New Year, Old Year: 2019 Revisited
Day Two! The Aesthetes!
What I Got Right!
This one is fifty-fifty. But it’s with some perverse pleasure that I note that the good ones were at least all clustered at the top of the list.
The big success story here is Era: Medieval Age, which I liked enough to review its expansion by individually ranking every building in the game. Yes, this was a nerdy thing to do. Yes, it took a long time. Yes, I deeply regretted the decision halfway through, but figured the only way to survive was by eating my way through to the other side. It was out of love that I persevered, because Era remains one of the most-played non-new games in my collection.
The same is true of Cartographers, although for an entirely different reason. When the game released as an app, it became my go-to “potty game.” Which may sound like TMI, but it serves to (a) tell you a little bit about me, and (b) point out that when there’s no need to draw everything by hand or count up spaces during scoring, Cartographers takes only six and a half minutes to completion.
Meanwhile, Mr. Cabbagehead’s Garden is still a delightful little thing. The game’s persnickety scoring is more of a sticking point than it was originally, but that’s a minor point compared to how easy it is to set up and play for a few minutes.
What I Got Wrong!
These sting ever so slightly.
Just looking at Moon Base makes me want to revisit it. It’s still here, in a box in the basement. But it only took a few plays at the beginning of the year to realize I wanted it to do more than look pretty and sport some above-average drafting and placement. The ideal solutions were a little too tidy, too predictable. Damn, but it looks good. Maybe that’s why it was on this list in the first place.
The others aren’t quite as hard to swallow. Ecos: First Continent is probably the strongest of this list’s three regrets, but I’m still waiting to hear if there will be more to this system or what, because while the tile-drawing portion of the game was nearly perfect, the finite combos in the deck began to wear thin. Red Alert hasn’t reappeared for a very different reason: it’s just so much. All those little ships, barely distinguishable when I haven’t played for a while. All those little stands, many of which have invariably separated from the ships during storage. All the little rules that don’t feel intuitive the way more terrestrial Commands & Colors titles manage. I know what a forest does. Asteroids and planets? I get the gist, but not as immediately. Add in a bunch of extras, and Red Alert becomes one of those games that requires more energy than I’m willing to give it.
On page three, we’re telling a story about the games that told a story.