“Look, I’m no longer uni-plegic,” Dave announced as he came through the door holding up his two hands. The splint and wrapping that had hindered him last game day was gone, replaced simply by a bandaid on two of his fingers. This was great, ‘cause he was gonna need two hands for rolling dice and holding cards.
My husband, Richard, had to work so it was just the three of us. We started with a neat little game called Tsuro. This simple, fun game is a good way to start since you can talk while you’re playing, catching up on what’s been happening, discussing games you’re looking at and what you’ve been playing. I was the first to force someone off of the board, unfortunately for Dave. Then it was just a matter of seeing who had the best, read luckiest, cards in hand. Turns out it was me!
Then Mike was anxious to show me his newest game, Quarriors. This is a light deck-building game using dice rather than cards. The dice represent your minions and spells which are activated to destroy your opponents’ minions. For each of your minions who manage to survive the round, you score glory points at the beginning of your next turn. I usually don’t do well with dice but in this game, they hated Mike to such a degree that he rarely rolled a minion but rather had more than his share of quiddity (the currency of the game). Any minion he did roll was soon eliminated. Dave and I fought it out, almost neck-and-neck, until I finally reached the finish line first. This is a fun little game, the only decision of note being which spell/minion to buy each turn, but if you yearn to roll dice and trash talk your opponents, this is a good choice.
Keeping with the deck-building theme, I brought out my newest game, Nightfall. This is also a confrontational game but it is not light. In fact it’s not light in two ways: it will make you think, and the theme is dark. Nightfall is set in a world gone dark which is now peopled with werewolves, vampires, ghouls, and the people who fight them.
What makes this different from the few other deck-building games I have been introduced to? Your participation is not limited to your turn, and how much or little you decide to do on other people’s turn can make a big difference. This twist is accomplished with a mechanism called “chaining”, which is very cool in my opinion.
Each card has a color, represented by the large moon in the upper left corner. A card whose color matches either of the smaller moons can be linked to it. In this way the active player can introduce new minions into his play area and cause various actions to take place. Once the active player has played all the cards he wishes, the next player to his left can continue the chain. This chaining continues around the table until everyone has had the chance to add to it, then the text on each card is resolved in reverse order. If the moon on the bottom of the card matches the main color of the previous card, the “Kicker” text is also applied.
Chaining keeps people involved during other players’ turns, influences what you decide to buy, and I think it can also be a help to someone new to the genre, allowing them to buy cards by colors rather than totally understanding how the text works. And it makes you stay on your toes because being resolved in reverse order can cause you painful problems if you’re not paying attention. And sometimes even if you are!
The game was a hit. We all three started slowly but got a pretty good feel for the flow of the game after a few rounds. Mike and Dave both like the deck-building genre and this one really hit the spot. For myself, I haven’t been really impressed with the other games I tried (Dominion and Puzzle Strike) but this was fun, vicious, meaty, and quirky. Did I win? No. Dave won; Mike and I tied for wounds with Mike having the most of one type.
As Dave had something else to do, we only had time for one more quick game. Mike wanted to show us Take Stock, a Z-man Games card game. It was quick and mostly painless. Nothing special and a little annoying since the luck of the cards can really beat you up. Or maybe it’s just not my type of game.
Richard came home shortly after Dave left, and Mike and I were dying to show him Quarriors and Nightfall. I was amazed to win Quarriors again, barely beating Richard! And again, Mike barely got on the scoreboard because he could NOT roll minions. Seems there’s actually a dice game that I’m good at! 😉
Nightfall was such a hit that we played it twice more. I still didn’t win but I just don’t care. It’s that kind of a game.