San Marcos Board Gamers http://sanmarcosboardgames.org More fun than you can shake a meeple at Fri, 12 May 2017 14:36:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.1 Last Night at Cephas House: 5/11/17 http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/2017/05/12/last-night-cephas-house-51117/ http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/2017/05/12/last-night-cephas-house-51117/#respond Fri, 12 May 2017 14:35:37 +0000 http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/?p=789 We had some classic games out last night at our Cephas House meetup, including the old Knizia favorite Through the Desert: Check out the event listing for more pictures, and join us next Thursday night for our next meetup!

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We had some classic games out last night at our Cephas House meetup, including the old Knizia favorite Through the Desert:

Check out the event listing for more pictures, and join us next Thursday night for our next meetup!

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Fuji Flush Adds New Twist to Numbers Games http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/2017/03/22/fuji-flush-adds-new-twist-numbers-games/ http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/2017/03/22/fuji-flush-adds-new-twist-numbers-games/#respond Wed, 22 Mar 2017 16:49:41 +0000 http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/?p=783 There are hundreds of card games built around numbers. You match them in poker and crazy eights. You order them in trick-taking and ladder games. It's hard to imagine that there are any new twists on number card games left to be found -- and then a game like Fuji Flush comes along. Ignore the title for now. It's [...]

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There are hundreds of card games built around numbers. You match them in poker and crazy eights. You order them in trick-taking and ladder games. It's hard to imagine that there are any new twists on number card games left to be found -- and then a game like Fuji Flush comes along.

Ignore the title for now. It's almost meaningless, reflecting designer Friedmann Friese's affection for the letter F more than any rational description. "Gamer Uno" would be a better description, except that Fuji Flush is less chaotic, more strategic, and in general more fun.

Like Uno, your goal is to get rid of all of your cards. You start with six cards (five cards if you have seven or eight players) and can play any card you want on your turn. However, most of the time you can only permanently dispose of the card if the turn gets back around to you and you still have the card in front of you. If an opponent plays a card that is higher than yours, you have to discard your card and draw a new one.

Staring down opponents at a recent meetup.

Fuji Flush's Frantic Friendships

If that were all there were to the game, Fuji Flush wouldn't be much fun. But that's where Friese's twist comes in. If you play a card that is the same as one that at least one opponent already has in play, you and your opponent(s) get to add the value of the cards together.

If Ann plays six and Bob plays a six, both Ann and Bob treat their cards as twelves. That means Carly can't flush out their sixes with her eight. And if Ann's card is still in play when the turn gets back to her, both Ann and Bob get to discard their sixes.

There are a lot of low cards in a Fuji Flush deck, and only a few high cards. Anyone holding a low card has a strong incentive to team up with other players. The team-up comes with a price, though -- if it's successful, both players get rid of a card and advance closer to victory. Teaming up with a player who has more cards than you is great. Teaming up with the player who has one or two cards? Not so much.

This fact of numerical life leads to a constant series of micro-alliances. Players quickly grasp the advantages and risks of teaming up, then quickly change partners so they can rid of two cards while the other players only get rid of one. The bright, easy-to-read cards keep the game state clear, but it's much harder to read the other players and turn the game your way.

Fuji Flush is a simple little gem of a card game. That's not surprising coming from a designer of Friedmann Friese's stature, but it is surprising that nobody every thought of it before. It looks like "card games with numbers" still has a few tricks left in it.

Fuji Flush is published by Stronghold Games, and is available at Amazon and various hobby game retailers.

 

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Thursday Night Gaming at Cephas House! http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/2017/01/04/thursday-night-board-games-cephas-house/ http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/2017/01/04/thursday-night-board-games-cephas-house/#respond Wed, 04 Jan 2017 19:14:32 +0000 http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/?p=772 The San Marcos Board Gamers have a new venue! On Thursday, January 12, we start weekly meetups at Cephas House, a community center run by the City of San Marcos. Our official time is from 7:30 pm to 10:00 pm, and we have a little wiggle room for long games. Cephas House is one of the gems [...]

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The San Marcos Board Gamers have a new venue! On Thursday, January 12, we start weekly meetups at Cephas House, a community center run by the City of San Marcos. Our official time is from 7:30 pm to 10:00 pm, and we have a little wiggle room for long games.

