Game Night

Game Night – July 23, 2018



This was a week of new experiences, games, and teachers.  A total of three new games this week were played at Game Night this last Sunday at Earthen Ales.  Some of those games had teachers that don’t normally teach games which were very refreshing seeing players take on different roles.  We had a wide age range of players which makes for a fun atmosphere for everyone.

I was also able to get one of my new favorites to the table this Wednesday for our mid-week Game Night at The Village at the Grand Traverse Commons.

More on all of this in our analysis of this week’s game review.  Enjoy!  


Games Played


Survive: Escape from Atlantis!

Location: Earthen Ales

Day:  Sunday, July 22nd, 2018


Codenames: Pictures

Location: Earthen Ales

Day:  Sunday, July 22nd, 2018


The Bloody Inn

Location: Earthen Ales

Day:  Sunday, July 22nd, 2018


Ca$h ‘n Guns (Second Edition)

Location: Earthen Ales

Day:  Sunday, July 22nd, 2018


Kerala: The Way of the Elephant

Location: Earthen Ales

Day:  Sunday, July 22nd, 2018



Location: Earthen Ales

Day:  Sunday, July 22nd, 2018


Memoir ’44

Location: Earthen Ales

Day:  Sunday, July 22nd, 2018


Cottage Garden

Location: Earthen Ales

Day:  Sunday, July 22nd, 2018



Location: The Village at the Grand Traverse Commons

Day:  Wednesday, July 25th, 2018




Total Plays –  1

Total Players Played –  5

First Played –  July 22nd, 2018

Top Ranked Player –  Kristian (1 Wins, 100% Win Percentage)

Top Score –  Kristian (36 Points)

Longest Win Streak –  Kristian (21 Wins)

Current Win Streak –  Kristian (1 Wins)


I’ve been taking on the student role more at Game Night which has been a welcome change.  I’ve taught so many games that I tend to stay in the same rhythm when I start to teach a game and I rarely deviate from my routine.  I’ve come to realize that there are still some things I could learn by being the one being taught.  It shows me a different way to approach teaching and lets me fine-tune the process.  Game Night this Sunday was a perfect time to learn some new strategies for teaching as I learned two new games that were brought by Kristian.  One of which I want to talk about here.

Kerala is a tile-placement drafting game with an abstract theme about elephants.  These elephants will be moving along a grid of tiles that you will be drafting in turn order and placing orthogonally adjacent to one of your two elephants which will then move to that tile.  These tiles will provide points or special abilities that can be used upon placement.  The endgame triggers when the last tile has drawn from the bag with victory going to the player with the most points.  Sounds simple but the real game happens when you’re calculating your score.  The placement of the tiles matter as for every color tile that isn’t touching the biggest set of that color will lose you points.  You will also lose points if you’re missing any colors.

I had a surprisingly good time playing this game.  My favor has been pushing farther from the lightweight games and to more complex style games.  The lighter games that I have been enjoying lately have more tactical or strategic value to them and usually can be played in a relatively short amount of time.  A few examples of this are games like Azul or Sagrada.  Two of the recent favorites that I would say are on the lighter side of the complexity spectrum.  Games that have very few rules and mechanisms don’t necessarily have to be void of thought.  I have little interest in games of that ilk as I don’t get much out of them anymore.  It’s not the reason I play games.  I play board games to enjoy the company of people and challenge of the game.  Games of that don’t provide that challenge, to me, only are a means to pass time.  It’s time that could be better served to play another game that I enjoy like this one for example.

Watch this play-through of Kerala: The Way of the Elephant from BoardGameGeek



Total Plays –  7

Total Players Played –  9

First Played –  Sept 5th, 2017

Top Ranked Player –  Kyle D. (4 Wins, 66% Win Percentage)

Top Score –  Esther K. (99 Points)

Most Total Plays –  Kyle D. (6 Plays)

Longest Win Streak –  Kyle D. (4 Wins)

Current Win Streak –  Kyle D. (4 Wins)


Uwe Rosenberg, the designer of Cottage Garden, is one of my favorite designers.  You may have already heard of this before if you read any of my reviews.  His designs have fun themes on the back of strong Euro-style mechanics.  Cottage Garden is one of his designs that feel a bit different from the rest.  Along with titles like Feast for Odin and Patchwork, this title utilizes a puzzle mechanic of placing different shaped tiles on a personal board.  This particular title is meant to be the start of a three-part series all about nature.

Cottage Garden has players in the role of a gardener.  They will be attempting to fill a small garden plot with flower tiles.  These plots will have flower pots and cloche which are your points that you will score on these plots if left uncovered when the plot is filled.  Players will also have access to cat tiles which can be used to fill small holes between the flower tiles.

