Heat

HeatI bought an used copy of this game myself.

The game: Heat by Dave Chalker and Chris Cieslik, published by Asmadi Games in 2015.

Elevator pitch: Heist-themed drafting game, with artwork inspired by Saul Bass.

What’s in the box? 34 cards, a small board, bunch of cubes and some plastic chips for money. Component-wise, this is almost a micro game.

The card art has a distinct Saul Bass -inspired style, which sets the mood nicely. The component quality is decent.

What do you do in the game? The game has three rounds. On each round, players draft a hand of five cards using a limited-information draft that slowly introduces more cards to the draft.

Players then play four rounds where they play one card simultaneously and the cards are then resolved. The fifth card remains unplayed.

Cards gain you money, which is good, and heat, which is bad. After three rounds of drafting and playing, players must pay off the heat, which gets more expensive the more players have it in total, and then the player with the most money wins.

Lucky or skillful? There’s a good balance between skill and luck, for a quick card game like this. Of course you’re limited by the cards you draw (and your friends pass you), but there’s also skill involved in how you use the cards you have for best effect.

Abstract or thematic? The heist theme works quite well. Sure, it’s a bit abstract, but the theme works and makes sense.

Solitaire or interactive? There isn’t much direct interaction, but the draft injects some interaction to the proceedings, and some cards require you to think of what your opponents are doing.

Players: 3–5. Some cards are removed on lower player counts to balance things. The game works will with all player counts, four is probably the best.

Who can play? Age recommendation is 13+, but that’s probably for toy safety requirements. I’d say 10+ is probably ok. The cards require some level of reading. There are better drafting games for family use (Best Treehouse Ever and Sushi Go come to mind).

Length: 20–30 minutes.

What’s to like: Cool card art; enough space for interactive drafting; the theme works well.

What’s not to like: Just another drafting game.

My verdictHeat is a fine game. I’m not a huge fan of the drafting genre in general, but Heat does a fine job of providing some space for planning and luck. There are enough cards that have interactions and depend on other players so that you really have to think what you’ve seen in the draft and what your opponents might play.

In the end, Heat still fails to really capture my attention. Other drafting games are, in the end, better. Still, Heat is worth trying, if not necessary worth buying. Fans of small drafting games will find this game worth their money.

On the scale of Enthusiastic, Suggest, Indifferent or Avoid, Heat gets Indifferent from me.Heat cards

November 2015 new and noteworthy

November is usually the best month for me when it comes to new games. This is not unusual, as Essen games trickle to us non-visitors. This month, in order to try something new, I’ve grouped the games in three groupings: buy, play or pass. Enjoy!

Buy

Cthulhu Realms sounded like a good deal to me. Star Realms, with multiplayer capabilities included, a Cthulhu theme (yes, it’s a plus to me) and cute cartoony art? Count me in.

Turned out it was good, good enough that I’ll want to buy it. The graphic design is pretty bad, the iconography seems very confusing. Race for the Galaxy is nothing compared to this game. But I’m really looking forward to getting over that. Suggest.

The Voyages of Marco Polo is the heavy euro game of the year, it seems. It did win the DSP, and it has received some very positive buzz on the Finnish forums. I found it quite interesting. The different characters and their special powers seem quite overpowered, all in different ways, and the game seems challenging enough.

In any case, I’m interested in playing this again. That’s something, considering it’s a worker placement game. Now, the big question is, will it last more than five plays (I’m looking at you, Village and Russian Railroads – RR in particular is in a very similar niche). That’s something I’m quite eager to answer. Suggest.

Discoveries has good roots: it’s based on the very tasty Lewis & Clark. It’s a dice game, but not another Yahtzee clone. That’s always positive. This has a nice exploration vibe, gorgeous art by Vincent Dutrait and the gameplay has some interesting decisions to make.

I’m looking forward to trying this with my son, who has been my sole Lewis & Clark opponent so far. I think he’ll like this. Suggest.

Isle of Skye has a pricing mechanic and tile-laying – so it’s something like Castles of Mad King Ludwig, then? Well, not quite. This is a quicker game, and one that flows quite well, thanks to lots of simultaneous action. Everybody’s setting prices at the same time, which works quite well, and gives a pleasing challenge.

The game also has lots of scoring methods and only a small subset of those are selected in each game. This ensures a healthy dose of variability between games. Suggest.

I’ve got all of these on my shopping list. I’ll have to see what the Secret Santa is getting me, then I’ll head shopping in January to fill the gaps.

Play

Dino Race is a family game for smaller children. My six-year-old daughter loves it. I’m not complaining: so many new children’s games are designed for only children (so they’re good in kindergartens or large families; we have just two kids, who don’t play board games together without adults), it’s refreshing to have a game that works for adults as well.

There are some unfinished parts in the game, and the scoring is unnecessarily clunky. I think the game could be developed a lot more, but as it is, it’s worth checking out if you want a quick family game for smaller kids. The game has really nice dinosaur figures as pawns and is over in about fifteen minutes. This goes to the high end of Indifferent: I’m not going to suggest this, but I won’t complain when the kids want to play this.

