Friday F.O.M.O. 10/4/19 – The Grand Carnival

The weekend is here — time to play some board games, right!? It will be for me. I will be spending a chunk of my weekend at TokenCon, hopefully getting to try a bunch of great games. [I shall report back later]

But before the gaming begins, it is time to look at the fun items that will be leaving Kickstarter in the next week. For today’s Friday F.O.M.O. segment, I have a prior comment update — a small highlight — and then my feature game of the week:

First off — last week, I talked about the Edge of Darkness: Cliffs of Coldharbor campaign. I mentioned that the cards seemed “samey” and with that statement, had somewhat written off this game. I have continued to research this campaign and want to report back that I am really impressed with the content the Coldharbor expansion will be providing. The artwork on the new cards is outstanding and the Locations, Contacts, and Threats work together to provide excellent and thoughtful theme. On top of that, AEG has unlocked the campaign’s one stretch goal –> Advanced Guild packs which should bring just the right amount of asymmetry to the game. There is only a half-day left to pledge for Edge of Darkness and the new Cliffs of Coldharbor expansion. If you are on the fence, you might want to take another look at this one.

On Sunday, there is a party game campaign that will be wrapping up. Normally, I don’t give a lot of thought to party games, but NICE TRY is one that caught my attention. The crux of this game is that it is a “challenge” game in which you and the other members of your party will be competing to perform different events, such as tossing up a coin and catching it on the back of your hand (how many successes in 10?) — alphabetically naming lakes or rivers in 2 minutes — or a last man standing contest to see who can flip a coin closest to a wall from 7 feet away.

From what I can tell, these challenges are difficult enough to actually be a “challenge”, but simple enough that kids and adults alike should be able to play together and have a blast. If you are looking for a game that is great with a large group of family or friends and should bring a lot of smiles and laughter…I believe NICE TRY could be a “Nice Buy.” [Did you see what I did there?]

Now for my feature game of the week. It is The Grand Carnival from Uproarious Games, designed by Rob Cramer. The Grand Carnival is for 1-4 players with a stated playing time of 45-60 minutes, intended for ages 12+ (but I bet that experienced, younger gamers in the 7-11 age range could handle this as well).

In Grand Carnival, every player gets a 4 x 4 grid in which to build their carnival. These 16 squares actually hold a 2 x 2 grid of squares, so you can think of your board as 64 small squares that will end up being walking space for your guests or potential construction space to build an attraction.

This game is interesting, because it has a double-layer of tile placement. First, you will be selecting and laying square tiles onto your blank grid. These tiles have either green grass, walking spaces and/or brown construction spaces. Plan carefully when placing these tiles, because you will need to connect construction spaces to build large attractions, but you will also want to make sure and keep your grassy areas connected so that guests can visit attractions and ultimately make their way to the big top.

On top of your foundation squares, you will be selecting and laying attraction tiles — these are pentomino tiles that range from small (1×1 squares) to giant attractions which take up 5 spaces — in a variety of shapes.

Your third potential action (besides placing ground tiles and placing attractions) is to move guests throughout your carnival. As they become adjacent to attractions, you will get tickets on your board — that’s a good thing!

That is an extremely quick and simple over view of the game that doesn’t hit all of the how-to-play specifics of the game. For more info, check out the pledge page. Instead, I want to focus on some key elements I like about The Grand Carnival:

  • Tile-laying. I tend to enjoy this mechanism in board games and the double layering that occurs in this game is unique and forces players to think strategically about their initial placements.
  • Action selection. Every player gets five workers to perform actions each round, but those workers have slightly different abilities. The workers are numbered 1 through 5 and a higher-numbered worker has greater action potential. A five can move guests further, select larger attractions to build, and has greater drafting choices from the ground tiles. The timing of how/when you use your workers is another nice strategic element of the game.
  • Tricks of the Trade. These cards are bonuses that you can try to achieve, which will unlock a special ability. These will ask for you to build your carnival in a specific way — this further accentuates the need to make good choices. That ability may be valuable, but will it force you to divert from the overall plan of your carnival layout?
  • Artwork. Ryan Goldsberry has provided the artwork and his style is perfect for this game and its theme.

I tend to be on the lookout for fun, family-weight games in the 30-60 minute timeframe and The Grand Carnival hits on some favored game mechanisms, but with enough new twists to make it stand out in the crowd.

What are your thoughts on The Grand Carnival? Any other games that you are currently afraid to miss out on? Comment below or to my Twitter account.

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

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