Last Week’s Gaming – January 28th, 2019

20190128-Last-Weeks-Feature

Welcome to Dragonvault!

It was a very quiet run for gaming this week.  Between work and getting other things ready, I didn’t get much gaming in.  There wasn’t even my normal games night this week!

The long weekend will help fix that though 🙂

Welcome To

A few rounds of Welcome To helped passed a bit of time 🙂

I know there is a way I can beat my best score of 101 – both Alpal and Rabbit have done it!  But I keep persevering – I will do it!

That is a big part of the reason I love Welcome To so much – even though the core of the game always remains the same, no two games are exactly alike.  And the challenge is so nicely weighted even with the luck factor of the deck it’s always great to give another go.

20190128 Welcome To
My first solo run through this week - and wow. That score hurt!

Dragonvault

Part of The Legends of Dsyx series and available at PnPArcade.com, Dragonvault is a simple one page Roll and Write adventure.

Similar in theme to games like Boss Monster and Dungeon Master, you play a dragon guarding their hoard from the annoying heroes.

Roll three dice, and decide to lay a trap or work towards upgrading more areas and magical traps.

Dragonvault wasn’t anything to set the world on fire, but it was a bit of fun and worth a look – especially for USD$3 and a single page printout!

20190128 DragonVault
Not a bad first game! I don't know what I was expecting, but a bit of fun.

Super Mario Odyssey

Not too much progress this week.  I finished the Sand Kingdom last week, and now I have finished the Snow Kingdom.

The bounce race was interesting, but playing it late at night before sleep I feel I could be getting better times.

Honestly, the Snow Kingdom has been my biggest let down for areas to date.  I am hoping the rest of the areas pick back up but it might be a week or two before I come back to Mario, between the next entry and Kingdom Hearts 3…

20190128 Super Mario Odyssey
I finished this area last week, but the snow isn't really as fun to show off!

Resident Evil 2

So I finally got to start playing the full proper Resident Evil 2!  Just like my experiences with the 1 shot demo, so far everything I wanted in the remake has come true.

I have heard a lot of comments already about the darkness in the game.  Yes, it’s dark and you have a lot of trouble seeing in front of you.  But I am actually appreciating this more and more – it means I have to explore slowly and carefully.  This is how I had to play the original, trying to explore without triggering camera changes and the like!

If you are on the fence, play the demo – it’s available for a little while longer, and will help you make your decision one way or the other.

20190128 Resident Evil 2
Had to go through a bit more to get here this time. No uniform yet either. Leon is slacking :p

What about you?  I hope you got more gaming in than I did!

Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Welcome To Review

Welcome To Feature
Welcome To Feature
Released 2018
Designer Benoit Turpin
Publisher Deep Water Games (Website)
Players 1 – 20 (As long as you have sheets, any number can play)
Playing Time 15-25 minutes (Decision speed is the main factor)
Category Roll and Write
Pattern Building
BoardGameGeek View on BGG

Beware the Home Owners Association – they may pinch your ideas!

There has been a major resurgence this year in a genre of game known as Roll and Write.  I have spoken about a few such games before, mostly in Last Week’s Gaming.

The premise is simple – you Roll some Dice and Write down the result to form some kind of pattern.  Everyone plays with the same roll, so it’s purely how efficiently you create your patterns that determine a winner.

But as with any design, this has been refined and played with.  One of my favourite ‘alternate’ Roll and Write games is the interestingly named Welcome To…!

What makes it an alternate game?  There are no dice to roll!  Everything you need in Welcome To… are some pens, the suburb score sheet, and some cards – that’s it.

Like a few other reviews in the past, don’t judge Welcome To… on the number of components that come with it.  This is a great game and logic puzzle that will keep you wanting to come back for more!

Welcome To Components
Not much to it - but Roll and Writes never do!

So what is Welcome To…?

Thematically, you are playing as architects in the 1950’s trying to design the ‘perfect’ neighbourhood.  You want to make estates of just the right size, parks and pools for recreation, and of course house numbers in the correct order.

Mechanically you are trying to do the same thing – neatly organised areas are more popular for buyers, hence more points.  Have a lot of parks in the area?  More points.  Got to install a lot of pools?  More points.  Had to slip in sub-housing such as 12A?  Well, that will cost you points.

Playing Welcome To…

First thing you do when you get your neighbourhood plans (Score Sheet) is to name your Suburb.  It’s part of the reason why the game is called Welcome To… – your perfect home hasn’t been named yet!

Then three City Plan cards are dealt out.  These are overall objectives that each player is trying to achieve, as well as an end game mechanic.

Initially these are fairly simple, basically grouping houses into estates, but if you want more of a challenge you can go advanced.  Advanced objectives are things like the first two streets must all have pools, or a certain street must be completely built.

