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First Take Friday – SolForge Fusion, My Lil’ Everdell, Bohnanza: Das Würfelspiel, The Curse of the Wymer Stones, Smartphone Inc.

In First Take Fridays we offer hot takes on games that are new to us. This week we have SolForge Fusion, My Lil’ Everdell, Bohnanza: Das Würfelspiel, The Curse of the Wymer Stones, Smartphone Inc.

SolForge Fusion – Justin Bell

I’m not a Magic: The Gathering (MtG) player but I have been known to dabble into a little Pokémon here and there with the kids. These sorts of “trading card games” (TCG), which feature upgradable cards, “lane” combat, and real-life pro tournaments have always intrigued me, especially when I see kids trading a single card at conventions for $300.

The folks at Stone Blade sent me Ascension Tactics: Miniatures Deckbuilding Game a few months ago, but they also sent me SolForge Fusion, the hybrid deck game that has exploded this year thanks to the partnership between designers Richard Garfield (the creator of MtG and Netrunner) and Justin Gary, the creator of Ascension. Every box of cards is unique, leading to the potential for more than 25,000 possible cards.

Sounds overwhelming, right? Thankfully, it was not. The SolForge Fusion Starter Kit has four decks—two per player—which is all you need to start battling someone across the table. Through four rounds, the goal is to topple the other player’s Forgeborn, the player-character who is leading an army of Creatures and Minions against you while hurling some admittedly dope spells along the way. This isn’t something I will play often, but I really enjoyed the way cards evolve, and by rounds three and four, you are taking some pretty cool turns as you line up ways to attack your rival.

Ease of entry?:
★★★☆☆ – There were a few questions
Would I play it again?:
★★★★☆ – Would like to play it again

Read more articles from Justin Bell.

My Lil’ Everdell – Bob Pazehoski, Jr.

Hot on the heels of the delivery of Everdell’s supposed grand finale, Starling Games and Tabletop Tycoon have delivered on the surprise of the holiday season (in my home, at least). My Lil’ Everdell is a condensed experience of the goodness of my favorite Meadow. Gone are the Pebbles, the Events, the Forest cards, and several of the more complex connections and decisions among the cards. In their stead, Parades provide a tiered scoring competition, Forest dice streamline the variety in resource gathering, and a deck of new cards make the charming wood even cuter. 

This is the same world—of that there can be no doubt. Critters and Constructions. Squishy berries. The distinctive style of Andrew Bosley. (Plus a new promo for the original game featuring Kids and Kindergarten cards) While there are changes, James and Clarissa Wilson have delivered a lighter, faster version and a designed booster seat for the young’uns that our five and nine-year-old kiddos could easily engage. Perhaps most interesting is the fact that there is a tense little economy tucked in this expansion-sized box that appeals to me, too. With only twelve turns, every choice matters. This is a delightful entry point to the world of Everdell, and worker placement in general, for players of all ages. 

Ease of entry?:
★★★★★ – No sweat
Would I play it again?:
★★★★★ – Will definitely play it again

Read more articles from Bob Pazehoski, Jr.

Bohnanza: Das Würfelspiel – David McMillan

Bohnanza: Das Würfelspiel (BDW) is a reimplementation of 2012’s Würfel Bohnanza (WB), almost identical with but a few differences. WB comes with seven dice. BDW comes with six. WB is a race to thirteen points. BDW is a race to ten. But as far as the gameplay goes, they’re exactly the same.

Players take turns rolling the game’s dice in an effort to complete the orders on their order cards so that they can trade them in for points. When a player rolls the dice, they must set aside at least one of the dice before rolling again. The tricky part is that their opponents get to use the dice that were not set aside to fulfill their own orders. So, there’s an impetus to not waste a lot of time.

By no means will this game ever replace Bohnanza for me, but it’s still plenty of fun, and I look forward to getting to play it again.

Ease of entry?:
★★★★★ – No sweat
Would I play it again?:
★★★★☆ – Would like to play it again

Read more articles from David McMillan.

The Curse of the Wymer Stones– Tom Franklin

A one-versus-many game where the many are dungeon-crawling Adventurers and the one is the group of Cursed Dwarves. Adventurers must defeat traps and locks as they search for their Wymer Stones, ancient sources of power that will both summon the Cursed Dwarves and give the Adventurers the power to defeat the Dwarves in battle and win the game.

The gameplay is heavily weighted towards the Adventurers, with the Dwarves player having very little to do for most of the game. Traps, locks, and combat are settled by a simple roll of a d6, potentially bolstered by relic cards and the Adventurers’ character bonuses.

This likely started out as a good idea, but just as likely wasn’t properly playtested. You can find out more of my thoughts in my review of The Curse of the Wymer Stones.

Ease of entry?:
★★★☆☆ – There were a few questions
Would I play it again?:
★★☆☆☆ – Would play again but would rather play something else

Read more articles by Tom Franklin.

Smartphone Inc. – Andy Matthews

Ever since Smartphone Inc. came out a few years ago it’s been high on my “want to play” list. I’m a fan of economic games like Power Grid, plus the graphic design is really eye-catching. So this one appealed to my on multiple levels and I bought a used copy a month or two ago. Fast forward to PAX Unplugged 2022 and I decided to finally take the plunge with a library copy. Be aware that learning this game directly from the rulebook is not for the faint of heart, especially since this was the Kickstarter version. The rules have since been cleaned up a bit, but it’s still not an easy teach.

I dove in and after a round or two, everything just made sense. The theme is strong here, and once you understand the flow of each round, turns are snappy and almost fly by. I ended up being defeated by Andrew Lynch in a crushing move in the final round, but regardless I’m quite happy to own a copy, and can’t wait to play it again soon.

Ease of entry?:
★★☆☆☆ – Not an easy onboard
Would I play it again?:
★★★★★ – Will definitely play it again

Read our review of Smartphone, Inc.

Read more articles from Andy Matthews.

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About the author

Justin Bell

Love my family, love games, love food, love naps. If you're in Chicago, let's meet up and roll some dice!

About the author

Bob Pazehoski, Jr.

On any given day, I am a husband and father of five. I read obsessively and, occasionally, I write stories of varying length, quality, and metrical structure. As often as possible, I enjoy sitting down to the table for a game with friends and family. I'm happy to trumpet Everdell, in all its charm and glory, as the insurmountable favorite of my collection.

About the author

David McMillan

IT support specialist by day, Minecrafter by night; I always find time for board gaming. When it comes to games, I prefer the heavier euro-game fare. Uwe Rosenberg is my personal hero with Stefan Feld coming in as a close second.

About the author

Tom Franklin

By day, I'm a mild-mannered IT Manager with a slight attitude. By night I play guitar & celtic bouzouki, board games, and watch British TV. I love abstracts, co-ops, worker placement and tile-laying games. Basically, any deep game with lots of interesting choices. 

You can find my middle grade book, The Pterrible Pteranodon, at your favorite online bookstore.

And despite being a DM, I have an inherent dislike of six-sided dice.

About the author

Andy Matthews

Founder of Meeple Mountain, editor in chief of MeepleMountain.com, and software engineer. Father of 4, husband to 1, lover of games, books, and movies, and all around nice guy. I run Nashville Game Night, and Nashville Tabletop Day.

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