Last Week’s Gaming

God of Ticket to Amsterdam and New York, with Salad. Takenoko may lead to a Potion Explosion.

I really love being able to do Last Weeks Gaming each week. They may be small pieces per game, but being able to share thoughts and experiences can tell you more about a game than a formal review.

Last week was a really big one for me, more than I was bracing for. But being tired doesn’t mean I don’t play games at all – it just means I play different ones!

Hearing Point Salad described as a game mechanic is common. The term refers to multiple scoring paths – a simple name for a sometimes complicated concept.

I had heard last year of the game Point Salad, a card game with a lot of positive feedback. But with a self-imposed slow down on buying games, it quickly fell out of my mental ‘watch for this’ list. Well, until Saturday, when Alpal pulled it out and asked if I wanted to try it.

Last Weeks Gaming - Point Salad Component
A box and a heap of cards. Alpal sleeved the cards - they do need it.

Now there won’t be many unique shots on this one – it’s literally a massive deck of cards. One side shows one of six different vegetables. The other side is a scoring mechanic.

On your turn, you can either collect two vegetables or one scoring card to place in front of you. You can also turn over a scoring card to turn it into a vegetable at the end of your turn.

That’s it. You just keep drawing cards in turn until all the cards are taken, then you follow the scoring cards you collected to work out your score.

It sounds a bit head scratchy as to why Point Salad is fun, but it is a fun little time. I will be actively hunting for a copy for myself as I can see Rabbit and I having fun with Point Salad.

There really is no one way to score, it's a changing strategy you must adapt to on the fly

I was looking forward to jumping into a smaller game, and Ticket to Ride: New York fit the bill nicely. This new trend in ‘mini’ versions of bigger gateway games is so good! Well, the ones I have played so far.

Ticket to Ride: New York is just ‘Ticket to Ride’ on a smaller scale. The same strategy and rules are in play, including the one different rule between the full versions.

In Ticket to Ride: New York, trains are replaced with taxis, and you get passengers around New York. The different rule is some locations earn you a tip, which translates to extra points at the end of the game.

We had a great time as I reset myself after Point Salad, but then Alpal brought out the new Ticket to Ride…

'Full' Ticket to Ride experience distilled into 15 minutes. Winner.

Yes, two different Ticket to Ride games back to back! As with all Ticket to Rides, there is really only one rule difference. In Amsterdam’s case, there is now a collection mechanic that the player with the most gets X points, second Y points, and so on.

Instead of trains, Amsterdam has you laying tracks of cards with goods. Specific paths have cart icons, and if you complete that track, you collect a card. At the end of the game, you count up the cards you have, and the person with the most gets 8 points, and second place gets 4 in the two-player rules.

The map from Amsterdam reminds me of the cruel choke points in the North Africa maps

The only thing to keep in mind is if a player got none of these ‘cart cards’, they aren’t in the running for points. I can see players suddenly forgetting this fact and weighing up completing a ticket vs bonus points in some games.

Also, a special shout out to the player tokens in Ticket to Ride: Amsterdam. The carts are more detailed than I expected, and I caught myself thinking of how I could paint them. Don’t get me wrong, they are basic plastic moulded pieces, and they are all the same bar colour. But there is just enough personality to them that I could spend a day or two sprucing them up.

I will have to ask Alpal how she feels about that, seeing as it’s her game!

The carts are simple pieces, but detailed enough that I do think about painting them

Takenoko – Steam

It has been ages since I played Takenoko on the table. So much so it actually counted as a ‘new’ game on my stat tracker! The theme of Takenoko is charming. The Emporer of Japan has been gifted a Panda. Players have to juggle keeping the Panda fed while building beautiful gardens and growing bamboo.

Takenoko is a game that seems too simple, and if you treat it as a simple game, you will be thoroughly trounced in points. The rules and goals are easy to learn and teach, but like all great games take time to master.

The digital version is beautiful, but very busy. Can you see the Gardener?

I won’t go into depth too much here, as I have Takenoko queued up for review now that I am making headway on that list. But it was fun, and the digital app looks beautiful. I did find one problem though – it doesn’t follow tie-breaker rules.

In the board game, in the case of a tie, the player with the most Panda points wins. In the app, if the AI ties, the first AI player in turn order wins. It’s a small thing, but seeing myself in second when I technically won did throw me a little.

If this was the board game, I would have squeeked in the win. Small issue overall though.

Potion Explosion – Steam

What do you do when you are physically tired, but your brain is itching for something to hold onto? Give it a puzzle game to play! I haven’t fired up Potion Explosion in a while, so I set up the laptop while lounging and gave it a go.

I have spoken about Potion Explosion a few times on the site and even on an old Clear, Concise Ramblings with Alpal. It is fun. It is still holding up, and I will review when I can borrow Alpal’s updated version for some comparison pictures.

While I have it on Steam, I would recommend grabbing it on iOS or Android over PC. The quick turn-based gameplay definitely fits mobile gaming better than a dedicated PC app.

It had been a few months, but it was a nice evening coming back to Potion Explosion

God of War – PlayStation 4

I didn’t get in anywhere near as much PlayStation time as I wanted this week. But I have been slowly making progress and enjoying myself immensely.

The highlight of my progress so far has been taking out a dragon. It was a type that used electricity instead of fire, which fit in with a new resource gained. There is the sap of the world tree that explodes when exposed to electricity, so guess how the fight unfolded?

A boss this big, you need to bring them down to your level

On my first try, I got absolutely crushed. There was another couple of deaths as I got used to the dragons’ attack patterns. This learning curve is what makes games like Demon Souls and Sekiro so popular. Everything is beatable if you pay attention and stick to it. The difference with God of War is this is at its peak with boss battles instead of the entire game!

Eventually, I did prevail, and the trademark cinematic/Quick Time Event ending was incredibly satisfying. The final moment I have shown below. It might not be as cool for you, but the feeling when the head landed had me smiling like a fool.

Peak Kratos

I still don’t think I will try and Platinum God of War, but I am getting closer to finally clearing the game and getting it off my list of shame.

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,

JohnHQLD
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