This is a quick and easy guide for simple gifts to give the tabletop gamer in your life. Most of the items on this list are items constantly in demand by each games players.
If you didn’t see the post on our Facebook page, we had 24 players for Commander on Friday, January 4th. So we ended up with 6 Commander pods, as well as the 14 Standard players! Something Bailee started at the end of last year was recognizing the pod winners with a short questionnaire. From last weeks pods Bailee was able to interview 4 winners.
The first winner of the night was Jesse C. His commander was Maren, of Clan Nel Toth. The changes he wants to make to the deck are to get more foils for it. The most surprising thing that happened during the game was getting hit from dinosaurs for 18 damage…dinosaurs…. The Ravnica guild which Jesse would be a member of is Izzet.
Kurt S was the next pod winner Bailee had the opportunity to interview. He is another proud member of the Izzet guild from Ravnica, after all they have dragons. The thing that surprised Kurt from his match was Mitch’s deck. He thought the mono green deck was cool. When asked if he will be making any changes to his Scion of the Ur-Dragon deck he said no, why mess with perfection(or maybe that he was too lazy to change it.)
Adam H returns to the winner circle for the second week in a row, with the same deck. He is in a 2 week win streak with is Nin the Pain Artist deck. When Adam won the previous week he said he was going to add more creatures. The thing that surpises him most about the deck is the pace of it. He felt it has a good tempo. The guild from Ravnica Adam is a member of is Selesnya.
The final pod winner we get to recognize is Josh T. Though he won he felt his Estrid, the Masked deck needs more win cons and less grind. Ravnica Allegiance has a possible additional win con for Josh in Simic Ascendancy. Josh declared his allegiance to Simic when asked which guild he belongs too.
Winners 5 & 6 were either missed by us or refused to answer Bailee’s questions. We look forward to seeing you for Commander Friday Night Magic every Friday at 7 pm.
The second in the Century series of games, Eastern Wonders blends with Spice Road to create a third game called From Sand to Sea. Maybe this is how they’re going to get to a hundred*.
*the author has no information suggesting they plan on getting to one hundred.
Where Century: Spice Road involved trading spice cubes with cards, Century: Eastern Wonders involves trading spice cubes with travel. The abstractness, then, decreases slightly—you’re on a boat! Rather than collect a hand of cards that lets you make trades, you place outposts on pieces of land that let you make trades (once the outpost is up, you don’t need to be on the tile to make that tile’s trade). The overall mechanics are similar, however—you place an outpost rather than take a card, make a trade where you have an outpost rather than with a card in your hand, or visiting a port with the cubes that will earn you the VP tile in that port rather than simply trade in the cubes for the VP card on the table. You also have the option to simply take two yellow cubes on a turn (harvest), in lieu of having a card that gives you that ability.
The difference in the core gameplay, if it’s not glaringly obvious, is the travel aspect. You move one space per turn, unless you earn upgrades that let you move more spaces per round. The faster you swing across the board, the faster you place outposts, especially since outposts are free if you’re the first one to place one in an area—once opponents have outposts up, it’s a little more costly, since your outpost costs one cube per outpost already on the tile. Thus, while sticking with one move per round is doable, two tiles of movement is very helpful; whether you want more depends on when you get your upgrades and, in many cases, how many players are in the game. You also can’t land on a tile with an opponent, so extra movement helps you avoid that scenario.
Upgrades are the main new feature in Eastern Wonders. You start with a board that has numerous outposts laid out in rows. Each row has a symbol replicated on some of the island tiles. If you place an outpost on a tile, you take the next outpost in line from the row matching the symbol on that tile. When you empty a column, you get an upgrade. You can choose from the aforementioned extra movement, extra cargo space, gain red cubes when you harvest, upgrade a cube when building an outpost, or take flat points for the end of the game. This, obviously, incentivizes spreading your outposts across certain spaces. However, the farther along a row you go, the more points each of those outposts are worth at the end of the game, so you’re doing fine as long as you throw down outposts wherever you can for free, and anywhere else that it’s worth the associated cost (keep some yellows handy).
Other than that, it’s still seventy percent recognizable as Spice Road. There’s not so much going on that you need to have played Spice Road to understand Eastern Wonders, but it definitely helps if you have that background knowledge so you only have to add the parts about the ships and the outposts. It’s probably better as a game in an objective sense; it’s just as solid, just as coherently designed, but there’s more going on, more options, and the lack of a hand of cards you need to reshuffle every so often smooths out the gameplay.
The option to sit in a space (like a port) and force an opponent to pay you a cube if they want to land there seems silly, but I got screwed over by it, so I’m definitely biased. Game’s still good.
(4.2 / 5)
How many fking castles does this guy need?
