Wednesday, 2 November 2016

The score

It's that eagerly awaited monthly post where I tell you which boardgames that I've played, but never include enough detail to let you judge whether you would like to try them or not. Being October this month sees a number of games that were brought back from the big trade fair at Essen by the surprisingly large number of people I know who went. Despite complaining bitterly that everything was much more expensive because of the decline in the value of sterling they still bought a shed load of new games.

Archipelago: Is this game as racist as everyone says? Possibly, but who really looks at the themes behind Eurogames? The real problem is the hidden victory conditions, which just make it a lottery. If I get roped into playing it again I shall be even more tempted to trigger the 'everyone loses' condition than I was this time.

Avenue: A strange name for a game about wine and castles. It's one of those where everyone have to draw the same road shape on a pad, but strangely everyone ends up putting them in different places. There's an interesting scoring twist, but it's all a bit ho hum.

Captain Sonar: I raved here about this game when I first came across it, but on every subsequent play I've enjoyed it progressively less. I'd like to play the real time option before giving up for ever though.

Celestia: A fun, push your luck combined with bluffing game. It has an airship theme and features some excellent 3D components. We crashed a lot and I didn't collect much treasure, but I did enjoy it.

Concordia: A nice game about trading across the Roman Empire which is complex, but not overly so. As usual with games I play for the first time I picked a strategy and stuck to it. In this case I picked the wrong one and implemented it badly anyway. I'd like to have another go and try a different approach.

Crisis: A return on investment game thinly pasted over with a theme about a country in economic difficulties of its own making. ["Where's that then?" asks the Rhetorical Pedant on behalf of all UK readers.] I won easily as I usually do in such games; not I think because I'm particularly good, but because most people are so spectacularly bad at judging what benefit in the future justifies spending a certain amount of money now. It was OK, but too much like the day job. There is an 'everyone loses' criterion, but we never came close to it; as opposed to the UK of course.

Flamme Rouge: This was my favourite of the Essen games that I've played so far. It's a cycle racing game that seemed to those playing to have a strong flavour of the real thing, although there are no drug cheat rules. The mechanics are a bit like those in Mush! Mush! and at the same time very different.

The Grizzled: This was a good game - a co-op about the French army in the Great War, with artwork apparently by one of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists - in the first place, and is much improved by the expansion. I still haven't come anywhere close to winning.

Karmaka: A very fine looking game, and the theme, rising from being a dung beetle through succesive reincarnations before ultimately achieving transcendence, is at least original. The game play was average, but it passed the time and I'd play it again.

Mystery Express: Not a bad deduction game, but equally nothing to set the world alight either.

No Thanks!: Probably my filler of choice at the moment.

Paperback: I like this game, but there is no doubt that some people can see words in a jumble of letters much more easily than others can.

Peloponnes: A strangely spelled - and, among the Monday night group at least, a strangely pronounced - game, which has random and brutal natural disasters, but doesn't feel dominated by luck.

Phallanxx: A game by the same designer who, whatever his other virtues, clearly can't spell. The theme is the wars of Alexander's successors, but isn't any deeper than having victory points labelled 'Strength Points' (presumably as in his deathbed pronouncement of his heir). One can directly attack other players, both on the (abstract) map and in terms of the dice in front of them. Being a dice game it mostly depends on what you roll.

Power Grid: The Card Game: Obviously this is a reworking, the biggest difference being that there is no map. It's main attraction seems to be that it's shorter, but the length of the original never bothered me that much. It was OK, but I didn't really see the point.

Quarriors!: A fantasy themed dice game with too much small print on the cards for me. I did like the dice bag mechanic, but really can't be arsed with monsters, goblins and dragons.

Raise Your Goblets: I played this twice, with 12 players and with 6; in the latter each player combines the roles of noble and wine taster, in the former one of the wine tasters is disloyal. The best thing I can say about it is that it has nice components. In theory one is trying to second guess what everyone else is doing, but there are so many people and so many possible actions that it's all far too random. The only viable strategy seems to me to be to get rid of all one's wine tokens as soon as possible and then call the toast, because having the last turn is so very powerful. I hope that's clear.

Red7: Dependable filler.

Sail to India: Always goes down better with new players than they are expecting. There is a lot of game in a small box.

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