Category Archives: Session

Vast

Game Details
NameVast: The Crystal Caverns (2016)
ComplexityMedium Heavy [3.59]
BGG Rank [User Rating]584 [7.20]
Player Count (recommended)1-5 (2-5)
Designer(s)Patrick Leder and David Somerville
Artists(s)Kyle Ferrin
Publisher(s)Leder Games, 2Tomatoes, Mandala Jogos, MS Edizioni and Quality Beast
Mechanism(s)Action Points, Dice Rolling, Grid Movement, Hand Management, Modular Board, Role Playing, Secret Unit Deployment, Tile Placement and Variable Player Powers

Participants

  • Katey – winner (cave)
  • Sean
  • 3P
  • 4P

Rules missed

  • Cave includes the number of crystals added to the number of treasure when determining the number of omen tokens to draw at the start of its turn.
  • Goblin tribe suffers malaise whenever rage reaches 0 – all tribes lose 1 population.
  • Goblin tribes discard assigned monster cards when scattered.

Photos

About the game

From Boardgamegeek:

Vast takes you and your friends into the torch light of a classic cave-crawling adventure, built on the concept of total asymmetry. Gone are days of the merry band of travelers fighting off evil. In Vast, you will become part of a new legend… Any part you wish!

Play as the classic, daring Knight, the chaotic Goblin horde, the colossal, greedy Dragon, or even the Cave itself — powerful, brooding, and intent on crushing the living things that dare to disturb its gloomy depths. Each role has its own powers, pieces, and paths to victory…and there can be only one winner.

As the ultimate asymmetric board game, Vast: The Crystal Caverns provides a limitless adventure, playable again and again as you and your friends explore the four different roles in different combinations. Play one-on-one in a race to the death between the Knight and the Goblins, or add in the Dragon and the Cave for deeper and more epic experiences, different every time.”

Final Thoughts

Katey and I began this game with our kids, Avery & Emmett, but they lost interest as we slowly learned the nuances of the game, so we finished on our own. Because Vast is an asymmetrical game, it can take a bit of getting used to, and you might need multiple playthroughs to learn all of the characters (we played twice). But once you have it down, Vast is a pretty cool game. The balance seems well-tuned; in our second game (we each played two of the characters in the suggested 4-player setup) the cave won, but both the knight and dragon were arguably one turn from victory. We both liked the rock-paper-scissors element of play – the goblins are trying to kill the knight, the knight is trying to kill the dragon, the dragon eats goblins, and the cave is trying to collapse and kill everyone (we didn’t use the thief). Vast was lots of fun and Katey and I are looking forward to playing again, and checking out the various expansions available.

Dead of Winter

Game Details
NameDead of Winter: A Crossroads Game (2014)
ComplexityMedium [3.01]
BGG Rank [User Rating]115 [7.59]
Player Count (recommended)2-5 (3-5)
Designer(s)Jonathan Gilmour and Isaac Vega
Artists(s)David Richards, Fernanda Suárez and Peter Wocken
Publisher(s)Plaid Hat Games, Arclight, Asmodee Italia, Cube Factory of Ideas, Edge Entertainment, Filosofia Éditions, Galápagos Jogos, Game Harbor, Gém Klub Kft., Gemenot, Heidelberger Spieleverlag, Korea Boardgames Co., Ltd., MINDOK, Raven Distribution and Siam Board Games
Mechanism(s)Action Points, Area Movement, Cooperative Game, Dice Rolling, Hand Management, Narrative Choice / Paragraph, Push Your Luck, Semi-Cooperative Game, Storytelling, Trading, Traitor Game, Variable Player Powers and Voting

Participants

  • Andrew – winner
  • Mark
  • Sean
  • Robert
  • Brian

Rules missed

  • not a misplayed rule, but we did forget that a number of zombies are added to each location equal to the number of survivors at the location at the end of the round – this led to 2 or 3 of Mark’s survivors being “overun” (that’s dead) at the end of one round

BGG clarifications

  • none

Photos

About the game

This “mostly-cooperative” game features players as members of a colony of survivors trying to live through winter during a zombie apocalypse. The players will have a shared colony objective detailed on a scenario card, plus each player will have their own secret objective, too. In our game the colony objective was to collect a variable number of dead (re-dead? extra dead?) zombies.

