What's Eric Playing?: Week of July 22, 2019
Another five reviews this week! Kill birds, build towers, burn rubber, power cities, or … make a salad. Up to you. Check them out! As always, clicking on the title of the game will take you to my full review.
Overall, Crows Overkill is fine. I’d say, relative to a lot of the take-that-heavy, 2- to 4-player games out there, I might like it slightly better than the large population of them, but there are still a few things that frustrate me about it. Like I’ve said elsewhere in the review, Room Change is an extremely powerful card to be able to drop on a player, especially if you’ve done the work to make sure that they don’t have any cards that can stop it. It’s basically a “Eliminate 1 Player” card, in those situations (which, given that people are often working quickly to get rid of birds, happens pretty frequently). Beyond that, though, the art is pleasant and very nice, the game’s box is also nice, and that’s generally a good thing if you’re trying to get me interested in a game. It’s just that this particular game likely appeals to a demographic that I’m just … not really in, since I don’t really enjoy take-that in games all that much. If you do, though, Crows Overkill might be up your alley, especially if you like, viscerally hate birds? It’s really hard to say with regard to that last point.
Overall, I think The Towers of Arkhanos is solid! It’s the right length for a dice-drafting gateway game, and I think they did a smart thing focusing on making the game play vertically. Similar to Saloon Tycoon, it gives the game a lot more table presence, which I really appreciate. Add in bright colors and solid art and you’ve got a game that’s going to catch a lot of people’s attention, which is pretty smart as well. I’ve made some comparisons to Sagrada, and I think I prefer Sagrada to this, but between the two I’d be much more likely to bring this to a board game night, especially if I don’t know the people participating all that well. The lack of a spatial component limits the amount of analysis paralysis that players experience, and the tower tiles all being the same effects means that players aren’t trying to plan too aggressively for long-term impact (or luck of the draw). It’s much easier to plan when you know what you’re up against, and I think that this is a nice way to introduce players to dice drafting as a mechanic ahead of slamming them with Sagrada or Tag City, for instance. Either way, I also have a soft spot for wizard games, so if you share that or if you’re looking for a game that’s got really nice table presence, I think The Towers of Arkahnos is a solid choice! I’ve had a lot of fun with it.
Overall, I think Shuffle Grand Prix is a cute little game! It’s actually pretty similar in weight and scope to Cover Your Assets, a game I reviewed a few weeks ago (and gave the same score, so, hooray consistency). For me, games like this do a good job of replacing games like Exploding Kittens, where there’s a lot more take-that and player elimination, which I like a lot less. Generally, I don’t think anyone is completely out of the game (unless they draw really poorly), which is nice. If they do draw poorly, then you have a bit of a kingmaker situation, which isn’t awesome, but what can you do? My major complaints are really just my problem with most take-that games; if other players decide to dogpile, they can, and they will. That makes the game a lot less fun, since there aren’t a ton of things you can do to stop it with your limited number of plays each turn. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that. Either way, I love the art, I think the gameplay is fun and quick, and I’d definitely recommend Shuffle Grand Prix if you’re looking for a quick game, especially if you’re just getting into modern gaming or looking for something pretty simple!
Overall, I enjoy Hatsuden, but I feel like among games of this type I am probably going to play 7th Night more often. Both are two-player games about majority control of certain points, but I think the abstract movement of 7th Night beats out Hatsuden’s “play cards from your hand”, even with the bonus cards. I do like this theme better, however, and I want to give itten credit for this being a solid theme; we need more games focused on sustainability and renewable energy, and this and Ocean Crisis are two of the only games I have that really think about it. My general complaint is that this never quite ends up feeling super strategic, to me; I just play a few 4s, hope for the best, and then try to go after the 2x card, if I can. I never end the game if I don’t have 10 in both rows, which might be the issue? Maybe there’s an advantage to ending the game more quickly to mess with my opponent? Hard to say. I do like the Bonus Cards a lot, though; I think they’re a fun and easy way to keep the games fresh. The art is also super nice; it’s very minimalist and abstract, and it makes the game stand out really well on the table (as long as you’re not playing on a white table). Either way, Hatsuden is a neat little two-player game, and if you can get an opportunity to try it, or you’re looking for a very portable two-player game, I think it’s pretty fun!
Overall, I really enjoy Point Salad! I generally am pretty favorable towards quick card games, and I think Point Salad is a solid, streamlined version of one! It also helps that it’s got a very attractive table presence. Smart graphic design, cute and whimsical art, and a bold and bright mix of colors come together pretty nicely to make a game that’s super quick to play and great to look at while you’re playing. It also scales well to multiple player counts, even offering some quick-replay options at lower player counts if you want to bust out a few quick games. What I’d love to see is a solo mode, since this kind of stuff is right up my alley, but hopefully that will come along when it’s time to expand and add even more vegetables. Salads may not be my favorite theme of all time, but this game is really doing some solid work promoting for them. Anyways, if you don’t mind a big box, you like quick card games, or you’re looking for a great gift for your vegetarian friend who loves puns and cards, Point Salad is another excellent title from Alderac, and I’d recommend it!