Recent Board Gaming

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I’ve decided that I do not like the Exit game series. These are supposed to be “Escape rooms in a box”, small puzzle games where you are supposed to figure out a series of puzzles that follow a narrative. I’ve tried two “beginner” ones as a kind of solo-board-gaming during the pandemic. However, the puzzles included in there are not that great in my opinion and some of them are literal moon logic or throw some bullshit at you for no real reason. The biggest offenders so far have been those where you need to physically manipulate objects. Some of these give you hidden instructions and there is not much you can screw up which work. Then there are others where you basically have to free-hand putting together two disparate items and then see the solution code, and if you don’t do it perfectly, you are basically screwed. Maybe its just me being stupid, though I do like puzzle games, but I have found these really frustrating. Worse yet, the “hint” cards are basically useless, only showing you the most rudimentary things, but the actual trouble point of these kinds of puzzles is resolved on the solution card, which is kind of BS.

How is this different than any other escape room?

Having played several Exit games, I didn’t find that to be the case. The logic (with one big glaring exception in one case) made sense, and the games seemed to include all the knowledge one might need to solve the puzzles.

The physical puzzles, at least in my experience, worked great and were some of the most interesting parts of the games.

I haven’t done any escape rooms, so I dunno.

Maybe its a matter of taste, maybe I’m just a dumb dumb, but I haven’t found the Exit games appealing, but rather frustrating.

It’s probably better if I just show what I mean directly. So in this game you are aboard an airplane that has issues. One of the puzzles you are told that the on-off switch of the radio is stuck on “off” and you are supposed to replace it with a part from the spare parts. This turns out to be part of the box you are supposed to cut out. Done that. You are then supposed to “replace” the part “in the cockpit” which means the top of the game box.

Here are the lid of the game box and the part I cut out along the cutting lines:

So I put the cut out piece in the right spot, but it didn’t really show how I was meant to figure out the correct code.


There was a weird meaningless eye symbol that referred to nothing. I trued things like removing the 6 from the above for 973 or the five from below for 110. Neither correct. I tried a bunch of other codes as well.

What I was meant to do was to line it up perfectly as to cut off half of the “M9763”, which would then allow you to read the code “390” vertically when turning the box 90° (which I guess is what the eye symbol is supposed to mean)


There are some red lines that are meant to guide you, but to actually get the correct result, you actually have to overcorrect on those guidelines, as you can tell by the image above. So basically this solution is either you do it perfectly, or you try things wildly to basically browbeat the solution out of it. And the difference is just a couple millimeters.

Over the weekend, I went to my first in-store event since the pandemic to learn to play Ashes Reborn. I had heard of Ashes a couple years ago, and for whatever reason never became interested in it, but recently, the publisher, Plaid Hat Games, bought the rights back from Asmodee and started releasing Ashes Reborn, basically Ashes 1.5 with fixed rules and rebalanced cards.

Despite the fact that I was hoping for an experienced player to show me how to play, and when I arrived at the store, I discovered that I knew the rules better than all the other players so I ended up teaching the game, I still had a great time.

Even though I’ve only played a few games so far, I’m really enjoying Ashes Reborn. From a purely visual perspective, the art is probably some of the most beautiful card artwork I’ve ever seen in any game. I also love that the characters are very diverse and aren’t just a bunch of white guys or women in chainmail bikinis. I love the fact that the most badass looking Phoenixborn is Odette Diamondcrest, a black woman:

I love that Ashes is a non-collectible car game, like FFG’s LCG games. I love that it has no resource curve. Every round you start with 10 dice to pay for things and even if the dice aren’t what you want, you can discard cards to switch the side facing up. I love that you literally choose your starting hand of 5 cards (your First Five), so you can never be completely screwed with card draw and you can always at least set up what your deck is supposed to be doing. I love so many things about this game.

If you’re at all interested in a good card game with amazing art, minimal luck, and lots of strategies, check out Ashes Reborn.

