Friday F.O.M.O. 9/27/19 – LOTS

This week’s Kickstarter F.O.M.O. pick was a tough one — and in a good way. There have been some ‘down’ weeks in recent months, but right now (in my personal opinion) the board game scene on Kickstarter is absolutely HOPPING!!

There are tons of great games out there and unfortunately, not near enough “cap space” in the ol’ wallet.

There are some huge campaigns ending in the next week:

Barbarians second edition –> the unique method of worker placement in this game looks awesome. That moving volcano seems like a great gadget as well. Unfortunately, the theme isn’t the most family-friendly — so I will have to wait and hope this finds its way to a local game store.

Moonrakers –> this deck-builder is getting a ton of attention and support, so I figured I would be all in on it as well. In the end, though, two things are steering me away from what looks like a well-produced and cool game: a) space theme…sometimes it works for me and sometimes it doesn’t b) the negotiation focus — just not a game mechanism I tend to enjoy.

Edge of Darkness: Cliffs of Cold Harbor –> I missed the original campaign for this game, but when I heard it was a John D. Clair game, my attention was gained. I am also intrigued by the card-crafting mechanism and competitive deck-building. For me, I really WANT this game to be fun. There is a lot about it that draws me to the game. My concerns: the common deck that may not get cycled through very often in the course of a game; a lot of cards that seem “samey”, which may tailor the game to hardcore strategy fans vs. casual gamers; and the price tag — man oh man, this is an expensive game…and for me, I’m wondering if it would get to my table enough. This game gives me the FOMO hard — I hate to “miss out” on this title, but I’m just not sure its the right decision to purchase for my family. I would absolutely love to find it at a gaming library sometime, though.

Everdell: Spirecrest & Bellfaire –> I missed the original campaign and decided to pass on the Pearlbrook opportunity. Now, two more expansions are being added — and they both sound awesome…and this game just keeps getting great reviews…not sure I want to miss out on this one again.

There are also some intriguing lighter-weight games ending soon:

Squire for Hire –> this is an 18-card game with a $10 price tag. It can be played solo or competitively with a mechanism I enjoy in Sprawlopolis and Honshu — placing cards on top of other cards to maximize paths/combos/bonuses, etc.

LumberJerks –> the concept of this card game seems pretty fun and I love the artwork. That said, I’m not a huge fan of the potential for calling each other “jerks” while playing the game…and I worry that it may end up feeling like a well-themed Uno. In other words, I do my thing but then you undo it and chop your tree, then the next person does their thing and harms you, and so on back and forth. Maybe it plays well, but not sure I’m looking for that style of game.

Stacked –> This is a tetromino-placing dexterity game and looks like a blast. I’m impressed that they are presenting three different game modes to help make this a fun game for players of different experiences and ages. Unfortunately, the campaign is struggling at the moment and I fear that it may be due to the price tag. For such a light game, it has a mid-weight pledge requirement.

Board Game Cafe Frenzy –> I really want to love this game. The theme is meta and cool. The artwork looks great and the general concepts seem solid. Drafting cards, bidding for turn order, building up your game cafe, managing resources. In the end, I’m wondering if any of those fun mechanisms stand out enough to make this game one worth coming back to often…or is the Theme the biggest draw in the end?

And finally, my featured game of the week — LOTS: A Competitive Tower Building Game from Royal N. Games.

This is the “other” tetromino-stacking game that is available right now on Kickstarter. And of all the great games that look like fun to play, LOTS is the game I can imagine hitting my family’s game table the most. We have really enjoyed Drop It and it is my belief that LOTS could hit many of the same, fun notes.

Block-stacking –> first off, stacking blocks is fun. This game is less about dexterity (though it is a factor) but more focused on strategy…figuring out how to place a piece to maximize points (and make sure you don’t set up your opponent for a windfall turn). This is the core mechanism of the game and thus makes LOTS very accessible down to a very low age — my guess is that some 4 or 5 year olds “may” be able to handle this game. The scoring is also not very complex — two points for touching a like-colored block and five points for completing a floor of the tower.

Catch-up bonuses –> for a game that I can imagine playing with family members of all ages, I am a fan of the catch-up mechanism LOTS employs. As everyone’s point-tracking Meeples move around the score board, there are spaces where cards and blocks can be gained. The cards will you give a one-round bonus and the blocks are 1×1 purple blocks that can help complete a floor with a tricky open space. Unlike some games, though, earning these rewards is not about being the first player to cross the line — but actually the last. Thus, a player who is falling behind is more likely to pick up a bonus that could help propel them back into the “peloton”….or ‘pack’ if you don’t like my cycling terminology.

Hidden Depth –> from the game elements described above, LOTS could easily be described as a kid-friendly family game with some light-weight decisions. And if that’s all it was, it still looks like a fun game. I do believe there is some hidden depth to this block-stacker. Let me start with the stacking: one could easily play the game with a simple focus on scoring as many points as possible each individual turn. That mentality could easily setup opposing players to score big on their turns. With a more intense strategy, the when and where of placing blocks can become a big deal. “I could score 4 points if I put my T-bar here, but…over here reduces the next person’s chance at doubling up on points or finishing a tower. Plus, Steve over there has a purple block he’s waiting to use and I want to make sure I don’t leave him with a perfect opening to score 5 points.”

The catch-up mechanism also can be utilized for deeper, strategic planning. It might be nice to score 4 points this round and take the lead…but, if I scale my turn back and just take 2 points, I increase my likelihood of being the last to pass a pick-up spot and get a valuable bonus. There is an intriguing push-and-pull this game creates. Most likely, every game is going to end up close and the key to winning could rely on making sure you are the one that does the final leap-frogging at the end of the game.

Crew Cards that can provide you with some catch-up bonus points

To wrap-up with an expectedly obvious pun: I sure think LOTS looks like lots of fun for the family.

What are your thoughts on the current flock of campaigns that are ending soon? Any particular title whet your whistle?

For more board game previews, reviews, and discussions please follow me on Twitter @boardgamecrock1 and YouTube

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