Category Archives: Head to Head

Verses: Archer: Once You Go Blackmail vs Love Letter


This was a real easy match up for me. I like the original Love Letter. But if you followed the count down of my Top 100 games you will have noticed that Love Letter did not break into the list. It actually sits ranked at 119th. Whilst Archer (I’ll call it that for brevity) came in 63rd. That’s a big gap. Aren’t they basically the same game? To some extent yes they are. But it is the differences that make all of the difference!

Let’s start with the components. In the original Love Letter you are keeping score with red cubes. Whilst in Archer those components are rather cool looking dolphin tokens.

I actually prefer the artwork from the Archer cartoon to the original. But that’s personal taste.

But those are cosmetic differences. Each version of Love Letter usual has a tweak to the game play in some way (unless it’s the Adventure Time one). And it’s these differences that I really like. 

In Archer the card that is normally put to one side is now part of the game play (called the Hidden Identity) and some of the card actions interact with that card. One of them allows you to try guessing the Hidden Identity, if you do, you win the round. 

I love that change. I feel they took the idea from Lost Legacy and removed the bit from the end of Lost Legacy that Jonathan doesn’t like, the investigation round (I think I covered that in more detail when we played Lost Legacy yonks ago).

So it’s the combination of art, components and tweak to game play that made this such an easy one, even no brainer in choosing Archer over the original. 
 

Verses: Scythe vs Star Wars Destiny

This is a Top 5 clash for me. Both of these games made my Top 5 games for 2017. So this is going to be one epic match up.

Scythe, my game for 2016, my favourite game in my collection, and ranked number 7 on the BGG, verses Star Wars: Destiny, holder of the number 3 spot in my Top 100, and ranked number 255 on the BGG.

This is another other those odd match ups. Two completely different games. How do you chose? How can you even compare them?

Good questions, and anyone more gifted in writing and expressing themselves would be able to answer those questions.

Let’s look at Scythe first. This game is just beautiful. The art by Jakub Rozalski is just stunning. I’m using these words but they do not do justice or even capture how amazing the art is. Production values are just out of this world on this. When all set up Scythe just looks epic. Especially if you are using the extended larger board. Having player boards that are slightly different gives enough variety on the replay-ability side. For a game that plays up to 7 players (although I think I will only ever play it with a maximum of 5) if everyone has played the game before this plays very quickly. It’s a game that can be taught in about 10 minutes, but will take a new player a game or two to get into how to think tactically. Within a couple of turns a new player will get the hang of a turn. The nice thing is there is a card that can be used by new players to give them an idea of stuff to try achieving on their first few turns. The game does have a solo mode that I haven’t played. But it’s good to know it’s there if I want to ever play solo. I like the combat, it’s simple and quick. Very similar to Kemet in a way. I like that each faction has an ability that breaks one of the games core rules!

New game on the block Star Wars: Destiny has just come from nowhere! Naturally I love the theme. The art on the cards is amazing, and really does do a great job of capturing the well loved characters and settings from the movies. I will say the collectible side of the game I’m not a huge fan of, and would have preferred the lcg model. Component quality for the game is up to the  usual FFG high standards. Although the dice look a bit plasticy  and the images on the sides stuck on. They aren’t in real life, and feel very satisfying in the hand when rolling. I love the deck construction side of this game. For me this game gives me the Dice Masters and Ashes hit with the dice, and the deck construction of Ashes, MtG and Netrunner. Games are usually quick and have a nice flow to them. This game is slick.

And the winner is…

Scythe

It had to be. I love Star Wars: Destiny. Which can be seen by how highly I rate the game. It was a hard decision, and very close. Both games I adore. I get so much out of playing them. But in the end the collect-ability of Destiny gave it to Scythe.

Verses: Istanbul vs Viticulture 

Well I think there has been enough of a break to justify doing another of these Verses posts. I actually put this match up out there before the expo.

It really is a hard decision to make. Then again I think I have said that about more than one of these so far. Both of these games are in my Top 10 (at the moment, but I don’t expect that to change).

Istanbul, when played with all the expansions goes from a great game to an amazing game. The random nature of the layout of the tiles (taking into account a couple of tile positioning rules that stop one or two tiles being near each other) adds to the replay-ability of the game. With the expansions there is more than one path to victory. Plus there is a little take that added when you can block a route on the board slowing down your opponents.

Viticulture is a great worker placement game. But like Istanbul add in the expansions and wow. This has great production values. The turn order selection for each round is really cool, and gets even better when using the Tuscany extended board. The decisions you have to make at this stage before you have placed any workers on the board is incredible.

These two games are great examples of how to take great games and then take them to the next level with the expansions. I’d only play either without the expansions when introducing new players to the games. Otherwise it has to be all in (well we are still working towards that with Viticulture).

What did I decide? Well I don’t think it will come as any surprise to anyone I sat on the fence on this one and called it a draw. It is so hard to decide which one I prefer more than the other. There really is nothing that separates these two.

On Facebook Jonathan echoes my feelings about this one.

On a follow up, since the comment was made by Gavin, he has caved and bought Viticulture.
On Instagram I had one comment. I think the difficulty of this match up scared people off. That or they just didn’t care.

