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Stellar Horizons

2020 birthday present to self.  This is a game which puts you in charge of a space programme over the course of up to 120 years.  The game is realistic in the sense there are no aliens or made up galaxies - the field of operations is the Solar System and the players represent a country or region of Earth.  Up to 7 players may play but I would think the playing areas would be impossibly congested for more than 3 or 4 players (see photos - I put the base facilities back next to their bases for this photo but had them on the faction board throughout).  I chose to play as Japan which has no start tech and cannot do anything except explore for the first decade - other factions can rock on and get an Earth orbital base set up in that time.  Each faction has different fleet capabilities, different starting tech and political benefits.  The campaign structure comprises an economic phase every 10 years when you receive a dollop of cash, you adjust your relations with other factions and get to spend the tech points you have obtained from the previous decade’s exploration.  That is followed by 10 years of building ships, moving them around, exploring, building and expanding your bases, space mining asteroids, trading surpluses and, potentially, fighting fleets or bombarding an enemy base from orbit.  There are also a number of co-op and competitive shorter scenarios.

The great positive about this game is it is common sensical. The downside (other than time and space involved) is that there is a lot to remember about what happens in certain circumstances, which I decided to summarise into an aide-memoire. (The rule book is, I imagine, typical for this type of game - just slabs of text with a few tables - and there could be a key sentence hidden away anywhere in a paragraph).  Like all such games you have to plan ahead and that’s tricky at first when you are grappling with the rules.  I like randomness to  keep things interesting - there is a sense of satisfaction when something unexpected happens - yes, I am proud to announce life has been found on Mars - and frustration when your flyby explorer which took 5 years to get somewhere malfunctions on first use. 

As a solo player you have certain advantages - being able to plan without interference, to be able to explore at will without competition (the tiles added to worlds specify the resources obtainable if you build production facilities) and to not have to fret initiative.  On the downside, no major space combat other than pirates and possibly bombarding NPF bases, and you pay full whack for all technology. 

I reckon the first campaign took 12-14 hours of play (the 7 seems a joke) but next time should be shorter.  I lost the will to continue by the end - you have to roll low for completion and of course on this occasion that proved elusive in 21 rolls.  There is obviously a pacing issue in these long term experiences, which I have little experience of.  I had 3 bases but none further out than Mars system because of not having planned how to expand further out with the Japanese limitations, and should have as a minimum continued building settlements for these because they score - I also wanted to terraform Venus but left the planning for such a major project far to late.  I had developed a shit load of tech but none of the high scoring ultimate ones.

In conclusion, worth a look if you don’t mind the randomness, and have a yearn for a big space game which isn’t centred so much around player interaction such as Twilight Imperium or Eclipse.

Photos - control centre at the game start (complete mess by the end) - two views of the Solar System (missing the final extremities to the right) which had been explored thoroughly as indicated by the low numbered tiles which indicate successive depletion / identification of specific areas.  There are pirates hanging out in Saturn but I simply can't reach them with my fleet to kick their butts. There are some NPF bases on Jupiter worlds and next campaign I'll pay the cost to aggro or befriend these.

 

 

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38 minutes ago, revlob said:

Looks like a beast. It's not a game I'd heard of before you brought it up in this thread, @Cosmic_Guru. What led you to discover it?

 

That's easy!  I trawl through the pre-orders at Meeples Corner from time to time (easy to do since they don't do RPGs, cards and other clutter), and this caught my eye because I've been looking for a BIG space game to fit alongside the mid-sized X_ODUS and Tiny Epic Galaxies.  Then on to BGG to read more and some guy there was saying it was everything and more he ever wanted from a solo experience, and that sold me.  

 

Needless to say if anyone else has this or picks it up, let me know and I'll send you my player guide.  

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  • 2 weeks later...

Looks like that's me sorted forever for campaign based gaming fun!  On top of these beauties, I still have Hexploreit, Hellboy and the Folklore expansions to start.  Descent and Imperial Assault have had a couple of false starts so there's those to do, and the last couple of Terminator missions need finishing off as well. I should probably stop buying board games now.

