What's Eric Playing?: Week of March 04, 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 think TomaTomato is a delight. I mean, it’s weird, but you’ve gotta shoot for weird sometimes; it occupies the perfect “very strange party game” space with In A Bind (now Yogi), Eye My Favorite Things, and (hopefully) TOKYO GAME SHOW in the future. These are party games that I vastly prefer to less-weird games, as they’re letting you create some interpersonal intimacy in all the weirdness. They allow you to be silly and it’s excellent, even if silly is just laughing because you forgot how to say tomato out loud. There are plenty of great party games, don’t get me wrong; Just One is superb, Werewords / Insider / A Fake Artist Goes to New York are all good, yes. But there’s nothing quite like TomaTomato, and I kind of love it for that? Is it a flawless game that will appeal to everyone? No; it’s weird as heck. It’s a game that’s literally about saying different parts of the word “tomato” until you mess up. I have no idea how something this weird got made, but I’ll sure as hell concede that it asserts its right to exist. We need more weird games, and we certainly need this weird tomato game. If you’re looking for a silly party game that’s just … strange, TomaTomato is definitely worth checking out! I’ve had a lot of fun with it.
Overall, I’m a big fan of Tag City! I love roll-and-writes, generally speaking, yes, but Tag City is definitely a superb one. Personally, I think it’s the theme that I enjoy the most; it takes me back to Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 and doing really bad tricks off of various thing around town to tag them for points. Getting to have a graffiti-themed roll-and-write where I do the same all over town is nostalgia-inducing in the best way. Plus, it’s a spatial roll-and-write, which I really enjoy (murmurs something about Cartographers, another one that I think about a lot). I appreciate the basic and advanced games both being available for players to try out (the Advanced Game is wild; would definitely recommend, but once you’ve played a few times), and I’m really just sold on the whole concept. I hope this isn’t the last we see of games in the Tag City line. If you like roll-and-writes and want a game with a really fun spatial component, Tag City is definitely worth checking out!
Overall, I think On Tour is a lot of fun! Like I said, it combines two things I really enjoy (roll-and-write games and path-building games) into a pretty solid across-the-board experience. I was somewhat surprised with this as a Kickstarter game, I’ll admit; usually they have sort of a penchant for coming with almost too much content, as though they’re trying to make sure they retroactively justify their purchase (a lot of Kickstarter games do this with extra modes, included expansions, unreleased promo content). On Tour feels more like a retail game in that it’s pretty much just the core game with no additional frills (save the high-production-value presentation). It almost makes you want a few more frills, just for varying the play up, but that’s no real fault of the game; it’s precisely because the game’s pretty fun to play and it makes your mind wander to variable setups, to random events, to all the trappings of more aggressively ambitious Kickstarters that then risk not delivering (figuratively or literally). I think it’s wise of On Tour to save some of that for a potential expansion (which I hope arrives; similar to MetroX, more maps would be wonderful), as it definitely avoids those potential pitfalls and delivers an elegant, streamlined product. I do appreciate that, and it makes me optimistic that there’ll be more to come. Either way, if you enjoy roll-and-write games, fun themes, or great art, On Tour has all three, so I’d recommend checking it out!
Make way for my new favorite party game, friends. Just One is it. I used to think it was Werewords, and I still hold a soft spot for Anomia, but this is the party game I am looking for. Seriously, I don’t like party games and I like this one. It’s engaging, creative, and fast, and it’s cooperative! This works perfectly for me. Nobody’s yelling too loud or demanding that they get the points for the round or just saying something racist while trying to argue that since the game did it it wasn’t them doing it; they’re coming up with quick, smart clues to try and help a friend guess a random word on a card. It’s a simple system with ingenious outcomes and I love it. It’s probably the inheritor to Codenames in my preferred party game list (though I do love Duet at two players). I think the real trick is the cooperative part. Encouraging players to work together rather than on their own is a really smart, quick way to make the game easy to learn (since players will help each other), fun to play (since everyone’s on the same team; no arguing), and generally conflict free (it’s everyone’s fault if words match; no blame can be assigned). I’ll probably be taking this with me everywhere I go, party-wise, so if you’re looking for a rock-solid party game to add to your repertoire, I’d strongly recommend checking out Just One! I’ve loved it.