Replacing the boats with cars (which can represent any country) and 5 central areas duplicated means this game is less frustrating than Europa tour, and so increases the possibility of finishing sooner. Also the drafting is reduced to 3 face up choices, yet the game can still move slowly, because game pacing suffers from orientation difficulties and the occasional drawing at the start of the turn. Quiet and nearly always humourless, the only reason I would play it is for the geography lesson I'm getting and the engaging problems the rack imposes. I'm also finding the cards splitting. Rating is for 2 players as any more increases the frustration of getting the right card (especially if taken from under your nose) and the downtime involved. The main problem I find in the series is the "foggy" status of your opponent: unless you have been following the drafts carefully, it is difficult to divine how well your opponent is doing, so there is no strong sense competition compared to say similar connection games like TransAmerica and the exceptional Expedition.
No change in the mechanics, though the box depth has changed, probably due to the 6 panel board (so more oblong than the first 2 releases?). Some countries have double the amount of cards as in 10D in Africa, but the only real change I can see is the railroad card which allows you to connect any 2 countries which have a station along the rail network.
Revisiting this "old" connection style game highlights its shortfall compared to TransAmerica and the highly regarded Expedition. Firstly the fixed array and the various ways the countries connect to each other (adjacent, by car and boat etc) compared to the relaxed and linear linking means the 10 days series is a mental workout. As such it lacks fun (but it says so on the box) as players quietly work out the probabilities or best placements in the rack. It can be tense as you sight a discard in the hope it doesn't get covered or taken. But the biggest strike against the series is that it lack an inbuilt racing commentary.
The frustration of the drafting and racking mechanics is increased in this version as there are no centrally duplicated states as in 10D in Africa. There is more of a waiting game as it is more than likely that your opponent(s) will have the required state, so there is more of a sense the winner is the luckiest player.
After a couple of plays, I think it's best to say this is an experience game in which despite some tactical planning, there are several chaotic factors which will undermine your plays (so really fits the theme I guess). With that in mind there will be less frustration and crying in the coffee cups printed on the board. Unlike other experience games such as War of the Ring and Fury of Dracula, 1960 is an excellent example of a game being an educational medium as I'm learning US geography, state emblems, the political system and a narrative of an important time in American history. This is why I rate this higher than the other fantasy titles mentioned.
Update: Well nearly 20 years later and I'm now finding the game play repetitive when played to 66 pts., despite the tension and fun it creates. I think Montgolfiere for families and For Sale for more skill are a better choice nowadays.
6Nimmt was my second taste of German games back in '96, so I've played many times over the years, but in the last session I found out the reason for the bull theme. You are often ruminating what card to play, going ermmmm, and bellowing when it all goes bad!!!! Very subtle. Anyway, I dig grass, sorry digress, this is a good game providing tension, many a close phew, and fun when someone picks up those previous five cards. There can be some deliberate targeting when someone assesses which row to take, which may cause alittle negativity. One of the few quick paced cardgames for 5-6 players; any more than that and I find determining who goes first etc. becomes longwinded.
Need at least 6 players to make player positions more interesting and the slipstreaming moves more dramatic; however the game pace decreases. Also if you don't stay with the pack, you fall behind which makes for a dull experience for a game of this length. If you're near the front, card counting and which card to play makes for a tense showdown for the finish line.
First play with 3 was interesting as I noticed that as you see your diminishing hand of cards 3 times and both your opponents twice, if you could/care to memorise the contents of each hand you could set yourself for efficient card play (unless your passing neighbour denies you that desired card). So with more players means the loss of this aspect (which triggers the mastery instinct that drives the need for a repeat play).
Yet the fact that upto 7 players can be 'interested' simultaneously is one reason for 7 Wonders inclusion in many game collections.But the more I play it with 3 or 4 the less convinced I need to go on the ride with more players and not using all the cards seems a waste.
A rare thematic dexterity game where most of the humour is from the seasoning action ("Grr no pepper!!!" or "aaah, too much!!"), though the die roll which turns up the heat of everyones stove can lead to your opponent(s) burning their dish. Then things get Gordon Ramsey nasty if a player decides to swap pans or season an opponents dish. So not a game to take too seriously or feelings may get burnt. However, the game does have some probability assessment in deciding which allowable dish to do next and which seasoning will increase your chance of getting a star. I like the alternate victory condition of 3 stars being an outright win as it provides hope if behind on victory points/dishes.
Unfortunately, I feel the components actually diminishes the experience as the pans obscure the contents so you can't relate effectively: it is unclear what the others need and so can't tune into (and laugh at) their joy or pain. It really needs this extra layer to add to the fun. This was especially the case playing with 3 other cooks, so I suspect players need to commentate and ham it up to get the belly wobbling or maybe it is best as a 2 player seated side by side (a la Masterchef).
Long considered a classic, yet I only read about it when I subscribed to Sumo in the late '90s. I bought the 1995 cardboard version with special power tiles, but it took some enthusiasm to finally play it (I thought the simple rules would make it a boring game). Myself and a few family members enjoyed the quick thinking person's "Monopoly".
Recently played again (with the plastic 2005 edition) and it shows its age compared with the Euros I've been fed for the past 5-6 years. It's interesting in trying to anticipate the mergers with some clues possibly coming from the other player's stock purchases. Unfortunately as a package it is an unforgiving design in regards to tiles drawn (I think I can say the last game with one quick corporation and merger help alot in my victory) and if cash strapped it can mean you are out, which is bad to sit through for 60 mins. Even the special powers don't seem to help. Also the cross refencing and working out the maths for share prices etc is abit of a hiccup in the proceedings and puts some players off.
Sadly the grandfather of Euro's, it's time to retire. The merger system and share holdings has been superceded by Stephenson's Rocket (and Rheinlander).
Update: a recent play with 2 and the desire to explore has diminished a little. This is mostly due to the 'work' involved to assess the end game variables, just so you can get the dramatic countdown of the monuments. Lost Valley, another exploration game, does this endgame so much better.
Underrated game, has more player interaction and sit-com than Carcassonne IMHO. Even when it's not your turn the game is interesting to watch not only for the humour payoff but also there are evaluations to be made, if you're thinking competitively. Accused as having obvious moves which in some cases is justified, but this helps in keeping the game running at a brisk pace. However, some movement of animals/nomads require evaluating in terms of increasing scoring opportunities for yourself or other players. Other considerations are the order in which to execute both of your actions, as well as how near other explorers are. Randomised set up ensures different patterns occur which makes visual evaluations different, making the game feel fresh and increasing replay value: I haven't tired of the many, many plays yet. One criticism is the slight fogginess in tracking player status: to get the delicious tension of the uncertain game end in a close scoring game you have to compare and evaluate every player's gem/trade good holdings(a simplified and better aspect of this tension is in Lost Valley). This can be mentally unwieldy.I've downgraded by a point as I realize that some players probably feel wrung out by the maths and scoring permutations involved, rather than "seeing" the spacially interesting scoring opportunities. I find the best way to introduce the different actions and scoring is piecemeal:i.e. explain what action/scoring can be done when the tile is turned over;this makes the game less confusing and less long winded than it needs to be.
Update: I'm no longer enjoying this, in fact I find it infuriating. However,this is probably due to playing this when tired because this game pressures you to assess food (which doubles as money) and the competition for resources. So not only do you have to grit your teeth but a hand of cards then makes you consider charting alternate ways through this tough environment. The variety of cards is the appealing aspect of the game as each game will be refreshing, but unless you can build a room and start having offspring the process of building an efficient and high scoring farm is plodding and the feeling is compounded by reseeding the board every round. By then towards the end I feel I wringing my forehead to squeeze out where I can gain 1 point without losing out a point somewhere else. So feels like hard labour for little gain, much like running a medieval farm.
*First play of the family game and I feel the hype is almost justified. Typically for a Euro, Agricola has been mechanically engineered to play smoothly, with little stalling due to some text reading. I applaud greatly that the theme to mechanics is strong here, especially enhanced with the pre-ordered Animeeples. As far as the worker placement mechanic goes, it seems to have alot of on the menu, and first play is alittle cloudy as how to score effectively. Not as quick and accessible as Tribune which can cater 4 (or maybe 5) players with little downtime, so I strongly suspect Agricola will be ideal for 1-3, just to keep the pace up and table footprint down. I like the immediate problems the system poses via negativity: the need for generate food and the need to diversify, but I can't help thinking that a score track could have been implemented just to rack the tension up. As a sidenote I think Agricola may have the only distinction of a boardgame appearing in my dreams (on the same night), so subconsciously I must think it rocks!!!!
Update: well I think I have learnt my lessons in several solo and face to face plays that you really need to focus on building a room first to accomodate the extra action from your offspring and pick up food along the way. That's if your opponents aren't doing the same thing, though hopefully Occupation and Minor Improvement cards should help. And its the cards which really give the game its appeal (I think)providing genuine surprises and interesting avenues to explore, as without them the game would develop and be spatially the same. Yet for me the cards are both a distraction and illusionary for me in thinking that it will speed up several production features, but so far the tempo feels the same until you get your your offspring working.
Thanks to Larry Levy's recent review stating players only roll once my interest increased. After the disappointment of multiple die rolling and intolerable downtime of To Court A King this one roll aspect is a necessary refinement. It also sounds like there is no outcome manipulation seen in tCaK which really removes any dependency tension inherent in die rolling.
Update: at last now played a game with 3. Not sure about this one, as we overlooked the rule that another go entitles you to turn another card, and our game drag alittle (best with 2?). Surprised that it was less like to Court the King as instead of manipulating rolls, you pick up cards to increase your chances in the one roll. Interesting and worth another go at least.
Dice often adds a frustrating and sometimes wild but fun personality to a session, but I didn't expect it to be so subdued by seemingly convoluted avenues (I guess to counter the randomness) to collect vps.
The conditional vp cards were too numerous to anticipate (you needed a reference sheet) so no tension there for me, unless you got some in the first couple of rounds. The visible vps were Roman numerals and small which didn't help evaluating from across the table and as the status was so fractured I didn't really care to know.
So apart from the implied "plopping" sound as worthless dice are placed in the latrine (being from England toilet humour is ingrained), I didn't feel the theme, the fun or tension so wasn't "engaged".
Rating based on first game with 5 player but because of the dry, creaky mechanic of moving armies, working out costs of building temples and cities means there will always be some downtime, so I honestly can't rate it higher. Nice map though.
After a revisit to Alhambra I can still see the appeal of the gameplay: there is almost constant tension as there is often a race to amass money for the desired tile, which is also fuelled by the desire to hold off overpaying for it to instead draw currencies to pay exact for the powerful and gratifying extra turn(s).
But the adrenalin doesn't stop there with the push your luck element as there is the exciting scoring cards somewhere in the drawpile. One feature here at Alhambra from its predecessor Stimmt So is that a player can take as many currency cards upto the value of 5 or less so can speed up the appearance of the scoring card if it is to their advantage.
Then there is the climax at game end when only 1-3 tiles are left to draft and these are purchased in a reveal (my favourite game feature) by the player holding the most in that currency. Like Ticket to Ride, Alhambra is very good gateway game, filled with anxiety and table-thumping frustration as someone else does what you wanted to do.
So thankfully there are moments of relief when the scoring takes place, and this is the first of some niggles I have with the design. My pet peeve of majority scoring is here and whereas in Stimmt So the 'shares' were clumped together to make comparisons easier on the eye, in Alhambra's change to a tile laying subgame (possibly due to the success of Carcassonne), the colours of the player's share holdings are scattered.So really not an improvement over Stimmt So as time spent scoring has partially increased as well as thinking where to best put the tile.
And tiles are probably the biggest complaint for me: to make any skilful decision really requires knowledge of the tile manifest, and here it is too detailed for my taste. I don't think the colour quantity on the player boards are enough, I like to know have I wasted my time putting a wall here, will there be another one to put next to it, and more importantly what will be the colour and price of the tile? I like that the wall(s) can make it easier to determine if it is desirable or not for an opponent to fit into his grounds, and they are another source of vps, but my threshold for tile-drawing assesments is probably at the Zooloretto level.
I've also noticed that the game runs on two chaotic features, the tile draw and the currency deck, but as these are both drafted and so long as the game is kept at 3 players I don't mind it so much (though I've noticed that the expansions seem to address this level of chaos; if it starts to bother me too much, there is always Palazzo to fall back on). So after the revisit, I'm happy to play occasionally but I much prefer O Zoo le Mio's swift majority scoring and gameplay (though I may be tempted with the new version which joins the fragemented boards into a colourful overhead shot of Alhambra with everything centralised and more importantly the scoring track on the outside, rather than off to one side).
A majority share-holding card game in which payouts are triggered by the exciting wertung (scoring) cards hidden in the money deck.
But there are a couple of hurdles diluting the excitement: the distribution and the values of the shares are wonky so unless you are familiar with the shares you may be at a loss as to which money/share cards to draft.
The other issue is the difficulty in tracking the cash flow of fixed values which does promote tense uncertainty as to whether to pull the trigger and pay more for a share or wait and pay exact to gain the kicker of extra drafts in your turn. This last feature (and drafting more than one money card if value is less than 5)introduces a pacing decision to slow or speed up the replenishments to get the wertungs out in your favour.
So it is a shame this will have to go as one attraction was getting to know the different buildings in the Netherlands but such info wasn't part of the game nor did the buildings add any theme.
Sadly for this style of game I'm leaning towards Airlines as the shares are 1 value and distribution is printed on each share; and if I remember rightly money held is not secret.
However I'm not a fan of majority holdings as the cross-referencing to work out 1st and 2nd place (or ties) is alittle bit of a chore.
An updated version of the cardgame "War", with an emphasis on learning number characteristics (i.e. high/low values, odd/even) with simple adding/subtracting thrown in. A cooperation rule is added to let eliminated players back in the game - neat.
I enjoyed Powergrid, but eventually the number crunching got too much for me as did the game length. I think I've found a substitute in Amazonas to fill the void of an connection game driven by money management. So far I like the memorable manifest of the event deck and speculating what may come next and how to manage and increase my finances as a result. Player turns are quick as you are limited to building one or two huts or waiting until further turns. The main niggle with the game is that the board is very busy, so I can't focus on the intent of opponents (like in TransAmerica),so there is no clear sense of competition;another niggle is that allocating turn order cards is a fiddly process, which interrupts game flow; it helps when players can work out and call out clearly their income values. In essence, interesting and novel means of increasing wealth, but not exciting.
First session with 5 which I personally found slowed the pace, increased the luck of getting desired power cards and made evaluation of each players vp status and intentions (during bidding and sacrificing) alittle foggy. Interesting mixture of mechanics and elements to consider, but feels alittle convoluted, though game sequence in Amun Re isn't repetitive as in Taj Mahal. Now played with 4, and more convinced that this is a 3 player game for easier assessment, and more skill involved. Finally played with 3 which made the provinces interestingly varied and game pace good. Amun-Re has some elements of Princes of Florence that I enjoy: the enforced pressure of matching conditions to get VPs and the bonus card and most money declaration at game end. In some ways, Amun-Re does it better than PoF: play is focussed centrally(rather than peripherally with individual playmats) making assessments easier; the "hare & tortoise/evo" bidding instils a tense and dramatic personality. I'm finding the game play and components provocative of the theme, so I'm charmed to play again. Just not sure if it will captivate the non-gamers I often play with.
Interesting and fun word game wholly dependent on vocabulary experience in order to make a new word using a turned over letter and already made words in front of your opponent(s). Make the word and steal the letters, so hoarders can feel the tension but eventually the game is mentally hard work to drain the fun out of it and not get played often.
First play with 5 and the board becomes "busy" as the session progresses and I agreed with one player's comment that he couldn't be bothered working stuff out when it came to decision time. (So 4 players maybe better). I like the experience that you can "peacefully" develop your empires, along various avenues to collect the victory points, such as occupying 7 seas, 5 cities, build 3 temples etc. More importantly, once you claim a vp card it can never be taken from you, so the game will end. But the game seems to be programmed that conflict will be inevitable, and this is where things become confusing: combat is diceless as in Vinci, and there are empire value modifiers (via development)for defence and overcoming marching fatigue. I was apathetic to this, so pursed a peaceful path, but some players may want some action. Combat is dry, and can result in the Steve Bradbury effect, in weaking combatants will allow a third to pull through for the win. The rondel makes for quick and interesting angst, and I like the freebie "wild" coin and the flavour of the vp cards. But since taking a stronger interest in history, I too would like to see a civ game capturing the unique empire qualities/geography etc.
Update: A recent playing with almost a full player count has hit home this design is sparse on laughs (and sometimes inappropriate) it really needs extrovert attitudes (especially the judge in the spotlight) to fill in the gaps. It also seems some adjectives have a better potential to create humourous associations such as filthy or offensive vs handsome or talented. So there is now a feeling this is a hit or miss affair.
A rarity in game genres: an icebreaker, which almost goes down well with every group I've introduced it to.
I say almost because firstly there has to be enough cards thrown into the middle to make any hilarious comparisons (hence with less than 7 players I'd prefer players being allowed to contribute 2 cards, the slowest player only allowed one).
Secondly, the players need to turn off their competitiveness (it's only an icebreaker) and just associate for humour's sake rather than criticise the lack of skill, though considering who is judging is important: a male would be less likely to consider FIREFIGHTERS as MASCULINE.
Typically, alcohol makes this game hilarious. Suffering alittle from familiarity, so not as fun as it used to be. Yet what still makes this game enjoyable are the receptive players' reactions to the cards played (or not played) such as the confused look or the improv humour-you can't pick PENGUINS for being UNCOOL, because they are, well, cool.
It stays in the collection as it can cater to a large, family setting of different age groups and abilities with no emphasis on doing charades or being good with describing. I have the crate edition, which has alot of Americanisms removed because they make it difficult to relate to.
A slightly advanced version of its famous parent, in that you have more flexibility of how you want the animal clusters to be appear in your enclosures, with the limit of 3 types to start with. Purchases not only allow you to expand but also there are bonus scoring meeples which can either be placed to reduce the pain of animals in "storage", make money worth points or certain fish eating types worth more. All of which provides a sense of being able to overcome bad tile draws and vp catchup. Slightly easier to evaluate than Zooloretto, but just seems to have more fiddly rules, such as coin payouts on every 3rd animal and meeple on every 5th. Still I would prefer to play either design than Ra if I want to experience the psychological hot seat.
Sure it's cute with all the "liddle aminals" (and the big ones too) and refreshingly thematic, but the inherent stumbling restrictions makes the game painfully slow. I do like the pet factor to spring a surprise on certain majorities, but again the fractured status washes away all feeling of competitive tension. Sadly, not a game I wish to board again in a hurry.
Arkadia has the rare distinction of a game being played back to back. This is mainly due to simple turn options laden with some look ahead considerations and subtle spacial tactics which become more obvious during your first game, that you feel could improve on (placing workers next to small buildings); also games feel short due to the absorbing play, ensuring another session.
I too will add my voice to the many by saying Arkadia is an imaginary world where what you are doing makes no narrative sense. Surely a business and executive placement with a central stock exchange during the course of 3 days would be a better fit.
I'm often a big advocate of scoring tracks which tunes you to your status and amplifies tense/hopeless feelings in a session. Interestingly, in 80 days you need to be furthest behind to win and sometimes your score is illusionary, as you need to take into consideration where you are on the map to determine how well/bad your status is. So this element subtracts from the racing tension alittle from the experience. However, this has gameplay that I like where basically you play the odds, and you think sequentially the order of play which will favour you, be it an associated action from the drafting area (which is novel) or using your coins when you feel the time is right. The drafting, the event cards, detective and die rolls add tension and humour. Sadly, the end game for competitors can be anticlimatic when it becomes obvious who will win. My rating has dropped a notch because text card reading holds up the pace (I still don't know the event deck), there is nothing to maintain your interest out of turn (except watch pick ups) and I'm also finding the linear feel of the play becoming monotonous. Some players perceive the detective as a mean option, and some get frustrated with the grey event cards forcing discards. Rating falls with more than 4 players are involved.