Welcome To Initial Setup
You can just put your name, but where is the fun in that?

Once this is done, take the construction cards and place them into three equal stacks, numbered side up.  These will basically act as the dice of Welcome To… – whatever is revealed here is what everyone has to work with!

When everyone is ready, turn the first card over to reveal the effect.

Now the first turn happens.  Each player picks one house number from the cards on the left-hand side and writes that number on an empty house on their Sheet.

If you can’t place a house at any time, you must mark off a Building Permit Refusal box on the sheet.  These are penalties for not building, but can also end the game.

Once this is done, the player can choose to use the effect paired with the numbered card – this is optional, but these effects are generally how you improve your score and meet City Plan objectives.  This effect is also marked off on the Sheet.

Welcome To First Round Begins
So choose one number its paired effect. I have started with the high end number and a fence.

Repeat until an end game condition happens.  Ending the game happens when any player completes all three City Plans, uses all three Building Permit Refusal forms, a player has built every house in the suburb or any combination of the above.

Because play is simultaneous, it is possible for more than one player to reach an endgame condition – just play the turn out, then add up the scores!  Highest score wins.

Using the Effects

The building Effects are the score modifiers (and sometimes lifelines) in each game of Welcome To….

Generally speaking, they are all fairly intuitive.  For example, the Surveyor effect looks like a fence and lets you fill in a dotted line to make a fence and create a housing estate or group.

Similarly, the Landscaper looks like trees, and lets you fill in the Park score on the street you placed your house.

The Temp Agency looks like roadworks but allows you to change your house number by -2, -1, 0, 1 or 2 to a range of 0 to 17.  Why would you change a house by 0?  Because there is a bonus for the player that used the most Temp Agencies!

Welcome To Effects
You can mostly tell the effects just from looking at the image

The Pool Manufacturer looks like a pool.  If the house number you put down is in an empty house with a pool, you can ‘build’ the pool and mark it off on your sheet.  More pools equals more points!

The Real Estate agent looks like the stock market.  Think of it as marketing, where you can increase the final end game score for differently sized estates you build.  It’s all in the presentation after all.

And finally, there is Bis.  This hasn’t translated too well from the original French, and could throw some people.  All this is a mechanic showing a property has been slotted in, so an estate could be 3, 3A and 3B for example.

So now if you ever see ’12 Bis’ in a French street address, you know it’s just referring to 12A!

There is an additional advanced rule that also allows you to build Roundabouts.  By sacrificing an unmarked house and drawing a circle in it, you can instantly fence around the roundabout to quickly create estates.  Be careful though – this will also cost you points!

Welcome To Summary Board
Luckily the summary board makes almost everything easy to follow. Bis still throws some though.

So it’s just putting things in the right place?  How is that a game?

This is a question at the heart of many Roll and Writes.  Everyone has the same board, the same conditions, and puts things together as they wish.  But there isn’t one solution.

The player that does it the most efficiently or successfully pushes their luck the most is almost always the winner.

This is a big part of the fun of these games – at the end, when everyone has added up their score, everyone will see something that worked better than their idea.  The allure of the ‘perfect’ formation is always there but is rarely attainable.

Because of the random nature of the resources involved and the lasting effects of decisions made, the challenge to simply ‘do better next time’ can be addictive to a lot of players.  This is where the fun of these games are – not in the actual mechanics, but in the satisfaction of what you have accomplished.

Welcome To Scoring
I have never been in a game that has finished the suburb, so it's all about maximising your score

More ways to play!

Welcome To… has a solo mode, which only slightly changes the rules.  Essentially you play the same way and try beat your high score, but you add a ‘Solo’ card to the construction deck, and you only make one draw pile.

Each turn, you draw three cards and choose one card for the house number, and another for the effect.  Once the Solo card is drawn, you can no longer score the higher City Plans scores, but that’s it – the game remains the same.

Expert mode makes the game a bit more complicated, but also adds another wrinkle to the mix.

Each player plays similar to Solo mode, except there is no Solo card (it’s used as a marker for dealing, but I would skip it in small groups).  Each player draws three cards from the central deck and chooses two cards to play as normal.

This third card is not discarded like usual though – you pass it to the player on your left, effect side up.  This hides some information for the next turn.  Next turn, each player then draws two cards, as they already have a choice in front of them.

Welcome To Expert Mode
Passing me a 6 makes the house number useless!

It might not sound like much, but forcing ‘bad’ choices onto a player will limit their play options each round.  Someone really needs low numbers to fill a street?  Hand over that 14 with a smile.

But remember, if a player fails to place three houses it’s game over, so you aren’t just messing with one player – your score is also in Jeopardy!

