Sorry there was no blog last week, spent the weekend in Chicago playing games and one of those was AEGs TRAINS.
Thought I would spend this weeks blog reviewing that game and discussing tabletop games in general. The best way to describe this game would be to combine Dominion and Ticket to Ride, two staples in tabletop game culture. I love Ticket to Ride and recently finally got my own copy and Dominion I have played a lot even though I tend to lose a lot. I personally love AEG games and even kick-started their recent collaboration with Fun to 11 (kick-starter linked below). To the point of Trains I guess I will break it down a little bit for the different aspects of games I personally enjoy.
Artistically: Overall, the game doesn’t wow me artistically, some color choices seemed odd and the art seemed relatively standard. However even though each peach individually did not wow me the art was consistent in flavor and made playing the game easy because each artistic element made sense. The consistency in the art was throughout something that if you have all expansions of Dominion is not there (ahem…Navigator card I am looking at you). The game used color on the deck builder portion of the game well, without reading the cards exactly you knew at a glance how many rail cards, train cards, action cards were available. Unfortunately with the train element, the train portion of the game left me wanting more, instead of plastic trains or even wooden train like shapes we as the master planner are given small squares for train rails and tall octagon shapes for the stations which end up looking more like cities. The maps vary in style and appearance but play the same way making the game easy to understand and quick to learn and teach.
Mechanics: Game mechanics are one thing that can personally break a game for me which is why I don’t like worker placement style games with the exception of Lords of Waterdeep. So when I heard that trains combined to games I enjoyed but had a heavy deck builder aspect I was concerned because for me deck builders don’t come easy and I often find myself struggling for a strategy, getting left in the dust, and wondering when that last freaking province got picked up and how do I have so much copper in my hand. Trains allows you to play the game in a multitude of ways, go for the route bonuses, go for large station points, purchase victory point cards for sheer numbers, or maybe actions that give you victory points. Knowing personally that I would never get the strategy before any of my opponents, I built my deck in order to lay rails and lay rails fast. This allowed me pick up at least one of the bonus routes each time while also getting me to claim points on major station cities. The mechanics portion I loved is that you can never be pushed out of a city or have your goal impossible to get to. Instead for each person in that occupied area it costs one more. However, there are special train cards and lay rails cards that alleviate that cost and can make that 8 point hex your opponents are sitting on cost only 1 instead of the 6 they had with their people and their stations sitting on it. It keeps you constantly thinking, without worrying about being screwed over eighteen different ways to Sunday. As a final mechanic I enjoyed was the waste mechanic, you get it for playing certain actions, but unlike curses which only negatively harm your hand these cards can be exchanged for points, or you can get rid of them all together by skipping your turn and discarding them, something that does not set you up to lose the game because every opponent will skip a turn to get rid of waste.
Learnability: While this might not seem that important, TableTop games can be intimidating to people whose experience with board games is clue. I know i was one of those people who feared table top games, and to this day when a game comes out with 800 little square pieces and 9 different type of wooden piece that somehow represents a different currency, my brain shorts out and I immediately begin snoopying the game because I know that no matter how much I listen the fact that the owner of the game has played it before means they will win because they already know what the pieces do. Trains allows for any level of gamer to get involved. You don’t have to worry about optimal strategy because in the three games we played no single strategy dominated more than its counterparts. Also the game has easy symbols and because you can’t, for the most part, screw people over you can ask for clarification without giving away your stellar strategy that they will now purposely undermine. With simple turn order and easy ways to clear the junk out of your hand you never feel lost. Hardest part of learning the game is remembering to take waste out of the waste pile. I picked up this game within a couple of minutes felt comfortable enough after the first time that I was able to not ask questions by the second game.
Overall, I loved this game and immediately told fellow table top gamers about it. I really should have known because I have yet to be disappointed by an AEG game. If you haven’t already go to your local game store and pick up a copy, or Amazon, they have it too.
Music of the week: Normally not a huge fan of Sia but love this song enjoy
Art of the week: I love the Live Laugh Love idea, but as my other half thinks it is overdone and in every house hold known to mankind I got him to compromise. The following is a Tolkien Elvish translated and scripted Live Laugh Love with Celtic knots in each corner. Elvish script is hard!
Recipe of the week: Let there be cake…or at least cake dip. http://sweettreatsmore.com/2013/01/skinny-funfetti-cake-dip/
Kickstarter for Epic PVP: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1225737959/epic-pvp-fantasy