The fun comes from the continual oneupmanship, with the occasional dramatic card value played. But as with Alles Im Eimer, the maths counting for me slows the proceedings. Attacke's objective is visually simpler and so more tense, as is monitoring the card distribution, but the gameplay is better in AiE as a round ends when one player pulls out, rather than last one in. As Attacke plays better with at least 4, this is more of an issue. The game is better if you play first to 4 chips and use the variant of playing face down cards.
A silent version of settlers, with the means to reduce building costs and make dramatic leaps forward to reach either one of the 2 winning conditions. Obviously lacks the socialisation, and the menu of goods needed to build is long and heady. We needed to mark on the player's mats which tiles were played, making it easy to assess.
Acquire variant, which in some ways is better than it's predecessor, but on the other hand isn't. Like Chess, spatially starts off the same, unlike the variable setup of Acquire. Where Attila succeeds is that you have more control at triggering off the scoring and the scoring is easier and not as long winded. Also manipulation of values is innovative, involving fun removal of potential scores, but as this is done secretly, no hard feelings. I'm a sucker for scoring tracks, but the downfall for Attila (for me)is that whilst the scoring is delayed means dry number crunching, which progressively gets harder as the board fills up. The certainty of the 1st and 2nd place shareholders removes the desired mystery in Acquire. Attila also has a shorter playing time and consequences of such simple card play is interesting to explore.
Sadly even with the 2007 re-release with new lenient rules hasn't addressed a couple of problems I have with the design. First one is geographical, though this applies more with non-German players so really only a personal problem: orientation to where to pick up and deliver is difficult to execute and remember, would it have been problematic for a small map like with the TransAmerica cards to highlight in two colours the two places in the contract? Obviously this is a game in which you try to economise on your movement by doing contracts closely related to a network, but the way the contracts have been designed makes this hard work. So a case of too much text and ignoring the "right-side" of the brain by making things more visual so user friendly. Actually this has been done far better in the cube-disc contracts in Logistico.
The second problem is working out the value of the contracts and how much you are willing to pay at the auction. This too is much like work, though it can be considered a good teaching tool but I prefer something less mathematical.
Quirky trick taking, in that gradually revealing offside cards determines whether least or most tricks scores in the current hand. So you have to speculate which way it may go and play accordingly, with the trailing player having the option to change trump colour 2/3rds of the way into the hand. Since I like most trick taking games this one is interesting to explore further. Beautiful cards too.
First play with 4 and some things don't sit right with me. Firstly, I think this game is worth the time with no more than 3 players as the pile of debt certificates won't be reshuffled as often, giving your low value bids a chance to win in the next couple of rounds before the surrended high cards are recycled back into the draw pile. I may be wrong about this aspect but it feels unfair; as does the stealing of the "Peurto Rico" power tiles and being compensated 100 guilders which feels like a "cheap shot" and a artificial catchup mechanic. As does the scoring track barriers at 25 prestige and 45, which sums up the whole feel of having to manage money to buy the certificates to bid for prestige which is dependent on things that cost money and round and round we go. Held some mechanical interest, but I didn't feel like I was Jakob Fugger (poker in the 16th C.?) and emotionally didn't engage me as it was too clinical.
Firstly, why are the rules inconsistent in the different languages and vague in some parts, it causes unnecessary confusion and hence accessibility, hurting the reputation of the game. Anyway, I tried to pin down the correct rules and made thematic sensible rulings. The first play with four became interesting as the game progressed, as resources became tight and scoring knowledge increased. And there is plenty of points to be had, it felt half of the game was spent doing the maths and pushing the vp markers, which makes for a dull gaming experience. Also suffers from the "Carc farm" visual problem in that it is difficult to see scoring connections. I think the main hurdle to making good decisions is that the distribution/breakdown of the industrialisation tiles and ranger cards isn't uniform and easy to remember.
Similar to Bang with no elimination as another random character is given if you are killed, but working out the hidden roles is less active, less vocal but more subtle via the card play of selecting the 3 facedown cards to i)discard, ii)keep and iii)give.
Privilege cards disrupt this play, which from experience adds a confusing layer for first play, so may be best to not use them until the mechanics and terminology have been established. Doing so seems to make for a quick first game which may generate interest in another game with the privilege cards as there is fun to be had when plans backfire.
Unfortunately, I think the repetitious card selection can muddle the memory with previous turns (much like hidden role selection in Citadels - unless it is a sign of ageing!!), which undermines the players' ability to actively tabletalk, necessary to make this type of game enjoyable.
Hence I feel this may be the reason why so far the game receives a lukewarm reception. Another drawback which may put players off is the waiting game of the required card to come up, especially when faced with a seemingly too large a drawpile. Also as Caligula there is no sense of delicious paranoia that I felt as the sheriff in Bang (as there are no hidden supporters).
Out of all the classical abstract (Go, Chess etc) the only one I'm willing to play, which really sums up my playing preferences. Nice catch up elements, but for 2 player dice games, Street Soccer does it for me.
Another of Mr Merkle's "clock" layout games in which the player with the greatest influence next a deck of letter cards gets to "explore" the "avenue" for the desired clue; however, before players can get to search the avenues, both have to play out a placing and bidding game very much like bluff, being caught out gives the other player choice of "avenue". There is a nice race tension to be the first to string together 7 consecutive letters. However, as most info is concealed there is alot of memory work to remember which letters are in which deck and how much influence players have allocated, which becomes alot like work.
First play: I like the way that the cube colours dictates card choices, keeping the pace of the game moving. There is the occasional "take that" and the number crunching which interferes with play. I like how flipping the hop tile makes weak hands strong and vice versa, very ingenious mechanic and a timing consideration. Another plus feature is all the play condenses to claiming cubes then down to claiming trophies, making it easier to determine scoring status. Shame it doesn't provoke a balloon trip, otherwise my rating would go up.
Definitely amazing to watch as you wonder how the plate balances and wobbles dramatically, but still stays on the cork ball. Game play is of interest for gaining physical information as to where the weight is distributed, but is really a spectacle and more of a two player standoff. But once the novelty wears off, the noise of the plate falling and the time spent picking the pieces up and getting the plate to balance becomes a chore. Gulo Gulo may have less emotional impact but has more of a game and less of a resetting job.
I had reservations getting this game, as it is mainly elimination to win, which for me is socially not a good game condition, so long as the ousted players aren't waiting too long for the next game. However, the hidden objectives and the fun the game seems to have generated overruled my concerns about elimination. Because all roles but the sheriff are secret, table talk becomes lively to determine who's who, which is a fun element. Being the sheriff also means suffering paranoia which is an interesting game situation. Alas, I should have trusted my instincts, despite the game play being interesting and fun. Now, not only is elimination an issue, but also downtime due to drawing and then playing of cards. Symbols on the card involves cross referencing(but once you get to know them play will speed up). (Also I'm finding, like the victims, with 4 players the game falls flat; you need at least 5 to introduce a deputy). I'm now considering a variant to speed up play: on your turn you either play or draw, but only draw if you have equal or less cards than life points. The other consideration is to introduce the special cards straight away as they may speed up the rate of elimination. I'm hoping these changes will salvage the game from the sale pile as I appreciate the theme and design.
Purchased to enhance Bang for 2 reasons: to allow eliminated players to rejoin temporarily, so as not to feel left out, and for the High Noon shootout to wrap the game up quickly. As you can tell I have issues with the base game and the expansion has helped only alittle. Until players are familiar with symbol effects, the game is slow and painful, especially for the eliminated. But the real pain is the drawing and evaluating at the beginning of a player's turn, this is such a terrible mechanic to use. This overwhelms a fun and strongly thematic game.
As with any good bank raid, it all depends on information and risk, aspects captured well in this design which I enjoy speculating about. One of the few genuinely fun games for two (I can't tolerate the chaos with more), in fact the mechanics and card play has alot of inherent personality. Turn options are determined randomly by tile draw which provides some tension and fun as to whether you will get to do what you want to do. Then there is the interesting play of where to place your card and what type, but here is where the confusion can undermine the game. Knowing the effects of the people cards is important, but soon makes sense and provides alot of humourous outcomes when the bank is robbed and the takings are resolved by in the fist bids. Very much a memory game of knowing what cards you have played, which have gone by and what maybe left, though not perfect information as one player will have some cards left. This is helped by an easy remembered card distribution. Theme is abit dodgy though.
Mechanically similar to Adel Verpflichtet, but the mental processes in playing Basari is more left brain i.e. point evaluations. Deduction of what your opponents will do is alittle long winded, as is resolving shared needs by bartering of gems, whereas AV does it far smoother. Game play is more fiddly here, with the tedium of round scoring thrown in. Sure, Basari is more emotionally friendly, but is also less fun.
Reminds me of Traumfabrik (without the potential of imaginative humour, though the player names are fun) with a dose of High Society and a couple of rule breaking powers thrown in. Strange that this was played on the same night as Hameln which should have been dripping with theme but mechanics didn't help, yet in Baseketboss, even though you don't play any matches, it summarises the feeling of a season well. Like basketball itself is a little repetitive and not that much fun.
Caesar and Cleopatra lite. First play and I felt I lacked information to plan effectively against my opponent. Maybe there are too many face down cards or we don't share a draw pile. More probable that I didn't play enough effect cards. Over the years of having been fed the mechanic play a card THEN draw a card, it's difficult to stomach the reverse of this mechanic. (More so when you have to draw two, as in this game). This is for several reasons: card drawing is emotionless (there is no speculative anxiety of being forced to play without knowing what you may draw); there is pacing problems in that new text cards are read at the beginning of your turn (this stretches out your play, and your opponent doesn't have new cards to consider during your turn). Until this mechanic can be remedied, I don't feel inclined to play again.
Unusual dexterity game in which you bid on a piece for it's stability worth when adding to an unstable construction. The thing is that it is a game you need to play often to get the experience as to how stable a piece is. My problem is that I never felt inclined to play many games. Still more substantial than Jenga.
Convoluted turns means that (unless gamers are up to speed) this really is only a 3 player game, as there is a bit of downtime. This is more unbearable if there is no trading for there is nothing much of interest for non-turn players. A game of buying and selling at a profit with earnings secret, so is an invisible race of going backwards and forwards to amass the most, so only for those who want to monitor transactions and working out where to make the most of your finances. Still retains and expands on the novel and interesting problem of fixed hand arrangement of Bohnanza but loses the latter's accessibility.
Several playings of this "final?" instalment of Knizia's "Trilogy of Narrative Tracks" (Rings and Marco Polo being the other two), and I can't think of any auction game I've played over the years with this much sitcom and tension; the cause of these experiences is the "Blackjack" style card flips when taking risks. This emotional element alone gives me the desire to play again, despite some initial lacklustre playings (introduce the advance money rule ASAP, as this add more interest in picking treasures and the cashup at game end provides a hopeful catchup in fame). There is some subtlety in decisions and card counting to determine your hand strength in various "episodes" and when to exert or throw in the towel. I also feel the game play and theme works too. Despite the linear fixed feel, there is replayability as I gradually pick up the subtleties and make better calculations. Update: Unfortunately, this hit the trade pile because in the end it is difficult to think back over the adventure as to where you went wrong or did well.
First play with 4 and my first impression is maybe there is too many secret and control issues for my taste.
Like an inverse of For Sale, plays in 2 phases: a draft followed by an auction. First issue could be overcome by having an idea of the deck distribution, as I didn't know what my chance was of drawing a good card in the draft, feeling very unlucky to put a single gold in the hand. However this uncertainty in compounded by 7 random cards removed at prep and only 3 of 5 cards drafted are revealed. The former I can cope with, the latter uncertainty increases with less players.
The bidding phase may reveal how much players are interested in a revealed card (drawn from a pile created from the draft) but again only if they are familiar with the deck. You are bidding to get a majority in any of the suits to claim that coloured die with the face up pip count as vps. Yet there are cards that can modify the values either up or down, so here is where I have a control issue especially if you have previously bidded hard for that colour only to have it changed.
So either I have to play again with less or lighten up, but I felt I was playing a hybrid of High Society and Katzenjammer Blues which I feel both would provide more tension, theme and fairness in the time to play Biblios.
It's been a long time between games and I always enjoy the playing. Each game is visually different and a delight to see at game end. As for game play, there are moments when you have to hold off building in order to score big. Then there's the uncertain tension that someone will thwart your plans with placing a streetcar/factory/park across your desired plot. It has my favourite scoring method, similar to Scrabble. Best with 3 as 2 is anticlimatic and 4/5 has too much chaos/downtime. Have to play this more often.
Apples to Apples style play with a fiddly game element thrown in, which almost works. As with Once Upon A Time, needs imaginative and extravert personalities to prevent play from falling flat and feeling uncomfortable. Now purchased the semideluxe version.
First play with 3 which was an interesting exercise of sequencing your limited actions in order to advance your vp holdings. First to pick the action in a round gets a repeat action (where have I seen that before), such as putting 2 cubes (babies) on tiles which have multiple functions, with your placed cubes giving you certain abilities. Can't help thinking this is Puerto Rico inspired, but at least this is a textless, interactive,shorter and spatial sequencing experience. (Also a medieval theme came to mind re: the gameplay, rather than an Atoll way of life). Gameplay is fragile to kingmaking (personalities). Three players feels unsatisfactory, whereas with 4 will provide more placement competition and make elections interesting.
One solo play, aim being to get all the pieces on the grid. Tactically similar to Cathedral in that getting your bigger shapes on first helps (in Blokus you are rewarded for placing the single square piece last), but it appears the overall strategy is to aim for the centre so that you won't be squeezed in your corner. So if all players use the same attitude, the games will spatially feel the same (though not necessarily the same visually); there is no randomising game mechanic to increase replay value, only the decisions made by the player(s) to make a different experience. Once you are blocked out of the game, I'd imagine it would be painfully slow to hang around for the next game.
I'm not a fan of the CCG genre not only because of the marketing but also the knowledge of card effects to play well and the downtime involved in play reading and learning; neither am I into exploring fantasy worlds (I prefer the real world). But this is a Knizia design (my favourite designer) and it is highly regarded, so I had to give it a go. One play in, already there was a growing realisation of the thematic strength of the Vulca in the fire element. This seemingly biased problem in the game intrigued me as to how deal with it in the next game, and the fact there are only 30 cards in an Alien race to consider,this geek approach should be limited. Also this is a rare Euro game in which the game play is more involved then end of game scoring, always a plus for me. What is a nice touch is that you get a brief background to the Blue Moon mythology instead of it being forced onto you, and you learn more as you examine the alien cards text. The second game was quick, making it good candidate for lunchtime sessions with further exploration. However even with 30 cards the distribution is too detailed to be offputting for me to play with loved ones. Maybe the Blue Moon City game may make me revisit this card game.
Mentally, I enthusiastic with the design as it has many elements I look for: the deck distribution is uniform so easy to remember, winning condition is "first to" (placing a set # of cubes) which is visually monitored; each game is randomly laid out so this and cards picked keeps the game play different and refreshing. For such a relatively simple gameplay there are subtleties to explore: hand card management (speculating and discarding), cube management and the subgame race for dragon scales as an alternate route to pick up crystals. Update: I don't know, I think emotionally I'm starting to go cold on Blue Moon City. The fantasy theme is offputting, explaining the game and the card effects is offputting but the cooperative involvement in building can be more offputting as there can be kingmaking situations.
When I got back into games in '96-'97, my attention was drawn to this dice game by Sumo, Game Cabinet etc, all declaring it a classic. I've introduced it to family and friends with 50% liking it, the rest indifferent. I've recently been playing with gamer friends, where Bluff is often requested. So the problem with the game is that it is a probability exercise that some casual players can't (or don't like to) work out the odds; and yet if you don't do the maths you don't get the fun of the pressure of a bid or the surprising odds of rolling six "1's" out of seven dice. The bidding tends to be the same from game to game, especially if using the re-roll rule, which elevates the drama. The elimination is another niggle, but with the house rule of not losing your only die to exact bids helps players stay in longer. Probably the ultimate abstract dice game (i.e. simultaneous rolling, players interested in what others may have been rolled), appreciated by those who enjoy calculating the chances. Rating reflects playing with such personalities, though it can't go any higher due to the elimination factor.
I've played this a few times and I'm left wondering why it is highly regarded. I think I can put it down to the fact the game is attitude dependant to make it enjoyable. I found it a little mechanically repetitive, and the trading can be a little long winded. It may benefit from once around trading like Res Publica. But Bohnanza has a bitter pill to swallow: if no one wants to trade for the two middle cards that you don't want to plant, you're forced to reap at a low rate. I guess that is where part of the fun lies for some. I like the frustrating "fixed hand,play from front" rule and the conversion of beans to money mechanic (utilised better in Klunker).
First half play so I'm still on the subs bench, but an interesting way to portray attack and defence, with an internal narrative and imaginative shots at goal lacking in most of the soccer games I've played. Like to play a full match but the constant Bohn sponsorship grates a little.
Update: well one full time game and I'm impressed how well this puts across (oh dear) the feeling of a soccer match. There's dribbling, passing heading at goal, fouls etc all done fluidly via the card play which in itself is interesting as card counting seems to be a viable tactic/strategy. Also played the partners variant which doesn't seem to work as it is difficult for the passes to connect when the cards are divided into two hands, and lacks drama with the referee cards removed.
The novelty here for trick-taking fans is that the trump card is the one with the face value below and nearest to the current value of the bottle. The winning card sets the new value of the wooden bottle which goes to the winner of the trick. A refreshing and tense game of risk taking of avoiding the bottle as holding it at round end subtracts your score, determined by the value of cards discarded at round start. Rewards players who know the card distribution and memorises cards passed and played. Point swings can be huge, so maybe best to play in rounds rather than first to a target score. Personally I prefer this with 3 players, and so occupies that rare niche, however it has since been undermined by Cosmic Eidex for staying power. The new edition has the beautifully carved wooden bottle, bold illustrations and brief storyline on the cards.
Dull roll die and move your agent (and activated dog and guard)mechanic, with the excitement coming from the timer countdown gadget. Played twice with two but suspect it would be more chaotic (fun) and tense with 4 players. Not bad, very strongly and co-operative themed but lacks replay value once you have beaten the game. No doubt the kids will really like it. If only cards were used instead of dice...
1st playing with 4. I'm not fond of games with all the information visible; I like secrets and surprises, not chess like gaming experiences. So this did little for me: experiencing initial confusion as to the consequences of my actions and what plans my opponents were forging; I'd admit there was tension when I was concerned my plan of stopping a mass exodus would be thwarted. With so many options open to me I was lost, and I relied on intuition. Only when there was only about the left side of the board to resolve that actions became limited and clearer. Sadly the theme was too dull to draw me in, and scoring status too fractured and too scattered to evaluate, so not a game I'd to wanting to play again.
A bit of downtime with assembling the bucket pyramid and I'm finding the persistent adding up element interferes with the pace (playing more than 1 card doesn't help). All this makes the game lose it's fun atmosphere and it overstays it's time on the table. From a competitive viewpoint, as you can only effectively attack the person to your left, if you notice that someone else is leading there is nothing you can do but hope that the "pain" gets passed along. It's partially fun to see the "domino" effect of the removed bucket, but I guess it is a certain mindset which have forced higher ratings of the game. Best with 4, avoiding the first eliminated twiddling their thumbs. Now played the smaller reissue which has better and less cards, less buckets to stack and includes the "anticlockwise" variant. So this version is less painful and more fun.
