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.

Justinian review

Ever buy a game cause it’s on super clearance and the box looks kinda interesting?

Ladies and gentlemen, Justinian:

Justinian, at any point
Justinian, at any point

Really weird game. It looks like it would be much more complicated than it is based on the components and box, but it’s really more like a Knizia mini-game than a serious ‘big box’ experience.

You get a bunch of cards. The cards represent who you can score. You then place markers on them as to whether you want them to go up or down. The markers are incredibly limited in supply and you never get them back once they’re spent. If you spend too much in the early game, you won’t have enough to even trigger the last scoring round, meaning the game will be decided in the first 2 rounds only.

In our playthrough, I dominated the first two rounds but invested most my tokens to do so. Last round I had to pass in first action, after which Angelica triggered scoring in one go and dropped 100+ points in a single go, and that’s all she wrote.

Not a very deep game, but cute. Worth it at clearance prices.

Love Letter: L5R review

Oh, and a mini post: according to Erin all the characters in the “Legend of the 5 Rings Love Letter” are in appropriate roles if you happen to know them by name, and he does.

So kudos to the L5R Love Letter team on that.

GenCon: Russian Roulette review

Cute GenCon preview game: Russian Roulette (new name pending).

Premise is you aim a gun at your head, then push your luck to see how many cards you flip. The bluffing aspect is that you’re allowed to remove one card that might be a bullet (cheating) or might be an empty chamber.

Here’s a very excited man demoing it:

Russian Roulette at GenCon
Russian Roulette at GenCon

It was fun if not overly complex. If you like the party/social bluffs, you certainly could do worse, and while I usually hate push your luck games, this one was alright.