Theme Game Days #3 – Card Games

3 Jan

Week 3 we decided to dig into the world of card games. We pretty much stayed away from “traditional” card games…that will probably come another week. I don’t think we played many new to us or really obscure games this week, but it was an enjoyable day nonetheless. So let’s shuffle up and deal!

Game #1 – Guildhall Job Faire

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Guildhall is a set collection card game with some interesting twists. You are trying to collect sets of like characters, but each character in your set must be of a different color. Once you get a certain number of card in your set, you can trade them in for victory point cards in the center of the table. The catch is that as you get more cards in a set, they have abilities which get progressively better as well. So there’s an interesting balance between wanting to complete a set, and wanting to keep using a certain action. I’ve played Guildhall twice. I did not enjoy my first play using the base set cards (I felt the game was too mean, and dragged on far too long), but I quite enjoyed this play using cards only from the Job Faire set.

Game #2 – San Juancuhlj8zwsaepqhe

Based off the classic board game, Puerto Rico, San Juan takes the concept of settling a new city and makes a truly great card game. One of the interesting things at play in San Juan is that the cards have multiple uses. In your hand, the cards show you which buildings you may build. If you choose to build something, you discard the other cards in your hand as money. I’ve enjoyed San Juan for many years. I do want to upgrade my copy to the newer second edition. I like the card art, plus there are more buildings to choose from. Some people may like Race for the Galaxy (which uses similar mechanics) more, ut the simplicity of San Juan is far more satisfying to me.

Game #3 – Splendor

cuhvcucwuaefh_xLess of a card game than the other games so far on this day. We mostly played it (twice) so my friend Tim could show off his blinged out set with translucent gem tokens, and his wonderful play mat. Splendor is a tableau-building / engine-building game. On a turn, players choose various gem tokens in order to try and buy jewels from the middle of the board. Those jewels, in turn, make it easier for you to buy more expensive jewels later in the game. This one has become a favorite light game for me. I’m a big fan of the engine-building style of game, and you really feel the momentum build here. I’m terrible at this game because I get so enamored with the engine, that I forget about the points for buying more expensive jewels.

Game #4 – Bomb Squad Academy

cuhzqazwiae9z0pBomb Squad Academy was originally a stretch goal bonus on the Bomb Squad Kickstarter campaign. I know nothing about Bomb Squad,  but I absolutely love Bomb Squad Academy. At its heart, BSA is a push-your-luck simultaneous card play game. There are a series of “test” bombs in the middle of the table. On a turn each player secretly chooses a “wire” (color) to “cut”(play a card in that color). All the cards are shown, and a number of cards come off each bombs deck, and are placed in a row. Points are scored based on the card at the top of the stack, plus the number of times that wire has been cut. After so many turns, someone pushes too far, and a bomb explodes. After each bomb, player may choose some equipment to help them out for future attempts. After three bombs, points are totaled. This game is a riot with four layers. You think you have something so smart planned, and then you realize everyone chose the same thing, and now you’re scraping yourself off the wall. BSA lives in the same family of game as 6 Nimmt. Fast, chaotic, not very strategic, but full of laughs and tension.

Game #5 – Rise to Power

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Rise to Power was another game to come through the Kickstarter crowd-funding channel. Rise to Power is a city-building game where players use “Prism” cards as money to buy cards in different districts. Many cards have icons that can boost your city’s stats. These stats help you do more actions a turn, draw more cards, and hold more cards in hand at the end of the turn. There is also an area called “The Exchange” here, you can drop card from your hand to do very powerful actions. The downside to this is that anything left here can be picked and added to another player’s city, basically giving them victory points. Still, sometimes you just need that perfect action. There’s a lot of similarities to Alhambra here, but the bonus icons and actions you are able to do help push this game one step further. I quite enjoyed this game, and would probably replace Alhambra in my collection with it…if I could find a copy.

At this point, I jetted from card game day. My friends kept going, and I wanted to share one further game that I think needs more love.

Bonus Game – Artifacts Inc.

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Artifacts Inc. is a bit tableau-building, bit worker placement, bit set collection game. Each player starts with a base set of cards, and three dice. On a turn, a player rolls his or her dice, and then places them either on their own cards, or on a series of community cards in order to try and collect the best set of artifacts. Artifacts can be sold for money to museums or even private collectors. Players may also buy cards that give more options for placement or more dice for later use. I’ve really enjoyed this game the few times I’ve played it. I feel like it plays somewhat like Kingsburg, except it is fun. I hope more people take the time to give it a try.

We enjoyed card game day so much, that we decided to do deck building the next week. We, of course, started by playing a game that’s only sort of a deck builder, and isn’t a card game at all. Until then (maybe tomorrow?) Laissez les bons temps rouler! (Spoiler of game 1)

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