Between Two Castles is, as the name does not make any effort to hide, a mash-up of Between Two Cities and the Mad King Ludwig franchise. The core gameplay comes from Between Two Cities—there are two rounds, and at the start of each round, each player takes a stack of tiles. Draft two tiles, pass to the left, draft two tiles, pass to the left, until only one tile remains, which is discarded. You’re building a castle with each of the people adjacent to you, and your score is the lowest of the two castles you help build, which means you can’t let one of them suck.
The Mad King aspect is how all the tiles go together. There’s no spatial aspect like the original Castles of Mad King Ludwig; instead, you have several types of square tiles which can be placed around the core of your castle, the throne room. Like Castles, each tile has a type, and most tiles have a way to score points that relates to other tiles in the game. The most common adjacency rules are to score for tiles in the eight spaces around a given tile, or for all tiles above a tile, below it, or both. These can relate to the room type itself (utility room, outdoors area, etc), or the second icon on these tiles (swords, a mirror, and so on).
Another similarity to Castles is that you have much more freedom to build your castle however you want. Most rooms have to be built at the ground floor (the level of the throne room) or above, but there are downstairs rooms that can go below. Tiles have to be placed adjacent to other ones. The castle can go as high as you want, but all rooms must be supported by actual room tiles beneath them (you can’t place a tile above an outdoor area). Alternately, you can go as wide as you want—whatever works for your grand architectural plan.
Also like Castles, you get bonuses for fulfilling certain basic requirements. In this case, if you place three of a tile type, you get an associated bonus, and if you place five of one type, you get a specialty room tile that can add substantially to your final score. It takes some getting used to the bonuses; none of them are hard to understand individually, but understanding them well enough to grab them quickly in the flow of the game can be hard.
And if there’s a flaw in this game, the bonuses are it. Between Two Cities is a fantastic game. Castles of Mad King Ludwig is a game I don’t like playing, but which I can’t deny is well-designed—I’m just crap at spatial awareness. Putting together a castle in the Ludwig vein, according to BTC rules, is quite fun on a basic level. But the draft mechanic works best when everybody sorts through the available tiles, picks two, then everyone plays their tiles together and moves on to the next decision. When people get bonuses, new players will often overlook them because they want to move on to building more castle pieces; once everyone’s used to grabbing their bonuses, then the game either slows a bit while decisions are made (some of the bonuses require players choose from tiles or bonus cards), or some people move on with their next decision and are left to wait while the bonus earners catch up.
I didn’t have a chance to play this with a group who was experienced enough to blow through the bonus-grabbing process, so it’s theoretically possible the game plays very well once everyone is on point. Thing is, BTC is a fairly casual game, and it’s unlikely this game (especially with a bigger group) is only going to have experienced players in it. The rhythm of Between Two Cities that this idea relies on gets thrown off by the Mad King Ludwig aspects. Thus, while the idea is sound and the baseline game is pretty good, it winds up being about 90% as good as what you’d hope to get when putting two games of this quality together.
Still, when you’re working at this level, 90% is solid. If you liked both of the component games, you’ll probably like this. If you liked one and didn’t play the other, it’s worth trying. If… look, just play the game if you get the chance.
(4.1 / 5)
This past Friday we had 3 Commander pods for Friday Night Magic. We thought we would share some information about each pod’s winner.
Greg often hops into Commander Night, and he did so this past week. He used an unchanged Adaptive Enchantment deck from 2018’s Commander set. His commander was Estrid, the Masked(pictured). Asked if he will be making any changes Greg did not think he will be making any changes to the deck. He felt it is quite good right out of the package. In his pod the Hydra Omnivore surprised him with its efficiency versus the whole table that did not seem to have any board wipes. As it is Guilds of Ravnica Standard season we also asked each winner what Ravnica guild they belong to. Greg proudly fights for Dimir because it is the house that trolls the best.
Pod two was won by Landon T. His commander was Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim. As he won he also felt his deck will not need any changes for next week. The card that caught his pod off guard was Death Mantle. His pod was not ready to have to kill most creatures twice just by paying 4 and returning the creature to the battlefield with Death Mantle attached. The guild that Landon supports is Golgari because death is only an illusion.
The third pod was won by Tim G. His commander was Aminatou, the Fateshifter. Even though he won his pod he plans to change to a different deck for next week. Variety is the spice of life and Magic. The card that caught Tim’s pod unaware was Urza’s Ruinous Blast. Exiling all non land permanents hurt a lot. It is a very good card. Tim is also a member of Golgari because that guild is his favorite color combination. It is dirty and gross.
There are 3 of the decks that won our Commander Friday Night Magic. Build your best Commander deck and come out and have some fun and see if you can challenge these pod winners for victory.