Cephas House is one of the gems of the city's Parks and Recreation department. Originally the home of early 20th century blacksmith Ulysses Cephas, it was redeveloped into a community center in 2013. The city uses it to host meetings, yoga and boxing classes, and now us!

Cephas House

Cephas House on 217 MLK Drive

Inside Cephas House

Much of the house was restored with its original materials and designs, but the interior is now a large event space. There's plenty of room for us, along with the usual tables and reasonably comfortable folding chairs.

Plenty of room!

Food and (non-alcoholic) drink are welcome, as long as we clean up after ourselves. There's also a small kitchen and coffee pot that we can put to use.

The paint color is period-appropriate, by the way.

Cephas House is wheelchair-accessible through the back door, and free parking is available across the street at the Calaboose African-American Museum.

Partnering With the City

The most amazing thing about this space is that it's free.

Let that sink in for a moment. Event space is expensive around here. We've been looking around for a while and most public venues run $50 to $75 an hour. The San Marcos Public Library is an exception, and has been tremendously supportive of our monthly meetups. But their space is in a lot of demand. There's a limit to how much they can accommodate any one group.

With Cephas House, the city management recognizes that offering a regular venue for small classes and organizations benefits everyone. They're eager to have us meeting there, and all they ask is that we welcome everyone, have regular attendees, take good care of the space, and note Parks & Recreation as a co-sponsor for the events.

There is a tiny amount of paperwork involved. They've asked us to keep a sign-up sheet, and for attendees to sign a brief liability waiver. But that's a small effort for the space we get.

Our agreement to use Cephas House runs throughout 2017, and if all goes well will roll over to future years. I hope you're excited about this new venue, and that you will join us for the first of many game nights on January 12!

 

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Bohnanza Celebrates 20 Years, New Bean http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/2017/01/03/bohnanza-celebrates-20-years-new-bean/ http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/2017/01/03/bohnanza-celebrates-20-years-new-bean/#respond Tue, 03 Jan 2017 16:55:42 +0000 http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/?p=762 A local-favorite card game reaches its 20th anniversary in 2017, and Amigo Spiele is celebrating with a special edition. Bohnanza: 20 Jahre adds a new look and a new bean to the game later this year. After years of being "that game Uwe Rosenberg was famous for before Agricola", Bohnanza is enjoying a resurgence. In the last three years, the game has seen expansions, [...]

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local-favorite card game reaches its 20th anniversary in 2017, and Amigo Spiele is celebrating with a special edition. Bohnanza: 20 Jahre adds a new look and a new bean to the game later this year.

After years of being "that game Uwe Rosenberg was famous for before Agricola", Bohnanza is enjoying a resurgence. In the last three years, the game has seen expansions, a two-player version, and a My First Bohnanza variant for kids. Amigo Spiele says it has sold two million copies of Bohnanza over the last twenty years.

Bohnanza

San Marcos Bohnanza players get their beans on.

It's hard to beat the simplicity and depth of the original, though. Players draw, trade and "plant" cards to build up sets of beans, then trade those beans in for the coins. There's just one maddening constraint -- you play the cards in your hand in a specific order. Trading away unwanted cards is so important that Bohnanza is one of the few games where giving stuff away is a winning strategy.

The New Spring Bean in Bohnanza's Step

The new edition updates the bean cards with art the celebrates the 20th anniversary, but the big change is the new spring bean. The beans in the basic game score points when collected, but the spring bean triggers a brief card draft.

When you turn in a set of two spring beans, you draw cards equal to the number of players plus one. You plant one bean and pass the rest. Each player then plants a bean from the handful and passes it on. The last card turns into a coin for you.

It's a daffy mechanism that gives you a great choice of cards, then threatens to disrupt the plans of other players down the line. I can see the spring bean throwing new players for a loop, and I think I would keep it out of a beginner's game. But the chaos should be great for long-time fans.

I haven't quite worn out my original German-language deck of Bohnanza yet -- those cards are sturdy! But I might just talk myself into an upgrade when the game hits shelves. No word yet on when that will be, but it will be shown at the Nuremberg International Toy Fair in February.

