UK Games Expo 2017: Costa Rica Review

This weekend I was demoing at the UK Games Expo on the Mayfair stand, and got to play quite a few games! Over the next few days I will be giving a review of some of the stand out games I got to play over the weekend, and what I thought after playing them at least 20 times each! Sadly I don’t have any/many photos of the games in action, due to being busy demoing!

First up: Costa Rica!

Players: 2-5

Time length: 30-45 (First game may take 45 minutes, but will be closer to 30 minutes once you have played it once)

Ages: 8+

Times played/Demoed: 10+

 

Costa Rica is a pretty simple “push your luck” style of game. You are intrepid explorers exploring the country looking to photograph the most wildlife, while also trying to photograph the most varied wildlife. The map is made up of hexagon tiles which forms into a large hexagon itself. The hexagon map tiles are split into three different biomes: Forests, wetlands and mountains. On one side of the tile will be a picture representing the biome, and on the other side will be creatures. In each biome, you will find different wildlife, as well an increased chance of danger which is indicated on the tile with a mosquito.

At leach corner of the hexagon map, each player places one of their explorers. Then the start player is given the exploration leader token. They choose one of the parties around the board and flip one of the tiles that the exploratory party is next to, and see what is underneath. Then they can choose whether to take the face up tiles, or continue exploring. If they choose to keep exploring then going clockwise each player in the party chooses whether to take the face up tiles, or to keep exploring. If somebody chooses to take the face up tiles they collect them all and remove their explorer from the party. Only players with explorers still within the party may be involved in deciding whether to keep or continue exploring.

However, there is always a risk that danger could strike! If a two tiles with the mosquito symbol are turned up, then the lead explorer leaves the party but takes any tiles without a mosquito with them. Then the exploration leader token is move on clockwise.

This continues until all accessible tiles are used, or all explorers have been used. Then it is a quick task to tally up the points of each of the players to discover the winner!

So, with the very brief explanation of the rules out of the way, how does it feel to play? For such a simple game it is an absolute blast to play. It is nice, light and quick to play. You can try and gamble for more tiles, and risk somebody else taking those tiles away from you when you choose to continue exploring, or you can turn over a mosquito and suddenly lose those two leopards that you so desperately needed!

The joy of suddenly getting a lucky streak as you push on and gather more tiles than you imagined, or the bad luck of turning over two mosquitos in a row can make the table howl with laughter as your misfortune. The fun of risking turning over a mountain tile with already a mosquito shown as you desperately need that toucan to get one of every type of creature is as much fun as nabbing the tiles from a friend who decided to explore further and you need those frogs is great.

I really view this game as a breath of fresh air after a more heavy strategic game. 30 minutes to clear the air and head after a heavy game of caverna, scythe or other big games is exactly what this game is and absolutely perfect for.

There are strategies you can consider (knowing there are 61 tiles on the board, fighting to make sure in a 5 player game you can get the average 2 tiles per explorer is something to think about when you gather none from one of your explorers!) however overall I view this game as something fun and relaxing.

I would say I much prefer the game with 4 players rather than 5, as I think with 5 there is a little too much competition for the tiles with 5 players, however I wouldn’t say it detracts from the game by any stretch.

Liz’s Score: To give you an idea how much I look forward to taking this game to my gaming table, I currently have a copy in my backpack I am taking home to play with my friends, even after demoing it for hours over this weekend, and demoing the playtest version last year. This is one to pick up to play with friends, and we will have a laugh between gaming marathons without a heavy rulebook slowing us down.

Timeline: General Interest – A Dave Review

So what is Timeline: General Interest then?

Well it’s a guessing game where you have to work out when things happened in history.

Ok… so it’s kinda like Trivial Pursuit?

Not quite, every card has a year on it and you have to work out whether the event on the card you have happened before, after or in the same year as the cards already on the table.

Right, so you need to be good at history to play this then?

Nope. It’s as much an educational game as it is a quiz as it is a guessing game.

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Scythe – A Liz Review

 

scythe-small

Name: Scythe

Players: 2-5 (expansions in future for more players)

Game Length: 2 hours+

Released by Stonemaier Games and designed by Jamey Stegmaier and Alan Stone.

Scythe has certainly quite a hyped game for 2016!  Set in a alternative history of 1920s Europe Dieselpunk setting, it is a competitive game for those who want to go to war with each other!

The idea is simple enough.  Each player controls a country, who are trying to be the top dogs in this Mecha history, and to keep expanding, you need workers, resources and armies. There are objectives to complete and for each of those you will get to place a star on the board. Once the first person reaches 6 stars, the game is over and using the scoring system you tally up and the winner is determined.

I won’t go too deep into the rules, as there are plenty of excellent videos that can show you in more detail! This is a slightly difficult game to describe in words, and much better just playing, or watching a video to understand.

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Sentinels Of The Multiverse – A Dave Review

So what’s Sentinels Of The Multiverse then?

Well it’s a co-operative superhero card game where the players work together to defeat the bad guy in a location or environment.

Card game? So it is a deck building game or something?

Well no, it has pre-constructed decks that each superhero / villain and environment uses.

Ah so it’s more like Pandemic then?

Well not really no.  Unless being co-operative and having cards makes it “like Pandemic” that is.

Ok… Sounds like it could get complicated.

It’s really not that complicated, sometimes there’s a lot of stuff to track but in the main it’s pretty straightforward really.

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Trambahn – A Liz Review

trambahn

 

Name: Trambahn

Players: 2

Game length: 30mins+

Short Description: based in late 19th century Munich, you are in charge of one of two rival companies trying to control the tramlines and become the best tramline operator! You start with horse drawn carriages, and move all the way up to electric carriages.

Overview: Trambahn is a fantastic two player game for those who want something quick and fun to play with a friend. The idea is relatively simple; there is four different coloured card sets within the box, marked with different numbers(running from 1-10) on one side (referred to as stations), while on the back side is Marks, the money of the game. There is also four terminal cards, which is where the passengers gather to take your tram route. Finally, there are train cards, which start with horse drawn carriages, all the way up to electric trains. The more advanced the card is, the more points it will score you, but the more it costs to get your hands on it!

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Onitama – A Dave Review

So, what’s Onitama then?

Well it’s kinda like chess but instead of Knights, Castles, Bishops and stuff you’ve got Monks.  Oh and the pieces don’t have special moves. It’s all done by having cards.

Ok… So how do the cards work?

So there are only 5 cards in a game and each card has a special move on it, once you play the card you give it away and collect another card which nobody has.  So you have to y’know think.

Ok… Sounds like it could get complicated.

That’s pretty much how Onitama was explained to me, it’s not really an explanation that does the game justice though.

Is it like chess?  Well if having a grid (5×5) as the board and having pieces that move round the board make it like chess then yes. But it’s not really like chess other than it being very tactical.  Let’s rewind a little.

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