 

Darklight looks incredible, I can't wait to tuck into that! It's basically a love letter to HQ/AHQ.  Thanks so much to @Cosmic_Guru for the fantastic deal on the Core Space stuff whic also looks like an amazing game :D

 

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Edit - oh god, I just passed my gaming shelves and I'd forgotten Blackstone Fortress, Mice & Mystics and the last DDAS campaignable one. Send help.

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12 hours ago, Nathan Wind said:

Aaaannnd currently playing Jaws of the Lion with @Rikku over Skype.  It's ace!  Really liking the Gloomhaven initiative and attack modifier systems.

 

Yeah, it's really, really good to finally get to play some form of Gloomhaven!  :)  Really love the bitesize way it's introducing all the rules and everything to us. @ClipperI believe you were at some point considering picking up a copy of Gloomhaven, I might be mistaken there, but I have a vague recollection of it.  Jaws of the Lion might be a good option to look in to!  It's a very, very friendly way to learn the game and the set up and tear down is unreal compared to Gloomhaven full.  It still needs a fair amount of space but nowehere near the table hogger that its momma is and no worse than any other "regular" boardgame.

 

I was initially dubious how I would feel about no map tiles for it and thought it might detract from the experience a little, but I'm finding the scenario book is actually working well.  I think the quality could be a little better - it's not as nice as Stuffed Fables for example but I do like the amount of detail that can go on to the artwork of the maps because they are now scenario specific and not generic tiles used for 20+ other scenarios.  I'll definitely be picking the scenario books up when they become available for Gloomhaven and Frosthaven. :)  

 

Excited for the next few scenarios!  Tutsie the Demolitionist is ready to pop pop some baddies with a good old one-two punch or two!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Played through a few new games recently (to us, not newly released!);

 

Patchwork Doodle

A bit simpler than normal patchwork (and quicker to setup) but has a similar feel. You're not competing for pieces anymore so it's a straight score contest, but there are still plenty of choices to make. Only thing that lets it down a bit is that the first two scoring rounds are largely irrelevant (in our playthroughs at least) as by you get to the final round the score is so much higher that the previous rounds become a bit irrelevant.

 

Ticket to Ride London (or New York / Amsterdam)

Not much to say about this other than it's a quick way of getting a Ticket to Ride hit in a much shorter time frame. Really enjoy this, although it does lack some of the additional variety you get in the full fat games. We've got both London & New York although i'm not sure i'd really bother with more than one of them.

 

Arkham Horror LCG

Probably a bit LTTP on the this, and originally picked up for some single player fun during lockdown. Ended up playing with two through the first couple of missions recently and got quite into it - impressed with how it delivers a good level of variety and story, but with a reasonably simple setup. Only problem i've got now is that as much as I enjoyed it, not really sure I can justify the £100+ to play through any of the expansion campaigns.

 

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective

We recently played through Monochrome Inc and the Dungeon which gave us a good taste for detective games and I already knew this was next on the list. First thing - the contents of the box are excellent, I admit baulking at the price slightly based on what I thought the game was going to be but I couldn't have been more wrong. We've only done 3 cases so far, and performed terribly on each (albeit less terrible each time!). Some things can seem a bit obtuse, but it's just getting into the right frame of mind, and when you get into the flow time just disappears.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Table is prepped for our first proper games of the new WoT Miniatures Game (a reskin of Tanks by Galeforce 9) any time now.  We had a very quick blast after an afternoon of Imperial Assault last Sunday and it seemed a lot of fun for X-wing fans like us.

 

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18 hours ago, uglifruit said:

Played Villagers this weekend.  A lovely tableau builder, very clean rules and art I thought. Would definitely play again.

I've still not managed to decipher how the solo mode works though - unless it is supposed to be a super hard, cheating bastard, I'm sure I've picked up the rules wrong.

