There was only going to be one winner this month, although an expansion has certainly caught my attention.
Mare Nostrum 9/10
I have been waiting for this for a while with some anticipation. I love the 1st edition and with the expansion, it plays like a dream although it only really plays well with 6 players. Does the 2nd edition do it justice? Well yes. Is it better? I remain to be convinced. The change in the rules of fortresses make it hard to attack someone who has built up defenses. But there are an extra 2 ways to win now with controlling or occupying 4 capital or legendary cities (there are only 3 legendary and 5 capitals – one for each player) or being all of the culture, military and trade leaders at the same time. I have not added bits of the Atlas expansion in yet and only played this with 5 players. I will be interested to see how this works with less players, there are set up variations, which is where the 1st edition stumbled. I expect that this will get a lot of play.
Hansa Teutonica – Britannia 9/10
This is an excellent expansion to Hansa Teutonica. I know it is just a board, but there is extra rules to go with the new board and they change the game radically. So the usual bumfight for the action grabbing town is not so fierce as your actions may be diverted elsewhere. It is a great expansion to an already great game. Just in case you are new to gaming with an expansion you will need the base game, in the case Hansa Teutonica, to play the expansion.
The Golden Ages 8/10
I knew nothing about this game when I sat down to play it. I am not a fan of the Quined games I have played so far, but this is the best one by them that I have played. It is a tile laying route networking resource grabbing while trying to build wonders etc to aid you on your way. There is nothing new here, but what it does, it does it well.
Valley of the Kings 8/10
A card drafting set collecting game. I am getting a little bored of the card drafting games that keep appearing, but this gem has some new stuff to offer that works well. First of all when you buy new cards you can see what you are making available as the future cards are displayed in the shape of a pyramid. Secondly you have to bank your cards to score. They are no good in your deck, you need to get them out of your deck into a separate pile, the name of which I can’t quite remember, it may be a tomb, but I expect I am remembering incorrectly here. I will pick a copy of this up if I see it at Essen next week. Blimey is it next week?!
The Networks 7/10
Another game I knew very little about before it hit the table. A game based on you running a TV channel and what show you commission, who stars in it etc. It was good fun and some of the cards you can pick up are amusing but the game felt the poorer brother of The Pursuit of Happiness, although this came out at Essen last year, it has only started hitting the shops now so is quite fresh.
Another one of the ‘So many things I want to do, but not enough actions to do them in’ games. The turn order mechanism is taken from games similar to Thebes/Red November with a theme of building cars and maybe racing them. I liked this, but need to play it more to get a more informed opinion. It is not as good as Kanban or as deep, but there are difficult decisions to make.
Watson & Holmes 7/10
A deduction game where you get a large amount of information in bit sized chunks while moving around London to find the information. A lot of the information is not relevant and some is very relevant. It is another of these growing genre of games that each scenario can only be played one time as once you know what happened (which is the point of the game) you can’t really play it again as it is a competitive game where the first person to solve the mystery wins.
Onward to Venus 6/10
Ah a Wallace game. Everyone will expect me to say how great it is. Not this time. It is a real shame really. The artwork is amazing. It really does stand out and the rulebook is just as pretty with some amazing pictures in. However the game falls a bit flat. I found it dragged on a little and was a bit fiddly. It is pretty much an area majority game with some minor bits of conflict going on.
Quartermaster General – Victory or Death 6/10
I really wanted to like Quartermaster General, I really did. I enjoyed the first play but soon after it got very stale very quickly with very little control of what you could do. I am in the minority with this opinion and a lot of people I know have a lot of love for the QG games, they are just not for me. This is a 4 player version showcasing the Peloponnesian war in a 2 v 2 format very similar to the original QG. Was it any better than the original? No. It does very little extra that QG did and unless you are a history geek with an interest in the era I wouldn’t bother with this. Just to point out, this is a stand alone game and a copy of QG is not needed to play this.