What's Eric Playing?: Week of March 11, 2019
More reviews! This week kicks off Oink Games Month! And, of course, three more reviews. As always, click on the header to read the full review.
Overall, I’m a big fan of Zogen! It’s a nice twist on Anomia, which has a really similar “recognize the same symbols as quickly as possible” (which I guess puts it in the Set family), but without the “also there’s pseudo-trivia”, which kind of throws people off. I’d say that probably gives it a wider appeal (even though I love Anomia). As far as real-time games go, this is definitely up there for me, as it’s quick, scales to a high player count, doesn’t require much setup or teardown, and is generally a lot of fun. I particularly like how easy it is to scale up or down the difficulty for new players, and I find the two-player mode tense and satisfying, as well. It’s a great little quick game, and a welcome addition to the Oink Games line. It probably has the most in common with Nine Tiles, if I had to pick another Oink that it resembles, so if you’re a fan of that one you might like this one as well. Either way, if you like real-time games and you’re looking for something fast and fun, I’d definitely recommend checking out Zogen!
Overall, I think Istanbul or Constantinople is fine, personally. Like I said, the lack of agency thing bothers me a fair bit, but I can probably correct for that a bit by just trying to take more proactive action towards blocking my opponent. I just need to make sure that I’m still playing quickly, of course. Beyond that, though, it’s a cute wallet-sized game with a fun theme, so I’m into it, and my love for math games really does make me want to come back and play it, even if I don’t feel like I have a lot of control over the outcome. That can easily be managed for me by a solo mode, though, so I’m hoping to get more information on that during the campaign (and may adjust my score to compensate if the solo manages to really wow me; just look at Sprawlopolis). I will say that I think this an excellent family-weight game; I could see kids working on some math skills enjoying this (and it might help with basic addition / subtraction stuff). Beyond that, if you’re looking for a cute game that you can transport easily, you like math games, or if you really just think that Istanbul should have stuck with something a bit more classic, Istanbul or Constantinople might be the game for you!
Overall, I’m a fan of Block War! I was pretty … middling on it when I played it with the old rules, but the newer printing of the rules cleared up a lot of the confusion / concerns and we had a bunch of fun! I think the key is that both of us were laughing when we played, and that’s generally a Very Positive Game Experience for us when that happens. Thankfully, that happened a bunch, though usually it was when my opponent was blowing up my gates, which, well, it was still pretty funny, so that’s fine. Beyond that, this is a fairly aggressive game, which normally isn’t extremely in my wheelhouse, but I had quite a bit of fun with it! It was enough that my co-player and I both are looking forward to potential expansions and will likely pick it up again. If you enjoy a bit of hard-hitting action, explosions, or you just really like Judge Dredd, Judge Dredd: Block War might be for you! We’ve certainly been pleasantly surprised by it, which is always nice.
Overall, yeah, I don’t really enjoy KOI much at all. It’s definitely pretty, which softens my distaste for it, but I think I’d rather have a shadowbox of it than actually play it as a game. Part of it, for me, is that it feels pretty random, since most players don’t have extra cards between turns (at least, this was the case in most of the games I played) and so are kind of reliant on whatever cards they end up drawing each round (especially given some of the weather configurations). The other thing is that the game feels a bit clunky. It’s things like the cards resolving from bottom to top or having to track the way your curved fish token is facing as a major facet of gameplay that kind of take me out of the moment. If I can distinctly remember thinking, “man, this is frustrating” during the game, then it’s probably not going to be an experience I come away from with a positive outlook. That said, it does have some really positive things going for it. Like I said, it’s a very pretty game; the art direction is solid, the pieces are nice, and the whole thing has a nice thematic consistency to it. The Weather cards, while occasionally frustrating, are a nice thematic addition to the game and they’re well-implemented within the game’s scope. Additionally, the game gives all players a sense of progression as they collectively build up their pond, and it’s always nice to see how the game looks at its conclusion. But that’s about where I stand on it; it’s nice to look at, but it’s not the right fit for me. If you like action programming a lot and don’t mind random card draws, though, it might be for you? I get the feeling that I would probably enjoy the solo mode of this a bit more, as well.
Overall, I quite enjoy Flotsam Fight! As with all Oink Games, I appreciate that it’s pretty simple to pick up and easy to take just about anywhere; you could put a bunch of these in a small bag and easily have enough games to last you a while (OinkCon, anyone?). What makes this one interesting is the ladder-climbing mechanic that’s much more dependent on math and probability than, say, Maskmen. Similar to what I mentioned last week about the relationship between Nine Tiles and Zogen, this pair of games shares a mechanic in common but executes it very differently, making for a game that’s a great follow-up for fans of the other. (I suppose Deep Sea Adventure and The Pyramid’s Deadline also do this.) Either way, it’s a fun little game that I quite enjoy, and if you’re looking for a card game that’s good for groups and solid with pairs, Flotsam Fight is a lot of fun!