My son (8) and I often play a few games and I'll be honest he is much better at building a more sucessful village than me. Everytime I think I have decent chains going, we get to the 2nd market phase and he just rockets ahead in points. Proud of and pissed off with him.

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I picked up the second of the Space Marine Adventures games last week - Rise of the Orks.  It's another filler/beginner game exclusive to GAME, this time based around tower defence where the first one was a dungeon crawl of sorts.  Just played my first game on novice to get a grip of the rules and it seems pretty good.  Component quality is excellent with thick card stock and huge, impressively detailed terminator minis.  I think they're the ones you can buy individually in little boxes. They absolutely dwarf normal 28mm scale board game minis. So considering you get five of them plus all the other bits, the £40 RRP is fair.  Set up is quick, with the enemy pool and waves spawned each round determined by the difficulty card.  The first few difficulties seem to just ramp up the number of basic enemy units where the last two introduce the unique enemies that have special abilities.  Looks like it's going to be a fair challenge latterly.  Other than that it's what you'd expect - positioning, die rolling, grabbing supply cards, using the terminator's unique abilities. It definitely seems another solid little boxed game to either get youngsters/novices into board gaming or just to break out if you have a spare hour and want to roll some dice. I keep saying it but I do love these quick to set up and play games when I'm playing solo.  I expect that this might get stale fairly quickly with a fixed board and spawn points, but then it's clearly not designed to stay on the table for weeks on end so whatever.  Wind approved.

 

Good video of one of the higher difficulties here -

 

 

 

 

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On 03/09/2020 at 18:57, Mortis said:

Watergate is excellent - I just picked a copy up for my 2 player gaming bubble evening. 

 

Indeed.  We've only had a couple of games so far, and I've yet to play as the WP, but it's a fantastically tense tug of war.  Looking forward to playing more of it.

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On 29/09/2020 at 22:48, phresh said:

Played through a few new games recently (to us, not newly released!);

 

Patchwork Doodle

A bit simpler than normal patchwork (and quicker to setup) but has a similar feel. You're not competing for pieces anymore so it's a straight score contest, but there are still plenty of choices to make. Only thing that lets it down a bit is that the first two scoring rounds are largely irrelevant (in our playthroughs at least) as by you get to the final round the score is so much higher that the previous rounds become a bit irrelevant.

 

Being a roll and write, I assume you can play with more than two people?  Which version do you prefer?

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How disappointing is it when you go mad for a game, only to find that your wife (or partner / best friend / whatever) hates it?  I got Whitehall Mystery for my birthday last year and tried it with my wife and daughter doing the chasing, and they both hated it.  I finally got it to the table again earlier today with just my wife and myself, and she still does not like it.  She is far from stupid, and it generally quite good at games, but for some reason can't grab the logic needed to play as the police.  I'm going to try to get her to play again, this time as the murderer, but I'm not holding out much hope.  Digital version please, Fantasy Flight!

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5 hours ago, Stejay said:

 

Being a roll and write, I assume you can play with more than two people?  Which version do you prefer?

I’ve only played it 2 player but it does play up to 6 I think.

 

Doodle is a bit more easy going as you aren’t competing for pieces as you are in the normal version, the only difference between the players is the starting piece you draw individually. Overall it’s a bit quicker, and a bit easier to play, but it does lack some of the mildly strategic elements of the normal version. If you like tile placement games you could easily have both!

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16 hours ago, phresh said:

I’ve only played it 2 player but it does play up to 6 I think.

 

Doodle is a bit more easy going as you aren’t competing for pieces as you are in the normal version, the only difference between the players is the starting piece you draw individually. Overall it’s a bit quicker, and a bit easier to play, but it does lack some of the mildly strategic elements of the normal version. If you like tile placement games you could easily have both!

 

SOLD!