Eye-mouth speed game with players being eliminated for 3 wrong calls; player to rid their card pile or last in wins. The fun comes from seeing the player slowly realise their call is illegal, self-contradicting a strong, relatable intent. So the play is a damned if you do/damned if you don't situation. As the game progresses, the eye-mouth co-ordination becomes more challenging, with your tongue in your mouth not working efficiently. Often my strategy is to hang back until others eliminate themselves, but this backfires against experienced players. Watch out for the player with the competitive attitude, assessing the easy placements before turning over their card. With more players means alittle harder at times to hear who called first. Very good fun for the occasional play with at least 4 players.
Thematic and fun game of simultaneously voting victims with guns at heads, with bluffing as to whether your gun is loaded or not; being shot means you don't get a share of money in that round. Roleplaying personalities will induce the belly laughs and to keep the rounds fresh, as the experience is alittle repetitive. Nicely packaged with variants worth exploring to get more mileage out of the simplistic play(playing the special powers makes some of the standoffs interesting). Fits the rare niche of being ideal for 6 players, with little downtime; my only gripe is the elimination (which is short lived) and the resolution of standoffs and money division is fiddly and hiccups the experience.
First play of course with the starter 'deck' and though not as strong thematically as 1960, I would pick this for a political duel not only for the shorter playing time and ease of play, but mainly for the novel and exciting way the votes are tallied. However my first game was a close fought campaign and found the vote strips didn't make it easy to determine how close the difference was. I would have liked channels in the tally board when they went all out to make the states unnecessarily chunky.
I like how you can pace the play by choosing weak or stronger scoring states to match the strength of your hand, so interested in the drafting aspect.
Being a simple dice game, suffers from downtime as you can roll often, while others watch on. Some may handle being a spectator whilst the roller takes several turns, deciding on how to split into desired numbers. Exxtra does it easier and quicker for the same effect, and the desired results can be easily anticipated, promoting the tension in a competitive mind; in Can't Stop, the probability of rolls and evaluation of risk is more involved, which may be of interest for some.
The inevitable analysis paralysis of the pie cutting mechanic from San Marco has become palatable for me in this 2 player version. May feel samey after a few plays, but interested to play more of this bidding game.
A hybrid of Ticket to Ride (contract scoring and drafting) and Steam (power selection, track building and cube delivery to score), though wonder if the card drafts are too chaotic for the amount of thinking involved. As there is no competition for routes not as tense or exciting as TtR, though because you can draw build cards from the top of the deck Canal Mania is marginally better than Steam as there is some tense uncertainty. However the cube delivery system is bland compared to the coloured cubes to destination which creates an interesting puzzle.
One interesting innovation is the seeding of the goods cubes is done via card drafting, so adds more incentive to either pick up or discard. Theme is refreshing and educational.
I can't think of a better intro to the trick-taking genre (especially for young families) than this one. I like the fact there is no negative scoring, only blocking or going back to the cave if you misjudge your bid in the waterfall section, instilling essential hope for trailing players. Best with 4 to hopefully disperse smaller movement, and we skip the shaded rounds to speed up play. Playing with more than 4 makes the game overstay its welcome, and the expansion Grand Canyon may be a better option.
Played with 4 and not sure if this expansion would be better with more. You have boulders to create bottlenecks, rapids to speed up movement and the character action cards which influence the card play. Tactically more interesting than the base game, but there is some elements of nastiness, as well as some downtime as players pick their character for the round.
Personally, I find this game shares the same syndrome as Lost Cities in that the game play is enjoyable, but determining player status requires maths gymnastics and the climax of scoring is an overlong, dull chore. My other experience niggles are that: A) the pace of the game tends to become inverse (from quick to slow) as the options to place a tile increases (a limiting border as in TaYu/Entdecker would help), neither does playing with more than two players or the original rule of picking a tile at the start of your turn speed up pace. B) to help in making an informed decision you have to speculate on the remaining distribution of tile types and configurations which isn't uniform and so difficult to commit to memory.But these objections contradict the popular experience of the game. What's the universal appeal? I guess it is the several mini scoring advancements and the satisfaction of completing a desired castle, road etc to get a scoring opportunity back. The other elements could be the creative expression and continually different designs the plays make. Could the greeness of the board be pleasantly calming?
Compounds the issues I have with Carcassonne: non-uniform distribution to commit to memory and so undermining informed decision making; prolonged scoring procedure; determining player status requires maths gymnastics.
The Good Doctor has put a much needed stranglehold on this runaway franchise in more ways than one: it's limited to 2 players (less downtime) and less tiles (shorter playing time, but shame the distribution isn't visually uniform), and more importantly there are boundaries (so limiting placement options as the game progresses). Despite such restritions there is the freedom of tiles only needing to match with the roads so less chance of being stuck with a bad tile, but does add some spacial thinking. Strangely in this Knizia design even the scoring has been cut back,you only need to monitor completed houses, roads and towers earn points (even the visually confusing "farms" have been substituted with easily sighted market icons). But......you can score incomplete features if you can land on such bonus markers placed along the scoring track. This is the most interesting element of play and really kicks the other Carcassonne titles back into the dark ages.
I'm not a fan of the system, but gave this standalone a go, mainly to get some insight as to the appeal of Carcassonne. This one I like because scoring is in 3 areas, though the mountain scoring has that same spatial problem as with farms in the original. Otherwise, the same issues exist as to what turns me off: your scoring meeple is generally a potential, which will either increase (or be limited) with value, and your scoring status is fractured by the # of meeples:in a nutshell, this is an experience which doesn't excite me. Neither does the labourious end game scoring, when I consider how elegantly it's resolved in the other tile placement game O Zoo Le Mio.
After a few plays I think my first impression of this game being a Chess/Adel Verpfichtet hybrid still holds: it has that mind reading aspect of what your fellow pirate(s) will do spatially as well as that "do you see what I see" move that you hope has been overlooked, common in open info abstracts; but it also has that fun missing in such bland designs such as the coincidental/situation comedy found in Hoity Toity. I'm unsure if I prefer the more control for manoeuvring in 2 players or the more fun and social competition with 3 (I think ultimately, 4 is chaotically frustrating). I love maps boards and I like the open colour coded status so it is easier to assess if someone is close to the target score.
After the worker placement mechanic comes the variant 'worker displacement' in which contested hot spots are resolved with die rolls. Being the wild west setting, thematically it fits well, however emotionally I think it's a step back from the original mechanic.
Firstly, seeing the 'hot spots' isn't easy with the overwhelming choice of placements and fiddly rules of building conditions and their relevant powers. For me it delays the tension associated with a space, but a bigger problem is the fact that the majority of spaces aren't for sole possession dilutes the feeling of the tug of of too many things to do but not enough actions.
Like Hare & Tortoise in play, with decisions of when to go forward without overstretching your card resources, otherwise you'll have to go backwards to increase your hand options. This is an improvement on H&T in firstly the board setup differs each game so evaluation isn't repetitive, and card draws randomise things allowing players of different abilities to enjoy the race. Best with 3 to 4 players to allow some of the dramatic leapfrogging, but I find with 3 actions each player has is one action too many, especially if card(s)are drawn intially or during a players turn, which leads to evaluation. This is a shame as determining player status is visual, which I like in a game. However I tend to find that once you are behind and you see gaps appear in the corridors, you start to lose hope which unfortunately isn't short lived in this game.
Almost Bohnanza like feel in collecting limited portfolio set to then trade in for money. Alittle fiddly, with money transactions and sorting creating a hiccup in gameflow. I feel Queen games missed out on a marketing opportunity of using the latest advances in scratch & sniff technology. Unfortunately, the noisy bell was omitted in both games, which I feel subtracts some of the fun out of the session.
The moulded pieces i.e. wood and drumsticks plus the artwork seems more evocative than Robinson Crusoe, plus the bookkeeping seems more fluid and evocative; however the exploration phase of pushing your luck expands your turn maybe by too much to be entertaining for other players, so maybe best as a solo venture, besides there seems to be some backstabbing. I also like the deck building/card exchange narrative. I think I can see the influence of Agricola on the mechanics.
First trip out with 4 and I think I can side with the general consensus that 6 is at least the bare minimum to play with, as it isn't that interesting with only 2 in each association to work out who your partner is; although one player was in the dark for half the game, as her partner had known one was batting for the other side and the supporting behaviour of the other player gave some indication of his allegiance. Confusing? So was this game, despite not using the occupations as I've now learnt to keep things short and simple to allow a reasonable good first impression. Thankfully following the author's advice to only use certain number of objects had no reference to the occupations, but still the game has such much text effects that unless played with the same 6 players willing to explore the subtleties in trading and in fighting over the various effects of the objects, there will be no one lining up for a coach ticket.
Enjoying this on Yucata, so can elaborate since my 1 face to face play.
A gamers version of bingo? Feels like it, as a random number (1-6) indicates tile placement, however being a game there are elements that modify the number value. Also tile placement is generally a 2 step affair: firstly drafting a hex tile (according to die roll or modified) onto one of your 3 vacant (off the board) spaces, then secondly from one of those spaces onto the board filled with hexes of different colours and die face values. Your placement is restrained by matching colour of hex, die roll or modified and next to an already placed hex. The game even comes with various board with different configurations of the hex colours and numbers....Bingo anyone?
I think what really makes this game addictive is the gratification of filling in areas of the same colour, a visual set collecting motive as the last placement in the area scores vps (variable depending on number of hexes) but filling all the (sometimes scattered) areas of the same colour gives an endgame bonus. So like bingo there is the drive to fill your board in, but as it is a gamers version there are synergies and kickers to fill in the board quicker (generally as you roll two dice you only have 2 actions per turn). Thankfully there are no kickbacks in the game only unlucky rolls which can't be modified, and there is little interaction except denying an opponent a valued tile from the draft. So a safe choice to play, but I feel the face to face had bloated turns and the scores are too for my taste.
*Generally in most game designs players will know well before their last turn where they stand (unless vps are kept secret such as in E & T) so robs most of the players of the excitement.I think one main reason why Settlers does it for me is that there are a few elements which makes the game less likely to be anti-climatic than any game design I have played before or since.
Resource holdings are secret, so there is tense uncertainty (unless you have memorised the transactions) whether other players will overtake you in the vp race, which incidently is kept at a simple and visual level.
But the clincher is the dice which in their nature provides hopeful swings in fortune or devasting schaudenfreude. The use of the commonly rolled "7" has been used to great effect to put risk filled fear in the leader from hoarding and also the robber as another mechanic to try and level the playing field, in a thematic way.
So the tension of declaring the 10th vp is often in doubt until the right resource is secured in a trade, the vp development card is drawn or worse you have accummalated more than 7 resources and fingers crossed no-one even yourself that a 7 is rolled. The development costs menu means that an internalised narrative of needs is established cranking up the climax.
Once you start using the tactic of placing big pieces first, and because of the limited space and number of pieces to place, games tend to be the same (especially if your opponent employs the same tactic); at least Blokus has more scope of variability. Your spatial strategy flexes to what pieces your opponent plays. Dry with no tense uncertainty unless you hope your opponent doesn't see and relate to your next intended placement.
First play with 5 went over the two hour mark as we grappled with the round of play structure, which has some novel but fiddly aspects. However, several rounds in, this became second nature and you could focus alittle better on what you should be doing and more importantly, what order. Like Puerto Rico, this is a sequencing of actions style of game to generate vps. I actually prefer this over PR functionwise in that the play is centralised (rather than sprawled and inaccessible), actions are translated into icons (though alittle small and browns and purples clash) which I gradually found self explanatory at a glance, with no ponderous text reading, except with player aids. Playwise this is better in that there is more competition for desired actions and so there is greater tension for me. Will play again, probably with less players. However, I can't see the appeal lasting as there is no random element in each round, except the dry uncertainty of where your opponents will place their workers.
Unlike Knizia's Great Wall card game and Teuber's Settler's variant, my first play gave a good feeling of building the Great Wall. As we had a few "tongue depressors" left over and game end, I think we played sub optimally, so worth another go. I doubt it will raise in ratings for me for despite the variability of the boards placed, it doesn't change the static linear look of the wall (so as to keep the Mongols out) but instead just changes the numerical values, so it has no real visual replay value such as the variable set up in Settlers etc.
Update: Recent play and I still find it fun in a scheudenfreude way (thankfully tempered by blind draws), but I feel the end game scoring (as always) lacks drama so may consider first to compare piles the smallest being scored zero and the next tallest scoring the difference. Then work out the majorities, so pen and paper may be required.
Not so typical push-your-luck style game in that not only do you wish to take another turn to make gains at the risk of losing all amassed in your turn, but there is the additional incentive to take another turn to protect your gains from being "stolen". This is because the chips gained when you choose to stop can be arranged on top of stack in any order, so probability decisions need to made as to how you should stack to reduce the stealing which in this game can be produce dramatic swings in fortune as well as schaudenfreude. Another element of interest is that as tiles get thrown back in the bag for bombing out, gradually the contents of what's left consolidates and the probability decisions become easier. Interesting and fun for such a simple ruleset.
Imbalanced unless players are of same skill (which to improve means whittling away your life reading and recording matches), but also rewards aggressive play. This is really a game to display how clever you are and your status in the world. I can only endure this with a chess clock set at 5 mins each, no time for determining the optimum move, and besides mistakes can be made, giving me hope. Still I appreciate the interesting problems the pieces pose in the quest of trapping the king.
I really don't have any knowledge of how the financial world works, but I like how the share system is implemented in this game: money from the shares auctioned goes into a fund which helps finance the building of the same coloured rail network. Building the network into cities and adding 'city developments' increases the value of the shares, which at various times in the game reward the shareholders some more income. I like the way this interesting environment has been implemented very smoothly and simply. Yet really the networks all start in one corner with the focus of heading for Chicago in the opposite corner, so no physical variety. The only changes are mentally mathematical whereas I rate high replayability on refreshing physical setups (Settlers, Africa) or changes in hand contents.
First play with 2 and found simply entertaining though alittle repetitive. Movement is memory dependent so you'll have some players stalling and others rushing around a track (illustrated with some dark humour). My brain, even with only 12 tiles to choose from, was "scrambled" by the gameplay. The visual chasing for rump feathers is charming and with the right attitude, is an addictive adrenaline charge. Since played with 4 which is more interesting.
One trademark of German games are the unusual and novel scoring systems and here is one that doesn't work for me: a fully occupied region awards varying values according to majority presence-yes, I admire its novelty but it is the number crunching that I'm forced to consider (though I guess I could just place for a presence, so ease up on the left brain activity). More addition, in that a player with a majority presence in adjacent areas scores a varying value. Simple and clever, but what happened to fixed values for us non-accountants (sob). China then throws in multiplication (one difference from Web of Power) when you place a fotress. When player status is a maths exercise and the values are so opaque, there is no sense of race for me. Guess this isn't my cup of chai.
This is the liveliest Alea title I've played, more so than Traders of Genoa. Although the beauty of Chinatown over ToG is that trade off's are more obvious, deals are still freeform in that money, unplaced businesses and vacant plots can be negotiated and I don't have the maths brain to determine if I'm getting a fair deal or not....that's why only resources trading in Settlers is still the most accessible and the most fun.
I've played a few of the "push your luck" style games, but for me this still stands as the best after now 10 years (sheesh). Most of the other designs rely on dice (Can't Stop, Exxtra, Pickimino, Cloud 9), so one reason why Circus is better is there is increased skill of probability assessment with the card deck in determining if you will be blowing out your turn in the pursuit of gain, instead of the more lucky roll of the dice. Circus has the same sitcom fun and groans when someone makes or breaks on their turn, but the card game heightens the tension due to the inherent set collecting commentary: my adrenalin kicks in when I see or draw a card for either a trio or finishing the game on a gala (which is more possible in a 3 player). Also the action cards provide some catchups, further groans and tension as well as an added incentive to push your luck. With dice there is the problem of spectator status but with cards non-turn players have to be attentive to do well by anticipating or pursuing a desired card from a player. What more can you ask for, except a push your luck design for 2 players or for more 5 (Diamant didn't work for me in the latter regard)? Like I say one of the best of it's type with only Beowulf coming close.
Originally played Ohne Furcht und Adel with 5 and 6 players, so language accessibility and quick game pace wasn't there for me. 3 years later and playing this version with 4 was an improvement, but still suffers from the downtime feeling due to most of your evaluation being enforced on your turn rather than during the turn of others. You really don't have much to consider except the district values of your opponents. So this really is a social/lunchtime game which allows casual talk and eating to pass for entertainment, which isn't too bad a thing. I love the game play which is simple and smooth. In some ways I prefer this method of role selection (rather than the way it is used in Puerto Rico) as not only is there deduction and bluffing, but with 4 players causing 3 characters to be put aside, evaluation of what's available in each round is less repetitive. Now have played with 3 which is no better, but with 2 players this game truly shines, with less downtime. The assassin is less of an issue, and the discarding of characters introduces bluff and double bluff. But my brain needs two things to take this game over the 7 rating: a scoring track to take the strain off counting individual coins (why not numerals)and a memory/deduction aid to cope with recording and chaotic resetting of character selection (I much prefer the permenant role selection in Bang, then you can focus on other things).
Unfortunately, I found that the effort in thinking out your actions is undermined by the only 2 chaotic subsystems: the speculative nature of the Voice of the People and the order and sometimes lockup of the Political cards. Coupled with the fiddly counting of citizens and comparing the coloured arches makes the game a bit of chore, despite the tension involved.
Update: First play face to face and not only is the Deutsch a hurdle for smooth entry, but the scoring after each play really breaks up the rhythm, with stuttering accounting. The only way I can see to pick up the pace of scoring is firstly a new card is offset from your tableau, then with the running total from the previous turn add the score of the offset card plus any bonus for the symbols etc. Likewise with the $ adding previous total etc. But is it worth the trouble?
Playing solo a lot at the moment (aim for 50+ vps after round 7 or 8-determined by a coin flip).
For me it is a design in which you emotionally learn to let go of valued cards in order to progress; the 'discard to pay' is a angst filled mechanic, two-fold not only in having to discard a high scoring card/combo but there is the possibility of the discard getting into someone elses hand.
First impression with 5 players (yes I know that's illegal): your alloted secret colour and tactic to score indistinctly is from Undercover, and the increasing epoch values and manner of clan reduction is from Atilla. The incentive yellow chips for scoring are familiar, but I can't place. But scoring by isolation is new to me. With 5 there was less deduction issues and less control, but it was still an enjoyable spatial problem solving exercise, though the number crunching is a worry. Another concern is that because the territory value increases are determined, you wonder if the clusters will appear in the same territories in every game, making the game play the same.
At last, someone like Knizia has streamlined the dice rolling combat mechanic seen in Risk, History of the World etc, so reducing the spectator feel. However, I find the theme of Gladiators doesn't appeal to me.
Route planning and money management game which I would have been happy with just the restrictive placement options and resulting costs and payouts. Plenty of right brain considerations especially with the limited number of route markers and ships to allow branching off, as well as the limiting number of routes permissable by the board lines and directions. What spoils it for me is the numerical values of the owned ports to add together as well as multiplying of the number of different coloured routes to that port. Too much left brain for me.
As with the Ra re-issue (Razzia), the Cloud 9 re-release has had some elements removed from the original to allow more certain probability assessment with no undermining and so a more palatable experience. No more pilot switch cards which could be used to leapfrog or target the leader but added too much subtlety and nastiness. The 'honest play' rule can force the powerful wild cards out prematurely due to a bad die roll; no more subtle lying confusing the experience, it's now all about probability and some risk of paying for the dice rolled. There is scope for some simple bluffing, though I feel the gameplay verbally and mentally repetitive, and I find that having an unbalanced spread of a few colours can unfairly make being a pilot too risky an option: maybe there should be a house rule that 3 of a kind can be used as a wild (which I'm sure was a rule in the original release). I thinking of introducing a draft of cards to overcome bad card drawa as well as adding some much needed information. More socially interactive than Montgolfiere, but the jumping out and sitting out of rounds and the scoring resolution makes Cloud 9 hover below Monty.
