Last Week’s Gaming – September 21st, 2020 – Can’t Ride the Blocks Boomerang for United Fireworks


Well, what a week that was!

Last week started out strong. Games night, dents in work projects, all was looking great! I think that’s where I made my first mistake. I told the universe it was a good week.

PlayStation 5 went up for surprise preorders. Did you manage to snag one? And the Nvidia 3080 launch. It was every bit the s#!%show I thought it might be.

I know people are disappointed that they missed out on launch orders for both items. Many more people missed out on 3080’s more than the PS5. If you did miss out, remember more are coming.

Myself, I wasn’t lucky enough to snag a founders edition 3080, but I don’t think this is the end of the world. Not all of the cards are out yet, plus the downside of having tech like that day 1 is you are a driver guniea pig!

But enough of the downsides of last week. A great plus was heaps of gaming was had. Let me tell you what I have been up to!

Playing Can’t Stop is the first experience players will have with Board Game Arena. Can’t Stop is a simple push your luck game that enables players to start to come to grips with Board Game Arena.

The idea behind Can’t Stop is simple – roll dice and mark a position on a counter for that tower. You have three temporary markers you can use, and this will let you place three different values per turn.

You can roll the dice as many times as you like on your turn, with one condition. You need to be able to place/progress on of the three temporary markers. If you roll and can’t do this, you lose all progress from that round.

Reach the top of the counter, and you ‘win’ that column. When you win a column, no one can play on that column anymore. Win three columns, and you win the game.

There isn't much to 'show off' with Can't Stop, but it is a fun filler game.

Well, I love me some Downforce, and we played a quick game on Board Game Arena to see what it was like. I have talked about Downforce a lot, so check out my reviews for gameplay thoughts.

Downforce worked well on Board Game Arena, but we got caught by a couple of quirks. Firstly – player powers are considered a variant? You can enable them (I haven’t worked out how yet), but, surprisingly, a core mechanic is ‘off’ by default.

We had a lot of fun messing around with the jumps in Downforce

The other thing that was surprising (in a good way) was the default board was from the newest expansion – Wild Ride. We played the board that includes ramps, letting you jump your cars during the race.

Soon I will sit with someone and play another round, mainly to come to grips with using variants and expansions in Board Game Arena. Downforce is working great in this version, but if you want to play online, one player will need a premium account.

We didn't get to play this track, but I have played it in an early form. Can't wait to try it!

I haven’t played Hanabi for ages. The cooperative game where you try and put on a fireworks show was an old game night favourite. I was curious to see how it would translate digitally. Short version – I was impressed.

Players draw five cards into their hands, but the twist to Hanabi is you hold your hand the ‘wrong’ way around. This means you can see all the cards except yours.

On your turn, you can discard a card to gain a clue token. You can play a card, firing off a firework. Play a firework that is out of sequence, and you disappoint the crowd. Do this three times, and the show is over.

Playing cards before knowing values is a risky move in Hanabi

The most common action is to give a clue to another player. This is where communication comes into the game. You can provide a clue by touching cards in another players hand that match a colour OR a number.

This is where I see the most ‘cheating’ in Hanabi. There are such plays as touching two cards, saying “These TWO are Green”, then touching another card and saying “And this one is green as well”.

Playing Hanabi on Board Game Arena worked really well though. I usually can’t play more than two games in a row (barring quick knockouts), but if I wasn’t tired I could have played Hanabi all night.

Games day with Alpal and I got my rematch for Boomerang Australia! This week, I had a lot of sleep, I was mostly in good form, and I was ready to play. What I wasn’t prepared for was Alpal and Annabelle practising during the week!

So I came last again. It was still a heap of fun though, and that’s what counts. We also played another version – Boomerang: USA. Similar to Ticket to Ride variants, the core gameplay is the same, but scoring is a bit different.

It doesn't look that interesting, but there is a lot going on with these 7 cards

For a bit of filler fun, I think Boomerang: Australia is the better choice. Boomerang: USA is a little more advanced, making the decision making the experience a bit more ‘thinky’. This could have just been coming straight off the back of playing Boomerang: Australia though.

Only one thing for it. I will just need to play some more. There is also Boomerang: Europe to investigate 🙂

I did not do well score wise, but it was a lot of fun to try the different scoring

Alpal was hoping I had the mental capacity for this puzzle game. The idea is you have a bunch of blocks, and some cards show the shape you need to construct. You work together to create the shape. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, as usual, there are catches.

