What I Played: July 28 – August 3

I’m not sure if I’m going to have the discipline to write a post every week about what I’ve played, but I thought it might be fun to give some impressions of the games I am playing and may not write a full review of.  Perhaps it was the excitement of Gen Con, but I got a lot of games played this week, including 4 new games I’ve never played, and I finished a campaign!

Charterstone

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I played Game 7 of a 2-player Charterstone campaign.  This is my second time playing through a campaign of Charterstone, the first time was a solo campaign with 5 automa opponents.  My friend really wanted to try this game out after having a great time playing through The Rise of Queensdale (another legacy worker placement game).  I had decided not to introduce any automa opponents in this campaign because I thought that would over-complicate things for my friend, but the game kinda feels pretty empty with just two of us playing, we we basically just do our own thing in our own charters.

My friend is playing the blue charter (which informal polling on BGG indicates is the most OP charter), and has a pretty good combo for generating money, so he uses that to unlock a lot of crates and make the games end really fast (and there are a lot of crates because of all the buildings that get auto-constructed for the 4 inactive charters every game).  As a result, I don’t really have time to do much besides maybe build a single building and go for easy/quick points via the Cloud Port or Grandstand that really don’t set me up for future games.

Charterstone is a mediocre worker placement game with an OK legacy campaign wrapped around it.  It’s not horrible, but we both agree we would have rather replayed a second Rise of Queensdale camapaign than have played this.

Betrayal Legacy

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Four co-workers and I finished the final chapter (Chapter 13) of our Betrayal Legacy campaign this week!  It was a five-player campaign that took us the better part of eight months to finish.  I’ve always liked the concept of Betrayal at House on the Hill more than actually playing it.  The haunts I have played in the base game and expansion have been a bit of a mixed experience for me.  One time we spent more time arguing over the rules of the haunt than actually playing the haunt!  Betrayal Legacy did a much better job at having clearer and more consistent rules, the haunt and story writing was better overall, and the themes of the haunts felt a bit more “serious” than the original and expansion (we did have one or two wacky haunts in our campaign!)

The finale was satisfying (we got the “best” ending), and this might be the first legacy game I will hold onto and actually want to play my copy of again.  I do plan to write a more in-depth review of this in the future.

Unsolved Case Files: Who Murdered Harmony Ashcroft?

In addition to escape room  games becoming more and more popular, there’s also a number of murder mystery games cropping up on Amazon and other places.  One of them is Unsolved Case Files, in which you are trying to look through evidence of a fictitious cold case to try to solve it.  In this one, Harmony Ashcroft was killed on the night of her wedding rehearsal and a man was wrongly convicted of killing her because he was found sleeping in a park with her engagement ring in his hand.  You need to prove his innocence and find the true killer.

Unfortunately, this game fell short compared to other crime-solving games out there like Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, Detective, Chronicles of crime, etc.  The game is a folder full of documents that you can read through: witness and suspect testimonies, photos of the crime scene, newspaper clippings, etc.   All the game ends up being is answering 3 questions on a website, and the way you answer them is by selecting two documents from a list that show a contradiction.  The first question was a little clever, but I found the second one very poorly implemented, and the premise of how the answer to the third question would prove the real killer was shaky at best.  All in all, it was a very short and unsatisfying experience, not worth the price of entry.

So Long, My World

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So Long, My World has a very peculiar premise: humanity is dying within the next couple of hours, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.  In your final hours, you decide to reflect on who you truly are as a person, and the winner of the game is the player who gains the most insight points and highest state of self-awareness.  The gameplay itself resolves around collecting feeling tokens and then spending them to play cards from your hand that are worth insight points at the end of the game.

The game also comes with a solo campaign mode in which you are inside a computer simulation experiencing other peoples’ emotions….or something like that, I’m not really sure.  The game is weird, and I’ve only played the first scenario, the Path of Beginning.  When you finish a game, you might be awarded a new “word” depending on what you did in that game and how it ended.  Those words are collected across the campaign, some words unlock new paths/levels, while others give you bonus when playing that path again, or a bonus when playing any path.  Figuring out what you need to do in a certain scenario to unlock different words is part of the meta-game.  While the actual gameplay isn’t that deep, the campaign structure of needing to complete scenarios in different ways to gain “achievements” is really interesting, so I’ll at the very least play the next scenario in the campaign.  The publisher is also going to release more scenarios as free DLC in the near future.

Escape Room in a Box: Flashback

I played Escape Room in a Box: Flashback, which is a sequel (prequel?) to Juliana Patel and Ariel Rubin’s 2017 Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment.  Similar to the first game, it has 19 puzzles you need to solve in an hour.  The game is divided into three “paths” so that each player could work on a separate path in parallel.  I just ended up solving all three of the paths on my own solo and didn’t bother with a timer (I typically don’t unless the game actually has things that happen at certain times, like some Unlock! scenarios).  None of the questions were that challenging, which is understandable given that this is a mass-market game that is probably aimed at people new to escape rooms.  That said, I think if I were recommending an intro escape room game to somebody, I’d still go with one of the easier games in the Exit line.  I didn’t really get the premise of the game (something to do with going through the werewolf’s stuff as a kid in the 80’s?) and never really felt engaged in the process.

Pax Pamir (2nd Edition)

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I played a solo learning game against the Wakhan AI.  I was loyal to the Afghans while the AI seemed to be favoring the British.  While neither faction ever took dominance, the AI was able to get all their cylinders out as spies/tribes/gifts, and was able to beat me by the second Dominance card for having the most cylinders out both times, resulting in a 4 point lead and auto-victory.  Like all Cole Werhle designs, this game is fascinating, and Ricky Royal’s AI bot strikes a nice balance of being robust/smart without being too much of a bear to manage.   This game is a keeper for sure for me.

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