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weekly roundup – January 22nd (game edition)

I didn’t get much reading done this week, but I have plenty of games to talk about, so this is going to be all about games. If you were hoping for more reading suggestions, check in next week!

I spent last weekend at a game convention at Bryce Canyon. It was great! We got there Friday evening and played games through Sunday evening. On Monday, we went on a sleigh ride to the edge of the canyon, and then we spent a couple hours exploring the national park. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a national park – some views were breathtaking. We need to go back and do some hiking and camping there (and at the other, what, five? national parks in Utah).

We played thirteen games over the course of forty-eight hours (a slower pace than some other cons, but more serious games than other cons too). Here they are in no particular order:

  • Codenames: The “spymaster” on each team tries to give a one-word clue to get his or her team to find the right words. We played in a Codenames tournament with a team of 3. We came in second in the end. And that was because the first clue I gave in the final (“sports 6”) was actually because I was mistaken about what color I was. Yeah, it was terrible. We still only lost by one spy though. It’s a fun game that involves creativity and cleverness, and I really enjoyed it.
  • Above and Below: This was a surprisingly good 4X game (see how much leverage I’m getting out of that term?). This had a choose-your-own-adventure aspect (or an RPG aspect, if you’d rather). If you go exploring, you choose which outcome you want and roll dice to see if you do it. Then you build structures and train people and harvest resources. This game was well-balanced between luck and strategy, and it was fun competing against others.
  • Renaissance Wars: The “time” on the box is really misleading. It says it’s a 40-60 minute game, but I’d say that that’s true per era. We played 1/4 of the game, and it took us about an hour and a half to learn and play the first era. I hear that it gets faster, but we wanted to play other games, so we stopped. Really good game though. We played with Luther (woohoo!) and some other luminaries (Shakespeare is in the game but didn’t get drawn), and I CRUSHED Carl. It’s kind of like hearts with a lot of extra events and cards.
  • Trekking the National Parks: This is another one I played in May, and this time, I got to play it with the creators! I didn’t learn anything new, but we played with the Postcards, which add another way to get points. It’s similar to Ticket to Ride, but it has claiming parks and getting stones as ways to get points. I came away from that game thinking that it was really fun, but that maybe it’s not different enough from Ticket to Ride to make it worth the cost. But it does have educational content, and it is the US map (rather than the Europe map that we have for Ticket to Ride), so it’s still on my list of games to get. And the creators were really nice.
  • Tiny Epic Kingdoms: I had played this last May and really enjoyed it then, but Carl hadn’t tried it. We played a 3-player game. It’s a “4X” game (explore new worlds, expand civilizations, exploit resources, exterminate others), and it plays pretty quickly. Carl didn’t really get into it, but I enjoyed it again. I played a peaceful race, which ended up making it a very peaceful game. It was fun, but not awesome. I think I enjoyed it more in context of the games last May (light, not complex games), where this one had a little more meat to it, but it’s still a light game.
  • Tiny Epic Galaxies: I had been wanting to play this game for months, and I finally got to! This was a GREAT game. We played it with 4 people, and one person didn’t really catch on, but I enjoyed this game immensely. It’s another 4X game, where you can spend one resource to follow another person’s action. You can do actions of different planets or try to colonize them. Enjoyed this most of the Tiny Epic games.
  • Tiny Epic Defenders: We made it a trilogy of the Tiny Epic games. This is a cooperative game where you’re trying to defend a realm against enemies, dire enemies, and an epic foe. We never really started enjoying the game. It was more of a race to keep things under control. We won just in the brink of time. We would have lost on the next card. It was okay, and I guess the co-op aspect was good, but I just didn’t enjoy it as much as the other games.
  • Nile: This is a fairly simple game where players try to plant crops and harvest them at each flood. I enjoyed it quite a bit for a light game. It’s very competitive, because you can only plant crops if no one else has or if you have more than the other person who has planted them. I had really good luck and won easily, but that’s not the only reason I enjoyed it. 🙂
  • Tsuro: Players place tiles and move their markers along the lines. If you go off the board or run into someone, you’re out. It’s a very straightforward game, and it’s quick, but it’s really fun. Carl won both times. I went off the board both times and sent the other player off once.
  • Dragonwood: I’ve heard someone call this very similar to Gin, but it adds the element of rolling dice based on how many cards you lay down. It’s a fun game where you capture creatures (including dragons!). I played this one in May as well. You get to strike, stomp, or scream at creatures to capture them. Pretty fun.
  • Nefarious: This was a cute game where you are a mad scientist engaging in invention and espionage. The espionage aspect almost felt like an afterthought, as a way to increase your cash flow, but I enjoyed the game all the same. It was pretty nerdy, and the names of the inventions were entertaining.
  • Naturally Disastrous: We play-tested this game that the creator developed in the last few months. It is a cooperative game with natural disasters, zombies, and some other NPCs. Each player has a special power, and you try to stay alive and take tokens to certain places. It needs more work, but it has potential. We played two games of it. The first was terrible, and the second was slightly better, though not tons, after we altered some of the rules. I’m interested in seeing where it goes.
  • Acre-Foot: We play-tested this game that’s been developed over the last few years. The premise is that water is a limited resource (an acre-foot is how much water it takes to cover an acre of land in a foot of water), and players compete for water, drill wells, implement conservation programs, and build dams. It was a surprisingly good game, and more intense than I expected it to be. Look for it soon. The creator is hoping to get it published soon, and I think it could go places.

Do you want more description of the games?

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