Sunday Summary – Back to school, back to work, and back to #boardgame, #wargame, and maybe even #TravellerRPG #gamenights with @gmtgames @Academy_Games @IndependenceGa6

With Labor Day weekend just around the corner (at least for us ‘Mericans) it is officially the end of the summer season. This traditionally means back to school, back to work after summer laziness, and in the RockyMountainNavy household a return to tabletop gaming.

School

RockyMountainNavy Jr. is a high school senior this year. After being sidelined in online learning last year he is anxious to get back to school in-person and (more importantly) back to regularly seeing friends. He also has a driver’s license now which also means he has, perhaps inevitably, discovered that girls like coffee dates, ice cream, and movies. I have a sneaky suspicion that, given the choice between a family game night and, uh, “social engagements,” he will chose the later.

16 Candles

Work

The summer vacation season is coming to a close. Aside from vacation, I was already back to work 5-days a week. I suspect I will be just as busy between now and the Thanksgiving holiday. RockyMountainNavy T, my middle boy, is also gainfully employed (i.e full time—or more) as an Electrician’s Apprentice and his company which specializes in HVAC controllers (a COVID-era Upgrade of ChoiceTM for many buildings) has more work than staff. For both of us this means the occasional lite games in the evenings may become even more occasional.

Centralized HVAC Controller

Boardgame

The return to school and work also usually means a return to Family Game Nights. Given the, uh, “distractions” in RMN Jr’s life I am not sure I can totally count on him to be there for game nights. That said, there is a chance that we might have a multi-family game night at times with maybe as many as six-players. More likely, RMN T and myself will have Father vs. Son Game Nights…on weekends. One of the new-to-me games sitting on my shelf of shame that makes a good candidate for play is Space Empires 4X by designer Jim Krohn from GMT Games (2017 Third Printing).

Foundations Edge – Representative of Space Empires 4X?

Wargame

As always, wargames will be the core of my gaming time. Production and shipping delays mean that I will have time to work off my shelf of shame and get games to the table. I have plenty of Game of the Week titles waiting for me:

I am very interested in using Commands & Colors: Samurai, Strike of the Eagle, and even Space Empires 4X as possible games that RMN T and myself can play head-to-head on those Father vs. Son Game Nights.

There is also a possibility that new titles will trickle in although I am very unsure as to any timelines. I am positive that my uncertainty is nothing compared to the uncertainty that publishers have over the same issue. This past week, Gene from GMT Games dropped his monthly update that shows many of my titles are stuck. As Gene puts it:

Supply Chain and Shipping Slowdown. We haven’t made much progress from last month on the “P500 games shipping to us from the printer” front. Our printers are in the process of printing and boxing some of the 21 new products that are currently being printed. But the same global supply chain and shipping issues that are hampering businesses worldwide are hitting us, too. We THINK at this point that we will see three games shipped to us this month (to arrive in late September), but we can’t tell you dates with any certainty at this point.

Aug 2021 GMT Update

I guess this means I need to look at small, independent retailers to fill out existing-but-unowned titles in both my boardgame and wargame collections.

This is what I imagine my wargames look like waiting for shipping….

Traveller/Cepheus Engine Role Playing Game

This past week I also had a small, friendly interaction on Twitter with John Watts of Independence Games that served as a good reminder that the RMN Boys also asked for a return to some sort of RPG adventuring. I picked up a new ship book from Independence Games, the Brightwater-class Personal Yacht, that is yet another good adventure seed ship design. The real question is where do I fit an RPG campaign into the schedule?

Saturday night landscaping in Four Gardens (@kbgpublishing, 2020)

Long ago, in a beautiful Eastern kingdom, a queen and her people pleased their Gods by building a mystical pagoda. The pagoda housed the four Gods and towered strong over the magnificent kingdom. As time passed, the queen fell ill and she summoned her people to compete for her crown. The crown would be passed on to the person who could build the most pristine garden around the pagoda. The heir would be chosen by the four Gods themselves.

Introduction, Four Gardens, Korea Board Games, 2020

Three contestants came forward, the first was the village elder who had much experience. The second was a son who was renowned for his ability to see patterns in the wilderness. The third was the youngest but had fought in many battles often emerging victorious.

