Latice: A Kickstarter backed game a friend picked up, Latice is very much like mainstay-gateway game Qwirkle, only if someone decided that what the later game needed was less straight-forward tile-playing and more thematic artwork. It’s a fairly light abstract game where the goal is to be the first person to play all your tiles. And, like many self-published Kickstarter games, it has issues that become so obvious early into the game you wonder how the designers failed to notice them. In this case, it’s a tremendous reliance on luck, in the form of tiles that allow a player to break placement rules, that can give a single player an insurmountable advantage over others, one that would have been very easily avoided by simply…not randomizing player’s tile pools.
Wombat Rescue: A Kickstarter game I backed, though one from a publisher I generally give the benefit of the doubt to. It fell within my remit for backing games: under $30 with an interesting, non-violent theme. In this case, the players are all wombats trying to find their babies, who have been scattered around the wilderness, all while avoiding dingoes. The game takes advantage of the ubiquity of small wooden cubes in gaming and the fact that wombat poop is square (google it if you don’t believe me) to its advantage, making the game…extremely thematic. It’s a fun game that appears light but has some nice strategic depth, even if, again, it has a couple of rules issues that seem to have escaped the designers.
Codenames: I avoided this New Hotness game for a long time, as I detest “Werewolf”-style games (despite owning at least two) and every description made it seem like one of those. It’s not, at all, it’s more like The $10,000 Pyramid as a party game. In other words, absolutely stupid and boring.
Concordia: A worker placement/area control/drafting style of economic game, only set in ancient Rome instead of medieval Europe. Gameplay-wise, it’s a very well designed game, with multiple paths to victory and enough going on that even a player who is falling behind has things to do. But there’s a little too much going on, and about a dozen different things that give you points at the end of the game, and it’s too long for what it is. I don’t mind games of this sort, but I prefer them to be both shorter and simpler.
Buccaneer Bones: A small-box “push your luck” style dice game to play in fifteen minutes because you don’t have the time or interest to play something meatier. It’s fine.
Mysterium: The English-language adaptation of the Polish game that finds something better to do with “Dixit” style cards than play “Dixit.” There’s an interesting blend of intuition and deduction that I enjoy, but like any game where you’re using abstraction to lead people to concrete answer, the group you play the game with makes it or breaks it. With my group, this is going to be a “once in a while” game, I suspect, as it’s just long enough that most of the people who do enjoy it would rather play something else, and the people who don’t enjoy it would rather play anything else.
Cthulhu Wars: One of the bigger New Hotness games around lately, both in terms of sheer size and popularity, and, despite theming and aggressively unapologetic “Ameritrash” aesthetics, this is actually not a Me game, but rather a Husband game, as the gameplay is, essentially, an asymmetrical take on Risk. The essential simplicity of the rules is part of the appeal, as it gives players something to dig their teeth into once the novelty of huge ass plastic figurines as playing pieces wears off. In fact, there are times that the aesthetics of the game are probably a detriment to it, as the suspiciously yonic 80s metal-band takes on Lovecraftian monsters are, out-of-context, extremely silly. So my advice would be not to play this unless you’re only going to have colossal nerds over to play, which, uh, probably goes without saying.
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