Arcadia Quest – Core Heroes Complete

As I posted previously, I have been painting the heroes included with Arcadia Quest. Well, I have now finished the heroes from the Core set. I think that I will wait a while before I try and tackle the monsters and the villains, or the extra heroes that I received by backing the Kickstarter, or any of the models from the expansion… lots of models…

Well, here they are:

Arcadia Quest – Painted Figures

As I mentioned previously, I had been awaiting a game that I Kickstarted a while ago. The game arrived last month, and I have played a few campaigns with my kids. It has been a lot of fun to play it.

Since it has some excellent figures in it and I have less on my painting table than previously, I decided to start painting some of the heroes. This is the first time that I have really painted board game models and Chibi-style models, but I am happy with how they have turned out. I still need to decide what to do with their bases, though.

Zazu, Scarlet and Wisp

Zazu, Scarlet and Wisp

Greensleeves, Johan and Kanga

Greensleeves, Johan and Kanga

 

Arcadia Quest

ArcadiaQuest

 

Things have been pretty quiet for me lately, but I am expecting Arcadia Quest to arrive soon. This is my first Kickstarter that I ever backed, but the game looks really good. It has been hard to wait 6 months for it, but the wait is almost over, and I am pretty excited to finally have it in hand.  Once I get it, it is highly likely that I will be talking about it more; review, gaming sessions, painting(?), etc.

Gaming is not dead

My blog has been fairly silent recently since I haven’t been doing any tabletop hobby.

I have still been doing plenty of gaming, but I have been spending most of it playing video games. I find that it is much easier to fire them up than to get all of my stuff out to paint some models. With that being said, I am starting to feel the urge to get back to painting, so hopefully I will have some updates within the next month.

My oldest son and I have been playing quite a few board games. We have played Civilization (with the Fame and Fortune expansion), Lord of the Rings Risk, The Hobbit, 7 Wonders (with the Cities expansion). I also played Letter of Marque with all 3 of my kids a while back. Having a 2-year old “play” that game makes it a bit of a wild card.

Although I have planned to try and finish painting the list that I used earlier this year, I have been messing with lists once again. Maybe the next one will be the same, or maybe it will be different. Regardless, the hobby is stirring once again…

Ventura

The first of my holiday season purchases which I have chosen to review is Ventura. VenturaI have to admit that this game wasn’t really on my radar until the sale, and its normal price of $80 would have been a bit steep for me to give it a try. However, being able to pick it up for $20, I was willing to give it a shot. The game is focused on the Italian revolution, and 2-4 players choose one of the families to lead to victory. So far, I have only played the 2 player game but it tends to take us (my 7-year old son and I) about an hour or so to get through a game.

Packaging

As with most Fantasy Flight games, the exterior packing and artwork is well-done. However, also like many Fantasy Flight games, the interior uses their generic square box layout, which doesn’t accommodate the storage of the pieces very well. Also worth mentioning is that it is a bit taller than other FFG boxes. It’s not a big deal, but it did surprise me a bit.

Game Components

The components for the game are excellent. The cards and tiles are vividly colored and clearly depict the information needed. Probably the best component (my opinion), is the player mat. You use it to organize your armies, but it also has the sequence of play detailed on it, which is great. It really makes it easier to learn the game, and to keep from forgetting things. Each family also has a set of colored playing pieces. The only complaint that I really have is that the number on each army is hard to read without picking it up. I plan to paint the numbers in a contrasting color to remedy this situation.

Player Mat

Player Mat

Unpainted version of the red pieces

Unpainted version of the red pieces

Painted version of the yellow pieces. Much easier to read at a distance.

Painted version of the yellow pieces. Much easier to read at a distance.

Gameplay Overview

Winning the Game

There are two ways to win the game:

  1. Capture another player’s capital
  2. Accumulate 30 Victory Points

Game Setup

The board changes from game to game. Each player receives 4 tiles. The Papal tiles are placed next to each other, and then players alternate placing tiles. After all of those tiles have been placed, each player places their home tile and then claims 3 tiles by placing the “tower” markers on it to indicate the income.

Example of the tiles. The Black player has claimed one of the Papal tiles.

Example of the map at the end of Turn 1. The Black player has claimed one of the Papal tiles and the Red player has taken a tile from the Black player.