The game is “mostly-cooperative,” because one of the players may have been dealt a betrayal card, which means they will be secretly working against the best interests of the colony. This element means that you can never be to sure of the motivations of the other players, which can lead to suspicion, and sometimes a player being voted out of the colony, which has benefits or penalties based on whether the player exiled was the betrayer or not.

During a turn, each player rolls dice and uses equal to the number of survivors they control +1, and uses those dice to perform actions around the game board. Survivors can travel to locations around the colony, search those locations, battle zombies, use items, clean up the colony, contribute cards to each round’s “crisis,” and more. Many actions can expose players to wounds, frostbite, or dreaded zombie bites. Crossroads cards are an interesting feature of the game. At the beginning of your turn, another player will read a Crossroads card for certain gameplay “triggers.” If, during your turn, you perform actions that trigger the card, it is read out loud, and you, or the other members of the colony will have two or more story choices to make that will affect the game in a variety of ways.

Each scenario has it’s own victory conditions and predetermined number of rounds. The game ends when the victory conditions have been met, the final round is completed, or when colony morale reaches zero (in our game’s case, our morale reached zero, which led to Andrew revealing himself as the betrayer and claiming victory based on his win conditions).

Final Thoughts

This game does a great job of simulating survival in a freezing zombie apocalypse. There is always another crisis to manage, and more and more zombies to deal with. It’s very thematic, and the Crossroads cards provide a bit of story to enhance gameplay. The possibility of a betrayal player creates a great deal of suspicion and tension around the table. It might be best to play this game with people you know well.

The Expanse

Game Details
NameThe Expanse Board Game (2017)
ComplexityMedium [2.75]
BGG Rank [User Rating]1477 [7.19]
Player Count (recommended)2-4 (3-4)
Designer(s)Geoff Engelstein
Artists(s)Uncredited
Publisher(s)Pendragon Game Studio and WizKids
Mechanism(s)Action Points, Action/Event, Area Majority / Influence, Campaign / Battle Card Driven, Catch the Leader, Take That, Variable Player Powers and Victory Points as a Resource

Participants

  • Mark
  • Sean
  • Katey – Winner
  • Frank

Rules we Missed

  • None found so far

BGG Clarifications

  • Being able to move up to one band means you can also move within a band.

Photo

About the Game

This area control game plays well with 4 players. Rules are simple. On you turn, you have the option to purchase a card. Each card has a number of actions points and an event. Events can only be used by the factions shown on the card. Once you have chosen your card, you can either use the action points or the event. The action points allow you to move/build your fleets and establish influence in different areas. If you use the action points each faction shown the card has the option to use the event based on the order of the initiative track.

Once a scoring round is initiated, your influence and fleets are used to see who has control of each sector. Points are awarded based on this. The person in last place gains control of the Rocinante. this catch up mechanism gives the player extra options to use during the scoring round.

Final Thoughts

The theme of the game is nice for those that are familiar with the books or television show. However prior knowledge in no way affects gameplay.

The catch up mechanism works well. In our case the person in last, up until the 5th scoring round, won the game.

This game was a long one since we were learning straight from the instructions. Future games should be much quicker, since all the rules were very straight forward.

Abomination: The Heir of Frankenstein

Game Details
NameAbomination: The Heir of Frankenstein (2019)
ComplexityMedium [3.29]
BGG Rank [User Rating]1230 [7.56]
Player Count2-4
Designer(s)Dan Blanchett
Artists(s)Mikhail Palamarchuk and Tony Sart
Publisher(s)Plaid Hat Games, ADC Blackfire Entertainment and Rebel Sp. z o.o.
Mechanism(s)Dice Rolling, Events, Narrative Choice / Paragraph, Set Collection, Storytelling, Variable Player Powers, Worker Placement and Worker Placement, Different Worker Types

Participants

  • Katey
  • Sean – winner

Rules missed

  • When taking the graveyard or morgue actions in Paris, you may choose any number of cards drawn (0-x). The first few rounds, we only chose one card to collect resources from, and discarded the others.

