This past weekend consisted of a variety of different things; house hunting because we’re (politely) being evicted in March, eating sweets and bread as a hysterical displacement activity (I’m definitely wheat intolerant so now look like a football), being mind blown by the current events going on in the USA, watching Louis Theroux My Scientology Movie of which I spent most of the time saying ‘what the f*****k?’ whilst dealing with the usual cat vs. baby calamities in-between. Somehow, amidst all of this I managed to play three games. Those games were Inis, Troyes & Combat Commander: Europe. I was struck by how radically different each game can be to another. I don’t feel like I’ve played these three enough to review them as such, so just for fun I wanted to give you a little taster of what they have to offer…
Inis is one of those games that got a lot of coverage, had quite a bit of hype, attracted a lot of attention for it’s beautiful artwork and then sold out far and wide.
I can honestly say it’s all well deserved from what I can tell so far. I played three games and they were all were very different from each other. The first was very much a practice run, but it’s one of those games that once you get the rules and structure clear in your mind then you’re away. What intrigued me is how the more I played I realised that this isn’t simply a game of playing cards and moving minis about. There’s a deeper strategy that you have to access to win and I’ve yet to do that. This is the kind of game I love because I’m excited to play further and tap into it. I can’t wait to give it a full review and I’ll try to get that up within the next week. As an aside the art really is gorgeous, so vivid and intricate. I was majorly into Tarot for years and the cards have a real Tarot vibe, as in they could be a Tarot deck- but instead they have wonderful player abilities in a super fun area control game. Exciting stuff. Expect more soon!
Troyes is a pure Eurogame employing a clever dice mechanic, and I can see why this game is so well liked and the reprint much anticipated. I love the way you can utilise and manipulate your dice by using the cards available. You have secret objectives to achieve that other players can score too, so as well as trying to meet your own goals it’s also a good idea to attempt to figure out what your opponent is holding. As well as this there are negative events to battle each round and countless ways to accumulate money, influence, and of course- victory points! I love having lots of choice, where you really have to hone in on the best route to take to achieve your objectives and win the game. There’s lots going on in Troyes, and again I’ll look forward to writing a full review. I’m also a fan of the basic but beautiful artwork.
Lastly Combat Commander: Europe is a game I never thought I would like. On the rare occasions a few years ago I would go to a game store I would almost always skip the war games section. I think I said something along the lines of ‘real life is grim enough’, which is still true, but in the respect of relating that to games I’ve moved on from that train of thought. Yes real life is pretty grim at times, things are tough, and games should be for fun. But nowadays I am very open to delving into different genres. I want to have new experiences and learning curves in gaming so when given the chance I said ‘yes’ to this one. I’ve now had three games and played three scenarios, two of which were really very good and one that fell a bit flat. Last night’s was a good one. This so different from my regular board games and I liked that that. You ‘roll’ by pulling cards from your deck that have dice printed on the bottom right corner. These multi use cards also represent a wealth of combinations that can lead you to victory if you play them right. I also liked the fact that the appearance isn’t too fancy as in there aren’t any pretty components. It’s paper maps, hundreds of cardboard bits and card stock score trackers in a muted colour palette. It was nice to focus solely on the gameplay without distractions and of course I do that in every game, but I’ll admit I’m often found whimsically staring at pretty cards or cubes with a far off dreamy expression. So this just has a different and raw feel. It does have a couple of negatives too. It’s heavily luck based when pulling for dice rolls and most of the time there’s not much you can do about it, at least in the scenarios I’ve played so far (apart from an initiative card that allows you a re-roll that then gets passed to the other player). There’s not too much freedom within the game in some instances and that can be frustrating. I seemed to have a mental block about not being able to use a second action with a unit who already had an order. Every now and then I’d go to take an action and be told ‘no you can’t do that….’ to which I would respond with an indignant ‘but why!?’ Despite the negatives spots I did enjoy myself and I’m very much anticipating trying the other scenarios and finding a favourite. I can totally appreciate why some people get fully into war games. Just to say though that I’m not actually gung-ho about real war. Y’ know… just to put that put that out there.
Funnily enough in between rounds I had a tea break and was looking at some news whilst boiling the kettle. What’s actually happening in the world is surreal and f***g frightening. Real people are going through some dark and awful times that have a knock on affect to everyone. I almost feel bad that I’m playing games and enjoying myself when so much bad is happening. I watched a great video by board gamer/designer Tony Miller aka Bearded Rouge who addressed some current issues and gave some heartfelt thoughts. One part especially rang true to me and that is you do have to have a level of self-care in hard times. I have to tell myself that it’s not selfish to look after yourself and it doesn’t mean you don’t care. When faced with stressful, difficult and negative events going on in the world, and individually in our own lives, I hope everyone out there is finding joy in something. I certainly do with tabletop games.
Thanks for reading and stay safe everyone!