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I finally got to play a board game in person for the first time in months.

Small backstory: I talked about before that I sometimes play games with my niece and nephew. They are twins and turn 12 this wednesday. One thing we usually do when I visit them is that we play Minecraft together, but I have also been trying them to get to play some board games as I think they are nice overall, and its a good outlet for their sibling issues which are inevitable.

Anyway, I got them to play Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers today, which I picked up on a whim. I had played the original Carcassonne before but never this version. I got this box because it was discounted at my local game store, and because the theming is a bit similar to Minecraft, set in pre-history as the name implies.

Carcassonne is of course a masterpiece of the game, and this isn’t that much different but to my surprise while reading the instructions it also felt a bit more kid friendly with the randomness slightly increased. Instead of connecting roads and completing cities, you connect rivers and complete forests. The rivers can be different amounts of points not only by their length, but also how many fish are marked on the tiles they make up. Additionally there are huts you can place independent of meeple that give you points of whole river systems of rivers connected by lakes and score points based on how many fish there are.

Completing forests can trigger an ability to give you an extra turn if they contain a menhir. Doing so lets you immediately draw a tile from the separate stack of menhir tiles that are very valuable and play them like your normal turn (you can’t chain them though). Grasslands are also scored differently, depending on the wildlife thy contain and are marked on the tiles that make them up.

Playing board games with the kids has been hit and miss, which I partially documented in this thread. I tried Men at Work with them a while back but they didn’t really buy into it. However, this one was a great success and they really liked it and said so without prompt in the middle of the game. There were also still very happy after final scoring though I won pretty handily due to one of the Menhir tiles giving me a huge bonus on my hunting ground. Without that I would have lost. They still said they want to play it again next time I visit.

Small note that we played with the Rereleased version of the game with updated graphics.

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Finally got to start Pandemic Legacy Season 0 and it was a blast. Played the prologue and first month and I have to say that the mechanic tweaks to the base pandemic game are probably my favorite out of all these legacy versions.Can’t wait to play more.


“Be sure to drink your Ovaltine!”

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Not a game I personally played, but this is too good not to share and I guess this is the best thread to do so:

I played two games yesterday.

Blütenpracht is a push-your-luck game about growing flowers. Unfortunately, the strategy in this one is a rather limited. It is quick, but not very interesting.

Yukon Airways is a game I had for quite a while, but because of the pandemic I didn’t have a chance to play it. Each player is a bush pilot in the Yukon and the goal is to carry passengers from Whitehorse to various locations with a sea plane. Passengers are boarded from a dock. They are represented by dice of various colors, but rolling the dice is only to decide which dock they start out on. Putting your plane to a dock allows you to board those passengers, but you can also get passengers from other docks by spending money.

You then have to fly the passengers to various locations. You have to spend cards to do so as well as fuel. How much fuel you get at the start of the round is determined by the amount of passengers, with more passengers giving you less access to fuel, though you can also get fuel through other means. The thing is also that the amount of cards in your hand is limited after each round, and the amount of fuel you have is persistent from round to round. So you have to plan your trips carefully. You can also make multiple trips when flying.

After dropping off your passengers, you get money based on how far you went and how many passengers you carried. If you carried passengers to the locations marked with cubes of the matching color, you get bonuses which allow you to upgrade your plane. Each players has a board that includes a number of gauges and on/off switches that represent these changes to your plane and benefits in the game. It also has a smaller version of the map where you place the cubes from the big map that everyone shares if you made a good trip. At the end of the game you get bonus money for amount of locations you visited, in an exponential fashion, and can also get a bonus if you got a large amount of the same color of cubes. The game also comes with cards that modify the game and give bonuses if for example you carried passengers of a specific color or had fuel left at the end of the round. Since there are 9 cards and you only use 3, the game also is more varied and has more replayability.

