What's Eric Playing?: Week of April 22, 2019
More reviews! More deckbuilders, and I’m particularly excited for my reviews of Bosk and Tiny Towns! As always, if you want to know more, click on the game title to read my full review!
Overall, yeah, I’m pretty here for Bosk. Normally, area control games aren’t my jam, too much, but the thing this one’s got going for it is some really nice art, to draw me in; some simple rules, so that I stay engaged; and some fun, thematic gameplay, so that I enjoy the experience from start to finish. I think this one’s an excellent gateway game for area control games, as well as a nice game for fans of the genre that maybe don’t want to get into each others’ business constantly. Major selling point is definitely Kwanchai Moriya’s art, but the game itself underneath is also very solid, boasting excellent component quality and a lot of fun interaction. I keep a shelf (and a list, because it’s a small shelf) of games that I think are excellent gateway games (or games I would bring to a game night where I don’t know all the players’ preferences), and I think Bosk is definitely making its way onto that list. It’s got all the hallmarks down: great art, solid table presence, and straightforward gameplay. Anyways, I’m repeating myself a bit, so I’ll wrap this up, but if you’re looking for an area-control game that you can play in 30 – 40 minutes, you’re trying to get a solid board game for your outdoorsy friends that love hiking, or you’re just a big fan of games with fantastic artwork, I’d definitely recommend checking out Bosk! I’ve really enjoyed playing it.r.
Yeah, overall, I really don’t have a strong preference between this and Star Realms: Frontiers. I like both, honestly. I do agree that this one has a slightly quicker start (since your Shortsword does deal two damage), but I also generally don’t care as much about fantasy themes as I do about space and sci-fi. That’s a personal thing. The few things that annoy me are generally frustrating, sure, but they’re also not enough to keep me from playing if I’m looking for a quick deckbuilder to burn through while I’m waiting for something. I probably lean a bit more towards the Dale of Merchants series for that because the artwork appeals to me personally, but, I mean, if they made Cute Animal Realms I might be able to be pulled back this way (plus, the DoM series is a very different style of game). Either way, if you’re a fan of Star Realms but not sci-fi, Hero Realms is here to help, and if you’re looking for a fun and fast deckbuilder that’s easy to play but hard to play only once, I’d recommend checking it out!
Alright, overall, I have a fair number of thoughts about Home on Lagrange. The core thesis of this is the difference between what makes a game mechanically interesting and what makes a game experience enjoyable. I’ll be upfront: mechanically, not my favorite time. I think it relies a lot on luck of the draw, lacks solid ways to mitigate that luck for other players, and quite often slumps in the middle because players race to buy their first few modules before they have the hands necessary to buy their later ones. Also, the value of resource cards are wildly different, which makes some draws much, much more useful than others.
Got all that out of the way.
You’re probably wondering why I rated it a 6.5 / 10 (somewhere in the “fine to good” range), given that. It’s because I think that the folks at Grizzly Games have really managed to capture what makes a game experience fun. I played this with two friends the other night and we all agreed on the mechanical stuff; we still laughed quite a bit at some of the ridiculous cards we drew or came up with metafiction around which Modules we were looking at or schemed to create a weird hybrid space station with too many pets and guns next to the retirement homes. Giving players space to have that fun is a very smart and skillful design move, and it’s something I don’t get in a lot of games. A really good metric for whether or not I’m going to like a game that tries to be silly or fun is asking how much I laughed while I played, and we laughed quite a bit.
To that end, I think that the game’s got some places where it could use more polish, sure, but I think that this shows encouraging signs that they’ve got a sense of the kinds of game experiences they want to create, and that’s already a good step forward. It makes me want to play their next game, frankly, and that’s a hard thing to get with your first game. That said, I don’t speak for everyone, so if you like games that are on the lighter end and play fast and loose with sci-fi references, or you’re looking for a game with impeccable art to inspire your next space station RPG setting (I bet you could make something out of this for Dialect), Home on Lagrange might be right up your alley! I’d say it’s at least worth checking out.
Overall, I think Tiny Towns is super fun! Like I said, it falls in the same part of my brain as Tag City and Roam, as they’re all games that deal with a spatial management component but they tackle it in significantly different ways, which is nice. Tiny Towns wins a lot of points on art and theme (though, to be fair, so do the others), which is always nice for me, but I think the thing I like most about it is that it’s got a fairly-interactive and a less-interactive mode to appeal to players who like both of those play styles, which helps it fit in to a few more contexts than it would if it only had one style or the other. It actually makes me wonder what Tag City would be like if you did a similar style of shape selection, but that’s a thought for another time. I worry some about the ramifications of letting players pick for everyone (since it mildly incentivizes negative play), but I plan to just keep a rolled-up newspaper nearby during games in case someone starts trying to Be That Guy. It’ll take you a game or so to really get familiar with the rules of play, but thankfully it doesn’t take too long, so, no big deal there. If you’re into spatial reasoning or you just love building small buildings for small animals, Tiny Towns might be right up your alley! I’ve certainly enjoyed getting a chance to play it.