FTW Staff Picks - Targi April 25 2017
For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new.
Designer: Andreas Steiger
Genre: Worker Placement
Player Size: 2 Players
Game Length: 60 minutes
For fans of: Jaipur, Quadropolis
I'm not a fan of worker placement games. Targi manages to add a cool little twist to the standard meeple-placing affair. Along with claiming the action you place onto, you also reserve a row or column in your favour to take a card among those in the center. It reminded me of Quadropolis' architects. But with Targi being a strictly head-to-head experience it feels even more cutthroat.
Targi is a surprisingly meaty experience for a small-box game. There's a lot to consider each turn. Not only are you accumulating Goods and Tribes, but you have to carefully place them in your display to maximize points. And the round-timer also adds another thing to be mindful of. At each corner of the grid indicates the robber coming into play. If you don't meet the requirements you could find yourself losing victory points.
There's a good amount of diversity in the Tribe cards, that allow for some strategizing for later rounds. So as the game goes on, each player will develop their own road to victory. But being mindful of how to stop your opponent is probably the most important thing. You shouldn't play nice in Targi, because it could spoil the game for you in the end. It's a bit of back-and-forth, ala Jaipur.
It's not necessarily my favourite two-player experience, but it fills an intriguing niche for me. It's a long-form 2-player strategy. Sometimes I'm in the mood for that, and other times the game can feel like its dragging longer than its intended weight. There are a few other games that I would probably prioritize playing over it - but I think there are probably a lot of folks who would also feel otherwise. I've seen more than a handful of pairs really enjoy their time with Targi. So I would definitely factor this one into: try it before you dismiss it.
Most Anticipated Games - April Edition March 30 2017
Each month at For The Win Board Game Cafe, we're going to be taking a look at a few future releases that we're really excited about. From new games, to expansions, to Kickstarters we'll be covering it all monthly.
Admittedly, very little is known of Flip Ships. We were given a brief description along with the box art, but that was enough to pique my curiosity. First of all look at this beauty of a box:
It gives a bit of an arcade shoot 'em up vibe, ala Raiden or Galaga. Then you have the name of the game itself, which is very catchy and adds a bit of mystique. "What is Flip Ships?" Well, according to the designers, it is a cooperative dexterity game in which players will "Flip your ships to take out the encroaching enemies and to take down the powerful mother ship before it's too late." At the very least, that sounds like its worth a shot to see what it's all about.
Flip Ships is coming Summer 2017.
We go directly from one 80's arcade homage to another. Lazer Ryderz exudes throwback, from its packaging all the way to its cheesy name. The most immediate comparison will no doubt be drawn to Tron. Players select speeds and build paths in attempt to collect prisms. But if they aren't careful, they could potentially collide into other players causing them to start over.
So it's definitely Tron, but the path-building is almost certainly borrowed from the popular Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game. The faster players move, the more difficult it becomes to maneuver. Additionally, players must select their movement without seeing first if it will cause any problems. It's a game that relies most on spatial awareness.
Lazer Ryderz blazes onto shelves in Q3 2017.
The Legacy games keep coming, and even with a few hiccups along the way (Seafall), there's still a lot of excitement for them. Charterstone is the latest in hyped games promoting permanence. It's being compared to Lords of Waterdeep in terms of the style of worker-placement game. The designer behind it is none other than Jamey Stegmaier, who is coming off the heels of arguably the best-received game of 2016 in Scythe. So it comes as no surprise why this hype train is chugging along at a dangerous pace.
The gist of it is players are collaboratively constructing buildings within a shared village. And while the introductory games will be limited in options, the addition of buildings will provide players with more choices as the game evolves. The most intriguing aspect comes from the games lack of a rulebook. Instead, players will unpack different boxes which will gradually introduce this rules and mechanics. This is done in hopes to ease players into the game without the intimidation of a large book.
Charterstone is hopeful to be a 2017 release.
The designer of last year's hit Mystic Vale, John D. Clair, returns to bring us a new card-crafting experience in 2017. Typically when you think "trick-taking game", you think dry in terms of theme and experience. Clair hopes to rewrite that. There isn't really a definitive trick-taking game, and using what he's learned from Mystic Vale, he is hoping to combine that classic mechanic with his fresh card-crafting system.
