November Daily Game Challenge: Tuscany Essential Edition

This is Day 21 of my Game-and-Blog-Every-Day-in-November Challenge. Search my blog for “Daily Game Challenge” for previous entries.

Tuscany Essential Edition

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I got to play one of my all-time favorite games today, Viticulture, thanks to my friends John and Lorena, who brought their copy of the base game and the Tuscany expansion. It’d been awhile since I’ve played so it took me a little while to get into the swing of things, but once I did, I remembered why I love this worker placement game so much. Everything just flows so well together and it’s so fun to see your wines age right before you sell them off for money and those precious victory points.

Even better, though, was being at Game Haus Cafe for their fifth anniversary and gaming with my friends from social media. I get out to the L.A. area once or twice a month so it’s always a treat to connect with fellow gamers. Along with John and Lorena, I got to game with Albert, Jac, Geraldine and Michael. I also got to say hi to Daniel and Jessica, along with Jackie and Allison, but didn’t get to game with them; hopefully, next time.

Hanging out with everybody while Game Haus Cafe celebrated its fifth anniversary was special. My wife and I visited Game Haus during their first year of business with our niece and nephew. We were instant fans: the staff was great, the atmosphere was welcoming, and the game selection was amazing. The following year was when I dove fully into the hobby and that led me into taking the plunge as a content creator.

So, thank you, friends, for a wonderful night of gaming. And thank you, Game Haus, for providing a place for gamers to meet up for the last five years. Here’s to many more years of gaming.

November Daily Game Challenge: Everdell

This is Day 20 of my Game-and-Blog-Every-Day-in-November Challenge. Search my blog for “Daily Game Challenge” for previous entries.

Everdell

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Worker placement, tableau building, hand management, set collection … it’s all there in Everdell from Starling Games. The art and table presence drew me into the wonderful world of Everdell, but it’s the deeper-than-expected game play that keeps me coming back for more.

There are a lot of parts to Everdell, but it’s all neatly tied together. You have your hand management and tableau building in the form of the critter and construction (building) cards. You use your workers to gather resources and perform actions that will allow you to add critters or constructions to your tableau. And you score extra victory points by collecting sets of icons.

Everdell hits the right spots for me. It’s about trying to be more efficient than your opponents and nabbing those cards from the meadow at just the right time (of course, luck plays a part in how the cards come out). The more I play, the more I appreciate the world-building that’s gone into this game. And it’s a joy to go back and read the rulebook and learn the lore of Everdell, diving deeper into this fascinating place.

November Daily Game Challenge: Downforce

This is Day 17 of my Game-and-Blog-Every-Day-in-November Challenge. Search my blog for “Daily Game Challenge” for previous entries.

Downforce

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I recently got to play Downforce again, this time with the expansion track (the photo above is from an earlier play of the base game). While I liked the dice-chucking of Formula D, I’ve become more a fan of Downforce’s hand management mechanism. Formula D always seemed to go too long, although it was a blast for one lap with a bunch of players.

Best of all, I got to play Downforce with my buddy Oscar, who blinged out his copy with the Mario Kart characters. I’ve played that video game only a handful of times with my nephew, but it’s still fun seeing Mario and the gang out on the Downforce track.

And, yes, we listen to the Mario Kart music whenever we play Oscar’s copy of Downforce.

November Daily Game Challenge: Century: Eastern Wonders

This is Day 16 of my Game-and-Blog-Every-Day-in-November Challenge. Search my blog for “Daily Game Challenge” for previous entries.

Century: Eastern Wonders

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The first in the Century trilogy of games, Century: Spice Road, was a favorite of mine and my local gaming buddies. We all loved the smooth play and were all looking forward to the next game in the series.

Century: Eastern Wonders has some similarities to Spice Road, but it adds a pick-up-and-delivery mechanism to go with the engine building style of play. Like the first game, you’re trying to trade and collect spices, then deliver them to the markets for victory points.

