...I'll give you some lovin' in an hour's time
It's a long time since I did some boardgame reviews, and it's even longer since I combined them with a Ronnie Hawkins track. Let's start with the recently departed Hawk:
And on to the boardgames:
7 Wonders Duel: A two-player version of the original, which is equally good. It doesn't really work with one of my regular playmates whose Peace Studies degree - featured here once or twice in the past - precludes her from ever engaging with the military side of things, meaning she loses an awful lot of games by being conquered. It highlights what to me is an obvious practical flaw in being a pacifist, namely that one has rejected one potential solution before one even knows what the problem is.
Bargain Quest: This is a clunker. To start with it's about heroes fighting monsters, which is not really my sort of thing. But the twist is that the players don't even get to take the part of the heroes. Instead you play shopkeepers seeking to lure the fighting men into your shop to fit themselves out with armour, weapons etc. Who on earth thought this would be a good idea?
Carcassonne: Great game for two people, bit slow with more players. We only play with the Inns and Cathedrals expansion.
Jaipur: A two-player trading game, which is quite unusual in itself. It's an enjoyably tight game in which one has to choose one's moment to collect camels for fear of the next cards being drawn all being jewels.
Lost Cities: This is a cracking two-player card game, ostensibly about explorers' expeditions into the unknown, but actually a challenge to avoid throwing away something your opponent may want without clogging up your own hand with dead wood.
Patchwork: Another good two-player game. Get buttons into your design early is my advice.
Pit: Now here's a blast from the past, 1903 to be precise. I doubt that I had played it for fifty years. Still good fun in the right environment.
Power Grid: Excellent game. We played the China map and I won.
Qwinto: Das Kartenspiel: Not available in English - I think my copy is Dutch - it's a flip-and-write version of a dice game. Despite the cards only being laid out in a two by two matrix I struggle with the spatial awareness aspect. Pathetic really.
Qwirkle: I got this out to demonstrate it to a couple who were looking for a game to play with their 8 year old grandson. Given that they were completely bladdered when we did so I'm not sure how well they were able to judge it; your bloggist has become very censorious in the years since he last had a drink. For the record, I think it would be a good game to play with one's grandchildren.
Sagrada: A rather pretty game where you lay out coloured dice to imitate designing a stained glass window. The theme doesn't really carry forwards into the scoring, but it's all perfectly light and pleasant.
Shanghaien: As the name might suggest the theme is shanghaiing sailors in Shanghai. Neither the rules nor the scoring are that intuitive, but when you get the hang of them it's a good, thinky, two-player game. It's out of print though.
Splendor: This is the game I have played the most in recent months. It's not a gamers' game, indeed most serious gamers turn their nose up at it, but when playing with non-gamers it hits the spot. No real theme, but easy to pick up and with very tactile components. There are a variety of strategies and the winning one will inevitably be something your opponents are doing.
Spyfall: Not for me, but then social deduction games never are.
Startups: From Oink Games, this is a small but interesting game that was perfectly OK. You really have to put to one side anything you might know about the way that investment in start-up companies actually works.
Trek: Another old game, 1960 this time, but not one that I had played before; mountains not stars. We played with an original copy, with the rules printed in the lid and poorly moulded plastic pieces. It was inevitably unsophisticated, with a lot of 'take that', but also relatively short. I'd have another go in the unlikely event that I bumped into someone who owned it.
Targi: I think I might have mentioned before that this is my top recommendation for those seeking a two-player game. It's excellent.
Wingspan: One of the best-selling games of recent years. The gameplay is fine, although there isn't a great deal of player interaction, and it's certainly very nice to look at.
Zillionaires On Mars: I'm not generally a fan of auction games, mainly because no group of players ever seems to collectively judge values in a way that makes them work. Inflation on Mars seems even worse than on Earth and all bids are in zillions, which I'm not sure makes it any easier to pitch them at the right level.