Friday, 29 August 2014

From the Clouds - Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia

Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia

Euphoria is at its core a worker placement dice game. Placement of workers to receive resources and to minimise any negative outcomes, is what you do action to action. However other players workers
effect your options directly and indirectly. 

Themed in a dystopian world and with great art and design.This is a fantastic game and if you like worker placement, an absolute must try. 

Designed by Jamey Stegmaier and Alan Stone, with the art done by Jacqui Davis and published by Stonemaier Games.

Art, Graphics and Components
Jacqui Davis really captured the essence of the world in the backdrop to this game. You can lose yourself for a few minutes taking in all the details, people working doing specific menial tasks in the different territories, the Icarites in their blimps to the Subterrans in their caverns. Absolutely great job. 

I found the graphics and the layout to really assist in helping learn the game and teach it to others. Its pretty obvious what the graphics mean, I have however had a couple of players mix up the Wastelander and Euphorian cards up. It can make a difference in the game, so I now tell everyone to pay special attention to the letter in the logo. Really helps that the costs of locations are to the side of the placement boxes and the kickback of that location is beneath is consistent throughout.

Components wise I can only discuss what I got in my copy of the game, as in the non-Kickstarter version it is wooden pieces for resources, where as in my version their are gold coloured metal blocks, clay shaped into bricks and stone boulders. The electric is little lightning bolts, water is a water droplet, fruit is orange shaped, these are all wooden. Plus a little head and brain token for each player.

Rules and initial plays
First off, I may be in a minority or minority is very vocal as my gut feeling from Board Game Geek is that the rules are not clear. People had questions about lots of things. I really like worker placement games and I've read hundreds of rule books, I personally grasped what was going on and found the graphics and theme assisted in the immersion of the game and hand in hand the rules. Yes a few different things happen in different locations, but it makes sense and the different groups I've played with have had an easy initial play through. Think the most negative comment was 'I don't understand exactly what I'm doing', he went on to win!

I find every action very engaging and even out of my action, as other players workers can change the output of a location. Particularly rewarding when someones high on the knowledge track and you bump them off a space, at that point they roll their worker and if it comes out high for them, goodbye worker!

In addition you can work hand in hand with players to form a market, anyone that doesn't help will be rewarded with a negative bonus ability. 

You have recruits that reveal at certain points too, you could be inadvertently helping another player. When they reveal you can feel gutted that you have helped them so much and then laugh it off. Great game engagement. even though its essentially a worker placement game.

Decision points
Each turn is a valid decision, only occasionally is their only really one place to go and that would only likely be obvious to you. The one down point I could mention is at the beginning, you have such an array of choices to you. 'Where do you begin?' At this point you should pay special attention to your recruits and see if that helps with your choice. However you are not going to lose the game in the first few turns, so do not worry.

Other options like who should I help later on or who do I effect with this ability is key as each of all my games played have been very close.

In all, this is a game that I really enjoy. Fantastic art, graphics, components, rules and game play. I initially rated this as a 9 on BoardGameGeek, after multiple plays that has been increased to a 10 and is now actually become my number 2 in my top ten games.

As stated in my original post, this isn't a regular review. Just a brief explanation of some(of what I think) key points that people may find relevant as a review shouldn't have an emotional bias. These will have.

Few links regarding the game
BoardGameGeek Euphoria
Stonemaier Games
Official Euphoria page
Euphoria rules

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Neil's top 10 Board Games (For now)

Well here I go, I have a top ten and I have put it into a rank from 10 to 1. However I have decided to re-play my top ten to see where the final standings will fall, I'll post those findings under this heading but as part 2 and so on. Keep checking the page for updates.

First off some notable games that missed out that definitely deserve a mention.
Trajan, Runewars and Nothing Personal. One game in my top ten has only being played once (Caverna), and may be pushed out by one of these. 

Number 10: Blood Bowl: Team Manager
A game that I thoroughly enjoy, I feel like I shouldn't enjoy this one as much as I do. Theme and game play just draw me right in. Very good with all player counts, great for when you have an odd number of players as some games just don't work with 3 for example.

Does give me the feel of playing blood bowl but with out all the painting of models, etc.

Number 9: Bruges
Stefan Feld, number one for me. Tons of re-playability. Loads of characters that you will not be even sure will be in your game. You have a choice of around 6 different things you can do with the cards each turn. Do you cash it in, build a building, canal or put the character in a building. The choice is yours, but each round 5 dice are rolled corresponding to the colours of the cards meaning values will be different. I must have played this 5 times now and I haven't won once, close but not yet. I look forward to playing more of this.

Number 8: Le Havre
Uwe Rosenberg (Designer) and Klemens Franz (Artist) are a great combination. Love Uwe's games, his non card ones at least. Think I have them all to date. Plus the starter pic I've been posting and my avatar were drawn by Klemens Franz especially for me. In this you acquire goods that you can later convert into
upgraded versions of the same item (Sort of) to sell and/or build or use buildings. Very thinky, but very intuitive. For me at least. I'd like to not have to think about feeding people, but unlike Agricola its not as harsh. With plenty of special buildings, there is tons in the box. You can get an expansion that gives you even more too.

