So we’re slowing approaching GenCon! With all the research I’ve done, here’s where my list stands at the moment.
Games of Interest
I have been trying to get my hands on this game for years! This game is my type of game for sure. Set collection, bidding and area control.
Onitama: Way of the Wind
This is an expansion to Onitama which I believe adds new movement cards and new playing pieces which will add some new mechanics.
If you know me at all, I’m a huge fan of werewolf. I know hardly nothing of this but from the descriptions I have heard I will like it. This may have to be my first stop this year!
Council of 4
Here’s another great example of a game that I know has been around a long time but could never get my hands on a copy. The art and minis are nice and all but what really speaks to me are the mechanics: resource management , route building and hand management just to name a few.
Imhotep: A New Dynasty
This is an expansion for Imhotep, which is easily one of my favorite medium weight board games. Games of Imhotep can get very tense really fast. Imhotep to me has the right amount of simplicity with the right amount of strategy and depth that anyone can play! I can’t wait this expansion adds.
I think the box art speaks a lot for this game. I have only played the ZMAN Games version one time and liked it. A nice tableau building card game with surprising deep strategy. Let’s see what Renegade Games Studios does with this neat card game.
Birds on a telephone wire. This game is a light abstract tile placement game. I am sure this gains won’t be fowl.
Events and Other Things of Interest
- Demoing Luxor
- Demoing Cahoots
- Demoing Istanbul Dice
- Participating in the One Night Ultimate Werewolf championship
- This Gencon marks my first cosplay! So if you see me and want a picture or just to say hi, please do!
- Overall as you can see most of the games on this list are reprints or expansions to games I enjoy. In my opinion not a lot has come out and wowed me. I am sure there will be a few hidden gems for me, there always are!
- This year I am more focusing on networking and meeting new people and catching up with those I see but once a year.
Game: Shaky Manor
Designer: Asger Harding Granerud, Daniel Skjold Pedersen
Published: Blue Orange Games
Players: 2-4 players
Playtime: 10-20 Minutes
Play Type: Dexterity
The manor at the top of the hill has a reputation of being haunted. Things seem to move in the night, and not just ghosts either. The house itself seems to move and tilt. However there are treasures to be had in the mansion. Will you be the first person to break the curse, get the treasure and escape the mansion alive?
There are two modes of game play in Shaky Manor, but they both have the same basic concept. The first mode of play is where players are drawing a colored room card and trying to get the meeple and three treasure chests into that colored room before their competitors do. In order to do this, players must shake their mansion until all other elements are out of the room listed. This is considered the “easy” mode, great for young kids because they are always working towards the same goal.
The hard mode is mechanically the same, with players trying to shake their manor to get certain elements in a colored room. However, in this case the elements change based on the card listed. When players draw a room card, the deck will show a new card faced up with various items that can be found in the house. The players must race to get all of those objects in the room, while ensuring that no stray objects end up in there. The first player to do so takes the room card.
Once a player has six room cards they win the game.
Components in Shaky Manor are fairly simple, but are very eye catching. There are the four room boards (two of which will need to be assembled when opened), a variety of different chits that go into the mansions, and a deck of cards. Players should check to see that all players have the same amount and types of chits before starting the game.
One fun thing about Shaky Manor is that players can actually see and “try” the game through the box, as there is a see through area on the box. While it does not actually effect game play, it was still an interesting component decision.
As far as the quality of the components themselves, I would say that they will hold up to the violent shaking that they will be forced to endure. The cardboard is sturdy and the chits are all either wood or strong plastic. My only component complaint is that two of the room tiles are very similar in color and can only be distinguished by a slight change in color and tiny symbols within the room. I would have liked to see the floors be more distinguished (maybe having different types of flooring, or more easily discernible colors)
- Easy to Teach
- Engaging for Kids
- Quick to Play
- Engagement Starts with the Box
- Visually Interesting
- Simple and Competitive Fun
- Quick Set Up/ Take Down
- Room Tiles Not Always Clear
- Lacking Long-Term Reputability for Adults
- Luck Involved
Shaky Manor is a game that is great for families. It can be taught in under a minute, and has both an easy and hard mode so that the game can grow harder as children seek more of a challenge. Kids will be engaged as soon as they see the box and are able to shake it around and see the objects moving. The fact that it is so short also may be great for busy families looking to spend some time together on the weeknights. Set up and take down is especially fast, because all of the components should be set up after the first play through, meaning all players will need to do is open the box and shuffle the cards.
