Meeple Design Board Gaming Round Up - 8th August 2020

by Tony Webb on August 13, 2020

At Meeple Design we are playing Board Games every week. We like to provide our weekly game reports, which we record on ScorePal, with our thoughts to help you make decisions about what games may want to try. Check out our Instagram for pictures of the games set up, to get a better idea of how the components and art look. Time for our weekly gaming report and this week we played 2 games, both at 2 players.

Game Played: Imperial Settlers
Player Count: 2
Number of plays recorded on ScorePal: 4

Imperial Settlers was a Christmas present from my wife which was one of the earlier board games we purchased. It has always been a favourite of mine as; the rules are straightforward, there is a lot of choice and the components are very good quality, especially the different resource pieces. The game is a card game where each player is setting up their newly formed town and it works really well with 2 players. With the base game there are 4 different factions (Romans, Barbarians, Egyptians and Japanese) and there are of course expansions which provide additional faction base cards, as well as new factions to add to the game. We do not own any of the expansions and are still finding the base cards interesting.

The game lasts 5 rounds and there are 4 phases each round. Phase 1 is drawing new cards, phase 2 is collecting your resources (generated from your faction deck and production cards on your tableau), phase 3 is the action phase and phase 4 is the clean up for the next round. In the action phase you can spend resources or workers on various things such as placing a card in your tableau, activate action cards in your tableau, gaining new resources and attacking other players. The rounds play quickly with each player having unique cards and actions to perform based on the faction they are playing as.

Although this is one of my favourite games that does not mean that I win with any regularity. As with most games we play, my wife definitely has the higher win percentage. However I have played as the Barbarians several times and am starting to learn how they play. The strategy which has been successful for me is to focus on producing workers, building cheap faction cards and razing the cards in my hand for the resources I need. You can use the workers and card actions to gain new cards for placing in your tableau or razing. Using this tactic I won the game 65 points to 54 victory points.

Despite having brought many new games since we first played Imperial Settlers we still play it quite a lot. This is partly due to us both knowing the rules almost off by heart but for the short game time there is also a lot of tactical choice for a game with a small amount of components. Like a lot of our games we have only played 2 players and I could not imagine that it is better at a higher player count. This game will continue to get play time and, in the future, we might even get some of the new factions.

As it is one of our favourite games we also released a poster design inspired by the board game which is available now from our store.

Game Played: Race for the Galaxy
Player Count: 2
Number of plays recorded on ScorePal: 2

Race for the Galaxy is a hugely popular card game where, like Imperial Settlers, you are building up your tableau in front of you. This time with planets and scientific developments. I love this game but, considering it is not much more than a deck of cards, it is overwhelming on the first play. 

The game lasts around 7 to 11 rounds and each round consists of 1 or 2 actions, although there are advanced rules for 2 players which we have not yet tried. The actions taken are determined by the players who each have a hand of 7 identical action cards and at the start of the round you place an action card face down. You reveal the cards and these are the action or actions that both players take during the turn. There is a basic action that both players perform and a bonus action that only the player who played the card performs. In the game there are 5 actions but 2 of the actions have 2 different bonus actions hence why there are 7 cards in total. Cards are only used in 3 ways, either as a resource which are put face down on your production cards, to pay to place cards into your tableau or to place into your tableau. This is where it can get complicated as each card in your tableau can provide additional benefits to taking particular actions and there is a lot of iconography which explains what the additional actions/ benefits are. Once you get used to the iconography it isn’t too complicated but the first few games can be a slight visual overload. I have heard the dice version, Roll for the Galaxy, does simplify the iconography a bit but I like the card version so might not try the dice version for a while.

In a way this game reminds me of quicker Terraforming Mars, which is in my top 5 games of all time, as the game is heavy card based with the cards having a big impact on the actions you can take during your turn. Although there is no board in Race for the Galaxy and the game end conditions are more straightforward. The game end is triggered by a player having 12 cards in their tableau or when all the victory point tokens are gone, of which there are 12 per player.

I have yet to win at Race for the Galaxy and lost our most recent game 39 points to 24 points. To be honest I can’t really comment where I went wrong as part of the game is learning the different cards and what combinations could work together so that you can improve in future games. Although I don’t think I focussed heavily on one particular strategy as I had a card in my tableau which provided end game point scoring which I didn’t make heavy use of and I had production planets which I never really fully utilised. This is another game which I have heard works better with 2 players as it plays much quicker than at higher player counts and much like Imperial Settlers I can understand as it feels like a head to head game, similar to a TCG. This is another game that I am sure will appear again in our weekly play reports in the near future. 

Check out our poster design inspired by Race for the Galaxy which is available now from our store.

Let us know in the comments if you have any tips for us and your opinion on the games we played.


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