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Month: September 2016

Kickstarter Preview: Unreal Estate

Kickstarter Preview: Unreal Estate

I’m always impressed when a game is able to provide me with a unique and engaging experience. I’m even more impressed when a game that only uses cards is able to do that. Today’s review is actually for a game that hasn’t been published yet, but will be on Kickstarter starting September 20th.


Unreal Estateure-box

Designer: Jason Slingerland

Player Count: 2-4 players

Play Time: 15-20 minutes

 


Unreal Estate is the first published game by Grand Gamers Guild. In Unreal estate, you are trying to build the most valuable real estate by constructing different buildings in fantasy settings through set collection and press your luck. You start with a hand of 5 cards, and there is a row of 5 cards in the middle of the table, called the Proposal Board. Additionally, there are cards at the end of the proposal board in the Scrap Pile.

ure-playing-space

Play area set-up

On your turn, you can either take a card from the proposal board, play an action card, or score cards from your hand. Once everyone has taken their turn, the remaining cards in the proposal board are moved to the scrap pile, 5 new cards are played into the proposal board, the start player rotates and play progresses. Cards used for scoring have a value of 1-8, with no card valued at 7. The higher the number on the card, the rarer the card is in the deck. When you score cards, say the Thieves’ Guild valued 3, you add all the 3’s in your hand and multiply them by the number of 3’s in the scrap pile to calculate your score. It sounds confusing, but let’s use an example. Say you have 2 thieves’ guilds valued 3 in your hand and there are 4 thieves’ guilds in the scrap pile. You add the number of 3’s in your hand, totaling 6, and would multiply it by the 4 thieves’ guilds in the scrap yard, resulting in a score of 24 points.

ure-scoring-area

Example Scoring Area (The right set is the example above.)

You continue around the table until the deck is depleted, you finish the last turn when the deck runs out, and then in turn order get to score one additional time. At the end, the player with the most points is the winner.

Things I like:

  • Multiple Strategies. I played this game 2 times back to back my first time playing this game. The first game, I pressed my luck and held out for the higher scoring hands and only scored twice, but scored big. The second game I scored early and often, and while I never had a huge scoring opportunity, I was able to amass a lot of points. Also in the first game, I basically focused on my own game, while in the second game, I played much more defensively and tried to take cards that the other players wanted to decrease their scoring. Both strategies were absolutely viable. It’s awesome that a simple card game offers multiple paths to victory, especially when they were so different.
  • Press your luck. I’m not always the biggest fan of press your luck style games, but this one has so much strategy in it that it wasn’t a problem for me at all. In fact, it was one of the best parts. You could take the easy points now, but if you wait one more round, maybe that multiplier will still be there and you can score even bigger. If was surprisingly tense for a little game.
  • The base game will come with 6 action cards, that you can mix in to the deck. Some of these are focused on affecting your strategy, while others have more of a “take that” focus. I don’t care for take that games, and there’s a simple solution to that. You simply leave those cards out of the game. There are enough action cards that you can pick and choose your favorites and end up with a very different feeling game depending on the cards you choose.
  • The Art. You’re probably saying here we go again, but this has to make my list with this game. Artist Corrine Roberts takes a game that is only cards and makes it beautiful. You don’t always see that with card games. The art style, with the watercolor feel and the fantasy settings, just works. Every time I drew a card that I hadn’t seen before, I stopped to take in and enjoy the image. My favorite had to be the Airship, but every single card is gorgeous.

ure-airship

  • Play Time. This game is so quick and so fun, that you won’t play it once. I got done and immediately asked to play again. It’s such a fast, tight experience that it will get played at least 2-3 times, if not more, every time you pull it out.

Things I didn’t like.

  • Take that. Like I mentioned above, I don’t like take that style games. I like to play more strategically and not have people mess with my game directly. Fortunately, you simply don’t have to play with them so this isn’t much of a problem. And if you like take that mechanics, then this ends up in the “pro” column for you.

Not to repeat myself over and over, but man is this game fun. The art is great, the gameplay is fantastic, and honestly, I can’t wait to get my hands on a finished copy. I’ll definitely be backing this on Day 1, when it goes live. This is the kind of quick game that will work great as a gateway game for players with no gaming experience and even the most experienced gamers will want to get it to the table. Check it out. It’s definitely worth your time.

GLG Rating: 8.5/10

The Great Gamers of Santa Fe

The Great Gamers of Santa Fe

So far, I’ve talked a lot about what we’ve done when we’ve found ourselves in a city or location that doesn’t have an active gaming population. You’ve read about the difficulties of not having a game group, and how to still get your fix when no one you know wants to game. Now for a better experience we’ve had.

When my wife and I travelled to Santa Fe, New Mexico for work, I was a little excited before we even left. Of course, I had gotten on meet up and googled game stores, and sure enough, a meetup game group existed. At first glance, it didn’t have a lot of people RSVP for events, but I wasn’t too worried about it. Those are rarely accurate. I also noticed that this group hosted a gaming meetup every Monday evening at a local comic book store. I figured that was a good thing that there was enough interest to have a weekly gathering. I was cautiously optimistic.

We arrived in Santa Fe at about 5:30 on a Monday evening, and as badly as I wanted to dump all of our stuff at our apartment and hurry to the game night, my wife(again the voice of reason) reiterated to me that it would be better to unpack our things and get organized instead of hurrying off to game night. I was disappointed, but one of the reasons I married her was because she’s typically smarter than me.

The next week we packed up a bag of board games and headed to the comic store. There’s always some nerves when you go to an event where you aren’t going to know anybody. Fortunately, those nerves were quickly settled. I don’t remember what game we played that first night, or even who we played with, but I will tell you that the group of gamers that they have out in Santa Fe are a pretty awesome bunch. We felt super welcomed and invited to be a part of the group, not just some participants. Every Monday thereafter, as well as every Wednesday at a different venue, my wife and I made sure to get together with our new gaming friends. The community out there did it right. If you were new, there was always someone to introduce themselves and play a game with you. Rarely did people attend an event, play a game or two, and leave without at least one or two people going out of their way to make newcomers feel welcomed.

When our time in Santa Fe had come to an end, we were very sad and disappointed to have to leave this new group that we had become a part of. I had made genuine friends that had extended beyond the surface level. We had gotten to know each other and develop relationships that normally wouldn’t have been created in such a short time. I look forward to the day when I’ll be able to get back to Santa Fe to see that gaming group again or hopefully cross paths with them at a convention or 2.

I really feel that that’s the power of gaming. The ability to take total strangers and put them in a setting where you can interact with one another while getting to know each other. It provides a medium for developing relationships.

Like I mentioned above, while South Carolina had been a difficult state to be in, New Mexico was the exact opposite. I’m sure I would have made friends and gotten to know people, but I don’t know how well that would have been without board games.

What great friendships have been created for you because of gaming?