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On 31/10/2020 at 17:52, Stejay said:

How disappointing is it when you go mad for a game, only to find that your wife (or partner / best friend / whatever) hates it?  I got Whitehall Mystery for my birthday last year and tried it with my wife and daughter doing the chasing, and they both hated it.  I finally got it to the table again earlier today with just my wife and myself, and she still does not like it.  She is far from stupid, and it generally quite good at games, but for some reason can't grab the logic needed to play as the police.  I'm going to try to get her to play again, this time as the murderer, but I'm not holding out much hope.  Digital version please, Fantasy Flight!

 

Same exact thing happened for me, and Carcassonne. Even bought the damned big box version.

 

My g/f does veto random 2p games that I expect she'd like too. Not annoying at all when you've paid out £30 or more for a game... Welcome To was the latest one!

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On 31/10/2020 at 18:40, jonnyalpha said:

@StejayI feel your pain. Just as bad is when you get a game you've been excited to play and it falls flat for you. These days I'm much more likely to sell a game on the Facebook groups quite quickly if it doesn't grab us. 

 

I may have to do just that I think.  Which groups can you recommend?

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3 hours ago, Stejay said:

 

I may have to do just that I think.  Which groups can you recommend?

I've sold on Board Game Trading and Chat UK, Board Games and Roleplaying Games Buy and Sell UK & EU Only and Board Game and Roleplaying Buy and Sell UK and EU.

 

I've put games on there and sold them within ten minutes. The second group has nearly 14,000 members and, I think, if you list on there you can choose to have your listing show on the other groups automatically as long as you're a member.

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13 hours ago, jonnyalpha said:

I've sold on Board Game Trading and Chat UK, Board Games and Roleplaying Games Buy and Sell UK & EU Only and Board Game and Roleplaying Buy and Sell UK and EU.

 

I've put games on there and sold them within ten minutes. The second group has nearly 14,000 members and, I think, if you list on there you can choose to have your listing show on the other groups automatically as long as you're a member.

 

Fantastic, thank you.  :hat:

 

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Any folks here play a bit on Board Game Arena? Wondering if some of us fancied arranging a few turn-based matches :)

 

Been playing quite a bit turn-based stuff on there recently. Some games work better than others, but it's a great offering considering it's a free membership (keep meaning to upgrade to Premium).

 

The games I've been playing most on it is Nippon (which has the really cool coloured worker mechanic, and which BGG lists as on the heavy-side but I would say it's more middle-weight), Lords of Xidit and Puerto Rico to name just three. Every time I log onto BGA a few new games have popped up, it really does have a great range at the moment.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Impressions of Etherfields after a good session over the weekend - hopefully there are a lot of twists and turns to be revealed, but I feel the basic gameplay loop has been grocked.  Fortunately there is a good tutorial dream which helps enormously - absolutely everything in this is card or tile driven, and basic instruction cards are gated behind this tutorial.   The photo of the opened box illustrates the content - all the cards and the tiles before the first dividers are secret.  The miniatures are extremely detailed and add to the atmosphere for sure.

You will be selecting one or more Dreamers (I roll with two at a time), each of which / whom have a 22 card basic “Influence deck”.  The cards in these decks are used to perform actions in dreams and slumbers.  The decks are around 80% common to each dreamer but they have some specialism and individual abilities (the masks confer an additional ability on top.)  There are three attributes contributing to Influence - Wrath, Cunning and Awareness - and the basic mechanism is to pay the cost of the action in cards of the correct colour.  Some cards have additional instant or other effects and some may be put into your tableau for ongoing use.

You spend the start of each game session travelling round the Dreamworld - see the brightly coloured tiles in the plastic folder to the right of the box.  You do this because you need keys to enter dreams which constitute the meat of the game.  Whilst moving around you will resolve Slumbers wherever there is a red exclamation point on the map.  These are simple one Entity encounters - either enemies or benign.  These encounters are resolved on a map of tiles called the Slumberscape* .  Here is where your Dreamer miniatures will move around during resolution and then stay in place in-between individual slumbers, up to the point where you start a new Dream.

