So, it's been a while since I've posted. Here's a bunch of new games I've played since then. Note that most of this was written before my daughter was born, so if you are hoping to hear about how awesome fatherhood is or how my ongoing game of SpawnCraft is going, this is not that post.
So this is a Dominion-esque game with a pseudo-"World of Darkness" fiction. The game mechanical twist for this game is that in addition to the pool of cards that everyone can buy, you have a private pool of cards that only you can buy, which you choose at the beginning of the game using "booster draft" mechanics.
The objective of the game is also different, instead of trying to accumulate victory point cards, you are trying to fill your opponents' decks with "wound" cards. Unlike the Curse cards in Dominion, the "wound" cards have an ability that makes them useful to have in your hand (or at least not terrible). So there's a little bit of negative feedback to the game in that the losing player gains a little bit of a competitive advantage. You give people wounds by attacking them with characters that you play onto the playfied, much like Magic, except all the creatures are one-shots that get discarded after they've been around for a turn. Your characters can attack any other player, so it's a big free-for-all.
There's also a "color chaining" mechanic where each card has a color, and every card essentially has a "+1 action only for cards of color X or Y" ability, where X and Y are quite typically not the original card's color. So how may actions you can play on a turn is determined by your ability to buy and draw cards that work together to form long chains of colors. Furthermore, after you're done playing actions, the other players get to add actions on to the end of your chain, and everything resolves in Last-In-First-Out order, Magic style.
On the whole, I had a number of problems with the game:
- Many of the cards are characters with ordinary names like "Alton Hickman." This doesn't really give you any kind of clue as to the function of the card. When you're trying to follow the play of other players, this can be very confusing.
- The color chaining mechanic didn't really work for me. It really just boiled down to a directed graph of chaining relationships between the cards, one which I had a hard time visualizing. The colors didn't seem to have any kind of fictional meaning that I could latch onto to help me reason about how to do the chaining.
- Because of the free-for-all nature of the combat, the outcome of the game seemed to be dominated by intra-player politics rather than by anything that was happening inside the game.
7 Wonders: Leaders
This is the expansion to 7 Wonders. It adds a set of "leader" cards that you draft before the start of the game, booster-draft style. Leaders are played one per age, before you see your cards for that age. When you play a leader, you have the same 3 options as you do with a regular card: play the card face up, discard it to get 3 gold, or play it face down as the next stage of your Wonder. I suspect that using your leader to build your Wonder is a stronger play than can be appreciated at first.
My biggest complaint in the original game was that there was not enough long-term strategy, or rather, that any long-term strategy you try to make can be thwarted by the random deal in the third age. That said, I think this expansion is a step in the right direction; The leaders give you more visibility into the future of your cards.
The new Magic core set is out. We've played two booster drafts at work. (No I did not intend for this post to have a booster draft theme, but there you are.) So far, my only impression has been a sigh of relief after returning to the simplicity of the core set from the messy complexity of the Scars of Mirrodin block.
One amusing thing about Magic 2012 is the incorporation of "bloodthirsty" creatures, who are stronger if they come in to play after you have damaged an opponent. I'm convinced that this mechanic was introduced to train new players to save their creature summoning until after combat, which is generally a good tactic even if your creatures aren't bloodthristy.
Orcs Must Die Xemu's new game. Played it at PAX. Basically it's a console "tower defense" game, where you are a character running around on the playfield in over-the-shoulder third person 3D. You spend money to set up traps to kill all the orcs before they can reach your dimensional portal. Whenever you're not busy setting up traps, you can pull out your crossbow or sword and fight the orcs yourself. There's also environmental features like chandeliers that you can knock down onto the orcs.
There were a couple things I had a hard time with. There were moments where I was given a scant 15 seconds to prepare for the next horde of orcs, and failed to get anything done due to sheer indecisiveness. Also, I found myself pretty much unable to make use of the environmental features, which for the most part seemed to involve looking in places where the orcs weren't. Also, I hate the flying guys. On the whole, though: thumbs up!
I am definitely looking to playing this game some more when it comes out next month.
Ok, I wrote that a while ago. Since then I the game has come out, and I have played it all the way through at Warmage difficulty on XBox, and started a playthrough on Nightmare difficulty. I still say thumbs up. My one high-level criticism is that the game is a $15 game, and as such is seems like it's missing some user affordances, like a real tutorial, or the ability to change your control mapping. I totally understand the underlying business decisions here, but as a user I found myself wishing that I could buy and play the $50 version of the game.
Some Other Time:
Here's some other games I've played, but have not gotten a chance to write about:
Words with Friends