Mottainai mini-review

We played Mottainai a few times now and I kept forgetting to grab a photo, so here’s two to make up for it.

Mottainai, early in game
Mottainai, early in game

Mottainai is a remake of the classic “Glory to Rome” card game. The gimmick here is that each card can be played in a whole lot of different ways (depending on your what you consider ‘playing it’, as high as 8), and you’re constantly planning ahead as to how exactly you will do it.

The items are quite powerful and change the game flow by a lot, and the game is a very interesting balance as to whether you want to push towards a finish and keep your points (and risk your opponent has secret points in hand), or you want to try and build up your engines for a higher score.

Mottainai, final scoring
Mottainai, final scoring

The only downside to the game is the slight learning curve to it. It’s very simple once you learn it, but first getting the hang of actions is a slight pain, followed by scoring rules after. Especially the backorder rules. Very clear if you understand it, very arcane until you do.

In our plays, we almost always end with the 5 items endgame condition, vs the empty deck endgame condition, but so far we’ve exclusively played with 2 players.

A really pleasant low-to-mid weight game.

Shadowrun: Crossfire review

So Shadowrun: Crossfire was a game we hated at first, on our first playthrough, as it felt hard to the point of absurdity. Turns out we had the rules wrong on a minor but very important point: we were buying card into discard instead of hand. Sounds pretty minor, but in a game where you draw on average less than 2 cards, that makes a huge difference.

Also we made the mistake of playing correctly and starting at 0 karma and trying to grind up to buy things. That’s rule accurate but awful.

So here’s how we play it now

  • Before starting, take all the level up skills, stick them to cardboard, and cut them out
  • Start with 50 karma, spend them on any skills you want, up to 4 skills
  • Use obstacle rules from Crossfire mission: 4 in scene 1, 5 in scene 2, 6 in scene 3, etc
  • Between scenes a runner can spend 2 credits to heal 1 point of health, once per scene
  • Repeat scenes until first runner goes critical, then score points: 2 for Hard obstacle, 1 for Easy
Mage and Face midway through 2nd wave
Mage and Face midway through 2nd wave

Gives you a slightly more deckbuildy experience since you can actually make a large enough deck to feel like the characters differentiated. If you like plot, I think of it as a defense of a frontline village in Columbia as Aztlan is sending wave and after wave of mercenary forces to take it over.

Looking forward to the game releasing a few more black market cards, especially some lower cost ones. It would definitely add a bit more variety to it, since you so rarely manage to buy the expensive cards. In fact, I don’t think we’ve ever seen a 9 cost card in play ever.

Imperial Settlers / The Agents

Quick game of Imperial Settlers. It’s officially passed 51st State / New Era as my top game now.

I can now see that the faction mechanic goes a long ways to making the game interesting, it adds much more difference in between play styles compared to the old ones which were pretty equivalent by turn 3.

The clean up of the “3 points maximum per card rule”, the clean up of the weird “blue forces / red forces / white forces” arrows, less confusing iconography, all those make the game much more playable too.

Imperial Settlers
Imperial Settlers. I need more Features.

We also tried one of Joe’s Kickstarter games: The Agents.

The Agents, wide shot
The Agents, wide shot
The Agents, a single faction
The Agents, a single faction

Really confusing little thing, with a lot of high tension indecision: every agent card you play gives points and powers, but you have to give one to your opponent as you play it.

Lots of complex combos are possible, though the scoring is a bit difficult. It’s surprisingly difficult of a game on multiple levels.

Valley of the Kings

Valley of the Kings at work

 

Early hand

Very nice game, like a simpler, faster playing Dominion. Can be finished in a single lunch period which is nice. It’s very biased towards minimalist hands as it allows free milling (called entombing) though the expansion will apparently add more options for viable larger deck play 

Tabletop Commons trip: 51st State + Splendor

Did a playthrough of 51st State and TC again.

It’s one my favorites, a very good balance between lightweight deckbuilding and combo-rewarding, and the New Era ‘expansion’ adds very needed wooden tokens and better quality tokens.

51st State
51st State

Started game with 2 Heavy Gears and a Police Patrol, which gave me enough of a solid start that I just cruised ahead always up by a steady 5 points or so.

Did Splendor after. I like that the second photo looks so much later despite being maybe 1 hour or so.

Splendor
Splendor

Still a very clever minimalist game.

Legendary Encounters

Cryptozoic’s Legendary Encounters with jon and erin at tabletop commons. we won with one player left standing

Legendary Encounters
Legendary Encounters

bonus in pic: heidi keeping up with the ruleset, alex in back

51st State

Portal’s 51st State.

51st State
51st State

easily one of my favorite games, after you scale the learning cliff

main complaint about the game are the too thin tokens, glad they fixed that with the New Era expansion

Star Realms

White Wizard Games’ Star Realms

Star Realms
Star Realms

possibly my top game of 2014. wish it was easier to go multiplayer with it. i deeply appreciate how every faction seems overpowered right until you play it and then it doesn’t