Review | 2017.04.21

Office work board game Civilization surfboard California flag
Civilization, the board game

Mark brought Civ into the office and we've played through it twice. It's pretty amazing - it captures the spirit of the franchise while making it tabletop-able and adding a few elements that don't exist in the computer game.

It's asymmetrical, which is interesting but also means you have to play to your strengths (and thereby not go for the same type of victory every time). For instance, I played one as the Russians, whose national ability is to steal tech if you move one of your costly units to another player's city. So I went after the Hanging Gardens wonder, which gave me a free unit every turn. This meant a steady stream of technology for free, and meant I should emphasize movement tech (horseback riding, navigation) but also keep a strong army (board units are backed by your actual army).

Tech trees, city construction, and combat are executed very well (though some may disagree with the last one). While there's no formal mechanism for denouncing opponents, it's an extremely interactive game. The interleaved turns also makes for minimal downtime.

We found that the victory conditions could maybe use some tweaking. While apparently the pros get quick victories by collecting gold coins (random rewards for things like conquering barbarians when you have a specific tech), we went for the classic space race/tech win. In the PC game, you have to research a number of sequential space techs to achieve this victory but in the board game it is far easier. This not only seems slightly unfair, but it reduces your ability to enjoy late-game technology and wonders. We did have a domination victory (conquer an opponent's capital), but that was more a matter of catching the victim off guard.
ME:A pt2

Mass Effect Andromeda Angara scan

I finished off my first playthrough and was waffling on a second. The prospect became significantly more palatable when I saw that the second playthrough lets the player inherit skills and equipment from the first. Combining that with the knowledge that the innumerable fetch quests aren't particularly important made it a reasonable prospect.

Mass Effect Andromeda Kadara

Like I said last time, despite everything, the game still extends an awesome sci-fi universe with good visuals and a mostly decent script, motion capture, and voice acting.

Mass Effect Andromeda Keri Asari

Of course, it seems like much of the game wound up on the cutting room floor. Plot arcs appear to have been finished rather hastily. There is a wealth of just painfully boilerplate dialogue and non-choices that seem to really just pad the playthrough time.

Mass Effect Andromeda map Voeld topographic

The map is great though. It shows up quick, highlights your active objective, and shows other quests in your proximity.

Mass Effect Andromeda memory trigger

Memory triggers: this is a tolerable fetch quest. There aren't a billion of them, they are in scenic locations, and they open up story content. Bravo. Finding plant and rock samples: ugh.

Mass Effect Andromeda remnant decryption sudoku

Remnant sudoku: glad I can just throw keys at most of these.

Mass Effect Andromeda Turian Vetra Nyx conversation

Squadmates. You get them all basically right away, it's a set list, and they are never in peril. I'm sure dealing with the Kaiden/Ashley dynamic in the original trilogy was a pain, but it was great. While squadmate affinity in the last games was a bit tricky, it seems Bioware just binned the whole concept of nuance: after major mission, go to squadmate, see new dialog, select heart if you heart them. Repeat.

Anyway, not unhappy I played it. Satisfied enough with the second playthrough. Just wish Bioware hadn't tried to play it so safe with this franchise.
Atomic City

Atomic City Raceway bar

For lack of anything better to do, the chums and I made a trip out to Atomic City to check out the raceway. We got $2 beers and an invitation to come back and take a car out.

Atomic City Raceway

Pool floatie raft wave ocean

Derrick orchestrated an amazing bachelor party at an amazing beach house. There was surfing, volleyball, and the taking of a pool raft out on not-small waves.