Wes Baker

The Re-Review: Woefully Behind

July 05, 2015

The Duke

The Duke

  • 1 play with 2 players this week
  • Played before

This is one of those games that just doesn’t get to the table nearly as much as I’d like since it’s two players only. It takes what I like about chess (its strategy and different movements) and removes what I don’t like (its static setup). I like that a piece’s movement changes after moving and that each piece does something slightly different. I do find myself looking up the very short rules since I don’t play it often, but if you played quite a bit, this would be a 10-20 minute game each time.

Highly recommended if you can get it to the table.

TransAmerica

Transamerica

  • 1 play with 6 players this week
  • New to me

I’ve never played TransAmerica before mostly because it looks like a small abstract filler, yet it was a six player game that everyone else was interested in so I happily went along with it and was pleasantly surprised by the game here.

The gist is you have five American cities you need to connect and you start with twelve points. All of the cities are connected by a triangular grid and you have a starting point somewhere on the board. On your turn you place two rail road pieces along the triangular grid. The first person to connect their cities ends the round and everyone else loses points based on how far they are from their goals. You play multiple rounds until someone hits zero points.

I’m pretty sure this is out of print and while I did enjoy it, I definitely wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to find it. However, if you can try it out, I do recommend giving it a shot.

Elysium

Elysium

  • 1 play with 3 players this week
  • New to me

This one went back and forth for me: should I buy this or should I ignore it? In the end, I bought it and I’m happy I did. Elysium is a fast game and one full of difficult decisions and not nearly enough time to do everything you want. Combine that with a variable setup and I’m a happy camper.

The goal of the game is to have the most points at the end of five rounds. You do so by drafting cards from the Agora. You have four colored columns---red, green, blue, yellow---and when you draft a card you must have the columns represented on the card and then you must remove one of your columns, though not necessarily a column you used to draft the card. Each card has some benefit or disadvantage for your opponents. At the end of the round you’ll have an opportunity to move cards to your Elysium, where you’ll form sets based upon the suit and number at the top left of the card. You’ll be forming level legends which are all the same number, but different suits; and family legends which are all the same suit, but different numbers.

I can see how that description probably wouldn’t sell most people. It didn’t really sell me, but the promise of a game with tough decisions in under an hour hooked me, and it delivers. While the cards are typically thematic with the god they represent, I would never call this a thematic game, so understand that part is mostly window dressing. Still, it’s a great game and one worth trying and, maybe, buying.

Five Tribes

Five Tribes

My love for this game continues, though I don’t remember a ton about this play other than I had a hunch I wasn’t playing optimally from the start. The winner managed to snag some obvious stuff that I missed. Still, it was a good reminder that I have plenty more to learn about this game.

Through the Desert

Through the Desert

  • 1 play with 3 players this week
  • New to me

Abstracts are not my favorite. Through the Desert is very clearly an abstract, however, it was somewhat interesting to play and pretty snappy after I was taught the rules. The teacher of this game said that detractors of this game always point to the necessity of a good starting position and how the rest of the game really just plays out from there. I’ve only played once, but I think I see where they’re coming from.

I’d play this again, but I’d prefer playing most other games.

Specter Ops

Specter Ops

  • 1 play with 2 players this week
  • New to me

My only play of Specter Ops was probably not at an optimal player count: 2. It was a game of cat-and-mouse as my friend traipsed around while my hunters tried to find him. It ended up being mostly me learning how to find him and what to do at that point, but I could see this game having an alpha gamer problem as the hunters try to find the agent. I’d like to try this one again, but I was a little disappointed by it.

Sushi Go

Specter Ops

  • 3 plays with 5 players this week
  • Played before

Sushi Go is a simpler take on drafting games like 7 Wonders where you take a card from a hand of cards and pass them to your neighbor and repeat until there are no cards left. Different combinations of cards score points differently.

The biggest benefit of this game is its simplicity and its art. It takes all of five minutes to teach and it looks absolutely adorable which makes it really easy to hook new gamers. Beyond that, if you’re comfortable playing 7 Wonders I’d skip this one, but if you’re looking for a great game to play with family members, I’d try this one out.


Wes Baker

I’m a programmer who lives in Fredericksburg, VA. I enjoy board games, puzzles, and making things work. When I’m not in front of a screen of some sort, I’m probably spending time with my wife, my son, my animals, my board games, or my books.