Number 7: Caverna
The one game on this list that I have only played once. Art, theme and game play are brilliant. Game is very much like Agricola with a few notable exceptions. Dwarfs in a mountain, exploration and the feeding is so much easier. Plays up to 7 (7 Dwarfs) but likely better with 4, very good interaction and its not so bad if you are cut off by someone. Very pricey game, however it weighs a ton.

Number 6: Game of Thrones
First off play this with 6, if you do not block off the zones that you would create as dummy players as this
game is all about the interaction between players. You have to co-operate to a certain extent but beware that knife in the back, it will happen. There is an element of Diplomacy, but thankfully without the tiresome order sheet.

Battles are not entirely random events with a dice roll, down to the strength of the units in the battle plus a card you play from your hand. Sometimes you may know exactly what the player will play, but generally it will lead to a very intriguing situation. For not always the two players involved.

Number 5: Spartacus
When I first got hold of this I didn't expect it to be any where near as good as it is. Wow, it blew me away. Played maybe 8 times and loved each game, the narrative is so strong. Has a slight economic twist, lots of intrigue, combat and gambling. You find yourself pushing your luck each time and you are either rewarded or
feel gutted as you missed out by one gold...

I have the expansion for this and feel like it is a must buy for the fact that it adds two more players. For me the more the merrier. Go and play this, add it to your want to play list if you have not already.

Number 4: Cosmic Encounter
This game didn't look appealing to me, but so many people discussed it and said they loved it. I even saw it played at the club once and it didn't still look appealing. But with so many people saying its great their must
be something about it, so I did a bit of research and watched some videos on YouTube and low and behold its the type of game I actually really like. You have a random alien race out of a selection of tons. The game mechanics are very sound, but your race breaks a rule in some way and you have to utilise and maximise the social situation at the table to get 5 colonies. You can even win hand in hand with other players. Definitely worth a play.

Number 3: Civilization
Only 3 plays of this game, long game, but very rewarding. 4 ways you can win, but you need to keep your eye on the other players to keep them in check to ensure you can win. Very thematic and great graphics design all round. Plays like the civilization computer games, but closer to revolution ones rather than the
typical PC options. Nice way you deal with armies with having a card combat mini game, some people don't like this, but its unique to this game and means you don't have a sprawling amount of miniatures. 

Number 2: Euphoria
Well this was a surprise too, didn't expect it to be thrown all the way to the second spot in my top ten list. But this game fires on all cylinders. Art, graphics, game play and components. Worker placement at its very
best, maybe not the very best one in regards to game play, but from the social situation created at the table it definitely is. Having hidden workers that come out in the middle of the game and you are not sure if your are helping someone more than you are yourself is brilliant. Not had a bad game of this yet. Real shame the great Kickstarter components don't come in the regular box, buy the treasure chest, also from the same company to get some very similar components. 

Number 1: Twilight Imperium
I have painstakingly painted each and every ship in my version of the game, took me 3 years of doing on and off, but I finally got their a few months back. I host a full day of this game each year, not happened for the last two because of painting the ships. This year their will be 3 full games happening at the same time. Very long game, but let it go long. Do not be pushed into speeding up as the game is all about diplomacy,
sometimes that means an extension into military diplomacy. That is what this game is all about. Your building up of forces, worrying about your opponents on your borders possibly attacking. Laws being put into place that hinder your race. Take the time out to play this even once, if your local to the Lancaster area and would like to join us for this years day, post below. hopefully something could work out to get even more people involved as we probably have room for 8 games at once.

Hope you have enjoyed reading my top ten, as I stated above some may move around. As it is very hard to pin down what your favorites are, let alone say what order they are in. They are all brilliant games and any not in this list likely still deserved a place, I've played hundreds of board games and own a lot. These just happen to be my style to a tee. I gravitate towards worker placement and negotiation, they are more than likely going to be enjoyed by me. Please post below to let me know what you think.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Steve's Top 10 Board Games

People often ask me what my top 10 games are, and I really struggle with this question because I've never thought about it in great detail. There are a lot of games I love and some I'm convinced would be in my top 10, but I've never gone ahead and actually worked out the list. So that's what I'm going to do now. I like a wide variety of games, and I can't say I love a 20 minute filler more or less that a 4 hour epic strategy game: they're just different. I've tried to represent the different types of games I enjoy in the top. The other thing is that this top 10 list isn't in any kind of order, that would be just too difficult!

