Brief Overview – New York 1901

pic2515532_mdNew York 1901 is a drafting area control game by designer Chenier La Salle and Blue Orange Games. The game runs about 45 minutes and plays with 2-4 players. In New York 1901 the goal is to earn the most points by erecting skyscrapers in downtown New York City in… you guessed it, 1901. A mix of tile-laying and card drafting make up the mechanics of the game, while bonus criteria drive the players to focus on certain regions of the board. Cards indicating color and size are laid out in a row and on their turn a player will draft one of those cards. The player then plays one of their four workers to a space on the board matching the chosen card. Finally, the player may build a building on any spaces on the board that they own, including the space that they just obtained. Each player has the same set of bronze, silver, and gold buildings, and there are four “legendary” skyscrapers which are available to all players. Most of the buildings take up more spaces than any given card will provide, so it is important to obtain adjacent spaces to allow you to build bigger and bigger buildings. A player is further restricted by building class. Bronze buildings are the only ones allowed to be built at the beginning of the game. Once a player reaches a certain point threshold they may build silver buildings, and another threshold unlocks the ability to build gold buildings. The player may demolish buildings to build a better one, but may only upgrade from bronze or silver to silver or gold respectively. If a player has only four un-built skyscrapers left or the open market (cards) need to be re-filled but the deck has run out, the end of the game is triggered. In addition to the points earned throughout the game by building, the players then determine the bonus points. At the beginning of the game three street cards and one bonus challenge card are chosen at random. The player who has the most buildings on each of the chosen streets receives a bonus, and in the case of a tie, no points are awarded. Points are also awarded for the bonus challenge which could be anything from who has buildings in the most districts to who has the most gold at the end of the game. The winner is the player with the most points.

Discussion

pic2519680_mdI had the opportunity to play New York 1901 in the Blue Highway Games Board Game Challenge last month and I was very happy that I did. I find that the game ticks off many of my check boxes when it comes to what I like in a game. I like drafting, and I like tile-laying, and I like area control, and New York 1901 is all of these things! The board is colorful and the graphic style of the game is pleasing. Mechanically the game has quite a few rules, but once these are grasped, the game plays fairly easily, and it isn’t all that difficult to grasp the rules. There is a somewhat Tetris-y vibe to the game since the building tiles are all in odd shapes a-la Tetris, and with all of the color flying around you get that feeling of trying to squeeze these buildings into whichever available space you can utilize efficiently. When you couple that with the decision making involved with attempting to meet the various challenges, determining which spaces to take, which spaces to hold in the hopes that nobody else takes the adjacent spaces, all in an effort to get that one bigger building on the board, well then you have a very well-rounded game in my opinion. I had been wanting to play New York 1901 since GenCon last year where it had generated a lot of buzz, but for some reason, I just didn’t make it over to those demo tables. Once the tournament was over they announced that opened copies of the game which they had used for the tournament would be sold at a discount, I jumped at the opportunity to snag a copy. Now I just hope that my family likes the game as much as I do.

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Quick Rant – Shipping

Nothing is more infuriating to the board gamer than shipping dragged out over time. This is why Amazon Prime is a viable service, people are willing to pay fees just to ensure their packages arrive in a timely manner.

Based on my experience, the invention of the package “handoff to USPS” is one of the worst things to happen to the shipping industry!

I was supposed to receive a package two days ago (via UPS), and two days ago it was “transferred to USPS” and it still hasn’t arrived. There is a tracking number for both UPS and USPS, and the USPS number just says “Shipping data received”. If you are going to have joint shipping between entities, make sure that their tracking systems properly integrate!!!

I don’t want to wait this long for my Buy 2 Get 1 Free board games from Target!!!

Argh!

Brief Overview: Titan Race

TitanTitan Race is a dice rolling race game by Fun Forge Games and designer Julian Allain. Each player takes control of one of six titanic monsters from Olaf & Ragnarok to Ftag’hn & Cthooloo and attempts to beat the other monsters by traveling around one of the various race courses that you have to choose from. When I say traveling around, I mean it literally, as there is no track to race on, but rather the board is divided into rows and columns. The monsters can move forward, left and right, never moving backwards, but when they reach either the left, right or front edge of the board they wrap around to the opposite side! Each time a player wraps around from the front of the board to the back they complete a lap, and the first to complete three laps is the winner. Each monster has a unique ability, and each of the boards has spaces with unique effects which make the game asymmetrical to say the least. Some spaces on the board also provide access to bonus cards which provide powerful effects with which to boost yourself forward or keep your enemies back!

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Bling that Game!

