Time for a big dump of new plays:
Saga is a rather lightweight miniatures game that played rather fast. I didn't do particularly good at this game. Some of it was horrible rolling, some of it was just not quite fully understanding the system. I'm not huge into miniatures game, but I'd play this one again as it went rather quick and your actions are dictated by dice which means you basically work with what you have instead of thinking out a myriad of choices.
Clans of Caledonia is a lovely little euro about farming in the Scottish countryside. It's quite the vicious game with a lot of blocking each other off from spaces and competing over a market that rises and falls based on a basic simulation of supply and demand. The market is definitely the part that made this game tick the most for me. I quite liked this one and would certainly play it again.
Praetor is a tile-laying worker placement game where you're building this city and then placing workers to get things from those various buildings. If you built the place someone uses, you get the payment for using that place, which made for some great strategies where certain players would try to corner the market on a good or a certain action to reap more rewards. It had a big table presence which it didn't quite need and I'm baffled by the added system of having scoring based on matching colored corners, especially since the corner-matching was not friendly for our sight impaired players. It seemed like a goofy addition to a rather straightforward game.
The Expanse Board Game is based off the TV show and all about area control throughout the solar system based on playing cards for either events or action point values. It plays a lot like the GMT games like Twilight Struggle. I did horribly, but I liked it well enough to want to try it again, especially since I got a better understanding of how the factions differed. Also, it got me into the show which is great.
Concordia, oh what a beautiful game. You get a deck of cards, a couple of workers, and are tasked with expanding out from Rome to gather goods in order to either build more facilities to generate more goods or gather more cards to perform more actions. I could see this becoming a favorite with more plays as you've got this tight board you're competing over while also trying to figure out which goods to snatch up first so you don't have to pay more for them later.
It's a game where you'll line up several turns based on your cards, have to shift strategies halfway through executing a plan, buy a new card to pursue just one more action and then find you're awkwardly left one card short of doing everything you want to so you have to spend a turn picking up your whole hand of cards and man it's way more tight and exciting than it sounds and I'm eager to play it again.
Keyforge: Call of the Archons is the latest from Richard Garfield of Magic fame. The actual trappings and ultimate goal of the game is rather boring, but I could sort of say the same thing about Magic. Basically, you're trying to forge three keys before your opponent does the same and you do that by picking one of three houses in your deck to play cards of every turn. This leads to times when you have to decide between playing one or two killer cards that could give you great tempo in the game or play a middling set of 3-4 cards and hope your draw gives you some other cards to add to that one house you really want to play.
The main hook is that each deck is a completely unique combination of cards and you buy decks as a set thing that can't be mixed or matched with another deck. As someone who really enjoys the deckbuilding of Netrunner and Magic, this is somewhat of a turnoff but for anyone who wants to play a card game without feeling the siren card to constantly buy more, this could be the solution. The base box comes with 4 decks, 2 everyone gets as the two starter decks, and 2 completely random decks.
Minerva felt super similar to Praetor but instead of building one common city, each person built their own city and then activated rows and columns of tiles instead of just one tile. I liked this one much more than Praetor. Placement was a lot more important and choices felt a lot more weighty. It was also satisfying to build your own thing and then having a combination pop off.
Dice City wasn't much to write home about, but amusing enough. You roll a set of colored dice, match them to a personal grid you have, and then have the option of performing that action or the action of the spaces on either side. Choices felt rather limited and certain strategies seemed to snowball a lot faster than others. Maybe with a higher player count it would play nicer, but with only two, it wasn't fantastic.
Replays through this period include: Pandemic, Watson & Holmes, Star Realms, 7 Wonders, Eldrich Horror, The Castles of Burgundy, Kemet, Rising Sun and lots of games of Magic: The Gathering.