The contest started slowly as the three worked to learn the rules of the Gods. It’s not that the rules were difficult, for they were not, but the mystical pagoda that they could manipulate to appeal to the Gods for materials to build their gardens was an always-moving puzzle that took time to consider.

The elder was the first to complete a panorama, but the youngest warrior quickly followed. As the contestants mastered the simple rules of the contest they started building faster. The elder almost won, but a small mistake stopped him short of victory. The second son noticed the patterns and announced the warrior was going to win. Sure enough, the battle soon ended. As the Gods judged the contest, the second son and warrior were surprised to discover that the Gods favored them equally. It fell to counting who had the most panoramas, and here the warrior was ahead, and thus he emerged victorious yet again.

The three held council and discussed their contest. All three agreed the Gods had favored them all with such a beautiful Pagoda and a simple contest that created such beautiful Gardens. They agreed that this Four Gardens contest was worthy of repeated attempts, vowing to compete again and further to share the contest with others.


So went our first play of Four Gardens (Korea Board Games, 2020). Our copy arrived courtesy of my favorite niece in Korea for the game is not yet available in the US. I was drawn to the game for several reasons, amongst them the fact it is published in Korea and it has a beautiful table presence thanks the the four-story, rotating pagoda. The game includes instructions in both Korean and English so there is no language barrier!

From the moment you look at the box of Four Gardens, you know that this is a game of beautiful components. From the incredible box cover to the pagoda to the two-sided cards with watercolor landscapes to nice little wooden resources, this is a game that will look beautiful on any game table.

In Four Gardens, players work to convert cards from Groundwork into Landscapes. These Landscapes in turn build Panoramas to score points. Each turn, players can take three Actions. They can play a card Groundwork side up from their hand to their Garden (tableau). Some cards can be discarded from their hand to Take a Wild resource and play it to their Planning Tile (storage) or directly onto a Groundwork card. The players can also discard a Handcart to Reallocate Resources, moving their resources from the Planning Tile to a Groundwork card. Finally, they can discard a card to Rotate & Collect which rotates a floor of the pagoda after which they collect resources as directed. When all the necessary resources on a Groundwork card are collected, the resources are returned to the supply and the card turned Landscape side up to become part of a Panorama, scoring points for the player. The first player to complete a number of Landscapes based on the number of players triggers the end game after which points are totaled. Highest score is the winner!

With few exceptions, the paragraph above pretty much covers all the basic rules of Four Gardens. The game rules are dead simple. The challenge is in determining what order to play your cards and collecting and moving resources.

The pagoda in Four Gardens itself creates a nice spatial puzzle. Each of the four floors is one resource and the sides are 0-1-2-3 of each. When players Rotate & Collect, the card tells the player which level can be rotated 90 degrees either way and then which order (top to bottom or bottom to top) resources are collected. At first figuring out what was happening when the pagoda moved was a challenge, but very quickly we figured out how it all works. By the end of the game I was actually able to visualize the movement of the pagoda and there was much less analysis paralysis. Our first game took about 90 minutes, double the game box play time, but we all agree that future games will go quicker because we now understand the core mechanics.

A beautiful pagoda focus players in Four Gardens (Photo by RMN)

Game nights in the RockyMountainNavy household tend to run to wargames or strategy games with lots of conflict. Four Gardens is a welcome change from our norm, in no small part because it just looks so dang beautiful on the table. The pagoda rightly serves as the centerpiece of the game and the puzzle it delivers is challenging but not overbearing. The fact that the pagoda can be stacked differently each game means every game will be different, if for no other reason than the shuffle of the cards and the different stack of the pagoda.

I am very pleased that Four Gardens has joined the RockyMountainNavy game collection. It is an excellent family game with beautiful components and relatively simple game play. I wouldn’t use it as a gateway boardgames, but it certainly can be the “next step” amongst family and friends who want to step up from something like Catan or Ticket to Ride. I am confident that Four Gardens will make many more appearances during out Saturday Family Game Nights.

Let me tell you a tale of longships and woe – A #boardgame story from 878: Vikings – Invasions of England (@Academy_Games, 2017)

The ships. I remember the ships.

The first sign of the Invasion was when the longships filled with helmeted warriors sailed up to Winchester. After they came ashore it was barbaric as they pillaged the land. It was not long before most of the south of Wessex, including Exeter and Canterbury were to fall to the invading hordes.

