Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Dice Tower Con 2018 Games Played, Part II

A continuation of the games I played at Dice Tower Con 2018 (see the earlier list here)...

Attraction is a dexterity game played with smooth magnetic pieces. Players stand at opposite ends of a table and try to toss a magnet along the table, hoping it will connect with other magnets. If a cluster comes together, the tossing player gets to collect all the magnets. If a magnet falls off the table, the first one to pick them up off the floor gets them. Play continues until all the magnets are off the table.

Not impressive looking board presence

The game is simple but enjoyable. The table we played on had metal legs that would catch the magnets as they went by, so throwing required some awareness of "dead spots" on the board. Your own table will probably be different. It's great for all ages. I bought the Hearts of Attraction version where the magnets are heart-shaped. The shape makes the game a little more challenging. The magnets spin more. And we can use the heart-shaped magnets to replace the red wood cubes as tokens of affection in Love Letter (I've been hoping to upgrade those components for a while now).

Steam-punk tourism is off to a literally flying start in this game. Players take turns as captain of an air ship going from cloud to cloud. At each cloud, the captain rolls two to four dice and must face challenges like lightning, winds, or birds. All the players have a hand of cards; the captain uses cards to evade the challenges. If players think the captain can't evade, they can get off at the current cloud to collect that cloud's treasure before the captain shows cards. Naturally, the better treasures are on further clouds. If the captain can't beat the challenges, the air ship crashes and everyone on board gets no treasure. After the inevitable crash, a new trip starts with all the players back on the ship at square one (make that cloud one) and a new captain. Once someone gathers fifty-points worth of treasure, the game ends.

Ready to set sail

The light-hearted art and fun components (there's an actual 3-D ship that is sturdy enough to be knocked over again and again!) make this game a winner. The combination of pushing your luck and bluffing your fellow players is enjoyable, especially if a player has some special card (like the jet-pack or grappling hook) that can save the day or save their own butts when disaster strikes.

Starship Samurai
In the Lotus Galaxy, two to four rival clans vie for control of the imperial throne. Each has a similar battle fleet and dissimilar Samurai Mechs, gigantic ships with awesome powers to crush the enemy. Players go through three rounds of dominating planets and gaining the favor of minor clans in an effort to gain the most honor (victory points in the game) and be declared emperor.

The game laid out

The set of Mechs to choose from

The game involves area control and some combat. The game comes with eight mechs that are chosen draft-style by the players at the start of the game. The miniatures are awesome-looking but also a little hard to distinguish at first, especially since there is no way to add the players' colors to the mechs. I did forget which one was mine after I put it on one of the planets. The production values are very high and the theme is cool but I found the actual play of the game fairly average.

Ticket to Ride Germany
The Germany map for Ticket to Ride adds meeples to the game. A certain number of meeples are put on the cities. When a player builds a route between two cities, that player can take one meeple from each city (if there are any left). At the end of the game, whoever has the most of a particular color gets twenty bonus points, second place gets ten. Otherwise, it's the same as the regular game, with destination tickets that can also score at the end of the game (or be a penalty if not completed).

I forgot to take a picture of the game

The meeple-collection mechanic is interesting and adds a different challenge to the game. I liked it but don't think it is a must-have for fans of the game. Also, this is not just an expansion map, it comes with trains and the train cards needed to play (so no need to have Ticket to Ride (USA) or the Europe version).

Players run rival theaters in Elizabethan London, hiring theater workers, building their sets, costuming their actors, and writing their plays. Players race to grab resources and put on the best play possible.

My theater being built

This game uses worker-placement but has some interesting twists. Each player has five worker tokens and they bid for "first move" in a round by secretly selecting how many workers they will use that round. After everyone selects under the table, they reveal simultaneously how many they will use. The one with the fewest workers goes first (ties use the previous turn's order to establish the leader).

Another interesting twist is that the tokens only go on the theater workers that player has already hired. Players start with four worker cards: Shakespeare (who gives bonuses on the play-writing track), Falstaff (an actor who gives other bonuses), the Queen (who gives secret objectives), and a general craftsman (who can create costumes or build the set). Players select one new worker each round, adding either more actors or craftsmen (who specialize in sets or costumes or using gold) or special ability workers (like the Assistant, who gives a bonus to the other workers). The third twist is that, at the end of the round, all but one of the workers will get an "exhaustion" token, meaning they can't be used in the next round. So planning has to be very careful.

I enjoyed this game a lot more than I thought I would. The theme is well-integrated into the mechanics and it's fun to hire King Lear or Lady MacBeth or Hamlet as part of your troop. The game plays over seven rounds (supposed to be the seven days you have to put the production together) and builds up a nice engine to accomplish more and more by the end of the game.

