Posted in Board Games

Game-a-Day Fortnight 2016 – Day 3: Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 (Spoiler Free)

Pandemic Legacy is currently the #1 game of all time on Board Game Geek and Shut Up & Sit Down. Is Pandemic Legacy truly the best game ever? Probably! It’s certainly an incredible game, unlike almost anything you’ve played before.

It’s the worst year humanity has ever faced. Diseases run rampant, and one looks ready to dangerously mutate. You and one to three friends will band together to combat the worst pandemic the world has ever seen. And you’ll be permanently altering the game as you play. You get to name the diseases if you eradicate them! You write their names on the board!!

IMAG5043

There’s a reason for the “Spoiler Free” tag in the title. Anything I show or say here is something you’ll see when you first open the game. This is a board game, yes, but I can’t show you much of our board without spoiling later sessions of the game. That’s because you play in a campaign, of 12-24 sessions (a fortnight or two each month, in the game world), slowly uncovering more story and mechanics as you progress. You’ll be writing on the board, adding stickers, and even tearing up cards! 

IMAG5051

And the legacy parts aren’t just tacked on. They’re important and well-integrated. One instance we thankfully haven’t encountered is if characters die (or become “lost”). Yep, that beloved character you’ve named, upgraded, and whose established relationships with other characters, when they’re lost, you tear them up, losing all that, along with their unique powers.

Suz and I get into roleplaying the characters, which makes games more fun and will make any loss of a character more tragic. I really don’t know how we’ll handle it if we ever lose Bruce 😦

We absolutely love the changes that you make in the legacy format. Writing on the board, adding stickers – this level of customisation is fantastic, and it’s not random, it’s based on the choices you’ve made. One particular city may be rioting or collapsing because you chose to help another in a time of need. From then on, you’ll have to work around these changes, altering your strategy. Changes like these affect all your future games, and make your particular copy of Pandemic Legacy feel special and your own.

IMAG5065A

As for what you’ll actually be doing in the game: you’re travelling the world, treating and removing disease cubes from cities, drawing cards to gather research data to cure the diseases, and trying to hang on for just one more turn, against the constant threat of disease outbreaks and deadly epidemics. If you’ve played Forbidden Island, Forbidden Desert, Flashpoint: Fire Rescue, or any of the other Pandemics you know the basic mechanic. Water rises. Sun beats down. Fire spreads. Epidemics occur.

If you’ve never played Pandemic before, you can play a few sessions using this board before diving into the campaign. It worked for Suz and I. We lost our 3 practice games, then jumped in and won several games in a row, but not without a decent challenge!

Suz and I can’t recommend Pandemic Legacy enough. It’s a must-play, in our book. And it works great with 2. We sometimes wish we had more active characters to give us access to more powers, but that also means more infections and potential epidemics before it gets back around to your turn – also less cards per player to start. It seems well-balanced to us.

IMAG5054

When you open up Pandemic Legacy you’ll see 8 sealed boxes and lots of sealed sheets of stickers and cards. You only open these when the game tells you to, and what’s inside always gives more options or changes how the game works from that point on, often drastically. During your very first session the legacy mechanics will come into play.

Having played through June, we’ve still got half the campaign left. Things have gotten crazy, and we can’t wait to see where the game goes next. Pandemic Legacy is a great, solid game in an incredibly engaging package that’s definitely worth the price of admission.

Posted in Board Games

Game-a-Day Fortnight 2015 – Day 13: Alien Frontiers

Alien Frontiers is a fantastic area control game for 2-4 players (or 5 with the Factions expansion). You are spacefarers colonising an ancient alien planet. In this game there’s always something cool and important to do on your turn and the winner is always shifting. Let’s get straight to the verdict: we highly recommend this game!

11816243_10155934306070608_3658998133056863293_o

You start with three dice (which represent ships, and in the Kickstarter edition I got, actually look like ships). You roll them each turn and see which orbital facilities you can place them in (each has its own rules and benefits). Some of those facilities give you fuel, some give ore, some use those resources to build ships or colonies, others trade fuel for ore, allow you to build a colony for three ore, let you steal resource from other players, destroy one of your ships to instantly place a colony, or allow you access to the powerful and important alien artefacts deck.

