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Buy Smart and Play More – Games of June 2020

June’s game of the month is none other than Gloomhaven – Jaws of the Lion by Cephalophair Games. A current Target exclusive that sold out before some stores even had the opportunity to put it on shelves – seems to answer some of the big problems I had with the 2018 release of the game.

For $50, JotL still provides a large amount of content that you don’t normally see with Target consumer games. Lots of cards, a handful of minis, bound books and punch tokens. Those who have purchased Gloomhaven will probably see a lot similarities in production. Some big changes include books instead of map tiles which is a welcome change and a 5 game tutorial that introduces the game bit by bit which is another welcome change.

With 25 scenarios in total, not all of which the campaign will go through depending how you play, my first three plays of the game have been positive. The setup time has been dramatically reduced with the books. The tutorial has been good for Gloomhaven standards but I could still feel that it would scare off casuals in the long run of things. The amount to explain for the first couple of scenarios can sometimes be a lot when reading things out so while it is a standout tutorial – it isn’t the best out there. That is still reserved for Fog of Love.

Current GH buyers probably will not need this unless there is a big urge to play one of the four new classes in the game. I think JotL is a good pickup for those that couldn’t afford the $100 buy in for GH retail or wanted to dip toes into shallow water before the deep payout for the main game and Frosthaven – when that arrives sometime next year.

The jury is still out on if this revitalizes my urge to reclaim my Gloomhaven box again. Probably not at this point – even with the book of maps rumor has out for the future. In all, this juggernaut of a game has released a much needed title in their lineup that gives no reason why you shouldn’t check out this game.

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Buy Smart and Play More – Games of May 2020

May has been a quiet month for releases as expected. The majority of April and most of May have seen stores close across the United States – for good reason. I do miss the ability to do my loop of game stores from Minneapolis and St. Paul but I will patiently wait until we start seeing these restrictions lifted when the data proves as such.

Godspeed by Pandasaurus Games seemed to be the next big box release from the publisher who has done Dinosaur Island, Dead Man’s Cabal and a myriad of smaller box titles like The Mind. The had done well in Kickstarter – netting a bit over 200k but falls in comparison to the Dinosaur Island campaign of over 1m.

Backers were getting their copies and while I did not fully pledge, I followed along to see how the campaign was doing. Game stories nearby will often buy pledges and sell them at their store at the price of the original pledge and I felt compelled by the theme and components to give it a shot.

Having just finished the campaign of Clank Legacy – I’ll be looking at getting games of Godspeed and Forgotten Waters in the books for the month of June.

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Buy Smart and Play More – Games of April 2020

April 2020 Purchase – Forgotten Waters by Plaid Hat Games

I’ll admit that our time in isolation for the late winter and spring times was a lot more than I expected. Local game stores have been closed down for at least a month and I yearn for the day that I can go back on my weekend afternoon journeys to see board games and just be present among the general chatter of a store.

If there was any buried treasure or happiness to find in these trying times, Forgotten Waters by Plaid Hat Games was able to find this pocket of time to actually hand package and send out pre-orders to customers in the early month of April with a retail release, albeit delayed, coming in the next few months.

The reviews have been astounding and I am so happy for the Plaid Hat team for making a splash with their next Crossroads book adventure. I had the opportunity to play this game a couple of times in the past and being able to see this game evolve to the finish product is always a cool thing to see.

Beyond that, I haven’t had too much else that has come onto the table. There are a few games left of Clank Legacy left (which I have FEELINGS on) and I’ve actually been playing a lot of card games – which I’ve talked about on the Rolling Doubles Podcast recently.

Forgotten Waters will be played sooner than later this Spring into summer and I strongly recommend you look into this pirate-y fantastic game!

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Buy Smart and Play More – Games of March 2020

Clinic Deluxe Edition by Mercury Games

March 2020 Purchase – Clinic by Mercury Games

I suppose you will all have to believe me that my March game of 2020 was not based on the current situation we currently live in right now but more shallow than that. Clinic – Deluxe by Mercury Games had some copies out on the floor in February 2020 and I was immediately drawn in by the graphic design and illustration work of Ian O’Toole. The premise that you are building your clinic, managing your staff and caring for patients also plays part to what I do for my day time job – to a certain extent. I’ve been working in medical technology for all of my post college career so I’ve been witness to a lot of different aspects of medical workflow on all different accounts. This game does have a high complexity rating but in reviewing the rules and some videos – it does seem somewhat straight forward.