Each tile has varying attributes. They each have an income value, movement required to move into, and might provide defense bonuses (ranged, melee, ignore wounds). In some instances, the tiles might receive bonuses depending on the tiles around them. This is generally represented with the 1+1x symbol. The Papal tiles are special since they are the only ones that award Victory Points.

Turn

During each turn, players alternate taking the actions depicted on the player mat.

  1. Buy victory points
  2. Take a tile/Ventura card
  3. Pay to take additional Ventura cards
  4. Claim territories
  5. Collect income/pay unit maintenance
  6. Place tile
  7. Buy Conscription cards
  8. Deploy units/armies
  9. Move units/armies & fight battles

Once you have played it once, you get the hang of it, with the player mat providing a handy reference of what happens next. Captains of Fortune are important because they allow you to have more than one unit in an army. Also, you can add units to the Captain’s army regardless of where it is located on the map. If you do not have a Captain of Fortune, all units must be recruited in a city.

The most involved portion of the turn involves the combats. Whenever a combat starts, there is a combat overlay that you place on your player mat. Only the units in the top row are involved in each round of combat. You place your units face down on the mat, until both players have finished. Then, you flip them over and resolve combat.

The first round is a ranged round (using the bow value on the cards). After that all of the subsequent rounds consist of melee (crossed swords). In some cases, you might be able to annihilate the opponent’s units before they reach you, or you might need to put some cheaper troops to soak up some wounds. The shield on each unit represents the number of wounds it can take. As each unit is destroyed, the remaining units are shifted up following the arrows on the combat overlay.

Example of a combat. In this scenario, this army would cause 11 wounds in the ranged phase (Montefeltro 2 + Artillerymen 6 + Arquebusiers). However, if this group was fighting in the Melee phase, it would only do 1 wound.

Example of a combat. In this scenario, this army would cause 11 wounds in the ranged phase (Montefeltro 2 + Artillerymen 6 + Arquebusiers). However, if this group was fighting in the Melee phase, it would only do 1 wound.

Scoring Victory Points

There are 3 main ways to accumulate victory points

  1. Pay Florins (varies on the amount paid)
  2. Control Papal tiles (2 per tile, per turn)
  3. Defeat the opponent’s army (5 points). It is only considered an army if it contains a Captain of Fortune.

Overall Thoughts

Disclaimer: All of my games have been played with only 2 players.

I have mixed feelings about this game. At first I was extremely excited about playing it. It’s a lot of fun to get a good Captain of Fortune and an army that wins some tough combats. However, after playing it a few times, it does seem to have some flaws.

It seems that whoever emerges as the victor from the first battle usually ends up winning.  If you have a decent army, you can march around capturing all of the income producing tiles, crippling your opponent’s ability to get back in the game. Also, you generally have a Captain of Fortune, so you can add more units to the army, to keep it competitive.

Often, the final turns are just a formality, as the person on the back foot can’t march out and claim anything, without the risk of being destroyed. Meanwhile, the dominant player is collecting a lot of money and can buy more units to assault the opponent’s home tile. with. Only one of our games has been won by victory points, and that was probably only because my son wasn’t paying attention to that (he is only 7, after all).

My son still likes to play it, though, so we will probably continue to play it from time to time. I might try to come up with some house rules for it.

Christmas Toys

Christmas has come and gone, and it is time for me to start posting some updates to my blog again. I will be adding some goals for 2014 soon, but for now, I thought that I would show off my new toys.

Fantasy Flight SaleI bought the 4 games above during the Fantasy Flight Games sale that I mentioned previously. The games were steeply discounted and I just couldn’t pass them up. I have had a chance to play all of them except for Letter of Marque. I think that Kingdoms is a pretty solid game. Ventura started strong, but it seems to have some balance issues. The Hobbit hasn’t really caught my attention as much, but my son seems to like it. I will probably be writing reviews on these eventually.

