Before the SaltCon Game Library closed on Friday night, we each checked out a game to hang onto over night so we’d have something new to play before the game library opened the next morning.
After a short but good sleep, Jake and I dove into our second day at SaltCon at 8:30 Saturday morning with a lot of game-playing energy.
Between the 2 games we checked out, we decided to play Scoville.
Scoville is a game about pepper farming. It’s a very fitting name (based on the Scoville heat scale) since players have been hired by the town of Scoville to meet their need for heat.
In the game players crossbreed peppers to create the hottest new breeds. In the process, players will plant, harvest, and create new pepper breeds to sell at market and fulfill recipe orders for points.
As you can see from the photos, Scoville is a very colorful game. And it’s a lot of fun.
Jake and I started setting up for a 2-player game, but we were soon joined by another gamer just passing by who asked if he could play. Like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, SaltCon is all about enjoying time with other like-minded people who love games. So of course we let him join in.
And I think a 3-player game was much more enjoyable in Scoville than a 2-player game would have been. And I think additional players would add to even more fun through tougher choices and options. (The game plays up to 6.)
Why? Because each round of Scoville begins with an auction phase where players bid/compete for turn order. Turn order matters each round because players take turns planting and harvesting the peppers. If you don’t get the order you want, you may get blocked from planting in a certain spot or moving to a specific location where you want/need to harvest. Additional players make these choices much more interesting.
Another thing I loved about Scoville were the components. Not only are the peppers very colorful, but they’re also different sizes – corresponding to the level of crossbreeding to get to them. The handy crossbreeding chart is a great tool for knowing what to harvest.
And the board itself is fantastic. Rather than just placing peppers on a board with a grid, the spaces are actually cut out of the board so the peppers actually get ‘planted’ in the ground!
This is also a great way to ensure the peppers don’t get bumped or moved around as players move their farmers around the board. Big thumbs up Tasty Minstrel Games!
Scoville was a great way to start the day. And it’s definitely a game I want to play again.
Near the end of that game, Doug found us and had brought his copy of Five Tribes.
Five Tribes has been a very popular new board game of 2014 by Days of Wonder and I’ve been anxious to play it.
In Five Tribes, players move meeples (wooden people) around the board to secure special actions and points. It’s a very unique spin on typical “worker-placement” games.
In a typical work-placement game players take workers from their stock and place them on unique spaces on the game board to take special actions. However, in Five Tribes, all the workers begin the game on the board and players take turns moving them around and removing them from the board instead.
I definitely enjoyed playing Five Tribes, but I’m not sure yet what I think of the game overall.
For starters, I love the variability in the game. The game board is made up of individual tiles that are randomly set up at the beginning of the game. Likewise, the many colored meeples are randomly distributed across those tiles to start.
Five Tribes had a very puzzly feel to me so I like the random starting set up because it creates a unique puzzle to work with every game.
I also really like puzzly type games. I like the brain exercise of figuring out optimal moves. However, the amount of options in Five Tribes seemed almost too much. It’s not that they’re difficult decisions. But if someone were to analyze every possible move, it would take absolutely forever.
So rather than try to optimize every single move, I’d simply look at a few options and pick one to do. (Which is actually a great way to approach any new game – just try a few things and see what works without belaboring it too much.)
Five Tribes is also a game that can change a lot by the time it’s back to your turn. So as much as you’d like to plan out your next move while other players are taking their turns, you can only do that to a certain extent because of the changes the other players will make.
Thinking about the game after it was over, it was hard to put my finger on exactly why I wasn’t super impressed. My best guess was because there didn’t seem to be any particular cohesive game story. No solid flow. It was about making the most tactical decision each turn out of an endless supply of options. (To be fair, the amount of potential choices does diminish with each round as meeples are removed.)
I’d still like to play Five Tribes again before passing a final judgment, but with all the other games I’m also anxious to play, I don’t know how soon a 2nd play might be.
After a couple of strategy games, it was time to move on to a lighter game in the party games category: Going, Going, Gone!
Going, Going, Gone!
Going, Going, Gone! is an auction game where players are trying to win sets of cards to sell later for money – and the win.
It’s a very unique auction game with 5 auctions going on simultaneous – and franticly.