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2016 Reviewed and a Look Ahead http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/2016/12/30/2016-reviewed-and-a-look-ahead/ http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/2016/12/30/2016-reviewed-and-a-look-ahead/#respond Fri, 30 Dec 2016 19:11:29 +0000 http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/?p=751 It's almost the new year, and a good time to take a step back. How did 2016 stack up for the San Marcos Board Gamers? Overall, it's been pretty good. The group has had 57 meetups, often with ten or more attending. We've hung around in the library, the IHOP, and the occasional home. We've played [...]

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It's almost the new year, and a good time to take a step back. How did 2016 stack up for the San Marcos Board Gamers?

Overall, it's been pretty good. The group has had 57 meetups, often with ten or more attending. We've hung around in the library, the IHOP, and the occasional home. We've played classic games, new games, and prototypes. We even joined the party on International Tabletop Day!

2016 San Marcos Board Gamers.

International Tabletop Day, one of the high points of the year.

It's hard to properly count up all the games played without spending several hours digging through session reports, but it looks like at least 150 different games hit the table over the course of the year. Some of them were just visiting, but many have returned on a regular basis. Here are some of our favorites.

The Galleons Game

I'm not sure this game has a proper title, but David has been working on it for quite a while and it's a treat to see on the table. A great mix of fun and beauty and sinking each other.

"Smooooke on the water..."

Mare Nostrum: Empires

Keeping up the nautical theme, this game of trading and conquest in the Mediterranean was probably the best received "new' game of the year. (It's actually a new edition of a 2003 game, but most of the gang had never played the old version.) There's a lot happening and plenty of strategies to pursue, but it's also surprisingly easy to teach to new players, even with six at the table.

Conquering Mare Nostrum.

 

King of Tokyo

Sometimes you just want to smash things up, and these kaiju were here to help.

"Excuse me, which way to Ueno Station?"

Pig Pong

And then there were a few games that defy explanation.

But are lots of fun!

From 2016 to 2017

Overall, 2016 was a pretty good year for gaming, but 2017 is looking even more promising. We're currently negotiating with the city for what might turn into a very fun regular game venue. The library is interested in doing more events like Tabletop Day, and it would be fun to build up more of a community presence this year. It would be great to do more afternoons focused on longer games like Battlestar Galactica or Diplomacy. This blog could also use some more regular updates, too.

This group is pretty laid back, but we have a lot of members and there are a lot of possibilities. If you'd like to put together an event, try out a new game, or write for the blog, then jump in and join the fun. See you in 2017!

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Is Evolution: Climate a Game Changer? http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/2016/11/16/evolution-climate-changes-game/ http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/2016/11/16/evolution-climate-changes-game/#respond Wed, 16 Nov 2016 19:24:44 +0000 http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/?p=743 Evolution has become a local staple. I've taught it to all kinds of players who love the mix of simplicity and strategy. But can Evolution: Climate create a more strategic "gamer's" experience without losing accessibility? When you sit down to play, it's clear North Star Games has not strayed far from the original formula. Each player controls one or [...]

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Evolution has become a local staple. I've taught it to all kinds of players who love the mix of simplicity and strategy. But can Evolution: Climate create a more strategic "gamer's" experience without losing accessibility?

When you sit down to play, it's clear North Star Games has not strayed far from the original formula. Each player controls one or more species. Each species tries to eat as much as it can which scores victory points. The players get trait cards every round, which they use to grow their population, grow their species, and give their species special abilities. Most species are peaceful omnivores, while creatures with the Carnivorous trait can only eat their fellow species.

All this takes five minutes to teach in the original Evolution, and Evolution: Climate keeps this core. It also adds some nice usability touches, such as differentiating body size and population by color. It also adds one big change: a climate track at the top of the game's main board.

Every round, each player discards a card that helps determine the food supply (established) and whether the climate marker moves on the track (new). Different climates affect the food supply and the health of players' species. If the climate gets hotter, more food becomes available but bigger species overheat and lose population. If it gets colder, the food supply diminishes and smaller creatures freeze.

Evolution: Climate players about to find out what a cold snap does.

Evolution: Climate players about to find out
what a cold snap does.

Climate Change: Threat or Menace?

On the surface, the climate track doesn't change much. The marker moves, the food supply shifts. Climate extremes and a set of event cards threaten occasional disruptions, but the overall impact seems to be minor. It's one more thing to manage, not a condition that defines your strategy.

