Shiny Metal Tiger

Experiences in Baltimore, MD

Board game weekend, part 2

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Right then, time to press on with the board game report. If you haven’t yet read part 1, this will be nothing more than a bunch of reviews. Worth reading? Up to you entirely, but if you’re not into boardgames probably not. Anyway, on with it! Day 2 of the so-called convention introduced me to three new games, as well as a game of Arkham Horror. In chronological order:

Cosmic Encounter (pictured in the first image of this post) is a pretty lighthearted game of galactic domination. Each player starts with 20 UFOs spread over five planets, and attempts to establish bases on five other planets before anyone else does so. Your turn consists of flipping a Destiny Card that tells you whose planets you can attack, and then committing up to four ships to the offense. These are opposed by the defender’s ships at that planet, and you each get to play a card from your hand that adds to your combat strength. Where it gets interesting is that both involved parties can invite other players to help them, who then share in the spoils or toils. Towards the end of the game this makes for a topsy-turvy shuffle of alliances as you try ensure victories without letting anyone else win the game by establishing bases as an ally in your attack, and it’s a common occurrence to have multiple people winning the game together. Adding to replayability is the fact that you start each game by drawing one of the myriad races, each of which gets to bend or break one of the rules of the game. All in all it’s a fun game that might attract people who like the chaotic feel of Small World, or the diplomacy-driven battle system in Game of Thrones.

Kingdom Builder is a new game byDonald Vaccarino, who some might know as the man behind Dominion. Just like Dominion the mechanics of the game are exceedingly simple: The game board is made up of four square tiles divided into 100 hexagons each, drawn randomly from a pool of 20. Each turn you draw one of five terrain types and put three houses down in that terrain, connected to your existing houses if possible. Three scoring objectives are drawn randomly for each game, and might reward you for houses placed next to water or having houses on all four game tiles. There are a few special tiles that let you put down more houses in different ways once you connect to those tiles, but otherwise you simply take turns until someone runs out of houses to place. Very simple, but as evinced by our two-fold range of final scores it takes some serious strategic overview to excel. And because both the board, objectives and often the players differ between games I don’t think you’ll ever end up playing the same game twice. So if you liked Dominion for its infinite permutations of a simple theme, or enjoy strategic placement games like Settlers of Catan and Go you might also enjoy Kingdom Builder.

Last but definitely not least is King of Tokyo. It’s a quick game with simple rules, but has all the mayhem you’d expect when a bunch of giant monsters simultaneously decide to go stomping around Tokyo. It does a good job of capturing the feel of aspiring alpha ‘males’ duking it out, and because the rules are nicely streamlined you get neither the ‘how is this supposed to work’ nor the ‘I’m haplessly rolling dice while the game plays itself out’ that can plague Killer Bunnies and other beer-and-pretzel games. You start by picking a giant monster from a pool that includes Godzilla (I mean GigaZaur), King Kong, Cthulhu and others. Regardless of who you picked you start out with ten health, zero victory points and zero energy. You then roll six special dice (1,2,3,claw,heart,energy) up to three times (Yahtzee-style); each set of three numbers give you victory points appropriately, hearts restore lost health, claws cause damage and energy is used to buy special abilities from a randomly drawn pool. Everyone starts outside of Tokyo, and the first person to roll (and keep) a claw makes his entrance and scores a point immediately and two more for each turn begun while in Tokyo. As a bonus, while you strut around Tokyo all the claws you roll damage all the other monsters. The problem is that everyone else’s claws cause damage to you alone, so being king of the hill quickly becomes a painful position. The game ends when someone reaches 20 victory points or (more fittingly) wipes out all the other monsters. Definitely a fun game, and one that I’m thinking of purchasing to fill the empty beer-and-pretzel spot in my collection.


Written by Martin

2012/10/01 at 17:13

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  1. […] I have an extended date with the Seahorse Extracellular Flux Analyzer tomorrow, so stay tuned for board gaming weekend part 2, wherein I’ll review Cosmic Encounter, Kingdom Builder and King of Tokyo. Like this:LikeBe […]

  2. I’m amazed you managed to try out all of these games since I imagine they all take a couple of hours to run through. Secondly, I’m really intrigued by the game Killer Bunnies.

    • Not quite so long. King of Tokyo is like 20-30 mintes, Cosmic Encounter and Kingdom Builder maybe 45. Glory to Rome perhaps an hour-hour and a half. Plus time for learning of course.


      2012/10/02 at 08:49

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