When my wife and I first played Lords of Waterdeep we immediately knew that we had to own the game. After just one play I placed an order for not only the game, but also the expansion, and an upgrade kit to replace the fighter, thief, cleric, and wizard cubes with little meeples. Since then I’ve purchased the Broken Token insert for the game and I’ve backed a Kickstarter campaign to replace the money chits with metal coins. I have yet to receive those coins, but I hear they are almost here!

In the end I’ve spent more money on upgrades for Lords of Waterdeep than I have on the game itself. Companies like Broken Token, Meeple Realty and Meeple Source have made a business of upgrading your games and many people are more than willing to shell out the money to make their favorite game their own.

Bling

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Brief Overview – Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Wrath of the Righteous

Tpic2564484_mdhe world of Pathfinder is immense, including a popular role playing game and the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game with multiple base sets and expansions that capture the dungeon-crawler feel of an RPG but without the time and imagination commitment that a role playing game entails. The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Wrath of the Righteous is a card based RPG  designed by Mike Selinker by Paizo Publishing which plays 1-4 players with a scenario running about 120 minutes. Each player takes the role of a character represented by a stat card consisting of the usual stats that you see in RPGs, a character token, and a deck of cards. Each character has a favored card type upon which their deck is heavily based (i.e. a mage likes spells). The board consists of a number of locations determined by how many players are in the game, with the locations represented by decks of cards consisting of various blessings, treasures, weapons and monsters including a final boss, as defined by the particular scenario which the players are attempting to complete. Whenever the player comes across an enemy, trap, or even treasure, they usually have to make a stat roll to see if they defeat the monster or find the treasure, etc… Each character has a base set of stats which define the dice that they will roll for that check, but these can be enhanced by playing cards from their hand such as equipment, blessings, etc… In addition, the other players can play blessings to help out the player making the roll. The caveat is that your deck of cards is your life total. The more you use the closer you get to death. The players take turns using the cards in their hands to explore the locations in order find treasure, fight monsters and eventually defeat the boss to win the scenario. If you run out of cards in your deck however, then your character dies.

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The Micro-Convention

This past weekend I attended an event that I would classify as a micro-convention. Gamerati in collaboration with Dragonflight held a game day where members from both groups came together for a day full of gaming, complete with a tournament, game demonstrations from publishers, a few vendors, an open play game library, and a prototype lab.

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dflight

The great thing about a micro-convention like this is that it is all about playing games. Yes, there were vendors selling their wares (I even picked up a cool aluminum die!), and publishers running demos, but the real focus is having a place to gather and play games for longer than that four-hour window that we usually get at our weekly game night. However, I noticed something as I observed the hall throughout the day. The various groups of people that were there; friends, families (with and without young children), gaming groups, and role-players were keeping to their groups for the most part. Whomever somebody was playing games with at one time during the day, they were usually with the same people at other times throughout the day. Role-players I understand have to keep to their own groups, as they have campaigns, pre-existing characters and story-lines to uphold, but everyone else should be breaking groups to play games with other people, otherwise why go to a convention? For everyone that I played with (aside from one demo), I could have done so at the regular meetup I attend. In a convention setting the event organizers have the means to help people organize games outside of their regular groups, and all it takes is a bit more planning and effort. To be clear, I am not saying that the game day was a bad event, I am just saying that it could have been better for some (myself included) if just a few simple things had been implemented. I think that in smaller events like this one, the organizers assume that most of the people will know each other or at least a fair number of people, and don’t take into account that some people (like me) might be there who are new to the area, new to the group, or even walked in off of the quad (the event was held at a college).

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Brief Overview – Star Realms Colony Wars

colony_wars_box_2_large-e1452027444612Star Realms Colony Wars from White Wizard Games is the latest entry in the vastly popular Star Realms series which consists of the original game, several expansions, and an app available on iOS, Android, PC, and Mac. Star Realms is a deck building game for two players (up to four with multiple base sets) that plays in about 20 minutes. Both players start with identical decks consisting of ten cards which provide trade credits and combat damage. On a player’s turn they play the cards in their hand to the table, banking the trade and combat with which they purchase cards from the trade row and attack their opponent in an effort to reduce their authority (life) to zero. Cards purchased from the trade row are added to the player’s discard pile which is shuffled in whenever the deck runs out. Colony Wars is a stand-alone expansion meaning that you can play it straight out of the box, but the new cards are 100% compatible with the old ones. In this set they have given us a myriad new ships and bases, most all of which have similar mechanics that can  be found in the original set or expansions. One notable new mechanic is a cycle of cards (one from each faction) which state “when you acquire this card, if you’ve played a [this faction] card this turn, you may put this card directly into your hand.”

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