For Christmas, my wife bought me the 7 Wonders – Cities expansion and a High Elf Chariot. This is my first chariot, and I have already started building it as a Lion Chariot. Maybe I will have to ‘take it out for a spin’ sometime and see what it can do…

Holiday Sale at Fantasy Flight Games

So, it’s the holiday season, and everybody seems to decide to run their sales around now. Sure, it is said that most of retailers’ money is earned during this time, but could that also be because they tend to run their best deals or release high demand products during this time too? Is it a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Regardless, Fantasy Flight Games is running their annual sale, and I couldn’t help myself from picking up some new games. I have had my eye on one of them for a while, but the other three looked good, I couldn’t pass up the steep discount. So, I should be getting some more board game reviews posted in the not too distant future. If you like to play board games, you should go on over and check out their sale before December 9th.

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da VinciIt’s time for another board game review. Before I start, I have a small confession to make about this game. I didn’t intend to purchase this game originally, but after I had added the other items to the cart, I was pretty close to qualifying for free shipping. Purchasing this game, bumped me up to free shipping, and actually saved me a little bit of money. So, this was basically a free game.

With that being said, I am still happy with the game. It largely deals with resource management, and rewards planning ahead. It is different from other games that I own, and gives my son and I another option of games to play.

 

Packaging

To me, the packaging is a bit of a mixed bag. The box art and picture on the back wouldn’t lead me to pick this game off of the shelf. It seems rather plain to me. On the other hand, the interior of the box has been customized to fit the components of the game. This is a huge plus in my book, because I really don’t like to have to figure out my own storage for a game.

Game Components

The game components are fairly ordinary. There is one main board that all players share where the bank’s florins (money), resources, and inventions are displayed. Each player has 2 workshop boards and some wooden figures of the corresponding color. They are nothing fantastic, but they get the job done.

Gameplay Overview

The objective is to have the most money (florins) at the end of Turn 9. The main way to obtain more money is to create inventions. Creating an invention before other players provides you with more money, and also lets you claim the invention, which can get you more money at the end of the game.

Game Setup

There are 2 different ways that you can set up the game. The Beginner option specifies what each player starts with, ensuring that all players have different starting resources. The Expert option allows players to choose what they would like to start with.

In all of our games so far, we have used the Beginner setup. I think that next time, we might try the Expert option instead.

The most complex part of the setup is getting the inventions in order.The rules have a very specific way that you build and order the invention deck. There is shuffling, so the order is semi-random. Depending on the number of players in the game, there can be anywhere from 3 to 5 inventions available at a time.

Player Turn

As mentioned above, the game last for 9 turns. It is worth noting that for turns 8 & 9, only the Research Phase is executed. The different parts of a turn are:

  1. Laboratory Phase
  2. Assignment Phase
  3. Employment Phase
  4. Research Phase
  5. End of Turn

Laboratory Phase

During this phase you decide if you will work on any inventions. Starting with the player holding Leonardo, each player declares if they will start work on an invention. If a player decides to work on an invention, he places the required components under the workshop that will be working on it and places the work counter on zero. He does not tell others what he is working on. You probably could, but it is to your advantage to keep it a secret.

You can also cancel work on an invention. The components are returned to your hand, but all work is lost. This can be valid if you just started working on a more difficult invention and somebody completed it in the previous turn.

Assignment Phase

In my opinion, this is the most important phase. In this phase, you place your workers throughout the city and in your laboratories, which determine what you will be able to accomplish this turn. This phase interacts heavily with the phase that follows.

The concept for the placement is simple. Starting with the player with Leonardo, he does one the following:

  • Places 1+ apprentices in one area
  • Places his master
  • Passes
Once a player passes, his turn is over. The important thing to keep in mind is that all of the apprentices for a single area have to be placed at once. For example, you could place two apprentices in the workshop in one turn, and later and your master in the workshop. However, you can not place one apprentice in the workshop and then place another one later.
The City

The City

Employment Phase

In this phase, you are able to reap the benefits of your worker placement in the Assignment Phase. Each area is resolved in order, starting with A. To resolve the area, you first have to determine who goes first. Whoever has the most apprentices gets to act first (with the master counting as 2 apprentices). If there is a tie, the player whose figures are closest to the left goes first.

  • A. The Council – You can relocate some of your apprentices, take florins from the council, re-order the top 4 inventions, or pay 1 florin to buy a resource
  • B. Workshop – You can upgrade your laboratories (allowing spaces for mechanical men), add another laboratory, or add a mechanical man to a workshop
  • C. Academy – You can add apprentices
  • D-H. Resources – You can take one of the related resources
  • Laboratories – Advance the work marker

The order is important. For the Council, the first player to act here takes Leonardo (giving them the first action in the first 2 phases of the turn) and chooses an action. The next player can choose any of the remaining actions, and the 3rd player from the remaining, etc.