(image taken off of BGG)

This game was a lot of fun. It ended just at the right time, where we had more or less the map cleared and our planes were strong but without being overpowered. It also hit a sweet spot strategy for me and my playing partner.

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I guess this is the best place to put it.

For the past two years or so I’ve been subscribed to a YouTube channel about board games called “No Rolls Barred”. The channel is actually spin-of of one of the big Wrestling YouTube channels called WrestleTalk so it has pretty good connection to me. They do regular videos of gameplay very similar to the unfortunately deceased TableTop on the Geek & Sundry channel, with reaction and commentary intercuts and it is well produced.

However, what I want to write about here is their series of games of “Blood on the Clocktower”. I had kind of ignored those videos because they are rather long but I started watching them last week and they are brilliant.

Blood on the Clocktower is a social deduction game similar to werewolf/mafia. What separates it from other games is that people can still participate when they are dead, as their roles are not revealed. However, they are only limited to a single vote for the rest of the game. The game has several scenarios with different kinds of roles and I love the design and how they interact to obfuscate information.

The videos are also well produced, with helpful explanations and well put together segments of the recorded discussions between the players so you can follow along how the game develops and who is gathering what information. It also helps that the cast is very entertaining and have a good dynamic, and the editor also sprinkles in some off-beat hilarious moments that occasionally happen.

Here’s a link to one of the earlier episodes, one of the shorter ones, which I think showcases both the game and the presentation of it in the channel well.

In other news, I visited my niece and nephew today and we played a couple of rounds of Sushi Go. They loved it.

Visited a friend this weekend for the first time in a long time and played a couple of games.

Got a chance to finally play Guns in the Pacific against another human.

One of the most significant things I noticed is that the Response phase was a true response to my opponent. In games against myself, I never really had to think about what I was sending out, but here I had to really think about what my opponent was doing and was likely to do. We had several tense back-and-forth escalations and hard decisions about what was truly worth my effort.

It took a little bit to really grasp the rhythm of the game, but after 3 or so rounds, it started to click. I can’t quite articulate my decision matrix, but I found myself doing a cost-benefit analysis of every round, fleeing from desperate fights, and even letting one or two conflicts go without a response.

I used to think the Plan was a bit esoteric, but now having played it through, I think the decisions are a bit clearer - generally, I look for relevant cards that I can get to from where I am, Plan them, and then hopefully get to fight there. Sometimes I just grab a singlet, but usually I try to grab two related cards. I also found value in grabbing both copies of a base when it showed up in the stakes but wasn’t in range of the current conflict zone - the idea there was to seed a double base presence, so that I could grab it without already having a base in range.

I’m not sure just how often I’ll play this game - it’s a bit of a time commitment - but I will say that I made some rather compelling and challenging choices throughout, and I enjoyed trying to outwit my opponent’s fleet-building strategy.

I tried out Embarcadero, a game about building San Francisco on boats during the Gold Rush. I guess this is a thing that sorta really happened? Filling in the bay, sometimes by sinking abandoned abandoned ships?

Anyway, this was a fun mediumish strategy game. Has a good bit of a Euro worker placementy feel - you compete over physical board position to score points, compete to build special buildings that give victory points in a variety of ways, and compete along a sort of “bonus” track that helps you do the previous two things as well as give points. It involves a lot of planning ahead, and has a fairly neat hand management system, where you play a card and also bank a card every turn - the cards you bank become your hand for the next round, so you do a combination of pushing and planning.

Overall I found the combos and the paths fairly straightforward, but managing the execution against another player added challenge. I could see this becoming good fun with 3 or 4. Not a half-bad offering at all.

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I got in some boardgaming recently and it felt so great after being away so long.

Played 2, 2 player games of Beyond the Sun. I have to say the more I play this the more I find it to be my ideal worker placement game.

