What's Eric Playing?: Week of May 27, 2019
Another five reviews this week! Two more Kickstarters, a delightful game of word assembly, some fireworks shows, and a return to Egypt! As always, click on the title of the game for my full review!
Overall, I really enjoy Ponktosu Factory! Naturally, it’s already got a lot going for it, because it combines two of my favorite game types: real-time games and word games, but I think it’s also got a cute theme, and I’m all about that. I could see a version of this maybe being a bit more mass-market successful if it were just bigger, across the board; larger tiles, larger screens, larger box, but I don’t think that’s generally itten’s style, and I can appreciate that. As it stands, it’s a compact, real-time, wordy party-esque game, and that suits me just fine. I do really appreciate that it works so well at two players, too; I can see myself playing this against one of my coworkers a lot in the future. It’s a great length for a lunch game. Anyways, if you’re a fan of offbeat little word games, real-time games, or you’re looking for a new way to burn a small part of your brain out with anagrams, I’d definitely recommend trying out Ponkotsu Factory! I think it’s a bunch of fun.
Overall, I enjoyed Lanterns Dice: Lights in the Sky! Like I said previously, I think it’s a surprisingly on-point adaptation of Lanterns: The Harvest Festival. That has pros and cons to it, of course; ironically, one thing I don’t like about it is that it feels so similar to Lanterns that I’m not sure I really need to own both of them. That’s kind of funny, in a way, but I think the positive way to interpret that is that they did a really good job capturing the important parts of The Harvest Festival and adapting them to this new format for Lights in the Sky, and I respect that. Personally, it makes me excited to see how they’re going to further develop this concept, and if it’s going to start diverging from The Harvest Festival any. If it does, that’s going to be really neat. Of the two recent roll and write games from Renegade, I think I have a slight preference for Hex Roller because it has a bit less overhead to getting started, but I’ve solidly enjoyed Lights in the Sky, as well. If you’re a big fan of Lanterns, you’re looking for a roll and write with great art, or you want a game with some dice drafting and interaction, Lanterns; Lights in the Sky might be a great fit for you!
Overall, Tussie Mussie is a neat little game! I think it’s a bit lighter than I expected, honestly, which is neat as well. On the ever-so-slightly heavier side, there’s Fickle, which has a combination of a three card I-cut-you-choose / press-your-luck system that’s reminiscent of Tussie’s two card system. Tussie Mussie does have a really neat concept and has awesome art, so I’m hoping that if a solo mode emerges, I can get a shot with that. As it stands, though, I think Hargrave is doing some cool work with this one, and it’s quite striking, thanks to Beth’s great flower work, so I’d still definitely recommend it. I wish it felt a bit less short, but I also think that if you’re looking for a very quick I-cut-you-choose game, this is definitely it. It even plays well at two, something that most games I’ve tried in that genre kind of fail at. I think what I’d love to see from this is either more cards available in your arrangements, some sort of round-level event that changes things up a bit, or some additional external variable scoring conditions. I’m a sucker for that kind of thing, anyways. That said, I have had fun with this one, so if you’re looking for a very quick, very light game of arrangements and hidden meanings, Tussie Mussie might be a great fit for you!
Overall, I really like Imhotep: A New Dynasty! Some of the player boards are really fun adds, in my opinion, and I think you’ll start seeing almost Sushi Go Party-style setups where players have recommended builds for certain player counts and play styles, which will elevate the metagame, in my opinion. Currently, my favorite setup is Luxury Market / Corridor / Arena / Tomb / The Great Obelisk, but that’s just my love of Weird Spatial Puzzles talking. I think it also shows a willingness to think outside the box (though occasionally anachronistically, as it seems chariot racing was more of a Greek / Roman thing), which I think will do well for future expansions, should they go that route. It’s still got the same core elements, which I appreciate, but the expansion blends into and elevates parts of the game to the point where I was considering moving on after I finished these reviews but now want to keep the game in my collection. It’s a bit mean for my tastes, but, I can ignore that somewhat because the block configuration options and the strategy is so interesting. Either way, I’m a big fan of A New Dynasty, and if you’re looking for an expansion that I think really improves the base game, I’d definitely recommend checking it out!
Overall, I really want to love Sensor Ghosts; in its current state I’d probably summarize my feelings as, it’s fine. I think my major gripe is the difficulty, and that stems from a place where I think there should be a mode for most games that you win most of the games you play. Some people really like winning, and there’s a level 1 difficulty in Civ 6, for instance, to accommodate that. I think Assembly hits that pretty well; it’s challenging, for sure, but if you pull back the difficulty you can usually get within one move of winning even with some misplays. This game may not be quite as forgiving, which is a shame. I think, with time, it’ll probably get improved, and I’m a big fan of the theme, so that’s partially why I’m bumping it up a bit. I still want to play it, just to see if I can push through it, but I’m getting beaten down a smidge by just. how. hard. it. is. That’s kind of a shame. That said, some things are going to get fixed, I’m sure. Graphic design boosts are going to make the backs more distinguishable. Memory Cubes will get a better shoutout in the rules and some suggested usages. I imagine hopefully they’ll add a “Eric is bad at this game” mode to make me feel better. That’s all good. It just feels less satisfying to lose and have no idea how you could have won, is all. If you’re looking for a tough solo challenge, though, it’s definitely interesting (and great if you’re into spatial games, grids, or memory games). If that all sounds up your alley, you might enjoy Sensor Ghosts!