That's good news for accessibility. The game is still easy to teach. If it isn't a gateway game like Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride, it's pretty close. And while new players may get tripped up when a cold snap wipes out half their species, the game is forgiving enough that they can recover.

What I'm not so sure of is whether the climate track adds enough meat for skilled players. An experienced Evolution player will have no trouble mitigating the negative effects of climate, but I'm not sure she can do a lot to exploit it. Climate control is both indirect and slow. It's hard to imagine a hand of cards that lets you get the food you want and the climate you want AND the creature traits needed to make the most of them.

A table full of skilled players might be able to get more out of the game, especially if they're willing to cut some deals along the way. But it's hard to get that kind of a table together, at least in this neck of the woods. And while Evolution: Climate isn't any less fun than the other version, it's hard to see where it's more fun than the base game or the Flight expansion.

That makes Evolution: Climate a little hard to justify as a line extension. It's a worthy edition of a great game, but it doesn't stand out the way Ticket to Ride Europe stood out from Ticket to Ride. I'm looking forward to exploring this game further, but I don't know if the experience will ever be unique.

 

 

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Learn Catan at Our Library Meetup! http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/2016/09/15/learn-settlers-catan-library-meetup/ http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/2016/09/15/learn-settlers-catan-library-meetup/#respond Thu, 15 Sep 2016 18:14:52 +0000 http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/?p=737 Our next library meetup is this Sunday, September 19, and we're trying out something new. In addition to our usual open gaming, we're teaching a featured game: Catan! For many gamers, Catan is the first hobby board game they've ever played. In its 20-plus years of existence, Catan's mix of trading, luck, and strategy has introduced millions of players to a [...]

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Our next library meetup is this Sunday, September 19, and we're trying out something new. In addition to our usual open gaming, we're teaching a featured game: Catan!

For many gamers, Catan is the first hobby board game they've ever played. In its 20-plus years of existence, Catan's mix of trading, luck, and strategy has introduced millions of players to a larger world of fun.  It's a quick game and endlessly replayable, arguably a hobby all by itself.

In Catan, each player is building settlements and roads on an island. When it's your turn, you roll your dice and see who gets resources such as wood, brick or sheep. You build up sets of resources to buy stuff, and trading with other players gets you more stuff faster. The first player with 10 points of stuff wins!

catan

We've been working with the San Marcos Public Library to encourage players who've heard of Catan to give the game a try. We'll have at least one game set up and ready to teach throughout the event, and some extra sets handy in case we get a crowd. Experienced players are welcome to come and join the fun too!

Our next library meetup is at 1 p.m. on Sunday, September 18. We're looking forward to seeing you there!

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The Top 5 Star Trek Board Games http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/2016/09/08/top-5-star-trek-board-games/ http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/2016/09/08/top-5-star-trek-board-games/#respond Thu, 08 Sep 2016 17:12:45 +0000 http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/?p=732 "The Man Trap" premiered on September 8, 1966, which means that Star Trek has been living long and prospering for fifty years! If you'd like to celebrate with a board game and something... green...  here are five great choices. #5: Star Trek: Five Year Mission While not actually a great game, Star Trek: Five Year Mission lets you [...]

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"The Man Trap" premiered on September 8, 1966, which means that Star Trek has been living long and prospering for fifty years! If you'd like to celebrate with a board game and something... green...  here are five great choices.

#5: Star Trek: Five Year Mission

While not actually a great game, Star Trek: Five Year Mission lets you roll lots of dice while mixing and matching crew members from the original cast and The Next Generation. Dice plus Picard jokes gets you 90% of the way to having fun. And much as we love and respect Tabletop presenter Wil Wheaton, you have to give props to any game that has a "Shut up, Wesley" rule.

star trek five year mission

#4: Star Trek Attack Wing

Nobody has ever been able to resist the fantasy of commanding the Enterprise in battle, which is a little surprising considering that the original series' space battles relied so heavily on recycled footage and shaking bridge cameras. (There was also the little bonus of some great writing. And Romulans.)

Star Trek Attack Wing is the most playable of the many iterations of Starfleet battles -- ahem -- and is great if you want to do the kind of big fleet actions we saw occasionally in TNG and Deep Space Nine. It can also be very expensive to collect a big fleet of toy starships, but you get a big fleet of toy starships to play with!

