As an kid I dreamed that as an adult I would sit around a table with my friends every weekend and we’d roll dice, slay monsters, rescue princesses (metaphorically… cause as a nerd kid I had no idea what to do with a princess when I rescued them), and generally nerd out to our hearts content.
As an adult, that dream was dragged into an alley by reality and beaten senseless with responsibilities, jobs, honey-do lists, and life. I blame reality for the state of my adult life. I hold a grudge.
These days, my friends and I are lucky to get together once a month (or every other month) to roll our dice, slay our princesses and fly away in a facsimile millennium falcons. If we’re extra lucky, we’ll get together prior to our RPG sessions and play a couple of board games that we’ve collected.
Recently, my wife was taking the girls down to the states to see her mom and that left me all alone for a week. My inner child rejoiced. The perfect opportunity to go hardcore like we did back in the day. An all day game session? Why yes please.
Sadly, reality took one look at my glee and bitch slapped me sideways. Not everyone else’s schedules coincided. An all day RPG fest was off the table as not enough people were going to be around to make it worthwhile.
However, enough people were interested in an evening of boardgames so some fun would at least be had. Boardgames are not something that I regularly get a chance to do, and the fact that we all had piles of shame we needed to work through was incentive. We managed to get through 3 off my bucket list. Sakura, Deja Vu: Fragments of Memory, and Planetarium. I was kind of hoping we’d get through a few more of mine and perhaps even get a game of Bloodbowl or Necromunda in but alas, time was not on our side and we’re not as young as we used to be.
Of the six that we played, my personal favourite was Planetarium. I enjoyed the concept of trying to create a planet and (potentially) messing with other people’s planets as well. I didn’t win, but I definitely had the most fun with it and would gladly play again. My next favourite was Yokohama. It’s a Japanese take on a worker placement game and it plays really well. Enjoyable, simple to learn, hard to master with multiple victory paths. Again, I’d gladly play it again.
While we tried to keep to games we hadn’t played before, Tiny Epic Defenders snuck in because the 2nd Edition and the expansion, made it a much more compelling game to play. We did not win that one and while I enjoyed it and would play it again, it doesn’t jump out as a “go-to” game that I’d play. Definitely better than the 1st Edition though.
Sakura was an interesting, simple trick taking game that took a little bit to master, but once we understood the card effects, it became a little more fun and a whole lot easier. I’d definitely play it again with a few more people but overall it falls in my “was fun but not spectacular” category.
I have mixed feelings about El Dorado. It is a gorgeous looking game and is well designed, fun and with it being tile-based, it definitely has replayability but I felt there was something missing. It lacked something, and I’m not sure what exactly. Even though I won the game, it fell a little flat for me. It wasn’t the best game I’ve played. Either there was something we missed in the rules, or something that will be addressed in the forthcoming expansion. I don’t know. I’ll certainly give it a go again just to see though.
The final game on our list, Deja Vu, was visually very pretty with an anime-esque art style, but a frustrating game to play. A lot of that frustration stemmed from the rulebook not being concisely translated into English so there were paragraphs that didn’t make sense and then became contradicted two paragraphs on. Once we figured out the basics, it became a little more strategic and a little more fun, but I was definitely underwhelmed by the game itself. Oh well. Live and learn.
Next time the wife’s away, I’m going to take reality out back and shoot it. I needs me a nostalgic game night.