Wes Baker

The Re-Review: Back in the Swing of Things

April 27, 2015

Five Tribes

Five Tribes

Five Tribes is a perennial favorite around the Baker household and for good reason: there’s a lot of interesting decisions to be made for a relatively short game. My wife and I are pretty competitive with it and scores are always relatively close.

With this game, we decided to try out the new expansion The Artisans of Naqala and really liked the few changes made. I’ll talk about my two favorites.

First is the big change, the artisans and their items. This is the big draw of the expansion and it doesn’t disappoint. What you can expect is an interesting and balanced new route to both earn points and cause some serious disruption in the normal flow of the game. I put a bit of time into the Artisans, but attempted to ignore them since I’m typically distracted by the new shiny of an expansion. My wife on the other hand, went all in and ended up using a lot of the action tiles in order to score some very big tiles. All of my draws resulted in mostly points, though I did get both of the 9 point tiles which gave me the edge.

The other change I really liked are the obstructions: the chasm and mountains. These two small changes restrict the map just enough to make interesting nooks and crannies in the map and throw off your calculations by just a tiny bit.

If you already own Five Tribes (which you should) then you owe it to yourself to pick up The Artisans of Naqala.

Mottainai

Mottainai

  • 1 play with 2 players
  • New to me

I’m a big fan of Carl Chudyk’s Glory to Rome. I enjoy how the cards do different things and that the whole game is just one big attempt at finding that perfect combo. When I saw that Chudyk was coming out with a new game on Kickstarter that was supposed to be the spiritual successor to Glory to Rome, I jumped on it very quickly.

Mottainai is structured pretty similarly to Glory to Rome: you have multiple use cards, you pick tasks and (sorta) follow your opponents’ tasks, you build things using resources, you can score points by moving resources into your sales (vault), you can get bonus actions by having assistants (clientele). However, you don’t ever spend cards to build things, you just show them from your hand (when using the Smith) or from your craft bench. The game is over once someone has completed five works and those works are built on either side of your player mat and either function as training for your assistants (doubling the number of actions they provide) or they cover your sales (which means you actually get points for your sales).

First, let’s talk about the good. It feels pretty similar to Glory to Rome, which I consider a strength. It feels like it’d play quicker once you knew it well enough. I love the art. It’s available for less than $100. You don’t have to spend resources to build works. It’s a lot clearer as to what’s going on: you don’t have to play a card to follow, you just take your opponent’s task on your turn before your task. In addition, it feels like the folks at Asmadi took a look at more complicated games that have sequences and sub-sequences and discretely listed the steps of your actions so there’s never any confusion as to what happens when (huge kudos here).

However, it never quite feels like you can get enough cards, and I suspect that’s intentional. It always feels like you’re just a few cards away from doing something awesome, instead you just have to wait a bit longer (and so does your opponent). Those awesome combos you would get in Glory to Rome are long gone (good luck building two things in one turn!). The training assistants and covering sales is a very clunky mechanic and was the hardest part to explain to my wife, a veteran Glory to Rome player. Last, Mottainai is just not different enough from Glory to Rome to warrant owning both.

If you already have Glory to Rome, I’d skip this one. If you don’t have Glory to Rome and can’t get a copy at a reasonable price, I’d look into Mottainai. However, as soon as they reprint Glory to Rome, toss Mottainai onto the trade pile.

Tiny Epic Galaxies

Tiny Epic Galaxies

  • 1 play with 1 player
  • New to me

I’m not sure why I keep doing it, but I’m always on the look out for good fillers, so I decided to pick up Tiny Epic Galaxies after hearing good reviews of it. I’ve only played it once solo, but I think I like what I see. It has dice that allow you to do certain actions and you get to re-roll them once for free. From there, it’s a matter of using those dice to launch ships, colonize planets, upgrade, use your new planet actions, and acquire resources.

This is not epic in any way, but from what I can tell, it looks like it’ll be fun with a few folks before everyone else shows up to the game night. It’s just a quick few die rolls and I’d guess you’re done in about 30-45 minutes. I’m looking forward to trying it with my group.


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.