Low Lands

Highly competitive, passive-aggressive, cutthroat dike building. Oh, and some sheep.

So you probably know Agricola or Fields of Arle, or any other Rosenberg’s game. Well, this is not one of those. You do heard sheep, and build buildings and features on your field, and breed the sheep, until everything is covered in wool and wooden fences. You sell sheep, to get money, to do absolutely nothing with it, apart from scoring points at the very end (ok, in a 2 player game they help a bit, but it’s not really a desirable option anyway).

But above (?) all this, there is flood, that’s coming quicker than you think. So you need to buy the dike. Here comes set collection aspect. You need 1/2/3/or 4 cards to build respectively that many ‘parts’ of the dike (in a 2p game). Once the 4th part is built, you add a block. And then you look if the tide is higher or not. If it’s not, you’re fine, and if you are the master builder, you get the money. If it is, you’re screwed and lose sheep – if you are not the master builder, with the lucky hand.

And again, with two players, there is only two of you who build the dike. And you have to ask each other for help, but you don’t have to help each other, because as far as it advances the dike, helping doesn’t give you any points. So here, build a lot of that bloody dike, and then lay back, and build buildings, and let the others suffer and drown.

Again, I understand why people like this game, and non of us is saying that it is a bad one. All we made out of it, it is not an enjoyable two player game for us.

Alicja’s Thoughts

Right, now first put some filters on : it is not a two player game and I do not particularly enjoy passive aggressive games, that punish you for poor hand. If I haven’t got the resources to build the bloody dike, I am not going to score points, therefore when the flood comes, I will lose sheep. Does Matt care? Nope, he built quite a bit, with my help (silly me…), and doesn’t give a sheep’s bum about the flood.  And so I suffered, pretty much the whole game. I think I was expecting something like Uwe, but as much as it is trying to be, it is not Uwe. However, I feel like with 3 or 4 players the game would be totally different, as more people would contribute to building the dike. Or would they?

6/10

Matt’s Thoughts

Had heard good things of this one, but none of the previews I had seen seemed to grab me. There was a lot to take in with the rules at first, but it was not too complicated once we got going. Unfortunately this one did not connect with me. I feel it would work better with more players, but at two players it feels like you both have to be constantly working on the dike otherwise one player gets way ahead on the scoring and it floods. Maybe I didn’t really understand all the nuances of the game, but for this initial playthrough, it was merely ok. Would like to try again with a full player count though.

7/10

*there super duper sheep and dog don’t come with the game, we could use them thanks to Nick at the Ludoquist!

Founders of Gloomhaven

I’m sorry to break it to you, but this is not a dungeon crawler, and you really don’t need to have previously played Gloomhaven, to enjoy this one – you know, in case you’re looking for excuses not to buy it. Technically, it could be any other theme. But THANK GOD it is what it is.

Founders of Gloomhaven is a competitive co-op, if there is such a thing. You are working together to build the city of Gloomhaven, however, you compete to have the ownership of buildings and resources, because this is what scores you points.

You start with pretty much nothing, and I’m not gonna lie, the game drags a bit in the beginning. There isn’t much you can do, as you lack in money and resources, but after some time you’ll find yourself having to choose the best possible option among quite a few available. Do you build a resource, that will allow you later to build a building, or maybe you build a road, that connects your existing resource to a building, which then is delivered and scores you points? The options are a-plenty.

In a two player game (which we experienced) you get 6 starting cards, and like in Concordia, you play one on your turn, and said card determines your action. Then your opponent gets to do the follow up action, which is I’d say at least half as good as your option. If they can’t afford it, there is always a simple action, like get a coin, influence token, build a road or place a worker.

Worker placement? I would’t go that far. Each player has got 3 available workers (once they build the houses), and they allow them to do their special action (different to every race), or the action on Prestige buildings. But you may not even use them at all.

I’m not gonna go into details of each card (I’ll save that for the video), but you can choose between buildings, getting income (in a 2-player variant), recruiting helpers, trading or getting all your discarded cards back to your hand. There is an element in this game (and Dice Forge) that I really appreciate – you do get to do something even if it’s not your turn. Great stuff!

The card, that gives you back your hand, is an interesting one. That’s the one, that reminds us of Concordia. You get your discarded cards and used workers back, foe each of the remaining cards in your hand you get money/roads/white influence, and your opponents get income, and then you vote. Vote? Yes, well the prestige buildings won’t build themselves. So how does that happen? There are always three of them available, under three symbols, a circle, a square, and a triangle. When you call for a vote, everyone in secret chooses the shape, and add influence tokens if they wish so, to empower their vote, and then you reveal. The building with the most votes gets to get build by the person who had the most influence during the vote. And the vote is necessary, because different buildings are in need of different resources, and you want your ones to be delivered, to score you points. Choices!

Anyway, you are probably half way through building the city, and it looks like nothing. Two random gatherings of resources and buildings, you are running out of space in the area.. oh, didn’t I mention? You can only build one building of each type in one area, and some of the buildings can only be build on a certain terrain type. Here’s where things go wrong. Here is where you can actually get analysis paralysis.

But where is the competitiveness in this co-op? You start with the ownership of three (two in a 3 and 4 player game) resources, and to build tier 2 or tier 3 buildings, you need more resources. And guess what? The other ones are owned by your opponents. So you need to trade to get access to them, which is not going to score you any instant points, but later in the game it is going to be very useful (and will score some points to your opponents). So, again, it doesn’t have to be your go, for you to get points.

And as the city grows, and the prestige buildings’ orders are filled up, the game is nearing the end, and before you know it, someone places that last road connecting required resources to finish the last building, and boom, game over.

There is not much hidden scoring in Founders, if any really. You get extra points for red influence tokens, and money, and that’s about it. It’s awesome!

Alicja’s Thoughts

Man this is a monster of a game! I always feel a bit intimidated by big games, that offer a huge range of actions (like Feast for Odin), but this one was such a pleasant surprise! I was also worried, because the YouTube videos with rules explanation were all just soooo loooooong, and made me lose interest in the game. But Nick at the Ludoquist made it so easy and QUICK, that I just couldn’t wait to start playing. And as soon as we finished, I wanted to play it again. And you know what? We bought it. This is definitely one of the ‘try before you buy’ games, which I strongly recommend to you, seeing how many copies can be found put up for sale online.

9/10

Matt’s Thoughts 

I was apprehensive of this one at first. After watching a 45min how  to play video on YouTube, I fell asleep 30mins in and couldn’t remember much before we played. However, the Game Guru at the game cafe we went to (Ludoquist, Croydon), was able to teach us the rules in about 10 mins and off we went without too many rule clarifications needed throughout the game. After about 90mins of play, we had built a sprawling city and I had lost horrifically. However, I loved playing this game. You really do feel like you are working together to build a city and creating networks of resources. There is pretty much no luck in the game and only a little hidden information, so this could be quite a competitive game, with certain crowds. Even with more players there shouldn’t be too much down time as you get to do an action everyone’s turn, allowing you to set up things for your turn. This game had little features adapted from other games which come together to create something truly unique. Can’t wait to ply this again!

9/10