I’ve had the misfortune to be involved in a few fires in my times, most of them started by me because of reasons, and during all of them I never once considered grabbing a handful of dice and hurling them at the flames to put them out. Not once. And yet here’s Hotshots clearly showing me that true firefighters use dice to combat the spreading flames. Man, firefighters are freaking hardcore, aren’t they?
Yup, you and up to three other folk (though the game lists a 2-player minimum you can easily play solo) take on the roles of firefighters attempting to combat a raging forest fire that is threatening to consume huge swaths of the land. It’s a theme I’ve never seen before, so Fireside Games have to be commended for coming up with something unique. Now just watch as someone in the comments proves me wrong.
Noria is a deceptive game, its lovely artwork which features a massive floating mountain hanging high in the sky producing a myriad of thoughts about what its theme could be, but a wheel-building game of politics wasn’t quite what sprung to mind when I first saw it, I have to admit. But that’s what we’ve got.
So, the game’s big selling point is the sizable, plastic three-tiered wheel on which three cardboard rings sit and can be rotated. Into these rings, you’ll be inserting little cardboard discs that control the various actions you can take throughout the game, with each ring being spun around to the next segment at the end of your turn and thus changing what you’ll be able to do on the next turn.
Ah, the detective, a classic figure from books and movies alike, the man or woman capable of solving the greatest of mysteries via a series of incredible deductions and, in the case of Benedict Cumberwhatshisnname’s Sherlock Holmes, plentiful insults because everyone else is stupid. Small Detective looks to take the basic premise of something like Cluedo and shoves it into a tiny box. Good things really do come in small packages
As a movie fan, I can’t how many times I’ve seen a man or woman wronged by the villain before setting out to gain vengeance against the perpetrator, their friends, their family, their dog and anyone within a several mile radius. It’s a simple plot device that has been the driving motivation behind some of the best action movies ever, with a prime recent example being the mighty John Wick who had a pure, direct reason to go on a rampage; some jerks killed the dog his dead wife gave to him, and also stole his beloved car. As reasons to go on a rampage go, it’s a pretty good one.
Having successfully pillaged everything surrounding their village in Raiders of the North Sea our happy band of blood-thirsty Vikings reckons it’s time to explore the larger world so that they can pillage it, too. At least they’re consistent, I suppose. Yes, this is the third game in the North Sea trilogy and going into it I was very curious as to whether designer would opt for a heavier, deeper experience for the last game in the series before all three get bound together by Runesaga, or would stick with the lighter feel.
Ah, the Vikings. According to my beloved Champions of Midgard these infamous folk loved to fight trolls and slay various other beasts, but Raiders of the North Sea paints a slightly more realistic portrayal of them. Here they don’t fight monsters, they just raid presumably innocent monasteries and assault fortresses for fun. Yup, like any good Viking who has been raised properly your main task in life is to gather a crew and then raid the various outposts, villages, and monasteries at the top of the board, all in the name of glorious loot and glorious victory points.
There’s something satisfying about a deck-builder, I think. You take the same stack of basic cards as everyone else and then proceed to slowly add new things to it, molding what you began with into something that’s yours, built around your vision for how to win. So, Gateway attempts to merge this deck-building satisfaction with area-control. Does it work? Um, sort of.