For all of the other areas of the city, the first player takes the action for free and then moves the money marker to the right. The next action taken in this area will cost 2 florins. The next player can pay 2 florins, or pass. If he passes, he receives nothing and removes his workers from the area. If he pays, he takes the action and the money marker moves to the right again. The next action will cost 3 florins. This continues until all of the workers have been removed from the area, or somebody pays 4 florins for the action. It is possible for you to take the same action multiple times if you have the florins available.

Your laboratories advance the work marker based upon the workers that you have present (1 for each apprentice, 2 for each mechanical man or master).

Two laboratories hard at work

Two laboratories hard at work. The one on the left would advance 5 spaces and the one on the right, only one space.

Research Phase

If you have completed any inventions, now is the time that you reveal it. If you are the first person to complete the invention, you receive the higher number printed on it and place the invention in front of you. If you are still working on an invention that somebody else completes, you reveal that you are working on it. If you completed an invention that somebody else has previously completed, you receive the lesser value of florins on the invention.

If multiple people complete the same invention in the same turn, you have to bid to see who places the invention in front of them. There are two main reasons for having the invention. Each invention has a type associated with it. If you are working on an invention of the same type that you have already completed, you receive a 2 week discount. The other reason, is that a florin bonus is given at the end of the game based upon the variety of inventions that you have created.

End of Turn

At this point, you add a florin to the council, advance the turn marker, and flip over new inventions for each one that has been completed.

End of the Game

At the end of the game, players receive a florin bonus based upon how many different types of inventions that they created. The more variety, the greater the bonus. Then, you add up your florins and see who won. Any ties are resolved by the inventions created.

Overall Thoughts

I don’t think that the game is anything outstanding, but I can’t really complain about it either. My son and I have enjoyed playing this game from time to time. It provides something different to the other games that we have available.

All of my games have been with 2 players so far, and I can imagine that it would be quite different with more players. With two players, many of your actions that you take are free and it is easier to keep track of the other person, so you can better guess which invention(s) they are working on.

With more players, I am sure that the game would change drastically. There would be more inventions available, but you would end up having to pay for more of your actions. Also, it is more likely that you will have to bid for inventions or not complete them first, sapping your valuable Florins. I might give it a go some time, but my typical gaming group didn’t seem to keen on it. I assume this is because they have been spoiled by how pretty some of the other board games are.

Board Gaming

I have played various board games during the past month (mostly with my son), and thought that I would just do one big post about them instead of trying to break them up.

I forgot to take pictures of the games, which probably would have been nice.

7 Wonders

I had a chance to play a couple games of 7 Wonders (reviewed here). It has been a while since I have last played it and it reminded my how much I enjoy it. There is minimal setup and when people know what they are doing, it only takes 30-45 minutes to finish a game. Since both games contained a new player, we used the “Basic” (Side A) of the Wonder boards.

Game #1 (3 Players)

The first game was played by my brother, my son (7 years old) and me. My brother has played once before, but it has been quite a while. My son has played a couple of times. So, I went in to this game with a clear advantage of how the mechanics work. I have found that it generally requires one play-through for people to really grasp all of the mechanics of the game. In this game, I focused on picking up the Science (green) cards to great effect. My son went all out on the Civil (blue) card and my brother had a little bit of everything (kind of typical of a first time player).

7 Wonders - 3 Players

Game #2 (4 Players)

In this game, my nephew (8 years old) joined in. This was his first time playing, so he had a quick explanation of the rules. He seemed to pick up on it quickly, though. The 4th player put a little different spin on the game, since there is one player that you are not neighboring, so some of the resources might not be available and you don’t have to worry about their military. Clockwise around the table, it went: Me, Son, Nephew, Brother. My son and nephew focused quite a bit on Military, so my brother and I skipped out on it (especially since we were next to each other). I opted to focus on Civilian cards and my Wonder this game.

