Last Week’s Gaming

It wasn’t a lot, but board gaming was back on the table last week!

They always say you don’t know how much you appreciate something until it’s gone. And being able to play some board games last week definitely proved that! I may have been a little overanalytical though – it’s the first time in a long time I couldn’t see a way out of my analysis paralysis mode!

As Alspal says – stupid math! That doesn’t mean I didn’t have a great weeks gaming, and a few things even started working (mostly!) which was awesome!

It was great to get back to playing a ‘real’ board game this week! And thanks to Alpal’s eclectic tastes, I got to play another game I wouldn’t have looked twice at.

On the surface, Unicorn Fever is a horse race. Actually a reimplementation of a horse racing game called Horse Fever, ultimately Unicron Fever is a horse race.

Below the surface, there is a lot more to Unicorn Fever than meets the eye. The game is split into two parts – preparation and the race.

Unicorn Frenzy - It is still horse racing
Don't let the cute theme fool you - Unicorn Frenzy is a 'serious' horse race

Preparation is the very ‘gamey’ part of the game. Players choose an action each turn, and there are three rounds in this section. You can decide to go for perks, mess with the odds of the unicorns, place buffs/debuffs on unicorns and of betting.

Here you can try to manipulate chance to your desired outcome. There is a lot of potential interaction here, which led to a case of Analysis Paralysis on my part.

The second part is the actual race. You flip over cards and move the unicorns a certain amount of spaces, depending on the odds of the unicorn winning. Once the card and any buffs/debuffs are applied, you then roll two dice for additional ‘sprinting’ bonus movement.

Most of the board is needed for the race proper

Backing a winning unicorn earns you clovers, and you can convert gold to clovers at the end of the game. The objective is simple – the player with the most clovers at the end of four races wins!

Even though I am against horse racing, playing Unicorn Fever was a heap of fun. Now that I have played it, if it was in my collection there is a good chance Unicorn Fever would replace Camel Up for go to racing games. Unicorn Fever doesn’t dethrone Downforce for my favourite racing game though.

Unicorn Frenzy - El Sparko Dorado Wins!
It's all about clovers at the end of the day. But as money is clovers, Unicorn Fever is pure gambling simulator

I would say even with the whimsical theme, Unicorn Fever isn’t a children’s game – at least young children. There are actual betting mechanics such as betting on a win or a place in play and betting odds. This could be a bit much for younger children.

Apart from that little caveat, Unicorn Frenzy is a surprisingly deep game that can be played as strategically or casually as you like. I can see a lot of ‘non-gamers’ enjoying a round or three of Unicorn Fever. I am looking forward to some more games in the future!

Kingdom Builder – Board Game Arena

A game that I have been looking forward to playing finally got to the virtual games night table last week. Kingdom Builder is coming up to a decade old and has remained a highly recommended game throughout.

The idea is relatively simple – you have a kingdom to build, and objectives to meet. On your turn, you place three settlements on land that is drawn from terrain cards, and you have to place them according to the rule of adjacency.

What is the rule of adjacency? If you can place a settlement next to another you already have built, you have to. So say you made a settlement on the edge of the desert next to a grassy area. You then have to develop on grass, so you need to place the subsequent settlement next to the ones you made in the desert.

Board Game Arena simplifies the placement rules, so no inadvertant cheating is possible

It sounds confusing, but this is as complex as placement gets. Kingdom Builder does have a small random element in terrain placement. Still, ultimately it’s an almost perfect strategy area control game.

My biggest issue with the game is the board. Not in concept – replay value is impressive with multiple panels for excellent replay value. Visually though the style is functional. VERY functional. The style is boring. This complaint also extends to the components and card art.

If you are lucky and place well, you can unlock bonus placement actions as well

For a game published in 2011, I can overlook this on the whole. Board Game production values have come a long way in the last few years. The actual game is more than up to the task of also helping me overlook this quibble.

But. Kingdom Builder received a second edition in the form of a ‘big ox’ in 2017, and nothing has been done to improve the visual or component quality. Again, Kingdom Builder is an excellent game with strong gameplay. Still, to Queen Games a fresh coat of paint would be appreciated!

Objectives are randomised by cards each game. On Board Game Arena, larger screens or zoomed out screens will let you always see the cards

Man of Medan – PS4 Pro

Last week I talked about playing Man of Medan on Xbox with Spookedshibe. Because Man of Medan is basically an interactive movie, I decided to see all it had to offer. While I made headway in achievements on Xbox, I decided to start again with my PS4 version.

This is for a couple of reasons. I have an SSD drive in my PS4, and load times are much better. Frame rate stuttering while loading is almost fully gone as well.

Also, when you get all of the achievements/trophies, PlayStation gives you the Platinum. It just feels better when you see the Platinum pop 😀

Telling me to hit buttons at a certain time does not calm me down

So my thoughts on the Man of Medan remain the same, so check out the previous Last Week’s Gaming for my thoughts. But I am hoping to finish the Platinum run prior to my holidays in a couple of weeks.

This is partially because I am already eying off the next in the series – Little Hope, as described in my October highlights. The bigger reason is that I am lucky enough to pick up my PlayStation 5 this week, and apart from Astro’s Playroom, I am keen to go back and play games like Sekiro, Horizon: Zero Dawn and Jedi Fallen Order on the more powerful hardware!

One of these things is not like the other

Outside of the Trophy/Achievement hunt, there is also another little mystery I want to solve in Man of Medan. If you find the radio, there is a Numbers Station broadcasting.

Does it have anything to do with this game? Is it part of a bigger mystery within the series? Who knows! But I wouldn’t mind getting to the bottom of this little mystery!

My Retropie build stream last week had a lot of technical problems, both streaming wise and with the console. I have worked out most of the bugs, but not all. So I still have some stream testing and console debugging to do. This meant no retro gaming this week, but it’s getting closer!

This week I am starting playing The Witcher: Enhanced Edition! This is a very casual run, but if you would like to see where The Witcher games all began, come over on Wednesday at 8pm AEST on Twitch and join me in my journey!

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until next time,

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