We English tried to fight. We struck back where able. Led by Housecarl and stiffened by the Thegn we fought – and died. Many a Fryd-man suffered but it didn’t turn back the Norsemand tide.

London and Thetford and most of the Kingdom of Guthrie fell. There were few rebellions; most were brutally put down. Even attempts to turn the Vikings warriors from their pagan beliefs failed. Then another wave arrived and Manchester fell. Only English and Danish Merica held.

Desperately seeking a new leader, we raised an army for King Alfred. He fought well, but not well enough. When he fell in battle, it was clear to all that the Treaty of Wedmore was the only answer.


This past Saturday Night Game Night in the RockyMountainHouse saw a return of an old friend and the joining of a newer one. The new friend was Gavin, best buddy of RockyMountainNavy Jr., who joined us for Game Night. The old friend was 878: Vikings – Invasions of England, the very family-friendly, area control, team lite wargame from Academy Games (2017).

Being bestest buds, RMN Jr. and Gavin took the Norseman and Berserkers, respectively. RockyMountainNavy T and myself took the English with T playing Housecarl and myself playing Thegn.

Teaching 878 or any of the Birth of America/Europe series games is easy. The fact that a new player plays on a team makes it even easier with experienced teammates. Gavin had no problem learning the rules and the few questions he had during gameplay mostly related to understanding Event Cards and their unique effects. That, and the fact the Vikings started out with a very aggressive move that cost the English dearly from the beginning didn’t hurt them either.

The aggressive move was to play Card 12 – Viking Ships (Norseman) on the first turn. The card reads:

The Norsemen may play this Event during their Movement Phase to move an Army from one Coastal Shire to any other Shire located on the same sea coast if they have a Unit participating in the move. This sea move costs the Army or Leader one Move, the same as if it had moved into an adjacent Shire. The Army may continue moving if it has any moves remaining.

Norseman Card 12 – Viking Ships

Normally, the first Viking invaders must enter from the North Sea. RMN Jr. landed at Canterbury and then pointed to the fact the shire adjoins both the North Sea and English Channel. After easily defeating the defenders of Canterbury in the first Battle Round, the Viking proceeded to Winchester as their second move using the Viking Ships card. We debated the interpretation of the card but in an attempt not not derail the game out of the gate we ended up allowing it. The result was a very uphill game for the English who lost their best reinforcement cities right out of the gate. This made massing of forces difficult for defense of the realm.

[The next day I searched the BGG forums for any comments and noted a very similar move was played at the 2018 WBC tournament – so it appears legal.]

The Vikings actually played both Treaty of Wedmore cards in Round IV but we had to play through Round V and the arrival of King Alfred before the game end. Going into Round V the Vikings held 12 Shires (three more than necessary for the win). After back-to-back activations of Norseman and Berserkers to start Round V they held 14 Shires. The English used the arrival of King Alfred to take back two shires but it was not enough and he fell in the last battle of the game. With 12 shires held at the Treaty the Vikings won.

This was Gavin’s first “wargame” that he has played (“other than Risk“). He liked it and was curious about the other titles in the Birth of America series. As much as we want to play more wargames with him, RockyMountainNavy Jr. also realizes Gavin is more of a mass-market gamer. That said, he does have experience in some hobby games like Ticket to Ride (Days of Wonder, 2004), Kingdomino (Blue Orange Games, 2016) and Here to Slay (Unstable Games, 2020). With that thought in mind, Jr. asked that we consider other games, like maybe starting with the deck-builder Trains (AEG, 2012) for another game night.

Most importantly, we also reaffirmed in the RMN Home that Weekend Games Nights are ESSENTIAL. In the past six weeks we have let Game Night slide in a combination of apathy and depression from the social situations surrounding COVID-19. We all enjoyed Game Night and we realized it is an essential part of our mental happiness. We agreed that we MUST get back to regular play – and we will!


Feature image courtesy ancientpages.com

Bite Me! Why Jaws (Ravensburger.us, 2019) may be the quintessential Ameritrash #boardgame

Ameritrash is “a catchphrase for ‘American style boardgames.’ In general, this means games that emphasize a highly developed theme, characters, heroes, or factions with individually defined abilities, player to player conflict, and usually feature a moderate to high level of luck.” – BoardGameGeek Glossary

Personally, I never understood the Eurogamer vs Ameritrash divide in boardgaming. OK, I understand it but really don’t care. I usually ignore it too, preferring to rate games as to how much the RockyMountainNavy Boys and myself enjoy them. However, our play of Jaws (Ravensburger.us, 2019) showed me what may be the quintessential Ameritrash title – in all its goodness.