#3: Star Trek Catan

Blending the world's most popular die rolling wood-for-sheep trading game with Captain Kirk's adventures seemed a bit illogical when it was announced, but Star Trek Catan works surprisingly well. You're building starbases and starship routes so you can mine dilithium and other resources and... okay, we're not going to think too hard about that. But the game is fun, the special power cards feel right for the characters they're attached to, and the game looks beautiful on the table. It's a Star Trek game that will go well with every generation.

star trek catan

#2: Star Trek Panic

Unlike Catan, adapting Castle Panic made perfect sense to anybody who has ever played it. The original Fireside Games version turned tower defense video games into a fast-paced cooperative fantasy card game, and from there it's a short hop to imagine the Enterprise surrounded by enemies and battling for her survival.

Star Trek Panic also adds some neat new elements to the design, including missions to complete and the ability to turn the Enterprise to protect weak points. We have no trouble imagining the security redshirts playing this while they wait for Captain Kirk to call them up to their doom.

#1: Star Fleet Battles

It's old fashioned. It's hyper-detailed. It's slooooooooow. It's a hardcore wargame that prioritizes energy management and micro-decisions in a way that only a Vulcan could love. But you've got to give Star Fleet Battles its props. Launched in 1979 with a wide-ranging license that must baffle CBS with its continued existence. the game has built up decades of lore that rivals the official universe(s) in loving, obsessive detail.

Star Fleet Battles is not for the faint of heart, but if spending all day running a starship around a map is your cup of tea, it's hard to beat. It's older than many hobby gamers and -- based on its track record so far -- the game that's most likely to still be around in the 23rd century. Live long and prosper indeed!

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Vast is Fun But Oh That Learning Curve http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/2016/08/30/vast-fun-oh-learning-curve/ http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/2016/08/30/vast-fun-oh-learning-curve/#respond Tue, 30 Aug 2016 20:00:03 +0000 http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/?p=721 Vast: the Crystal Caverns is one of those high-concept games that you really want to see work. It takes a hoary old theme -- dungeon crawls! -- and reinvigorates it with clever gameplay and visual designs. The question is: is Vast too clever for its own good? What makes Vast so unusual is its commitment to asymmetric play. [...]

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Vast: the Crystal Caverns is one of those high-concept games that you really want to see work. It takes a hoary old theme -- dungeon crawls! -- and reinvigorates it with clever gameplay and visual designs. The question is: is Vast too clever for its own good?

What makes Vast so unusual is its commitment to asymmetric play. There are five roles in the game, most of which fit the traditional dungeon crawl tropes. There's a Knight, and she's hunting a Dragon. The Dragon wants to get away from the Knight. There are also Goblins who want to kill the Knight, and a Thief who wants to steal treasure. Finally, there is the Cave, which wants to collapse and kill everyone else in the game.

(The novelty of the Cave is a big selling point for Vast, and usually triggers a reaction of "OMG I have to try this" in adventurous players.)

The differing goals are the first sign that the game is going to be a little offbeat, but it's the rules that send Vast into strange lands. Each character plays its own game, using its own components and its own sheet of rules. The Knight is exploring to build up her Grit (experience points) and level up to stronger abilities. The Goblins are managing slowly growing resources and position so they can launch devastating surprise attacks. The dragon is managing a hand of cards to trigger a choice of special abilities. The thief is allocating a fixed set of numbers of maximum efficiency. Meanwhile, the Cave is playing a tile-laying game to set up traps for the other players.

Vast

The Knight's player board, with Cave tiles lurking in the box.

Each player gets a unique experience, and the roles interlock well. Some roles directly attack each other, while others compete for resources. The Cave can help or harm the other players, slowing them down to keep the game going long enough to win. On the other end of the scale, the Dragon benefits from accelerating the game so it can escape before the Knight is strong enough to kill it -- but accelerating the game helps the Cave. Some roles benefit from temporary truces or alliances, but there are no shared victories and no way to directly assist another player.

Vast: the Crystal Caverns is a rich, thoughtful game, and I haven't even scratched the surface of its variants and solo play. There's just one fly in the ointment.

How in hell do you teach this game?

Five Vast-ly Different Games At Once

Five experienced gamers who know the rules should be able to have a blast with this game. The turns are quick, with little downtime. There's a lot of interaction. Each character has a lot of different toys to play with, so there's plenty of variety.

