Orkfest Games Mini-Review

Orkfest always comes and goes too quickly.  Now that it’s over and I am home, I thought I’d take the time to write up a mini-review of some new games I tried out during the week.  There won’t be any detailed review on these here (though a detailed review on one of them is upcoming later this week).  We had quite a variety of games this year, and fewer than half of them were brought by us, so lots of new things to explore.

1)  We’ll start with something lighter.  Jesse and I recently purchased Super Fight.  It’s a card game and a party game, like Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity.  Only players make a set of cards to attempt to defeat a set in the center.  For example, you task might be to create something that could defeat a Robot with a freeze ray who can’t stop dancing.  You place a card with a character, and then a descriptor card.  Then a player next to you places another descriptor to try to ruin your monster for the fight.  The person who flipped the center cards (the robot), then chooses the winner of the fight.  My verdict:  An interesting twist on the card games, but it doesn’t really add a whole lot to the experience.  Save your moneyz.

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2)  Moving on.  Our friend, Jen, brought the Firefly Game.  Since everyone loves Firefly, we figured it had to be fun.  So we gave it a go one afternoon early in the week.  As you can see below, there is a LOT of STUFF for this game.  Tons of cards and things.  Also a cute dinosaur piece, but he is just the first player token.

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The game gets a scenario that must be completed in order for someone to win.  So players try to complete missions to get money to buy crew and spaceship upgrades so that their dice roles allow then to beat the overall scenario.  Reavers and police guys also chase you around.  We played this game for about 3 hours and then gave it a button (game winners at Orkfest receive buttons / pins) – no one was anywhere near completing one part of the scenario.  Maybe this game is better if you have an easier scenario?  It just seemed to take too long, and I don’t think anyone playing really wanted to play for 9 hours.  My verdict:  Meh.  If you like Firefly, you’ll enjoy the theme of this one, but you may want to add some house rules to speed up the process or something.  Way too long.

3)  My husband suggested we pick up Russian Railroads before Orkfest since we both love worker placement games and this one got a lot of good reviews.  Below is a picture of them setting it up and reading the rules.  Lots of game pieces with this one.

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I didn’t play the first time through, but I did play a bit later in the week.  It has some interesting mechanics, such as being able to generate coins to use either to buy things or as an additional worker to place.  You can buy some tiles for you to use on future turns.  And as usual, multiple strategies to win.  You can build 1-3 different railroads with multiple trains, you can invest in industry, or any combination of these.  It seems like your first play through of this game is truly a learning experience.  Scoring speeds up rapidly in the later rounds of the game.  All four players in my game were pretty close points wise at the end.  My verdict:  Jury is still out.  It is definitely not my favorite worker placement game – felt like there were too many options.  But if you like this type of game, it’s probably worth trying out as it is different enough from most others, at least in theme.

4)  I didn’t get a chance to play Caverna, which is thematically similar to Agricola, a game which I enjoy quite a bit.  I did watch two games get played, and each game took 3-6 hours.  The folks who played it said that while it does allow up to 6 players to participate, it is realistically only good to play with about 4, unless everyone has played before.IMG_0865

 

Without playing it, I can’t comment too much.  But Jesse said he felt like it was a little overdone, and that he liked Agricola better.  This one had maybe too many options?  I will say that I always feel like Agricola goes too quickly, and that it appeared like Caverna had more turns to allow players to do stuff.  But I am not certain if that made it better or not.  My verdict:  If you like Agricola, you’ll probably enjoy this.  It didn’t seem drastically different.

5)  Linda and Eric brought a game called Rise of Augustus.  The best picture I have of it being played is this:

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Fritzy has a set of small cards in front of her.  Each card has a set of symbols on them.  The symbols are also on pieces of cardboard which are put into a bag and drawn out.  Each player has little meeples to place on the card of their choice when that picture is drawn.  Once you fill a card’s pictures with meeple, you shout, “Ave Caesar!” and then you get some points at the end of the game, and a choise of a new card from the center.  This is essentially a glorified Bingo game, with a couple of extras.  But it was quick and simple to learn.  My verdict:  A pretty decent lighter game.  Simple to learn, and not completely skill based if more hardcore strategy games bother you.

6)  Last but not least, Splendor.  This is another lighter strategy game; easy to learn, difficult to master.  It comes with a set of nice poker-like tokens in various colors with different pictures of gems on them.  There are six colors – red, green, blue, white, black, and yellow (which are wild).  On a turn, players can do one of the following actions: (a) take 3 tokens of 3 different colors, (b) take 2 tokens of the same color if there will be 4 left in the pile, (c) purchase a card from he table using tokens, or (d) reserve a card, which is the only way to get a wild token.  Anytime you buy a card, that card becomes a token of the color gem you see on it, allowing you to buy more expensive cards.  Some cards have victory points on them.  After you collect certain sets of gem cards, patrons may visit you, which also provide victory points.  The first person to 15 points, wins.  Here I am below, raging at Charles for not knowing when it is his turn in a game of Splendor:

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My verdict: Buy this game, if only for the cool little token pieces.  (Seriously, they are super nice.)  I think this is the game I played most this year at Orkfest, at least 5x.  And I only won it once.  Very fun and pretty quick.

We did play some other games I really enjoy (such as Manhattan Project and Sewer Pirats), but these were all new to me, so I thought I’d post about them 🙂  Later this week, I will be posting a more detailed review of a different worker placement game, called Keyflower.  Cheers!

 

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