Extraordinary Nations of Thanos
We stretched the gamut this week. We did a little nation-building, destroyed Thanos, and raced pirate ships. You know, a typical Tuesday night.
Nations: The Dice Game
The first game we played was Nations: The Dice Game. Unfortunately, I haven’t played Nations sans dice, so I have no idea how the rolling cube version compares. Nations: The Dice Game is a dice-based civilization game, and like most civilization games under 5 hours, the theme gets lost in the speediness.
The game plays over four rounds or ages. Each round, players roll their pool of dice and take turns assigning said dice to increase their dice pool, gain leaders, and build landmarks. Keep in mind; these actions are heavily abstracted. I never felt like I was doing anything more than rolling and spending dice.
It might sound like I disliked the game, but that’s not the case. Nations: The Dice Game is a good game, but it wasn’t a memorable one. I’m positive the game is well-balanced and devoid of extraneous elements. The art is dry, but I imagine this style appeals to the folks that would love a game like this. Ironically, people who like this type of artwork would probably prefer the meatier original game.
As a crossover game, I’m not sure this works. One of the guys in our game group says the solo gameplay is solid, so I’ll take his word for it. All told Nations: The Dice game is a good, but not a great game.
Next, we played the fully cooperative, Thanos Rising, published by The OP. In the game, you play as Avengers to keep Thanos from acquiring all of the Infinity Stones.
My initial impression. Thanos Rising does a fantastic job utilizing movie stills and live-action photos. Often, licensed games using movie stills look like they came from an alcoholic’s Instagram account. Luckily, Thanos Rising avoids this pitfall.
Gameplay-wise, Thanos Rising is rewarding and straightforward. Players roll dice to recruit heroes and attack villains. Each turn, Thanos attacks the heroes and gets one step closer to gaining an infinity stone. The heroes you recruit give you new abilities, and it’s a tough choice between bolstering your ranks or punching villains in the teeth.
As far as movie tie-ins go, Thanos Rising is first-class. The components are quality, including the eight-foot-tall Thanos statue, which is completely unnecessary. I’m sure some folks may be turned off by the random villain actions, but I don’t mind it. (A) I like simple gameplay and (B) I’m a Marvel fanboy. Thanos Rising will be sticking around for a while.
That noise you hear is the sound of money jumping out of my wallet when I found about the Harry Potter version of Thanos Rising.
Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates
I had high expectations for Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates based entirely on my love for Raccoon Tycoon from designer Glenn Drover. That anticipation increased based on my unhealthy attraction to the pirate genre.
I was going to play this game, nay I must play this game.
In Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates, players captain three ships on separate routes. The game’s core mechanism is deck-building, and players use their cards to move their boats, overtake merchant ships, collect cargo, and ship said stolen goods at ports. Players earn points from recruits, the loads they deliver, and how far they travel on each track.
Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates is a unique struggle between optimizing your crew (efficient deck-building) and racing to the finish.
I will say, Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates did not live up to Raccoon Tycoon. I like the game, and it succeeds at being accessible to new players while offering hidden depth for strategic players.
Unfortunately, here are a few of the issues I had with this game. One, it doesn’t feel piratey enough; it feels more merchanty. Two, the cargo artwork on the treasure tiles is difficult to read — good luck playing in low light or with colorblind folks. Lastly, ships can share a space, but there isn’t enough room for more than one ship. I wish the rules prevented ships from occupying the same space, allowing players to leapfrog their opponents. Or you could make the boat miniatures stackable, so the board doesn’t look like a shipwreck.
Now that my concerns are out of the way… Even with these Quibbles, I’m anxious to try it again.
The last game of the night was the all-time classic, Jamaica. After playing Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates, we decided to play another pirate racing game. Space Cowboys recently acquired the board game rights for Jamaica, but we played my “vintage” version.
I don’t think I’ve ever won a game of Jamaica, and at least once a game, I miscalculate my ship’s movement, but I don’t care. Jamaica is easy to learn, plays quickly, and has the right amount of playful interaction.
In Jamaica, players are racing around some island in the Atlantic, collecting doubloons, food, and cannons. And like any good pirate game, you’ll be hunting for treasure that may or may not be cursed. Players score points from treasure, doubloons, and where they finish the race.
It’s a great game with great artwork, which is why it recently appeared on the High Five List of best pirate games.
|Doug Kotecki is the Chief Curator at Tabletop Game Gallery, and even though his brain tells him not to, he still loves Taco Bell.