually plan to counter them - for example if they go strong military you probably need to react to that.

    Not what you were actually asking for other recommendations but just something more to consider.




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    by dkeisen

    garypgary wrote:

    Personally I would get Caverna and see if you can try the other two before you buy them. Caverna has very easy and clear rules, lots of great animal meeples included, and seems to work very well with 2 - 4 players.

    Caverna is a re-package of Agricola and pretty much retired Agricola for us - I do not miss all the cards at all - much nicer having all the "improvements" laid out for all to acquire.

    I found Le Havre quite "spreadsheety" - obviously your experience may differ.

    I would also recommend Nations as a very accessible lighter euro in which you need to be a little more focused on your opponent's moves and actually plan to counter them - for example if they go strong military you probably need to react to that.

    Not what you were actually asking for other recommendations but just something more to consider.


    I disagree with everything you say here. Par for the course.

    Not that I dislike Caverna: The Cave Farmers, but it's a little complex if you haven't already internalized the rules Agricola. Easy to learn if you have, of course, as that's how nearly all of us learned it.

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    by jerryboy86

    Thanks everyone for the great responses :) I'm now a little more confident

    Regarding Caverna, I also think it will be a great game. I know Caverna literally "killed" Agricola for many people, but I usually like variability in a game (e.g. cards in Agricola or buildings in Le Havre) so that every new game I am encouraged to think of a new unique strategy. Also, I think Caverna has just a little too much going on with a little too much stuff for set up.

    Having said that, I'm pretty sure I'll love Caverna if I get a chance to play it. Maybe once the price comes down a little more then I might try it!

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    by thor0298

    You are spot on with the cards. I like all three for different reasons. Le Havre does have short and long versions. I think long is just the normal game. But that is longer than Agricola. All three are good games

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    by dugman

    Different people have different tastes but personally I like Le Havre and don't like Agricola. Therefore in my case I bought Le Havre and won't buy Agricola. I felt like Agricola was just too punishing compared to Le Havre where you always have reasonable looking choices of things to do at any given point and lots of ways to win the game. (You have to feed your people/workers in both games but Le Havre seems more flexible on that front.) I also think I liked the running a harbor business theme of Le Havre better than the pretending to be a starving family of farmers theme of Agricola.

    So, again just my opinion, I'd recommend Le Havre but won't recommend Agricola. I can't comment on Caverna other than to note that from what I've read it sounded like Caverna probably "fixed" some of the issues I have with Agricola so it is probably also worth looking into.

    On a tangent both Le Havre and Agricola have good iPad versions available, so if you have a tablet you might want to check them out before you buy either physical game and see which one you like better.

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    by davypi

    I'm actually worried that neither game would be good for you. Looking at the games you've rated in your profile, you've never played a worker placement game. (Keyflower is close to being a worker placement game, but its really an auction mechanic that took a couple of worker placement classes when it was a freshman in college. This is not a diss against the game, I'm just saying I don't think it really serves as a good intro for what worker placement games are like.) Le Havre is on the medium/heavy end of the worker placement spectrum. It also usually runs over an hour per person, so even with two I would expect a 150 minute game which may or may not be a deal breaker for you. Agricola is closer to a middle weight game. I wouldn't really suggest either as anyone's first worker placement game, but I know a lot of non gamer's who have picked up Agricola and seem to enjoy it, so I could easily be wrong there. Anyway, I would actually look at All Creatures Big and Small first. Its a simplified version of Agricola with a short playing time, but I would still classify it as a medium level game. It will give you a good taste of what worker placement is like and also keep you inside the Rosenberg universe. Its also cheaper, so if it turns out you don't like worker placement, it not as big of a risk.

    Glass Road might be another one to look at. It has a role selection mechanic to it, but the way you choose your cards dictates whether or not you will be able to copy the action other players take. So it uses the action selection that you've seen in Race for the Galaxy but adds another level of bluffing to it. The way resource management is handled is also a bit more streamlined that what you see in Le Havre. The game is a bit less complex and plays faster, but I would still solidly place it in the medium weight category. I think play time is near 30 min/player, so again, shortish.