Firstly, the cards only show one ‘side’ of the shape. You don’t know what perspective you are looking at. And you only get two of those cards as common knowledge. Well, when playing two players.

You then have a card each showing another perspective. But you can’t show the other player your card, so you need to communicate the idea. On top of that, if you want to add to the challenge, there are modifiers. These add rules like ‘You can’t touch blue objects’, ‘Pieces can only be moved with two hands touching it’, things like that.

How can such soft and cute blocks make my head hurt so much?> Oh wait, maybe the name is a description...

I would only add this with more players, but you can even add a traitor mechanic. One player can be dealt the solution, and their job is to stop that object being created.

Personally, I think Mental Blocks is a great solo puzzle game. I am good at being given a solution and working out how to get there. I am not great at being given only parts of the problem and having to find the answer on top of the missing required information. I do that enough for work – I don’t want to play a game with the same frustrations to relax. And I don’t want others to experience my frustration when this gets to me!

If I had a copy in my collection, I would happily have it sitting on the desk while semi-watching TV or as a distraction. If you would like a challenging puzzle game, then Mental Blocks may be a solid choice for you.

It looks easy once you see the solution, but there is a lot of out of the box thinking required

Alpal backed this popular Kickstarter, and we were both keen to play it. It was tense, it was fun, and I enjoyed it. I was curious to see how some of the other missions would play out.

And then… I thought about it. Similar to Marvel Champions, you have to use cards to collect enough items to clear objectives. The gameplay is simple, but both games share a common failing.

The game ends just as you get into the swing of it. There is a feeling of going through the motions and having an almost arbitrary win or lose condition met.

I will need to play this a couple more times to confirm what my gut is telling me. Right now, today, if you asked me if you should buy Marvel United, I would probably say no.

It’s not a terrible game, component quality is excellent (it is CMON), but I feel like it’s just a pretty cash in right now.

Red Skill managed to knock out Cap, but we pulled together and won the day

Splendor – Steam

Sitting down Saturday night, I thought I would make a start on typing up this article. I didn’t feel like hiding in my office, so I bought down my laptop. Fire up my computer, I was met with the ‘4,935 updates required’ message. OK, that may be an exaggeration, but it was a lot of updates.

After all that, I didn’t feel like writing. But I did have a computer open on my lap, so why not play some games? I was pretty tired at this point, but Splendor is luckily a game that you can almost play on autopilot. 

I won’t go into too much more detail here, but if you want to see my thoughts on Splendor you can check out my review here

So close, and yet so far. Being the first player is hard!

Elder Sign: Omens – Steam

Elder Sign is a board game I consistently thing I have reviewed, but haven’t 🙁 The physical version is fun, but you spend easily as much time setting up and checking things as you do playing.

Elder Sign: Omens is the digital implementation of the game, and it does a great job. I will review this game, and I will do my best to get it done in the next couple of weeks.

There are lots of different campaigns available, all with slightly different rules

One way to quickly explain Elder Sign is Yahtzee Legacy. It’s not entirely accurate, but it’s close enough. It took me a bit to get back into the swing of the game, but I had a lot of fun working it out again.

I won my first game in maybe a year? But there was a cost. I lost an investigator. Unlike legacy games, that just counts for this session. It’s been a long time, but I used to like trying to make it through the campaigns in a series. If I lost an investigator, I couldn’t use them again going forward.

Elder Sign is tough to explain quickly. Hence I want to get a full review up. This still might not be enough. So I think this might be among my first streaming session, definitely starting sometime in October. Hopefully, early October 🙂

To complete adventures, you roll die and match the patterns. Yahtzee, but not.

Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? Familia Myth – Infinite Combate – Switch

So I am not going to write too much about this one today, because I have started writing the review. I will write up all my thoughts on this casual RPG, so keep an eye out for that review.

For the moment though, I have finished the game. All 16 chapters have been beaten. It was a slog to get to this stage, though. There isn’t much variety in play, and the story took ages to go through!

The final boss has been defeated - everyone is happy!

Once the credits finished, I was presented with a new dungeon. Excellent, something new! And what does clearing these dungeons give you? Just a new challenge? Extending the story? Nope. It’s a hidden DATING SIM.

I am not amused.

This was always a niche title for people, but right now if you would like to play an anime based light RPG, I would say Pokemon then Fairy Tail. People that were looking forward to Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? would have already bought it.

Date Points? Look, this is common in Anime, but I was really hoping that the challenging dungeons weren't linked to this

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