There hasn’t been any trade ins to make mention of for this month but I was able to pick up some stuff using the store credit I have.

The Crew – The Quest for Planet Nine by KOSMOS

Trick taking games are cool. I bought this alone on the amount of hype it has gotten around the review sphere. For $15, I’ll take the chance.

THOR – Marvel Champions Character pack by Fantasy Flight Games

Every month FFG releases a pack like this to stores and I’ve just been into collectors mode again with this game. It is cheap enough that I’ll probably be in for a little while longer.

Also, very early in March – I attended PAX East in Boston, Mass. It was my first time since 2014 going to the floor. It was about the same but I remember people giving out a lot more t-shirts that I used to be able to flip or have them for night time shirts or something. Not any longer. The money spent was accounted for in separate savings but in all – the purchases of the games I got here probably break my own rules. Alas, what is done is done.

A War of Whispers by Starling Games

I saw this game at PAX Unplugged in December and heard good things. I guess copies ran out and they had some (Deluxe) copies in for East which I scooped up.

Rival Rush by Team Meat

One of the programmers behind Super Meat Boy with another fellow made a card game based on the Super Meat Boy universe. Also, no SKU because they were just selling them direct – not in stores. A clear way to pull at the fomo strings.

Final Fantasy XIV: Gold Saucer Cactpot Party by Square Enix

A complete impulse buy on the show floor. I should have known better but the packaging and FFVII nostalgia bit me in the ass on this one.

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Buy Smart and Play More – Games of February 2020

The middle of February is here and I’m back to talk about my purchased game of February 2020 and the trove of games that I traded in for credit. Interestingly, I did not purchase anything with my store credit yet. I’m saving it for a rainy day I suppose or just everything Marvel Champions related.

February 2020 Purchase – Clank Legacy! Acquisitions Incorporated

I am not a fan of deck builders but CLANK! is the outlier; an exception to the rule. The split emphasis of deck building and card play to move around the board are fun little puzzles and choices. I was recommended this game to me by a longtime friend of mine who played through the campaign at 2 players and said it was amazing. So far, this has been the case! We are about to play Game 4 and we’ve been enjoying ourselves quite a bit! The Acquisitions Incorporated IP has been easy and accessible enough so that players who have no idea what Clank! or the theme of AI is all about can hop straight into the absurdity of white collared life in a comedy DnD/Clank setting.

I do have a couple of nitpicks such as the clerical time to read/sticker and prep the game which takes nearly as long as the game itself to play (perhaps this was on purpose given the game’s thematic subject/legacy games in general?) and the board and minis being a table hog. So, it seems like while I like to complain, do not let those minor things detract you from picking up a copy if you are looking for your first or second legacy board game to play through!

Trade In – Masmorra : Dungeons of Arcadia

This has been one of my oldest games in my collection. The dungeon crawling, dice action Arcadia game was solid mechanically with great production value but the competitive nature of the game at 2 player felt a bit flat and the cooperative aspect left us wanting more vs. ratcheting up the difficult level on this retail version of the game. Probably best played at 3 to 4 players regularly but I have other dungeon crawl games to try out.

Trade In – Paris: New Eden

Fantastic artwork and an interesting dice drafting/city building mechanic is unfortunately marred due to some graphic design concerns with iconography and rule book learning issues that led to some major problems in learning to play the game. I was going to keep this around for awhile but during the cull time, I couldn’t see myself getting it to the table anytime soon. In all – good scale for players counts but do your research in how to play and be careful with the rulebook!

Trade In – Doom (2016)

I love Doom – both the 2004 and 2016 adaptations. I got this game and it sat on my shelf for years begging to be played. I had played another friend’s copy years ago and enjoyed myself. Miniatures for FFG were a huge step up from Imperial Assault and the dice chucking combat/flow of the game was fine but I after it was all said and done, I’d rather play the video game than the board game.

