The Five By: The Games of Episode 13

Sorry this update’s a little late but between RUTHCon and chaos at work as we transition to a new system, things have been crazy. In fact, I’m writing this from the pharmacy where I’m stuck overnight as a technician rips apart my set-up and installs that brand new system. Here’s hoping i get out of here before 2am, but at least I have podcasts and my laptop. So settle back, listen to the latest Five By, and then come back and see my opinions on the games covered in lucky Episode 13.

00:31 Mason – Istanbul

It’s been a long time since my one play of Istanbul – I believe I played it at Origins pre-BG Stats! This clever pick up and deliver game uses a breadcrumbs system where you have to drop off assistants as you move, while making sure not to leave yourself stuck with no help as then you’ll have to kill time retrieving your team. This forces you to pay attention to how locations are positioned relative to each other when planning turns in order to be as efficient as possible as you traverse the city. I love the character added to this Euro game by the inclusion of seedy gambling dens and your loser nephew’s inability to stay out of jail, and combined with the smooth gameplay I can’t understand why I haven’t played it since that convention. Clearly this needs to be corrected.

05:48 Mike – City of Iron

This is the only game of the week that I haven’t played at all, mainly because I’m very hit or miss on Red Raven Games’s catalog so tend not to specifically search them out. The theme of this one was intriguing and I’d heard decent things about the second edition. Mike’s segment has me really interested in this civilization-building themed area-control game, especially when he mentioned that each faction has its own style of play and inbuilt advantages. It’s an interesting mix of concepts, and while I won’t be buying it without playing it first, I may see if anyone local has a copy handy.

10:41 Ruth – Gold West

I played Gold West again during RUTHCon and it left me scratching my head as to why it just doesn’t get played more often. This game is as close to perfect as they get, and if you don’t own it then just come over and let me show you why.

15:41 Sarah – Shakespeare

I’ve only played Shakespeare once, actually at last year’s RUTHCon, but I thoroughly enjoyed this game themed around putting on a play. The art is gorgeous, the theme shines throughout everything you do, and the variety of things you have to do to get your show ready is simply delightful. I want to do everything in this game, and have to at least do a little of each possible preparation, but the key is efficiently using what little time you have to get the most out of your troupe. The bidding is interesting because you’re betting on how much you can do with limited actions and so I don’t even mind that aspect. Add in the genius decision to have you pay everyone at the end (because of course you don’t have cash until you perform) and it all comes together beautifully. I do agree with Sarah that it can be a little fiddly dealing with the many teeny tiny tokens, but the game is engrossing enough to make it worthwhile dealing with this factor, at least for me.

21:05 Lindsay – Suburbia

Ah Suburbia, a game I really liked on my first play then, for some reason, never played again. Sounds familiar given that this is the third such game on this episode! This suburb-building game has you balancing population growth and income, and has a lot of interactivity between players as many tiles score off of other’s neighbourhoods as well as your own. This made my one four-player game a bit tricky and I can’t help but think it’d be better as a two-player experience. While I haven’t played the board game more, I have played a little in the app version, and enjoyed that implementation. It has a campaign mode where each level has particular challenges to be met as you build your town, and if you’re interested in digital versions of tabletop games, I highly recommend checking it out.

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