Jaws hits all the elements of an Ameritrash title in a near-perfect manner.

  • Highly Developed Theme – The two-Act game follows the movie very closely
  • Characters with Individually Defined AbilitiesJaws, Chief Brody, Hooper & Quint each are individuals with their own unique set of abilities
  • Player to Player Conflict – In this case Crew versus Shark
  • Moderate to High Level of LuckAct I has the randomness of the Amity Event Cards offset by player strategy but Act II is highly dependent on rolling the right dice at the right time.

A quick comment on that theme. The two-Act game idea is brilliant as it mirrors the major portions of the movie so well. The graphics in Jaws also reinforce the theme.  I see this most clearly in the Crew characters; from the black tableau of Chief Brody with the badge to the green with Quint’s hat and blue with sunglasses for Hooper, the color scheme, graphics, and symbology just fits as it both teaches and reinforces game mechanics and roles. The RMN Boys, born long after the movie was ever in theaters, also pointed out the box cover which uses the classic Jaws movie poster so well.

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Photo credit – self

Jaws is an agonizing game to play. In Act I, which takes place on Amity Island and has the Crew searching for the shark which is feasting on swimmers, the agony is from the deduction game that is being played. The Crew must deduce where the Shark is based on subtle (or not so subtle) clues. There is also a time-pressure element as the more the Shark eats the more Shark Ability cards it will have in Act II. On the other hand, the faster the Crew tags the Shark the more Crew Ability cards will be available in Act II.

Act II is a skirmish game with the Shark attacking and eating away (literally) the boat and Crew. I found a surprising amount of strategy in this Act as the Shark must try to attack where the defenders are weakest while the Crew must set up a defense using a constantly dwindling supply of resources. Act II very much feels ‘on the clock’ as the boat sinks away, the Shark takes wounds, the Crew takes wounds, and Crew Abilities get used up.

Our first game of Jaws pitted the RMN Boys as the Crew against Dad playing the Shark. Act I did not go well for the Boys as the Shark (again, literally) swam circles around them and used a Feeding Frenzy and Speed Burst at optimal moments to feast and evade. As a result, in Act II the Shark had a full hand of 10 Shark Ability cards whereas the Crew only added three Crew Ability cards to their hand. The Shark kept attacking, but here the luck of the dice deserted the Shark with many low rolls. On the other hand, the Crew banded together well and after a few initial missteps started defending the boat smartly. With the Orca more than half-sunk it looked like the Shark would win the war of attrition but two devastating rounds of hits inflicted by the Crew turned the tables on the Shark which then couldn’t outlast the boat. Both RMN Boys cheered and high-fived each other at the same time they breathed heavy sighs of relief when they finally killed the Shark for the win.

Kudos to the Jaws design team of Prospero Hall for finding the right balance of all these elements and making them work together to create real – and I do mean real – tension at the game table. I also appreciate the semi-cooperative game play of the Crew – to be successful the Crew must work together as a team in a game where the rules for working together are implied rather than implicit – meaning its up to the player to form the social contract. From a rules perspective the game practically self-teaches as the tableaus for each player contain virtually all the information needed to play. In many ways Jaws can be a foundation game for new boardgamers as it is both easy to understand the theme and easy to teach – as well as a quick play clocking in at 60 minutes or less.

The RMN Boys have already committed to bringing Jaws to the Neighborhood Gaming Gang’s attention. For ourselves, I expect to quickly play Jaws several more times as each Boy rotates as the Shark. In the long run, Jaws will likely serve as a foundation game we use to introduce others to the goodness of Ameritrash boardgaming.


Feature image courtesy Ravensburger.us

 

Bountiful bounty hunting in Star Wars: Outer Rim (@FFGames, 2019) #boardgame

The RockyMountainNavy Boys are modern Star Wars fans. For myself, well, the only true Star Wars is the first movie (Star Wars), Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi (with some reluctance), and Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy. Now that I have offended you, let’s talk about Star Wars boardgames, specifically Star Wars: Outer Rim (Fantasy Flight Games, 2019).

