What's Eric Playing?: Week of May 13, 2019
Another five reviews this week! Back to Kickstarter, delving into a crypt, and discovering ambition! As always, click the game’s title to read my full review!
Overall, I had fun playing Crypt. I think the things that draw me to it are definitely the art and component quality; both are pretty solid. Naturally, I’m pretty aligned with shorter dice games that are easy to pick up and learn, as those are generally the ones that get played the most. Where it kind of lets me down a smidge is that it doesn’t feel like a dice game, that much; similar to Pie Town, the dice are there but I don’t feel like I get to do enough with them. That said, I do get to roll these, so it’s got that over Pie Town, for sure. Beyond that, it’s also a bit reliant on player luck for ultimate success. I got crushed my first game due to bad luck, and crushed my second game for the same reason (I never exhausted a die in my second game, for instance). Overall, that’s not bad, sure, and it makes for a nice, short, quick game with a fun theme. If that kinda thing sounds up your alley, then Crypt might be worth checking out!
Overall, Papering Duel is a solid little puzzler! It is really sort of a tic-tac-toe+ that isn’t that weird one where you play tic-tac-toe on nine boards simultaneously, which I always thought was interesting but weird. Anyways, I’m a big fan of the direction they chose to go for the game, and I think they executed on it well. I mostly wish that the cards didn’t slide around as much (like I said, a center peg on each of the cards could solve that a bit, I think). Beyond that, it’s a quick, fast little strategy game that doesn’t take much to learn but adds in a nice bit of challenge for players. Add in the portability aspect and you’ve got a solid contender for an enjoyable game experience. I’d definitely recommend it, at least, for gameplay and theme. If you’re looking for a new spin on a classic game or you just love the idea of profoundly and aggressively disagreeing about wallpaper selections, Papering Duel might be a game for you to check out! I’ve had a lot of fun with it (10 plays doesn’t hurt).
Overall, I think Roll for the Galaxy: Ambition is pretty awesome. I think the only reason I don’t list it as “essential” is that I don’t particularly care for Objectives; I think they direct the flow of the game a bit too much for my taste unless they all happen to focus on different areas of influence. Plus, essential is an aggressively high bar for expansions; I think the only two expansions I’d call essential are Carcassonne: Inns & Cathedrals and Pandemic: On the Brink. That all said, this is pretty close to that line. It’s a smart expansion because it’s streamlined and focused; it wants to add a few dice and a few tiles without shaking too many things up. It means you can bring it to a game night and teach it to folks without getting too wrapped up in the minutiae of what’s happening. If it’s too large of an expansion, you’re going to struggle to teach it, especially to new players, which will make it kind of a nonstarter, for me. This definitely isn’t that. If anything, it’s a pretty solid model for how to make a tight and focused expansion that improves your base game. I’m solidly a fan of Roll for the Galaxy (though I’ve cooled off on my love of it after however many years), and if you are as well, I think you’ll really like Ambition, the first expansion!
Overall, Blockers: The Stacking Game is pretty fun. The major thing for me is that I think it feels almost a bit dated relative to stacking games that are currently available. When I think stacking games, I tend to think games like Men at Work or Catch the Moon or Rhino Hero: Super Battle, which have taken stacking and presented it via a fun theme or unique challenges. This opts more for Challenge Jenga, effectively; take the blocks and stack them up so that they follow the guide set out in front of you. The speed is the major differentiator, but I think it’s only a challenge in that regard; beyond that, the fun is trying to outpace your friends, primarily. The nice thing about it is that it’s more of a game system, meaning that like The Lady and the Tigeror the Wibbell++ systems, you can expect more rules to appear over time as players come up with new stuff, rather than being constrained to only one game. That’s definitely a draw, and if you’re looking for something simpler than a lot of the more complicated stacking games, this is definitely a step in that direction. It’s a good game to try and convince people to bridge the gap between games like Jenga and games like Men at Work or Catch the Moon, since it’s dead simple and probably, like Jenga, would make a solid drinking game. To that end, if you’re looking for a stacking game that’s ridiculously simple to learn and very extendable, Blockers: The Stacking Game might be for you!
Overall, Amoeba’s not for me. I think that I get what it’s doing, but what it’s doing and what I want from a tile-laying game aren’t really aligned, here. This has a bit more take-that (from the splitting), a bit lengthier decision-making (again, due to the splitting), and an occasionally-frustrating turn limiter (rolling 1s is a pain). That would occasionally be fine if the tiles were distributed in a way that frustrated me less, but there are many times that a player will exclaim the equivalent of “all I’ve got are consonants” in Scrabble. Actually, that’s a pretty apt comparison. Imagine if every letter in Scrabble were equally likely. That seems great for the letters you want, but once you end up with 6 Z’s on your board and you’re spelling ZA every turn, you’re going to run into some problems around how interesting the game feels to players. Add in that you can’t split up the massive blob that inevitably forms from the dumped tiles and you’ve got a game that just plays … fine. I’d be interested to see if some variants evolve, but beyond that I think this one’s likely not staying in my collection long-term. The major appeal for this is breaking up other players’ amoebae, so if you’re into a tile-laying take-that game, Amoeba might be for you! It just … wasn’t for me, unfortunately.