While Eastern Wonders isn’t as elegant as Spice Road, there’s more of a game here. Along with the standard victory points, you can also uncover spots on your player board by building trading posts whenever you stop on the map. For every row that you uncover you’ll gain points and for every column you uncover you’ll gain a special ability.

I’d stick with Spice Road for new players and then introduce them to Eastern Wonders after a few plays. Interestingly enough, you can combine both games, which is what I did for my first play. I enjoyed the mash-up, but playing one without the other is probably the way to go for a more straightforward experience. I might prefer Eastern Wonders by itself, which definitely played faster without the cards of Spice Road.

I’m curious to see what the third game brings to this trilogy. So far the first two games have been solid so hopefully the final game will end the Century series on a high note.

November Daily Game Challenge: Sagrada

This is Day 13 of my Game-and-Blog-Every-Day-in-November Challenge. Search my blog for “Daily Game Challenge” for previous entries.

Sagrada

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Before Azul took the board game world by storm, there was Sagrada. It was the abstract game du jour, getting rave reviews before Azul came along and started taking all of Sagrada’s thunder.

There’s space on any gamer’s shelves for both of these gems. Azul is easier to teach new players and the turns are a lot smoother, but Sagrada has a more puzzle-like feel to it. I’m a sucker for dice chucking so Sagrada’s dice-drafting mechanism was an insta-hit for me. The placement rules can be stifling at times, especially when the dice aren’t rolling your way, but there are tools that can mitigate some of that bad luck.

The solo game is pretty tough, too. There’s no AI, but you’re placing unused dice on the scoring track (each turn you pull four dice, two for you, two for the track). Play is the same as any regular game, except that you’re now playing against the total of those dice on the track. It adds another element to the puzzle and it’s not easy.

I love the challenge, though, and win or lose, solo or multiplayer, your player board always looks pretty … even if your score isn’t.

November Daily Game Challenge: Dice City

This is Day 12 of my Game-and-Blog-Every-Day-in-November Challenge. Search my blog for “Daily Game Challenge” for previous entries.

Dice City

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Dug up an old favorite tonight for a solo run-through and it was as fun as I’d remembered. In Dice City you’re trying to build up Rolldovia (ha!) by rolling dice and activating that spot’s ability. As you gain resources you can buy cards to upgrade the locations in your city (each player gets their own board). Each location can be upgraded to gives more resources, abilities, military strength to attack your opponents, and end-game victory points.

Play is straight-forward and there’s lots of ways to mitigate your bad rolls. It’s a solid gateway game with enough to keep more seasoned gamers engaged. I love that everyone gets their own board and can fill it up the way they want, focusing on different types of buildings for their city. It’s been awhile since I played a multi-player game so I’m hoping to get it to the table with my buddies soon.

November Daily Game Challenge: Exploding Kittens

This is Day 11 of my Game-and-Blog-Every-Day-in-November Challenge. Search my blog for “Daily Game Challenge” for previous entries.

Exploding Kittens

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I don’t really read The Oatmeal anymore, but I’ve always enjoyed those hilarious, off-beat, sometimes wacky, sometimes thought-provoking comics. I remember hearing about the Kickstarter for a card game based on the comics, right about the time I was getting into the board games hobby. It turned out to be an enormous success, generating nearly $9 million in funding.

Exploding Kittens is what was produced from the Kickstarter: a light card game of set collection, take that, and press-your-luck. On your turn you play a card (or not) then draw a card. If it’s an exploding kitten, then you’re out. Last person standing wins. There are plenty of cards to manipulate the deck and there’s a defuse card that gives you a chance to stay in the game.

Fans of The Oatmeal will recognize the familiar style of drawing and unique sense of humor throughout all of the cards. I finally got to play it tonight and, while it’s not something I’d seek out for another play, I wouldn’t turn down a game. It’s a light card game that makes me want to start reading The Oatmeal again.

November Daily Game Challenge: Lost Cities

This is Day 10 of my Game-and-Blog-Every-Day-in-November Challenge. Search my blog for “Daily Game Challenge” for previous entries.

