July has been a good month overall for games. The fury of the summer heat on the Southern California landscape means many weekends spent indoors, with air conditioning, facing a game or two. What made this experience even more rewarding was that I finally found a Board Game Meetup group that fits my gaming tastes. While other groups focus on word games or games The Friday Night Board Gaming group that meets in Sherman Oaks plays the kind of Eurogames that I love.
So with a plethora of games at my fingertips, some of which are exciting, some relaxing, but most of which are enjoyable, I get the chance to play early and often, resulting in this list of new- the to-me games that caught my attention in July:
No game has had more games in recent times than Terraforming Mars. I feel like every time I go to the Meetup, it’s inevitable appearing on the table at some point in the evening.
The game itself has a premise that takes just enough of the Matt Damon-style storyline where you’re a dude trying to make Mars livable. The scale, however, is far greater with a company’s resources at your disposal. Doing it in the mold of a business brings the unfortunate ideals of harnessing resources for wealth and small-scale sabotage to achieve your goals, but I assure you it’s more about prestige than earning money. money quickly. The player who wins places the company in a position where he terraforms Mars and the people in the most efficient way.
To achieve these goals, you will do things like hire contract minions, launch asteroids to create oceans and atmosphere, bring pets, and set up mining operations to get the materials you need to complete your missions. projects.
The first turns are like those of Agricola or Eclipse; you won’t be able to do much, but once you kickstart that economic engine and generate more opportunities, the corners will open up because you are able to do a lot more. There’s also all the science behind terraforming if that’s what you like. Stuff like algae and lichen and all that physio-chemical-biological jazz. But as a dismal scientist, it’s the economic engine that keeps me (and probably others at Meetup) coming back.
[Buy from Amazon]
Ride for the galaxy
I love I love Race for the Galaxy, for two reasons.
First, you have the mind game trying to figure out what your opponent is going to choose and choosing the appropriate action in response so that you can effortlessly graft onto the opponent’s game while moving forward. your cause. Second, you get the satisfaction of building a board that can help you earn points or allow you to tune higher value planets or development bonuses.
Roll for the Galaxy plays in the same genre, using the dice as currency of action. You will use them for almost everything; dice to install planets, dice to produce goods, dice to acquire more dice from your dice pool, you get the idea. A turn involves rolling your dice, choosing an action, and playing everyone else’s actions with the goal of colonizing planets while using various technologies, troops, or organizations at your disposal.
The tricky part with Roll for the Galaxy is understanding the iconography, especially if you’ve never played Race. But if you have, it’s a cinch to learn. What baffled me during my first game session was understanding how fast the game was going. Just when I finally understood how the different components worked together… the game was… over. Granted, that same feeling happens all the time in Race for the Galaxy, but I had gotten used to its pace / tempo. Roll for the Galaxy has its own pace and it requires more play sessions for me to get hooked on.
[Buy from Amazon]
Beans, beans are good for the heart, the old saying goes, but I’m not sure cocoa beans are what the doctor ordered. I guess chocolate has never hurt anyone and that is what this game is all about. Cacao is a tile laying game where your objective is to make as much money as possible by collecting beans. cocoa beans and handing them over to villages to collect a nice paycheck that you can blow on tea and brownies.
But when I placed a tile in Cacao, I already wanted to play Carcassonne instead. When you’ve been taught the rules of cocoa, it’s easy enough to figure out what you need to do to do well: maximize the value of points by accumulating and selling cocoa beans at high prices while making sure you do decently enough on all of the scoring tracks so you don’t get left behind without your tea and brownies.
Because the game is so simple, and because it’s pretty trivial to keep track of what your opponents are doing, there really isn’t much to this game. Light games are fine and light, but Cacao is too light . You’d better stick more to something like 6 Nimmt! or Sushi Go if you want something interesting and engaging.
[Buy from Amazon]
The spirit of Antoine Bauza gave birth to games like 7 Wonders, Attack on Titan, Flamme Rouge or Hanabi. There is a palpable tension in all of these games which is startling as every action has the potential to shake your strategic foundation.
By comparison, Tokaido is a strange bird. Or to be more precise, a bizarre trip. In Tokaido, you are a traveler along Japan’s famous eponymous road that connects Kyoto to Tokyo. You’ll walk both ways, spend time in hot springs, visit shrines and temples to pay homage, meet other travelers along the way, shop for goods in tourist traps, and stay in hostels for taste ramen or rice balls, rejuvenate yourself before hitting the road again.
You run for points, but it’s not really a racing game. You don’t get anything by first arriving in Tokyo. It encourages you to take the time to rest and relax like a real traveler should. Instead of rushing from place to place, take the time to take in what Japan has to offer.
How you want to travel will be up to you. Real-life difficulties, like realizing that popular places can fill up quickly, are something you will need to consider. After all, the hot springs will only have a limited number of spaces for guests, and once the spaces are gone, there’s not much you can do. You’ll have to assess how other travelers want to relax, beat them up in popular places, and stick their tongue out when you enjoy Tokyo Disneyland and they don’t. Or at least you would if Tokyo had a Disneyland back then. You got the idea.
The game stays true to its essence by lacking the kind of high-voltage drama typical of my other games. There is a function to its form and Tokaido’s form is best revealed at the end of game night, when people are tired of terraforming and are ready to hay or hit the road and relax. for change.
[Buy from Amazon]
When people talk about how endlessly boring Mediterranean trading games are, Concordia arrives just in time to get things going. Make no mistake: the game is literally on trade in the Mediterranean; However, the mechanics deviate from the spreadsheet-like nature that is characteristic of games in the genre by focusing on more tangible goals like expanding your trading empire so that you can ensure an adequate supply of goods to you. to exchange.
Concordia starts off with a ship and a settler that you’ll move around the map to build trading posts. These counters will, from time to time, enrich you with all kinds of wealth that you can then return to your small business to enrich yourself even more. Take these items aside in favor of the coop-petition where you can get resources and also you can get resources and yes even you can get resources! Sharing is caring for Concordia, which makes the gaming experience feel less like a brawl and more like a session where we’re going to scratch our backs while trying to remove a few more calming scratches than anyone else.
But because there are so many reciprocal back-scratches, it can be difficult to see exactly how well you’re doing. The late game score multipliers are really well obscured and you will need a few games to develop a good heuristic of your performance. Fortunately, Concordia’s fun factor means it should hit your table often, giving you the opportunity to ride the decision tree to determine which path works best.
[Buy from Amazon]
Really interested in knowing which games made it onto your new games list in July. 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.