I have talked about Star Wars: Outer Rim before and in many ways gave up on the game. With the recent release of The Mandalorian TV series, the RockyMountainNavy Boys and myself pulled the game out for a bonus game night and gave it another go.

At the suggestion of RockyMountainNavy Jr., we randomly drew characters. This was to avoid a problem we had in the past where RMN Jr. always took a certain character and ran away with the game. As luck would have it, all three of us drew Bounty Hunters for our characters. This lead to several interesting situations where one player was hunting another to get their crew member. In the end, RockyMountainNavy Jr, with Bossk flying a Firespray raced to fame ahead of RMN T (Ketsu Onyo still flying his Starfighter Starter Ship) and myself (Boba Fett in an Aggressor). Unlike other games we played there was alot more player-vs-player interaction this game.

And it still fell flat.

The primary reason I think Star Wars: Outer Rim doesn’t get strong table love is that it just takes so long to play. Our 3-player game took 2 1/2 hours. We talked about the game time and agreed that the game overstayed its welcome by about 30 minutes. We don’t think we were playing slow; it’s just the game is slow by design.

That said, the RMN Boys were very interested if FFG was planing expansions for Star Wars: Outer Rim. The new The Mandalorian TV series seems rip with good content. Once we started thinking, we even wondered if Solo: A Star Wars Story would make for good content. The game is so thematic that Star Wars fans should love it. So why does FFG give it so little love?


Feature image courtesy Fantasy Flight Games.

Caesar or lion chum? Another epic Enemies of Rome (@worth2004, 2017) #boardgame #wargame #gamenight

ENEMIES OF ROME (Worthington Publishing, 2017) is most-played wargame-boardgame in the RockyMountainNavy household. Yes, this grognard of 40 years has played this blocks and cards waro more times since I started seriously recording my game plays in mid-2016. Why this game?

Because it’s fun. Here is the publishers blurb:

You and up to 4 other players are one of Rome’s great leaders. Take control of legions and lead them across the known world for the next 600 years as you deal with uprisings, rebellions, political intrigue, and wars. Players can make alliances with one another (and true to Rome, break those alliances!) maneuver their forces and the enemies of Rome, all as they try to become the one true Caesar! All others are fed to the lions and their legacies lost to history…

I have discussed Enemies of Rome before. I initially started off a bit against the game but over time we keep coming back to it. Every time it gets better. Yes, even after 13 plays it still keeps the RockyMountainNavy Boys and myself engaged. This weekend’s game night showed that Enemies of Rome always has surprises in store.

Unlike several other plays of Enemies of Rome, this game played out a bit differently with much more head-to-head battling. Although the game looks like it should be an area control game, in reality you score ‘Glory’ (VP) by winning battles. With this thought in mind I adopted a strategy of trying to win at least one battle every round. I also used Enemies of Rome (Barbarian) Movement to not only move Barbarians towards my opponents, but to also move Barbarians away from areas I wanted to attack. More than a few times I ‘cleared out’ an area and left it easy-pickings for myself. The strategy almost worked – except the RockyMountainNavy Boys caught onto what I was doing and quickly imitated my strategy.

In the end, RockyMountainNavy Jr, Proconsul of Hispania, and myself, Proconsul of Syria, were tied for Glory. The tie-breaker goes to the player with the most Legions on the map. Alas, that was not me.

IMG_0550
End game – Purple & Red tied at 21 Glory…but Red has more Legions on map and wins!

Both RockyMountainNavy T and myself set Personal Best scores this game. All that in a game that took 90 minutes to setup, play, and tear down.

The RMN Boys noticed that Enemies of Rome plays up to 5 players making it a good candidate for the Neighborhood Gaming Gang. I get a feeling that our copy is going to get many more plays in the year ahead….


P.S. As I write this blog post (Jan 04, 2019), I notice that Enemies of Rome is ON SALE at Worthington for $37.50 as compared to a retail of $75.00. A REAL BARGAIN!

