December gaming edition

I’ve been playing a number of games over the past few months, some new ones and some not-so-new ones.

  • Canalis: We played this game with 4 players a couple times over the weekend. It’s part of the Tempest universe (which includes Love Letter, Courtier, and a number of other games). In Canalis, you’re trying to build buildings that require connections to resources, labor, and the harbor. There are public and secret missions, and there’s a drafting element for cards in each round of play. The board is a grid, and you place tiles (buildings, canals, or gardens for bonus points) on the grid. We played with two people who have played it a lot, so they were both (a little) helpful and sometimes skeptical of why we were doing things. It was a fun game, though maybe not one we need to own.
  • Paperback: Absolutely must own this one, and as quickly as possible. This was my chance to introduce Carl to it, and he liked it a lot, in spite of not really being a word games person. I think I’ve talked about this game before, but in case I haven’t: it’s kind of like Dominion meets Scrabble. It’s a deck-building game with words, so you have a hand of cards each round, with different values, and your goal is to create the best word you can that will enable you to buy additional letters (some with special powers) or straight-up victory points that also act as wild cards. This is just a wonderful game, and the guy who created it lives in Utah!
  • Guillotine: This is a card game where you try to rearrange the order of execution to acquire the highest value executed noble you can. It’s played over three days, and the noble cards range in value from 5 (Marie Antoinette and others) to negative points for martyrs and innocent bystanders. It’s a lot of luck, or maybe I just wasn’t playing very well. It’s a cute, quick game that seems like a good filler or palate cleanser.
  • Sushi Go: Another cute, quick game, and possibly one I’ve discussed, players collect different kinds of food (tempura, sashimi, nigiri, maki rolls, dumplings, and puddings) for different values of points. It’s played over three rounds, and it’s another drafting game. I think I need to figure out a new strategy for that one, because I tend to focus on one food item for a game instead of just a round. It’s a nicely balanced game, where each kind of food can be successful… sometimes.
  • Archer Love Letter: We don’t really go in for licensed games very much, but Carl surprised me with this one, and it turned out to be very good. It’s themed well, and it follows the mechanics of Love Letter, but it adds more interaction with the hidden card, which was fun. I’m not sure we’ll disregard the original game, because it fits so nicely in my purse, but this was a good complement.
  • Tiny Epic Westerns: Can you tell we like the Tiny Epic games? This is their new one, and it’s kind of worker placement meets poker. There are six locations that make up the board, and players can place their meeples at five of them. Duels ensue for control of spots, and then bonuses are acquired by having the best three-card poker hand. There’s competition for control of cards with special powers, resources similar to the other Tiny Epic games, and a way to build your own empire, for lack of a better word. It’s a fun game, better if you wear cowboy hats to play it.
  • World’s Fair 1893: We’ve now played this game about four times, and I’m less certain about it being an awesome game now. Except for some rare circumstances, there’s usually one obvious move at a time. It happens pretty much every turn that if you try to plan a move ahead, the person before you will take what you want. It’s almost inevitable. And that makes the game feel a little more pre-determined than I would like. Strategy is fluid and can change from turn to turn. I still like this game, but I’m less enthusiastic about it now that I’ve played it a few times.
  • Five Tribes with Artisans of Naqala expansion: Man, Five Tribes is just great. It’s been one of my favorites for well over a year, and it remains so. The expansion adds a sixth tribe (sacrilege!) and new corresponding items and tiles. It also adds mountains and a chasm that bar some paths for meeples. It’s a great game with plenty of strategy, and the balance is really great. You can’t really win if you go all in on just one thing, but if you focus on one thing while not neglecting others, that gives a player a good chance of winning.

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