Welcome To… Mini and Home Boards

A version of Welcome To… has been announced called Welcome To… Mini.

This is an interesting marketing strategy in my opinion.  The Mini version comes with the cards, 6 laminated score sheets, and some dry erase markers.  That’s it – no rules or new additions.

If you know how to play Welcome To…, this is a great way to nab your own copy – as a gift, probably not so much.

For myself though, I have a laminator and if you get one on special, you will probably nab one for cheaper than Welcome To… Mini.  Yes, it’s a few minutes mucking around – but after those few minutes you won’t worry about running out of score sheets again!

Welcome To How to make a scorepad last
If you enjoy Roll and Write or any games with score sheets, a laminator and whiteboard pen works wonders!

Don’t like writing?  Try the App!

Blue Cocker has released an app that replaces the scoresheet in Welcome To…

Playing on my Sony Xperia XZ, the sheet works fine and because I am familiar with Welcome To… it was reasonably intuitive to use.

I do wish though that there were some instructions or a quick tutorial to help you work out how to actually use the app.  For example with fences I had to tap more than if I had built a pool – those icons just ‘felt right’.

But this learning curve aside the app does a good job of minimising mistakes in placement and makes scoring a breeze, plus it’s free!

Welcome To App Scoresheet
The app is mostly intuitive, but it could still be better. At least you don't have to add up!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
Welcome To

Final Thoughts

Welcome To… holds a special place for me in my game collections.  It’s ‘only’ a simple Roll and Write game, but one that I can pull out and start playing in minutes.

There is that little bit more to it mechanics-wise that holds my attention while keeping its simple nature intact.  I wouldn’t play Welcome To… with 6-year-olds, but 10 and up would seem an appropriate age to me.

If you are the sort of person that enjoys a Sudoku or just logic puzzles in general, I think a game of Welcome To… is right up your street!

Overall
8.5/10
8.5/10

Last Week’s Gaming – December 10th, 2018

Fireball Island 20181210

Welcome to Fireball Island, where there are no Men at Work

I can’t believe there are only 2 more Mondays until Christmas, and the second one is Christmas Eve!  Aaaargh!  So much running around to do, and that’s just for work!

But even with a Games Night down to see Iliza Shlesinger’s Elder Millennial (it’s on Netflix as well if you can’t get to go!), some great games still made it to the table.

Welcome To…

Played it before, and will play it again.  Welcome To is a fun Roll and Write, and in a few more games I will get to writing a full blown review.

A nice thing about games like Welcome To is that while the game is fairly simple in rules, you just get to concentrate on your own suburb during the game.  It doesn’t mean you play on your own though – you still get all the benefits of playing and socialising!

This was my second or third game (I have been slack updating BG Stats) and we were all around the same in terms of the number of games played, but we came out within five points of each other in the end.  Alpal even smashed her personal best score winning this round!

Welcome To 20181210
Our naming strategy seemed to follow a theme... Maybe that's why we were all so close? 101,102 and 106 - close game!

Men at Work

How to completely flip Jenga on its head!

Men at Work is the latest game from Pretzel Games, a company with a great mission.  Every game they make has to be playable while holding a Pretzel!

Building a skyscraper with supports, girders and workers with beams and bricks, nothing can go wrong with such expert engineers on the case!

Cause an ‘Accident’ (knock it over) and you lose a safety certificate.  Build it higher than anyone else, and become Worker of the Month!

It was fun, it was ridiculous, and it was everything you want a party dexterity game to be.  Again a review will be coming, but if you see it before the holidays nab a copy if you enjoy building things.

Men At Work 20181210
Salesman - "Stable as anything. This building will reach the moon!" Client - "But one of the workers is holding up the" Salesman "THE MOON!"

Fireball Island

It has arrived – Fireball Island.  The game Restoration Games said couldn’t be done, then said “Surprise!”

We only played the ‘base’ game – I went all in on the Kickstarter, and there are expansions to play around with, but later.

For the moment, Fireball Island was everything I expected it to be – essentially a silly Roll and Move game that is just fun to play.

It may be seen as childish, but knocking those marbles around the island and from Vul-Kar is just fun, and the game plays so quickly I can see many groups including families enjoying Fireball Island.

Fireball Island 20181210
See the sights, take happy snaps, and don't forget to explore! Oh, did you get hit by a lava ball? Have a free souvenir!

Pokemon Let’s Go – Eevee

So I had a pretty long week, and Saturday I basically flomped on the couch with my Switch and Pokemon Let’s Go.

I now have three gym badges under my belt, 28 Pokemon in my Pokedex, and the Poke Ball Plus has grown on me.  I still wish the Pro controller would connect to Pokemon Let’s Go, but the Poke Ball Plus has shown me some more moves, plus let me get three Pokemon to Level 30+ without playing – my Magikarp even evolved into Gyarados with 0 game time!

