November retrospective: Deep Sea Adventure, Libertalia, A Feast for Odin, Epic Quests and Dice Forge
Christmas in less than a week! As the year draws to a close, the only certainty will be an increase in gambling throughout the New Year.
While I haven’t done the math to put down a final number, I’m pretty sure I have been fortunate enough to play a lot of games this year. By my tally, I’ve added over 20 games to my “first-time roster”, which is way higher than what I did last year. Having a regular playgroup helps, especially one who revel in the act of discovery, allowing exciting, relaxing, and even infuriating games to enter my radar. So with that, here’s my list of games new to me that hit me in November:
Deep sea adventure
There is a bunch of YouTubers I watch who called Deep sea adventure a drowning simulator. This characterization, although tough, is appropriate. You are aboard a submarine filled with the heads of pig pins that have set their sights on treasures hidden in the depths of the ocean. Driven by greed, you and your companions search for this treasure and, more likely than not, find yourself trapped in Davy Jones’ locker.
The game is a pressure on your luck experience. You roll dice, decide if you want to pick up treasure, then decide if you want to continue deeper into the depths. Collecting treasure can make you richer. Its good! But the treasure weighs on you, forcing you to consume this precious reserve of air on board the submarine. And that means you risk drowning. It’s bad! Even when you play as carefully as possible, you can still find yourself dragged into the depths with an empty shell, undone by someone else’s greed.
In other words, it’s great for a laugh as the threat of drowning emerges. Its short gameplay makes it a great selection while you wait for other people to show up at game night. Do not expect Deep sea adventure be the center of the stage for the rest of the evening.
[Buy from Amazon]
And speaking of Davy Jones Locker, how about a pirate game? Or what you think is a pirate game. Under Libertalia’s piracy plating you have a game that is more of a selection of roles than looting or plundering of coastal localities.
On each turn, you choose a role, place it on the board face down, and everyone follows suit. Then, you flip the roles and organize the set of scurvy scalawags in order, performing the indicated actions. Some give you coins, some let you assassinate other characters, some give you loot tokens, and some always affect end-of-round score.
With all of these options at your disposal, the game is all about trying to figure out which role cards everyone will be playing and responding with which one you think will be the most beneficial based on what everyone else is playing so that you reap the greatest rewards. Until the information is more complete, player decisions are almost hit and miss half the time. The other half doesn’t require jaw-dropping ideas or careful consideration, either. So while it’s nice, I don’t see it as something to whet my appetite, where I want to play it over and over again.
[Buy from Amazon]
A feast for Odin
Before talking about A feast for Odin, let’s leave that aside: I like Agricola. I love the worker placement mechanic that pushes your plans forward and negates others, I love the stress of feeding your family that gambling puts on you, and I love the exhilaration that comes at the end when you are yourself. builds a kickass farm despite everything the game does to prevent it. I also like Patchwork for its fun Tetris-y elements, as you try to fit everything into your quilting grid.
A feast for Odin is the love child of Agricola and Patchwork with some elements of Ora and Labora resource transformations launched for good measure. For the uninitiated, that means players will put dudes on the board to get them to do things. The action spaces you can choose from give you resources that you can put together, much like Tetris on a grid, and you can turn the resources into better resources to help you put it all together.
At first glance, one wonders if Uwe Rosenberg has not bit you too much in the game mechanics. Without previous experience of his other games, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the weight of everything. A feast for Odin do you have management. And that is in addition to the large number of choices that the game gives you. It is not a game that I would recommend to anyone new to this hobby.
For me, the designs are intriguing, even fascinating. I am mesmerized by what is on offer here as I explore the most strategically rewarding path. While Agricola will always be my pillar, i will be happy to give in and play A feast for Odin again and again.
[Buy from Amazon]
Epic little quest
Someone probably approached designer Scott Almes with a simple request: I love Zelda. Can you do a light and quick Zelda board game? And There you go, Epic little quest was born.
In Epic little quest, the character who represents you is a warrior who starts from nothing. As the game progresses, you will earn items like swords, shields, wands, bows and arrows, and even bombs! You are accompanied by a magical fairy who looks strangely like Navi and is tasked with running around various dungeons like Ice Temples, Water Temples, or Fire Temples to collect artifacts, get more magic, and fight off creatures like trolls during your quest.
The gameplay increases your luck as you do your best to manage your health and magic during nightly encounters. But other than that, the actions themselves are pretty obvious. You know that in order to maximize your score, you will have to do a little bit of everything. Which actions to prioritize are up to you, but unless you have a lot of bad luck, the game itself, while fun, isn’t too difficult.
But then again, I only played the introductory side of the board. The advanced side looks downright mean!
[Buy from Amazon]
When I saw someone pick up one of the Dice Forge dice and swap one of the faces, I was immediately captivated by the new concept (yes, I know it’s not the first of its kind). The possibilities that opened up! Do you put all your eggs in one dice and make it the energy source to fuel your strategy? Do you split them up and aim for a more diverse setup knowing that there will be some rounds where you get really unlucky and get some shit rolls? The compromises it presents, combined with the flashy art design, made this game intriguing.
Having said that, I don’t know how the gameplay holds up. Dice Forge gives you multiple strategies to pursue, but the game never had the kind of compelling gameplay or tension that made me think of it after the game ended. In fact, the limited actions of the game made you feel like you were not being able to get an engine capable of upshifting; there weren’t enough stocks for everyone.
The concept is neat and requires some retouching. Maybe in a fantasy adventure game more in the vein of D&D? I would be pretty excited about it.
[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.