#489 – LOTS [Preview]

Box

1 – 4 players.
Play time: 20 – 30 minutes.
BGG | Board Game Atlas
Check it out on Kickstarter! (Will update link when Kickstarter is live.)
Logged plays: 4 

Full disclosure: A preview copy of LOTS was provided by Royal N. Games. Some art, gameplay, or other aspects of the game may change between this preview and the fulfillment of the Kickstarter, should it fund, as this is a preview of a currently unreleased game. 

Alright, back with more Kickstarter games! I’m pretty close to done with them, for now, but there are still a few coming (but they’re ones I’m really excited about, like Scouts, Calico, The Grand Carnival, stuff in that range). The next one up is LOTS, a competitive dexterity game of tower construction. Let’s just sorta … get right to the reviewing part, then.

In LOTS, you really want to become the Master Builder. Thankfully, you’re one of a few contractors hired to build a really intricate skyscraper that’s going up in the dead center of town. This is, to be fair, how you generally make a name for yourself. You just have to watch out for your opponents. Will you be able to build something that will rise into the ranks of great historical buildings? Or will you find your plans ultimately lack a firm foundation?

Contents

Setup

Not a ton of setup required. Lay the board in the center:

Board

Place one of the Foundation Cards on it, depending on your preferred difficulty level:

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Set out the various pieces:

Blocks

Place the purple cubes on the relevant spaces on the board. Have each player roll the die and take one:

Die

If a ? comes up, they can take whatever piece they want. Give every player a Crew Card:

Crew Cards

And set the OUT OF STOCK cards aside, for now:

OOS Cards

Once you’ve done all that, you should be ready to start!

Better Setup

Gameplay

Gameplay 1

Pretty rules-light game, which is always nice. Your goal is to build up this skyscraper and score points by placing blocks on your turn. Crew Cards and extra blocks will help you complete floors, which is also a valuable way to earn points. Ultimately, the game ends when enough blocks run out or when a score threshold is reached.

On your turn, do the following actions:

  • Roll: Roll the die and add that block to your supply. If that block’s supply is empty, the player to your left chooses a piece for you to add to your supply.
  • Place: Choose one of the two blocks in your supply and place it on the tower. If you have a purple block, you may play one of them, as well. You may build over spots that are empty (unlike BLOCK.BLOCK), but you cannot build outside of the footprint card you chose for your building. If the tower falls, remove the fallen blocks from the game and finish placing your block. You’ll skip the Score step of this turn.
  • Score: Score any points. You score 2 points for each block of the same color your placed block is touching. You score 5 points for each floor you fully completed by placing your block.

Gameplayish 1_5

You may also play any of the Crew Cards you obtained to score more points. Some of these let you play them even when it’s not your turn. You may only play one Crew Card per turn, though.

As you gain points, if you are the last player to pass over a Crew Card / Purple Block space, you gain one of those. If you already have 2 Crew Cards, give the Crew Card you will draw to the player with the next lowest score.

Gameplay 2

The game ends in one of two ways:

  • Points threshold: If a player hits any of these thresholds, that player immediately wins:
    • Two players: 40 points
    • Three players: 35 points
    • Four players: 30 points
  • Supply Piles: If three of the five block supply piles are emptied, at the end of the current player’s turn, the player with the highest score wins.

For younger players, try having the experienced players play one-handed.

Player Count Differences

Generally, I find that at higher player counts, it becomes a bit easier for the game to get away from you. If another player plays a little poorly and lets a third player get 20+ points on a turn, there’s not much you can do about that. The game doesn’t offer a ton in the way of catch-up mechanisms, so you may just be stuck. The fix for that is that it’s generally your responsibility at lower player counts to keep your opponents in check, since you set them up on their turns. That’s, at least, been how I’ve been thinking about it, so I tend towards lower player counts for this game. There’s also not much benefit for being third across something; you only get the purple block or the Crew Card for being the last player to cross, so that can occasionally be a bummer. The game’s not unpleasant at higher player counts, nor is it much longer; it can just be harder to recover from one bad turn.