Trade In – Newton

A solid Euro/point salad game that I kept because I liked it the most out of the Lorenzo/Coimbra games I played in the past but it sat on my shelf mostly to reflect on that exact thought vs. getting it on the table to play. There is an expansion for this that just recently came out but I don’t think it would sway me wanting to keep it in my collection further.

Trade In – The Binding of Isaac Four Souls

The Binding of Isaac video game was my obsession a few years ago. A Kickstarter for this card game made a couple million dollars and I bought into it after release. A fun card game that I think only finds its niche with BOI fans. I wanted to keep this for my love of the IP but getting it out there for fun would have taken awhile – if at all.

Other trade ins I had to sadly let go:

Carson City
Neon Gods
Scoville w/ expansion
Century Spice Road
Arkham Horror Final Hour
Tigris and Euphrates
Gen7
Valley of the Kings Premium Edition
Resident Evil 2 TBG
Wits and Wagers
The Climbers
Bioshock Infinite TBG
All Manor of Evil
Catch the Moon

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Buy Smart and Play More – Games of January 2020

I’ll admit that I love purchasing board games. I love reading and seeing all of the great artwork, designs and productions that go into new releases. However, this piles up a wall/tower/pyramid/shelf of shame where lots of games go unplayed. So, for 2020, I do want to try to curb my purchasing habits and get through a backlog of purchased games from the past and only allow myself 1 purchased game a month (totally to 12 new games this year). Here are some guidelines I set up for myself.

  1. Limit to purchasing 1 game a month with a cash limit of approximately $100.
  2. Games on Kickstarter count but they will count for the month they end in.
  3. Games that I play that do not resonate with me will be sold or traded in for store credit to a local gaming store I frequent quite a bit.
  4. I would like to adopt the “multiple out / one in” mind set with these traded in games. These games do not count towards the 1 game a month.

Sure, my guidelines above do skirt my main objective but I see this as quitting a bad habit. I think being able to ‘cold turkey’ when I do have the extra spending income is admirable but I do want to be realistic and take baby steps down over the course of a year or two. This being said, I’ve already made my January purchase of 2020 and got some trade ins – so let’s take a look for this month.

January 2020 purchase – Barrage + Leeghwater Project Expansion

I love Cranio. They are doing some interesting stuff in the board gaming sphere which includes Mystery House (which I spoke about in Episode 41 of Rolling Doubles Podcast) and this heavy euro about building dams in a dark moody atmosphere of the early ‘aughts with some Tesla and steampunky sparklybits dashed throughout the box.. The concept and cutthroat nature of this game speaks to me but getting this to the table might be more of an effort than I thought going in when I bought it. The team at Cranio didn’t have to do too much to entice me on this game when it was demoed at different conventions over 2019 and hopefully it will be covered soon in a future episode of the podcast.

Store Credit Purchase – In the Hall of the Mountain King

The hype train with Mountain King has been chugging along for the better portion of 2019 and I was hard sold on the game when I saw copies arrive at ASG a couple of weeks ago. It might be because I am building a game with ‘tetris pieces’ but I am seeing a lot of games using these shapes as a main mechanism in games and I am curious how this game utilizes it. The art by Kwanchai Moriya also helps this game shine from the shelves begging to be picked up. Upgraded bits are a weak spot for me in deciding if I want a game or not. I have a feeling I bought it over fomo/hype vs. being personally excited but it is a game I wanted to play regardless.

Store Credit Purchase – Marvel Champions Expansions (Green Goblin, Captain America, Ms. Marvel)

Marvel Champions is the game I wanted Legendary to be. Don’t get me wrong though, being able to deck build your own team of Marvel heroes was cool but I never found the setup and organization to rub me the right way. Marvel Champions is a bit more ‘get up and go’ akin to the Arkham Horror LCG line of product. This was actually something I had ordered back in December from Christmas money that had arrived this January so this was me getting around to picking them up using a combination of store credit and cash I had laying around. My primary concern this year is that my want and need to pick up these packs vs. getting around to actually playing them will be something I want to ensure I don’t get in the habit of doing a lot of this year.

