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.