Sunday, November 13, 2011

Saturday Night Board Games: Summoner Wars and Junta: Viva El Presidente

Hello game night! Where have you been?

It seems like I haven't had a game night in ages.. and with holidays, birthdays, and work trips taking up all of my recent Saturdays, I decided to go splurge and buy a few new games. We only had a few quick hours to read the instructions and jump into some quick games. So this recap is about that first awkward experience with a new game that you've never played before.

Click through the jump for the full recap.

Summoner Wars

I rarely buy games that I've played before. Even purchasing a game becomes a game to me (or at least a gamble). I love the discovery of something new and I'll often take a risk on games. For me, finding a great game is much better than buying a great game. There are tons of games that I know are great (because I've played them), but I'll often pass over them in the store for something new and exciting. Before the purchase, I'll pull up the good old BoardGameGeek on my phone for a better look and a quick review, but I don't often dig too deep.

Summoner Wars was partially a discovery purchase. I say partially because I've seen the name and logo around, and I watched a promo video once. That was enough to hook me, but not enough for me to go running to the local game store. I remember seeing the paper game mat and that was a major turnoff.

BUT... when I was in the store the other day, I saw the Master Set that came with a fancy game board and I was instantly sold.

If you don't already know, Summoner Wars is a head to head battling card game. I guess it would be considered a living card game, but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. The game comes with a bunch of decks and they've continued to release more over time. You choose a deck, start out with the field layout that's provided, and then start to battle. You can slowly purchase more characters and add them to your army. Each have special abilities and a specific power. Some have ranged attacks (fire across the whole field in a straight line) and others must be adjacent when battling.

I was really happy with this purchase. The game is very quick to learn, but still a lot of fun. I like that it's a card game with movement. You actually move your characters around the playing field, so it has a little bit of a chess feel to it (if chess was just pawns and rooks).

Decks are cheap (like $10 each), and the deluxe box leaves room for a bunch more, so I know what I'll be spending some money on soon. But I won't look them up first.. I'm just going to buy them blindly.

Junta: Viva El Presidente

Junta was a game that I never heard of before. My brother George insisted that I bought it because of the cover and theme (and sunglasses). And I must say, the cover is brilliant. I would agree that the theme is pretty awesome too.

It's a 3-5 player game where each player is a corrupt member of the government, and one is El Presidente (you can tell which player is El Presidente as they must wear the sweet sunglasses that come with the game). El Presidente hands out cards to try and win everyone over and then everyone makes a their secret battle moves. You can attack anyone or defend yourself or El Presidente. The attacks are hidden behind a banana truck that's just a front. Successful attacks get you more cards, and more cards get you more money. The ultimate goal is to hit 5 victory points by buying lots of extravagant personal items like a Lion's Den or a Helipad for your backyard.

The components of this game are wonderful. The individual player boards are unique and die cut, and the expensive bonuses are also die cut. The artwork is really nice too, especially the aforementioned cover which shows the characters playing Junta, with El Presidente getting hit in the head with a six-sided die.

Overall we had a great time. The first time through was a bit clunky, but after realizing all of the rules it was way easier than it seems. Also, the game feels like it would shine with 4 or more players. You can't really gang up on anyone with 3 players.

So that was it! A quick game night, but a night of discovery and fun. Both games turned out to be really cool. Hopefully, I can play again next week!

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