Politics, Ancestors, and Food
Another night of gaming this week, and I was able to play some five-player games. Unfortunately, some of the games cut the muster. Find out which ones.
The first game of the evening was The Primary from Mountaintop Games. The Primary was an excellent little area control game about politics that doesn’t have any politics in it. There are no issues to debate, so your game night and friendships stay intact. Over 11 rounds, you’ll program 4 actions per round to raise more money, travel, and campaign. I’m anxious to play this one again because I made some rookie mistakes I’d like to correct. Certainly an interesting take on programming actions with area control, all the while maintaining the feel of its theme without the angry protests.
Everyone Loves a Parade
Everyone Loves a Parade is one of the 2019 releases from Calliope Games. Let me first say; I love the concept and philosophy of Calliope Games, to make games more accessible in every way.
Unfortunately, I didn’t like this one. Love the theme, dislike the gameplay. This game is a color explosion, making it confusing and challenging to explain the first time through. I felt like I was on Willy Wonka’s boat and the rowers kept on rowing.
In the game, you’re gathering supplies to create floats that will appeal to the ever-changing desires of the parade attendees. The trouble is this is the most demanding wishy-washy group of parade-goers in existence. Long story short, I wanted to light my float on fire. If the fire engulfed some of the fussy freeloaders in the blaze, so be it. Turn order was random, and it’s so important. I don’t mind this much luck and randomness in a game, but the game shouldn’t last more than 5 minutes or give you a false sense of strategy.
Everyone loves a parade, except this guy.
Another title from Calliope Games and designed by that famous designer Eric M. Lang. Ancestree is a tile-drafting/placement about creating a better family tree than your opponents. Pro-tip, don’t marry your cousins. The drafting is smooth and has three simple levers, building marriages, adding new family generations, and increasing family wealth. Like most drafting games, you can rarely influence more than one of these levers at a time. I liked the simplicity of this game and thought it was a clean design, but I fear it might be forgettable as a drafting game AND as a tile-placement game. The artwork is bland, and repeating the art on the tiles seemed lazy. Bummer, they could have had so much more fun with this theme. It’s close, but not quite there and like most of our ancestors it will be lost to time.
The next entree was Menu Masters from Calliope Games. Menu Masters is a simple worker placement/auction style game. Players place assistants on the various market spaces to acquire ingredients for menu cards. Players who get to a market first will pay less for ingredients, but they’ll have the last pick when it comes to procurement. To get more cash, an assistant can also act as a market owner and collect the spent money at said market. Menu Masters is a good game for teaching various board game concepts to new gamers. The artwork is excellent, but I wish there were more variety in the menu and dishes you’re creating. You can only make steak and raspberry tarts so often. I think this game is ideal for non-gamers, but avid gamers might get bored with this one.
Running With The Bulls
Hmmm. I’m not sure where to start with this game. Great theme, idiots running away from angry bulls, it should work every time. Running With the Bulls is a chaotic, take-that, random dice game from Calliope. In some ways, it feels like a more cumbersome version of Chutes & Ladders. Maybe I wasn’t in the right mindset for this game, but I didn’t like it. The artwork was bold and vibrant, but I felt like I was playing a game that was released 30 years ago. I was expecting more, and I felt disappointed. Maybe I was looking for a strategy where I shouldn’t be. Perhaps I took the game too seriously. Maybe the upkeep between turns felt fiddly. I just can’t put my finger on it, but at this point, it’s not a game I’d recommend.
|Doug Kotecki is the Chief Curator at Tabletop Game Gallery, and even though his brain tells him not to, he still loves Taco Bell.|