Photos

About the game

Abomination: The Heir of Frankenstein is a worker placement game set in Paris 20 years after the events of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The game is very thematic. A player’s “workers” are scientists and assistants. Most of the game is spent collecting “resources” players use to work towards assembling a creature and attempting to bring it to life. The resources needed for this macabre task are muscle, organs, bone, and blood (as a gruesome “wild” resource, players can substitute animal parts which results in fewer points). Players will also need to purchase and charge leyden jars that are used to roll dice that can bring body parts to life or damage your creature. One interesting aspect of the game are the 3 dials at the bottom of each player board, representing your character’s Humanity, Reputation, and Expertise; all 3 earn points at games end. Reputation will eventually attract new scientists and assistants to your cause (more actions), and Expertise is needed to assemble more difficult body parts, but the Humanity dial is much more interesting. Players need to carefully consider various methods for acquiring parts for their creature lest they themselves become a monster. There are a variety of event and encounter cards used to enhance the narrative during the game and slightly alter game play each round. Abomination is a neat new twist on basic worker placement. If you’ve played other worker placement games, it’s pretty easy to learn to play. It’s 2-4 players, and suggested play time is 90-180 minutes.

Final Thoughts

Abomination: The Heir of Frankenstein is a great addition to our library. The game is oozing (see what I did there?) with theme and atmosphere, and managing the dials was a neat puzzle to solve at times. Like many worker placement games, it can take several turns to build momentum, and late rounds can feel full of “filler” actions, but that may have been because we played with only 2 players. Katey and I really enjoyed Abomination, and we’re looking forward to trying it again, with different characters and/or additional players. Until next time!

On Mars

Game Details
NameOn Mars (2020)
ComplexityHeavy [4.62]
BGG Rank [User Rating]73 [8.31]
Player Count (recommended)2-4 (1-4)
Designer(s)Vital Lacerda
Artists(s)Ian O'Toole
Publisher(s)Eagle-Gryphon Games, Angry Lion Games, Giochix.it, hobbity.eu, Lavka Games, Maldito Games, Mosaico Jogos, Skellig Games, TLAMA games and YOKA Games
Mechanism(s)Area Majority / Influence, Contracts, Delayed Purchase, Drafting, End Game Bonuses, Hand Management, Hexagon Grid, Income, Movement Points, Moving Multiple Units, Point to Point Movement, Set Collection, Solo / Solitaire Game, Tech Trees / Tech Tracks, Tile Placement, Variable Phase Order and Worker Placement

Participants

  • Mark – Winner
  • Curtis
  • Alain
  • Robert

Rules we Missed

  • Building complexes using executive actions on blueprint cards: The corresponding tech must exist on someone’s board in order to build or increase the size of a complex. If the existing tech’s level is toolow to build a complex of the desired size, you can boost it by sending colonists to the working area.
  • If you develop only 1 tile twice, treat each of the movements separately.
  • If you gain a discovery or research tile, resolve it immediately by paying any associated cost, then place it in your play area (put Discovery tiles face down).

BGG Clarifications

  • When 2 players have the appropriate tech tile, the player who uses the tile chooses who gets the benefit
  • If a tech tile is used twice on the same turn, the owner gets two oxygen

Photo

Final Thoughts

Like all of Vital Lacerda’s games, this game has a learning curve. The rules take a while to learn, but they all make sense and seem logical as play progresses. This is a long game but turns can be quick, since you can take one action and one executive action each turn That said, the best turns are ones that can string multiple actions together by moving tech tiles or completing your personal goal. As someone who also likes The Gallerist, I would recommend this game.

