Second Season – Our Second Impressions of Board Games (Week of 6/9/2019)

Too often we find that the first play of a game is centered on learning the rules and mechanics of the game, so it is hard to give coherent thoughts on what we like or dislike about that game. We are going to give our second impressions, a “Second Season” if you will, to those games we have just played for the second time. Bear in mind that the majority of our games are played 2-player only. First up:

Spike

Spike Cover

 

Spike was published in 2014 by R&R Games. The game was designed by Stephen Glenn and the artwork was provided by Pedro Soto.

Spike is a train game that is reminiscent to me of crayon rail games without the crayons. It also owes a debt to Ticket to Ride as it has a flop of cards that players will draw from in order to gain the rail cards that are needed to build the rails in the game. The players can improve their train’s locomotive, freight cars, and coal tenders throughout the game making it easier to move their locomotive, carry more cargo, and draw more cards. The goal of the game is to earn the most money by delivering cargo along the rail network that they build during the game.

Pros:

  • The components for the game are nice, especially the little locomotives that are used on the board and as the scoring markers;
  • The game lasts about an hour, so it is a nice length;
  • Turns are pretty fast and the game is fairly easy both to learn and play;
  • Pick up and deliver games are almost always a hit with us;
  • There is an Advanced Play option for when the players feel like they have mastered the basic mode of the game;
  • We both like the trains that are put together like puzzles – the pieces can be exchanged for the upgrade for each.

Cons:

  • The rule book could use some work. For example, they considered the train movement so important that it was given a page to itself, but there is not a single illustrated example on the page;
  • Because the players are laying pieces of track and placing locomotives on the board, the game can be fiddly;
  • The end conditions of the game are problematic. In the game that we played, I fulfilled all of my orders, but had to lay track for the rest of the game because the third time card had not come out yet. There is an alternative end condition to the game – the player must have placed all of their track and exhausted their delivery options. Since I met only one of those conditions, I was basically allowing Beth time to fulfill more orders. I do not understand why the alternative end condition does not have “or” in it rather than “and.” Due to our limited plays, I have no idea how often this might come up.

Bottom Line: Despite my reservations regarding the end of the game, both Beth and I enjoy this one. We have played a couple of crayon rail games and enjoyed them, so this seemed like a good fit for us. We enjoy pick up and deliver games as well so that is a point in the games favor as is the game’s length. This one stays in the collection for now.

Agra

Agra Cover

 

Agra was published in 2017 by Quined Games. The game was designed by Michael Keller and the artwork was done by Michael Menzel.

Agra is a worker placement game set in Agra, India in 1572. Akbar the Great is celebrating his 30th birthday and all India is celebrating with him. The players, who are simple farmers, are trying to improve their lot in life and looking forward to using the birthday celebration in order to do it. The players will deliver goods to notables, deliver to the merchant, scholar, and artisan guilds, and to Akbar himself throughout the game. They start with only basic goods, but will soon be building factories that allow them to upgrade those basic goods into higher level goods.

Pros:

  • The rule book for the game is outstanding in our experience. The index is extremely helpful. If we had any questions regarding the rules we had no trouble locating the answer to that question in the rule book.  The components are all very nice;
  • The artwork for the game is wonderful. This is one of my favorite boards due to Michael Menzel’s terrific art;
  • The game is worker placement with a twist and we really like worker placement mechanisms in games;
  • We love the favor token mechanism in the game;
  • There is always a plethora of choices for players to do on their turn.

Cons:

  • The artwork on the board, although beautiful, sometimes makes it difficult for the players to determine what the arrows on the board are pointing to;
  • The game’s length is against it;
  • The set up time can be fairly long;
  • Because there are many choices on a turn as to what a player can do, players prone to analysis paralysis may struggle;
  • Because of the nature of the game, it can be a beast to teach;
  • Some of the icons in the game are similar. Beth and I both misunderstood what some of the icons were due to their similarity.

Bottom Line: Beth and I both enjoy this game despite its complexity, but the game length is problematic for us especially because of our work schedules. For now, it is staying in the collection, but I am not sure for how much longer.

Kings of Air and Steam

Kings of Air and Steam Cover

 

Kings of Air and Steam was published in 2013 by Tasty Minstrel Games. The game was designed by Scott Almes, who is probably most well-known for the Tiny Epic series of games. The artwork was done by Josh Cappel.

Kings of Air and Steam is a pick up and deliver game with a steampunk theme. In the game, the players are in charge of both airships and trains as they pick up goods from factories and deliver them to the cities that have need of them. They have a market board that they need to keep an eye on to see which goods are selling for the most money on a turn.

Pros:

  • The rule book is pretty good. The components for the game are OK, but I think if the game was published today, they would be upgraded as a matter of course;
  • The artwork for the game is very nice;
  • Pick up and deliver is a game mechanism that we really enjoy.  We also like the programming aspect of the game;
  • The game has both a “basic” mode for beginner players and a “normal” mode for more advanced ones;
  • There is a good deal of replayability with the game;
  • The game’s length is good – we finished a 2-player game in about 45 minutes. At the full player count of 7, obviously the game is going to take longer;
  • The game scales well – the modular board lessens the number of pieces depending on the player count.

Cons:

  • Really, the only con that we have after 2 plays is that the airships are a tad too large for the game boards.

Bottom Line: This one will be staying in the collection. It is a very good fit for both Beth and me. I think that eventually I will even be able to teach my casual gamer husband this one.

Second Season Continues. . .

We are hoping that publishing this Second Season as we are calling it will encourage us to get our once-played games to the table and determine whether they have a place in our collection. See you next week with more Second Season games!

As always, please be sure to check out Board Game Geek here for information on these and thousands of other games.

Stasia and Beth

2 Replies to “Second Season – Our Second Impressions of Board Games (Week of 6/9/2019)”

  1. GARY COLLINS

    Concise, entertaining and informative, your reviews of these ‘new to me’ games are a treasure. I’m looking at MY old game collection with a new, analytical eye. I think the process might help improve my new game purchasing, too. Kings of Air just went on my watch list.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. I am glad you are enjoying the reviews, Gary. I hope you continue to enjoy them! Please spread the word – we need all of the readers we can get.

      If you get a chance to play Kings of Air and Steam, I hope you like the game. Let me know if and when!

      Stasia

      Reply

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