Welcome back. Yet again, I am Misery. Yet again, I might instead be Scrap Baby. It depends on where you're entering this from as to which name you'll know me by. But whichever name I use here, it's still me ranting about whatever.
This is just part 2 of the Big Board Game Rant Post Thing.
Let's get right back to it:
Pandemic: The Cure
Here's something a bit simpler, yet no less brutal.
What a strange looking thing, eh? The original Pandemic is a world-spanning game about racing to find a cure for a rampaging virus, stopping it from spreading across the globe. It is generally considered one of the best board games ever made, and it acts as a gateway into the hobby for many people.
Well, The Cure is it's dice-based spinoff. Same goal here, but the giant board and piles of death cubes are replaced with... er... a different type of death cube. Dice, this time. This game is all about dice.
Just look at these freaking things:
Those are all the dice that come with it. Seriously! That's all for this game! Dice represent all sorts of things: The diseases, the actions that your team can take, or special things. These are ALL custom dice, too... as in, non-standard dice. Even the ones that look standard actually arent. Those black dice with a 3 showing on them? Each one of those actually has 3 sides that all show a 3. That sounds silly on paper, but it makes sense in the game.
Like the other games on this list, the threat is automated. Draw a set of "infection" dice each turn, roll them. Put them where they go on those circle things that represent different countries. If more than 3 of one color of dice is ever on a spot, it outbreaks, spreading more dice to adjacent zones. Outbreaks can trigger more outbreaks. The diseases (there are four of them at once!) can get stronger, more aggressive. But you have your own dice to fight back with. Each character has their own unique set of 5 dice. These dice determine what actions are available to you on a turn. Roll the things, see what you get, and plan your tactics. If you roll biohazards though, you'll move the infection meter forwards. That thing rising too much is gonna bring you big trouble. Interestingly, you can take any dice you rolled and re-roll them as many times as you want, to try to get the results you need... until they land on that biohazard, which cannot be rerolled. This is a game about both tactics and risk taking. The rules are very easy to learn, but there is alot of depth here, and many ways to mitigate luck. But it's up to you, the players, to figure out how to do that. Dice games often LOOK like they're purely about luck... but that's rarely the case. This game really is all about strategy and tactics. And as you can see in the photo, there's more than just dice to this one.
How about something that doesnt involve you getting murdered a whole lot?
Not every game needs to be about exploding zombies or whatever (though I do indeed have a game full of exploding zombies). Dont need hyper-exciting themes to make a good game. You'll find that LOTS of games are about more mundane things like farming or tending a vineyard or, I dunno, building houses. Name it, and there's probably a board game about it.
This is a game that anyone can get into. It's all about landscaping, planting the best flower garden. Take those Tetris-ish flower pieces, and put them onto your two garden tiles, filling them up while leaving the flowerpots uncovered to score points. You'll pull pieces from that board in the middle, which has some unique mechanics of it's own... careful planning is rewarded here. And the presentation is just gorgeous, and the theme is friendly and nice. Flowers and cats, and that charming little wheelbarrow thing there. Instead of creating tension, this game is very good at being a calm, pleasant, yet mentally engaging experience. This one, I play solo, but it can also be played with other players, competing for score.
There's nothing else quite like this one. I have a hard time even explaining what the heck is going on there. This one is mostly a solo game, about travelling through a dreamscape, trying to exit a labyrinth while being pursued by ominous nightmares. Somewhere in the giant deck of cards (seriously there are so many of them) are doors. You need to find those doors... all of them. But simply drawing them doesnt work (unless you're holding a key at the time). That's where that screwy line of cards comes into play. Careful combinations of cards will allow you to search the deck to pull out the related door, but there are a number of rules on how these cards can be played. And if a nightmare card should come up, it's just going to ruin your day.
Onirim is one of those that surprised me... I wasnt expecting it to be even close to as good as it is. Nor was I expecting it to have such depth of strategy to it. What's more, it comes with 7 expansions, which can be mixed and matched to alter the complexity and challenge as you see fit. This is one of the most creative games I've yet seen, really. Onirim is honestly a special one to me, and it's a great example of the fact that simplicity and depth CAN go together.
There are 6 other games in the "Oniverse" series. They can be even weirder than this one.
Flashpoint: Fire Rescue
Last but not least, we go back to having a proper "board".
This is pretty much what it looks like. A game about fighting the blazing inferno that has engulfed a building, and trying to rescue the people inside... provided you can even find them. You cant put the flames out completely; the blaze is out of control. The best you can do is get everyone out before the whole thing collapses.
Not easy though (massive understatement, this game is *really* hard). The fire spreads unpredictably, and too much fire in one spot can cause a massive explosion, knocking walls down, spreading even more fire, and potentially killing victims. Fortunately, you are professionals, each specializing in a different type of role. On the bottom of that photo there, the guy on the left is really good at fighting the flames directly. While the guy on the right, the structural engineer, is good at either quickly patching up walls to slow down the building's inevitable collapse (if too many walls are damaged or blown out, it's all over), or knocking walls down to get to tough to reach places quickly.
Flashpoint is a very tactical game, requiring you to carefully think out each move before acting. It doesnt allow for many mistakes, and it's easy for the fire to get totally out of control if you're not careful. It's a very fast-paced game that will keep players on the edge of their seat, particularly when dice are rolled (to spread flames) or event cards are drawn. You never know what's going to happen next here, but you have the tools to get through it.
This is also another one of those games where there is ALOT of content. This has many expansions... it's one of those that sold quite well and just kept getting bigger. That board there is only one of many possible boards you can use, each having two different buildings on them (double-sided boards, you see). Expansions can add new boards, new roles, entirely new mechanics... as you'd expect from an expansion. This game is actually pretty easy to teach, and has two rulesets. The "family" rules (simpler, quite a few mechanics are missing or dumbed down), and the "advanced" rules (the main way to play). But regardless of which mode you choose, it's going to be freaking brutal. But I love every second of it, even if I totally suck at it.
And that's a quick (haha no) foray into the wild world of board games. A bit different from ol' Monopoly, eh? I only wish I could have found out about these as a kid. I liked the IDEA of board games, but the reality of it back then was.... not so good. And certainly nothing that was playable solo.
And there. That's the first blog post. Was it good? Was it utterly awful? A total bloody waste of time? Heck if I know.
But it's nice to do the whole specific-topic-nerd-rant thing sometimes, eh?
That'll wrap up this post, then. Next time, we'll dive into the even more bizarre world of twisty puzzles. You think a Rubik's Cube is hard? Nah. That's outright easy compared to the things I'll show ya.
Also next time I'll probably not tone down the sarcasm as much as I did this time. You've been warned.
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