Recent boardgame acquisitions

I’ve purchased an unusual number of new-to-me boardgames recently, and have now played all of them. Some notes:

Colt Express
Players play train robbers in the Old West. A nice mix of preprogramming moves (à la RoboRally) with a certain amount of flexibility in how you execute the moves. Competitive, not cooperative, but not as violent as it might initially appear to be; in particular, nobody gets killed, and getting shot just reduces your future options (like adding fatigue cards in Flamme Rouge). 3D cardboard train cars add to the fun. I’ve also been playing the iOS app version of this; works pretty well for solo play against AIs, though the in-app tutorial leaves out quite a bit of essential info, so I recommend against playing the app version without first learning the full rules.
Forbidden Sky
Latest in Matt Leacock’s Forbidden series of cooperative vaguely-Pandemic-like games. I only just heard of this a couple months ago, from friends who said they had played it and were lukewarm about it. But decided to try it myself anyway. Kam and I have played only once so far, but I found it pretty satisfying. For me, Forbidden Island is too simple (I would rather just play Pandemic, unless I’m playing with kids), and Forbidden Desert is too hard. So far, Forbidden Sky seems like a pretty good level of difficulty for me, and different enough from the other games to be interesting. I’m not thrilled with the way the artwork on the tiles looks (the art doesn’t smoothly flow from one tile to the next, so there are a lot of abruptly cut-off edges), but fairly pleased with the game overall, so far.
Mapmaker: The Gerrymandering Game
Players try to construct voting-district boundaries in such a way that they win as many districts as possible. I like it, but it’s very focused on adding up (small) groups of numbers in your head; if that doesn’t appeal to you, this may not be a great choice of game.
Once Upon a Time
I realized the other day that my OUaT deck—the original edition, I think, printed without color—is kind of worn out from years of living in my backpack, and that the cards are a little too big to fit into one of my acrylic card boxes. So I picked up a copy of the latest edition, which is quite overpackaged but is printed on standard-size cards and has nicer visual design. (And avoids the problem that I think one of the intermediate editions had, where the only distinction between different card types was a little colored gem icon, and I couldn’t easily tell the difference between some of the colors.) I think I’ll put the new cards into acrylic card boxes and then put those boxes into the larger cardboard box so it can be nicely visible on my game shelf. Meanwhile, I now have an old deck that I don’t need; lemme know if you want it.
Saw this in the game store and picked it up on a whim. We’ve played only once, but so far I like it. The game description says that players play clouds, but really you just take the role of different colors of raindrops; the clouds (which are cute 3D cardboard models) aren’t player-specific. The general goal is to grow various kinds of plants with more of your color of raindrop than with opponents’ colors. There are a bunch of different kinds of things to do and keep track of; by the end of the first game, we had a reasonably good understanding of how the mechanics work, but very little understanding of strategy as yet. My impression so far is that it’s not so much a many-possible-paths-to-victory game as a many-different-things-you-have-to-keep-in-mind-at-once game. (For example, each different kind of plant is scored differently, which makes me think of Imhotep, though the specific mechanisms are different.) The visual design is mostly very pretty, though part of it looks like a stain on the board. Oh, and I’m disproportionately annoyed that what appears to be a misprinted number on the board has been officially declared to be correct.
I’ve been reading about this growing-trees-using-sunlight game for quite a while, but all the reviews I saw said, essentially, that it was an incredibly cutthroat game, all about viciously destroying your opponents’ plans, which is not a style of game that generally appeals to me. But I tried it at Mary Anne’s a couple weeks ago, and liked it, and decided to buy it myself. It’s definitely more competitive than one might expect given that it’s about growing trees, and it may well be that advanced strategists can do very well in the game by aggressively attacking opponents, but so far the game doesn’t seem to me to require that style of play. This game, too, includes a bunch of 3D cardboard pieces that you put together (I can’t tell whether that’s a trend in game design or just a coincidence among the games I’ve bought lately). I really like the growing-trees theme, the visual appearance of the trees, and the shadowing-blocks-sunlight mechanic. In my first couple games with Mary Anne, I didn’t like the part where you have to buy trees and seeds out of your storage area and into your active area before you can use them, but in a later game at home, that seemed much more natural, so maybe I just needed some time to get used to it. I also enjoy the thing where, at a certain sunlight-points income level, you can do some neat engine-building stuff—cutting down (uh, sorry, I mean “ending the lifecycle of”) one tree, then buying it out of storage, then using it to grow another tree, in preparation for cutting that other one down next round.

One Response to “Recent boardgame acquisitions”

  1. irilyth

    I was really surprised when I read about Forbidden Sky and Forbidden Stars, the latter of which is blurbed at BGG like so:

    Forbidden Stars challenges you and up to three other players to take command of a mighty fighting force: the Ultramarines chapter of Space Marines, the Eldar of Craftworld Iyanden, the Evil Sunz Ork clan, or the World Eaters Warband of the Chaos Space Marines. Each faction offers unique armies and play styles, but your goal remains the same – to claim the key objectives selected for your faction. These objective tokens are scattered throughout the Herakon Cluster, but your opponents are sure to defend your objectives against you. You need to build massive armies and command them in unending war to best your enemies and claim your objectives. The fight for the Herakon Cluster is brutal and bloody, and you will either stride triumphant over the bodies of your fallen foes, or they will do the same to you.

    That sounded pretty unusual for this series!

    …turns out it’s not part of the series. Weird choice for a name! Published in 2015, so they can’t have been unaware of the other Forbidden Place games…


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