Over 10 years of playing Euros I've yet to come across a deduction mechanic as good as Clue(do). The original has flaw and the Supersleuth is nice but takes too long. The nice things about the electronic version is that it can be played by 2 players (lasting about 30 mins) and the electronics make it quite fun.
First play with 5 and after a few hiccups (poor notetaking method, ambiguity of interpreting clue conditons and confusion with tile colours and symbol frequency) it was an interesting exercise. However, as with Sleuth I'm not a fan of the programmed questioning which although speeds up the thinking by doing some of it for you, I still like the interrogation system in Cluedo, which you can try to use to your advantage (and the freeform nature in Mystery of the Abbey). Also my tastes for theme is stronger nowadays. I'm now wondering if Hanabi may be a speedier and exciting deduction for 5.
In my first game, the spies took backstage as I got to grips with the mechanics involved in manipulating groups, which in itself is an interesting problem to solve: this part is like blackjack with a variable threshold and variable number of cards to achieve it, coupled with the cards allowing discarding, stealing/giving etc. Though Twilight Struggle has a more historically specific narrative, the group aspect is not without a story, though told simply and with archetypes such as the Mafia in Cuba paying off the militia, or the infantry seeing off the students etc. In the second playing, the effects of the spies come to the fore and adds a psychological depth to the above proceedings. So in this regard Cold War feels more like espionage than in Twilight Struggle. In fact this game may well be my favourite release of this year. My only concern is mechanically it is a little bit lather and rinse and I feel that until you get used to the subtlies it is best to play first to 50 as to 100 makes it abit of a stretch.
Has the similar feeling to Ra in that do you go for what's on display or draw a card in the hope to either contaminate another player's holdings (which are visible) or improve your options or takings on your next turn. So part of the sit-com fun is from drawing a card which dramatically stuffs your opponent(s)or benefits yourself. (Unless you do the maths of each player's holdings, card flipping becomes meaningless; there are more meaningful "push your luck" games out there such as Exxtra and Message to the Czar). Played once with 5 so maybe with less the following complaint won't be valid (and my rating may go up): the card drawing and subsequent options after looking at tabled holdings is enforced evaluation on your turn, which isn't good for game pace nor for those who have pulled out early. (At least with Ra, you draw, simply place and evaluate during other player's turns). There is no theme so it is strictly an escalation of numbers game.
This comes across as more of an interesting exercise in how to effectively communicate using a restricted menu of icons. Interesting in that sometimes afterwards you reflect on how could I have communicated better, so there is a mastery aspect which is the one of the main hooks to play again, as is the humour of the confusion being replaced by the 'obvious' once you know the answer. However, one issue is there is a hurdle for new players to get to grips with the meanings related to the icons, with referring to the cheat sheets slowing entry into the session, but a few plays makes it easy to overcome.
Similar gameplay as in Attacke and Alles Im Eimer, but suffers initially from a deck of diverse card effects to take into consideration otherwise all your oneupmanship can be dramatically reduced, sure it's fun but not when you're at the receiving end of your well thought out plan. There are some problems I have with Condottiere when compared to similar designs:1) flexibility of choice makes for slow rounds, whereby in Attacke etc you have to follow colour or fold; 2)when you're out of cards early, be prepared to sit out for some time 3) tabled values can vary dramatically, and so there is continual re-evaluation, reducing pace. My complaints are levelled at a 6 player session, the game maybe better with at least 4, but I'd rather play AiE etc for similar emotional outcomes in a shorter timeframe. Rating may improve with less than 6 players.
Interesting mental workout for trick taking partnership fans in which there is Mu-like auctions to win rule-warping cards playable for that hand. Also reminds me of Tin Soldier, but not as fun, and I'm not a big fan of big point swinging scores when Sieben Siegal and Canyon keeps the race tighter and simpler.
Played this in the summers of my teenage years with fond memories. Now I find it too rule heavy with the powers and the maths involved in resolving conflict disrupts game play; maybe I'm getting old or my tastes have changed. Still I appreciate the design and replay value, but can no longer be bothered with it when there are far more better and family friendlier games around.
The second play brought into focus the importance of watching the money, as a coup with 7 coins is unavoidable and quite an aggressive move. Also I feel that the game benefits from a regular group/play so that the role effects are ingrained and so less likely to slip up with seemingly tell tale lying.
I can see newbies floundering among veterans because the former needs to grasp not only the game mechanics but also the metagame involved with the roles and how to best play or convincingly lie your way forward. So unless new players are willing to get over the hurdle of being easy targets and sitting out, then it is an interesting social game. Not a fan of the sci-fi branding, more interested in the political setting of G54. However as an introduction to hidden roles, I suspect Samurai Sword will be more accessible or if bluffing is more the groups thing then Cockroach Poker will be best suitable.
I noticed newbies such as myself floundering among a seasoned player because the former needs to grasp not only the game mechanics (and initial confusion of challenging and blocking) but also the metagame involved with the roles and how to best play or convincingly lie your way forward. So unless new players are willing to get over the hurdle of being easy targets and sitting out, then it is an interesting social game. Not a fan of the sci-fi branding, more interested in the political setting of G54, however it doesn't have the interesting factions. However as an introduction to this kind of game, I suspect Cockroach Poker will be best suitable.
Well despite a simple ruleset and having a traditional feel in the way cards are captured (or rather disposed), the card play is mainly freefrom and as such there is no intuitive guidance on tactics: definitely after the second game (with the correct rules) this is a card counting, number crunching and speculating venture. So this looseness and continual numerical assessment makes it too opaque (thanks Pat) and hard 'left brain' work for the casual player (though the cards are nice and theme feels there), and the following game of Jaipur highlighted this impression.
Update: another play reveals some interesting elements underneath the simple mechanics but the maths still overides the experience.
A box containing the "best" elements of various party styles, with a fairly quick circuit to the centre to win, much like Trivial Pursuit. Nothing refreshing nor really challenging, as you can almost deduce the answers of multiple choice. Provides a couple of hours entertainment, fun with the right group but will have limited replay value as there aren't that many trivia questions. I much prefer party games focussing on one style formated well, such as Times Up for charades, Taboo for verbal expression, Rapidoh for modelling etc as these are more challenging and twice as much fun in their frustration and ambiguity.
First play without knowing the position of my own croc values subtracts any planning, bluffing and deducing. These elements are sorely needed in this dry chess-like game in which each croc varies the length of the L-shaped knight move. At first this is an interesting spacial puzzles as you try to solve the problem of landing on your opponent's pieces, but the endgame soon becomes a repetitive dull stalemate. I much prefer Hoffman's Tally Ho!
Plenty of sit com and more playing reveals subtle scoring plays. Shame that sets aren't readily available over here in Australia. I'm finding this is ok for occassional play, abit repetitive and nowhere as exciting as fussball, which for some reason has been deleted from boardgamegeek.
First play: Beautiful artwork, components and gameplay provide a strongly themed time in the Caribbean. Many mechanics are familiar and engineered together for smooth, almost simultaneous play (unless you really want to follow what you opponents are up to): role selection and the order in which to carry out 1 of the 3 possibilities provides much of the decision angst, more so when the 1 role you can't play goes towards voting for control of rule breaking legislation which will hurt/benefit players. Such roles allow you to load ships for vps, or to dabble in the marketplace to sell and buy. One refreshing aspect is the activation of your plantation: you receive resources (for buildings) and produce (for shipping and the market) from the fields along row and column that your worker stands; erecting buildings on your plantation (to generate all kinds of production/vp/financial benefits) covers what you can harvest. So a game is laden with dilemmas and trade offs, and the brutal bribing for the votes can be anxious (if you lose you still cough up). But for my tastes there are not enough secrets on the island as all information is open, except for in-the-fist bids and what your opponents are thinking, so lacks the climatic reveal I like in most designs.
The deception continues....One play of the Da Vinci Code Game available in Australia, which seems to be a trimmed down version of the US D V Quest; in fact, there are only 3 playing pieces, which (deliberately?) is omitted from the box cover. In a way, limiting the game to 3 and to a circular track instead of the "window" track of the original should reduce playing time. So you have a target word to make with letters, which you are awarded for correctly answering multiple choice questions (sourced from the book, the movie or history). Like the book, interesting at first but the game overstays it's welcome with the frustration of drawing correct letter cards and relying on the die rolls to finish the game. Introducing a drafting mechanic would relieve some of the boredom but as it stands this is an archaic game system and terrible tie-in.
A rare dice game in which players roll simultaneously, reducing the spectator problem of most wurfel driven games. Some fun as players reroll and groan behind their "curtains" and exceeding opponents' expectations of the value of your two dance routines. Dice featuring feet try to convey the theme, when really you are translating the sum of 3 dice into a dance name. Offers light decisions such as reroll probabilities and which order to present your 2 dances per round, the "twist" here is roll low to get top billing or risk a lowly sum leaving you in the bottom half of the judging, losing endurance for your efforts. Interesting to see how it plays with 5 or 6 players.
I like the contradictory condition(seen in Knizia's Samurai) that even if you are scoring the most points, you may not be eligible to win without satisfying another condition. You can even be trailing and emerge victorious if everyone but you have had their dominant colour deduced; a refreshing slant on the sometimes hopelessness situation induced by the scoring track. And again there is the Knizia multiple opportunities of scoring points which keeps game play variable. Where the game falters for me is in the deduction aspect. It's executed well, but it is the deduction of numerical values (rather than the visual worth as in Cluedo) and so too much a left brain experience to be satisfying for me. Also cardback colour differences is such that I had to put them into protectors so advantages of discrimination could be reduced.
A trick taking novelty in which the low cards are quite powerful. Helps address a bad deal, however, the resolution of a trick goes against tradition, so causes confusion. Some players may not be bothered to overcome this aspect. My main gripe is that won cards become displays making evaluations unwieldy, and as in Schotten Totten, very competitive players may slow game pace towards the end as they deduce the best play. Hence I prefer playing with 3. Good sitcom as a player's high score is dramatically reduced.
With more players means you have to remember more when it comes to your turn, so the memory element can be so overwhelming. (But you need more players so that you don't start with many vampires). Then there are the situations where players have won by others mis"stakes". Can I say that the tactical blocking of the garlic can leave a bad taste in the mouth for some. Otherwise, there is some fun and tension from uncertainty of "what's in this crypt", and what you do find (Ahhh, garlic). All this has made this game popular.
First play with 4 (using the values Ace to 6) of this homemade next evolutionary step up from Sleuth. Evolutionary in that you aren't as restricted with questions incorporating a card value as THREE values are revealed. The most interesting (and progressive) aspect here is not only are you trying to deduce (using the common logic problems posed) the two cards put aside, but the info on these cards point to a "killer" card, the winning condition being to successfully find the player holding that card. Interesting exercise when kept short, but is too abstract for tastes, but the real stumbling block is the concept of wraparound values when determining the killer card value.
Initially the targeting of players and the gradual contradicting of laws provides some humour; but then the laws start to mentally confuse the consequences and the value of your coloured chips to an extent where the fun had gone and I didn't care about the result. And it has the archaic draw a card, spend time evaluating then play mechanic.
Firstly new players will have difficulty anticipating movement outcomes and best options due to an impossible to remember card distribution. The fact that other players can move your cars may be fun for some, but for those desiring control this is annoying.
A recent playing (with 4) has threatened its stay in my collection mainly due I think to the rule that explored cave cards (except the 2nd same disaster) are reshuffled before each round. As such this removes any speculative skill in deciding to progress or pull out and what I feel is the nagging conviction that luck undermines any deliberation. (This problem is highlighted when playing Zirkus Flocahti, a similar push your luck game whereby you go through the deck once, is more forgiving and which I'd much rather play with 4 than Diamant). The sitting out a la Cloud 9 bothers me alittle too as there is nothing active for the spectators to do except watch the sitcom. Diamant seems best with more than 4 as the divisions are smaller and there are richer pickings left behind. As with Hick Hack and Wyatt Earp there is that Jackpot payout which is wonderful drama. Yes I agree that the game is expensive for what it is, but I've yet to be convinced there is any better non-party filler for more than 5 players with little downtime. Don't see the similarities to Can't stop when for me this is simultaneous Ra for the masses.
I'm finding that it is necessary to enclose mines rather than large point scoring areas, as income is so important, otherwise your chances of doing well are diminished; without hope of making progress in a game of this length does not make a rewarding session. I find the gameplay tactical interesting (but unforgiving when mistakes are made), far better streamlined then Lowenherz (by removing the longwinded negotiation, and the sitting out your turn when squeezed out of getting an action). Whereas the predecessor was really a 4 player, Domaine is really a 2 player. With more than 2, if in a weak domain, chances are you'll be a logical target to be weakened further. Also your chances of getting an essential card are diminished.
Update: No, recent play of expansions has dimished the desire to play this game, player turns expand and become too confusing to maintain my interest.
For card counters, especially for the interesting aspect of trying to force a desired card into your hand, this is Nirvana, as there are cards that allow you to dig deeper as well as the means to purchase more of the desired cards. I like this aspect but Dominion fails to push me to the dizzy heights, mainly due to experience that as the game progresses player turns can expand beyond the 1 action and 1 buy at face value, so it can be a little heady to follow and monitor, but this feeling is from one play only. But would I play it again? Maybe, as I like to exercise the skill of tightening the deck contents. However the real problem is I would need to follow my opponent(s) collection of vps (in order to get a sense of a tense race) and this would be too much.
First play with 5, which appears not 'legal', however the session still highlights the issues I have with the series.
We had Militia on the menu but no defense card available so made me realise that effects can get out of hand, especially if you are not familiar with what some of the cards do, but the lack of theme/narrative does not grab me to invest learning.
But the main problem is that once a player starts performing more than 1 action, buy etc it seems easy to make mistakes, difficult to referee and frankly with so many effects taking place I start to disconnect from the long-winded proceedings.
Update: Surprisingly, plays on Yucata are enjoyable because the theme still shines through the mechanics and visuals. Still it is anticlimactic, now fired by Flashpoint, though maybe interested in Great Fire of London for a more historical feel.
Unfortunately, despite the strong theme, so far (3 games in) there is no smoke to mask who will win the game, which leaves the game anitclimatic. The first phase is interesting as you try and set yourself up to increase your population with the relatives rule, though the omen cards can unbalance placements. Just when you think you can get your folks in, the volcano blows aaah. Then we're into the 2nd phase which has mechanics conducive to downtime:- draw tile and move 2 guys. Unfortunately, I've seen situations where players have group their people which then gives godspeed to another player's occupying piece. Provokes sooty black humour as you toss victims into the mouth of the volcano(and we've never needed to look in for tie breaks), but ultimately doesn't light my fire.
Owned an unplayed Jekyll & Hyde version, but passed on as I realised the scoring is too mathematical for me and the mindset of my gaming environment. Finally got to play this trick taking novelty, in which half the deck belongs to the opposing partnership. This often makes for a tense situation of not wanting to be asked to play by an opponent or your partner (once the hierachy of the cards is internalised). But this quirky gameplay sometimes means a player will play more than once in a round, resulting in downtime for others or having no cards to play at all towards the end of a hand. Also there seems to be alot of luck involved for a game which provokes alot of thought. Still an interesting problem solving diversion and I like the bold artwork.
Did this game inspire Mr Schmiel's Tribune? This is simply the take-over mechanic involving various chicken characters in which you only have to play more cards of one type than your opponent, the game usually ending when one player has 6 or all 9 appear on the table. Deck distribution is indicated by the card value (a la Bohnanza), hence there is speculation as to getting a larger set in order to score the card value (not multiplied) at game end. Spouse friendly like Lost Cities, but although the unusual maths can detract from the subconscious tension, it is easy to resolve.
Circus Flohcati clone except this is more forgiving when flipping a duplicate colour: both discarded as well as those sandwiched, but you get to pick up all the previous flipped cards, hence the deck is depleted quicker (several rounds are played). Strangely this leniency is counterd by harsh card stealing, with 6 octupus cards (in the German version) allowing the player to instead choose how many random cards to take off a target player, success relying on a die roll, you fail if rolling a number less than stated or having the stealing backfire if -1 rolled. Scoring is similar to CF as only count the highest value, but get to that you have to sort out all the card. As a clone it overstays its welcome because it lacks the tension of missing a turn of picking a card, lacks the variable actions of stealing and flipping and strangely, and resolving the scores in CF is cleaner as colours and numbers in DDB are overpowered by blue and the values are on the card edge. You can't help but admire the fleas over the dog in this case.
This expansion makes a good game even better by introducing poo to make play more tactical as well as providing a catch up mechanism. But the big plus is that this is one of those rare games which can hold the attention of 6 players. Also the expansion box can hold all the contents of the orignal, making the game more compact and portable.
Aah, abstracts. Like country music, a genre I care less about as games are souless, often humourless affairs in which players can display mental superiority; honestly beyond the experience of interesting mechanics/problems, what is the real point to play apart from inner chest beating? With nil to little luck there is so much dependency on opponent(s) wits to be equal for any tense situations, with no random system to provide additional considerations and to level the playing field. Ok enough ranting, Dvonn has diminishing turn options so games are short, that you may feel tempted to give it another go. Me, I can't be bothered anymore; I want fun, theme, system challenges, tense standoffs etc......
A quick variant of Yatzhee in which you are allowed up to 3 rolls of the 4 dice, however you must "freeze" at least one die to roll again. So this already injects some agony as to which dice combination from a choice of 9 tiles to go for.
Unlike Risk Express whereby you have to select a tile before re-rolling, there is some probability decision making as to increasing your chances of getting a tile.
As in Risk Express there is also the option of 'stealing' a tile if you make the role so this rule raises vested interest in the victim, rather than being a passive spectator so often a problem with die-rolling games.
I still think Risk Express is marginally better as there is a set collecting which locks out any stealing (so there is a weaker sense of infinite die rolling than in EC, EG), and there is some kind of narrative theme provided by the pictorial dice.
But I think I'll still keep EC, EG in reserve as it plays well with 4, I like that the score is visual rather than computational as in Risk and the parent game Yatzhee, and the dice cup provides some drama in the "reveal" like in Bluff.
As the aim is to move your cards from your corner field to the opposite corner field of your opponent's, play is almost spatially the same. Play is also like playing card solitaire, at times you feel like a go-between playing "for" the game which has programmable moves. However there are some decisions mainly of the sequential kind as to which order to perform moves. There is a memory element as in forgetting what is covered can backfire on your intentions if card is revealed. Feels as though you are at the mercy of the card draws but there are tactics to employ such as covering up your opponent's cards to stop progress, which at times gets a bit fiddly.
Update: As my playing time is greatly reduced I feel any free playtime should be spent playing the more climatic predecessor Euphrat and Tigris
The victory condition of "weakest value scores" used in E&T has now expanded to 6 colours and made public. And this last change highlights the importance of visual status for better gaming experiences, elevating the game to dramatic swings in who's winning at the moment and can instill a competitive tension as you (and your teammate) try to push your straggling colours, whilst limiting the progress of your opponents weakest colours. So there are tactical offensive & defensive tile placements & when to take advantage of extra turns. One of the few abstracts I enjoy, but it can get nasty and alittle humourless but poses interesting problems. My rating is for 4 player partners as this situation means you have a dependency on your partner playing well or setting you up and as a result situations can get incredibly tense. Good 2 player lunchtime game, rating 7; with 3 two opponents reduces alot of control.
I enjoy this but find there is too much scope of nasty plays of frustrating your opponents. It then suffers of enforcing rethinking of optimizing cards held vs transportation counters placed, which increases downtime. This is a problem with 4 players which personally I feel is the ideal number. I'd be happier to play with the expansion.