The trouble is, groups like ours never have "five experienced gamers who know the rules" all sitting down in one game. Most of the games we play have at least two or three new players, often a player or two who have no experience in the genre. We also like to play together, so our games have a tendency to fill up to the maximum number of players. (When we played Vast in our August meetup, we had four players -- one experienced, three new. We were going to leave out the Thief, but a new player joined in just as we started. He was a great kid and a lot of fun, but increased the teaching load by 33% and was totally new to strategy games to boot.)

Puzzling over Vast at our last meetup

Puzzling over Vast at our last meetup

Our group's gaming habits are usually a plus. We're easy-going and we all like to learn new games. A lot of our games are "teaching games" rather than serious competition, but there's nothing wrong with that. The games run a little slower, but not much since new players can take cues from the experienced players' turns.

Vast breaks this. There are basic concepts common to all five roles, but you learn almost nothing about what to do from the previous player's turn. Explaining the rules before the game is a tedious process. The individual rules are "only" two pages, but many in our group have trouble learning from written rules.

As a result, our first few games have moved at a crawl as people tried to figure out what they were doing as well as how and why to do it. We have limited time to play at our meetups, and have had to call games for time just as they were speeding up and getting fun. As the game's owner and teacher, it's a frustrating experience.

I'm not sure there's anything more Vast could have done to make teaching it easier. The rules are clear. There's a master rulebook to go with the handouts for each player. There are teaching intro videos for groups that like to prepare their gaming in advance.  And in the long run, maybe our group will have enough old hands to easily teach one or two new players when Vast hits the table. I'm just not sure the group will be willing to climb the learning curve enough times to reach that point.

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Is Lanterns a Carcassonne Killer? http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/2016/08/04/lanterns-carcassonne-killer/ http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/2016/08/04/lanterns-carcassonne-killer/#comments Thu, 04 Aug 2016 15:12:38 +0000 http://sanmarcosboardgames.org/?p=714 Lanterns has made a splash over the last year, earning plenty of great reviews and awards nominations. It's a "lay tiles for points" game that looks a lot like Carcassonne, but is Lanterns likely to dethrone that classic game? Lanterns certainly seems to have the edge in a couple of areas. The game is a colorful excursion into a Chinese harvest [...]

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Lanterns has made a splash over the last year, earning plenty of great reviews and awards nominations. It's a "lay tiles for points" game that looks a lot like Carcassonne, but is Lanterns likely to dethrone that classic game?

Lanterns certainly seems to have the edge in a couple of areas. The game is a colorful excursion into a Chinese harvest festival, with players putting out tiles that represent sets of paper lanterns being released on a lake. It's a cheerful all-ages theme that's easy to explain to new players, especially if they've who have seen the Disney movie Tangled.

The basic game mechanism of Lanterns is also simple and highly interactive. There are only three things to do -- exchange a card, score points, and play a tile. During the first few turns, you'll only be playing tiles, which makes the game even easier to teach. You score points by collecting lantern cards, and you collect lantern cards when players add tiles to the board. Good play gets you more cards, but everyone is getting a constant supply of cards.

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Lanterns spreads its colors across the table.

Lanterns Shines at Player Engagement

The "everybody earns cards every turn" rule is a stroke of genius. It takes one of the best elements of Settlers of Catan -- the hope that your opponent's next turn will get you just what you need -- and makes the drip of reward even more continuous. There's almost no downtime, and the flood of incoming resources keeps the game short and sweet. That's a big advantage over Carcassonne, where a beginning player can got a lot of turns without an appreciable increase in score.

Don't count Carcassonne out, though. The elder game's mechanic of enclosing spaces for points isn't quite as tight as the cycle of earning and playing cards in Lanterns, but the looser structure might work better for Carcassonne in the long term. Carcassonne has been putting out annual expansions for over fifteen years now. We've seen princesses and dragons, pigs and cathedrals, and dozens of other cool variants. It's hard to see where Lanterns can find the design space for so many little tweaks.

In the end, both games are strong additions to any game shelf. I've been playing Carcassonne since it was the hot new game, and I'm still not tired of it. (In fact, most of the time I still play the base game. It's just that good.) But when I want something just a little bit faster and even easier to teach, Lanterns is a new go-to game for me.

The post Is Lanterns a Carcassonne Killer? appeared first on San Marcos Board Gamers.

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