Verses: Run,Fight or Die vs Zombicide

Continuing the  now regular series of verses that my match up engine is generating from my game collection. Today we have a clash of Zombie themed games with the push your luck Run,Fight or Die taking on the 800lb gorilla Zombicide.

I love both games. But which did I choose?

Run, Fight or Die is a nice push your luck dice game, that has miniatures, variable player powers. With the expansions can play up to 6 players, and even be played as a co-op instead of competitively. The Mutant Boss figures are brilliant for this game, but sadly hard to get hold of. Which means that those inflated internet prices kick in when you try and buy them of eBay or some other site. I think I have everything for this game, except a couple of promos. It’s a nice game if you like that push your luck mechanic. There isn’t much to do when it’s not your turn. Luckily a players turn doesn’t take that long. There is some interaction with other players with limited take that, when you can send zombies to other players boards from your own. Having various decks to represent followers, loot and locations is cool.

Zombicide, Zombicide. What a great miniatures based co-op game this is. Variable player abilities, lots and lots of characters to choose from (you could argue too many), tonnes of scenarios to play, plus you can make your own up. The difficulty of a game can be adjusted by removing/adding cards from the zombie spawn deck, or the item deck. It’s a simple game, however it gets real tense, real quick. You really do need to work together to complete the missions. With all the expansions, there is just so much replayability. I’d like the second compendium book that apparently came out last year, but I never saw it being sold. The original Zombicide and has been replaced in the limelight by the wrongly themed Zombicide Black Plague. Which is a shame, I’d love to get the 3D doors for Zombicide. But they are unbelievably hard to get hold of. And I just don’t see Zombicide getting any more love from CMoN.

The winner for me was Zombicide. I think it was it’s flexibility of being able to create my own scenarios (aka the Epic Zombicide I played last year using literally everything I owned), and it has been more tense, piling on the pressure a lot while playing. Both great zombie games though.

On social media I don’t think this was a popular match up at all. Two responses. The first was Jonathan who said neither because he doesn’t like zombie themed games. Well he did like one, Hit Z Road. The other reply I had was siding with me and chose Zombicide.

There you have it, Zombicide is the winner both on here and in the court of popular opinion.

 

Verses: Star Realms vs Star Wars Destiny

If you have been following the posts of mine about ranking and my top games posts you will have seen that these two games have been in my Top 10 games since I started using my “match up engine”. Plus because of the nature of my process they were always going to go head to head.

So Star Realms or Star Wars: Destiny? Which did I choose?

I don’t think it’s any secret that I love Star Realms. Thanks to an awesome app I have up to 20 games on the go at a time. I’ve played thousands of games. Since records began I’ve actually managed to get the physical game to the table a whole 25 times. I really do like the deck building mechanic. The shared trade row. Plus the expansions. Oh my, the expansions. You can mix and match or if like me just play with everything thrown all in. With Gambits and Events you can get some crazy turn one purchases. Plus missions now change how a game can be won. This game just gets better and better. Oh and comboing cards so you draw your whole hand, and do one massive amount of damage. Or when you claw back from a single authority to get the win. You definitely get some great gaming moments in this game.

Star Wars: Destiny, OMG! I knew if I played it I’d get hooked. It ticks a lot of boxes for me, deck construction, dice, Star Wars. Ok the collectible side of the game is a big draw back.  But no worse than Magic the Gathering, Dice Masters or others of that ilk. There has been that initial difficulty in getting product. But hopefully that has been resolved by FFG, and so far it’s looking that way. I enjoy the deck construction side. I like building decks and playing them to see if they work. Yes there is a random element with the dice rolls. But there are ways to reroll and even chose a face of the die. So I don’t see that as a drawback. Sometimes the dice rolling adds an element of suspense that I like. Especially when the other player rolls badly letting you off the hook for an action or two while they mitigate that bad roll.

In the end I kinda copped out, sat on the fence and declared this one a draw. I really enjoy playing both of these games. And would find it really hard to make a choice between which to play if they were both in front of me.

And looking at the comments to the post on Facebook and Instagram, the slight edge goes to Star Realms. But it was close, one vote in it. And a draw if I take out the Hero Realms vote! The public can’t decide either then.

Verses: Scythe vs Viticulture Essential Edition

I knew my two favourite Jamey Stegmaier games would eventually go head to head against each other. It’s like the Merseyside derby (Liverpool vs Everton for none football fans) but with boardgames. 

Alternate East European history vs wine growing in Italy.

Both games look stunning. But Scythe has jaw dropping stunning art.

For me Scythe just has an epic feel to it. There is a bit more player interaction in Scythe via the combat, and having to watch neighbours moves so you can claim bonuses.

I do enjoy the worker placement of Viticulture. Throw in Tuscany with all it brings to the table with the new board and modules, lots and lots of replayability and depth. 

Momma and Poppas gives unique starting resources to each player in Viticulture. But Scythe and it’s player and faction boards giving unique action combos and starting resources pips Momma and Poppas.

For me Scythe is the winner here. Theme, art, mechanics it wins hands down.

