I got to play a few new games this weekend.
First was Everdell: Farshore, a followup to Everdell published in 2023, set in a seafaring community of animals.
It’s Everdell, but sea-themed. A bit rebalanced (IIRC the instructions said cards were easier to purchase).
I felt about it the same way I felt about Everdell when we played it at Geekway 2021 — it’s a game that feels nice. It’s pleasant to play and look at (and touch!). I’m not sure I get it though. It’s one of those that feels like I don’t really know if I’m making good progress or not. Probably rewards multiple plays, and maybe better at more than 2 players.
For the resource components, this one has wooden driftwood, rubbery seaweed, frosty seaglass and rubbery mushrooms. Also seashell point tokens, metal anchors and a tall lighthouse instead of the tree.
Next we played Express Route, also published in 2023. I was a little uncertain about this one when getting it out of the box — big box, lot of components. It looked a bit heavier than what we usually play.
But, aside from a few times when the rulebook wasn’t as clear as it might’ve been, this one was surprisingly good. It’s a co-op and with only a tiny bit of asymmetry (players can choose specialist characters that give them a benefit during setup and on their turn), so some folks might not enjoy that. You can play it solo, but it’s fun to talk through different approaches and strategies.
There’s lots of randomness in the setup, and many strategies. For example, most of the reviews I’ve seen have said it seems obvious to rush upgrades to get extra actions, and I don’t disagree — yet in the two games we’ve played, that wasn’t something that felt like a priority during the game so we didn’t do it. Will it play entirely differently if we do? Maybe!
I think there’s a lot of replayability here, and there’s enough complexity to make it interesting each time. A fun puzzle.
After that we played Dorfromantik, published in 2022 and winner of the Spiel des Jahres in 2023. It’s another coop, and if the last one was a frantic rush, this is the polar opposite. Super chill, building a pastoral landscape where you don’t even need to match the edges of most of the tiles.
There’s a campaign mode included in the box, with a series of boxes with more content that get opened as you progress through the game (although we only played with the basic set). Also potentially a solo game, and no asymmetry this time, so the addition of more players is entirely about discussing where you want to play the next piece (again, at least for the basic set).
I enjoyed this so much I bought the version for the Nintendo Switch later the same day. The console version turns the chill-o-meter up to 11 with relaxing music, shifting color palettes, occasional upgrades and a “creative mode” where you can just keep placing tiles without worrying about the score or running out. Good stuff.
Finally we played Scout, a card game published in 2019 and a 2022 Spiel nominee.
I’d seen a video a while back on this and wanted to try it. You have a hand of cards and you have to beat the previous player’s hand. Only, you can only use cards grouped together in your hand, and you can’t rearrange them.
The biggest challenge for me with this one is that I don’t fan my cards properly (I do it backwards to how most people do) and these cards aren’t symmetrical so it’s a problem — the values are only in the top left/bottom right corners, and the values in each corner are different. When you first pick up your hand, you aren’t allowed to rearrange but you may play with either side up.
This is one of those “simple rules, deep strategy” game. Plays fast, too. I liked it a lot and I’ll probably pick up a copy. Not sure how it would do at two players — we played it at three and it was fine. Four might be even better.