A Gnome's Ponderings

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Sitting down to a table of new games

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
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On July 16, I sat down to a five-person session of three games that I hadn’t gotten a chance to play before but all games I wanted to take for a spin. They were Loch Ness, Hansa Teutonicaand Bombay. On a whole, I had a good time but I found each of the games to be very different.

Loch Ness was a game a number of my friends played at Origins and enjoyed so I wanted to give it a try. Players are photographers who are trying to get the best picture of the Loch Ness Monster. They choose special powers, place cameras and then everyone plays move cards that will both move the monster on the lake and move the game timer along.

The game definitely has a group-think element, not unlike Piranha Pedro, where the players program the movement of the monster out and have to do their best to get into the minds of the other players. With that said, I found that, at least with five players, you ultimately had took little control. Too many possible ways you could run the monster around a circular track. I’d like the try it with three-players some time but, on a whole, I found the game weak.

On the other hand, I’d long read about how strong Hansa Teutonica was and I found that that was a game that did not disappoint. Hansa Teutonica combined two of my gaming loves. Wooden cubes and simple rules that allowed for complex play.

Ultimately, all of the players actions come down to moving cubes onto routes, one way or the other, and claiming full routes. The game really could be described as just moving wooden cubes around. However, the game offers multiple paths to victory with a lot of brinkmanship. You need to balance your choices and resources carefully, as well as watch other players like a hawk.

Since there is no hidden information, you can see what other players are trying to do. There are a lot of ways to play aggressively and mess with other folks plans. For a game that really is all about rearranging cubes, Hansa Teutonica has a lot of ways to get in other people’s faces.

After the disappointing meh of Loch Ness, Hansa Teutonica was a breath of fresh, arena air and we got in two plays of it.

I had picked up Bombay quite inexpensively from Toys for Thoughts recent clearance sale. It was a game that had been kind of on my radar but the price had kept me from seriously looking at it until now.

Bombay is a pick-up-and-delivery game with really cute bits. You have little plastic elephants and you can place the cubes you’re delivering right into their saddles. The map is full of dead-ends and is clearly designed to make navigation tricky. One thing that attracted me to the game was that the resources were limited and selling them caused a city’s market to rearrange itself. That meant that other player’s choices and actions had a definite effect on you.

Positive reviews about Bombay described it as a Steam Light that could be played in under an hour, which interested me. I also read about the infamous accusation that a player could win by passing and collecting a coin every turn.

I’d have to say that we found that claim false. Only one player came out broke enough that passing would have bettered their score and everyone else had scores in the 20s and 30s.

I enjoyed Bombay but I don’t yet know if it has legs for lots of replay. That said, one of the definite pluses of Bombay is that it does have a short playing time with plenty of tough choices. As I get older, free time gets scarcer and scarcer and good, solid games that play in a hour become more and more valuable to me.
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