    If you don't like those suggestions and want to go outside the world of Rosenberg, I wonder if Stone Age or Lord of Waterdeep might be better start for worker placement. I don't know if you do game days at any of your local stores, but its pretty easy to find a copy of Agricola, Stone Age, and/or Waterdeep so I would really suggest trying to get into a game with someone else to see if you like worker placement. Hopefully you talk with one of the people you've played with and they can explain how these all differ from each other and point you in the direction you are looking for.

    If the wife likes econony-like games, I might actually suggest either Airlines Europa or Concordia. Airlines is closer to a gateway level game but, like Acquire, controlling the value of airline stocks is part of the gameplay. There is some nice indirect player interaction here as you can manipulate the value of stock you own (or don't own). (If you want something even more basic, Chicago Express is a good game in a similar vein - build railroads to manipulate stock prices. It plays in a shorter time, although opinions about it are rather divisive in my experience.)

    Concordia is maybe another good one to push you towards. It uses a role selection mechanic, kind of like Race for the Galaxy, but the action you choose isn't shared. You build colonies and acquire "personalities", which produce resources, which you sell for cash/other resources, which let you build more colonies and personalities, and so on. The personalities you buy somewhat regulate the actions you can take and also dictate how you score points, so you can customize how your economy works by what actions you acquire. Its really more an economic engine building game than an economy manipulation game, but its still probably something in the direction I think you are looking for.

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    by sneakypete21

    dkeisen wrote:

    Don't sweat it. They're about the same level of complexity and depth. No particular reason to get one over the other.


    I disagree. I've played Agricola, Caverna and Le Havre; in my opinion, Agricola is the hardest, Caverna the easiest, and Le Havre somewhere in between. It happens to be my favourite game whereas I sold Caverna as I didn't find it satisfying and Agricola was quite tough.

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    by Si Fei

    (I should mention that I do not like Le Havre at all, mostly because I find it tedious and too long, so keep that in mind if you consider what I write here.)

    Le Havre realistically takes 2 hours or more, so it is probably out. It is also harder to learn than any of the games you have listed.
    On the other hand: If you like Burgundy, that makes you a medium-heavy, even a borderline-heavy gamer and you need not fear games in that category. However: The time issue is still there and Le Havre is a loooong game.

    I would suggest that Agricola, while so different from Le Havre that they are hard to compare, is the better game.

    I would also suggest that you consider Caverna. It is, basically, a revised and less stressful Agricola with some elements added. Of course, you have to accept the somewhat geeky dwar-theme (I wish he had gone witht something else, but there you are.) The rules are longish, but well-explained and most things make sense, so they are easy to remember.

    My choice (listed by level of preference) would be 1) Caverna 2) Agricola 3) Le Havre.

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    by sneakypete21

    Si Fei wrote:

    Le Havre realistically takes 2 hours or more, so it is probably out. It is also harder to learn than any of the games you have listed.


    Granted, Le Havre is not a short game (unless you play the short variant) but we play 2p games in 2 hours or less sometimes. It's not difficult to learn; believe me, I'm not good at learning complex games. It is difficult to play well. I suppose Agricola is somewhat the same; I think Caverna is arguably the most complex in terms of learning rules but the easiest on a round-by-round basis.

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    by Si Fei

    we play 2p games in 2 hours or less sometimes.


    Yes - that is possible sometimes. Provided you know the rules and you play reasonably quickly. But even then, it can take longer.
    This is, of course, not a problem per se. If you like the game, that is fine. But Jerryboy wrote that he does not games that take 2 hours or more.

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    by sneakypete21

    Yep fair enough. I think it's all relative; actually I don't like many long games but to me Le Havre goes by really quickly even when playing 3p if everyone knows what they're doing.

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