Finally got back into the Risk Legacy Season 0 campaign my friends and I started wayyyyy back in fall 2021 before 2nd lockdowns scuttled a lot of plans for the future. We had only done the tutorial game and Jan back then, but coming back to it months later we were able to pick right back up without missing a beat. Played Feb & March winning both months on completing all objectives (but closely) so it still feels tense even if at this point we are “pro” pandemic legacy players.


I’ve tried like 4 times to get a game of Beyond the Sun going on BGA with friends of mine. One day!

Definitely looks like my speed.

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A couple months ago I talked about No Rolls Barred and their Blood on the Clocktower series which is excellent. They have now had an in-person game (actually two, but one is for their Patrons) and the production value is just fantastic.

I recently played three wildlife themed board games.

Spirit Island has a very high score on BGG, but I tried it and really didn’t like it even though I like the theme. Each player is a nature spirit and is trying to fend off spanish settlers, with each settler begetting more and more of them and destroying nature. You can use various powers according to your personal deck of cards to do so, but also are able to add other powers to it to improve your chances.

I had a really bad time with that game. Perhaps we weren’t well coordinated or overlooked something in the rules, but the game was just so overwhelming in how many fires it starts up you are supposed to put out. It felt like playing three games of Pandemic at the same time.

A couple of weeks ago I played Living Forest, which received the “Kennerspiel des Jahres” for 2022. In this game each player is a forest sprite trying to keep a forest alive while competing to complete one of several goals. The first to complete one of those goals is the winner.

It has elements of deckbuilding where each player starts with the same deck of animals that help you in those tasks, and you can add new ones by buying them from a common storefront that only is filled up at the end of each round. Each animal purchased also adds a flame to the center of the table, and if you don’t have enough water to combat them, negative cards will be added to your deck.

Playing your cards also has a push your luck element as each animal provides you various resources to accomplish your tasks. However, some animals are “loners”. You can reveal any number of animals from the top of your deck, but you have to stop if you hit your third “loner” and forfeit one of your two actions for your turn as a result, so you want to stop before then. There are also tokens you can gain and spend to discard loners as you draw them (or remove the negative cards from your deck, as they only count as loners and don’t provide any resources).

The game was quite enjoyable but I found a bit too overburdened with different kinds of resources. There are no tokens for them as you only have them for the turn, which is good, but also makes the decision of what you want to do with your turn a bit complicated and sometimes you overlook what you have as certain animals add resources while other remove them. There is also a “tragedy of the commons” element with extinguishing the fires. Extinguishing twelve fire tokens is one win but I don’t think that can be accomplished. There is also a “shoot the moon” option as certain animals provide you with an icon that isn’t a resource, but if you reveal twelve icons across all your drawn animals you instantly win, but it feels like a trap if you don’t go for that from the very start of the game.

Yesterday I played the actual “Spiel des Jahres” 2022 in Cascadia. The game is kind of similar to Carcassonne in a way as a tile laying game with a relatively simple rules set. There is a randomized set of facedown tiles and a bag of animal tokens. You also start with a random corner of three tiles. Laid out are also always four tiles with a token next to it. Players take turns piking a row of a tile and a token to add to their area, with the empty slots being filled up immediately.

Each tile has up to two types of terrain, and at the end of the game you get points for each tile part of the largest connected group of terrains in your area per terrain type. The players with the largest such terrain groups among the players also get bonus points for that. Each tile also has one to three animal icons, meaning the type of animal token you can place there. At the start of the game for each of the five animal types a random card is chosen which denotes a formation of animal tokens you want to accomplish and how they are scored (e.g. you want pairs of bears and you want to have long chains of salmon). If a tile only has a single animal icon, when you place an animal token there you get a pine cone which you can spend to redraw all the animal tokens or buy a token from one row and a tile from another.

Basically you want to strategically incorporate various terrains and and fill them with animal tokens in the correct formations, making it a balancing act between those two things. The game was quite enjoyable, but at least in the first couple of rounds you are definitely acting very myopically as you don’t pay attention whatsoever what the other players are doing.

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