7 Wonders - 4 Players

Monopoly: Lord of the Rings

My son had been asking to play Monopoly, and the only version that I own is the Lord of the Rings version. I’m not a huge Monopoly fan, but this version is a little bit better than the ‘vanilla’ version. The main improvement being that one of the 1 pips is replaced with the Eye of Sauron. Every time that the Eye is rolled, the Ring advances around the board (only landing on spaces that can be improved). If you land on a space with the Ring, you either get it for free (if unowned), or pay the owner double. It seems to take my son and I about an hour to roll enough Eyes to get the ring to Mount Doom (Boardwalk).

My son seems to have the same “problem” that my wife does when playing this game. They will never trade with you to let you complete a block, even if you trade them something to complete their block or make an outrageous offer. This could make the game last forever, but the Ring comes to save the day.

My son beat me the first 2 games that we played, but I was able to pull off a victory in the 3rd one. I have yet to make a successful property deal with my son…

Settlers of Catan

Settlers of Catan is one of the games that we have had for a while, and my son and I have played it a lot. It had been quite a while since we had last played, but we fit two games of it in just recently. Somehow, we managed to get my wife to play a game with us, too (no small feat in itself).

Game #1 (3 Players)

This game was pretty close. My son was leading for most of the game, but I wasn’t too far behind. My wife took the Longest Road from him, which gave me a chance. He managed to take it back and get his 1oth victory point the turn before I would have won. I was sitting on 8 Victory Points and would have grabbed the Largest Army card to bring me to 10, but he beat me by the closest of margins. Well done.

Game #2 (2 Players)

This game was just my son and me. He started out strongly with the resources pouring in, but eventually we stopped rolling his numbers and he couldn’t any resources. When his luck stopped, mine picked up and I was able to pull off the victory quite handily. Sometimes the dice in Catan seem to get a bit “streaky” and this game was a perfect example of it.

Leonardo da Vinci

Yet another game that we fit in over this time span. Once again, this was just my son and I playing. The game was fairly close, but around turn 4 or 5, I used the council to look at the top 4 inventions in the deck. This helped me set up for the final turns on the game. I knew what inventions were coming, so I could pick up the resources that I needed and plan out my turns. I managed to created 6 inventions, while my son completed 4 (he received a reduced reward for one since I built it first). At the end, I had around 45 florins and my son had around 36.

Merchants & Marauders

My son and I also fit in a game of Merchants & Marauders. It has been a while since we have played. I ended up as a Marauder and my son was a Merchant. I had a fairly quick start with picking up Glory points and managed to sink his ship, which set him back a little bit. After the game, I tried to talk with him about merchant strategies, because he hasn’t been doing himself any favors in his trading strategies. Hopefully, those will sink in a bit.

Me:

  • 1 – Completed Mission
  • 3 – Merchant Raid of 12+ Gold
  • 1 – Defeated Player
  • 5 – Gold Stash (50 gold)

My son:

  • 1 – Trade 3+ In Demand goods
  • 1 – Bought a Galleon

7 Wonders

7 WondersI’ve owned this game for a while, and just haven’t gotten around to writing a review for it. The game is fairly cheap and handles 2-7 players. I have only had a chance to play it with 2 or 4 players, so I don’t know how well it scales with more players, but it would definitely change how it plays. It is a very quick game, usually running about 45 minutes for the first play through and 30 for subsequent ones. This is a great game for us to squeeze in (compared to other board games that I tend to play) at the end of a gaming session, when we have a little bit of time left.

Packaging

The packaging for this game is nice. The box art is attractive and gives you a good view of the contents. The huge bonus is that the box has been designed to actually fit the pieces! This may sound like an odd ‘bonus’, but so many of the games that I buy come in generic boxes, and putting them away is a pain, either because the box is too full or I have to put all of the pieces in plastic bags (that I provided).

Game Components

The game components are pretty nice. There are 7 (imagine that) Wonder boards that have some pretty impressive artwork on them. The main component that you will interact with, will be the cards. The art on the cards is nicely done, and once you learn the symbols, they are very efficient. Additionally, there are some coins and military markers, which serve their purpose well. I can’t really complain about anything. There is also a nifty little score card to help you score the game at the end.

Sample of a 3 player game.

Sample of a 3 player game.

Gameplay Overview

The game spans three different ages. Each age has its own set of cards with cards from the later ages generally being better than the earlier age cards. The overall goal of the game is to end up with the most Victory Points at the end of the Third Age.