Players bid on the auctions by dropping their wooden cubes (“bucks”) into any or all of the 5 transparent auction cups. Next to each cup is a card (or cards) that is represented in that auction.
So if a player wants to win a certain card, they must drop more cubes than any other player into that cup. But they must do it while the auction lasts.
Players take turns being the auctioneer who counts down from 10. The auctioneer can count down at any speed they’d like and when they get to 0, they place the paddle over all the cups to end the bidding.
Thus, the auction lasts as long as that auctioneer wants it to last. They can count as slowly or as quickly as they’d like. So some auctions will be more frantic than others.
Going, Going, Gone! is a very simple game and one that we bought for Christmas last year but hadn’t yet played. I was very glad I took it to SaltCon because it was a great setting for such a game. And now that it’s been ‘broken-in’ it’s ready to hit our family game table.
After the frantic auctions, we move back to a strategy game and another that Doug had brought that I’ve wanted to play for a couple years – Last Will.
The best way to explain Last Will is to compare it to the movie Brewster’s Millions with Richard Pryor (1985). Granted many younger players may not have heard of this movie before, but I really liked it and the topic is easy to convey.
In Last Will, players have been left millions of dollars that they must spend as quickly as they can. The person who fritters away their millions the fastest will win the game.
Every player has their own player board where they’ll add cards they collect through the game that give them things to spend money on – such as properties, helpers, trips, entertainment, etc.
It’s another game where the player order changes during the game and effects what options will be left to the players who come later in turn order. So balancing what cards you’d like to acquire with the amount of actions you’d like to take each turn is a big part of the game.
I really enjoyed playing Last Will. It was a tricky mental switch to think of spending money rather than accumulating money, but that’s what made it entertaining. Sure I could buy some cool properties, but I couldn’t win while I still owned them. I’d have to sell them off and find ways to spend the money I got from the sale before I could go bankrupt to finish the game.
Last Will is a very creative concept and fun to play.
The next game we got to a table was another from the Game Library – Isla Dorada.
Isla Dorada was published in 2010 and has likewise been on my “want to play” list since that time. Why? Because it looks really cool. Oh, and the game play sounded fun too.
In Isla Dorada players are on a expedition on an island filled with unknown treasure. Because of the dangers on the island, the expedition must stick together. So rather than each person rushing off to wherever they’d like to go on the island, players have to bid on the direction they’d like the expedition to go each round.
The playing pieces in the game are very cool and the pawn that represents the expedition is very sweet. It’s like a totem pole with the faces of the different explorers of the expedition – showing that we all have to move together. The other two pawns are used to block certain pathways.
To win, players have to collect the most treasure. And players gain treasure by moving the expedition to the locations on the board that are favorable to them. Players collect cards that show how many points they’ll get if the expedition lands on a certain spot.
That’s all nice and good, but players also get curse cards that have negative points if they arrive at certain locations as well. And that’s where the player tension occurs.
Since all these point cards are kept secret until the end of the game, you don’t know the other players’ agendas. I may really want to steer the expedition in one direction while another player is very set on not going that direction because they’ll lose points.
Isla Dorada is a creative game that I enjoyed playing, but not one that I left SaltCon dying to play again.
At some point, Jake and I took a break to go get lunch, but I really can’t recall when it was. ☺
It was about this time that I ran into The Discriminating Gamer – Cody Carlson and Justin Bruse!
If you haven’t seen The Discriminating Gamer video reviews, you’re missing out. Their game reviews are super creative and really convey how fun games are. Cody Carlson also writes game reviews on a regular basis for the Deseret News.
Not only were they at SaltCon to play games, but they also interviewed many people at the con. And I was lucky enough to get to be a part of the action.
Here’s their video of SaltCon for your enjoyment. (I’m on starting at the 17:10 min mark.)
Colt Express and Mysterium again
Since I had had so much fun playing Colt Express and Mysterium on Friday, I really wanted to play them again with Jake.
So we grabbed a few other players and dove into Mysterium. Once again, we failed to discover the mystery and ended up losing. But like the first time, I still really enjoyed the game.
