A solid chunk of gaming between Christmas and New Year saw a number of new games hit the table. There was a couple of good titles, but one did stand out from the rest. The interesting thing is that I bought it as a punt as I knew very little about it.
This is an action management, push your luck game based around the race to the first to plant their countries flag at the South Pole. You select a die associated with a certain action and have to roll low numbers, ideally 3 or under, but you can get away with a 4 or 5 in certain situations. 6 or over is trouble, which doesn’t sound too bad, however, the bulk of the dice in the game are 8 sided. Oh, I hear you cry, that is trickier. The more actions you take that turn, the more dice you have to roll, the bigger the chance your explorers can suffer from exposure. They can die. That is not a good thing. You get more points if you get your explorers back to base camp and the game is all about the points. The game oozes theme too. The artwork is excellent and even the dice are beautifully done. If I get chance I’ll do a full review of this. This was excellent.
GREAT WESTERN TRAIL 8/10
I kept hearing good things about this since Essen and other new stuff kept hitting the table before it, but it eventually did hit the table and am I glad it did. What a cracking game. I picked this up speculatively as I do with a lot of games at Essen, for quite a reasonable price too and it is certainly staying in the collection. Working with a deck of cards, looking to try to draft prize cows into your hand while managing to keep your train moving while making sure you have enough cash to be able to build buildings, but not too much that you are paying tax everywhere and recruiting new workers to aid you in your quest to beat the other players. Ideal for 3 players too.
NEW ANGELES 8/10
A semi co-op game where you are a company in the future and your aim is to stop the federalists from winning and to score more points than one other company in the game, which is a secret. The board reminded me of Xcom and you work together and bribe others into helping you getting agendas through. This was a lot of fun. It will also depend on the group you play it with though as if you are not a fan of games like Resistance/Avalon/City Council/Nosferatu etc. you will not like this.
CARCASSONNE AMAZONAS 8/10
Yet another Carcassonne spin off. A standalone game similar to the standard Carcassonne (a classic tile placement gateway game for those who don’t know). It has a few extra elements than the standard, but nothing hugely different. I rate it high as I like Carcassonne, but if you are not a fan of the franchise then avoid.
GIRO D’ITALIA 8/10
I played Leader 1 years back, and this is pretty much the same game with a few different tiles. A cycle race game that is finely balanced with a little bit of luck thrown in, like in a real life bike race. You have to try to calculate when to push from the Peloton and how much to push by and when to push your luck on those tricky downhill sections. This is quite old now (2009) and it has stood the test of time.
4 GODS 7/10
An interesting concept of a game where you are laying tiles into a central world and you are playing in real time too, so no turns and you don’t even start with a player colour. You take a colour when you think that one is better than the rest, but before the other players spot it, otherwise they will take it first. Then it is an area majority game with the real time tile laying. I need to play this more to form a more accurate opinion on this, but I am optimistic about it.
MISSION TO MARS 2049 7/10
A full review will follow on this in the upcoming weeks. It is a family game with strong similarities to Settlers of Catan. It was a definite improvement on Catan and the theme was better.
I got this on a recommendation from a friend at Essen. The 3D board looked impressive and reading the rulebook had me hopeful but unfortunately what looked like a nice team game fell a bit flat and it was one of those games where you need 6 players to make it work properly. It was OK, but not much more than that.