Been living more of that boardgame life:
Arcadia Quest felt way too light and loose for a grid based combat game for me. Almost felt like this would be something you'd play with six-year-old kids because of how simplistic it all felt. Also, the chibi art doesn't help the fact this feels like a kid's game. It's supposed to have this sprawling campaign but it would take a lot to get me to play this game again. If the draw of your game is a lengthy campaign, I'm going to want some meaty mechanics for the core experience.
Lanterns is a lovely little filler game that moves quickly with a simplistic blend of tile laying and set collection. The fact you're getting a card each time someone plays based on what color tile is facing you keeps you constantly invested in other player's turns and the whole thing is so lovely and elegant that I could see it becoming one of my favorite filler games.
Finally busted out Rising Sun for a play and it did not disappoint. I like the area control and bidding combat for sure, but it's the different interplay of the factions, the fragile alliances and the political mandates that made the buildup to combat a good bulk of the game. The combat felt like an exclamation point on a game of political intrigue which makes it a dream game for me. I'm going to try to get this one to the table often.
I gave Fallout another shot and it didn't make the cut. The scoring system is so broken and everyone agreed the fact we can finish each other's quests felt both unfair and unthematic. Maybe it would work as a solo game, but honestly at that point I'd go play Fallout on my computer. It's a shame because the story deck is cool and a lot of the systems are there, but the actual drive to keep playing just dwindles away the longer the game continues.
Got another play of Star Trek: Ascendancy and this was with four players. That was a mistake. All of a sudden, the core flaw of the game stuck out like a wart: the length of player turns. Each player has a number of command tokens to do actions and they get to use them all in one go. This means if you are the fourth player in a round, you can spend a good hour watching everyone else slowly expand out and mull over decisions only to get a turn where your plans fall apart after your second command and you're set back so far on resources you just have to wait until next phase to further your plans. That happened to me twice! Two turns I had command tokens unspent at the end because there were no valuable actions I could take and ended up having a 5 minute turn while I watched everyone else spend 15+ minutes having their turn. It's one of the most miserable experiences I've had with a game.
Sheriff of Nottingham is becoming a family favorite. It's a great game of bluffing where you go around taking turns as the sheriff while other players bring goods to market. You have to declare goods but you can always lie and try to smuggle in contraband, which is worth a lot. Do you take the risk and you might make it big or be honest and slowly build wealth by collecting the most of certain resources? It usually depends on which person you think you can bluff or bribe your way past. I'm generally terrible at this game but I don't care because it's so much fun watching family lie through their teeth and get away with a big haul of contraband or see someone pressure a sibling to up his/her bribe. It's as much about playing people as it is about playing the game and that's always a plus for me.
Finally got a play of Inis with four people and this has probably solidified itself as my favorite area control game. The wonky combat and card drafting system takes a while to fully comprehend, but once you do it's this great game of constantly shifting plans as each player does something that will throw off your tempo until victory seems at hand right before it's snatched away for a moment where once again someone else could run away with it all.
Azul seemed to be the game of 2017, running away with all the awards and accolades. It's easy to see why. It's a gorgeous package with nail-biting decisions as you try to balance what you need to score points against how to deny other players from running away with the game. It's a magnificent puzzle of a game and one I'd be eager to return to again.
La Granja is a medium weigh euro that I enjoyed well enough but there wasn't particularly anything that hooked me in the game. It's got a lot of mechanics at play which create for these tight turns where you're always an action or two short of doing everything you want to do. Maybe it's the fact I played it with two players which meant a lot less competition for resources that would probably be scarcer at a higher player count.
Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island is one of those cooperative games that has a reputation for being brutal. It certainly lived up to its reputation as the game constantly kept us running behind on resources. To me, this felt a lot closer to what I wanted from The 7th Continent. More nuanced survival mechanics at interplay with each other, a gradual sense of exploration with a bit of flavor to it all. I'm eager to return to this one again as I could see it becoming a favorite.
Cthulhu Wars gets a fair amount of rotation in our group as the big minis on a map beating up each other game. I love the asymmetrical factions and the general spectical of the game. At some point someone is going to stand up and chuck a big handful of dice across the board and a big blob of minis is going to slowly decrease until everyone licks their wounds, builds forces back up, and does the whole thing all over again. It's big, it's dumb, it's not that Lovecraftian, but I don't care, I love every damn minute of it.
On the other end of the spectrum, Near and Far is about as cute and light of a game that my group would go for. A grab bag of systems, it's a jack of all trades master of none type of game. There was never a moment where it all clicked for me. It's another game touted for its campaign features, but much like Arcadia Quest, the fundamentals are not here. Pandemic Legacy works because the fundamentals of Pandemic are already great, but so many of these campaign games I encounter feel like they'd be completely forgettable if not for the campaign feature.
Looking to the future, I've decided to jump on board the sinking ship of Android: Netrunner now that the game will end printing in October. For whatever dumb reason, knowing there are only a finite number of cards out there makes me more willing to try it even if the lack of future support means its far less likely I'll find new people to play with. I ordered a revised core set as they are selling out like hotcakes and I'm going to try some games with it first to see if I want to dip any further into buying cards before scarcity drives up prices.
My new most anticipated game on the horizon is Goodcritters. It's a retheme of a German game in which you're splitting money between all the players and everyone votes on whether or not they're for or against the deal. There's a bit more to it than that, but it looks like yet another game with lots of deal-making, bribes and negotiation.
Beyond that, I'm still haven't seen Gloomhaven get reprinted and one person in my group is not thrilled about the idea of playing it. Also, I'd love to get my hands on Altiplano at some point but I think it's going to be a hard sell for the people I game with so I'm holding off on getting it for now.