Enjoyable, well-themed "adventure" game where knights move similar to the Sech Tage Rennen mechanic(but without cards),giving play a strategic feel. The moving and collecting of randomised face-up gold/gem cards makes for an interesting and unrepetitive puzzle: as the aim is to amass most points there is afew things to evaluate with such options as collecting the most of a particular gem. I can see such considerations causing some players to slip into analysis paralysis. The dragon movement mechanic and face-down cards adds humour and tension to the mix, which some players may feel contradictory and unfair. Scope for some nastiness but alleviated by the fact that a die roll determines outcome, as does giving the dragon gold to prevent being eaten. Best with 3 players
Mechanically spot on with the theme, yet fencing is spatially repetitive of just moving back and forth. Skill of thinking which best card(s)to play involves not only memory of cards played but also thinking of probability of card numbers drawn and consequent game outcomes.
Endeavor has some familiar Euro mechanics cleanly implemented with the interesting problem of trying to maximise your meeple power. A continual problem for me though is that I can't get excited when the scoring status is so scattered and fragmentary. Another strike against the design is there is no hidden information to promote uncertain tension. The other offputting element is the attacking is too easy to carry out (so long as you have enough meeples) and there is no means of defence so your mental considerations feel wasted.
Touted as the next step up after Settlers....hmm don't think so, it doesn't have any inherent fun.
The added elements in the new Entdecker make for an interesting variant.Sadly with more than 2 players, rating goes down as the game play promotes spectator status and can reduce the game to being little boring if it wasn't for the sometimes funny sit-com tile draws.
This card game encourages the tactical decision to play clusters of the same card value, not only to increase the amount of penalty points to pick up but also to increase your odds of drawing an increase of values to match those in your hand. So obviously all this increasing in values warrants the theme of keeping up with the Jones'. But keeping up is difficult if you can't draw the cards in the process, and this is glaringly the case when playing with more than 3 players. So with this limit, I can think of better card games such as Trendy in which you have a choice of cards to play from your hand based on speculating on which colour will be played based on a uniform formula of the card distribution. The manifest in Escalation is so unusual (though it can be memorable) that the skill in card counting will take more time than to play.
This is a wonderful marriage of mechanics and theme providing escapism. Just wish the gameplay was interesting when it wasn't your turn.
Recently revisited the Schloss playing the owner's Goosestep variant of playing in 60 mins, within which there is an imposed time limit of 20 secs for the German player. An under-utilized theme which sadly still has last century's gameplay, definitely needs an update as it is still fun when not taken too seriously as well as being tense and atmospheric, being one of the best 'chase' games.
What attracted me to this game was not only the scoring track, but also possession of the buddha doubles vps, providing an interesting catchup mechanic to play for. However, part of the gameplay is similar to Bohnanza in that you negotiate with players over 2 sources of supplies. Trades in Eschnapur are more freeform than Bohnanza, yet I don't really enjoy either of the two styles as there is some evaluation involved. (In Settlers trades are more simplistic). Negotiation games depend on player attitudes to make them quick fun or a repetitive drag. On first play with 5 this was chaotic, more so when players are also allowed to purchase other supplies at any time. Second play with 4 with initial Res Publica style trading made things alittle smoother. Despite a better second outing, the game has too many random aspects with various elements added to offset this, such as the buddha, resulting what feels a very convoluted resolution of mechanics. Also there were moments of frustration as players paid to compete, only to fall short for victory points via the flipping of chips or bidding for vps.
I started to reduce my rating since it's been a long time when I last played. However, playing on-line with the "geek" version reminded me what I love about this game: it is an angst filled puzzle in trying to get a better balance than your opponents. Most of the agony comes from not knowing for sure what scores and tiles lie behind your competitors screens. At present, the only gamer's game I really enjoy.
First play with 6: a decent political simulation, with interesting knock-on effects to consider. I don't mind manipulating the minds of others, but not when it's the main game mechanic for at least 90 mins. Here you are so dependent on the favours of other players, whereas I'm happy to suffer consequences from the game system rather than from players; I don't find "Survivor" type maneouvring that entertaining. Maybe if secret ballots were held, I might warm to the game.
Impression on 1st play with 4: Best with 3 to reduce spectator time during movement and bidding phases (although latter complaint may change with one less gene than players).As not all the genes and Event cards come into play, tactical considerations will differ in each game and so there is replay potential. The experience for some was marred by: some confusion over the terrain colours with the terms hot and cold zones, the direct intent in conflict and die results. The meteor game ending mechanic with the scoring status on show is a simple delight. The clear and simple rules are a joy. So far the best dinosaur game I've played, but shame it's not educational.
Firstly the rating is for 3 players, as the problem I'm finding in dice games is that when it's not your turn, unless your interest is that of a referee or as a competitive spectator who's receptive to the drama or humour payoffs of the rolls (the intrinsic quality I love about dice games), the game will be a dull, non-engaging affair. So in Exxtra, for me more does not mean merrier. Another aspect which can diminish the enjoyment is when a player's tactical play involves rolling numerous times (although Reiner's touch is incorporating a threat of the "x's" moving you back and ending your rolling, a simplification and so an improvement over Can't Stop). Of course the other out of turn players can enhance the session by trash talk etc. Still, Exxtra is one of the best abstract dice games I've played, though the perceived nastiness of knocking players off the scoring ladder (at least it causes score stasis rather than going back as imposed by your dice roll of 'x') may cause a negative vibe if not played in that kind of spirit.
A refreshing subject matter (hereditary influence)in which game play matches the theme very well. You try and boost your hidden character trait (as in this authors other design- Clans) and choke the undesirable characteristics via marriages and offspring card plays. The real problem is at game end you lose points for your trait depending the number you have in your hand.
Played this online (http://www.fwend.com/sevens.htm) as I was interested in Big Top. Well you are stuck with what you have been dealt and limited decision as to what sequence you wish to contribute to (you cannot tactically pass if you have a playable card, so no forcing out of desired cards); however it seems you can try to improve your chances of going out first by holding back with key cards to block further card plays from others, especially if you hold near complete sequences. But the biggest strike against the game is if you have a few cards at either end of the spectrum, you can basically say you are screwed, you can only hope someone plays the right suit to get you out of trouble. Despite the demoralizing lack of control, the countdown to going out with 2 cards(especially when one or two are down to their last two cards) there is that status anxiety of which way to go; with enforced passing there is some implication as to what card is held. So really a child/grandparent kind of game with some decision about limiting the penalties against you. Interested now as to how Big Top improves dealt hand/control/decisions.
Update: Mmm, may have to knock the system down a notch, as obviously the more knowledgeable player(s) will score more, hence probably best with at least 3 to squeeze out that player occupying the good spots. But my main concern is that the loss of markers to as low as 3 may add to the rich gets richer concern. So maybe there is a handicap system possible.
Is this Mr Friese's take on worker placement? It has that lovely occupation tension if you're confident in knowing where an animal lives, it's weight, body or tail length and an opponent is hovering with placing their cube on your answer. Even if you don't know the answer it still has the emotional aspects of speculating and risk to score more, coupled with the tension of the reveal and scoring track. A very good educational game.
Turned out to be more interesting than the rules implied. Crims and innocents laid out in columns of 5 colours are up for grabs, resolved by each player simultaneously revealing which 2 colours they wish to pick from. First player gets first and last pick, second player gets second and second last pick etc. (Turn order is determined before selecting which colours you are interested in by bidding the value of a previously captured crim or innocent). So a game of jockeying for a good position in picking but at a cost of surrending a value in your holdings. At game end, subtract the value of innocents from your crims, plus any bonus in having the highest value in a colour. A little sitcom as you may be left picking up innocents as previous player(s)before you have raided that colour of crims; alittle difficult however to deduce what colours your opponents may be picking.
First run through the dungeon with 7 players(21 characters)which, despite enforced timed turns, isn't an ideal number. The right minded crowd makes it fun, with the blood sliding, character jostling and the "attitude" of the monster and its wraparound reappearance instilling some humour. Because of the strong puzzle element, some players may well be attracted in solving rather than playing quickly. Puzzle games such as Richochet Robot aren't my kind of thing, but I admire the production values and innovations gone into this independent effort.
Another trip through familiar filler territory like Geshenkt, For Sale and High Society whereby you bid to pick up or avoid cards which increase or decrease your score, modified by money held at game end (though in High Society having the least money eliminates you). Where Felix differs is there is a stronger element of staring down your bidder(s) for body language clues, as the cards up for grabs are placed by each player (initially all but 1 of them are facedown). Raising your bid may uncover more "tells", or you may bluff to squeeze money vp out of a player’s “kitty”. The real question is can you read your opponent(s) as to value of the card (s) still face down (and what has been played before and what is left). Thankfully being able to relate in this regard is helped by each player having the same set of card (with the twist being one is randomly removed at the start). Another unique aspect is bids are retrieved and you earn an increase in bonus money the later you pull out, only the final bid coughs up. This brings up the fun part in that the cards finally revealed can either be negative or sometimes “scare off” valued cards, much like Pick Picknic, Nobody Here But Us Chickens etc. With the stronger elements of fun sit-com and bluff almost makes this the best of this crop, though High Society may still have it in the bag. Update: the real highlight in this game is when the 2 players left in the bidding have their cards face down, so in this case the bluffing psychology really kicks in. Also there is a focus of trying to 'milk' the leader of his money, as well as ensuring there is enough mice in the pot for the next round. Not bad for a pokeresque game, but cashing in at the end dampen the fun highlights and dramatic tension of the play. Reminds me that another cat bidding game (Katzenjammer Blues) is far better.
Interesting from a left brain point of view, as I tend to find it more difficult to remember numbers than volumes of colour as in Mama Mia and Trendy. As Fettnapf progresses and island cards are rewarded, initially I found my brain reaches critical mass and it seems to be a game as to whose mind crumbles first. A second play and you soon realise even if you can memorise well, unlucky numbers held will undermine all your hard work. The best you can do is to cause your left hand opponent to go over the number thresholds early in the game so you can collect and avoid as many island numbers as possible. Some fun but too many numbers flying around to wrinkle smooth gameplay.
Simple yet interesting game with plenty of "take that" action (especially with more than 3 players). Play a numbered card and take that number of pooled spectators; play the same card as another player allows the choice to steal their spectators. Yet this "negativity" may well be mediated by hand contents and the threat of the lion card which increases the groan factor. Typical Knizia in that there are various scoring methods to discover, such as Clowns and Acrobats which bring about tactical knock on effects in play. Fun because of the "take that" attitude, though this may wear thin and not make it welcome at some tables. However there is some speculative and tactical substance in card play which will help it return to the table long after the laughs have evaporated. Game play fits theme well. Strangely, played a 5 player thinking it would be better than 4 but was the opposite experience, as there is increased opportunity to match attraction. Also if the group think is addicted to the "take that" play rather than tactically taking from the pool, the round just overstays its welcome.
A relatively fast paced tile laying game as you are often dictated as to where to place your hexagon. Your real decision is to either place the hexagon value face up (fire) or face down "0"(firebreak). Interesting theme enhanced by the playing rules, but the charm is lost when you have to do the maths.
A textbook example of German Game design: you know that to win you have to advance the furthest, yet to understand how to do it, you need to "look under the bonnet" to understand the mechanics of how to move along. You have the simple placement of buildings to increase the value of empty adjacent coloured plots of land. To place your skyscrapers (which multiply the value)involves bidding with matching coloured cards, with decreased skyscraper building due to higher bids. To score a district involves having the commisioner being there (El Grande style). You get vps for spreading your skyscrapers amongst various districts, when a certain number of businesses have been placed. You get vps when building has been forced to stop. Then score the viable districts at game end coupled with the revealing of value of Central Park (which feels anti-climatic so far). So interesting mechanic wise, with some look ahead strategy whilst forcing limited options on your opponents. But not for the family/social environment I often play in, shame as I long for some decent 4 player games where you can easily determine how to get from A to B.I suspect this game will play better with 3.
Hmm, this was one game which seemed interesting and charming on paper (how many games are decided by the shortest road?) but on the table didn't play out as imagined with four players. There is some interesting card counting and decision as to which card to play either on oneself or someone else, with the aim to avoid picking up cards or target someone. However, there seems to be no apparent control to achieve that aim because of the freedom to play cards on whoever and the effect of the ring-around-the-rosy cards. I don't mind alittle chaos, but I'm not keen on the mechanics where players can 'play' for you i.e. Formula Motor Racing, Top Race etc. It maybe requires a group effort to rein in the leader, as by the second round it was obvious who would win; the session was fun as players eagerly played out of turn to pin someone, but of the "Knizia's trilogy of gaming elements"TM (in this case "valued pots") I would ranked this variant below Poison and Too Many Cooks. Update: Now played with 5 with some cunning plays becoming apparent, so have upped the rating; similar feel to Trendy in that it requires the cooperation and the game is very dependent on how the others play, and so is alittle fragile to kingmaking.
First play with 2 and now realise that the title is a play on words as this is more of a mental workout than implied in the rules read (or maybe it was too late in the evening for such a brainburner).
As play progressed I could see that the design is a recipe for analysis paralysis as you assess the fractured holdings of your opponent(s) to compare yours to determine which majority bonus to go for. Trouble is the bonus tile is awarded when all the "orders" in the region it is in have been fulfilled. So you may or may not want to the region emptying quickly. Coupled with sequencing the majorities in your favour, you have to solve the puzzle of the rondel which allows you to collect the fruit needed for the orders. Movement is like that in Emerald so another source of AP.
As all information is out in the open, the only source of uncertain tension is if your opponent(s) have mentally seen your tactics and strategy to get ahead and beat you to the punch. But even though the scoring values are fixed, your scoring status becomes more fractured so any excitement in the race will only come from the mental arithmetic. HiG should have included the compulsory scoring track to reduce the mental workout and at least generate some racing excitement for this "Thinka" of a design.
At the moment I'm going through a strong game mechancics with theme kick. This game is good in that regard as you use action points to load up and sail for days to either raid, trade or settle. However I'm not a fan of the convulted 7 action points turn, which can involve text reading of drawn rune cards.
My main gripe is with the scoring, for although there is here and now tracking and also an hidden status which I like, the real issue is the huge point swings and going through each settled area and multiplying.
Now played the beautifullly produced Asmodee version (German release) but I miss the scoring track (and I think the catch-up rule of reduced Cargo hold). The second playing also highlighted the uneasy feeling of the take-that nature of the rune cards (despite being Vikingesque), so coupled with the ever tense and fun die rolling involved your planning can be undermined so treat the game as an experience.
A nostalgic trip courtesy of Dr Knizia of bringing a Tetris variant to the table, the only difference is the scoring, no sideways movement allowed. One apsect it lacks the speed element to add to the proceedings. If you dislike the elimination aspect of Blockus with more than 2 players and enjoy Take It Easy, check this design out.
It doesn't seem to be mentioned much but one of the great things about some co-operative designs is a player can jump in or out of a session, in Flash Point it adds to the theme - "hooray, another unit has arrived/oh, no call an ambulance".
So this is a great "entry" game if someone is hovering about interested in what is going on: which for me, because of the miniatures, the board, the fire tokens, the actions and the way the fire behaves makes the game dramatic and entertaining.
I think because of the strongly relatable elements Flash Point is marginally better than the cube spreading diseases of Pandemic. Yes the die-rolling in Flash Point adds a lot of randomness compared to the draw deck of Pandemic, but I feel because of the unpredictable (and thematic) way the threat is done means less firm data for the alpha attitude (it happens) to stamp control on other players decisions and moves.
I've only played the family version with some additions from the advance rules (harder floor plan, explosion set up, POI placement) so already impressed with replay value and adaptability to playing level.
Note to self: side mentioned for first set up is almost easy, even with 1 fireman, so if introducing to players wanting a challenge (but not to overdo it with the rules) play the other side of the board.
The mechanics of the bidding used to buy batches of houses in the first round is interesting and tense, due to current value assessment and what MAY be in the next batch. The skill increases as you need to remember who purchased what when it comes to trading the houses for the checks, but the check batches can undermine all the thought involved. I also find the summing up alittle cumbersome, so not the best filler for me. Why is High Society mentioned in the same breath as For Sale, when the only similarity is highest bid wins a positive value; two completely different designs in my mind (High Society is marginally better ).
Second play with 4 with the babelfish translation resulted in quicker races (though we did play with only 2 cars each), with some interesting look ahead moves relacing in next race.A little repetitive in play, and the elimination still doesn't appeal; (at least in Knizia's Motor game you can still play when your cars are gone). The movement mechanism is interesting as the cards have 2 movement values and you move to spaces to optimize your hand value. However, some players dislike the game as it is still about drawing the right card.
Thankfully more streamlined than the strongly thematic original, as you no longer bookkeep your car's qualities: instead toss in gold chips if you brake harshly or overshoot the corner. If you can't cough up you spin out and back to 1st gear. Also you lose chips if you are involved in a collision and here I'm reminded of the wonder of the die mechanic: different gears give a different die to roll so a different range of numbers. So there is anticipatory tension in the hope you roll better or your oppenent comes up short; also there is tension and relief (or grief) if a 1-4 is rolled for a false start, collision or overrevved engine. Another plus is the shorter tracks so increasing the likelihood of the game not overstaying it's welcome. But it still fails as a race game as the game flow is still slow for newbies.
An excellent example of making a well-themed game so simply. However because other players have the potential to move your car(s) means things can get upsetting for those wanting some control. GMT version is better as the effects are written on the cards, rather than having to refer to the one copy of the rules in the Gibson Games edition. If you can tolerate take that play, good fun. My quibble with it is that the constant shifting of cars is spatially repetitive and fiddly, and the card distribution maybe too detailed to commit to memory to play well. Yet for me this is still the best car racing simulation I've come across. Rating based on 3 players.
Interesting variant of the "climbing" family of card games, in that unlike others (Tichu, Great Dalmuti, Das Grosse..), here the hierarchy isn't just linear. Instead it is more like a wonky ladder: one side is a lineage of sea animals, the other side with land (which loops from elephant to mouse); bridging the two sides are various animals which occupy land or sea. To play well involves committing to memory the cards played with the resulting gaps in the food chain and evaluating how strong your hand is at a given moment. Because of the ladder hierachy and the two options of beating a previous play, to some Frank's Zoo is alittle inaccessible, but rewards repeated play. Only niggle with more than 4 players (which I prefer, with more I'd pick Who's the Ass?) is that once out of cards you have to wait longer until only one player is left holding cards. As the game is played in rounds it is excellent for lunchtime play as you can resume the game the next day.
1st play with 4: it was spatially difficult to grasp how the roads are played out and so preventing the tactical play of influencing where the road should go. Then you have the hard task of evaluating current and potential score status of players, although at least it is spatially intuitive. Not sure if all that mental effort is worth it when you have to then draw a random tile (where as in El Caballero you had a choice). Theme fits well with game play.
Tentatively brought it to the table of casual gamers (and my wife...eek) and with some relief the session raised a few laughs, especially with one player piling on numerous sex counters on poor Peggy (not my wife's name). I guess future playings would diminish the humour, which is fine as the thoughtfilled design will sustain the playing (which rulewise is relatively simple, but sequencing of card play to match your profile is abit heady). I strongly suspect the sweetspot will be three players for two reasons: you are more likely be able to overcome bad card draws; and the auction phase can be long and painful for those whose cards don't match those on offer. Also because the cards are detailed, divining the life goals of your opponent will be difficult without future playings (which won't be the case for me as coffee was spilt on it in the second session). It was refreshingly different from the standard Euro fare with the exciting, enjoyable feature of first going out (or in my case "coming out") wins.