The gameplay is fairly simple, and once you get the hang of it, goes quite quickly. Each player starts with a Wonder board (this can be randomly selected, if you desire). Each Wonder board has two sides. Side A is a more basic version, while Side B is more advanced for people who have played the game before.

Game Setup

The deck of available cards has to be built based upon the number of players. Each card will show you when to use it. For example, a card with 5+ would be used if you were playing with 5 or more players.

After the deck has been built, each player is dealt an equal number of cards for the First Age. The cards for the other two ages are set aside until for the time being.

Player Turn

The turn consists of each player picking a card from their hand, and then passing the remaining cards (face-down) to the player on their left (for the 1st and 3rd ages). Once everybody has selected their card, players reveal their choices. The choices basically come down to:

  1. Playing the card
  2. Using the card to build your Wonder
  3. Discarding the card to receive 3 coins

Playing the card and building your Wonder has a resource cost. You either have to have the resources available in front of you, or you will have to buy the resources from one of your neighbors (who cannot refuse, as long as you pay). If you can’t attain the resources, you can’t play the card.

A sample of a player's setup after the 1st Age.

A sample of a player’s setup after the 1st Age.

Any card that you play, goes face up in front of you for all to see. If you have added to your Wonder, you place it face down under the Wonder to represent that part has been completed. each stage of the Wonder that has been completed provides its own benefit, which is printed on that part of the Wonder board. It can be just about anything in the game; resources, military strength, victory points, etc.

Another thing worth mentioning is that you can create “building chains”. These are where you can play one card for free (not needing to meet the resource requirement), because you have already played another card, usually in a previous age. This can be a huge benefit, since some of the cards in the 3rd age have some rather hefty resource requirements.

Example of some building chains. Building the Theater allows you to build the Statue for free which allows you to  build the Gardens for free. Building the Apothecary allows you to build the Stables and/or the Dispensary for free.

Example of some building chains. Building the Theater allows you to build the Statue for free which allows you to build the Gardens for free.
Building the Apothecary allows you to build the Stables and/or the Dispensary for free.

Once all players have completed their action, they pick up the deck that was passed to them and repeat the process. When each player has two cards in their hand, they pick one (as mentioned) above, and discard the last one. At this point the age ends.

The End of an Age

When an Age ends, players total up their military might and compare it to each of their neighbors’. If their military might is greater, they receive a bonus token and the neighbor receives a penalty. The penalty is always -1 victory point, but the bonus tokens are worth more in the later ages (+1 for the 1st age +3 for the 2nd age and +5 for the third age). This can become quite substantial by the end of the game if one player receives all of the bonuses (1+1+3+3+5+5=18).

After this is completed, cards for the next Age are dealt, repeating what has been described above until all three Ages have been completed. One thing to note is that you switch the direction that you are passing the cards in each age (the direction to pass is indicated on the back of the card).

Scoring Points

At the end of the 3rd Age, all of the points are totaled up and a winner is determined. The scoring process is a little difficult to describe, but it is basically adding up victory points from the following:

  1. Military conflict tokens
  2. 1 Victory Point for every 3 coins you have
  3. Completing parts of your Wonder
  4. Civilian Structures
  5. Science Structures
  6. Commercial Structures
  7. Guilds

2-Player (Expert) Game

The 2-player games plays similarly to the 3 or more player version. The one change is that there is a neutral city. The neutral city adds an entirely new aspect to the game. The neutral city is treated as another player (i.e. 3 stacks of cards). The control of the neutral city switches after each card play. When you control the city, you choose one card for you (from your deck) and one for the city (from its deck).

This adds a new layer to the strategy of the game, because you can use the city to support your building needs or deny your opponent what he might need. It is a bit more complex and seems to confuse my 7-year old son a little bit when we do this, because he has to choose for the other city, too.

Overall Thoughts

This is another game that I have been very satisfied with. Once players are familiar with it, it plays very quickly. I think it is a fairly simple game to grasp after a single playthrough, with the exception being some of the 3rd Age stuff. About my only complaint with this game is that when you get to the 3rd Age, many of the cards have symbols on them that people have no clue what they are. Once you refer to the quick reference card, it makes sense, but it can be a bit confusing at first. Other than that, it is great.

I am very happy with my purchase of this product and I will probably pick up some of the expansions eventually.