Boardgames - What have you played recently?

Last couple of weeks we played several games of First Martians by Portal Games:

Overall, a more complex version of Robinson Crusoe by the same designer. Although I like the game, it is a bit 'style over substance', and although using an app is a nice touch, { it hides the future events from you -(as opposed to them being on the foot of each card}, it does seem to be overly complicated. I think I prefer the original.

So, sticking with Ignacy and Portal Games, at the weekend, we had a go of the first part of The Detective, which I had bought on pre-order. After seeing it demoed by the designer at Games Expo, and the hype surrounding it post Expo, Origins and GenCon I was getting some geek froth on. It is sort of like an advanced version of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, from which it has clearly derived from the basics of that game.

Very clever game, is takes SH further , in that you have character professions with their own unique abilities. You have to plan out each working day for the investigative team, who have their own Antares Police Dept website. We assembled our team of investigators and got to it: some 4 hours later and we filled out our final report (online) thinking we had done rather well, and had uncovered a nefarious plot. The questions asked at the end were a bit perplexing, as we were soooo convinced we knew what was going on. Clearly we didn't, and a score of 14/40 with a 'could do better' rating gave us the arse kicking we deserved, We had clearly dived down several rabbit holes looking into minutiae, and not focused enough on solving the actual case! We decided not to save our progress, and come back again with a repeat attempt! Great game :)
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Saturday just past two of us got together and ended up playing:

- Mage Knight. Very good game and excellent solo game too. We played the introductory "First Reconnassance" as I hadn't played for while and the other player hadn't played it before.

- Vast. Asymmetric cave exploration (Knight wants to kill dragon, Goblins want to kill knight, Dragon wants to awaken and escape the cave, Cave wants to collapse and crush everyone, Thief just wants to get in and steal the treasure). We played Knight vs Goblins. Knight managed to escape just as the cave was starting to contract. There are also extra protoganists available, the Ghoul, Unicorn and Ghost, plus a KS that's just ended for a mysterious manor that will include Paladin, Skeletons, Spider, Manor, Enchanter

- Everdell. A really nicely done worker placement/tableau builder with woodland animals trying to build a new town using wood, resin, stone and berries as resources. Comes with it's own tree...(which is completely unnecessary but looks nice!)
I should have done a write-up for Grad Pad from 2 weeks back. (I blame it on the commuting again...a tendency to fall asleep on the sofa of an evening,)

Anyway, after our usual late arrival (both of us had errands to run in town before going out), we didn't get time to play a game before lunch, but did get some games in after lunch:

Tsuro of the Seas: a Tsuro variant with added dragons that eat the 'board', other dragons and players... It was interesting, but I think it ratchets up the luck element in the game too much. You spent 2 or 3 turns setting things up, and your whole strategy is in tatters because a dragon has moved exactly where you don't want it to go.

I then went out shopping, and Paul played Azul for the first time (we both played later on as well). Paul then played 7 Wonders.

After I got back, we had tea and played the second game of Azul (my first game). Rather abstract; you're placing coloured tokens on a grid, scoring for completed rows and columns (but completing a row ends the game), and also adding tokens to expand the number in a contiguous area. The twist is that when selecting tokens, you can only take one colour at a time, and place them on the board - but you can only place a single colour on each row and you only move it to the scoring area when you complete the row (1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 pre-scoring rows). I didn't do terribly well; I failed to grasp you should be expanding a single contiguous area not starting several areas. As a result, I didn't start getting good scores until late in the game but I did manage to complete a row.

We then played Hanging Gardens - tile-laying with a Babylonian theme, and then MOsAiXs: basically Os & Xs & As. A fun little game. As we needed to go to Asda on the way home (they shut at 8) we then pushed off.
Azul is pretty good - I'd like to try Sagrada which is similar and also has good reviews.

Space Base I may have mentioned before - it's become our most played game recently, and with 5 we know it well enough to do it in an hour.