Lost Cities

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Confession: I didn’t play any games today. I worked, took a nap, then my wife and I went to the amazing Philippine Expressions Bookshop, where we were thrilled to attend a presentation and book signing by Jose Antonio Vargas.

I did play a game of Lost Cities yesterday, though. Lost Cities is a two-player card game by Reiner Knizia that takes just a few minutes to play a round. It’s an Indiana Jones-style theme about going to explore, but it’s just a pasted-on theme. Basically, there are five suits of cards numbered 1-10 with a few special cards mixed in. You’re trying to play them in ascending order in your tableau, scoring points at the end of the round. The more cards you have, the better you’ll score.

Like other Knizia games, there’s a twist to the seemingly simple game play. Here, you’re forced to play a card every turn. So, you can’t just hold the best cards, hoping that you’ll be able to play them later when you’ve built up your tableau. You’re also forced to draw a card every turn, which acts as a timer; once the deck runs out, the round is over.

I love the constant tension during each turn, as you try to figure out when to start a new column in your tableau. Why? Because any time you start a new column, you get -20 points, which you’re trying to make up when you play your cards. You may also play a card into the center row, which doesn’t hurt you, but it’s now available to your opponent to draw after they’ve placed a card. It’s always funny when they do because suddenly you’re thinking about why they wanted that card.

Best of all, you can play the “handshake” card which is a way to double your point total for a particular column. Of course, it can also double your negative points, so it’s a risky play.

Lost Cities is yet another one of Knizia’s games that packs a lot more play than appears on the box. The scoring explanation is always a bit funky, but once you’ve learned about the negative scoring and the handshake scoring, it’s pretty straightforward.

November Daily Game Challenge: 7 Wonders Duel

This is Day 9 of my Game-and-Blog-Every-Day-in-November Challenge. Search my blog for “Daily Game Challenge” for previous entries.

7 Wonders Duel

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I love the original 7 Wonders game and I thought I’d love 7 Wonders Duel when I played it a few years ago. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best experience.

Still, I bought a copy when it was on sale, based on its stellar reputation alone. Perhaps I’d mis-judged it during that initial play. It sat unplayed for over year, though; it seemed like I’d always find different two-player games to play with my buddies.

Thankfully, my friend Marlon re-taught the game to me and I’m glad I never got rid of my copy. It’s a fantastic game for two and deserving of its high ranking on BGG. I’ve seen the light!

Just like the original, you’re trying to build your wonders while also improving your resource production, military strength, and advance in science and technology. I liked how Duel reimplemented military as a tug-of-war, while science was now straight set collection without the funky multipliers.

Right now Akrotiri, Sun-Tzu, The Castles of Burgundy, and Baseball Highlights: 2045 are my go-to games for two players, but this one’s being dusted off and becoming a regular part of my two-player rotation.

November Daily Game Challenge: Imperial Settlers

This is Day 7 of my Game-and-Blog-Every-Day-in-November Challenge. Search my blog for “Daily Game Challenge” for previous entries.

Imperial Settlers

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I played a two-player game of Imperial Settlers with my buddy Daryl today. It’d been a while since we played so it took us a few turns to get back into the flow of things.

Once we did, though, I remembered why I love Imperial Settlers so much. It’s an awesome tableau builder and engine builder, and it can be surprisingly think-y when you start getting your cards together. There’s even a little take-that whenever you raze an opponent’s locations, so it’s not just multi-player solitaire.

Earlier this year I played in solo league on BGG. Although my faction lost, it was a blast playing with my fellow solo gamers. The league helped me learn a lot about the game.

Today was my 10th play of Imperial Settlers this year, which meant I had completed my BGG 10×10 challenge for 2018! Woo hoo!

Here are the 10 games I played 10 times each this year:

Azul

Cities of Splendor

Dice Stars

Fear

Imperial Settlers

My Little Scythe

NMBR 9

OK Play

Sagrada

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