What's Eric Playing?: Week of August 05, 2019
Another five reviews this week! Go see Iceland, Hong Kong, a very weird horse race, an even-stranger hedgehog race, or … some fractions. As you do. As usual, click on the game’s name to see my full review!
Overall, once you get the game going, I think Crossroll Hong Kong is a lot of fun! I think I’d probably give it a higher score if it weren’t for the rulebook troubles, but I hope that if it gets picked up / localized / enough time passes then the rulebook will get a more thorough look-through. Something something blind playtesting. Anyways, enough on that. Crossroll does a good job mixing both tried-and-true roll-and-write mechanics (racing, crossing off locations) and adding some stuff that’s novel (at least among the games I’ve seen) via its Crossroad Engine. It gives players a lot of different things that they can do on their turn, which is very nice, as well. Add in some bright, colorful art and a really neat setting and you’ve got a game that I’m pretty pleased with. I particularly appreciate that it came with its own (very nice, being honest) dice tray, even if it doesn’t fit into the game’s box. That’s fine. For me, it’s a very pleasant version of MetroX, somewhere firmly between that and Let’s Make a Bus Route, and that’s not a bad hybrid to shoot for. If you’re looking for a way to (thematically) explore Hong Kong and you enjoy a roll-and-write, I’d recommend checking out Crossroll Hong Kong! I’ve enjoyed playing it.
Overall, I think Dark Horse is a solid little game! I think that the main thing it has going for it is that it’s very bright, colorful, tactile, and fast, which are all great things for a small game to have going for it. I think it fundamentally makes me feel like I’m betting on a horse race, and that’s exciting (as opposed to a game that makes me feel like I’m participating in a bicycle race, which is … less so). This game isn’t going to appeal to fans of order and strategy, though, as the game is almost completely tactical; the landscape of the race is going to change wildly as players play seemingly randomly, and you can get torpedoed without any cause or reason just because someone wanted to get rid of a card they were worried might hurt them later. This means you might face an entirely different lineup from turn to turn, especially as the player count grows. That makes this kind of an ideal drinking game, if you’re into that sort of thing, since your control over the game is a weird mix of who players decide to try to spite with the limited (honestly, basically zero) information that they have. And, to be honest, that’s pretty fun! Add in some fantastic art from the always-skilled Ian O’Toole and you’ve got yourself a great little minigame. If you’ve ever wanted to take a day at the derby or you just like a quick and chaotic game, I’d definitely recommend checking out Dark Horse! It’s a solid little game.
Overall, I like Fraction Poker! I’m going to be real with y’all, this is not a game that’s going to hit the table often for me unless I’m really looking to get into a mathematical showdown with my friends (which literally never happens). As far as math-heavy games go, I tend to prefer Lovelace & Babbage because it has a theme I really like (as well as a theme, in general) and the real-time element avoids a lot of the analysis paralysis that tends to grip games like this. That said, this game has a lot of neat stuff going for it! It’s more a game of precision than anything else, as it’s tasking you not with scoring as many points as possible, but essentially scoring efficiently so that you can get what you need without having to spend too many turns unable to score. That’s a cool concept! Also, as an educational tool, it’s super. Give it to kids who are just learning about fractions and see what they come up with. It’ll be rad. Either way, if you’re a huge fan of math, fractions, or you want to trick your friends into playing a game that’s heavy on both, I think Fraction Poker is pretty fun! I’d recommend it, but perhaps a bit cautiously, if you’re not a huge math person?
Overall, I think Sonic: Dice Rush is pretty good! I’ve got to be a bit critical of it since I don’t like it at two players, my most common player count (49% of all plays, this year), but I do enjoy it a fair bit at higher player counts, hence the compromise rating. It’s fast, bright, colorful, and a lot of fun for the kinds of games I like. I think it’s very similar to BEEEEES!, though it eschews the hex-based hive construction for something a bit more linear, and is probably a bit of a mix between that and Yahtzee. If that’s something you’re into, I think this is definitely an upgrade over basic Yahtzee, but also I generally have a strong preference for real-time games (Eco-Links, Lovelace & Babbage, Cosmic Factory), so take that with a certain level of skepticism, as well. It definitely helps that the theme is also something I gel with, as I probably wouldn’t be as high on this if it were a generic theme (which is another reason I enjoy reviewing IDW’s catalog of games; they typically have a bunch of fun thematic options due to their various licenses), but the theme also works, here. It’s a fast, real-time game about speeding through a Sonic level, and like a true side-scroller, you have no idea what’s going to be on the next screen. It keeps things interesting! And I’d certainly call this game interesting, especially since I’m hoping to see an expansion at some point. If that sorta business sounds up your alley, or you personally enjoy inflicting Sonic the Hedgehog-themed games on your friends (as I do), I’d definitely recommend checking out Sonic: Dice Rush! I’ve been very pleasantly surprised playing it.
Yeah, I don’t feel much about Reykholt. I think, to be fair, it was never going to be a fit for me based on the kinds of games that I like, and that I should have done more diligent research. I got excited about Icelandic farming and assumed there would be more volcanoes involved, which was probably a mistake. At least I avoided a bigger one by not doing the full Story Mode; we tried that with Rise of Queensdale, another very Euro-y game (lots of turning resources into resources) and my coworker hated it so much that I’m pretty sure he’s never going to forgive me. Nor should he; I made him play all 19 games of it. I understand and respect his lack of forgiveness. I don’t think this is the Eurogame that’s going to convert me, honestly, but there’s a lot here that I like! I love the art and the care put into all of the components and how they fit together. I love that there’s a Story Mode and they’re thinking outside of the box, pun intended. This one wasn’t quite for me, but a fair number of my more Euro-inclined friends liked it (with one notable exception, who can’t even talk about it). If you’re interested in resource conversion and you’ve always wanted to consider the rich farming ecosystem of Iceland, you may enjoy Reykholt? It just wasn’t my personal cup of tea.