When you start a Dream you remove this Slumberscape and instead take all the tiles and cards associated with the Dream out of the box.  The tiles will be gradually placed to form a Dreamscape - I see a similarity with mini dungeon-crawls, albeit with high interactivity and puzzle features. The first two Dreams have been quite different - in the first there was a creeping sense of menace as you poke around the basement of a disused market, trying to balance haste with the chance of finding items and the way forward, in the second there is a single Big Bad chasing you around as you think how to lay three tiles in an ABC pattern to progress.  There will be a certain number of turns allocated to the Dream and the turn cards explain exactly what actions the Entity will take in their turn.  You will lose the game if any one Dreamer receives 7 or more of the red acrylic tokens - representing  fear or wounds,  if your deck is depleted, or if you run out of time.  Once you complete a dream you will receive rewards, be able to access further dreams and often add cards to various decks.  The white acrylic tokens represent XP gains - used to buy new Influence cards - and, unlike some deck builders, bulk in this is beautiful in this since a forced reshuffle will also give you a red token.

I’m not sure at this point what the penalty is for death or failure but Dreams may be re-attempted.  Not sure either if there are any branching pathways.  Something very major happens for sure at some point (not a spoiler since it is referred to in the Kickstarter).

There is one other mechanic which has just been introduced which will reveal fragments of the Dreamers’ memories.

The main design flaw is the board - not being a giraffe, it’s impossible to examine the content of very detailed Dreamscape tiles located in the top panels - I fold the bottom panels away and keep the Dreamworld housed in the plastic sheets to manage this.  I see that some folk have already designed modular alternatives.

 

* it isn’t officially, its just easier than referring to the Slumber Dreamscape

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Warning - spoilers get successively more spoilerific below!!!!

 

The photo below illustrates one of the very early Slumber encounters - I laughed at the mechanic used (the tokens represent dirt) and the Entity is a Janitor.

Spoiler

 

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The photo in this spoiler illustrates the final stages of the first Dream proper.  We have located the prisoner and just need to make our escape - the purple tokens represent the creeping threat - "Something in the Dark" - this was a close thing for one of the Dreamers but I subsequently realised it needn't have been that close at all :ph34r:.

Spoiler

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The conclusion to the 2nd Dream proper - including the Big Bad who had been chasing us around earlier (these two tiles don't actually interconnect - this was the tile laying puzzle Dream and there would have been a path leading to the upper tile).

Spoiler

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Conclusion - really interesting game and one I'm eager to explore further and at the same time don't want to rush (the same feeling as experienced with the King's Dilemma).

Edited by Cosmic_Guru
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We received and played Viscounts of the West Kingdom yesterday. I have to say I'm a big fan of both the North Sea and the West Kingdom trilogies, the art is consistent and rather lovely.

 

The North Sea games are a bit more variable being a card game, worker placement game and a pick up and deliver game. The West Kingdom games are all riffs on the worker placement mechanism and I enjoy them all.

 

Architects is the most interactive with players bumping each other off spots earning them money while returning workers back to the other players. It's quick with a nice virtuous/corrupt mechanic. If you're corrupt you can cheat your taxes and use the black market but are unable to build in the cathedral which can be big points. 

 

Paladins gives each player their own board with their own worker spots. It's much more of a puzzle with some interaction over a central board for cards, bonuses and other bits. 

 

Viscounts has your main piece following a multilayered rondel of sorts to take actions like trading, set collecting, building and some area control. There is a deck building element and playing cards to your own board can help you carry out actions and gain bonuses. 

 

All of the West Kingdom have clever card systems as well, something that this designer has used and refined since Shipwrights of the North Sea a good number of years ago. 

 

Viscounts was quite easy to learn and teach and easy to play. It looks great on the table and we both really enjoyed it.

 

I'd thoroughly recommend checking them out if you like good looking games with some good mechanics to back up the looks. 

 

 

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