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Spiel 2011 Part II

Antti Koskinen
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Last weekend I was at Spiel. Now I try to remember what happened during Friday.

Friday was the first full day in Germany and we began the day looking for games old and new. Janne had arrived day earlier and had not been at the fair before and we helped him to find the games he searched for (he was a mule for friends with a special taste).

As we tried to support Janne's efforts to find the games on his list we ended up playing Drako which I had not noticed before the fair. This fantasy game is for two players and the idea of the game is that one player controls a dragon and the other player has three dwarfs, who try to kill the dragon. Each character has special powers and game is played by playing cards. Therefore there's nothing particularly new in the mechanics of the game but the feel of the game as well as the game play was solid. I really enjoyed the game and ended up beating Saku in both of our games playing Dragon side.

As the third member of your group was finishing his buying spree we ended up sitting at the Cambridge Games Factory booth. I'm a huge fan of trick taking games and I had read about Pala which was Cambridge's take on the trick taking games. Components of the game are not very convincing but the game (actually two of them) itself is very good and felt unique. I love games which can deliver such experiences and ended up buying the game after the test session. I should receive some components which were missing by mail by have not seen them yet. Hopefully they will arrive someday.

Next we tried to find something more meatier to play and ended up playing Hawaii with two gentleman from Germany. Hawaii is the latest offer of Hans im Gl├╝ck and I didn't have huge expectations based on the couple of the previous games of HiG and things I had read of the game. I was actually positively surprised by the game because it had something else going on than just the gorgeous components. There were lot of decisions and planning and mechanics which were fluent. I have my doubts on the length of the game (too long) and the theme was there just for the show (which I find disappointing) which leaves me wanting to play a full game with four to see if I really like the game or not.

The last game at the fair for Friday was Mundus Novus which we decided to play after trying to to find a table and a game for five players. I had read the rules beforehand and was interested in the game. Basically Mundus Novus is a game based on the trading mechanic of Mare Nostrum. I liked the mechanic in Mare Nostrum even though I did not like the game itself and thought that creating a trading game with a solid trading mechanic, not a civilization game with a cool trading mechanic, might work well.

We had fun with the game up until the 60 minutes mark but unfortunately the game lasted much more than that. While I likes the game play if Mundus Novus I really think that the game lasts too long for what it is. This can be solved easily by changing the end conditions but playing the game with original rules does not sound so interesting.

After a very good Chinese meal we decided to play a couple of easy card games. Amigo card games are the ones I always take a close look at. Some of them are classics and even the poorer ones typically are fun to play with right group. Hol's der Geier! was the first Amigo card game of the night and this one you can pass. Game is like For Sale's second part and there's really nothing new here. Each player has a similar set of cards and you play one card during a round. Highest card takes positive points and lowest negative points and the one having most points at the end of the game wins. Obsolete.

Big Five is Reiner Knizia's take on Qwirkle. The basic concept is almost the same with little differences in scoring and the fact that game is played with cards. If you like Qwirkle you'll like Big Five and if you're not a big fan of Qwirkle, like me, you probably don't have to buy the game but can play it when you have an opportunity to do so.

At this point we had energy for one game and playing a Martin Wallace game is always a good idea to end the night. Normally this would mean couple of well spent hours enjoying a rather heavy game but this time we ended the game in less than an hour. We also ended the night playing a trick taking game which is always a bonus and the game was Old Men of the Forest.

I really enjoyed the game and especially the mechanic where you try to win tricks to collect sets of cards which you can use to win scoring cards. Not a very heavy game but still a thinky game and definitely worth a closer look if you ever have a chance to do so. I want to play a second game which is a positive sign since there are a lot of games sitting on the shelfs unplayed.

Saturday was the day for Europe Masters but that's a story for another blog entry...
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