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Let me preface this by saying that I am very blessed to have a wife who enjoys playing games with me. She enjoys most of the games I buy, and I do my best to buy games that she will like. That being said, they aren't all winners in that department. So, here 5 of those, in order of how much I like them.
- #Santorini - this is one of my favorite games overall (probably top 5). So far she hasn't enjoyed it. I don't think she likes abstract strategy (more on that further down). There may be hope, though, as she has agreed to give this another shot.
- #The Fox in the Forest - I don't think she likes trick-taking games. Either that, or they just haven't "clicked" with her yet. Anyway, to me, this is a nice little game with good decisions and some nice tension, but not too much tension.
- #Hive Pocket - abstract strategy. This is a great little game. She's said she'd play it with me on trips, since it's such a good travel game. We'll see.
- #Lost Cities - feels too mathy and abstracted to her. I also think she doesn't enjoy the tension you feel all the way through this one. I do.
- #Jixia Academy (Hanamikoji) - she HATED this one, haha. I gave it away. I enjoy this game, but I kind of get where she's coming from. Because there's so much hidden information, it's hard to actually formulate a plan that's better than guessing. You can do it, but it's not easy or apparent.
She hasn't actually played #Dune, so I'll leave it off the list, but I'm just assuming she wouldn't enjoy it, haha.
I FINALLY got to play #Jixia Academy the other night with my wife! This game is actually a simple re-theming of #Hanamikoji. It is a very simple card game that utilizes their "I split, you choose" mechanic, along with set collection. The set collection however acts as a means of area control as you vie for the favor of various scholars.
Each round is comprised of 4 actions that you must take but in whichever order you choose. The game can be as quick 5-10min or as long as 20min.
- The art is not my favorite, however it is well executed
- The production quality is great, as is characteristic of Deep Water Games
- The alternating turns are very quick
- Very unique actions/decisions
- the rulebook, though short, is not very clear
- the back and forth from round to round can be a little tedious
- the win conditions are simple, yet they can get a little muddled from round to round
In this first impression I must impress upon you the importance of impressing the impressive scholars as impressionable students.
My partner and I played Jixia Academy for the first time over the weekend. It is a quick little 2P game where you have to get the majority of cards for four out of seven (or 11 points worth) of the scholars in the game.
The game is divided into rounds, each round you each get 6 cards which correspond to the scholars. There are 21 cards total, each scholar having the number of cards matching their points value (if a scholar is worth 2 points there are two of that scholar's card). One card is removed randomly from the deck so you can never have complete information. On your turn you draw a card and then use one of four abilities:
- Place one card face down, it will be revealed and added to your side at the end of the round.
- Discard two cards from the game for this round.
- Reveal three cards, you opponent takes one and then you take the other two.
- Reveal four cards in two groups of two (you decide the groups), your opponent takes one pair and then you get the other.
You use each ability exactly once, so you get four actions per round. There are handy tokens that you flip to remind you what you have already done.
At the end of each round each player will have 10 cards split between the seven scholars, if you have a majority of cards for a scholar their support switches to you (or stays with you if you had them from the previous round). If there is a tie the scholar stays supporting whoever they are currently supporting. If anyone meets the win conditions the game is over, otherwise all the cards are collected up and you go again until someone wins.
The nature of your opponent choosing first makes the decision which cards to reveal, and when, really interesting. You want as much information on your opponent's aims/position as possible but if you leave it right to the end you limit your options/have no options. It also leads to the ability to counter your opponent, so a lot of the rounds end in stalemate over most of the scholars. As such it becomes a game of trying to engineer it so you win scholars by only one card whereas you opponent has all of one type of card and so wins that scholar as inefficiently as possible. While it seems like it could theoretically go on forever, we finished in 3 rounds and I can't imagine it going on for more than 4-5 (there is a variant where you limit it to 3 rounds and just score points).
There is a luck factor in what cards you draw, but at least with the initial game, I feel that because the cards you draw are controlled by you but picked by your opponent, the impact of the 'luck' is lessened.
