What's Eric Playing?: Week of December 31, 2018
The last four reviews of 2018 for me were a pretty diverse mix! Go back to El Dorado, trade in a caravan at Petra, protect (or control) the forest, or try to capture the various monsters of Greek myth! Hopefully your 2019 takes you to similarly fantastic places.
Overall, I’m a huge fan of Heroes & Hexes! I like pretty much everything it adds with the exclusion of some extra take-that, but honestly that’s more because I don’t like take-that than a complaint about its implementation. Even that, I will begrudgingly admit, is smart and practical for the type of game that The Quest for El Dorado is. The Curses add some new wrinkles to gameplay that I’m really into, as the risk of taking them is sometimes worth the reward of the shortcut and sometimes it’s really not. The heroes are pretty powerful, yes, but I’m not terribly bothered by them; they’re just a thing that everyone should get (and often the game makes it very hard to do so). So, yeah, overall, I think it’s a rock-solid expansion, and if you’re already a fan of the base game, I’d highly recommend checking out The Quest for El Dorado: Heroes & Hexes!
Overall, I think Passing Through Petra is excellent! It’s definitely going to be sticking around for a bit, but I like the art style and the abstract gameplay, a lot. As usual, I complain a bit about games that are just “do the same thing, but with more downtime” as the player counts increase, but I’m resistant to call that a gameplay Con because there’s also some engine-building components in this game as you start getting certain bonuses, and requiring players to drop fewer cubes just means you won’t see those engines ever hit fruition, which is a bummer, so I’m mostly fine with it. It seems like the kind of game that’s ripe for some expansion content, as well, as you could add more Villager or Influence cards as a quick adrenaline shot for the game or something else that could be interesting. Either way, it’s a neat abstract strategy game, and I love abstract strategy games, so if you’re looking for a fun new one to check out, I’d recommend Passing Through Petra pretty highly!
Overall, I like Haven quite a bit! There’s an interesting tension when you’re trying to figure out whether your opponent is trying to beat you on Lore or Combat (or both), and I think that drives a lot of the game, which I enjoy. The fact that your decks are essentially the same (one Lore Power difference) and that ties break differently for you is a nice touch, I think. It’s only slightly asymmetric, so it’s not hard to learn the Forest once you’ve learned the City; they play the same. You just might have slightly different incentives as a Forest player than a City player, which makes the strategies change slightly to follow. It’s obviously complemented by more fantastic art from Laukat, which I appreciate, as well; I think the greens here are a really nice move for him and I’d be interested in seeing more games with similar color schemes in the future. All that in a ~30 minute time frame is pretty good, for me, all things considered. If you’re looking for a bit of complex gameplay that’s not going to break the bank, mentally, or you want a challenging game that’s ever-so-slightly asymmetric, I’d recommend taking Haven for a spin! I’ve enjoyed it.
Overall, Nessos is pretty fun. I like the fast pace of the game and I admire its portability. It’s quick to pick up, easy to take with you, and seats a good number of players (though a two-player variant would be appreciated). This probably isn’t going to be a game that sits well with the anti-bluffing crowd (even though, again, you likely could play the entire game without bluffing, unless you got comically unlucky), and I think that’s reasonable; there are a lot of people who just don’t enjoy that mechanic, and it’s most of what makes this game tick. The major advantage of this is the same thing that One Night Ultimate Werewolf has going for it; it plays very quickly. It’s also not too complicated, so I could see this seeing some wide appeal as a nice filler game that you can play while waiting for people to show up at a game night (or waiting for a longer game to finish). Either way, I’m a big fan of the art, too, so that helps a lot. If you’re looking for a cute, quick game that you can take with you (and don’t mind bluffing or player elimination), Nessos is worth checking out!