This was a slow week. We only had three players.
Game One was Havok & Hijinx, a lightweight game that exists mainly as an excuse to put cute baby dragons on cards. Each turn, each player gets either a random treasure or event, then plays an action card from hand (say, to steal a treasure or make everyone select and pass one card to the left). Each player also controls a dragon. Action cards are color-coded and have stronger or alternate effects when played by the player with the matching dragon, and every dragon has a special power that puts it to sleep (plus a way to wake back up). The first player to reach 15 treasure points wins. It’s a cute filler game that requires almost no brain power. Also, baby dragons. Rawr.
Game Two was Splendor, a simple but deep game of economic buildup. In the central market are three tiers of cards representing gem mines, each with a purchase cost (say, 2 rubies and 2 sapphires), a single gem output, and possibly a victory point amount. On your turn, you can gain three different gems from the bank, gain two identical gems, or buy one mine using gems on hand and/or the production of mines you already own. You can also reserve a mine card, taking it face-down into your hand (from which you and only you can buy it) and gaining a wildcard gold token as well. If you have enough production, you can then also buy one noble for extra VPs. Again, 15 VP triggers endgame, though in this case you always finish the round so everyone has an equal number of turns. Final scores were 15-11-8, with Orbus winning and not feeling guilty about letting us know that he is very, very good at this style of game and we pretty much had no chance.
This game definitely warrants another playthrough. It has very few moving parts, yet it feels quite deep. (I’m sure I have a lot more to understand about how potent reserving a card is, for example.) It’s also eminently teachable to someone with no gaming experience. Definite thumbs up to this one.
Game Three was a run of Sentinels of the Multiverse with its latest expansion, Vengeance. This set changes the basic game structure from a single powerful villain who only acts once per round to separate villains alternating their turns with the players’. It wasn’t a tough fight. The only troublesome villain was the last one, due to her combination of “all players put one of their Ongoing or Equipment cards back on top of their decks” followed by “discard the top card from all decks” every turn, plus an automatic redirection of all damage the first time she’s attacked every turn.
IMO, this expansion introduces more bookkeeping to the game without making it noticeably better. There are now more elements that specifically happen “at the beginning of”, “during”, and “at the end of” certain phases, leading to more mistakes processing villain turns. It’s also now more complicated to correctly parse restrictions like “all non-Hero targets” due to the greater number of cards in play that fall under them.