Thoughts From The Gameroom

The ramblings of a Euro-gamer from South Dakota

Archive for October, 2007

More Reading: Rules & First Impressions

Posted by sodaklady on October 31, 2007

I finally read the rules to In The Year of the Dragons.  The first thing that gave me pause was: “the player whose person marker is farthest ahead on the person track” selects their choice of action first.  Wait, what happened to the typical Euro balancing act that gives an advantage to the player in last place?  Well, o.k., you can spend money to take the same action.  I kept reading.  By the time I’d gotten through the Events phase, I was wondering, “where’s the fun in this?”  If everyone knows which Events to plan for, won’t everyone want to do the same thing, if possible?  It seems that each round, you’re just trying to keep that firecracker from going off in your hand, metaphorically speaking.  I found a review by Kristof Tersago who had the same feeling after playing it.  PASS.

 Race For The Galaxy caught my interest when I read about it on BGN.  I like San Juan, which this is a first cousin to, and the tweak in role selection as well as more card combinations sounded very good to me.  Unfortunately, in trying to make the game language independent, they were forced into Icon Madness.  This is fine if you have a regular group of gamers to play with but my family would mentally run screaming from the table.  PASS.

 As soon as I saw that the rules for Z-Man’s Pandemic were available, I was there.  Why is a co-operative game about curing diseases so appealing?  Maybe somewhere deep inside of me I want to save the world.  Or maybe it was as simple as liking the look of the board, or needing another co-op game (besides Shadows Over Camelot).  Whatever the cause, after reading the rules, this has gone into the number one spot on my Want List.

 Most of my playing is now limited to 2 players and Pandemic sounds like it will play as well with 2 as with the full compliment of 4.  It also includes a way to adjust the difficulty level, a plus in my opinion because I think this is going to be a tough one to beat even on the beginning level.  The players take on one of 5 different roles, each with a special ability that breaks the standard rules.  Here is the one thing I’m not sure about since it seems that a couple of them (Scientist and Medic) are a lot more helpful than others, especially the Researcher.  This is in no way a deal-breaker; this just sounds way too cool.  The whole idea of a frantic race to slow the spread of these diseases and find cures before they get out of control is enough to get my blood pumping.  BUY.

 Like most of you, I love the cute figures in the Lamont Brothers’ recent games (Shear Panic and Hameln) but the game play didn’t grab me in either case.  Still, I found myself reading the rules to their newest game, Antler Island, and loving it.  This one is more family friendly, I think; a little more fun and a little less brain work.  I can see my family enjoying this one, a prerequisite for any game I buy these days.  I hope it soon finds its way to the U.S.  BUY.

Finally, I’ve been waiting patiently (but not terribly so) for the rules to Scrapyard Wars to be posted.  My husband and I were regular viewers of the tv show Junkyard Wars and if Steve Sisk can bring a little of the zany, let’s-give-it-a-try feeling from that show to a board game, I want to know about it.

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Reading Rules

Posted by sodaklady on October 4, 2007

Reading rules to some of the new games that are soon to be released is the highlight of my gaming lately.   The only playing I’ve done is when I twisted the arms of my husband and daughter to try out my recent purchases of Uptown, a very good game with the length of a filler but the heart of a tricky abstract, and Bohnanza, which is pretty crumby with only 3 players.

 Wadi
I only discovered this game through the Rules Wiki on BGG, otherwise I probably would never have heard of it.  This is a 2-4 player game that plays in about 30-40 minutes, about pumping water from the wadi to irrigate the land.  It’s basically an abstract but the theme fits the game play beautifully.  The tiles, which can be set up in different configurations to start, are very bland but easily distinguishable from each other.  It also has the most beautiful start player token I’ve ever seen.  It looks, at first, like a simple, quick filler but it sounds like a real thinker.  There is no luck in the game, and stealing other players’ water is part of the strategy.  I definitely want this one.

Chang Cheng
This is a light area influence game with a twist.  Each block of the Great Wall of China that you place influences both a good area (+ points) on the China side and a bad area (- points) on the Mongols side.  I hesitate on putting this on my “must buy” list only because of the Action cards.  They could add to the strategy, making you decide when and where to use their powers since you only have 6 cards for the whole game, or turn out to be a crap shoot with 4 players vying for supremacy in the last couple of provinces.

Kingsburg
In Kingsburg, you roll dice to influence the King’s advisors who will help you get more resources and soldiers.  The resources are used to build buildings which give you special powers; the soldiers help you fight off an attacking enemy at the end of the year.  As I was reading the rules, other games kept popping into my head:  choosing an advisor by dice placement made me think of To Court the King; and the resource gathering in order to build buildings in order to use their special powers made me think of many games, especially Yspahan but that might just be because of the dice aspect of the game.  In the end, my main thought was, “Is that all there is?”

 

League of Six
I read the rules even though I know that it’s unlikely to show up on American soil unless it’s a runaway hit.  After reading the rules, I can’t say I’m broken-hearted about that.  It sounds like a good game, don’t misunderstand me; but I have enough light, interesting games that it would have to “wow” me before it makes the “must buy” list, and it doesn’t.  There are interesting concepts like the re-ordering of the Turn Order and the rotating Tax tiles to give you a variety of choices in each city but on the whole, it sounds fairly ordinary.

Utopia
This game has absolutely gorgeous figurines!  If you haven’t seen them, hop over to the BGG game page or the game’s web site and check them out.  They make Cleopatra’s pieces look like Leggo blocks.  Anyway, on to my impression of the rules.

 This is what I would call an area control game rather than area influence—you either control the district or you don’t.  The rules aren’t as foolproof as they could be since it wasn’t immediately clear to me that you play a color rather than a civilization.  Each set of color tiles has pieces that represent all of the civilizations but that is a little confusing until you keep reading.  Other than that, they were easy to follow and understand.

 The game sounds great; I was drooling to try it before I finished reading the rules.  One reason is that there is more than one way to score points so you can try different strategies or shift your focus if things aren’t going the way you planned.  Another reason is that, during one phase of the game, you can manipulate both your presence in a district and the value of a civilization.  I like games that let you do a little tricky manipulation; it keeps things fresh and maybe catches your opponents off guard.  It also sounds like it would play pretty well with just two.  Want it, want it, want it.

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