 

Harvesting new modes of Scythe (@stonemaiergames, 2016) – Our first #boardgame play of 2020

SCYTHE (Stonemaier Games, 2016) OCCUPIES A SPECIAL PLACE IN THE ROCKYMOUNTAINNAVY PANTHEON OF GAMES. When I attended the CONNECTIONS 2017 Wargaming Conference, this very brash guy named Uwe Eickert from Academy Games spoke about the incredible design innovations in the game. On the power of that recommendation I picked up the game and eventually, although with some trepidation, it landed on the RMN Gaming Table. In the past three years, the RockyMountainNavy Boys and myself have enjoyed many plays of Scythe. When RMN Jr. suggested we play Scythe as our New Year’s Night Game we all enthusiastically agreed!

As much as we have played Scythe, we have stayed a bit vanilla in terms of expansions. We have used Invaders from Afar (2016) from our beginning in 2017 and started our Rise of Fenris (2018) campaign in 2019. For the New Year’s play we decided to go ‘back to basics’ and use the Base Game + Invaders from Afar while also adding airships from The Wind Gambit (2017) on the new Modular Board (2019). After randomly setting up the board and selecting factions, we pulled one of the modular tiles off and set off.

For this game the faction match-up included:

  • Togawa / Patriotic for myself
  • Rusviet / Agricultural for RMN T
  • Nordic / Mechanical for RMN Jr.

The Wind Gambit expansion includes Resolution Tiles. There are eight (8) tiles and at the beginning of the game one is chosen and placed near the Triumph Track. These tiles have different win conditions that modify how the game can end. In our game the variable win was ‘First player to more than $40’ as well as the normal ‘First player to place 6 stars.’

In Scythe it is always interesting to see the different approaches the game allows. I generally employed a ‘get the Mechs out early’ strategy whereas Jr. focused on upgrades while T took a more balanced approach. RMN T definitely won the award for ‘most thematic play’ as we watched him send his Rusviet red hordes of Mechs and workers across the board. He was also the first to the Factory, really making it a ‘Red Factory.’

In the end, the real battle was between T racing to 6 starts and Jr racing to the alternate end condition of amassing $40. Jr won the race and, given his advantage in money, also took the win with 87 against 55 for myself and 47 for T.

img_9176
Courtesy Stonemaier Games

In our post-game discussion we agreed that the Scythe Modular Board delivers new interesting challenges. On the base game board we all understood how to get out of our home areas; now we need to think harder as the way out may not be immediately obvious. The use of airships opens up many different movement options. More challenging is the use of the Resolution Tiles which change the end game trigger.

Even with all the new rules added in our play time for this game of Scythe was under two hours. RMN T gripped (rightly, IMHO) that Jr. triggered the end game too early. In Jr’s defense he saw the chance to win and took it; we didn’t do enough to stop him.

Now that we have played with The Wind Gambit airships we are ready for the next episode of our Rise of Fenris campaign. The boys agreed that we will need to mix campaign play with regular Scythe games. By the end of the year I feel we will mixing in expansion modules from Rise of Fenris into our regular games. It is a real testimony to the design of Scythe that even after several years the game feels fresh every time it lands on the RMN gaming table. Most impressively, the many expansions and variations give players plenty of options to harvest for play.

 

Some #wargame #boardgame thoughts on 1812: Invasion of Canada (@Academy_Games, 2012)

THE ACADEMY GAMES BIRTH OF AMERICA series games are great “family wargames.” Lite in rules, yet deep in strategy, they also play up to four or five players. For the RockyMountainNavy family, their ability to play at 3-players is most welcome. Recently, 1812: Invasion of Canada (Academy Games, 2012) landed on the table. This gave us a chance to rediscover this under appreciated gem.

Like the game, The War of 1812 is also under appreciated. As the American Battlefield Trust puts it:

Sometimes referred to as the “Second War of Independence,” the War of 1812 was the first large scale test of the American republic on the world stage. With the British Navy impressing American sailors, and the British government aiding Native American tribes in their attacks on American citizens on the frontier, Congress, for the first time in our nation’s history, declared war on a foreign nation: Great Britain. Battles raged on the high seas. British soldiers invaded American soil, captured Washington D.C., and even burned the White House. In the end the Star-Spangled Banner waved “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

https://www.battlefields.org/learn/war-1812

Although 1812 can support up to five players, we played with three. The RockyMountainNavy Boys took the British Regulars, Canadian Militia, and Native Americans. I played both the American Regulars and American Militia. The game plays pretty much like every other Birth of America-series game with a few exceptions; the Native Americans are a full “fifth” faction with their own cards and dice, set locations for mustering troops (reinforcements), and combat resolution that has the side fighting in their home territory battle first (instead of the defender as in other games).

