Between Two Cities--A Double-Take Preview

Between Two Cities--A Double-Take Preview

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

-Charles Dickens

This week we're previewing the latest from Stonemaier games: Between Two Cities--a semi co-op tile-placement game for 3 - 7 players. It's a game of city planning and building, and it has nothing to do with a novel by Dickens, as our flavor quote would have you believe... Stonemaier Games has a ridiculously pristine track record when it comes to fulfilling their promises and delivering games that are not only a TON of fun, but also comprised of great, high quality components. Today we're looking at a prototype, so the images you see are definitely not final, but we can surmise that the finished product will be spit-shined and looking slick when it hits your doorstep or FLGS shelves.

 Let's jump in and take a look at Between Two Cities.

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Kickstarter Weekly--October 9, 2014

Kickstarter Weekly--October 9, 2014

Well it's full-on Fall! Football, leaves, apples, pumpkins--the whole nine yards. That also means a lot of the campaigns we've been looking forward to after seeing previews at the summer conventions are starting to hit Kickstarter! Including this week's featured campaign... 

Featured Campaign!

Lanterns: The Harvest Festival - Foxtrot Games

In Lanterns you'll play the part of an artisan charged with decorating the lake for the Harvest Festival in Imperial China. Lanterns is a really great-looking tile-placement game, with a very cool double-edged feature, in that each tile you place benefits you, and every other player in the game! We're going to be posting our preview of the game here very soon. Spoiler alert: It's good!

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Carcassonne Around the World!

SudseeImpossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools. - Napoleon Bonaparte

Some may say that it's impossible to catch up with the popularity of the likes of Monopoly and Settlers of Catan, but Carcassonne is doing its best to pump out fresh versions, expansions, and editions of the game until the market is oversaturated. Hans im Gluck, publisher of Carcassonne, announced the franchise's next step toward that end.

Carcassonne: Sudsee will be released on October 21 of this year, as the franchise continues its trip around the world. Some would say it's impossible to build the French city in such places as North America, or...I don't know...a tropical island? But those are the words of fools!

Sudsee tilesSudsee will keep "the familiar tile-laying gameplay of the original Carcassonne, with players adding a tile to the playing area each round and optionally placing a token on the tile to claim ownership of...something. Instead of the familiar cities, roads and farms, however, players in Carcassonne: Südsee use their meeples to gather bananas, shellfish and fish, then ship those goods to traders in exchange for points."

Can't get enough Carcassonne? Want to see it in more places? You're in luck, because this is being touted as the first in a series dubbed "Carcassonne Around the World".

What do you think? Will you pick up the newest iteration of the tile placing classic? Is it necessary?

Winter Is Coming... Winter Carcassonne, That Is

carc winterAbout a year ago Z-Man Games ended up with the distribution rights to the Carcassonne franchise in the US. There's been a few expansions to come out since then, including a set of 6 mini expansions that each include a tile to a 7th expansion.

Today Z-Man announced the upcoming release of Carcassonne: Winter Edition. The announcement came through their Facebook page; very few details were given except that there will be an included Gingerbread Man expansion.

This appears to be another stand-alone version of the classic tile-laying game—this time around with a wintery, dare I say "Christmasy," theme... This is the first stand alone edition (aside from the base version) that has caught my eye, and will definitely be making its way onto my Christmas list! You can check out the post from Z-Man here.

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Infinite City - The City of the Future!

While it's not the most intricate or ingenious game design, Infinite City is a pleasantly surprising, quick-moving, tile-placement game that has players taking the role of rival corporations jockeying for control of a quickly expanding city in a booming economy.

In the box you will find a whole mess of tiles, and a bunch of colored pegs.

Player turn—Turns are pretty simple: Place a tile and put your colored peg on it. Then resolve the game text on your tile. Draw back up to 5 tiles.

The goal is to have as many of your colored pegs adjacent to one another as possible; you score 1 point for each peg in a group of three or larger. There are also tiles that have a numeric value on them or a "silver lining." If you control a tile with a numeric value on it, you also score that number of points, and the player controlling the most tiles with the silver lining scores a point for each of those as well.