Heat is a small drafting game from Asmadi Games. It has a cool gangster heist theme and cool Saul Bass artwork. It’s a simple game (well, our first game was riddled with rules uncertainty; once I figured out the problems, finding answers was easy and the second game went much better) and heavy on luck, but also fun.

It’s on the Play group, because I wouldn’t go to much effort to find it – it’s not available in Finland, for example, and isn’t really worth ordering from abroad (I got mine in a math trade), but if you happen across it, give it a spin if you like drafting games. It also has a very good rule:

Some players will instinctively grab the five face down cards and look at them before drafting. You are permitted to tie these players to their chairs, while you reshuffle.

Happened at least three times in our first game… Suggest.

Merkator is a less-appreciated Uwe Rosenberg game. I’ve been on an Uwe roll recently, so when I noticed this one available for sale, I had to grab it. It’s dry as dust, a real exercise in pushing cubes, but I found it rather fascinating.

It’s still on the Play group, because I’m not sure if it’s really that good, and I want to try it with more than two players, but it does seem promising. Uwe Rosenberg is a master, I have to say, few designers have such a track record. Suggest.

M.U.L.E. was a must try game: a big Finnish game from Lautapelit.fi, commodity speculation with a retro sci-fi theme… Can’t say no, even though I have never played the computer game (I’m maybe five years too young for it).

I think M.U.L.E. falls in a slightly awkward niche. It’s a wee bit heavy for a family game – the thickness of the rule book is going to stop many people – while being way too lucky and swingy for hardcore gamers. Many people dislike it, but I’ve enjoyed my two games. It’s cute, and quick enough. However, while I recommend giving it a go, it’s very much a case of try before you buy. Suggest.

Brew Crafters got my attention, when it was reviewed favorably in Spielbox and the review noted that Uwe Rosenberg (I wonder who that guy is) gave it a 9.7 rating. It’s just not possible not to be piqued by that.

Turns out the game is an interesting Agricola variant. Quite far from 9.7 really, but it’s interesting enough. It is probably too long for multiplayer games, though, and has too much English text so I can’t play it with my son, who would otherwise be excellent opponent for this. So, I wouldn’t mind owning a copy, but trying the game certainly stopped me from going out and buying it. It’s not worth the almost 70 euros asked for it; for 30 euros or so, I’d have to reconsider. So I’ll go for Suggest here, as I would suggest this given a suitable opportunity, even if I wouldn’t see much effort to make that opportunity happen.

Between Two Cities sounded like an interesting game: a simple drafting game where you build a city. It is a fine, and certainly a well-built game. In some ways maybe even too well – the different building types seem so well-balanced that the games are always very close, no matter what you do.

Well, I bought this in the hope that it’s good with the kids, and it is, it’s simple and plays fast, so I’m satisfied. The game also scales to seven players, which is nice. Suggest, but not in every situation.

Terra is the new geography version of Fauna. The rules have been streamlined a little bit, and the questions are now more diverse – the geography theme is very widely understood, there are lots of different topics covered.

This is good, a solid trivia game. I’m mostly placing this in the Play group because I don’t really expect to play this much: the trivia is still too difficult for the kids, and this is not the hottest game for the gamer group. However, I am not going to get rid of this, but instead I’ll wait a couple of years so my kids get a bit older. Suggest.

Pass

Southern Rails is a Winsome game by Harry Wu, and based on that should have no place on the Pass list. However, my initial three-player game left me wondering “is this it?” – the game seems odd and has very clunky scoring.

I’m curious enough that I’d like to play again with four or five players to see if the game gets better, but I’m afraid this might indeed be a miss. Indifferent.

Allies: Realm of Wonder is reviewed here. Not a bad little card game filler for two players, but considering that I can name a dozen better card game fillers for two players, this is just not going to get any play time. Indifferent.

Photos

Got some M.U.L.E.s. #boardgame #boardgames

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Bank job is the task for the day in Heist. #boardgames #boardgame

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Bank job is the task for the day in Heist. #boardgames #boardgame

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Guessing the opening year of the deepest subway station in Terra. #boardgames #boardgame

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Cthulhu rising! Confusing symbology, but the game is good. Cthulhu Realms is a good game. #boardgame #boardgames

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My trade office in Merkator. A fascinating game of cube-pushing. #boardgame #boardgames

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William Clark, ready to explore the Western US territory in Discoveries. #lautapelaamaan #boardgame #boardgames

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Goods and dice and trading posts in The Voyages of Marco Polo. #boardgame #boardgames #lautapelaamaan

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Building a common city in Between Two Cities. #lautapelaamaan #boardgame #boardgames

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Start player marker from Brew Crafters. #boardgame #boardgames #lautapelaamaan

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The kingdom of whiskey in Isle of Skye. #boardgame #boardgames #lautapelaamaan

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