As such, tomorrow’s review will also be a little different – a review on the Poke Ball Plus controller – check it out tomorrow.

Pokemon Lets Go 20181210
$500 Pokemon Dollars for a Magikarp, a couple of days walking around with the Poke Ball Plus and bam - instant Gyarados!

What about you?  What have you been up to?  Have you had time to play, or are you flat out in the Holiday lead up as well?  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Games – 26th November 2018

Welcome To 20181126

Welcome to the Desolate Penny Papers

Hi everyone!

Work is starting to ramp back up for a couple of weeks, so gaming time took a hit again, unfortunately.  That said, I had a great time playing the games I could get around to playing, especially checking out some of Alpal’s latest Roll and Write haul!

Penny Papers Adventures – The Temple of Apikhabou

Started the weeks gaming off with a fun little Roll and Write game of Alpal’s called Penny Papers Adventures – The Temple of Apikhabou.

Now Roll and Write’s are exactly what they sound like – Roll a die (usually, sometimes cards, sometimes draw from a bag) and write the result down on a special sheet.  There is usually a scoring mechanic such as most grouped together of a certain value, and the highest score wins.

This game was no exception and was a new experience for a couple of players as well.  There was a bit of ‘take that’ as when a mummy is rolled, you get to place a potential negative points marker in opponents grids.

Penny Papers The Temple of Apikhabou 20181126
All you need is a pen and the piece of paper. The rest of the stuff is because we didn't clear the table properly :p

This was a fun and quick little game that is also the start of a series, so if Alpal is willing there may be more games for a formal review coming in the future!

Welcome To…

A slightly different Roll and Write in that Welcome To is played with a deck of cards instead of dice, but the mechanics holds up very well.

Welcome To is a lot more thematic than most of the Roll and Writes I have played.  Here everyone is trying to build their ‘perfect’ suburb hence the Welcome To – your first job is to name your little area!

Then there are goals to meet such as making a certain number of estates containing certain numbers of houses.  House placement is fairly simple, you can place a house number anywhere in a street, as long the numbers are in ascending order.

Welcome To 20181126 Board Setup
Three house numbers, and three building abilities - everyone picks a house number and writes it on their sheet, and uses the power next to it if they wish. Simple!

You pick house numbers from three cards in the middle, and next to the house number are building ‘powers’ such as pools, fences and roadworks.

We played Alpal’s copy but I have a copy sitting on the table waiting for me – I thought I would be playing it more solo than in a group, but that idea has gone right out the window!

Welcome To 20181126
A Roll and Write with cards, Welcome To... is surprisingly stressful to play - but in a good way!

Desolate

The fun single player I haven’t played in a while, I saw the box and decided on a couple of games as I was over screens for a while.

Desolate is still a lot of fun and a great challenge as I wrote in my review, and once I clear some games over the holidays I will probably look at ordering the expansions.

After a hard week and just looking at some much-needed downtime, a couple of rounds of Desolate was perfect for me.  Not too long, not overly fiddly, and I could get up and come back to it easily.

Desolate Conflict
Combat is interesting in Desolate. Spend your resources to roll more die, or try and conserve ammo and potentially take a beating,

It’s just a pity I forgot to take a new pic, but oh well – as I said it had been a hard week!

Beat Saber

Well if you follow me at all, you knew this would be here.

Earlier this year I reviewed the ‘early access‘ version of Beat Saber on the HTC Vive, and tomorrow you will get to read all of my thoughts on the PSVR version.

This review will probably blend into a comparison of experiences with the PC version, as this week (fingers crossed) PC users will get all the new features the PlayStation got day one.

Beat Saber Note Coming
The Tutorial View. There are times you wish for the stream of nothing once you get into the game...

Short version though – it’s somehow more fun now, it’s amazing on PS4, and this is a game that sets the newbie VR bar so high other games will seem like a let down!

Pokemon Let’s Go

So I played very little Pokemon or Switch this week – this week and next week are going to hit me hard.

You may have seen on Facebook my little driving misadventure with the Poke Ball Plus.  Short version – it’s like an old-school Tamagotchi where your Pokemon tries to get you to play with it.

This is fine and fun and all, but it scared the hell out of my rattling away while driving down the freeway!

Poke Ball Plus
The interesting motion control and instant way to capture Mew, the Poke Ball Plus is growing on me - but not in game!

Anyway this weekend I got to pull my Eevee back from the stroll and went up about 14 levels.  From barely paying attention to it.  So gameplay wise – honestly, not overly impressed.  But to get Mew and ramp up your Pokemon when you can’t play?  The Poke Ball Plus is amazing!

What about you?  What did you get to play this weekend?

Let me know on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!