First play with 4: because of my intolerance of 90 min plus playing time, I tried to shave the time off this session by discarding Mina, and allowing Drac only 4vp to win. Sure enough by 90 mins the desire to play waned, mainly I think due to non active Hunters reduced to spectators: you really need to want an experience (rather than a maths/mental workout Eurogames provide) to tolerate the thumb twiddling. This is more so when combat occurs. From this session I strongly believe this is probably best as a 3 player with the two alternating hunter turns so the non active player can be occupied. The game is an improvement in terms of production and the logic problem of where's Drac is mechanically well done and engages the players (again the dominant hunter giving directions may sour the search, another reason to play with less).
Although I haven't played Factory Fun, I guess I would be right in saying this game is what happens when FF meets Starship Catan. I like puzzle aspect and the tense race to perfect a ship in the first phase of a round. But I really, really do not like the second phase where you fly your ship through a card scripted adventure (as in Starship Catan). This part of the game is fiddly, dull but most of all can be really destructive, which is where most of the "fun" lies. It is like an '80s design and made me feel as if I was building a sand castle before the tide comes in , only to get someone to walk through it. Now I'm not against Schadenfreude (I even laugh hysterically when I think of my mate being sick on a fishing trip) but I think I dislike it in Galaxy Trucker because I exercise my mind and effort in construction, only to have my creation crushed.
Update: I needed to play a second game as first play with 3 seemed flat as there was no real competition for ship building as it was fairly easy to have no exposed connectors. So the next game with 4 saw alot of damage and some fun with thte ships breaking apart bigtime. I also concerned that an experienced leader can get too much of an advantage.
Tempted but I think Fauna will be a better implementation of making educated guesses and placement.
Update: well buckled in as I feel I need a fun trivia game, and this fits the requirements well. Quick play with coincidental fun with players writing the same answers, surprises at the answers as to how large etc, with gasps of close calls (e.g 1 player put 120 seconds and the answer was 119.5, 0.5 more would have won him the game). Only strike against it is the mixture of imperial/metric questions, so may need a conversion chart. Or just poke fun at the outrageous answers.
Yep this is now one of the best trivia games I've played, lasting about 20 minutes with elements of risk and bluffing as well.
A new conquest game for me but with familiar elements: card events and programming of your military actions gives an overall Wallenstein feel, with combat resolved a la LotR's Confrontation; as well as conflict from opponents there is a game threat from over the border(similar to Settler's Barbarians/historical scenario) which all players need to contribute power for rewards or suffer consequences for failure. Power is money (which transfers from a reserve to fluid assets like the cabelleros in El Grande) which you use to bid for benefits like going first, plus 1 in a battle, change 1 order. I heard the rumour of diplomacy being a feature so was hesitant in playing the game, but with 3 there was no real sense of looming underhandedness. Maybe interested in playing with more, as there were some interesting movement/avenues of attack, but the diplomacy hook doesn't grabbed me (or the potential elimination).
Another member of the climbing card family. Not as complex as Tichu, yet still provides the flexibility of what combinations to play with the usual problem of pacing. Has the rule of declaring if down to the last card, which if not heeded means you cannot win, which seems like a throwback to the last century. Also thrown in is the card exchange of the winner and the loser of the previous round, and the confusing, alternating direction of play in each round. Lacks the simplicity of the charming theme of Frank's Zoo and the risk-taking of Das Grosse.
Scotland Yard variant which I feel is marginally better than the original co-operative SdJ winner. I think this is because that Garibaldi is under more pressure than Mr X:- Gazza has to reach one of the exit points on or before round 30, and the Austrian player(s) can see these locations. This focus rather than avoiding the detectives in London means that towards game end things will get close in Italy. Also because there are no trains in Italy means that Garibaldi can't just loop behind the tracking party, he may have to run a tight gauntlet to get behind the Austrians.
Another plus in Garibaldi is that now cards are held rather than a open pool of tickets. This means more discussion as to hand content and limited options.So for me at least this variant is more social, and with a themed event deck there are choices in timing of discards and cards held to prevent strong cards getting into the wrong hands.
But as in Scotland Yard there is still that dynamic of a dominant player who will marr the experience by pointing out what should be done.
Another consideration is if players like the "fuzzy" logic i.e. having to narrow down the escape routes which match the movement cards played (in Cluedo you try to pin the facts down and move on). It stimulates discussion amongst the Austrians and can be a tense affair for the eavesdropping Italian especially if the Austrians are effective in thwarting his best plans. But if the Austrian player(s) find such deduction vague and so confusing it can cause mental collapse and so not care if Gazza makes it to the exit. The pace slows with 4 players, so probably best with 3. If I felt this was still too slow, I might as well play Mr Jack.
Mastermind-like card game which I initially enjoyed as some of the card play (to avoid giving info)was fun, and there was tension of taking the risk to " go for it". But both of these feelings have evaporated since I don't care for the repetitiveness of game play and the rule format. One of those games where you may need to be the "ruler" for a few hands to show new players how to play out the sequences and how to word the Secret Rule correctly to gain the bonus. With 3 or 4 players has the problem of temporary elimination and waiting for others to deduce the rule. At least there is factual info on the card backs to pass the time.
First play with 5 which may be too many as not only does it make the play area too busy and difficult to discern who is leading, but also increases the likelihood of not being able to draw the cards you need. There is also the problem of analysis paralysis as players determine what is the best play and the fact that your eyes have to wander alot to find the best female doesn't help. Evaluating the worth of the poem is abit cumbersome and one tip to monitor the highest scoring poem is to mark it with a player's second reputation chip, otherwise trying to do this at the season end is torturous if there is alot of poems. The rules are too "flowery" though I can understand this is to emphasise the theme, but sometimes it gets in the way of grasping the concepts. Play felt abit clunky and mechanical, but by the third and fourth season things ran abit smoother. However the biggest problem I feel is that you are forced to think alot about your plays yet they are easily undone by the card plays of others, so a sense of too much effort for little gain. Yet despite the criticisms, the game gets a point for a refreshing theme (instead of the usual medieval/scifi/fantasy setting), the quirky card play is interesting and there seems to be some scope for strategy. So will try again but maybe 4 is the threshold.
This may appear to be a portable version of Leader 1, however the layout takes up as much room. A good, cheap intro to the system, although lacking the nice ariel view of the tiles, the side on view cards of the track gives a better feel of terrain. I also like how the energy is managed with cards rather than pencil and paper.One feature I really like about both of the games is the peleton mechanic, it behaves like some monstrous blob, threatening to swallow players who have broken away.
Having now played both 'simulations', I think Um Reifenbreite still captures the feeling of cycling with fun and uncertain mechanics, as Leader 1/Giro D'Italia is a much dryer, calculating experience due to no hidden information or dependency on die rolls/event cards.
Resource conversion puzzle, the main aim being to trade in to draft buildings to place on your tableau. Buildings either provide conversion benefits, one off benefits or for the required vps (fixed or variable) to score after 4 rounds of play.
One problem to address is that your tableau board is already occupied with forest, vegetation, ponds and sand pits, which provide resources if discarded or kept.
The mechanism that allows you to gain, discard and build is similar to that in Witches Brew in that you select 5 from your hand of cards (same as everyone else). One of the selected cards is place face down, then in turn a player declares the face down card. If you hold the matching one in your hand you get to play it. There are two forms of kicker here: if you are the only one to select that 'role', trade in the resource if necessary and you get to do both listed actions on the role, otherwise you only get choose one and the other player(s) choose one as a bonus. This was one of the few aspects of game I liked as it can elicit your greed, causing some emotional tension and drama in the denial. Also the reveal is the fun part with the coincidence of selections.
The other aspect is deducing which of the 5 cards other players will pick. Your source of information is not only the busy tableau or building draft board, but mainly the players individual resource inventory board, which is the novel part of the game. Resources gained and paid are marked with discs moving forward and back around a wheel, but the novelty lies in the fixed clock hands which move according to gaps left by the leading or last resource(s). This movement generates or uses up a very valuable resource: glass on one wheel and brick on the other (hence Glass Road).
Strangely all the mental work involved, scores are unit increments so are close (which I like), but again the scores are fractured, variable and scattered so no tension there unless you wish to do the maths.
Playing with 4 makes for a resource conversion, deduction headache, and the overall feel is it seems too chaotic and difficult to plan, and it doesn't help with the wheels being a challenge as you discover that gaining a resource going last forces the clocks hands to "manufacture" glass/brick and reducing your moved resource to zero. Curse that efficiency!!! Maybe interested in playing with 2 (BGG recommendation) as the theme is there almost, but I suspect it isn't my taste, with Gates of Loyang being a strong contender (being more thematic) for a Rosenberg farming design I'm happy to play.
Mechanic wise, I find this an interesting game design, sadly (like Teuber's Adel) I can't seem to find others with similar enthusiam. The main game mechanic is same as Adel in that players simultaneously reveal to get benefits, but other elements in Gnadenlos makes the play more involved and so less repetitive evaluation wise. Alot of the game focuses on which 6 of the 7 events will occur before they are reshuffled and drawn again.
Four in a row variant where you can cover your opponent's placements and also move your placements on the board. More fun than the dry original because you have to remember where you covered your opponent's pieces otherwise you may lose because you revealed your opponent's winning placement. Still, an imbalanced game as player with better memory and tactics will dominate, so not really a family game. Also may suffer from manufacturing problem in that a pair of gobblets can stick together.
Play relates well to theme. Best with at least 3 players as circumstances change more dramatically, often with players dumping fool's gold in your mine which causes a few sniggers. However with more players you wonder whether there could be a probability of not getting character cards to entitle you to make a claim. At least with 3 the tallying up at game end is easier.
Once the rule re: drunk/maid movement has been cleared up, the game is mechanically sound with some knowledgeable deduction. Little elements of fun, but the concept of changing bosses and when to play shares caused confusion for some. So already interest waned, but to top off the dull experience was the highly painful maths involved in working out how much income players got(even with the aid of the table in the rules), as well as the fiddling around for change. I play games for entertainment reasons, not to endure accounting exercises. I understand some attitudes will differ.
Ok but not as dynamite when compared to Lost Valley simply because the puzzle element of how to effectively improve your score is too chess-like. It doesn't help that the iconongrapy makes the game visually too busy and player's turns are more involved. Also the endgame is anticlimatic when Lost Valley has the uncertain ending and holdings followed by the reveal.
I believe this game really needs 5 players to at least provide tense competition of resources. But the problems start. Firstly to play well you need to know the other 44 action cards to at least make an informed decision as to evaluate effectively which power card to play. Not only that, you need to number crunch what the displayed cards are worth for the other players. So the pace is affected, with text on the action cards slowing it some more. Then once you executed your move, it's a waiting game as really you have nothing to plan as you really can't anticipate what the next four action cards to be displayed will be. All that mental exercise just to have your cabelleros moved by someones action card. When it comes to scoring, the highlight is dialling up to deploy your cabelleros from the castillo to the dialled region. Then it's the longwinded scoring of majorities. Unless you love number crunching, it's quite a dull experience.
Novel and interesting way of movement of greyhounds, using difference of card values played to determine number of spaces moved. So in a sense a little convoluted, and as it is a betting game, a player may decide to "play badly" for their "favourite to win" dog, to turn the tables on other bettors. As with the Really Nasty Horse Racing Game, I don't have the head for calculating odds and determining what's profitable for me. Royal Turf is more accessible for me, in evaluating probabilities and payouts.
From the "climbing" family of card games, and the best IMHO when you have 4 or more players. A round in Das Grosse is a pacier improvement on Frank's Zoo in that play is once around and hand ends when one player is out of cards. This factor alone helped me get over the confusing elements of the big "A" and little "a" cards. Your hand strength and current score status will influence decisions whether to win the 'a/A' to play later (to inflict penalties) when you win a following round. These two cards provide a satisfyingly strong element of risk when held, and makes low cards valuable to keep and high cards a worry. More accessible than FZ as climbing is linear and often more dramatic as clusters of same values can be improbably large, especially after a player picks up the big "A" with a few same valued cards (which players should avoid doing). If playing with less than 8 tacticians, maybe best to strip the deck so there is a run of 1-13 for each player (as well as the 4 jokers), so as to allow the skill of card counting, otherwise it feels too random. Now revamped as Who's the Ass?
I really enjoy this dexterity game, more so than Bamboleo, as GG has a visual race element to increase tension. The variable colour sequence of the path and the variable "lay"out of the eggs in the nest makes evaluation fresh each time, increasing replay. Choices in GG are quicker, with some speculative thought to risk turning over a coloured tile, hoping it doesn't mean trying to tease out a ill-placed egg(i.e.underneath all the others). So there's plenty of sitcom such as: setting off the "alarm" will force you to go backwards; other player(s) may get easier picks or play to sabotage the nest. And it is easier to reset the nest, rather than the time-consuming balancing of the plate in Bamboleo. Good fun with players with the right mindset.
Hacienda adds financial, card drafting and card playing layers to Through the Desert gameplay, so a turn involving 3 actions does feel labourious compared to the streamlined play of 2 camels. The same grumble can be said for the scoring, for in Hacienda there is also a "half time" score to interrupt the flow. I can see some of the charm of Hacienda: there are many conditional elements to consider-you need to monitor and collect terrain cards, there is the scarcity of animal types and you have to manage your income in order to progress. So there is a level of speculation and frustration that is tolerable, and various maps to print off ensuring refreshing replayability. Overall, I think this fiddly, but more interesting and tense competition in the pampas has a slight edge over Knizia's dry desert drama.
One interesting design aspect in Euro games is the tactical/strategic element of sequencing your actions in an optimal order. This can be a heady exercise, but don't worry 'coz the innovative rondel can fix your headache or AP in your game group. Now your actions are listed in a circular fashion whereby you are limited to 1-3 actions (some as simply getting 1 or more cubes of a colour, or selling some cubes for money) at no cost otherwise going beyond this fixed but variable list will cost you VP. I've played 2 of the 3 games using this mechanic (only set up and had rules explanation for Imperial), and as I wasn't keen on the combative and fiddly nature of Antike, Hamburgum was an interesting economic exercise done at break neck speed.
I think familiarity with the legend of the Pied Piper will increase the charm of the design; I only had the vague memory of the rats and the children being lured away from Hamelin, hence my surprise at how involved the mechanics were in retelling the story.
There are marriages and babies, buying houses and influence, producing goods to sell at the market which for some reason causes a rat infestation represented by black discs. The pied piper skirted the corners of the city to be bribed, while the luring of children was treated as a source of losing victory points, so never did the two meet on the board.
So by then I was being disconnected from the theme portrayed here compared to what I knew. Even the presence of the comical figurines was misleading me to think this would be a fun and simple outing, but all the elements of play didn't gel until I knew how they worked mechanically and by then the retelling was lost to dry calculating. The left brain was too involved to allow the right brain to imagine. I later thought it needed the minimalist touch of Knizia who can make maths narrate e.g En Garde.
Even if I didn't care about the theme disconnect, as one player pointed out you are at the mercy of other player's decisions such as choice of partner and accommodation. But for me most of the vp calculating was out in the open with only one tense secret being the value of the rat traps purchased (what did the values represent?). So too dry for my taste or can I say not enough spit in the whistle playing for my liking, and disappointed in much the same way of seeing a beautifully illustrated Brother's Grimm book but then finding out it was written for Martin Wallace fans.
At least afterwards I felt compelled to look up the legend (to fill in the gaps of my imagination) which turned out to be an interesting read of what 'children' meant and the migration of a population.
Elements of the game reminded me of We the People, especially the switching back and forth of allegiances, and the attrition effects of winter on army units. Hammer does things alittle smoother and less fiddly than WtP, yet still suffers from some rule vagaries (for simulation effect) to take into consideration, which overwhelmed me. My first game took 3 hours after rule explanation and only made it through 3/4 of the way into Braveheart scenario. During that time, executed some interesting military manoeuvres as well as William Wallace. I found each year resolution of noble re-setting and unit re-charging less of a book keeping chore though a tad repetitive, with no sense of game development; I left feeling 2 rounds would have been just as effective, but obviously you should play all the years to rewrite history. Historically rich experience game, with alot of factors to consider as part of the strategy, though too long for my gaming circles taste.
Despite only 2 partial plays (4 hours to play 4 game years in one game), I feel I can make some valid comments: firstly, this is one game that you need committed players to spend the time and effort. Sadly, I'm time poor, and the rules and mechanics are unweildy mentally and physically with only time giving you some mastery. Still I find this design provides a stronger political and dramatic narrative than other similar designs: 1960 the Making of the President's political system is incremental via cubes, whereas in Hannibal political control is done by tile flipping. Also the card effects translate better in Hannibal, than either 1960 and Twilight Struggle (there was no real feel of espionage in TS, whereas this conveyed far better in Cold War: KGB vs CIA). Also because of the small card manifest which is listed means there is more chance of anticipating events, which is difficult in 1960 and TS. The other plus in Hannibal is the interesting spatial considerations and exciting interaction of the battles, but again it is still a fiddly process. I really enjoy this series of games using the historical "what if" event deck as the central mechanic as I feel I am learning, and look forward to its huge potential being mined for more streamlined designs playable in an evening.
Interesting economic type game with some clever consequences to consider such as getting extra actions and utilising the trade winds around Scandinavia. Watch out for the potential loss of vps if someone sells like goods. You have at least 3 actions per turn, with the potential to get more with wise spending & judicious market placement and even with the minimum and a reasonable menu of options, there is inevitably downtime even with 2. Hence I can't play with more, and the above rating is for online play with 2, as this is the best medium for a game which requires some short term strategy, taking into account how many actions your opponent will have next.
Although not a baseball fan, I was interested in this design to see if it presented a simplistic narrative. The assortment of cards, and the movement of runners around the base certainly invoke the feeling. However, there is no real decision making and you are at the mercy of the card draw. I misunderstood the role of the Pinch hitter card, thinking there was some timing skill as to when to "capture" a favourable card, but alas, the Pinch hitter is played straight away.
Once you get to grips with what space does what, provides interesting problems as what move will benefit you yet provides less carrots for your opponents. Nice balancing mechanic for those left behind, but I find the number crunching too much for a game that needs at least 4 players to provide interesting competition; any more and downtime is an issue.
An occasional 'slapping' game tempered by some of the effect cards which can cause your play to backfire. It seems as though slap hard & early is a good tactic, but this depends on drawing the right cards. (The plus to this game is that you can actually give yourself good cards when building your team). Risky speculation as to what card to play involves remembering the 10 cards you gave to your oppenent, as well as considering the probability of what colours may be left. Problem is, card value distribution isn't uniform, so a little difficult to remember and implement on first plays. Spatially, a little repetitive and close games dependent on player attitude as to which cards to play.
This seemed to have some potential to be interesting in terms of memory of deck contents, gaining control and bluffing. But in the end there felt to be too many random factors against you especially if your high cards have been wiped out by the shame discarding rule and colours held don't match the fate marker and/or your hero has been eliminated. So no fun to be had really when you behind and the system kicks you further with no apparent mechanism to catch up.
Risk-like dominance game using effect cards instead of dice. Nicely made components though a little fiddly in play. Variable setup, tile draw and placement will provide some replayability,thought and potential fun,as will the interation of the god cards. The problem with effect cards with text on first play is a)difficulty in anticipating what you will get/your opponent will play b)pace is slow. In Hellas part of these problems are resolved by a) the backs of the god cards gives some idea how they will influence play b)cards drawn can only be placed in the hand after turn ends. First impressions: After playing so many family friendly games, I forgotten how offputting games permitting a combatitive attitude like this one can be. I appreciate the design but I feel whoever slaps their opponent the hardest will win.
