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Category Archives: Competitive

Competitive Game

Stellar Armada is a small and pretty simple game. Professor and I played several games. We each had a card which represented our ship, tokens to place on the card, and dice. Each ship has Engines, Repair Systems, Energy Beams, Missile Launchers, Missiles, Shields, and a Reactor. The goal is to destroy your opponent’s Reactor using Energy Beams and Missiles.

Each turn you have energy equal to your Reactor’s status. You begin with 6. At the beginning of the game it makes sense to divide your energy between your Engines and your weapons. Each point you put into your Engines makes it more difficult for your opponent to hit you. If I put 3 energy into my Engines, that means my opponent has to roll a 5 or 6 for weapons in order to hit me. That still leaves me 3 energy to use to fire my own weapons. If you have damaged systems, you might want to use your Energy to repair them (your Reactor can’t be repaired). I usually went after Professor’s Missile Launchers, so he had to spend points to repair those in order to use them.

We had a little trouble keeping track of how many points we put into Engines, so we ended up using extra dice for that.

This game relies heavily on luck. Amazingly the dice didn’t hate me, and I often rolled high on my attacks. This meant Professor was often spending his energy on repairs, and if I managed to damage his Reactor, he was working with fewer and fewer energy points. In that respect the game can be frustrating. There’s not much you can do with 2 energy points. I’m not sure this one will see a lot of play, and we’re unlikely to pull it out again unless we have 4 players.

It’s a very quick game. We played several games in under 30 min, so it’s definitely good if you don’t have a lot of time.

Clue is the traditional “whodunit” game. I know we played that game a lot when I was growing up, and I still have our old beat up copy. At some point, though, you might feel like you’ve outgrown Clue. You still like the concept, but the execution has become boring. Enter Alibi.

Alibi: The Whodunit Card Game is more complex than Clue. Not only do you have to figure out who, what, and where, but you also need to determine when and why (the motive). Each player gets a score sheet which you want to keep hidden from other players. The first time we played this game, we used other game boxes to build little forts around our score sheets, but a piece of paper over the top is sufficient (Editor’s note: though not as interesting). The score sheets help you to keep track of the clues and eliminate options. Despite this, determining the who, what, when, where, and why is still challenging.

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Terraforming Mars is a recent (2016) game developed by Fryxgames which is a family run gaming company (“FryxGames consists of 4 brothers out of a family of 10 brothers, 6 sisters, and 2 game-passionate parents.“). I first heard about it when it was nominated for some 2016 Golden Geek Awards (Game of the Year, Strategy Board Game, and Solo Board Game). It was later nominated for even more awards (2016 Swiss Gamers Award, 2017 Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming, 2017 Jogo do Ano, and 2017 Kennerspiel des Jahres). Given all the hubbub, I decided to take a look.

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Tsuro is a tile placement game. This particular version also includes sea monsters (Daikaiju), but we have yet to play with those. Everyone picks a ship and gets 3 Wake Tiles. Starting with the oldest player, everyone places their ships on the start markers around the board. Then once again beginning with the oldest player, you place a Wake Tile, move your ship along the path (or wake), and draw a new tile. The goal is to not be eliminated by having your ship sent off the edge of the board.

When placing tiles you can’t:

  • Purposefully send your ship off the board unless it’s your only move (this tends to happen a lot in the end game)
  • Set your ship on an endless loop unless it’s your only move – this does eliminate you from the game
  • Place a tile that causes you and another player to travel in the same direction on the same path

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Terra Mystica was already a pretty exciting game for us. Then I got the Fire & Ice expansion for my birthday.

It includes a new board – which includes a reminder about the end game conversion of coins into Victory points – new Factions (with boards, Terrain tiles, and buildings), Final Scoring Tiles, Faction Tokens, and a Turn Order Board.

We haven’t used all the new features of the expansion. For example, the Turn Order Board changes the order of turns every round. Whoever turns in their Bonus Tile goes first (as with the base game), then whoever turns in second goes second, and so on. We haven’t had the chance to play the expansion with more than 2 players, so there’s no reason to use this. This means we also haven’t needed the Faction Tokens which are placed on the Turn Order Board.

