Issue 34: Brew, Wild Space, 7 Summits first looks
Three new board games from 2021, five things in games this week, and more
Good morning, and a happy Monday to you all. I hope you’ve had a week with some nice game-playing — I know I have. In fact, I’ve got three games to talk about with you this week: Brew, Wild Space and 7 Summits.
Let’s get right into that, shall we?
Five things in board games this week
Wired published a really nice profile on Restoration Games, who have been doing some excellent work in gaming by resurrecting games that were basically lost to the annals of time. [Wired]
I’ve started thinking broadly about my favorite games from 2021, and it’s been interesting to think about how much Kickstarter has distorted the normal slate of what counts as coming out in a year. This is doubly true with the various shipping and production crises that will continue to send ripples through the gaming industry for the foreseeable future.
One of the highlights on YouTube for me is this interview Jason from Shelf Stories conducted with Matt Leacock and Rob Daviau about legacy games. As the duo behind Pandemic Legacy, they’re absolutely experts on the topic. Unsurprisingly, they have a lot to say. It’s great to hear an interview that’s not closely tied to release of the games, too. Really nice stuff here — and it’s just part one! [YouTube / Shelf Stories]
Jon Purkis at Actualol has always produced thoughtful board game coverage, and I really like what’s he done here with his review of Lost Cities. It’s a game that’s been around for quite a while, and I love his thought process for producing this review now. Here’s what he said on Reddit about classic games: “Rather than only being mentioned on Top 10 lists, I wanted to give them the attention they deserve, since there were no YouTube reviews in 1999!” [YouTube / Actualol]
It’s just a YouTube week, isn’t it? Shut Up and Sit Down put on AwSHUX over the weekend, and it’s every bit as much a delight as you’d expect. Their preview videos are nice, quick looks at upcoming games, and I always love a good live stream when my schedule permits. (I do find I’d rather take the time to play or learn a game in the evening ahead of watching a Twitch stream, but I always really enjoy the times I take that time.) [YouTube / Shut Up and Sit Down] [AWShux]
Brew: Dice worker placement, in a forest, in four seasons at once
Brew is a neat little worker placement wherein your workers are dice — an idea I've always thought was a nice twist on the mechanic.
Brew's theme — the seasons are all happening at once, and you're bringing things back into balance — is pretty light, but the art is nice and communicates its ideas pretty easily. You could probably find any number of themes that work with these mechanics, but that's not something that brings me any consternation.
There's just enough player interaction here at two players to keep this interesting and competitive, with the two of us competing for the goal at least once in each of the four rounds of the game, and with some lightly aggressive actions available to us. There's also enough individual decision space that you can play this without much conflict, should you choose.
It's another great release from @pandasaurus_games, who have been on a roll as of late. It's also one of the first games from Stevo Torres, Pandasaurus' head of graphic design — and as you'd expect, this is a really easy game to read at a glance. Figuring out who’s in control of an area is straightforward. Finding spaces that are open is straightforward. The visual display of board state is such a vital thing, and it contributed to a nice experience.
Wild Space: Set collection on distant planets
Wild Space is a game about animals landing on and exploring planets. Bears, rhinos, monkeys, and more — it's a veritable menagerie, except the animals aren't kept in cages, unless you consider a rocket a form of cage. It does seem like these animals all have a degree of free will, though, which is nice.
This is a pleasant set collection game with a fantastic theme. On your turn, you have just two initial choices: land on a planet, or explore a planet on which you've already landed. Each action will give you something in return — maybe you'll draw more cards into your hand, or maybe you'll get to play a card from your hand into your crew. Some of those might let you play more cards, too, giving you opportunities to craft out your turns.
Joachim Thôme has a really nice game on his hands here, and Pandasaurus is the perfect publisher for it. When I think Pandasaurus these days, I think bright and colorful, and I expect games that feel well-designed. This meets all of those expectations.
7 Summits: Push your luck up a peak
7 Summits is a simple push-your-luck game designed by Adrian Adamescu and Daryl Andrews, the pair behind 2017’s Sagrada (and now Evergreen Studios, an indie board game studio.) It’s paired with some lovely art by Kwanchai Moriya, whose art you’ll recognize from games like Dinosaur Island (and Dinosaur World), High Rise and Kabuto Sumo, among others.
In 7 Summits, you’re climbing the seven highest peaks on each continent in a light dice draft, with each die representative of the number of moves you’ll be making up a matching mountain path. There’s one die for each of six peaks, and you can summit Mt. Everest with any color die and increased risk. If you’d like an opportunity to move further, you’ll get a chance to roll the risk die — and you might be fine, but you might also end up tumbling down to the bottom and having to start fresh.
Along those paths are potential bonuses, including equipment cards and mission cards, as well as spots that will move you up your own peresonal tracks for teamwork, expertise and preparation. Reaching the end of each track gives you permanent bonuses. The game ends when each peak has been summitted, with players earning points for each peak.
It’s a pretty simple game to pick up and play and each turn feels quick and meaningful. Acknowledging that as intentional, it does lack a certain crunch. I was left wanting a bit more. It always felt like a fairly straightforward decision whether I’d press my luck or not. If I wanted to land on a space to increase on a track, but the die for that summit didn’t meet what I was looking for, I’d just take the risk — why not move up higher if it was already suboptimal?
In that way, the more meaningful decision felt like the dice draft. The press-your-luck element felt a little tacked on after the fact, given how straightforward that decision felt.
Thanks for reading Don't Eat the Meeples. You can find me on Instagram and on Twitter. I even started a podcast this year, Vintage Sci-Fi Shorts, in which I read old science fiction short stories from the pages of old pulp and digest magazines.
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