We then moved over a couple of Hot Games tables to Colt Express and dove into the train robbery. And similarly, my enjoyment wasn’t diminished at all. I still love Colt Express and it’s at the top of my “to buy” lists.
Since we’d been going strong all day, our minds were starting to need a breather. So we decided to move onto a couple simple card games at one of the exhibitor booths – Hoagie and Trash War.
Like the name implies, Hoagie is a card game about making a sandwich.
It’s a very simple game where players compete to be the first to build all 5 parts to a hoagie sandwich (2 bread, 1 meat, 1 lettuce, 1 cheese). But they must beware, because other players will try to spoil their sandwich by playing rotten ingredients on top of the pieces.
Players begin with a hand of cards and on their turn will play 1 card and draw 1 card. They can either play a card in front of them as part of their own sandwich or they can play a rotten ingredient card on top of another player’s card.
It’s a game with simple decisions – do I build my own, or slow down an opponent (and if so, which opponent)? – and should be great for kids.
We’ll do a full review in the future, but I gladly report that if you’re looking for a simple game that young kids will enjoy, Hoagie is a great one.
Trash War on the other hand is more for the teenager crowd.
It’s also a simple card game about playing and drawing cards. But in Trash War players are flinging trash at each other trying to knock down opponents’ walls to eliminate them from the game. The last player with part of their wall still standing wins.
Each player starts with 3 wall cards in front of them – each with a strength value of 4. On your turn, you can place one of your trash cards on another player’s wall segment to damage it. Once the total value of the trash on the wall meets or exceeds 4, that wall is destroyed.
In addition to the trash cards, players may also have defense cards that either block the trash or fling it off to another player (including back to the attacker).
It’s a funny theme for sure and one that should definitely appeal to teenagers.
One of the aspects I really like about Trash War is that you don’t play in a set turn order. Instead, the player who gets attacked will get the next turn. But because the play is so quick, even if a couple players really go at each other just flinging trash back and forth, the other players aren’t sitting around very long before they get something thrown their way – and thus get in on the action.
As the day was coming to an end, I checked out another game from the game library that I had high hopes of playing at SalCon – Libertalia.
Libertalia is a game I’d heard about for a while have considered buying for quite some time thinking it would be a fun game for our monthly Guys Game Night.
Libertalia is a pirate-themed game in which players compete for loot (no big surprise with the objective in this one, it is a pirate game after all).
But the unique thing about Libertalia is that every player will have the exact same set of character cards that each do special actions. The big catch in the game is deciding when to play which character.
Deciding when to play which ability is only part of the strategy because players also need to be wary of what the others will play. As with any simultaneous selection game, in Libertalia guessing what the other players will play is at the heart of the game – and the heart of the fun.
I really enjoy this type of guessing and strategizing in a game and as I anticipated, I really enjoyed Libertalia. It was a great final big game to play as SaltCon was drawing to a close for me.
Sure enough, Libertalia is staying solid near the top of my games wish list.
But that doesn’t mean Jake and I were completely done. There were still SaltCon game giveaway winners to be drawn!
So while we waited and listened to the calling of the winners, we pulled out a very simple dice game – Roll For It.
Roll For It
In Roll For It players compete to acquire point cards by matching dice with what’s required on the card. The person to claim the set number of points first wins.
Take a look at the photo to see some of the sample card dice requirements.
Three cards are set out and players take turns rolling their six dice. Once a player has rolled their dice, they can commit each of their matching dice to a card (by placing it next to the card). They don’t have to place all or any of the dice that they don’t want to. They keep the remaining dice in their dice pool.
On their next turn, that player rolls the dice from their dice pool and again commits matching dice to the card of their choice. If they have placed all the dice to complete a card, they claim the card and another card is drawn face up to replace it.
Any players that had committed dice to the card that was claimed, take those dice back into their own dice pool for their future turns.
As you can see, Roll For It is a very simple game to play and was a great way to pass the time while we were listening to the winners list.
While I wasn’t lucky enough to win any of the giveaways, Jake did get his number called and headed out with a couple small games.
It was about 10pm when we left SaltCon Saturday night after a very fun, game-filled couple of days. We were tired, but filled.
Cheers and a big thanks to all the staff and volunteers at SaltCon – it was a blast!
And we can already hardly wait until next year!