While Shaky Manor is definitely engaging for children, and provides short term competitive enjoyment for adults, I am not sure that it will provide long term engagement for adults without children. While fun to play with a group of friends for a short period of time, adults may find the simplicity of rules and the amount of luck involved in where items start to be repetitive. It will be enjoyable to play occasionally, but may not see the table as often as other dexterity games that provide more variability and control.
That being said, if you are a fan of dexterity games, this would be an enjoyable addition to your collection. It looks and feels great. It is much quicker to set up than some other dexterity games making it great starting game for a game night. I would suggest it if you enjoy games like Meeple Circus, Ice Cool or Dr. Eureka. It is still very much a dexterity game, however set up and take down is much quicker than these other games so it is great for a busy family.
Game: Ticket To Ride: New York
Designer: Alan R. Moon
Published: Days of Wonder
Players: 2-4 players
Playtime: 10-15 Minutes
Play Type: Set Collection, Route Building
Picture this, you have landed in the 1960’s in New York city. There are many different sites to see, like the Empire State Building, Central Park, China Town and Times Square. Your goal is to race around and see as many of the sites as possible, completing destination tickets along the way. Take in the sights, race through busy street and enjoy both familiar and different game play in Ticket to Ride: New York.
Ticket to Ride: New York will feel familiar to players familiar with other titles in the series. The concept and end goal are very much the same as the other games: score tickets and connect train routes. There are a few changes however to game play.
During set up, players will place the board in the center of the table. Then they will hand each player two colored transportation cards. The remainder of the transportation cards will be placed above the board to create the transportation market. From that deck, players will place five transportation cards face up. If three of the five cards are rainbow taxi cards, players discard the five and draw five new cards. Once the market is set, players will deal two destination cards to each player. The players will then look at these cards and select at least one card to keep. Any discarded cards go to the bottom of the destination deck, which is then placed by the board. That concludes set up.
During a player’s turn, they have three options: draw transportation cards, draw destination cards, or claim a route:
- When players draw transportation cards they draw from either the face up market or the deck. Players have the option to draw two cards in any combination (one from the deck, one from the market; two from the market; two from the deck) with the exception of if they take a rainbow taxi from the face up market. If a taxi is selected, players may only take that card. This does not apply to cards drawn blindly from the deck.
- Drawing destination cards is the second option. Players take two cards from the destination deck. They may choose to either keep one or both of these cards.
- Claiming a route is the final option. Players will play a number of corresponding transportation cards to the route they are claiming. They then place their taxis along that route. In two player games, a player may only claim one side of a double route. In three to four player games, players may claim both sides of a double route.
Turns continue like this until one person has two or fewer trains in their possession. At this point, each person takes one more turn. Scoring works similarly to other Ticket to Ride Games, with the exception that there is not a tracker on the board. Instead players will make use of a score pad.
While scoring players will first look at the routes claimed. Players will reference the scoring chart in the bottom left hand of the board, and give points based on how many taxis are in each of their routes. Then players display their destination cards and add up the points the receive for successfully completing destinations. If a player failed to complete a destination card, they will then subtract the number of any destination cards they did not complete. Finally, players will score one point for each route connected to a Penny (1) symbol on the board. After this, players will find the sum of the three rows. The winner is the person with the most points.
In Ticket to Ride: New York, gone are the trains that are iconic of the series, in their place are little taxi cabs. With the exception of the change from trains to taxis, players who have played a TTR game should feel familiar with the components in Ticket to Ride: New York. The cards display a vibrant art style, with a variety of buses, RVs and taxis illustrated on the cards. The cards and routes in this game each display a unique and distinct symbol that corresponds with their color. This ensures that the game remains accessible to people who are colorblind.