It sounds like a lot to wrap your head around, and the board looks a little intimidating at first. But it’s actually quite simple. Once you get what each orbital facility does, the diagrams are enough to remind you, and the strategic options are clear round to round.

11792172_10155934306675608_8307833679936041631_o

Your goal is to be the colonist with the most points, but that doesn’t just mean the most colonies. You can also gain points from special items you can build (see the photos for two of the three possible, that we built on our planet) or gain points with two unique alien artefact cards.

You get one point for landing a colony; you get another if you have the most colonies in a territory. That also lets you use that territory’s special power. One of these, in Burroughs Desert (all the areas are named after science fiction authors, which is a great touch) lets you use the clear Relic Ship, which gives you another die to roll – a great benefit. If an opponent manages to tie with you for most colonies in a territory, your point for having the most is lost, as is your special power. So it’s often worth contesting a territory instead of claiming a new one. As you can see, the points shift up and down as you play and gain or lose territory control.

11023433_10155934306990608_4741158010558945279_o

As I said, there’s always something to do on your turn, and even once you have six ships (or seven if you control the Relic) turns are pretty quick. Alien artefact cards are really important. They have powerful abilities that break the rules in special ways, like letting you pay less fuel for ore, stopping players stealing from you, controlling one of their ships on your turn, or flipping a die from one side to another. Some even let you build or move those items on the planet (which have their own special powers). We both relied on our artefacts throughout the game, and also used the Raider’s Outpost to steal them from each other (to use their powers, or just stop the other player using them).

I have to mention the quality of the materials for this game. So good! Everything is beautiful and detailed. The board is really well done. Its simple diagrams and space icons are helpful reminders. Art for the whole board is great and each orbital facility has its own feel. When placing a colony toward the end of tonight’s game I noticed the terraforming station is actually shooting green beams down that hit the planet.

11782476_10155934306545608_9046131252314281469_o

Colonies are my favourite thing in this game. So tiny! Little clear plastic domes with tiny little cities inside matching your player colour! A really great addition that adds to the whole feel of the game.

We had special dice, but the normal six-siders that actually come with game are very colourful and usable. The board is double-sided: one with ship-shaped spaces, once with die-shaped spaces. It even comes with little bits of cardboard to cover up the spaces you wont’ be using in a two or three player game.

Splendor is Suz’s favourite game we’ve reviewed this fortnight, but Alien Frontiers is up there for her. For me, too. It’s a little longer than some other games we’ve played, but it didn’t *feel* longer. Time flies when you’re having fun… in space!

We highly recommend Alien Frontiers.

Posted in Board Games

Game-a-Day Fortnight 2015 – Day 10: Splendor

Splendor was a nominee for the 2014 Spiel des Jahres and 2014 Golden Geek Board Game of the Year Winner (as voted by users of BoardGameGeek.com). It’s one of Suz and my favourite new games.

11845060_10155922523595608_1145428843221375918_o

Splendor is a very pretty game about gems! You are rich Renaissance merchants “using resources to acquire mines, transportation methods and artisans to turn raw gems into beautiful jewels”.

In practice, that means taking up to 3 gems each round and spending them on said mines, transportation or artisans. The choice to take 3 gems, buy a card, reserve a card and get a gold wildcard token, or take 2 of a particular gem but none of any others is a choice that’s simple to remember but something to weigh up each time, without being overwhelming.

 

But what’s that? There’s not enough gems to buy the card you want? Well, every card you buy counts as a gem for the purposes of buying new cards. What this means is you spend money on cheaper things like mines then use the gems you make there to buy transportation methods (also worth points; your goal is 15) and then use those to buy the most expensive stuff: artisans. But the cards can be spent over and over each turn, never running out.

