A Tapestry of Horrified Forests
This week had the highest highs and disappointing lows mixed with a sprinkling of surprise. Which games stirred these visceral emotions? Read on if you dare.
I was able to play one of the hottest releases this week. Tapestry, designed by Jamey Stagmaier and published by Stonemaier Games, is a civilization game that takes about 90-120 minutes to play. Unfortunately, this game fell flat with my game group.
The mechanics felt solid, but the gameplay seemed disjointed and all over the place. The aspect that disappointed me the most was the theme, or more accurately, the lack thereof. Sure, some of the cards and starting civilizations had thematic ties, but the bulk of the game felt dry. All of the actions and advancements were labeled, but I never felt like I was progressing from one age to the next and earning anything thematically special for advancing.
I’ll give credit to the top-notch components, which you’d expect from Stonemaier Games. The trouble is, the two-hour commitment with no thematic arch didn’t feel rewarding enough to invest more time in. I wanted to like Tapestry so much, but it just missed for me. I’ll continue to wait for the holy grail, a fast-playing, and immersive thematic civilization game.
Next, we tried the Legend…
Note to publishers: The title of your game shouldn’t be 40 words long. Some of us have to write these things. As a result, henceforth I will refer to this game as The Cherry Tree game.
IELLO publishes The Cherry Tree game, and the game plays quickly. The game consists of push-your-luck elements and set collection as you draw colored plastic flower petals from a draw bag taking care not to bust. Busting on your turn never felt terrible, but the learning curve about what petals you keep, where you put them, and how they score required constant refreshing. The included powers, which encouraged you to keep drawing, were a nice touch, but some of the iconography was inconsistent.
It was light and didn’t outstay its welcome, but the fiddly rules ultimately made this game feel forgettable. I’m just not sure who I would play this game with so it’ll be searching for a new home.
I’m going to be honest because most of the time I’m a dirty liar on this website. This game didn’t look that exciting to me. The only reason I pulled this off the shelf was to see if I could permanently remove this from the shelf.
Legendary Forrests, from IELLO, surprised me in the best possible way. This is a tile-laying game with similarities to Karuba and Carcassonne. Everyone is playing the same tile on every turn to connect ruin stones and flower patterns for scoring points. Sure the tiles are busy like a flammable polyester paisley shirt from the seventies, but the gameplay is smooth and swift.
The ruleset is basic but leaves plenty of room for interesting choices, and it’s remarkable how different everyone’s board looks at the end of the game.
This one is going to be sticking around in my collection. It gives me the same feeling as Karuba and Carcassonne with faster setup times and more accessible rules so I can play it with a broader group of players. Consider me shocked and awed.
Horrified: Universal Monsters
We ended the night on a high note when I pulled out Horrified from design studio Prospero Hall and publisher Ravensburger.
I’ve had my eye on this one since early May when I got to try a demo out at ACDD Games Day. I was attracted to the art, the theme, and the cooperative play. I’m pleased to say that a full playthrough did not disappoint.
You and your fellow players work cooperatively to defeat several Universal Monsters who have taken up residence in the local town. You’ll have the opportunity to fight off Dracula, the Mummy, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Wolf Man, the Invisible Man, Frankenstein, and Frankenstein’s Bride.
One impressive part of this game is that all of the monsters must be defeated differently and thematically. For example, the heroes must destroy all of Dracula’s coffins spread around town before attacking the vampire.
Naturally, crazy villagers are getting in the way as they always do, which is silly because outside of the Invisible Man, these monsters should be easy to spot from a distance. Players win the game when all of the monsters are defeated. The players lose if the terror level gets too high or they run out of time. Don’t worry, if you run out of time the monsters don’t kill everyone. They become functioning members of society and take on leadership roles in the local government.
Ultimately, the gameplay was fun, puzzling, and worked thematically. I enjoyed Horrified, and I can’t wait to play it again.
|Doug Kotecki is the Chief Curator at Tabletop Game Gallery, and even though his brain tells him not to, he still loves Taco Bell.