- Appropriate for Families
- High Quality Components
- Easy to Teach
- Colorblind Accessible
- Tension Between Players
- Not as Portable as Other Microgames
- Target Exclusive
Ticket to Ride: New York will provide a great experience to those who enjoy the series, short filler games or games with quick decision making. This game was appealing, because it is very simple, and could be taught in under fives minutes, yet provided strategy that experienced gamers will enjoy. There is tension between players, despite a lack of direct player interaction. Every turn will matter, due to the short nature of game play. If a player makes a wrong move in this game, it can really make the difference between winning and not winning, as every player may only get 8-10 turns before the game ends.
With that tension in mind, Ticket to Ride: New York is still a family friendly game, that would be a good choice for parents trying to introduce children to board gaming. The short nature of the game may appeal to younger children who do not enjoy sitting still long enough for a full game of Ticket to Ride. The game will also appeal to players looking to get a game in during their lunch break, or looking to play a short filler game while waiting for other players during a game day. The only problem some may find that the box is still somewhat large for a filler game, so it is not as easily transported as some other filler games may be.
If you enjoy any of the Ticket to Ride games, Catan, Small World, Pandemic, Takenoko, Kingdom Builder or Sushi Go! I would highly suggest checking out Ticket to Ride: New York. It provides streamlined game play, with underlying tension between players without being overly complex or difficult to learn. If you are looking to add this to your collection it will be available in July, and in the United States it will be a Target Exclusive.
I love seeing children interested in the hobby. It means that it will continue to grow over time. As a teacher, I spend some time teaching kids to play and appreciate game. That being said though, not all games are going to work for all kids. When attending a game night where you intend to bring your children, you should be aware of whether your child will be able to participate fully. While running a game group at a store I would have parents ask if they could bring or drop off their children to play freqeuently. On days where we were playing more complicated non-party games I would ask the parents to answer the following questions:
- Has your child played a modern boardgame before?
- Can your child feasibly sit still and focus for 1-2 hours?
- Will you work with your child if they do not understand the rules?
- Can your child patiently wait for their turn?
- Will your child respect the owner’s game by not bending cards, eating/drinking while playing, or causing other forms of damage?
- Will your child be upset if we ask them to put a phone or iPad away?
- Is your child going to enjoy this experience?
Now, it was never an instant turn away if a parent admitted that their child may not be able to follow these expectations. Often times when parents would be unsure we would invite them to bring a more child friendly game and we would play with the child before moving onto something heavier. Another thing I would suggest is working in tandem with the adult during more complicated games, so the child still feels they had a role.
However, I always discouraged parents from just dropping their kids off at game night. This puts the organizer in an awkward position of trying to babysit your child, and not being able to make those suggestions to help the child enjoy their time, while still maintaining the enjoyment of the adults. It still happened occasionally, but it is something I would never suggest a parent doing.
I have never been one to put an age limit on games, because each child has unique abilities. I have seen a six year old be able to concentrate all the way through Scythe and play effectively. I have seen 14 year olds who destroy cards and get upset and quit during werewolf. Each child is unique in that way.
Now the one thing to note is I mostly talked about at a public store. If you are hosting a game night, your rules go no matter what. If someone else is hosting a game night it is polite to ask them first and see what their expectations are.
It’s great to get kids involved with gaming as early as possible though. It teaches crucial life skills such as how to win and lose gracefully, how to make decisions and solve problems, and how to focus and communicate for long periods of time. If you are unsure about bringing them to a game night, start them at your house and see how they do. The more you play, the more ready they will be to play elsewhere.
I just wanted to take a minute to introduce myself. My name is Mackenzie Hoffman. Dave has graciously invited me to become a contributor here, and I’m excited to share some reviews with you. I’ve been in the hobby since 2015, and since then I’ve grown my collection to over 300 titles. I play a wide variety of games, but mostly consider myself a Eurogamer, with a special love for games published by Stonemaier Games and Red Raven Games. Besides being an avid board gamer, I am also a middle school English and History teacher. I live in Plainfield, IL with my husband and two cats.
You can expect to see a variety of reviews from me, including both new and old games. Aside from here, you can also find me on Instagram as MackotheMeeple on Twitter as TheMeepleStreet or on my personal blog, The Meeple Street I’m looking forward to sharing with you, and seeing what I can bring To the Table!