2015 is quickly winding down, and what a great year for board games it has been! The past week has been filled with some great gaming experiences and as always I will share those with you now. 7 Wonders: Duel, Champions of Midgard and Mission: Red Planet are played!
7 Wonders: Duel
My friend, Laura, and I decided to go to war against each other while the others busy demoing Star Wars: X-wing for a new visitor to The Jester’s Court. 7 Wonders: Duel, for those unfamiliar, is the recent 2 player variant to the award-winning 7 Wonders by Repos Production. If you’ve played 7 Wonders there’s a good chance that you love the drafting mechanic in the game. 7 Wonders: Duel does away with drafting completely, except for each player’s available Wonders at the beginning of the game.
In the place of drafting there is a unique card structure design on the table where players take turns taking cards from the available cards. Some are face up and some are face down, and the cards overlap one another: only cards that have no remaining cards overlapping them are available to be taken by a player. The game is still divided into 3 Ages, and just like in the original game the cards represent more advanced technologies and buildings as the ages progress.
One more noticeable difference is the end conditions for the game. In 7 Wonders: Duel the game can end before the 3 Ages have concluded. There are conditions that can end the game prematurely, such as advancing militarily along the track to the end or collecting enough Science cards with unique symbols.
The game is a ton of fun and not overly long, but still maintains a high level of strategy. The art on the cards is great and despite the differences in this 2 player version it stays true to the original.
Outcome – Laura is quite gifted at board game strategy (and even better at smack talking) and the game was extremely close. I barely prevailed against her, but in her defense she had never played the original and I had. I didn’t allow her that comfort though due to said smack talking! * evil grin*
Champions of Midgard
Champions of Midgard is a Viking-themed worker placement game that plays like a mixture of Stone Age and Lords of Waterdeep. Laura (seeking revenge after 7 Wonders: Duel), Jess and Nicolle joined me at the table.
In Champions players can take a lot of standard worker placement actions such as drawing cards, gaining resources, trading resources, and more. Unlike a lot of worker placements games, however, Champions of Midgard has a heavy emphasis on battle. Players do not fight each other, but instead can use their warriors (represented by custom dice) to stop trolls from invading the village, fight the draugr who are attacking nearby villages, or go on journeys across the sea to fight fantastical monsters. The latter requires brave warriors, food to feed them and a ship to carry them.
The component quality of the game runs the gamut; the board is amazing, the dice are great and I don’t have a problem with the wooden cubes to represent food and wood either. The cards for the game, however, are incredibly thin and bend super easily. The game is so much fun that you’ll barely care though!
As it was everyone’s first time playing our strategies were not horribly advanced. As I have played many worker placement games, however, I was certain that I had a good chance at victory. I fought the trolls numerous times and successfully sailed across the sea on 3 different occasions to slay fierce monsters. Jess and I passed each other on the board Glory (victory points) tracker 5 or 6 times before the game’s end.
Outcome – Jess won and secured her place in Valhalla. I came in second and immediately began plotting my revenge for next time!
Mission: Red Planet
Sergio, Cam, Nicolle, Jordan, Laura and I sat down recently to play Mission: Red Planet and we began the colonization/exploitation of Mars. In M:RP players load up steampunk spaceships with their space men and launch towards the titular planet to stake their claim.
The planet and its moon are rich with resources and players must strategize about which spaceships to embark on in order to land in and control fortuitous regions. These ships have different destinations and choosing the best one is key to victory. It isn’t that easy, though. Each turn players secretly play one of their 9 cards (each with a different, unique ability) which are all revealed in descending order. Depending on the cards chosen players can change the destination of ships, launch them prematurely or even blow them up before they take off. Other cards allow players to manipulate space men already planetside, kill other players’ space men or mobilize units on Phobos, Mar’s moon, and move them to the territory of your choice on Mars.
Mission: Red Planet is a game where territories are controlled by having the most space men present, and control over these territories is vital in order to acquire the planet’s resources. In a 6 player game it can be difficult to predict how best to plan for the future. A single Pilot card, which changes the destination of a docked OR already launched ship can severely damage/destroy a well-laid plan. The Saboteur played by another player can destroy a spaceship you just spent your turn loading, killing all of the space men on board.
Outcome – Sergio was the dominant space captain for this game. I had placed all of my eggs in one basket on the last turn of the game and launched a space ship full of my guys, enough to take control of the most valuable territory and possibly win the game. Nicolle changed the destination of said ship to a near worthless location and I came in dead last. I briefly considered steampunk seppuku.