What's Eric Playing?: Week of April 29, 2019
This was a big week — hit 400 reviews! I decided to drop six, this time, since that seems like a fun way to celebrate hitting that milestone. Finished deckbuilder month, reviewed another doujin game, and more! As always, click the title of the game to read my full review.
Overall, I think Raccoon Tycoon is definitely fun! Naturally, I’m a big fan of the art (cute forest animals in period-appropriate wear is very pleasant), but mechanically I enjoy how it’s again, a more friendly version of more intense / challenging auction / tableau / economic games. My normal game group isn’t a huge fan of those sorts of games, so I expect this to get played less frequently, but I think I’d still be inclined to break it out for fans of slightly longer games than my usual fare. I find it pleasant, though it’s a bit on the long side, for me. It does seem like the kind of game that I would expect to get an expansion in the near future, though; there’s potential for additional actions, extra boards, or more cards with their own unique effects to add to the mix that I think would be welcome in a game like this. Either way, this is a third strong entry in the Forbidden Games catalog, which I’m impressed by; it’s rare for me to like everything a single publisher (especially a single designer) has produced, so I’ll definitely keep my eye on this one in the future, even if the bright red boxes make it hard to miss. If you’re a fan of auctions and tableau building, I’d suggest taking Raccoon Tycoon for a spin. If you’re not, but you like great art, I’d still recommend checking it out!
Overall, I think The Ruin of Thandar is a fun expansion for Hero Realms! My coplayer and I both enjoyed it and are considering checking out the follow-up. The progression tracks for characters is a nice way to keep building your player up throughout games (even if my deck is always reset). The extra items are a bonus, for sure, and I appreciate that they’re there, also. I wouldn’t say the actual plot of the campaign did much for me; it was fine, but also very Generic D&D First Campaign. That’s fine, but it’s not going to wow me. The one major sticking point for me was setup and teardown; it takes a while, and this is going by a deckbuilding standard. I was a tiny bit overwhelmed when I first opened the box and tried to start integrating things; I think a larger box with dividers (similar to Aeon’s End or Dominion) would help a lot with making it easier to put things together (as opposed to the Realms boxes where you have to stack everything in one stack or the other). That said, as far as the game goes, we had a bunch of fun, so if you’re looking for a neat little deckbuilding campaign that you can bust through in a day, Hero Realms: The Ruin of Thandar might be worth checking out!
Overall, I’m a pretty big fan of Godsforge! It’s that nice mix of simple mechanics and fun gameplay, but it hits the table mostly because people want to look at the art. That’s not to say that the game isn’t fun; far from it, in fact, it’s quite fun, but the art is just exceptional. It’s bold and vivid and dark in ways that make you consistently want to stop and look at some of the cards just because of how incredible they look, and thankfully you get plenty of opportunities throughout the game because of how many cards are sliding around and exploding and going every which way as you attack and defend from a bunch of wizards hellbent on your destruction. It’s a particularly good style for this game, and I’m so happy that they had such a good synergy on this one. Beyond the art, though, the game is also nice and fun. You know me; I’m not a huge fan of combat games, but this mostly disincentivizes take-that (unless one player is getting too strong) and so it’s more of an efficiency problem; can you build an engine of destruction that works more quickly than your opponents? If you can, you’ll be victorious! That framing helped a lot when I started playing Godsforge (and the art did, too), so if this seems like a game that only may be up your alley, I’d still definitely recommend at least giving it a try. Either way, Atlas has another solid title on their hands with Godsforge! I’ve really enjoyed getting to try it.
Overall, I think The Potion is a lot of fun! Like I said, I like how quick and easy to pick up it is. I’m not a huge party game person, but I do enjoy more of the games that have bluffing or some mild deduction to them; that’s part of why I loved One Night Ultimate Werewolf so much for so long. It also reminds me very much of probably my favorite game in this space, Cursed Court. It just has less money and is a lot lighter, which is fine as well. I think my worry with a lot of these types of games is that I really never have enough people that I’m interested in a party game; I’d rather just split the group and play some lighter strategy. That said, I end up in a lot of situations where I wish I had some light party fare on me, so I’ll probably be sliding this into bags or carrying situations from now on. Hopefully it’ll hold up in the long term, but even if it doesn’t I’m still having a solid time playing it right now. It’s also a solidly family-friendly party game, so I do appreciate that as well. Either way, if you’re looking for a fun party game for your next get-together and don’t mind a bit of betting and bluffing, I’d recommend checking out The Potion!
Overall, I pretty solidly like Crystallo! I think what it’s got going for it is a smart choice to design around quick pattern-recognition. It makes it easy for me to figure out what I should be doing and I picked up the game pretty quickly. The kind of games I generally like to play are “easy to learn but hard to do well”, as opposed to the “hard to learn” set that I occasionally get roped into, whoops. That’s not to say I have no feedback for the game, obviously. The game can spiral upwards in space complexity in a way you’re not prepared for just by virtue of how the card placements can explode, which can be a bit frustrating. That’s an easy solve, though; play on a big table or the floor, if you need to. The other one I’d like to see is more well-defined difficulty levels for the game. I think that the game does a good job still rewarding you no matter what level of success you have, but giving players more flexibility in the initial phase I think will lead to more people getting to fight the Black Dragon (and being more excited about it). Personally, I’m all for that, even if it’s just a house ruleset or a score modification or something. That said, what I’ve seen of the game I enjoy a lot, and I’m excited to see what’s next for Crystallo when it lands on Kickstarter! I’ll certainly be playing it more between now and then.
Overall, I actually like Flip Over Frog a lot? It’s rapidly shooting up my list of favorite fillers, since it’s got really endearing art, a cool gimmick, and it just plays quickly. It’s not the kind of game where players are going to overanalyze their decisions, because the larger impact of them is relatively low, as you only affect the cards in your immediate vicinity. The nice thing is that it’s got a low overhead to learning it and doesn’t require that much to know how to play, so you can play it with most people pretty easily (making it a very good game for the whole family, which I appreciate). It fits nicely in with other games with similar mechanics, like Tag City or Tiny Towns, except the spatial element is on a shared board rather than individual ones, and you don’t have to do the heavy shape-based lifting in a game like Roam. It’s essentially the filler version of that series, and as a result I’m a big fan. If you like games with great art or are a fan of spatial games like I am, I’d recommend Flip Over Frog!