I used to enjoy H&Z, a non-collectible version of Magic and Stratego. But along came Knizia's Confrontation. Both have similar play and card effects which gives a strong thematic feel. Now I find H&Z alittle longwinded when compared to Confrontation, which is more accessible and no initial rule confusions. Also H&Z, with the numerous cards, is very combative with the almost continual challenging of the front row of the playing field to reduce your opponent's options. This feels punch weary at times. With Confrontation there is the tactical necessity to spatially avoid conflict. The only aspect I can see where H&Z does it better is that games may be less anti-climatic. Also gets one rating point for providing a summary education on Greek mythology.
An abstract game with an engaging theme, in which your penguins collect fish that your penguin lands on. The aim is to create gaps which not only isolate a bounty but also limit your opponent penguin's movement. (This isolation element reminds me of Zertz, which I prefer because the player score status is simpler to determine so I get more competitive tension). Interesting as a spatial puzzle, I just can't get excited about it until I want to do the maths and think ahead about optimum moves. I'd imagine a good intro for kids who you want to push later into that horror called Chess.
I can only feel the competitive tension if I do the maths, which because of the various probable outcomes, becomes too much calculating and really not worth it because of the uncertainty of the red cards. Then there is the memorising of previous bids made, so really hard work. Pity, as the game play is short and fits theme well plus the bidding is agonizing at times. Alhambra the card game with an easier and fairer means of card play may feel similar albeit longer.
Risk variant with a better theme of world history and dominant empires. Better than Risk in that there is no elimination and there are only 7 turns per player. However, the game play is still alittle too long to tolerate especially with downtime as players expand and resolve conflict with dice rolls, the latter providing some frustrating sitcom and drama.
Update: Sadly I feel this 'classic' hasn't aged well in the 20 odd years:-although mechanically easy to get into, for 45-60 mins it is too repetitive with hardly any development besides holdings and movement 'increments'. I find this is such an issue that I feel the need to include a mid-game start variant. Only the unique theme, coincidental sitcom and mind games saves the design, but again marred by the stealing to disrupt chains souring the vibe.
Most fun with 4 or 5 players as this increases the coincidence of visiting the same location and increases the competition for the desired resources. I appreciate the design of this game with its inherent sit com and the psychology of bluff and double bluff which because each player's programmable choices are the same makes it easy to relate to others. But where it fails to be a keeper is that: a)the hand content often doesn't change much, so evaluation of what to play can be a little repetitive; b)the stealing factor puts some players off, especially the brutal tactic of breaking up players' collection chain. So this game has a certain attitude suitable for that kind of group mentality.
A deduction game in which you determine how many chips each player will pull from a bag. (On simultaneous declaration llamas move equivalent to chips held). Not only does board position imply possible quantities, but also movement conditions for that round makes for varied and interesting decisions. Fun comes from trying to read players minds as well as the outcome of the reveal: sometimes the Hols der Geier rule thwarts movement or llamas touch the lava- back home you go! But there is hope of a comeback with the shortcuts. But watch out for the strategy of staying home and hoarding most chips, then leaping close to the volcano!!!
Third Host A Murder and this was alittle better (obviously people getting into character and improvising makes the difference), yet still the scenarios are still overwhelmingly verbose and hence confusing. Admittedly, my mistake was not to set the scene before the characters introduced themselves, so as to understand why we were all gathered together. Some players were getting absorbed as to the relationships and possible motives. Still I dislike the disposable one play format.
My second venture into the How to Host a Murder, this time with a host to manage proceedings. She was helpful to answer questions, give out clues and encourage speedy play. However, the game structure can cause stumbling blocks, and makes for an unsatisfactory evening. Firstly, the whole experience is very wordy and convoluted; you have to digest alot of verbal and text clues, as well as hidden info about your character which if asked you have to truthfully reveal to the best of your knowledge (at the appropriate time, as clues and details are revealed during 4 rounds). You have to listen and follow intently, so not a game to play whilst socially drinking. Even sober players can get lost with all the threads connecting the 8 characters. You can read too much into some of the proceedings when the most obvious will answer some things. Personally, I think the meals should be exactly timed to the start of each round, so as to digest the sordid details of your character and your food, then you're least distracted and the info more free flowing. Also make sure players who need reading glasses bring them.
The mechanics and gameplay effectively provoke a narrative of royal shenanigans such as giving away daughters, poisoning nobles and unseating the emperor/kaiser, with some bookkeeping to maintain the atmosphere. Other players may find the various ways of acquiring vps and special princely abilities (and how to best use them) more intriguing. For me this was an obstacle: that an overwhelming amount of avenues of progress and possibilities had to be assimilated and then worked out before I could start focussing on tactics, a situation for some downtime. (I much prefer game designs where options are more visually understood and vps are gained more directly, so hopefully more pacey play). Added to this is the possibility that all your hard planning can easily be undone by a player's action. Sure it may be thematic politics, but it can leave a nasty taste after all that mental expenditure. Compared to the recently atmospheric Lost Valley, this playing unfortunately casted a cold shadow, being not that fun nor that tense for me.
Second playing which I felt played better with 4. I think there is far too many elements such as bonuses and who produces what to consider, that I couldn't sense the state of competition, hence I didn't get excited. Maybe with more plays my calculating will get easier, but the gameplay isn't fun enough. The auctions are interesting, deducing which order to do them to maximise cashflow and which and when to take the freebie. I also like the overview of the industrial history that the game portrays.
Portability is good as tiles sit well in both the recesses and on the board which is an ideal size for play and throwing in a travel bag.
Yet I feel the production should have made the numbers on the scoring track black to assist in the points scored. Also would have liked the scoring track alittle wider (to make the pegs easier to move) and on either side of the board (to ease in comparing scores).
An interesting abstract in terms of increasing and smothering scoring opportunities. Generally I don't like themeless abstracts, however at least in Ingenious the tiles held are secret and the random draws from the bag create a tense dependency; the real joy is the scoring conditions which create swings in status and is an ideal stepping stone to the better implementation in Euphrat and Tigris.
Three stage race to first deduce who your partner is, second to then trade mission info and lastly both of you to complete the mission. The deduction phase is easy so lacks the logical layers and open information of classic Cluedo. Though the deduction is quick in Inkognito, there is still a feeling of downtime despite allowing only one meeting and shaking the ugly Nun of Destiny during turns; there is nothing of interest for observers as cards are passed, and the body type cards can cause some confusion. However, things do become intriguing as you move your pawns (hopefully, as the Nun may not allow it which will frustrate some) which may imply a gradual setting up of the mission. Didn't use the agent facial clues as grown men feel uncomfortable about it.
A speeded up variant of Ra: variable value cards are flipped, instead of bidding quickest player to slam the mat claims the cards. Quite a tense game to play as players hesitate to greedily push their luck in the flipping yet don't want to be beaten in the slam. Yet this enjoyable aspect is overwhelmed by the prolonged and tedious end scoring which is in two stages: first finding valid scoring situations then total up. (Other games such as Jungle Speed and Buntherum provide the same emotional experience with easier to evaluate play and easier determination of the winner). At least the Simpson's version allows you to say "doh", injecting some humour.
Update: Yeah I like the quick pace and how the camels affect the market, hopefully in your favour. Still it is too much number crunching.
One session and because of the theme and trading card play, I'm thinking this is a travel version of Samarkand!
Prior to this game I played Court of the Medici which help bring into sharp relief why I enjoyed Jaipur more. Despite the latter design having more rules, there were redeeming features: vp chips for traded cards indicated remaining distribution, so reducing the burden of card counting; vp chips decreased in value when traded for, so there is a race element and a feel of who could be leading, so no number crunching (though not accurate as there are random bonus vp chips for trading large sets); the camels create an interesting majority race/clean up of the draft. So it is an accessible, tension-induced design with uncertainties thrown in, so I like it.
A one lap race around the titular island in which you have to pay food/gold where you stop otherwise go back to where you can cough up. First past line ends game, with pts for placing plus coins in your storage equals vp score. Although it has Pirates Cove production values, this game provides a similar pirate experience in a shorter playing time, and is more of a resource management game as you only have limited storage and must discard excess (unless you pick up a spare space from landing on a treasure token). There are fights involving powder and a die roll, allowing the victor to pillage a storage space/treasure. Interesting action pt system via dice roll and card played. May well fit the niche for a pirate game for 4 to 6 as Caribbean satifies my pirate needs for 2 to 3 players.
Only a partial play, but enough for me to know this is not my kind of game. Firstly, I prefer pace and there are way too many text cards which you have to read while your opponent waits for you...obviously more plays will reduce this waiting element, but since there are some "take that" actions disrupting any plans, I can't get enthusiastic about exploring card combo's ala San Juan. If this wins the SDJ this year.....mmm.
First play with 3 of what could effectively be Alhambra: the Card Game.
Majority holdings in five colours are played in front of each player as walls, but it is the total in card values not the number of cards which determines who will claim cards (of that colour) which have been discarded during play, and each discard is worth a victory point. A bonus vp is awarded for each "1" in your wall.
As in Alhambra this scoring is triggered by 3 scoring cards planted in the drawpile, a seemingly commonplace mechanism that still excites.
Has the pet peeve of the deck distribution not being memorable, which makes choosing either placing the card to your wall to stay in front or to the discarded vp pile abit muddy.
But what really brings this experience down is that Trumpet cards forces discarding of high valued cards. In my first game I had to target the weaker player in order to get ahead, which I don't think made for a fun experience. At least 1 less card after scoring means your choices are less so accelerating the end.
I love most games with a geographical connection mechanic but my first play with 3 means Jet Set won't be joining the highfliers in my collection (e.g. Expedition, TransAmerica).
This is mainly due to what is essentially a spatial game gets bogged down by the calculating of your placements, much like in Powergrid. (In passing, to compare the two and why I prefer the latter is that the fixed values makes calculations feel less like work (instead of variables) and the board looks less cluttered and easier to see where players are heading).
And to cap off the left brain exercise, player status is fractured by the values of the flight cards. I did like the problem of financing that the monetary layer brought to this genre but it felt distracting.
With 3 players there didn't seem to be tense competition for routes.
Multi-task speed game in which in turn a player has 30 secs? to draw gems from a bag, which dictates how many task cards to do (from 0-2). Tasks involve building a block sculpture, tossing and catching a gem or grabbing a large explorer meeple/jungle token (the latter task means other players can grab out of turn so not much spectating). Each task successfully performed earns vps, but the real decision lies in pushing your luck within the time frame to keep pulling a gem to perform one or two more tasks before the sand runs out otherwise return all vps earned in that turn back.
Good family fun especially in helping young hands learn to build and catch.
I always felt this card game was underrated, and my re-ignited interest due to the unique bidding and simple scoring status still confirms that feeling. A game which pays to listen, card count (an overwhelming number) and deduce who may have the most jokers, as well as knowing when to force someones bid and when to meld. The only claws, er.. flaws are i)if there are early rich pickings and you have an initial bad deal it is difficult to catch up to those who are richer ii)that there is only one strategic approach: win auctions to build your hand strength, melding early is too risky. Pushing opponent's bidding limits is fun and tense. As auction games go this for me is the cat's meow, but it doesn't seem to instil the same feeling in others. One comment that the player with most jokers will lose has been disputed in my last game.
Yep, the cardplay that makes Lost Cities so enjoyable and addictive is still there: the holding off and speculating of narrowing the gaps in the sequence, the silent kick in the pants when you draw the card value you've passed. But if you felt the pressure in the cardgame as the drawpile depleted, Keltis pushes you in the back for a couple of reasons: now there is a second game end condition to look out for and there are stones to pick up otherwise you lose points, and with others breathing down your neck for these means you feel more forced to jump large gaps in the sequence. But the more interesting thing about the boardgame variant is that there are a couple of things to overcome a bad hand: you can go backwards sequentially, there are spots on the board to move any scoring marker up and likewise if you play cards for markers at the end of that path. Add to this that the game is far easier to score than it's convoluted predecessor makes no surprise why this won SdJ.
I dunno, maybe I'm entering the Jeremy Clarkson stage of my life because even though mechanically Keymarket runs fine it just wasn't a thrilling ride.
I think I can put this down to the design being a typical gamer's Euro in which you have to mentally work out where the optimum route is so you'll only feel tension if you've eyed a good spot which you sense someone may see and take. I desire accessible drama and uncertainty especially late at night.
Even if I had my thinking head on in the session, I had issues in that the artwork in the fields is too busy (with my eyes) to be functional and I didn't feel like I was farming (unlike in Agricola which I add has the subconscious threat of begging to create tension) because there were too many elements and mechanics to wade through to connect to the theme.
The overall impression though was the endgame strategy felt scripted in that you retire as many workers as you can into your Manor house (which for some reason cost me a lettuce, a sheep and a rare bottle of plonk to build!), I could go on but I don't want to sound like a curmudgeon!!
A few plays in with the advance rules which makes the game more interesting as it is all about timing: should I play 1 now or just draw 2, when to double the attack, reduce a column of 4 etc.
Probably best with 3 as it is easier to follow who has picked up what cards so as to deduce which adventures will be contested.
The adventure layout is important as placing them haphazardly makes it difficult to orientate as to the best cards to go for. Also causing a problem is the similar backed decks causing mix ups in drawing cards, so put the adversary deck out of reach.
One final thing I would consider is to reduce the amount of number crunching by all players turning over the adventure cards leaving only the points they are ahead by (possibly using the discarded adversary cards for small point differences). All this should remove the distracting maths of who is leading in the game and provide more focus on what adversaries are needed to get in front.
Strange thing in this game is that I get a better feel for the struggle of the knights in the Arthurian legend here than I do with the "full house" or "2 pairs" card play in Shadows over Camelot. But I keep wondering do I really care for the Legend?
Now played the full range of players and suspect 5 is best as with 3 characters starting in the "0" cellar there's a stronger possibility of dramatically "shooting the moon" in the last round. One space moves keeps the game brisk; but the pace is cut short by the scoring which can take longer than the play. So in some ways King Me is and isn't an improvement on Undercover. Like it's predecessor, I''m finding that table talk is necessary to make this game a fun experience. As your intent is secret, there is no sitcom to tune into. There is the inherent "aaargh" factor when all players vote yes, while you hope someone will veto, resulting in you not scoring much. One important thing to mention is that 3 of your characters will be on each other card in play; part of the interest is determining which player has which 3 so as to find alliances. The "4 to a floor" rule allows for some tactical play.As mentioned elsewhere, players crane necks to determine the identity of the 2 dimensional characters (cheap production decision or intentional design to watch the above behaviour to divine vested interest); so best played sitting opposite each other.
A card game version of Elfenland which I find too random and even has more scope for negative play. After the 1st round payouts, the next deals determine whether it's to increase your earnings or hit the leader. This then generates the humour of slapping back and forth, but with some competitors this will leave a negative vibe. Multiple options in a turn tries to address the randomness of the game, but some of the choices are time consuming and more so for the player(s) who continuely pass after their complete planning. The boardgame has a more streamlined game play.
Interesting card game in which players draft cards, the remainder increasing the values of the cards held, so there's alittle tension with contradicting needs. Dragon cards eat some of the valued stockpile, so some nastiness, but for me all the tension evaporates with the scoring with multiplying and adding at game end.
Underrated game having some familiar elements from the designer's Bohnanza (i.e. goods collected are flipped into vps/cash) but for me is used here more effectively and there is no trading involved (which can become a long winded affair). I love the speculating as to which pieces of jewellery will be readily available, and how to profit effectively and slow down the profits of others. Very subtle indeed.
As with most Euros, I like the play of Geschenkt but dislike the resolution of a winner with unweildy maths, which turns the fun into a chore. After reading various favourable reviews of Lascaux being similar in play and noting the resolution of the scoring seemed better, I played Lascaux 3 times with some variance and each outing was a disappointment. I think the problem lies strongly with me not picking up the subtleties. The joy of Geshenkt is not only the speed of play (first to pass also starts the next round) but each round is focused on only one card. Also because cards picked up are on show, everyone can relate to each others need except for the uncertainty of hidden cash. Lascaux played as per rules is the exact opposite: there can be 3 to 7 cards with each player secretly deciding which cards to go for (the overlapping due to the colour selected is interesting, but diminishes the focus); purchases are secret so making it difficult to recall and hence relate to what animal types a player is aiming a majority in; lastly, money is open so in bidding there is no tense uncertainty as to how much someone is holding or how much to push before pulling out. So the first play with 3 fell flat, and for the next game immediately added the hidden stones variant. This was an improvement, there is fun of frustration when players come away empty handed and the last placed picking up, but I couldn't "see" the bluffing mentioned in the reviews, as purchases are piled so how do you follow what players are going for? I was hoping in the next game that purchases placed in piles would make the bluffing come to the fore, but instead there was cross referencing headaches as to which players would go for which animal group. You could pretend to not care for the cards on offer and milk for extra money, but because the manifest of the deck is too detailed and imbalanced, it is difficult to anticipate what the batches will be like and to time your purchases. So after 3 plays I couldn't be bothered with the design anymore, despite afterwards considering maybe if players from the outset focus on only 2 or 3 animal types to score well there will be more clarity in thought and players being on the same wavelength. During the games I was reminded of another similar design which I believe had more scope for bluffing and tense resolution, but unfortunately, not many share my enthusiasm for Katzenjammer Blues.
Online: variant of Can't Stop lacking the original exciting climb to the top as Level X replaces it with collecting numerical tokens and followed by anticlimactic addition at game end. First time I can say I've been turned off by a die roller, especially online.
A resource-conversion puzzle/game with a few novel (to me) features:
*To gain resources or convert to better ones generally involves playing a pair of character cards, one to signify the resource type and the other flipped (and tucked under the first) with a multiplier icon (Red Indian) allowing the collecting/converting to be done 1, 2 or 3 times. You can max up to 3 times by placing 1 or 2 Red Indian meeples from your expedition board. If you don't have a second character card you can use your meeples. (You gain more -unique- character cards by drafting at varying costs)
With resource collection you count each time how many tabled cards match your desired resource, including your opponent(s) tableau (a la 7 Wonders) then multiply.
So timed right you can scooped a lot, however this bounty needs to placed on your expedition board with limited space (you can buy-with resources-to expand your board), but the main consideration is the goods can slow the progress expedition party, which brings me to the focus of the game part: Be the first player to get your expedition party from the East side to the West side of the US.
*A lot of resource-conversion puzzle/games I've played is all about victory points, a fractured, scattered means of conveying status. Refreshingly in L & C status is simply done by moving a scout meeple up river and over mountains, again by means resource conversion via paired cards. However, like in 80 Days the status may be an illusion because when you decide to pick up your tabled cards, your scout has to go back a number of spaces determined by the weight the expedition carries and how many character cards in your hand at the time of your decision.
*Enhancing deck and resource management there is worker placement involving the multitasking meeples in the middle of the board, with some spots only allowing one meeple, reminding me of Stone Age
So in all a mix of familiar mechanics with some novel ones, with the visual race making me prefer this over types such as Agricola. The fact L & C can be played solo has kicked Agricola out to pasture. I wonder if 1 or 2 players may be the sweet spot as there is no resource market competition or trading to maintain non-player interest, and although the different character cards provide some variation overall it is a humourless venture maybe best done alone.
Sadly, played after Cash'n'guns, (another rare 6 player game) and Rette being 12 years older, it shows its age. Both games are simultaneous voting at it's core, but C&G is more dramatically fun. The negotiation element is handled differently in each design, but Rette is ponderous and calculative in feel, whereby C&G is more bluffing and less likely to involve group bashing. So Rette is no longer a Desert Island game, and I don't miss throwing it overboard years ago.
Real time game of placing spaceships which shoot other ships or ideally an asteroid. Ok, some sitcom fun, but summing up takes longer than playing a game which makes it less of a game and more like a maths lesson.