Strategy

  • If you want to mess with your opponents, build erratically. Make it dangerous for them to place pieces. Any game can be Catch the Moon if you stack poorly enough.
  • Try to create groups of the same color. I mean, that’s how you score a fair amount of points. Plus, if you do it, your opponents are likely to try and latch on to it, if they can. It helps them, but it also helps you if you manage to roll those pieces and place them.
  • Make it hard to complete floors. Build super erratically, as I mentioned previously, but leave tons of gaps on floors so that only specific pieces or purple blocks can complete the floor. Bonus, it also makes the building less stable, so it’s more likely to tip over on your unsuspecting opponents. Or you, but, don’t worry about that.
  • Leaving gaps on your side of the building may make it harder for players to notice that you didn’t complete the floor, giving you an opportunity to do so on your next turn. It’s sneaky, but very effective! Sometimes you want to be able to be both if you’re going to pull off a win. Don’t lie about it, obviously, but you’re fine being a bit sneaky.
  • Don’t forget that you don’t have to play the piece you rolled. A lot of players forget about the other piece in their Supply. Try not to! The extra flexibility may be a huge help when you’re scoring or when you’re not interested in the kind of bad piece you just picked up.
  • If you get to choose a piece for your opponent, make sure it’s the least useful one possible. Preferably something that will complete no floors and score them no points for being placed; don’t just give away points. Or, make sure it’s a piece that matches the one you have so that you can score points on your next turn. It’s up to you, but both are good options.
  • Don’t knock the building over. It’s a dexterity game, so this kind of goes without saying, but I wanted to emphasize how important it is to keep the building’s structure sound.
  • It’s not necessarily worth hanging back to try and pick up additional Crew Cards. The cards get you maybe 5 points sometimes (occasionally more, if you’re in the right place at the right time); if you’re missing out on more than that to take one then you’re letting your opponents get too far ahead. Let the other players try to catch up while you keep out in front.

Pros, Mehs, and Cons

Pros

  • I do love all stacking games, basically. Not all of them, but really a solid “most”. This is another fun stacking game, though the strategy is more around the color matching than the actual stacking components. That’s fine, though; I still enjoy that kind of thing.
  • I appreciate the variety of footprint cards. Lots of different building types and difficulties! That’s pretty fun and cool. I’m hoping to see if they get even weirder during the Kickstarter and drop some that are just a bit wild. I’d be super into that sort of thing.
  • Very inclusive art. I always appreciate that, and I’m glad that they went that route. It looks great.
  • Colorful game. I mean, it’s a prototype, but it already looks really good! Definitely a fan.
  • It seems like a very expandable game. I’d love to see multiple types of pieces and you can sub different ones in every game (sort of like a 3D Tag City). More Crew Cards are always nice, too.

Mehs

  • I think it’s just due to the construction, but the pieces need to be flat on all ends in the final product. As it stands, they’re not, so they lean slightly when stacked, which makes the building kinda spread outward as you build up, which isn’t super fun.

Cons

  • The catch-up mechanic only really runs for the player who’s the absolute furthest back. This means if one player really powers ahead, it becomes super hard to catch up to them (and that can happen if a player manages to complete multiple floors in one turn). It sorta just ends the game a bit prematurely, it feels like. I’m not like, incredibly opposed to it because the game is short, but I don’t feel like the catch-up mechanism works to adequately help all players make it back into the leader spot.
  • The turns where you don’t get a piece that lets you score are kind of annoying. This happens a lot more when players have been grouping pieces pretty aggressively, but it really sucks to have to be the person that has to play a worthless piece, which can happen occasionally.

Overall: 7.5 / 10

In Progress

Overall, LOTS is a solid little game! I like that it blends dexterity with a bit of strategy, and does so in a way that’s bright, colorful, and consistently interesting. I will admit that I wish there were a bit more that I could do around luck mitigation, as a player, but it’s a quick enough game that I wouldn’t say that always matters too much, to me. My real problem is that I often feel like players fall behind in a way that isn’t particularly easy to catch up, which is a bummer. That said, I’ll be really interested in what the final version of this game will look like; the prototype version is nice and all, but there are a lot of ways you can upgrade this into a superb version of a game. Heavier pieces, thicker cards, make the whole thing bigger; the possibilities aren’t necessarily limitless, but they are certainly expensive. Thankfully, it’s a generally nice and pleasant game to play, so I don’t think that will be an issue. Either way, if you’re looking for a fun little dexterity / strategy game, LOTS might be right up your alley! I’ve had fun with it.

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