I can’t help but compare this title to Patchwork which was the first little game that came from Rosenberg with this puzzle mechanic.  Patchwork is very similar in play but with a few key differences.  Patchwork is strictly two player where Cottage Garden can be played with as many as four players.  Patchwork also has an economic system set up that players need to manage to afford each tile that they would like to place on their board.  Cottage Garden doesn’t require players to pay anything for the tiles they take for their boards but will be taken through a conveyor belt system.

I bring up these differences it an attempt to compare the two.  I understand that this may seem unfair but I feel it’s relevant.  The designer is the same and the mechanics are very similar.  Which one I like more is a difficult question.  I do enjoy both very much and have great qualities but I have to give the edge in gameplay to Patchwork.  I love the economy aspect of buying the patches you need for your quilt in Patchwork.  It makes for a much difficult system to manage and gives it a high replayability.   Cottage Garden is lighter and is more of a timing exercise than anything.  It’s easily played and doesn’t have the complexity of strategy that Patchwork has.  That being said, I do like Cottage Garden and have fun playing it.  It has more opportunities to come to the table as it can hold up to four players, unlike Patchwork which can only have two.  If you have two players than I would prefer Patchwork to this.

Learn how to play Cottage Garden with this YouTube video from Rahdo



Total Plays –  2

Total Players Played –  5

First Played –  July 19th, 2018

Top Ranked Player –  Amanda S. (1 Wins, 100% Win Percentage)

Top Score –  Amanda S. (56 Points)

Most Total Plays –  Kyle D. and Ramon R. (2 Plays)


I wrote last week about Everdell in general but this has come out again this week and will probably come out again this Sunday at our weekly Game Night.  I wanted to elaborate on this title of it’s strategies and tactics.  It has proven to be quite the puzzle to figure out when we dove in for the second time.

The game we played this week was a bit different than the previous week.  It was a three player game with the only one new player to the game as opposed to all new players.  The flow of the game seemed to be much quicker than the first and we were done almost 60 minutes faster.  The teaching is surprisingly quick and easy as the mechanics are fairly simple in concept.  The worker placement isn’t anything new and the card play isn’t groundbreaking either.  Our last round did last a lot longer than the previous rounds but I think that is intended as you receive a massive glut of resources in which to use in the final round (season).

I was the first player and started off my game with a hand of cards that I was geared for production.  I started with a Store House card that allowed me to place various resources on it whenever production happened.  I figured playing this in the first round would yield more benefit with more production activation.  Another card that I had access to early was the Chip Sweep critter card and a Resin Refinery construction card.  They have linked cards which means if I build the Resin Refinery first then I would be able to play one Chip Sweep for free.  The Resin Refinery would grant me access to a resin (of course) and the Chip Sweep would let me activate another production card which everything that I intended to play first would be.  I used the Chip Sweep’s ability to activate my Store House which got me a bunch of resources back and got me ready for the later seasons.

Mid game came along with a few other key components which I was able to exploit for a massive amount of points.  I was able to build an Ever Tree in my city which rewarded me with more points when I had Prosperity cards in my city.  That would be my focus for the mid-game as I was able to play three more Prosperity cards which all had end game bonuses as well.  The King and the Palace were all played giving me bonuses and some focus for my endgame.

My end game turned into a bit of a crunch and where my game slowed right down to a few points here and there.  The system I had built up until this point was very resource dependent.  I spent a lot of it just to get to this point which I then needed to rebuild by the final season.  As you can imagine, the game became very difficult here.  I was able to grab some resources from what was available but the Meadow cards (the public hand of cards) had become stagnant and hadn’t been moving quickly.  I tried everything I could to make the cards that were available work but my plays seemed to me to be forced and very clunky.  Nothing was rolling smoothly.  This turned into a lackluster endgame which I feel cost me the game.  I ended the game in last place with a tight end.  Eric B. ended the game with 49 points and Ramon and I ended with 48 with the tiebreaker going to him.

This game is more tactical than I would like to admit.  I usually don’t excel at highly tactical games as opposed to strategic games.  I find my stubbornness comes through a little too strong here.  I pick a starting strategy and won’t adjust it accordingly with the changing game climate.  The Meadow cards in the center of the board really dictate how adaptive you will have to be.  In this game, the cards were not moving at a pace that allowed me to keep my original strategy which seemed to explain my poor final season.  I think with a different set of Forest action cards, which change from game to game, that the game will move at a different pace and a more strategic play style will emerge.

I’m frustrated by this game but in a good way that keeps my interest.  I’m excited to try this again and figure out the puzzle that is this game.



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