The Gallerist review

From the makers of Kanban: The Heaviest Euro comes a new extremely intimidating euro game, The Gallerist.

Gallerist, early game, only 5 artists discovered
Gallerist, early game, only 5 artists discovered

First, it’s a beautiful game. Everything feels and looks perfect, which makes sense for a game about art. The art pieces are genuinely interesting, though entirely cosmetic.

That out of the way, the rules are intimidating. Not in a sense of hardcore depth, which exactly is very nicely balanced, but in the sense of looking at a busy board and making sense of it at a glance. There’s also a bit of “surprise side effects” in the game that while documented well in multiple places are still sometimes forgettable.

Gameplay wise it’s a variation on worker placement that’s more “worker movement”. You have just one worker and they walk around the board activating various actions. One catch is that if you use a building with someone else currently in it they get a “kick out” action as a response to you. Keeps people from super zoning out.

Gallerist. Easiest than it looks, I swear
Gallerist. Easier than it looks, I swear

The game is also almost totally luckless. About the same level as Russian Railroads and less luck driven than even Village. It really rewards awareness of others and playing to the goals that no one else is competing in. A very satisfying part of a strong euro design.

It’s a genuinely fun game, with beautiful layout. If you’re willing to put in the time it takes to set it up each time, it’s a very streamlined and balanced worker game.

Viceroy review

We ran through Joe’s fancy kickstarter version of Viceroy from Mayday Games. It’s a card builder apparently based on a Russian CCG called Berserk.

Viceroy, one person's pyramid
Viceroy, one person’s pyramid

The only thing I knew about the game going in is that it has a gem building mechanic. I was assuming this would end up being very important, but it turns out it was at most a detail (though a fun one). The real gut of the game was the bidding and adjusting your strategy based on the bidding of others.

Every turn, 4 new character cards become available, each randomly tied to a color. The players blind bid for which one they want, then resolve their bids simultaneously. If your claim is unique, you take it, otherwise you lose your bid and a second card is added to that row and you bid again. In case of ties between 2 players in a color with two cards, you take one of the two cards based on the initiative of the pyramid.

This is the mechanic that drives the game. You end up not only picking for yourself (“Oh, another Scroll character would go nicely with my high scroll scores”) but also bidding to block others (“But man, if he gets another gear that will let him complete a 2nd set so maybe I should block him on that”).

Another nice small thing about the game is it just looks nice on the table with all the pyramids going up:

Viceroy, the whole table hogging 4 player thing
Viceroy, the whole table hogging 4 player thing

The scoring is a hair confusing at first with lots of steps and ways to earn points, making this a game that gets better on repeat play. Especially since at first play you have little grip of when to build for more resources, and when to start building for points. Overall a good mid-to-light card builder.

Magnates: A Game of Power (mini-review)

My copy of Phalanx Games’ “Magnates: A Game Of Power” arrived and we gave it its first test run. It’s a medium weight euro based on the famous Polish history book “God’s Playground” that plays quite a lot like a semi-coöperative El Grande.

Magnates: A Game Of Power
Magnates: A Game Of Power

The essential mechanic is first bidding on cards that give powers and allow placement of units, then using the leftover cards to try and fight the constant flow of invaders. Bid too low in the first part and you won’t win any estates or power cards, bid too high and you won’t be able to stop the invaders and the countryside will burn. If enough of the invaders get through the country becomes partitioned and everyone loses.

We played the game with 2 players, and a blind-bidding bluff game with 2 players is probably a subpar way to judge the full gameplay. I can say that it’s definitely a very well made game and one where you constantly balance the need of the country against the personal profit of your family, usually ending in the collapse of said country. So basically a surprisingly good simulation of that era of Poland.

Drupal Card Game

We got new bookshelves at home and while reärranging books found the Drupal card game. I got it as booth swag at a conference and thought it was a branded deck of cards when it was actually a full blind-bidding game 

Drupal Card Game, near start
Good if simple game, and also hands down the best booth freebie I ever got.  The idea is to try and complete the modules on the board by blind bidding cards on them, and use then use the completed ones to score cards you kept in your hand. 

Runs in about 30 mins so good for lunch play, specially since we run like 6 Drupal sites at work atm.