Crokinole is a classic game for a lot of Canadians. I know a few people whos parents had boards stashed away in their unfinished basements back in the 90’s. I’m also perpetually surpised at how many people have a history with this game. I only just recently learned that my mother-in-law used to gather at their local community centre and play game after game of Crokinole.
Week after week my gaming group meets on Wednesdays and we play big game after big game (Tzolk’in, Unsettled, Brass: Brimingham, Food Chain Maganate, and Yokohama have been played over the last month). This week I suggest Crokinole and it was a massive hit. While we all love our big economic Euro games, there is joy to be found in a simple dexterity game. Nothing elicits whoops of joy and groans of anguish quite like Crokinole.
My City (Finale)
We finished the campaign of My City by Reiner Knizia. This marks the third campaign game I’ve actually finished (with Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth and Scythe: Rise of Fenris being the other two). I’ll try to be spoiler free here. My City is 24 games broken into 8 chapters, containing 3 games each. Every chapter introduces new rules and mechanics that put subtle twists on the game play.
In general, each game of My City consists of one player flipping over a card, and everyone placing the depicted polyomino piece onto their board, adjacent to at least one other piece. Each individual game of My City takes between 15 and 30 minutes, making this small tile laying game a fast and enjoyable experience. As I said last week, the ever changing ruleset generally satisfies my need for discovery, and it’s hard to imagine someone truely mastering My City to the point where they could win reliably. It also helps that by the time you reach the end of the campaign, everyone has very different boards and even pieces available to them that can swing certain games.
I’m not sure if we’ll return to My City now that the campaign is over. We might, if only to say that we played the ‘forever’ version. I think now that there’s no more stickers to place or goals to earn, our desire to return to My City will wane significantly.
The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine
It feels like almost everyone has at least one trick-taking game in their history, but very few of them have been cooperative. The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine is a cooperative trick-taking game that is so fun and so easy to play. The deck contains cards valued from 1 to 9 in four suites, along with 4 trump cards. The game also contains a log-book that has a 50 scenario narrative and presents the players with challenges. Each game, the entire deck is dealt out to all the players. Often a number of goal cards will be distributed to the players, each goal card depicts a specific card from the desk (such as a yellow 8). These goals cards tell players which tricks they need to win.
The Crew also limits your communication with your teammates. You are not allowed to explicitly talk about what you have in your hands or what anyone should do. Instead, everyone has a communication token and once per game they can take a card out of their hand, lay it face up on the table, and place their communication token onto it. Where they place that communication token will indicate further information. If it’s placed at the top, it means ‘this is the highest card of this suit in my hand’. If the token is placed at the bottom of the card, it means ‘this is the lowest card of this suit in my hand’. If the token is placed in the centre of the card, it means ‘this is the only card of this suit in my hand’.
The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine became a fast favourite of ours at Cabin-con when we were looking for a light and easy game to play to fill the time between when the last game ended and dinner. It was so popular that after dinner we just kept on playing! We played at least 20 rounds that night before moving on to something else.
The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine has become a fast favourite in my group, so much so that when the follow up game The Crew: Mission Deep Sea became available, I bought it almost instantly. But I’ll save talking about that game for another time.
Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game
I’ve often proclaimed that I am a ‘mechanics first’ kind of gamer. While a theme can draw me in, it takes good gameplay and solid mechanics to keep me engaged and interested. Battlestar Galacitca: The Board Game by designer Corey Konieczka is one of the games that seems to buck the trend.
Battlestar Galacitca: The Board Game is a cooperative game with a hidden traitor element. Throughout the game the players will be taking actions, playing cards to pass skill checks, and debate on which risks to take all in an effort to lead the remnants of humanity to their new home, or die trying.
BSG features hidden role cards secretly telling each player if they’re human, or if they’re a cylon. Then, halfway through the game all players will receive a second card, potentially turning someone who was on the human team onto the Cylon team. Like most co-op games there are several ways for the humans to lose, and only one way for them to win.
I don’t feel like BSG:TBG is a particularly intriguing or interesting game on it’s own. Mechanically the board is a sparse action selection mechanism, and there’s a lot of luck involved. The game begins with the humans flying a fully functioning ship and then tasks them with putting out fires and covering bullet holes with duct-tape, hoping to just barely crawl over the finish line. Unfortunately when things start to go poorly there are not a lot of opportunities for the humans to recover.
What makes this game work for me is the interaction with the other players, and a major part of that is playing with the right people. One of the players at our table acts the fool, with a loud mouth and wide grin he’s the first to cast accusations across the table. It’s playing off each other, gaining trust and then crushing it and reacting to each other that makes Battlestar Galactica a joy to play. BSG won’t be a game I go back to often, it will be one of those ‘event games’ that I think of fondly