Last Friday you could read about the first three games I played at Spiel ’15. Here’s the second part with Inhabit the Earth, Dice City and more.
Monster My Neighbor
Monster My Neighbor is a little deduction slash hidden role game from Z-Man Games. You get four cards at the beginning of the game and you know for sure that somebody around the table is a monster. The player with a monster card has to survive the round. You also know that at least one player has a hunter card. That player needs to kill the monster. There’s also a possibility that you are a friend of the monster and, like the monster itself, you want the monster to survive too. So, every player has its own role to play when they play one card turn after turn. The funny, and difficult, thing is that the roles change constantly, because some cards force players to exchange cards for instance.
This quick game is more about managing your hand and remembering where your cards went than it is about bluffing and hidden roles. The roles change all the time, so you might be the monster on your first turn, but in the end you probably are somebody else. The way you win this game is to cleverly play cards in your turn and pick the right cards to exchange if you have to. This is not a social deduction game in the same sphere as The Resistance, Werewolf or Coup, but it was still enjoyable.
In this game from Marco Ruskowski and Marcel Süßelbeck you are perfumers. You choose player order, the last players gets more action points than the first one, and then you spend you action points. You can roll aroma dice. The more expensive aromas have dice with a lower chance of success. You can take water, which can be used to re-roll or change dice, but can also be worth points. Or you use your action points to draw new fragrance notes, parts of a perfume bottle, from a bag and place it on the board. A fragrance note, also worth some points, can be taken by a player if he successfully rolled dice with the right colour. You can create big or small bottles with different aromas and when they are completed you can sell them to customers, who want a specific aroma, in the next phase to get points.
I did not enjoy this game. Why? Well, it is a very light game, which is not a problem necessarily, but if I have to wait until everybody else has taken their turn before I can start thinking about mine and the there’s not much to think about it is. The things you need to do are pretty obvious, but because the fragrance note market and, during the Sell phase, the customers get taken by other players and aren’t automatically replaced, you can’t really plan anything. Plus, you draw water tokens from a general supply, some have zero points and other have four, so you have to be lucky to get the right ones. Too much waiting, too little thinking, too random, too little fun.
I played this one at the Artipia Games booth on Sunday morning. You have your player board with a pre-printed card grid with buildings and armies. Every row has a certain colour and the columns have a number. You roll dice, with the same colours as the rows, and this determines which cards are activated. Some cards give you goods, other cards give you abilities and yet others give you strength. You need goods to buy better cards to place over the starting buildings, or to trade with trade ships for points. With the abilities you can re-roll dice, get some points, or use buildings without activating them. You can use your strength to attack your opponent’s buildings or bandits for points or attack another player to get some goods. You collect points from activating buildings, the buildings themselves, trading or attacking and, in the end, the player with the most points wins.
Dice Town took a bit long, two hours, but it was a fun engine building game. I think, if I would ever play it again, it would take much less time. I like the idea of buying enough buildings and positioning them in the right way on your board to increase the chance that you can do exactly as you planned. The dice are random, yes, but you can manipulate them enough, so, eventually, you can always do something fun.
It is not a very deep game, but it offers different strategies, attacking or trading, and there’s enough to think about to make it fun. Unlike Perfume, here you roll the dice at the end of your turn, so you can start thinking about the next turn right away. Sure, some card in the market might not be there when your turn comes up, but this game still has a much better flow, because your roll at the end of your turn.
A pure auction game from Bruno Faidutti, Sérgio Halaban and André Zatz. Every turn a player chooses to auction a relic. There are four different stacks in different colours and the goal is to be the best or second best in a certain colour at the end of the game. Each relic has a value and an ability, plus it shows if it’s an open or a blind auction. The player who bids the highest gets the card and gives the money to his left neighbour. There’s a catch. Between every two players lies a face-down counterfeit card, a copy of a card in play. This means that the relic displayed on the counterfeit cards is fake and does not count at the end of the game. You can only look at the two cards next to you, so in a four player game, two of the counterfeits are unknown.
I mostly don’t enjoy auction games that much, but this one I liked. I won’t buy it, never ask for it myself, but if anyone wants to play a filler with me and points at this one, then I’m happy to play it. The abilities on the cards are nice, they make the game dynamic. The counterfeits are a cool idea, all players have bits of information that other players haven’t. Plus, the idea of giving the money you used to buy a relic to your neighbour is also an interesting one. It’s not a show stopper, Warehouse 51, but I liked it.
Inhabit the Earth
The last game I played in Essen, on Sunday just before closing time, was Inhabit the Earth from Richard Breese. This is an evolutionary racing game. You basically play cards to place different species on different continents, let them adapt to different environments to move faster, let them breed to get more cards and let them evolve to, maybe, get some extra end-game points. You have to race with your species tokens in your colour to ‘the end’ of every continent to get points and win the game. This is a very simplified explanation, but, hey, it’s a quick review.
This was the best game I played this year at Essen. I enjoy several of mister Breese’s games and this one was no exception. Every animal card belongs to a certain class (predator, herbivore, etc.), a certain continent and a certain terrain type. As you play the first card of a class, you place that class, or species, token on the continent the animal lives on. You can use other cards to improve your animal, so it can travel faster and through more different terrain types. Every animal also has a special ability. There’s not a lot interaction, but I really enjoyed the engine building in the game. You really have to think hard and use every card in its most optimal way. Sadly I haven’t bought it, but I’m looking forward to playing it any time soon.