- Quick and easy to set up
- Plays rapidly
- Decisions feel agonising (in a good way): you have to gauge your opponent and then calculate the best move based on what you know. A fun duality to the decisions
- When you manage to edge your opponent out it makes you feel like a tactical genius.
- Theme is just pasted on (I believe it is just a re-skin of another game) and not very engaging.
- Can imagine games feeling relatively similar: there is no asymmetry and possibly not enough tactical depth for too many different 'strategies' so not sure on replay-ability, time will tell.
Overall, I probably wouldn't recommend anyone buy this game without playing it first, I got it as a gift. However, if you can get a good deal I can imagine it being a solid travel game: could easily be played after a meal and while it didn't make me want to immeditaely play 5 games in a row, if you spaced them out over time I think I would enjoy each game.
The title says it all really: is there a mechanic that you have seen in a game that you would love to see more widely embraced by the hobby and integrated into new games?
For me I really like the mechanic in #Jixia Academy where you pick a set of cards from your hand, but your opponent gets first choice of the cards and you get the rest. This for me added a really fun and tense aspect to an otherwise fairly straightforward and mediocre game. I have seen other games do similar things in dividing resources into piles that other players then get to choose first. However, I feel like it is a relatively uncommon mechanic but one that adds a really interesting dynamic to decisions.
So yes, what would you like to see more of in games? And is there a twist on that mechanic you would want to see?
Thought would be a nice way to end the week with a round up of my favourite specific mechanics in specific games:
5) You chosing a selection of cards but your opponent chosing which cards to take and leaving you with the rest in #Jixia Academy - adds so much tension to each move, as you are trying to push your opponents in a certain direction and win by very slim margins.
4) The dynamic set up by the twist on worker placement in #Architects of the West Kingdom - You have a pool of around 20 workers, many of the spaces have no limit on the number of workers you can place there and in fact get proportionally more powerful ther more worker you already have there wjixhen you place a new one. However, there is no automatic worker retrieval like in many worker placement, there is instead a space that allows you to collect all of one colour of worker from a space (this space also increases in power, so you can collect a more groups of workers if you palce more workers there): this is how you both retrieve your workers but also capture opponent's workers which you can sell to the jail (where your opponent can then collect them for a price). This sets up a great ecosystem where if you play too many workers in one place (and as such benefit from improved actions) then they immediately become a target for your opponents. However it never feels vindictive as it wouldn't be worth targetting a small group of workers so player always 'bring it on themselves'. Other mechanics then integrate really cleverly with this flow of workers but I'll limit myself to that.
3) Slipstreaming in #Flamme Rouge - I love so many of the mechanics in this game, but this one might be my favourite. Flamme Rouge has simultaneous card selection: you all pick your movement at the same time and then reveal. The cyclists all move and then, any cyclist (or group of cyclists) that is exactly 2 spaces behind the one in front (i.e. sepereated by one empty space) get a free movement up to directly behind them. This both gives you free movement allowing you to save your high movement cards for later but you also avoid taking exhaustion by being 'exposed'. However, as you don't know exactly how far you oppoent is going to move, if you misjudge it and play too low, you risk being left behind, at which point it can be really tricky to catch back up and you can take on a load of exhaustion. I love the risk reward in this, and the trying to work out how your opponents are going to play this round (and they are also limited by what cards they draw to add an extra element of uncertainty)
2) Battle systems in #Rising Sun and #Cry Havoc - I have written in much greater detail here about why I think these are cool systems, but in essence rather than rolling dice they allow you to use various resources to try and outmaneuver your opponent/s with multiple possible objectives that a player might be pursuing so you can trying to work out and counter your opponents strategy.
1) Defcon system in #13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis - Again I wrote a post about why I love this system here but I think it is such an elegent way to put limits on excess by players and encourage measured and targetted plays. It also keeps the game competitive as if a player goes all out in one round (and scores a bunch of points) it is likely that the next round they will have to spend a lot of actions walking back those moves giving their opponent a chance to capitalise.
What about all of you, what is your favourite specific mechanic/s?
[Lost Cities, Santorini, Hive Pocket, Jixia Academy, The Fox in the Forest]