Liars dice style with cards with more emphasis on card counting than probability. And no elimination. Update: Still a fun outing as players push the thresholds on colour quantities and when they reveal the actual limits. One of the rare games which plays well with 6, but the strong memory element means this should be an intro rather than end of evening fare. But my biggest gripe is the repetition (which makes it overstay its welcome) and the scoring which seems unfair. Maybe -1 for wrong accusations and +2 for getting it right, otherwise a few wrong turns will see you out of it, so elimination in another way.
First foray into this exercise of being cost-effective. Variable setup makes for overwhelming evaluation of where contracts are to be made, which is so neatly done by marrying coloured block to coloured disc. What I liked was how well themed it was, I got carried away by it! The only reasons I can't rate it higher is that I can see it being prone to analysis paralysis and there can be situations of your planned pickup thwarted by the first come first served play.
Game play is not only simple, but is also evocative of theme, as merchant ships are set afloat onto the table to then have pirate ships placed alongside. To play well involves commiting to mind a diverse, irregular card distribution then recalling discards,considering tabled cards and what may be left to draw. There seems to be more of a tendency of drawing on your turn so hand size becomes an issue. Maybe best to play with 4 as with 3 there seems to be a conflict with 2 with the 3rd player getting away with the spoils; a 4th player may be able to step in, contesting the easy gains. Have played 4 player partnership, unique in that you sit side by side discussing what to play. I found this unsatisfactory, as there can be some time consuming discussion and one personality may dictate play. It also caused some confusion as to when to claim ships. Note that the Mik's translation is correct in regards to turn options.
I've enjoyed most of the books, the movies and being a fan of Knizia I was hoping for very good things: alas I have tried numerous times and I just can't "get into" the game (despite the beautiful production). I think this is due to 2 reasons: firstly, I find that the mechanics to the play too distracting to get into the theme.
And theme is the other obstacle: it is too rich in that some of the unrelatable elements just become symbols and hand management issues. The linear feel doesn't help either, when War of the Ring portrays the hobbits journey (in the midst of warfare) in 2 dimensions which helps portray the story better. To better illustrate the issue of theme density, I love Knizia's Confrontation as the spacial movement and combat effects provide a more relatable theme so simply.
At least the design re-invigorated the co-operative genre, especially with the inspired rule of not showing your hand contents. In fact another good co-op (Pandemic) when played with the aforementioned rule sealed LotRs fate.
In summary, I feel this is for the fans who would love the semi-scripted and very rich narrative to relive the epic again (and again).
Adds the "missing" journey board Bree/Isengard plus the challenging Foe deck. Just compounds the issues I have with the base game: distracting mechanics and too rich theme, so more likely to be enjoyed by the "Tolkienites".
Knizia now ups the ante for the hobbits by removing much of the (easy?) AI of the game by making one of the players be the evil. And Sauron can eavesdrop, so the players now have the communication restricting.
One way Sauron can inflict further pain is the dark rider which tags the hobbit and returns to his master thus another way of ending the quest for the shorties. This element enhances the narrative and I love the inspired design feature of the Sauron player getting to play inbetween the hobbit turns, so Knizia has removed the downtime for evil. Nice guy!!!
But then more narrative elements and mechanics are added, much to the bewilderment for me but no doubt feeding the fans who want more.
I've enjoyed Stratego, but found the narrative alittle disturbing, especially the bombs. Here the play is similar, with reduced set-up and playing time (hurrah), closely faithful narrative inherent in each playing piece and board (although the fellowship is fractured), with no anguish in killing a fictional hobbit/orc. Then there is the tense and fun card play when in conflict. The additional cards to help balance playing experiences is wonderful.
*Have played this alot and been impressed that sometimes I come across a subtle tactical decision I haven't experienced before. I like the progressive images in each of the expedition cards, and game play has that advancing storyline, though doesn't have the exploration narrative of Africa. Has the Knizia trademark "Play a card, draw a card" which enforces speculative angst (though this is to a lesser degree then some of his other card games as you can draw from one of upto 5 discards). What increases the pressure is trying to get over the positive scoring threshold. The drawpile acts as a countdown to game end, the pace of which can be manipulated which I like. Quick pace is another good feature as sometimes plays are obvious. Can't intefere with opponent's play (so safe to play with your partner), all you can do is deny your opponent a valuable card to advance,though holding on to too many of those doesn't benefit you; so dilemmas creep in. On the whole Lost Cities quietly provides moments of consideration, quick to play but lacks the sharing of sitcom. Where it fails to do anything more for me is when I'm feeling competitive and need the thrill of comparing race situation:this requires maths gymnastics to discern current player status in order to make the best decision(though I guess the uncertainty maintains hope). Adding to this is the scoring which personally is an overlong, dull chore leading to an anticlimatic game session.
Yep, the cardplay that makes Lost Cities so enjoyable and addictive is still there: the holding off and speculating of narrowing the gaps in the sequence, the silent kick in the pants when you draw the card value you've passed. But if you felt the pressure in the cardgame as the drawpile depleted, Keltis pushes you in the back for a couple of reasons: now there is a second game end condition to look out for and there are stones to pick up otherwise you lose points, and with others breathing down your neck for these means you feel more forced to jump large gaps in the sequence. But the more interesting thing about the boardgame variant is that there are a couple of things to overcome a bad hand: you can go backwards sequentially, there are spots on the board to move any scoring marker up and likewise if you play cards for markers at the end of that path. Add to this that the game is far easier to score than it's convoluted predecessor makes no surprise why this won SdJ.
Update: Finally played the Lost Cities edition and glad I waited for the theme is better, the board is functional for discards and drawpile (though alittle busy). Gone is the scoretrack to be replaced with victory point coins paid out during and at game end. Uniquely, scoring for the artifacts is catered for either a single or 3 games. Also reverted back to the original rules and play in ascending order only which greatly improves the tension and quickens the game and card play.
I remember seeing this reviewed in Brett and Board awhile ago but wasn't really interested; however, that changed when I played a copy and it was an instant love (winning on first go made things rose-tinted). Since then I'm finding that not everyone shares my passion. The common complaint in four player session is that the game pace is slow, but more significant is the frustrating gameplay: you move, explore but can only do one thing (if you have no whiskey left), which for most is staccato in feel, rather than a sense of tension. As I'm the one explaining the game I don't feel this stop/start. Even if I wasn't explaining I find the game fascinating not only in theme, but also as a cost effective exercise in racing against others. One joy in the design is the use of the die to countdown game end which notches up the tension but also provides hope. I think newbies are overwhelmed by the gameplay and not interested in what others are doing. It is interesting to see that laid back personalities aren't put off by the frustration, where adrenal junkies are.
When the opportunity arrived that 10 people were available, I was reluctant to introduce this game, as I feared it would be so dependent on group dynamics that the experience may fall flat.
So long as players can implement tactical "Survivor" style arguments and counter arguments of why someone should be killed and not killed, and the moderator can provoke such styles in players and maintain pace and atmosphere, this game is an interesting mature psychological experience of lies and persuasion.
My hesitation was due to lack-lustre experiences with The Big Idea and Once Upon A Time, but in Lupus in Tabula, you're less dependent on being creative to be funny, and more in persuasion. Thers is some confusion as to how the roles work, and I think in future I won't allow a killing on the first night to prevent a totally random murder and give everyone a chance at discussing and lynching, which may favour the villagers too much. I'll have to see.
I can see other 'geeks arguments that there are no real clues as to who is who, and hence no real game, but I suspect more competitive 'werewolves' would give more body language/verbal clues. All in all, I've been bitten with the desire to play more games.
Snakes and Ladders/Ludo style game using cards rather than dice to get to the tower at the top. Has more replay value than those traditional kids games as the means to move up and slide down a level are via some chips which are randomly placed before each game. Also the punishing "go back home" chips are system inflicted rather than player inflicted, which still allows fun but no social friction. Initially, the thought of playing what looks like a kids game was embarrassement. What elevates this game from being a kid's game is that chips are always kept face down so memory is involved, and the movement by cards involves some thought as to which one of your 5 goblins you should move. You can stop goblins by landing on top of them, as well as using them as a hand up to the next level. Other chip effects spice things up some more. The components(except the goblins)help relate the theme, which promotes a fun narrative. Probably best with 3.
My son was more interested in the physics of magnetism rather than the game, and because he was more in awe of the chasing in Pyramid, that is a better maze game (albeit without the memory element, which isn't really interesting here as it is mainly building a memory map and not committing anything practical to memory, such as Sidibaba for example).
I've tried 3 or 4 times to get into this game. I can understand it's appeal as the numerous tactical combinations are an interesting puzzle, but the text reading slows play. To make any informed decision requires knowledge of not only your deck but also your opponent's which is impossible, unless you want to spend time learning the 100's of cards out in circulation. But it's the attitude of the game that I can't get into. It is the equivalent of boxing. Yes it may be dramatic at times, but the the player spending the most time building a brutal deck will emerge the victor. Even the promotion of the game has other hair raising similarities to boxing.
First play with 4 and there was so much confusion. Not only did the lack of strong, defining colours make assessment difficult, but also the alternating rules regarding road and city placements was too much for my little brain. Added to that was the concept of temple ownership, highlighting the problem of weak road colours:as the game progressed it was like looking at a large plate of spaghetti. I even had trouble trying to implement the tactic of spending effectively to make more money/victory points, though I gradually picked up the tactic of placing markets for free whenever possible. Tactical road placement reminded me of Durch die Wuste (which despite pastel colours is far less confusing). Like Puerto Rico there is minimum luck, with only the action map tiles flipped in each round providing much needed spice in a rather dull and humourless exercise in who can think more clearly on the night.
1 play with 5: like father like son, I found the descendency of El Grande here. Firstly, I prefer this to the predecessor due to the countdown of the palaces sparks my competitiveness, and the "dial up" element that I liked in ElG has been moved to centre stage. However, I found it hard to determine what the secret plays may be.
Alot of familiar elements in this design, with the auction of approval cards resolved in a unique manner. Interesting in a spatial planning way, especially in making others build for your benefit while also setting yourself up for placement configurations which award victory points. Played twice, with 5 it felt too long and chaotic, though gameplay was of interest in deducing what secret agendas opponents had; with 4 players, you had more chance of getting the desired cards. Common complaint is the that the colours of customers on the shop tiles are little difficult to see. Scope for intentionally nasty frustrating plays to reduce/deny the worth of player's agendas and is ideal for players who like a mental stretch. Sadly, too convoluted and no intrinsic fun factor to suit my common gaming environment.
*A quirky memory game which is best to show than explain how each round is scored. (For an intro I don't include the 3 difficult pizzas and only play 2 rounds). Once the mechanics of play are understood, I can't think of a better card game for 2-3 players. Close scores, hand management and evil mirth (when your opponents fail to complete an order) makes this a keeper.
Want to introduce your child to the fun and tense mechanic of blind bidding, so he or she will be ready for Caribbean, Hoity Toity, O Zoo Le Mio etc...well chew on this design which I'm surprised to find out is by Mr Zooloretto, as nearly all his designs haven't appealled to me as much as this one.
Now I don't mind games with an element of risk, but when it comes to high risk speculation on a die roll I just feel the odds are against me. Sure there are situations in and around the Port of Manila to compensate such unpredictability, but the amount of calculation involved (for my brain) is undermined by that die, I mean I nearly won the game because I was lucky being the pirate on the third roll. Comments that this should have been a horse race are justifiable, in fact such a game exists called Royal Turf which for me is a better speculation.
Purchased mainly for the solo game but the different theming was also a hook. Really enjoying the solo games, really impressed by the design especially from first time designers and first time publisher. However, looking into the standard playing I feel there is too combative with the cards to be palatable in my groups and also concerns about a deceleration to finish.
Yeah, there are concerns after playing a dummy 2 hander (competitive mode): the colony goals (contract kicker) if you get them seem to be best played when other players rest otherwise it is a wasted play; and this issue of thoughtful card play/decisions being undermined by the combative nature and cards enhancements from a deck difficult to commit to memory and track means possible too much chaos for so little gain. So the game may well shine in the solo/co-op mode as you can at least apply some assessment skill as to how the centipedes will behave, and the theme seems to come through more in this mode. Myrmes seems to be appealing to me more, less text clutter, a little more look ahead (maybe too much) and more immersive art.
Update: well I'm surprised to find I've misunderstood the movement rules after nearly 10 games: you can move as far your hand cards allow. So with the session with 5 there was more hoarding than I'm used to and making it feel like a Ticket to Ride session. Not sure if I'm keen on this 'freedom' though I suspect it will be easy to assess when to 'charge' and leave the others eating your dust with 3 players as tracking weaknesses and strengths of opponent's hands is difficult with more.
Similar to 80 Days in terms of collecting cards necessary for movement which then gives you vp status, but Marco offers more thought in a shorter playing time, as well as a better and realistic narrative. The card requirements for moving in MP are varied, so you draft cards (which have value in colour and symbol) which offer more flexibility of moving to a vacant space when desired spaces become occupied. There is less fun elements than in 80D and but can be tense, but some players have a heady time with card selecting and anticipating other's moves and frustration follows especially when the right card fails to turn up in the draft (though with less players this would be less of an issue). I like it but finding it hard to find players who think likewise.
An experience 'game' in that you don't really have much decision making to do. Narrative is provided by an event deck in which there are teas, dances and kissing the militia resolved by die rolls. You hope to get events which allow you to draw and/or play cards from your hand which have coloured attributes and values, aim being to amass enough pts in colours matching a highly valued suitor. Once the event deck runs out the most 'cunning' (or rather lucky) player gets to roll for eligible suitors or lose out and become an old maid. Ok if you want to just chat and have fun with the theme and situations rather than work out profitable gains and avenues.
Unusual party game in which you physically act your secret "hand to face" guesture, visibly to only 2 other players as you score minus points if more players determine your secret "stance". What is fun here is everyone signals simultaneously, whilst also grabbing a matching signal card from the centre if they see it performed. Interesting concept, but falters in practice, as it is confusing in resolution and scoring for a light hearted activity.
First play with 3 without the rule that two buildings = 1 palace. As a result the game overstayed its welcome, and it still surprises me how one incorrect element changes gameplay. More interesting was the mixed feelings of still wanting to compete and yet wanting the game to finish: what was it that made the gameplay interesting and at the same time monotonous? I'm willing to give the game another go....
Yeah, it may look like Modern Art minus auctions but this version feels like Trendy with superpowers which doesn't seem to benefit mankind. The first play with 3 showed the devastating effect a player with too much power can have on accruing huge bounds in scoring, whilst stamping out hope which no canny player can recover from. Befitting their artistic themes, Masters Gallery is a quiet, thoughtful approach whereas Trendy, though shallow and quick has always been a fun outing. Difficult to say whether less or more than 3 will effectively address the superpower issue, though the game may stay alittle longer in the collection for educational purposes.
Update: I think 4 may be the sweet spot in regards to a balance of control and chaos, though I think the power icons may still be an issue. So the game is interesting in the latter aspect as to how play well with the hand dealt so rating up a point. However, I can't warm to the game because of the fractured scoring (tokens fragments it further) whereas compared to Trendy where you have a comparative 'feel' as to how you are doing. Now starting to think 2 player may be best.
Visually thematic and the card restrictions and use of dice makes for tense game play. Having played many European games over the years, it felt unusual being passive on my opponent's turn, just being a spectator (or refereeing) when I'm so often actively card counting, tactically deducing, evaluating costs etc. (This is no problem if I want to give my brain a rest, but is quite dull otherwise). I'd like it better if the conflict was more interactive like in Risk/Clash of the Gladiators whereby the defender feels involved in the confrontation.
Played Iron Horse and I prefer this to Carcassonne, in that your options become more limited as the game progresses coupled with the neat fixed orientation rule, so the play speeds up. (However it is more vicious than Carcassonne as not only do you play to limit an opponents score but also reduce their scoring opportunities; this highlights the plus of Carcassonne in that forcing a meeple off the board means another opportunity to score). Newbies find Metro more visually confusing than TaYu (yet more portable). Unlike Carcassonne, there is a more uniform tile distribution to memorise to tactically determine best placement. Note that the Metro ruleset doesn't mention that only one scoring marker can occupy one space (a la Torres).
Reminds me of a more involved version of Clans in that you are trying influence movement around the board to finally bring it to stop to meet your hidden agenda. Interestingly, this movement is governed by auction via buildings (with printed values) as well as positive and negative scoring chips in locations to either channel or sway the next move. Smooth, intriguing but ultimately too Chess like with the added problem that once a player has committed his high value buildings too early has to sit out of some of the action.
First play with 3 newbies and it was enjoyed, despite some initial confusion which was overcome as the order of play became clearer in each round. Next time we will score with coins rather than the fiddlesome tally chart.
If you like the thrill of being chased (and who doesn't?), this is nicely themed drama filled with push your luck risk. I can see kids getting a kick out of it, but I can't see this being an entertaining proposition for more than 3 players: once you've rolled, wait your turn with really nothing of competitive interest, only sit-com to savour which I guess will wear out.
The revised rules from MKW improves the play, especially with market crashed cards being discarded rather than reshuffled into the draw pile, preventing the problem of high probability of those cards being reintroduced into play. So now there is card counting and speculation. An interesting game of realising when or how to get ahead (and when or how to slow down yourself and others),but lacks any intrinsic humour. Other negative attitudes: Involves a little lookahead, causing some downtime, so best played with 3. The colour of the shares could have been brightly different to help the comparing attitude. The management of the white zeppelin is littly offputting. The central scoring table provides a spatial puzzle of evaluating rows and columns, and with the fluctuating score status, this maybe too fractured for a tired mind.
Not bad, but game mechanics are from the "old school":i.e. draw first, evaluate then discard (down to ten), so there is alittle downtime with nothing of interest for the non-players until the discards. Instead of drawing a card, you can trade which holds some tactical interest, but this play increases the evaluation of cards traded.
I enjoy the simultaneous reveal/bid mechanic for its tense uncertainty, sitcom and quick pace. I have played quite a few games using this mechanic, but so far I think this game implements it the best. Very similar to Raj/Hols de Geier, but reduces the scoring to a visual point by point race to be the first to the moon. Admittedly, the extra special ability cards can add some confusion, but it only takes a couple of quick games to time their use. Besides, they add an extra dose of sitcom, with high bids often backfiring and low ones suprisingly move up. Some will complain it is just a luckfest, but it is all about card counting and making decisions which increase the odds in your favour (i.e let others pass you, play your high sand bag to get underneath highly potential movers who you can hook on next turn).Rating is for upto 4 players as more makes it difficult to see what cards are still to play and so more random; also resolving card play is more cumbersome. Rules also include some interesting variants to suit group size and tastes.
First play with 5 of the rare "it pays to listen" style of game. Played in 2 phases in which 2 victims are dropped into the lift shaft of an 8 storey hotel, listening to which floor they land. Player cubes follow in and the players, each in turn, try to locate the victims in the hope of removing their own cubes as others are placed on a scoring mat which lists the floors.
Once the victims have been found, the second phase is about either trying to accurately locate and remove your cubes or accussing others onto the scoring mat. At game end, player on or adjacent to the victim(s) floor score 3 or 2 points per cube, any other space is 1pt per cube.
The fun comes from the accuracy of your call and the reveal of what you 'heard' on which floor (a wooden table is a big clue!!).
Has a far better implemented theme than Igloo Pop though not as frantic. First play with 5 and I felt the novelties of listening and cube dropping starts to "overstay their welcome" after about 20 mins. Because of the fun I'd play again with possibly either reducing the number of player or with less cubes in your pool or for endgame condition. It may also reduce the fuzziness of too many cubes on the scoring mat to intuitively feel if you're a strong suspect or innocent.
As this is commonplace managed to buy an almost complete copy for $2. The hook here is the contraption which can be used to at least keep my boys attention in playing by the rules with the reward of gradually building the amazing mouse trap. So not without some merit even though the endgame is a bit monotonous.