On the Table

Here are the boardgames I played over the long holiday weekend:

  

Smash Up and 3012

Matt and I tried out two recentish acquisitions of mine. Smash Up is a game in which you create your own deck by picking two factions and mixing them together. So I had Wizards and Robots putting aside their differences momentarily to do battle against Matt’s Ninjas/Dinosaurs deck.

Smash Up leans heavily into its nerd-pandery OMG EPIC BACON NINJA DEAD PARROT AWESOME PIRATE HOT SAUCE SHINY YOU SHALL NOT PASS theme, and for that reason I avoided it. But I’d been told by others who don’t tend to speak in catchphrases and movie quotes that the game play was pretty solid, so when a cheap copy came my way, I took a gamble.

It’s not bad. Smashing together two factions is pretty neat, and I imagine there’s a lot of fun in discovering combos within disparate factions (my Wizards and Robots worked very well together). There’s a fun game in here, and a lot of room for exploring it.

Unfortunately, it’s not a good enough game. At its heart, Smash Up is one of those deploy-units-to-your-side-of-a-base-and-see-who-claims-it games and I’ve been through a number of those, with Omen: A Reign of War being the one to beat. I don’t really need another one.

We then gave 3012, a sort of post-apocalypticish deckbuilder, a spin. My favorite deckbuilders are Thunderstone, Core Worlds, and Valley of the Kings, so the fact that this game was pretty much ignored by most gamers didn’t mean I wouldn’t check it out. It did, however, mean that I got to check it out for really cheap.

It’s okay. It’s a LOT like Thunderstone, but it does two things that I think are nice innovations. First of all, when you go into the “Dungeon” other players can help or hinder you, possibly getting some XPs if they backed the right horse. Secondly, you turn up two action cards which you can play as if they’re in your hand during your turn. This allows you not only some more flexibility and a bit of a power boost, but you can also “try out” cards you might not otherwise use.

Both of those are nice contributions, but not nice enough to overcome an otherwise dull game. It’s like a much slower-moving Thunderstone, and it has an annoying tic where a lot of the Encounter cards will just straight up run away without fighting, based on a die roll. That’s incredibly obnoxious, and turned us both way off to it.

Mysterium has grown on me some. We played this twice and had a good time both times. I was the ghost for one of the times and can attest that being the ghost is freaking hard, even on the babiest difficulty level. The great part about this game is that because of how it works and how simple it is, once again we had a little kid playing who did fine at it. She got some help, but more often she was making good choices on her own and throwing in worthwhile suggestions. It’s a unique game, though I still don’t want to play it too much.

Zaubercocktail is the game I like to refer to as “Reiner Knizia’s Pit“, even though it wasn’t designed by Knizia. It may as well have been. It’s a dumb yet fun game that works with a large number of people in a small amount of time, so it’s good for rain-dancing, which is what we did with it.

It’s been ages since I played Arkadia and I remembered not really caring for it, but I liked it more than I recalled. It’s essentially a stock market game disguised as an “impress the royal builder” game. I had it as a 5 on BGG but am raising that to a 6.

I re-re-bought San Juan earlier this year and while it got a ton of play at that time it went dormant afterwards. I packed it with me on Sunday, where we had a new gamer joining us, and it was a perfect three-player game. I love San Juan. My first 10 on BGG, and still a 10.

Cockroach Poker is a dumb game that’s always a fun time.

Mission: Red Planet is a game I unabashedly adore, but hadn’t played in ages upon aeons. I always think, despite protestations to the contrary, that no one else enjoys it as much as I do. I brought it to Sunday and pretty much begged people to play. We ended up with the full five-player compliment (which it works best with) including three new players. I didn’t explain it as well as I’d like and I was worried it would fall flat, but I think everyone had a good time with it. It was great playing this again. There’s a second edition coming out which adds a few things (including little plastic astronauts instead of wooden disks; it’s an FFG reprint, after all), but honestly, unless I hear really good things about the changes, I’ll stick with this version.

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