Trade In – Wayfinders

Wayfinders is a good family style game about bidding for resources, then travelling in a 5×5 grid, spending them to build hangers on different islands. At 2 players tho, the tension wasn’t there on the island portion of the board as we were able to travel in our own separate pathways. I imagine this game shines at 3 or 4 players but I couldn’t see this game being brought out for 2 player often. A huge recommendation in the line of gateway games tho for interested families or newcomers to the medium.

Trade In – Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done

You don’t see too many games like Crusaders with it’s theme laid on thick not only represented in theme and art but gameplay wise too. The thing is that when I looked at the game on my shelf – I couldn’t remember too much of the game when I played it. I remember it being good but I couldn’t tell anyone WHY it was good. I got the deluxified version which included plastic pieces which…we didn’t even use. I guess I am a fan of wooden pieces where were part of the retail version of the game. I like Seth Jaffe games and again – Crusaders is a good game. I’d play it again in a heart beat, it just didn’t belong on my shelf and is hopefully with someone now that will play it more than I would have!

Trade In – Western Legends

The first big box game from Kolossal Games that put them on the map. This open world design with great art resonated with people and while I did not back the game completely on KS, I did end up getting a copy at retail with all the expansions…and it sat there…and sat there…and sat there. I read the rulebook, watched videos and actually probably found myself more interested in doing research into the game than getting it onto the table. I always felt like I needed more than just 2 players to play the game and perhaps I was just scared that playing it at 2 players would break this dream about living out a board game version of Red Dead Redemption 2. I’m glad to see the support for this games going strong with Ante Up and Blood Money in the pipeline. Perhaps one day, I’ll get a group to get a game in.

Trade In – Dice Settlers

I think just as roll and writes were taking their escalating climb to glory, Dice Settlers had a crack at chuckin’ dice for resources and opportunity to ‘settle’ this environment for some area control elements set in a Viking-esque theme of settling…with dice. Unfortunately, this game did not resonate well with 2 players. It works, don’t get me wrong I just didn’t feel it in this game. I think the sweet spot here would be 4 players as the land being developed probably becomes a bit more personalized but in our game, based on the rules, it looked a bit symmetric. It’s a bummer, NSKN/Board and Dice games are good games! This one tho didn’t work for us tho. On to the next!

Trade In – Dice Throne Season 1

With Dice Throne Adventures coming up and the hype level with Season 2, I was able to pick up Season 1 at an excellent price. The game is Yahtzee with attacking. It’s cool, thematic with great art work but it wasn’t the type of game that I am all particularly interested in. I can see why this is a hit on Kickstarter and I think it still has some legs for a Season 3 or 4 if they decide to do it.

Trade In – Dead Man’s Cabal

An Origins release in 2019, Dead Man’s Cabal sets players into raising the dead using multiple different boards that interact with each other in multitudes of different ways. I did a blind teach and play from the rulebook at 2 player and it wasn’t all that bad. Once things started to click, it was actually quite zippy! My own (silly) gripe about this game is the wish that this game could be played with less table space. This game (I feel) is bigger than it needs to be and it kinda prevents me from wanting to setup this kinda game in the future. It’s a bummer. It’s not a bad game – hell I think it makes a great Halloween game for some folks. But that game for me would be Mansions of Madness 2e and I had to sadly let this one go. Play it though if you have a chance – I think it is an underappreciated game.

Trade In – The Artemis Project

The demo I got for this game at Origins 2019 was the best demo of the convention. Dice placement to different locations that do different things – the fight and control of certain resources and areas was cool and solid. Good design, artwork + gameplay all hit the right buttons for me…but it sat on my shelf for what is coming up close to a year without any urge to break it out. I have no idea why – it’s a shame because with this game plus Endeavor, they have a good solid selection of games. It was one of those Marie Kondo moments of remembering the great demo and work effort that went into the game but I think someone else in this world deserves to get this to the table quicker than I probably could.

So, that does it! When I make my February purchases for 2020, I’ll be sure to do another post like this. Until then, I hope you are all having a great start to the year.