New to Stew April 2017

Another 7 new games racked up this month, mostly on the good side with a couple that do stand out

Bomb Squad 9/10

What a surprise this game was. I picked it up at a bring and buy, not knowing that it belonged to a couple whom I game with often! The theme interested me and anything real time gets my attention, which this is.

A real time game programming a robot to disarm bombs while rescuing hostages, but doing so using a Hanabi style type of game play where you hold your cards away from you so everyone but you can see your cards, others then have to give you clues for you to gain knowledge to then be able to discard them or play them. I liked this, a lot, hence my game of the month, but am aware that some people I know will struggle with the stress of the real time element of having 8 minutes to disarm a bomb so in certain game groups getting this to the table will be an issue. I expect that this may well be a Marmite game (a saying in the UK for you will love it or hate it, nothing in-between, just like the foodstuff) and I certainly am keen to give this more plays and try harder missions.

Sargada 8/10

Another I knew nothing about. An absolute gem of a game as it turns out. It is themed around making stained glass windows using dice and the colours and numbers on the dice for placement on your blank window. You then have certain scoring criteria for end game scoring. It is a very simple game to teach and pick up, but I expect that it won’t be so easy to master. I likened its complexity to the excellent Splendor (which is not very complex for those who don’t know Splendor).

Pack & Stack 7/10

A silly 30 minute tile grabbing reaction then putting your head in your hands as you grab the wrong tile kind of game! You have to pack a certain amount of different shaped boxes into one of the vans on offer, but the vans are different sizes and they are revealed at the same time and you have to grab one just as everyone else is grabbing trucks then realise that it was either too small or too big, there are penalties for both. It was great fun and good value for the €10 that I paid for it.

Tramways 7/10

A routebuilding pick up and deliver game slightly similar in complexity to Steam, so fairly complex for those who are not familiar with Steam. We played it with 5, but I feel that the sweet spot with this game for 4. It didn’t feel as fluid as other games and was a little clunky in places. It was a good fun challenge, but there are better games to try in the genre if you haven’t tried them before. It did have an interesting bidding mechanism for turn order loosely based on the system used in 20th Century where you are bidding on multiple tracks. It is fairly complex to be able to explain in a few sentences here, but I can see it being used elsewhere in the future.

Palenque 7/10

One of those random games I end up at the end of Essen via trades between companies. It had been on the shelf for a while and as my game purchasing has dwindled as of late I have been picking at my unplayed shelf which this was sitting on. Plays up to 6, we played it with 5, a very nice action management area control game. The theme around the Mexican/Guatemalan pyramids was very loose, but the game was engrossing. Certainly a keeper.

The Staufer Dynasty 7/10

Like Palenque above this has been on my unplayed shelf for years and was acquired via a trade. I knew very little about it apart that someone mentioned to me that it was a bit ‘Feldy’ which immediately put me off. For those who don’t know, I am not a fan of designer Stefan Feld. I am always willing to give a game a go and this did surprise. It is by the designer who gave us the excellent Hansa Teutonica, Andreas Steading. An action management area majority secret objective achieving kind of game.

Giza: The great pyramid 4/10

I picked this up in a cheap and cheerful sale knowing nothing about it. For what looked like a fairly small quick game, it was not. Two hours. I was put off the game quite quickly while reading the rulebook, it is appalling. I can understand it if it was a bad translation, but this is by Mayfair Games. It left me hunting down answers to questions even before starting the game and even more arose during the game, for which we didn’t find all the answers. It seems like a simple worker placement game about building the great pyramid, which comes in the guise of some lovely plastic bits, although the rest of the game is very badly produced, counters only printed on one side and board artwork that is confusing and not that pretty. The game itself didn’t play that smoothly when I ignore the breaks for rule checks and the bidding system with food for moving pyramid sections is a bit rubbish where the person bidding last has very little choice we found. One to avoid.

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