We have played with 4 of the 6 new Factions, though: Ice Maidens, Shapeshifters, Yetis, and Riverwalkers. The Ice Maidens, Yetis, and Shapeshifters get a ring to place on the starting Terrain of their choice (unless that Terrain is already taken). After they make their choice, no subsequent player can choose the race with that home territory.

The first game Professor was the Ice Maidens and I was the Shapeshifters. The second game Professor was Yetis and I was Riverwalkers.

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There is a very interesting and frustrating thing that happens when Professor and I play games with his mom. Without meaning to, she manages to constantly spite me the entire game. I believe this partially happens because I take my turn after her.

When we played Qwirkle, she was consistently playing where I had planned to play which often resulted in her making a Qwirkle. I then would have to settle for far fewer points.

My zoo in Zooloretto was just a mess. Even though the first player in that game changes, I just couldn’t get the animals I needed and ended up with a bunch that I didn’t need. Professor and his mom, though, they did quite well.

Then there was Takenoko. Professor did spite me when he had the panda eat the yellow bamboo I needed, but his mom was spiting me all the time. She would move the gardener or the panda in a way that meant I would have to move them at least twice to meet my end goal instead of just once. I’m surprised I managed to complete so many quests by the end because that game was a real struggle for me.

I’ve had my plans ruined while playing games before, but never so often by the same person. I told Professor the next time we play, I want to take my turn before his mom. I’d like to see if my plans get destroyed as often.

A while back we attended a gaming convention (shocking, I know). There were some door and raffle prizes. We entered and won a Board Game that was in German. We weren’t especially enthused (not being German readers/speakers), and set it on a shelf where it gathered dust for a couple months. While we were cleaning house (and getting rid of some games), Chubby Unicorn suggested we toss it, since we didn’t plan to learn German. I told her that we should play it at least once; that the folks on BoardGameGeek probably had a translation and that I would download it and learn the rules.
So I did. I found out that it is an early Worker Placement game with 6 rounds and based on a book. Each round is divided into 3 parts:

  1. Draft resources and/or craftsmen
  2. Master Build Assignment
  3. Board Actions

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Llamas have become sort of a thing in our house because of a hilarious road trip incident. As we were driving to a convention, Professor asked if Space Cat and I had read the new rules.

He said, “They aren’t allowing llamas!”

He interrupted his own sentence to point out llamas in a field beside the road, but we took the sentence as you see it above, stating our disbelief that they wouldn’t be allowing llamas. This occurred near the beginning of the trip, so we had mostly forgotten about it by the time we arrived at the con.

Then we walked into the dealer’s hall.

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Lanterns is a tile placement game. The starting Lake Tile is placed in the center of the table with the red side facing the first player. 7 different colored Lantern Cards are separated into stacks and placed off to the side; the Favor Tokens are also set aside; Dedication Tokens are separated into 3 stacks by type and set aside; the Lake Tiles are stacked to create a draw pile. Each player then draws 3 Lake Tiles. Players then receive Lantern Cards matching the color that’s facing them on the starting Lake Tile. First player will get a red Lantern Card.

There’s also a little boat token which can either be given to the first player or used to mark the last tile played to help with distributing Lantern Cards.

Each turn players will place Lake Tiles and gather Lantern Cards. As long as there are cards of the color available, everyone will receive at least one card beginning with the active player. If a stack of Lantern Cards runs out, players who would have received that color, receive nothing.

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Qwirkle is an easy family game. Everyone gets 6 tiles, and you take turns laying them on the board. A line (horizontal or vertical) can be by color or shape. So a completed line or Qwirkle can be 6 green shapes (each shape must be different) or 6 squares of the same shape in the 6 different colors. You cannot repeat a color in a shape line. You cannot repeat a shape in a color line. That’s the most important thing to remember.

When you take your turn, you can only play in one direction (horizontal or vertical), but you can play as many tiles as you want/can in that direction. You then replenish your tiles from the tile bag.

If you don’t have any moves (perhaps the player before you took your move), or don’t want to make any moves, you can trade in 1-6 tiles. Hopefully your new tiles will be more useful.

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