This match up didn’t attract as much comment as previous verses. Maybe folks are getting bored of them. Mind you I know which one Jonathan would have chosen. He’s a growing wine in Italy through and through. 


Verses: Tokaido vs Zombicide

Today it’s like we have chalk and cheese duking it out. Talk about two completely different games.

On the right we have Tokaido, on the left Zombicide.

Tokaido is just such a beautiful looking game. It doesn’t feel competitive. But it is. That serene journey from Edo to Kyoto (or is it the opposite direction), stopping off to experience hot springs, visiting shrines, painting the amazing vistas, buying gifts, encountering interesting strangers, and enjoying heavenly meals, although zen like, has you squabbling with fellow travelers for those exclusive spots.

Zombicide on the other hand has you working with your fellow survivors of the zombie apocalypse to kill zombies, gather food and weapons, and hopefully make it to the end of the day! And boy does this pile up the pressure. The better you get at killing the zombies the more of them appear.

Pimped out with the collectors box, you can replace the cardboard money in Tokaido with satisfying metal coins, and replace the wooden player counters with minis. Whilst listening to the games soundtrack!

Zombicide is just a minifest. It has so many minis, especially if you have all of the expansions and kickstarter exclusives (I have some of these, not all of them). And because of this be a bit of a pig to set up.

I called this one a draw. I couldn’t decide. It sounds like a cop out and it feels like one. But I love them both. They both offer a completely different gaming experience. Which one I would chose at any time really would come down to how I feel at the time.

I had a couple of comments on Instagram:


And the following from Facebook:


Which I think if my counting is correct gives the slight edge to Tokaido. The public have spoken.

Verses: Escape from Colditz vs Memoir ’44

This is a juicy match up thematically and for what the games represent.

On the left we have a game over forty years old, Escape from Colditz. On the right we have Memoir ’44, champion of modern hobby gaming in this match up.

We have two games that are set during World War II. Well different aspects of it. One has you escaping an infamous prison. While the other is reenacting conflicts from various theatres from WWII.

These are two very differing games, very representative of their era. 

If you search back I had a blast playing Escape from Colditz. There were some issues mechanically. But having said that I know some people don’t like the randomness of the dice in Memoir ’44.

However Escape from Colditz takes a really long time to play. While in comparison Memoir can be played in less than an hour.

In the end it was a rather easy decision to make. It has to be Memoir ’44. The share flexibility and expandability, plus relatively quick game play, swung it. 

So did my decision match up with those that responded on social media?

Which would you chose?

Verses: BattleLore Second Edition vs Memoir ’44

This match up happened very early on in the pairwise comparisons. I thought “wow! This is a tough choice.”

How am I going to chose between BattleLore (Second Edition) and Memoir ’44

Both are based on the Richard Borg Command and Colours system. 

Yes BattleLore has some extras to its mechanics. Setting the game up is actually part of the game play. It also adds lore to the game, which is basically magic. And that setup as game play is inspired.

Memoir ’44 has had way better support when it comes to expansions. There is a shit load of stuff for it. Ok some are mega expensive because they are out of print (which I don’t get, because it’s a popular game, an ever green title, and keeping stuff like expansions in print shouldn’t be an issue.) Plus I’m not sure FFG will do much more with BattleLore now with their RuneWars mini game just hitting the stores. 

So does it just come down to theme? Do I prefer fantasy over historical? Or vice versa? 

I decided this was a draw. Theme wasn’t a big decider in the end for me. Because if on the day I wanted to play a game like these it would come down to what theme am I in the mood for? 

So I put this decision out on social media to get the thoughts of others on what they would chose.

I suspect Henning might be a little biased in his answer below. But he is correct his art in BattleLore is amazing.


So what would your choice be?

Kodama vs Odin’s Ravens

I think when I was boring you with pseudo techie speak about how I was going to write this matching engine to allow me to rank my games, I threatened to write posts about some of the match ups. Sadly for you I’m carrying through with that threat at least once.

Our first match up in this series (more threats I’m afraid) is Kodama: The Tree Spirits vs Odin’s Ravens (second edition).

The winner of this match up was Odin’s Ravens. So how did I arrive at this choice?

Both games are very attractive to look at. Both theme wise are completely different. Racing ravens verses growing trees and tree spirits.

Odin’s Ravens is a two player only game. While Kodama plays two to five players. Although I have only so far played Kodama as a two player game.

Kodama is the more “complicated” of the two games. And probably the harder of the two to pick up and play after a long gap between plays. Looking back at the post I wrote when I first played (and only time at the moment) the game there was confusion over how the scoring worked. And I feel that may be the case again when this hits the table next time.I have played Odin’s Ravens more than Kodama (not by much). But even so it only takes a minute to refresh the memory on how to play after a gap between plays. And that refresh is mainly on the setup.

I think what swung it for Odin’s Ravens was it has a take that element. Using the Loki cards it is possible to interfere with your opponents progress. However doing so has repercussions for yourself (potentially) because you too will have to negotiate the hurdle you threw in the way of your  opponent. It’s not much interaction but it’s there, which is more than there is in Kodama.

There you have it. That is how I chose Odin’s Ravens over Kodama. Which would you have chosen and why?