Courtesy Academy Games

Generally speaking, in the Birth of America series the RockyMountainNavy Boys prefer to play 1775: Rebellion for its simplicity whereas I prefer 1754: Conquest for its theme. Much like Americans and the War of 1812 we tend to “forget” this title.

Not any more.

The war played out in three phases. The first phase was an American invasion in the east that was stopped. The second phase was a British invasion through the central Great Lakes that was countered by American invasions to the far west. The third phase consisted of both sides retaking lost territory. By the time the Treaty of Ghent was signed the British were just barely ahead.

This game of 1812: Invasion of Canada played out much more balanced than many of our other Birth of America games. We all enjoyed the ups, and downs, of the campaign. Like other Birth of America games, the Flee results on the dice are the most remembered, like the time that one gritty little Canadian Militia stood tall while the British Regulars around it fled.

At five players, 1812: Invasion of Canada is a good candidate for the Neighborhood Gaming Gang. With the school year starting and the end of summer, the NGG will be looking for titles to play on weekends when the weather is poor. 1812 may be another perfect fit!


Feature image Academy Games

Quartifact Questing with Qladiators: Expanding on Quarriors! (@wizkidsgames, 2011) #Boardgame #GameNight

THE RockyMountainNavy Boys are absolutely in love with the deck-building dice game Quarriors! (WizKids, 2011). They love it so much they dug into their own pockets and paid for several expansions. The expansions arrived this week so it was inevitable that Quarriors! land on the gaming table for Family Game Night.

There are several major expansions for Quarriors! and looking at BoardGameGeek we sorta “rolled the dice” (heh heh) and picked two:

The publisher’s blurb for Qladiator led us to believe there would be some sort of arena combat mode but, alas, the only new rule introduced is the Lock Die. Interesting in action, but low on theme. Although it would make more thematic sense in Quest of the Qladiator, it is Quartifacts that introduces Quests. To be honest, I spent a bit too much time just unwrapping my brain around the preconceived notions the titles gave me and get past the cognitive disconnect from theme the titles created.

Once the game got to the table all was good. The new rules are seamlessly integrated into the game and easy to pick up. There were a few wrinkles, like a quartifact effect that is dependent upon an expansion we don’t own (yet, obviously).

Youngest RMN Boy is really into the game with all the different dice. Middle RMN Boy, a collector of Magic: The Gathering cards, loves the artwork. Even with the new rules the game played relatively quickly and can still be a weeknight/after dinner game. Deck-building games have only a few places in our game collection with Trains (AEG, 2012) being the only other. I don’t think Quarriors! is going to kickoff a new game buying trend but it’s good to see the RMN Boys get into a game so seriously.


Feature image WizKids via BGG

#Boardgame Game Night – Deck o’ dice with Quarriors! (@wizkidsgames, 2011)

For the weekend Game Night here at Casa RockyMountainNavy an older game landed on the table. Quarriors! (WizKids, 2011) was the 2013 Origins Award winner for Best Family, Party, or Children’s Game. So tonight, we not only got an older game to the table, but I was able to get another game of my 2019 Origins Challenge checked off.

Looking at my BGG collection, I rate Quarriors! as a 5 – Medicore – Take it or leave it. Tis actually places it in the bottom 15% of my collection. After these replays I am considering raising it to a 6 but…I’m not so sure I really want to do so.

You see, Quarriors! is not really my type of game. I never got into deck-building games and that is the core mechanic in Quarriors!. Sure, it uses dice instead of cards but the core mechanic is the same. I can see how, with familiarity, it should play fast.

The speed of play was partly why I brought the game back out. I am looking for good games to fill a 60 min or less time in the evenings with the RockyMountainNavy Boys. Quarriors! should be a perfect fit.

In the end though I just find Quarriors! unsatisfying. If I want a 45 minute game I would rather put Queendomino (Blue Orange Games, 2017) or even Tiny Epic Galaxies (Gamelyn Games, 2015) on the table. I might try it again…

…or maybe not.


Feature image BoardGameGeek