What's Eric Playing?: Week of December 10th, 2018
Alright, another week in the books. Let’s talk about each and what I thought:
Overall, I'm still kinda enamored with Fireball Island! I've had some time to sit with it and really grapple what I like about it, and I've narrowed it down. I appreciate that it's reminiscent of the games that I grew up with without giving into the things that made those crappy. I love the dexterity component / lighting up random pieces on the board with some marbley nonsense. It's clear from the construction how much effort went into making this a really high-quality production while still keeping the price from being absolutely ridiculous. Sure, the box isn't my all-time favorite box, but I figured out how to put it away and that only required an advanced Engineering degree. I haven't yet figured out where in my home to put it, but that's a problem for another day / life. I'll be pretty clear -- if you're looking for a crunchy Euro or a game that tests your strategic resolve, this ain't it. If you're looking for a game with an awesome table presence that's very light, fun for the whole family, and plays decently quickly, that's much more what this one can do. Either way, I've had a ton of fun on Fireball Island, and I'm looking forward to coming back for the expansions!
Overall, Paranormal Romance doesn’t quite land as splendidly as the base game, for me. I would like to like it more than I think that I do, but our runthrough of it was disappointing for the reason I specified and I’m not particularly convinced it’s going to be possible to play it again and still be surprised, since I know what the primary surprise of the game is, now. I don’t think that’s bad and it certainly doesn’t detract from Fog of Love; we actually enjoyed playing through the scenario initially. Our problem was that the follow-up effects kind of detracted from the game we were trying to play and became a bit distracting at best, trivial at worst. For us, they made us feel a bit railroaded, which was disappointing, as I think Fog of Love is at its best when it’s free-form and willing to play fast and loose. That said, I think there’s a lot to like here, especially the additional Occupations (and other fun content), so, I’m unwilling to go much lower than, “it was fine”, as we still enjoyed the games we played, just less than usual. If you’re feeling a completionist instinct or you really like the idea of a mysterious and supernatural love affair, you might have a better time with Paranormal Romance than we did! At the very least, I’m going to enjoy having picked it up for the extra content, so I don’t feel particularly negative about it. If anything, I’m just more excited for the lessons they take from this expansion and build into the next run of content Hush Hush Projects creates for Fog of Love!
Honestly, my score for this is going to be pretty similar to my score for DropMix, because I think they’re both similar in spirit. They’re both just wild, off-beat ideas that shouldn’t work in any way, and they both kind of do? Are they perfect games that I’m always getting off the shelf to play by myself? No. Are they the first two games that I would show to someone who asks why modern board games are interesting? They’re in the top five, easily. Stonehenge and the Sun is a daring concept that’s just … honestly, it’s very strange, but I kind of love it. When I first was asked to potentially preview this game, they asked if it was possible for me to drill a hole in my ceiling. That’s an incredible question to be asked about a board game. How is that not the entire pitch? I was sold, and the game lived up to my expectations. If you’re looking for a dexterity game you can play with the whole family, there’s a solid one here. I worry that, perhaps, it’s a bit too simple, so it may not necessarily stand up to repeated plays, but even then it’s definitely a game that I think needs to exist, and I’m glad that itten is making that happen. If you’re looking for a dexterity game that’s not quite like anything I’ve seen before, Stonehenge and the Sun is definitely worth checking out!
Overall, Blue Lagoon is solid! I think it’s a neat blend of area control and set collection, but I particularly like the board; I think it’s just really well done from an art standpoint. At two players, it plays a bit like Go, I’m told, which is kind of fun, but it adds in more of a focus on resources (and, I imagine, island majorities). At three and four, it’s a hectic mess of pieces, blocking, and area control that’s going to be appealing to a lot of players because it’s colorful and everywhere. I’ve had fun with Blue Lagoon, though, and I’m certainly hoping this isn’t the last we’ve seen of it. After all, I’m surprised we didn’t run into any volcanoes, and it would be really interesting to see how that would impact gameplay. Either way, if you’re looking for a novel blend of area control and set collection or you’re looking for a bright, colorful game with a fun, theme, I’ve enjoyed Blue Lagoon; maybe you will, too!
What did you think of these games? Feel free to let me know in the comments!