  1. Game of Thrones (2nd edition) - This is probably my favourite game that I don't actually own. Why not? It's best with 5 or 6 players and most of the people I'd play it with already own the game. It is based on the Game of Thrones books, and is a strategic, area control, negotiation game. Players each take on one of the seven ruling houses of Westeros, and fight for control of the Iron Throne. This is a brilliant, fantastic game, however you need at least 5 players for a good game, and it will go on for a good 3-4 hours or more.
  2. King of Tokyo - This is a great, push your luck dice rolling game. Lovely chunky dice, great cards to collect, lots of messing your opponents up. Really fun game. One of the expansions, Power Up!, is a really good addition, and I'm looking forward to King of New York which could be even better.
  3. Cosmic Encounter - This is a space based conquest game where you try to establish colonies on other players planets. There's a certain amount of luck, quite a bit a big chaos factor, a lot of negotiation and a bit of strategy thrown in. There's lots of special race powers which makes the game really interesting and leads to a lot of replay value.
  4. Le Havre - This is a worker placement/resource collecting/building game from Uwe Roseberg. It is a meaty game that takes a good 2-3 hours to play. It is for 2-5 players, and is good with all numbers (though 5 can take a long time and quite a bit of time between turns). I really enjoy it with 2-4, and two player is our game of choice if we have 2+ hours to play with.
  5. Castles of Burgundy - This is a Stefan Feld game, where you collect settlement tiles from the game board, and place them in your own princedom (player area). You roll dice to determine what you can do on your turn, but there are so many ways to mitigate the dice rolls that there is very little luck in the game. This is for 2-4 players, but I think is ideal with two (unusually), as it takes rather a long time with 4.
  6. Hanabi - This is a co-operative card game for 2-5 players, where have to help each other to play down cards. There are five suits of cards and together you've got to play down 1-10 in order for each suit. The catch is that you can't see the cards in your hand, only the other players can. A clever, puzzle-y game, and very different from any other co-op game I've played.
  7. Eclipse - This is a space-based game of strategy, negotiation, war and civilisation building. You need a lot of table space and a good 2-3 hours to play this game, but it is fantastic. This is the other game on my list which I don't own, but I really probably should.
  8. Lords of Waterdeep - On the worker placement front, it was a tough choice between this and Village. Both great games, and Village is the slightly more innovative of the two, but this year Lords of Waterdeep seems to be our game of choice at home so I went for that one. It's fairly simple, place your workers, collect cubes, use them to complete quests or build buildings. Great game.
  9. Las Vegas - This is a simple, dice rolling auction type game. Roll your dice, sort in to each number (twos, threes etc), then place all of one number on that number casino to 'bid' on the money on that casino. Play goes round in turn until you've used all your dice. The neutral white dice which each player has turns this from a fun little game to a really great filler.

    There's lots of variants you can try, and there's an expansion if you want even more fun.
  10. Concordia - with only one slot left, this was a tough one with several possible candidates but I've been really enjoying Concordia this year. Runner up for the Kennerspiele De Jahres (the gamer's game of the year) I think it is a great game. You've got a great map of the Roman Empire (or Roman Italy - it is a double sided board), and you've got to choose a role each turn to build colonies, buy cards, collect resources etc. I don't know what it is, I just really like this game.
So that's it. Games that just misssed out include the perennial Ticket to Ride which I continue to enjoy a lot, and Fungi, a really good two player card game about collecting mushrooms and cooking them! Hope to do more top 10s for different types of games soon, and my fellow contributors will hopefully do their own top 10s too!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

From the clouds introduction

Hi I'm Neil and I'll be putting up regular posts in regards to what I see as the emotion behind the games we play. Only came to this realisation when writing the basics of my first article and don't want to be doing a straight up review as that's what Steve and Sam will be covering.

Take note that I'll only likely be covering games I really enjoy, so expect positivity.

In my section I'll be covering these points.

Art, Graphics and Components.
Pretty obvious I think. I'll discuss the different parts of the game.

Rules and Initial plays.
I'll write about how I felt my rules read through went and how easy it was to teach and run through those initial plays.

I'll write about the main parts of the game that have you engaged with the other players as often you find there is a lot going on, but there are only a handful of bits that the game is moving around.

Decision Points.
What I see as one of the most important bit of what I call a strategy board game. If the decision isn't important and there is no real decision, I don't believe that its a real one. I'll discuss the really key decisions and the options open to you.

Remember though that all of this will be based around the emotional state of the game play and all of these may and will likely evolve through future articles. If you like what you read or don't like what you read please email me or post a comment to give me feedback.

Here is a teaser on which game I'll be covering first.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Welcome to the Board Game Pantheon

Welcome to Board Game Pantheon blog. As the title suggests, this is going to be a blog about Board Games. Why Board Game Pantheon? Well mainly because there's more than one of us going to be posting. Intially there's three of us, all members of a small board game club in the north of England (Lancaster & Morecambe Boardgamers) though there may be more contributors later. We all share a love of board gaming, but will hopefully each add a different element to the blog.

I'm sure the other contributors will introduce themselves soon. I'm Steve, and I'll be writing articles about the hobby as well as the usual board gaming reviews. I like a really wide variety of games, ranging from quick fillers to longer more complex games. There's no particular type of game I like best, what I play depends on who I'm playing with, how much time we've got etc. As well as playing at my club and with friends, I play a lot of two player games with my wife, and also children's games with my 5 year old daughter, so I'll be talking about these too.

I'm also particularly keen on explaining and introducing the board gaming hobby to new people. I think that so many people would benefit from and enjoy playing decent board games, they just don't know they are out there and continue playing the likes of Monopoly. So I've got some posts lined up explaining what the board gaming hobby is all about, what are good games to start with, gateway games, filler games etc.

Anyway that's it for now, more soon.