What's Eric Playing?: Week of January 14, 2019
Hey everyone! We’ve got another four exciting reviews this week — for more information about the games, click on their names to see the full review!
Overall, I think NewSpeak is pretty great! It’s a solid successor to the Codenames-style games, so if you’re looking for a more challenging and strategic variant for that I’d definitely recommend this or Decrypto. Neither are bad. Thematically, I like this a bit more than Decrypto, as it’s got a really bright and upbeat dystopia vibe going for it. The asymmetry is also more pronounced, and I think I gravitate towards that a bit more (but not much). The game’s also got a good amount of expandability, as you can pretty easily add more locations, code card sets, or what have you to keep the game fresh for a while, yet. Plus, it’s a challenging team-based deduction game; what’s not to like? Either way you slice it, I’m a pretty big fan of NewSpeak, and I’m looking forward to trying the full version. If you’re looking for a cool strategic game of deduction and encryption, then you’ll hopefully enjoy NewSpeak as much as I have, too!
Overall, Hatchlings is a very good expansion for the original Dino Dude Ranch! It doesn’t really distract from the core gameplay (but enhances it, as a good expansion will do) and provides new avenues to success for players. Naturally, the core game is relatively unchanged, so if you hate tar pits or dice rolling, this isn’t going to be the fix for that (and this might be too light of a game for anything “fixing” that to be on the roadmap; just try Dinosaur Island). Pleasantly, the baby dinosaurs are a cute addition to the game; I just wish that the punchable tokens were a little more robust. And while it’s nice that more Hired Hands cards come with the game, I think something must have happened in the print run that I have since they’re pretty significantly different from the original game’s cards, which makes it kind of obvious when you’re about to draw one. That’s a bummer. Beyond that, I think that I’d probably always throw the expansion in when I’m playing Dino Dude Ranch, and would probably even teach the game with it, given that it doesn’t require too much additional work to understand. If you’ve really enjoyed Dino Dude Ranch and are looking to take it to the next level, the Hatchlings expansion is definitely worth checking out!
Overall, I’m quite fond of Decrypto! I think it’s the exact thing I was looking for: a game that, when I’m hosting a game night and someone suggests Codenames, I can use as a slightly-weightier game that holds my interest a bit better. I think my issue with Codenames is that it’s often used as a blunt instrument for 6 – 10 people, and that means that there are a lot of people without a clear purpose in that game. I generally don’t like that kind of paradigm, as it usually means that someone is sitting around waiting for something more interesting than what’s currently happening to happen. With Decrypto, I think there are more things you can be doing with those extra cycles, and more interesting ways to contribute to the group’s goals. That said, I think that comes with some complexity cost, and I think you’ll see more people with Codenames in their home than Decrypto for that exact reason; Codenames is kind of timelessly simple, whereas Decrypto is just complicated enough that I think it risks not penetrating the mass market veil fully. That said, it makes a great gift, and I think it’s a hoot to play, so if you’re looking for another team deduction game that’s a solid fit for a board game night, I’d highly recommend checking out Decrypto!
Overall, Dracula’s Feast: New Blood is a cute little deduction game! It’s light and pretty easy to pick up (save for a few of the Advanced roles, but that’s why they’re advanced). I’m a big fan of the no-lying approach to the game; there are no opportunities for players to lie, as they are merely responding to a player’s action with the response the game requires they give. Sure, you can lie by talking, but if players don’t want to you can play a pretty silent game without causing much concern. The fun’s in the deduction, which is light enough that you can probably mostly intuit it, but not so aggressive that you need to constantly be paying attention (you can’t take notes anyways). Add in some bright, bold colors and super fun art and you’ve got a solid party game! It’s a shame I don’t really play them more often, to be honest. Either way, if you’re looking for a fun, spooky deduction game for your game group, Dracula’s Feast: New Blood might be right up your alley!