The game text on the tiles is where the game becomes interesting; the tile effects let you swap two placed tiles, remove pegs from a previously tile, force the next played tiles to be placed adjacent to the one you just placed, and so forth.

The game ends when a) a player runs out of pegs, or b) all 5 of the "Power Station" tiles are played. Scores are tallied and the player with the most points wins control of the city and its vast resources, fame, wealth, and power!

The game supports 2-6 players, but I've found that 3-4 players is the sweet spot. With 6 players there are a TON of tiles being placed, shifted, removed, and thrown across the room before you place your next tile. It doesn't totally ruin the game; it just makes it a little more tedious than a game of this type should be.

The abilities of the tiles are pretty well balanced, and even with 6 players in the game, we've found that no one is really ever out of the game at any time. One player even commented that he was about to take on the king maker role after having a few of his tiles moved on him; instead he had a few well played tiles and ended up turning the game around for himself and pulling out the win. I enjoyed that about the game; there's nothing worse than playing a game for an hour when you know full well who is going to pull out the win, and everyone is just along for the ride.

The artwork is great—everything is done in an Art Deco/City Of the Future style and they all look really slick; they remind of those great Superman cartoons from the early 1940's.

This is definitely a game worth picking up and working into your rotation; it's not a reinvention of the wheel, but it's a pretty enjoyable iteration of it.

Carcassonne - We're Not Tiling the Bathroom!

We're certainly not delusional enough to think that we're the first to come along and review Carcassonne, Rio Grande Games' tile-placing, city-building, meeple-playing, game released in 2000. But since this game consistently resides in my personal top 3 list, for a number of reasons I thought we should give it a look here at TOG. The mechanics of the game are simple: Draw a tile, place that tile, and choose whether or not to place a "meeple" or follower on it. Each tile features one or more different features—a portion of a city, a road, a cloister, or farm land. Not every tile has every feature, though. Each feature represents a different way to score, and presents multiple strategies to employ throughout the game.

Who Might Like This Game? If you're a person who likes to plan 4-5 moves in advance, this may not be the game for you...or is it? Most times you'll find yourself thinking about 4-5 moves in the future for 3 different strategies that could come into play, depending on what tile gets pulled and where it gets played. With the randomness of the tile pulls it's best to not put your eggs in a single basket.

There's plenty of discussion going on around the Internet about strategies, and when to place a follower or not, when and how many farmers you should commit, and so forth. Personally, I think the game is won and lost at the farmer scoring, but the tricky part about that is that they don't score until the game is over, so playing too many farmers too soon will leave you with no way to score points during the game.

What Makes This Game Stand Out? The ingenious mechanic that really makes the farm wars (and city wars, for that matter) so competitive is the creative gyrations one must go through in order to overthrow another player and take control of a city or a farm. Once a player has control of a city or a farm, you can't simply place a tile adding on to that city or farm and then add one of your followers. Once it's claimed, it's claimed; the only way to overtake it is to perform a maneuver my friends and I have affectionately termed "cracking in." That means placing a tile nearby with one of your meeples on it and hoping that you pull the right tile to connect your follower into the feature before your opponent pulls one that locks you out!

I know, I'm making this game sound like a thrill a minute, but once you get a few turns in you'll start to see the competition for control of cities and farmland heat up—and witness the painstaking agony of watching someone else pull "that one tile" that you REALLY needed!

Who Can Play This Game? This game is really about as family friendly as it gets; I've played it with my 6-year-old several times (the game is suggested for players ages 8 & up; I like to believe that my kid is a genius). There's no violence, or malevolent nature behind the game; you're taking on the role of builders creating cities, farms, and so forth. You aren't building brothels or dungeons or anything off-kilter; it's just a solid, fun game that will make you think and strategize, a lot!

We'll be taking a closer look at some of the many expansions available for Carcassonne in the upcoming weeks. Make sure you check back—or subscribe using that handy button on the right there...

If you'd like us to review a title please let us know and we'll do what we can to get our stinkin' paws on it, and let you know what we think of it!

Thanks for reading!

You can get the Carcassonne: 10 Year Special Edition on Amazon right here!