So at first I put this off an extra day, as I knew I would be playing games on Saturday. Then I started the post, and it turned out to be more of a summary of Dominant Species than I wanted it to be. And now it’s Tuesday, and I’ve already played new games for this week! So I’m going to backtrack a touch, and finish last week’s games.
So, on Wednesday I played GMT’s Dominant Species, an interesting area-control-meets-animal-evolution game. It’s not as light as, say, Evo or Primordial Soup. In fact, it’s actually pretty deep! It’s not difficult to play, it’s just there are a lot of things you can do on a turn, but only a limited number of actions. Do you make your species more survivable? Do you try to save your species from the effects of changing ecosystems? Do you push the onset of the Ice Age? Do you populate the world? Etc. Etc. There are some tough turn-to-turn decisions, and the actions are carried out in such an order that it is possible a great plan you have at the beginning of the turn, when you’ve chosen your actions, can be crushed and humbled by a single action chosen by another player. This is definitely not a game for the faint of heart. There are plenty of opportunities for aggressive moves, so I can see where some people consider it a sort-of wargame.
In our full 6-player game on Wednesday my Arachnids were able to just inch past the Amphibians for a one-point victory! For the first few turns I was in dead-last, with almost no points. But the Insects’ early lead soon gave way to the Reptiles who were making a nice push for the lead. But in last few turns I was able to jump ahead of the others. It looked as if the Mammals were going to do well by dominating much of the board, as were the Amphibians. But alas, at final scoring I was able to hold on.
Winning aside, I enjoyed the game. It’s heavy, with a great theme. It’s not a unique theme, but this is definitely the meatiest game involving evolution that I’ve played. I will definitely play this again.
Fastforward a few days to Saturday where I played a whopping three games with Les.
We started off with Blood Bowl: Team Manager, a purchase I made that day. I didn’t know what to expect from the game. Well, I did, as I had watched the intro videos on the Fantasy Flight website. I have to say, I was pleased with the game. To me the basic mechanics follow a tug-of-war system along a number of fronts. Sort of reminds me of Battleline, but with more to it. A lot more, I guess.
I can see where people might think there is no long-term strategizing, but rather taking it turn-by-turn depending on the cards you draw. Each turn you draw only six players of your entire team, so you are pretty limited, and not using your own choices. However, I think that since you have the options of which Highlights to go for, and thus which rewards you could potentially win, you have a bit more say. In our game, for instance, I opted to go for the Team and Manager upgrades early on. As the game went on, as short as it was, I was able to gain plenty of rewards because of my upgrades, either through in-play abilities or end-scoring bonuses.
I can’t wait to try this game with more players. I’m also already thinking of variants. I’m not saying the game needs variants, as I am pretty certain it’ll play well after repeated plays as it is. But I’m a fiddler, and I’d like to see how it might play like the 3-player variants of Battleline, or somehow using the Tournaments in different ways.
Next we tried Arcana, Fantasy Flight’s Revised Edition. Another game set in the Cadwallon setting, this one plays very much like a generic set-collecting game, but with plenty of extra mechanics and coolness thrown in. Basically you are sort-of deck building, as you are adding cards to your deck. But unlike deck-building games, a) you play one card at a time, laying them down on the table to b) compete with the other players for the cards you want. You are almost bidding for the cards, sometimes hidden, sometimes against hidden bids, depending on which pile the ‘reward’ card is on.
I didn’t mind the game, as there are plenty of special abilities and some great artwork, all stuck on to a nice basic card game, which is definitely not a bad thing. I would love to try this multiplayer, as I bet it just gets even better.
And lastly we played Resident Evil, the deck-building game. After playing a handful of deck-building games, I am still loving the genre and want to play more, more, more! I haven’t found one I dislike yet, nor have I found ‘the best one.’ I’ve played Dominion, Thunderstone, Heroes of Graxia, Tanto Cuore, Quarriors, Nightfall, Rune Age…anymore? They all have some great things going on for them, for sure. Resident Evil is no different. I’m sure fans of the video game would enjoy this more than your average gamer, especially with the nice artwork, and all of the items and monsters that are taken right from the game (I think). It doesn’t exactly feel like you’re playing the video game, like the way Doom or Gears of War or whatever might. As a deck-building game, you’re technically not moving around a map picking up weapons and shooting baddies, but instead purchasing the items and then facing the baddies one at a time. But it definitely has the atmosphere of the game setting, if not the actual gameplay itself, which I don’t think is a negative for the game. It’s as much a Dominion clone as you can get, I think, other than Tanto Cuore, which again is not bad. In fact, it’s probably the easiest of the genre to compare with Dominion. It is so similar in the “Draw cards…1 Action, 1 Buy” system, which gets altered as you gain Actions which give you extra Actions, Buys, Cards, etc. Then it throws in the ammo/attacking/Mansion thing. Cool.
I will definitely play this some more (yes, I know I say that about pretty much everything). Again, I won’t say it’s my favourite, but it’s definitely good enough to play again. In fact, with the various ‘modes’ of playing, it offers even more replayability than other deck-building games that are only different in the types of cards you can purchase.