Clank! In! Space!
Players are thieves sneaking aboard evil Lord Eradikus's spaceship, hoping to steal valuable artifacts and leave the ship without being killed (being detected is bound to happen). Players collect minor loot and tools along the way. They have to hack the security system in order to make it into the back of the ship, where the good artifacts are. Various actions (like hacking the system and stealing the artifacts) make Lord Eradikus more angry and he will do more damage when his attacks are triggered. Also, players occasionally make "clank" noises, drawing attention to themselves and increasing the chances that Eradikus will eradicate them first.

The game all set up

The game has a lot of interesting mechanics. The main one is deck-building, where players start with a few movement cards, purchase point cards, and clank cards. Movement lets the player go deeper into the ship. Purchase point cards let players buy more valuable cards to add to their deck, making them more powerful (including having combat ability to fight Eradikus's crew when they show up). Cards with "Clank" on them add little wooden cubes of a player's color into a bag with a bunch of black cubes. When Eradikus attacks (usually triggered by drawing certain crew members from the buy-line deck), a number of cubes is draw out. Any colored cubes are added to the health track. If the health track gets full, the player dies!

This game is engaging and entertaining. The buy-line cards are often based on famous science fiction characters, like the "Grumpy Doctor" who looks a lot like Dr. McCoy from Star Trek (he removes one cube from the health track). The tension builds as more of the black cubes are drawn out of the bag, leaving players to wonder how much damage they will take when Eradikus attacks. The game is a re-theming of Clank!, where players are thieves sneaking into a dragon's lair to steal valuables from the horde. I haven't played that, so I don't know how they compare. This one is fun.

Set in the Warhammer 40K universe, Gretchinz are the low-level minions used in battle as cannon fodder. When they are not in battle, they like to race their vehicles over the flatlands to see who is fastest. Being the grunts they are, they cobble together the vehicles from whatever is at hand, including weapons, and often have breakdowns because the course is rough and the other players may shoot with reckless abandon.

The box

The game in action

In this game, players are different gretchinz trying to outrun each other. Players roll three dice and keep rolling until they get a combination they like. The dice are put in a little tray and the first one satisfied with their roll grunts like an orc. Everyone else stops rolling and uses whatever they currently have. Players move their cars in turn, hoping the pre-programmed movements get them the closest to the end without wrecking their vehicle. Cars can also be damaged by running into each other or into the edge of the course. The course is built as the cars move forward, so players can't predict what the terrain will be like other than what's directly in front of them. If a car gets three damage, the player has to spend a round putting out the fires and getting the car going again. The first player to clear eight cards wins the race.

The game really has little to do with Warhammer other than thematic borrowing (it could easily have been a Mad Max game). The game goes quickly (less than twenty minutes) and has fun little 3D cars (built out of cardboard components) that can hold the flame symbols showing how much damage they have. This is an enjoyable filler game.

King's Forge
Players are blacksmiths gathering raw materials to make the treasures the king demands. Players start with black dice and have the chance to trade them in for other dice or more dice (the different colors represent metal, wood, jewels, and enchantment). Once they've built up a set, the players try to build one of the three current treasures (out of a pool of ten or twelve) by rolling the dice and trying to match the numbers and colors on the treasure cards.

The forge is ready

Building up a large set of dice is requires a bit of work. The game comes with a deck of special work areas that let players spend their dice to transform them into different ways. Each card is only used once a round, so players can plan ahead after the first round. If they run out of dice during the purchasing phase, they have to pass. Once everyone passes, the remaining dice are rolled to try and craft an item.  The play moves fairly smoothly and the race to complete three items can get tense. If players tie for number of items built, then they total the value of the items to break the tie.

This is an enjoyable dice-pool building game. I'd definitely play it again but am not running out to buy it.

Kana Gawa
Players are students in a Japanese painting studio. Each turn, they collect cards that can be used either as parts of their painting (which slowly expands across the table) or as lessons. The lessons give extra abilities, like different colors to paint with or extra paint brushes or other abilities. Balancing more powers and adding to the painting is an engaging problem.

The game in progress

My tableau (painting on top, lessons on bottom)

Whoever adds twelve cards to their painting triggers the end of the game. Points are granted for special symbols on the cards and for the longest set of one season in the painting (the seasons are identified by symbols on the card--leaves for fall, etc.). Players can also get bonuses for having a variety of buildings, plants, or people in their painting.

I found the game to be very relaxing and enjoyable. The components are beautiful and the play is elegant. I liked it so much, I bought a copy at the con!

The Lady and the Tiger
A publisher created a set of components and then had a competition for designers to make a game. The five best designs are included in this game based on the famous story The Lady, or the Tiger? The components are very beautiful and I played one game, a two-player maze game.

Lady and the Tiger

I thought the game I tried was just so-so. I was curious about the other games but didn't get the chance to try them. I thought the price was a little high to go out on a limb and buy it.

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