Theme Game Day #4 – Deckbuilding

3 Jan

Deck Building games have become a favorite genre of mine. Maybe it’s a remnant of my Maagic: The Gathering days. I really enjoy searching for combos. So it made sense that after a week filled with card games, our group decided to delve into a few deck building games. We only got to three different games today, because we had to sit and learn two of them from step 1. Our first game, of course, is a partial departure from the theme.

Game #1 (and #4) – Orleans

cve_zubxaaaobzcOrleans is what is being called a “bag building” game, since you don’t have a deck of cards, but a stack of tokens instead. In reality, Orleans is more of a worker placement game than some of the games we played on worker placement day! On a turn, players pull a number of tokens out of their bag and then place them on matching spots on their player board. These spots can get them different workers, move up on the Scriptorum track – which has a bonus multiplier for end of game scoring) move them along the map (thereby gaining resources), or building guildhalls (which are mostly there for end of game scoring). There is also a separate Town Hall board where you can cull out workers that may have outlived their usefulness. This is an extremely easy game to learn, but is full of tough choices. There are several viable strategies for scoring points. I like this since it makes it really tough to tell who is actually winning at any given moment. This is a great game, and might be my favorite I’ve played this year. * A special note – we did play with the Deluxe Edition. The deluxe pieces are quite nice, though I feel the regular version is more than acceptable. I’ll need to add this to my collection at some point.

Game #2 – Star Realms

cvfeoswxaaaooxnYeah, we got so into the game that we forgot to take an action shot. Star Realms is a 2-player Space Combat deck building game. I tend to play it more often online on my iPad than I do in real life (If you play, look me up – username is Scooterb). This was actually my first game face to face using all the expansions that have been released. I liked the new bases and ships, kind of thought the heroes were weak, and I’m still mixed on how much I actually enjoy the Gambit cards. I almost want to start playing games where players start with more life, because I want games to last a tick longer than they actually do. Which basically means I love having turns where I can do 30+ points of damage, and I want to do more of them! Star Realms can be a wildly swingy game, but I still find it quite enjoyable. I’m looking forward to the new expansions that are slowly trickling out, but should be in wide distribution by March. A wonderful game that has had longer legs than I anticipated.

Game #3 – Copycat

cvfp3bxwuaavxrvFriedemann Friese is easily one of my favorite game designers. He made my favorite game of all time, Power Grid. I don’t call him my favorite designer because I adore all of his games, however…in fact, I don’t like several of his games. However, he is always pushing the envelope as to what board games can be, and I greatly admire that (Hello future game day / article!) We joked when setting up Copycat that we need to start playing Copycat every week, because it has bits and pieces of so many other games. Even the box cover is co-opted from a famous source.


In Copycat, players are trying to run a successful political campaign. Players do this by placing workers on a board which give actions, money, and opportunities to buy cards which go into your personal decks. You then draw 5 cards from your personal deck and buy cards (using a price market pulled from games like Through the Ages), and play cards for victory points. Overall, I feel like Copycat isn’t quite the sum of its parts. I like all the different mechanics of the game, and I think Friese did a whale of a job making it playable. It’s just not quite as fun as I was hoping it would be. I would like to give it another play with more players sometime. We played with just two players, and I fell behind pretty early on with a couple hilariously bad draws…such is life in a deck building game.

The next Theme Day we sailed the high seas! Bring your Dramamine…next time we’re going on a boat!



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