Spiel 2021 Games First Impressions - Part 2
The last few days we've been playing our remaining new Spiel 2021 games. Just as last time, I'm gonna give our first impressions about the games. All games played with my girlfriend at two-players. These games are listed in no particular order.
We really like Alexander Pfister games in general, we thought CloudAge was alright, but we absolutely love Maracaibo, Great Western Trail and Blackout Hong-Kong. So if there is a new Pfister game releasing at Essen, it's almost always a must buy. This year it was unclear if Boonlake was gonna be at the fair, but to our surprise we saw copies at the Capstone games booth, so we picked one up.
The box is full of cardboard and wooden tokens and has the trademark art of Klemens Franz. The game has clear iconography that once you learn it, you almost never have to reference the rulebook.
Boonlake mixes several mechanics from previous Pfister games. It features track movement (Maracaibo, GWT) and Tableau Building (Maracaibo, CloudAge). Also the game features a map building element which we think has some similarities with Tera Mystica (the clearing of your player board, and placing it on the shared map).
We really liked our plays of Boonlake so far and we believe it has the staying power because of the huge amounts of strategies that are possible (unlike CloudAge, which we sold after a few plays). Unlike Maracaibo or CloudAge it doesn't feature a campaign, but the huge deck of project cards and variable set-up offers enough variability.
1923 Cotton Club
This is our first 19xx game from Looping Games and we bought it because we really liked the theme: Run a club in 1920s New York to make it the most successful in town.
We have absolutely been blown away by 1923 Cotton Club, this small boxes offers a deep and exciting card drafting game that is fast to play and has lots of interesting decisions. The art is fantastic and fits the theme perfectly and the mechanics play really smooth.
With two players the game adds some extra rules that add some addition, most of the time we're not a big fan of this but these rules are simple enough and add to the overall experience and tension.
We love playing this game and we're really gonna dig into the other games in this great little series. Small Game Box, Big Game Experience.
Welcome to the Moon
The third game in the Welcome to trilogy. We both own Welcome to... and Welcome to New Las Vegas and so we were curious if Welcome to the Moon offers enough variation on those variants.
Welcome to the Moon contains not 1 or 2 new player sheets, but 8(!). So I was curious if they were just as good as the other games and if they were different enough. We've played 4 out of the 8 new sheets so far, and we must say that it really impressed us. Each new sheet (or adventure as it's called now) offers a unique experience with the same core mechanic: flip 3 pairs of cards, and pick one of those pairs for your action. Each adventure has 2 pages of rules, which can easily be learned on the fly.
Welcome to the Moon also comes with a campaign like story book with which you can link several adventures together as a campaign. We started with the introductory campaign, and it slowly introduces the new adventures without too many additional rule changes. The game comes with a huge deck of cards that you can unlock during campaign that will shake up the adventures with additional rules and changes.
We're looking forward to the remaining 4 adventures and what the campaign adds to the gameplay. Welcome to is no longer a simple roll-and-write, but a full on campaign adventure!
One of our favourite games is Underwater Cities, so every time
Vladimír Suchý brings out a new design we're intrigued. This year it's a co-design and it looked very interesting.
Messina is a medium weight euro game with an interesting mix of mechanics. Turns play quickly, and each turn you'll have to make some difficult decisions. Messina is all about getting most out of your actions so you can combo multiple benefits together. The shared map that spawns plague cubes each round offers some nice interaction, and the way you can use the citizen tiles to build your engine offers some great strategies.
While we weren't that impressed with Praga for reasons unknown, Messina 1347 seems to do a better job. The rules are more straightforward, and the iconography is clear (like in all Vladimir's games). Definitely looking forward to more plays!
Hanamikoji: Geisha's Road
We love Hanamikoji as a two player game because it's a nice duelling game with loads of bluffing and mind games. We were a bit surprised by a Hanamikoji sequel so we picked it up out of interest without knowing much about it.
This new version adds a new mechanic were the Geisha's move around a rondel. If you pick-up an item card you have to move the Geisha with the same color as the card the indicated number of steps. If the Geisha lands on the matching coloured shop card, you get a few bonus points. This is the only change compared to the original, so we were a bit disappointed.
We like the original much more, since it's much tighter and the decisions are more clear. This new rondel adds a layer of complexity that Hanamikoji does not need. We would never play this over the original Hanamikoji.
Without knowing much about this one, we picked up a copy because it looked interesting and the art is nice.
Settlement mixes tile placement, worker placement and contract fulfilment into a light euro game with a fantasy theme. Oh, you also have to fight monsters now and then.
Settlement offers a straightforward experience with not much innovation. The game is good but nothing spectaculair. I do think it would be a nice gateway euro game for players with not that much experience.
Luckily it plays fairly quickly, so it could also become a nice filler game. We will see if it gets played enough, or otherwise onto the sell pile.
Gutenberg is one of those games that rose the Spiel charts because of its good looking components and boards. But is it also a good game?
In Gutenberg each round you use your initiative markers to plan your actions. After planning each player reveals their initiative markers and the 5 actions are performed in order of initiative. Each action is pretty straightforward, you take some resources/tiles/orders from the main game board. After your turn you get to fulfil order cards using your types, ink and specialty.
Gutenberg is not a groundbreaking game, but offers just enough to make it stand out, especially the gears mechanic. You get to turn you gears each turn, and this enables you to perform bonus actions during your turn.
We need a few more plays to really get a good impression of the available depth and strategies.
Another one of those hot Spiel releases. Golem is an engine-building game by Simone Luciani, Virginio Gigli and Flaminia Brasini, the same team that brought you Grand Austria Hotel and Lorenzo il Magnifico.
Golem is heavy euro with quite a bit of rules that was difficult to wrap your head around. We also had to look op multiple things during our first play, and we ran in to some rule discrepancies that we were unable to resolve. Hopefully there will be a FAQ and errata available soon, because I really liked the game overall but the rulebook flaws really hindered our enjoyment. The rulebook is also really hard to reference during play. Since we have loads of games in our collection, a good rulebook is essential for a game to hit the table often (since we are relearning often).
Without these rule flaws we think there is a very good game here. Hopefully somebody can come up with a good player aid or definitive rules document so we can truly enjoy this game.
Clever hoch Drei: Challenge I
We are big Clever fans, it's a quick roll and write. And we love it. This adds a new score sheet to Clever Cubed, nothing special just more fun!