There was a time when Puerto Rico was the undisputed king of hobby board gaming. Roughly ten years ago, there was no design so well-loved and analyzed by board gamers. One of those fans was myself. Puerto Rico was among the first hobby games I purchased, and I played it many times with my friends. We learned about the strategies and grappled with the circuitous mechanics that make the game so interesting. But something happened after a couple of years: I discovered my love for more high-luck, high-narrative games. The chess-like structure of Andreas Seyfarth’s classic design didn’t hold as much interest for me, and I traded it away without looking back. Continue reading
The last two designs from Carl Chudyk were both, in their own way, brilliant. Glory to Rome built on the groundwork laid by San Juan to create a nuanced production game, probably one of the best card games of the last ten years. Innovation was even more extraordinary, a game that spoke to how ideas and inventions unbalance and dictate the flow of history. Now Chudyk turns his eye toward a broader genre of hobby games: space empires. The most visible entry into this genre is the enormous Twilight Imperium, but recent years have brought other entries like Eclipse and the well-received reprint of Cosmic Encounter. But the new game, Impulse, is a different animal altogether. Even while it fulfills we expect from the genre, it breaks countless design rules to create something fresh and interesting, if a little difficult. Continue reading
Yeah, I could live there.
It’s not uncommon for a game to be rejiggered into a slightly different form, which sounds like a bad thing. But it can often lead to a game that is much-improved, or at least excellent in its own way. In the past few years, games like Small World, Imperial 2030, and 1989 have taken systems established by old games and made them into something fresh. They may be recognizable, but they have much to recommend them on their own. It was with this optimism that I approached Carl Chudyk’s Uchronia. Continue reading
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’.
Have you been following the ongoing drama of Glory to Rome? The original game by Carl Chudyk has been a gamer favorite for several years, but it’s impossible to have any conversation about the game that doesn’t eventually come back to the artwork. Cartoony, garish, and loaded with gradients, Glory to Rome wasn’t exactly easy on the eyes. Cambridge Games sensed an opportunity to Kickstart a do-over of the artwork. The ensuing fracas over the protracted production cycle of this reprint could fill its own article. But it’s hard to argue with the new look of the game, now rendered in stylish black and white with appropriate splashes of color. It makes the game look far more professional and attractive. There’s just one problem: I kind of miss the old artwork. Continue reading