Monthly retrospective for December: Hansa Teutonica, Citadels and Century Spice Road
2017 has been a momentous board game year for me with almost 50 different games played, new friends and new experiences to enjoy. 2018 will bring a lot of changes, both on a personal and board game level, but I will continually be looking to enjoy old and new tabletop experiences.
But before we do a year-round retrospective, let’s take a look at December which, despite all the games I’ve played, continues to see me play more new games. Will this pipeline stop or slow down? You might think so, but there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Maybe January will bring something different. May be.
With that, here’s my list of new games that hit me in December:
From the cover of the box, a man from Hanseatic League-era Germany stares at you with glassy eyes, probably from keeping the books of account or something so tedious. This first impression does not seem to bode well for Hansa Teutonica. As I explained when I opened the box, the game allows you to set up trading positions without allowing you to enter the trading activities which usually make people very excited and engaged in the games.
But let the mechanics sink in and probe a bit and you’ll discover a rich and rewarding experience as the game offers you a plethora of puzzles to ponder. Do you claim a city and profit from the efforts of others at the expense of your board’s development? Or are you trying to turn your board into an action-packed powerhouse that can roll anything and everyone? Are you chasing hotly contested territory on the board? Or do you avoid conflict and build a powerful network of towns that earn you lots of points at the end of the game?
The choices are many and, above all, there is no right answer because the game offers many ways to do well. It’s up to you to decide which path is the right one for that particular game. For this reason, there is no game like Hansa Teutonica and for that, I was delighted to put it on the table.
[Buy from Amazon]
I like farm games. my love for Agricola is a testimony to this. But this theme concerns everything Scoville and Agricola have in common. Whereas in Agricola, you are working hard against the specter of famine to build as awesome a farm as possible, in Scoville, you walk, plant, harvest, try to cross peppers, see if you can make chili recipes, then repeat.
All these peppered dances and antics are good as long as the mechanisms engage me on a visceral level. Scoville doesn’t quite do that. While playing I didn’t feel any sense of accomplishment and found myself bored with the player mechanics as an obstacle. And when you’re not playing well, there’s no accomplishment to show. You don’t have an amazing farm, you haven’t built a wobbly city, and your business empire isn’t an amazingly efficient engine. Instead, you just get… a bunch of recipes and accomplishments. It’s not a satisfying enough experience that I play early and often.
[Buy from Amazon]
Spice route of the century
One of my favorite gateways for new players to try is Splendor, a game focused on grabbing tokens that you can exchange for cards that spawn you more cards that can also earn you points. The game is easy to teach and new players pick up on the concepts fairly quickly (most of the time). Spice route of the century works in the same vein, except that you acquire cards which allow you to obtain cubes which can turn into cubes of greater value which can be transformed into cards which earn you points.
Engine building is easily one of my top 10 game mechanics because it appeals to my love of efficiency and the satisfaction of finding ways to use the engine to really capitalize on those points. At the same time, I recognize that turning cubes into cubes of different colors is not a mind-blowing mechanic and some people will find it difficult to buy into this concept. Because of that, Spice route of the century will not replace Splendor quite yet. However, I’ll always be willing to jump into it, if only to see what other cards are out there and peck on ways to build my engine more efficiently.
[Buy from Amazon]
Citadellellssss !!! At least, that’s how the strangled cry of a character draft gone wrong could play out. Citadels takes the concept of building specialist neighborhoods in a Renaissance town and launches opportunities to sabotage your neighbor. This is accomplished by choosing an agent who will run your bidding, whether it’s making your neighborhoods more prosperous, thwarting your enemies by deactivating their agents, or even looting their neighborhoods.
The whole concept of choosing a role and performing the action of that role is a well-worn mechanic that adds to the mentality of “I know what you want, but you know I know what you want, and I know you know I know that… ”You get the idea. Puzzled Citadels game theory is no different from facing a Sicilian when death is at stake. In other words, it is a chaotic affair that can only end in misery for the unfortunate ones to be caught in the dark. trap the whims of others. The only reward for being so unlucky is seeing your neighborhood burn to the ground.
The game leads to the start of a noisy evening and because of it, Citadels is best used to open a game night. But not as a main event type game, as there is so little control that the strategy is to choose your role and hope for the best. In this vein, I see that it is really similar to Libertalia last month.
[Buy from Amazon]
Small epic galaxies
I do not know that Small epic galaxies is epic, but it’s tiny and it’s space-themed. Small epic galaxies takes you and your squadron of spaceships across the galaxy to find new planets to colonize. The variant I played included special ships and alien pilots that give your ships new abilities, making them better suited to take on the challenges Lady Luck throws at you.
Did I mention Dame Chance? Small epic galaxies is a dice rolling game, where whether you can activate special slots or go through the checklist of procedures needed to set up a planet depends on what you get. What you will need to do is separate your ships so that no matter how you ride, you can always progress towards your goals.
The required balance applies not only to galactic locations, but also to game boards, where you can unlock new ships, more dice, and power different tracks, especially the powerful maneuver that allows you to graft yourself to the top of the hill. ‘an opponent’s throw. In short, there are a lot of things that you need to think about when playing and managing your board to the best of your ability.
I like it. Not enough to buy, but enough to play. And both Little epic games i played i will take Galaxies on Quest any day of the week.
[Buy from Amazon]
I’m really interested in what games managed to make your new games list last month. Let me know in the comments! And if you want to keep up with my wacky board game adventures, I post on Instagram quite regularly.