Tapestry Playthrough

Game Details
NameTapestry (2019)
ComplexityMedium [2.87]
BGG Rank [User Rating]236 [7.48]
Player Count (recommended)1-5 (1-4)
Designer(s)Jamey Stegmaier
Artists(s)Andrew Bosley and Rom Brown
Publisher(s)Stonemaier Games, 999 Games, Albi, Angry Lion Games, Arclight, Delta Vision Publishing, Feuerland Spiele, Ghenos Games, Lavka Games, Ludofy Creative, Maldito Games, Matagot, PHALANX and Surfin' Meeple
Mechanism(s)Card Drafting, Chaining, Dice Rolling, Grid Coverage, Hand Management, Hexagon Grid, Income, Map Addition, Solo / Solitaire Game, Square Grid, Tech Trees / Tech Tracks, Tile Placement, Track Movement and Variable Player Powers

Rules we Missed

  • First player to complete an era gets a resource
  • Some technology cards have a requirement that your neighbor has a specified technology

BGG Clarifications

Photo

Black Angel Play Through

Game Details
NameBlack Angel (2019)
ComplexityMedium Heavy [3.79]
BGG Rank [User Rating]678 [7.44]
Player Count (recommended)0 (1-4)
Designer(s)Sébastien Dujardin, Xavier Georges and Alain Orban
Artists(s)Ian O'Toole
Publisher(s)Pearl Games, Asmodee, CrowD Games, Hobby Japan, Maldito Games, Rebel Sp. z o.o. and sternenschimmermeer
Mechanism(s)Bias, Dice Rolling, Hand Management, Slide/Push, Solo / Solitaire Game and Tile Placement

What did we miss

  • You can change the color of die. Draw a card of the original color. I think the only way to do this is using a tech tile.
  • It is enough to “own” a Mission Card in order to activate it, you don’t need to have a ship there. From page 10: “If you choose to activate a card with an activation mission, you must respect the following conditions … You must have a robot or ship on this card.”
  • After taking an Advanced Technology tile, immediately replace it with a new tile from the deck.
  • When an Advanced Technology tile is ejected, immediately place it on one of the 3 Advanced Technology spaces on your player board (limit 1 tile per space). The space you choose determines the maximum VP this Advanced Technology tile can earn during end game scoring. This maximum starts at 4 VP, but each of your Mission cards that are ejected from the Space board that you place beside this space increases this maximum by 2 VP. Each Advanced Technology tile not ejected at the end of the game, and each Advanced Technology tile that is ejected after all 3 spaces are occupied by tiles can earn you a maximum of only 4 VP at the end of the game.
  • If you can not pay the cost of a ravager card, you can sacrifice a victory point
  • Each hex can only accommodate up to 2 different player’s Ships.
  • f you must place 1 Damage cube on a damaged action (an action which already has 2 Damage cubes), you must place the cube on a die in the same-color supply. This die is damaged! If during Sequence B, you must roll a damaged die, you lose 1 VP, and the Damage cube returns to the supply. Damaged dice are only ever found in the supplies
  • When the endgame is triggered, finish the round in progress, then play a final round. During this final round, if you are required to perform Sequence B, you can instead simply pass (but only in this final round!). Even if there are still dice in players’ compartments, the game ends after this final round

Some FAQs from BGG

This is more of a clarification for the Neutralization mission card

– When the card ejects, the owner of the card receives the benefits listed on the left, while everyone with a ship docked on the card receives the benefits listed on the right. This means if the owner still has his/her ship docked on the card then they will receive the benefits listed on both sides of the card. IF the card only has one space for benefits listed (not split to left and right) then the owner and everyone with a ship there receives the benefits listed and the owner only gets the benefits once, i.e. the owners docked ship doesn’t provide any extra benefit of still being there, therefor this is one reason for the above question “Can you move ships off mission card?”.

Can you activate a mission card you control without having a ship there?

– I believe the answer is yes, I haven’t seen a clarification on this but I am not sure there needs to be one. The rules state, “You must have a robot or ship on this card.”

See: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2243008/moving-zero-black-angel-and-not-placing-mission-ca

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