In Custom Heroes, players select heroes of varying combat values which they can customize behind a player screen. Along with increasing strength, they can change certain gameplay elements. But be careful with powering things up, as they may end up in your opponents hand in future rounds.
Custom Heroes is scheduled for release in Tokyo in May 2017 and some time later on for America.
Let's take a moment to recognize our very own Eric M. Lang's rise to success. Since the early 2000's he has slowly been building his way up to his current status of fastest rising game developer in the industry. It almost reminds me of J.J. Abrams. Since 2014, anything Lang puts his name on is immediately hyped to the moon. Much like Abrams' name carried the same weight in Hollywood & TV, post-Cloverfield. Of course, we are somewhat entering the era of Abrams fatigue. But with Lang recently being hired by CoolMiniorNot as their Director of Game Design, his trajectory only seems to be pointing upward. As a fellow Canadian, it's hard not to root for the guy.
Rising Sun is one of his latest projects, and is one of the most hotly, anticipated games on the horizon. Blood Rage was a big hit with gamers, and Rising Sun is supposedly a spiritual successor. CMoN is no stranger to the Kickstarter world, and their promotional material is always so beautifully designed that it's hard not to buy into whatever they're selling. Attach a name like Eric M. Lang to the project and it's like dunking a ball into a Fisher Price net.
Click here to visit the Kickstarter page. Rising Sun is tentatively expected in April 2018.
The Art of Translating the Rules March 16 2017
Everyone has their own way of learning. There's no blueprint to discovering the most effective way to teach your group new games. But with a few guidelines you should be able to condense the time it takes to get everyone on the same page. Just like recommendations, game selection and knowing the limits of your group is always a very important part of it. Not everyone has the patience to sit down and play a game where they have to remember a lexicon of keywords and hold onto a reference sheet as large as the game board.
Before even getting your group together, it's imperative for more complex games that someone reads the rules and thoroughly understands them ahead of time. Having to read the rules as you play, or read and then slowly translate piece by piece to your group will likely double the indicated play length on the box. Preparation is a big part of learning.
It's a lot of responsibility to be the teacher, because if you discover you've been doing things incorrectly it can fall on your shoulders. But with many games that I've had to teach or learn, the group is generally understanding that the first playthrough of most games can be written off as a learning exercise. We like to call it the "asterisk" game.
Where to Start?
Whether your game takes 120 minutes or 12 minutes, there's always one ideal place to start when teaching every game: the goal. Every game has a goal. And while not every game's goal is achieved in the same way, it's always best to start by defining the goal and working backwards. This way, every mechanic you teach from this point forward, will feel connected to the goal. The most common question people ask when learning a game is: "Why?" So start every session by answering that question, before it's even asked.
One Thing at a Time
If the game you are learning has extensive board setup, finish setting everything up properly before explaining anything. At the café, I make sure to have groups follow the setup page in the rules before I get into it. Not everyone can retain information being taught to them, while actively doing something else. It's important to have the undivided attention of the group so that key details aren't misheard or forgotten. There's nothing worse than playing a game of Avalon and having a loyal servant of Arthur throw in a Failure card on a Quest.
Additionally, be sure to incorporate mini-breaks in your "teach-flow", to allow for people's brains to process the information. Break elements of the game into logical sections, instead of jumping from mechanic to mechanic. For example, in a game like Seasons, spend one section describing how to properly read the cards such as the cost, the points awarded, when to apply its effects, etc. There's often a lot of information densely packed into a card - so it's important to make sure everyone can understand the language of the game.
Rules, not Strategy
Always limit any strategy talk when teaching a game. Part of the fun in learning new games is discovering the nuances. Feel free to give examples of how certain mechanics work, but don't give anything away unless it's a specific question being asked. Discovering combos and developing a playstyle is something that each individual should experience on their own. It's a naturally rewarding feeling when the game begins to click.
And above all else, be sure to exercise the utmost in patience. Nothing ruins a game session quite like the frustration of people not getting it. But it's normal for people, especially those who aren't frequent gamers, to be a little slower at processing instruction. As you get more comfortable teaching, you'll discover your own methods of guiding effectively. It's OK to get things wrong. At the end of the day, it's a game and the most important part is having a good time.