10927186_10155922523520608_8909303307750421358_o

It’s a great feeling buying your first card that you don’t have to spend ANY gems on at all. It’s like it’s free, but you’re using your cards you’ve bought to pay for it, which kinda makes you feel like a rich gem merchant, with enough investments that you have gems to throw around like it’s nothing. Great stuff 🙂

I have to comment on the poker chips. They’re fantastic! So heavy and they feel great to stack and play with. Again, it feels like you’re dealing in a currency that has value. We actually considered replacing them with little plastic gems but they just feel too good. All the art is great too and the game is easy to set up.

When playing, you can just piece things together and buy whatever you can afford, but the key is to make your investments build toward something else. Such as expensive cards or attracting nobles who are interested in perusing your collection! Once you have the combination of cards (not gems) listed on a noble tile (up the top there), that noble will swan on over and give you some points. Only for the first player to do it, though, so it’s a bit of a race which adds a lot to the game and some long-term strategy and goals. But they’re not a guaranteed win: I snapped up two nobles today, but Suz had been building a diamond horde which let her grab a 4 point card late in the game for sudden victory!

We love this game – it can be played in 30 minutes with 2-4 players, easy to pick up, but has strategy and replayability (with different cards and nobles each game). Highly recommended 😀

Posted in Board Games

Game-a-Day Fortnight 2015 – Day 5: Suburbia

Suburbia is basically “SimCity the Board Game”. It takes longer to play than anything I’ve posted this fortnight, but it’s a fantastic game and a candidate for my favourite 2-player game ever. Though, it actually plays 1 to 4 players.

11816987_10155905453905608_1021003829551807701_n

Suburbia sees you buying property from the Real Estate Market (which gets cheaper the longer it’s there) and trying to build a city that fits together well, to give you a better income and reputation.

11825228_10155905453810608_4909339785841702000_n

It’s well paced, loads of fun, pretty funny (Suz focused on lakes, but see my elementary school down in the industrial and airport district) and a game that you sort of play together and apart.

11209407_10155905453790608_3978359915176013791_n

Lots of stuff I could go into here, but let’s leave it here and let my favourite board game site Shut Up & Sit Down explain more about, this, one of my favourite games.

Posted in Board Games

Game-a-Day Fortnight 2015 – Day 3: Love Letter

Love Letter, a game everyone should own.11741277_10155898597995608_2730347409736956519_o

Cool little felt bag contains the entire little game and draws interest from even non-gamers. It comes with red cubes for its “token of affection”, but we bought love heart replacements from meeplesource.com. Very quick, easy, fun deduction game for two to four players.

Get the highest card to win. Usually, though, you win some other way (getting someone to discard the Princess, comparing hands mid-game with the Baron and having the highest card, using the Guard to guess someone’s card, etc.)

Theme-wise, I love this game: the players are suitors to the Princess. You send her love letters through your connections in the palace (the card characters in the game).

11754440_10155898598030608_5574248335814290318_o

Each card is numbered, and the higher numbers are closer to the Princess. The Princess is the highest card (getting your love letter directly into her hand), the Countess is second highest, Guards are the lowliest and furthest away from the Princess. It’s interesting, and fun to roleplay a little. The game has a story in the manual, as does each character. Something lots of games don’t have.

Quick fun in 15 minutes, good opener or closer for a game night.

Posted in Board Games

Game-a-Day Fortnight 2015 – Day 2: Paperback

Tonight Suz and I played Paperback. I’ve posted before about this great deck building word game, sort of like Scrabble plus Dominion. Easy to get into, loads of variants, lots of replayability.

You never really feel stuck, as it’s always possible to spell *some* word. The trick comes in spelling long/valuable enough words to get more cents (to buy cards) or points (which are needed to win).

11794482_10155895026450608_3266933107126875667_o

There’s heaps of variants included. Even a co-op variant and another where you can show other players your cards and ask for word suggestions. If you use their suggestion, they get a cube they can trade in for one cent.

Everyone starts with the same few letters and some wild cards to get you started making words and buying cards to build your deck. Longer words are worth more cents, letting you buy more letters worth more cents to spell more words worth more cents!

Oh, and the letters have powers, like double word score, draw more cards, stop another player using wilds this round, etc.

It’s a really cool game. Highly recommended.