Summer always seems too busy, and too tiring, for games. But it gave me the chance to discover gaming on the iPad! Even when you’re busy, you can take a couple of minutes to take your turn at several very good games. I am currently enjoying several games of Carcassonne, which I was talked into paying the exorbitant amount of $10 and it was worth every penny! Every little touch, such as the chat and the option to see what tiles remain in the draw, adds to the ease and enjoyment of the game. I also am playing Summoner Wars and patiently awaiting new factions to try out; Le Havre is kicking my butt since I was only vaguely familiar with it before the purchase; Ticket to Ride Pocket; Lost Cities,;and the oh-so-fun-and-frustrating Disc Drivin’. But enough of that–on with the board games! (The links here are to the Video Game Geek game page, when available.)
Now that I’ve finished canning beans, making pickles, and freezing applesauce, there’s time to think about board games again. I recently bought Castles of Burgundy after finally making it through a video review of it. For some reason, I had a hard time getting interested enough in most of the reviews to watch more than a couple of minutes, and I couldn’t get into reading the rules at all, but my long-time Geek Buddies assured me with their ratings and comments that this was a game I should try. And they were indeed correct.
I set up a 2-player game to play solo, working through the rules so I could easily teach Richard the game, and after only a couple of turns knew this was fun! I love rolling dice but they are so unabashedly evil to me that I usually want to throw them across the room at some point in the game. Not so with Burgundy. You have several choices of what to do with your roll as well as “Workers” to help you adjust the count if you need to. Any roll can be used to get you more Workers, and they are worth points at the end of the game so are always a useful commodity. There are tough choices in how you attempt to build your estate, and the game comes with several different estate layouts to keep the game from becoming the same old thing.
Speaking of dice, Richard and I have been playing Wurfel Bohnanza (the Bohnanaza dice game) whenever we have 20 minutes of so to kill, like between lunch and get-up-and-get-back-to-work. This is a light, quick, fun dice-roller so don’t let the bad rolls get to you. Roll the dice, set at least one aside as you try to fulfill the orders on your card, then roll again. Oh, wait! Those other players who seem to be just waiting around to take their turn? They need to be paying attention because if you roll what they’re looking for, they can use it to fill their order, too! This is a good little filler for people who can’t help but love to roll dice.
Another new-to-me game that I’ve had my eye on since it’s debut at Essen 2010 is Matin Wallace’s London. This is basically a card game but the board map adds another way to earn points at the end of the game. The premise is the rebuilding of London after the fire of 1666 so the cards (which represent buildings, for the most part) are divided into 3 groups to keep the theme running in chronological order. You must use a card from your hand as payment for another card that you wish to build. This, as in San Juan, can be cause for some tough decision-making. Now balance making points with making money, throw in the Poverty Points (which are bad, as you can guess) and you have a game that is an intensely satisfying experience. Yes, it may take longer than you had planned– 1 1/2 to 2 hours– but it’s the type of game my husband and I enjoy. We also love the crayon rail games (Martian Rails, British Rails, Eurorails), so if that helps you set the atmosphere, so be it.
And the final new addition which we’re really enjoying is the expansion boards for Ticket to Ride, India and Switzerland. These are tight boards which are good for 2 or 3 players, and each have a little twist to the basic rules, of course. Switzerland has tunnels; lots and lots of tunnels. If you try to build a tunnel line, you also turn over 3 cards from the deck. For each one that matches what you played to build that stretch of rails, you have to play another card. You don’t lose the cards you played, but your turn is over with nothing accomplished. There are also some Destination Tickets that are more generic, giving points for connecting a specified country to any other country on the edge of the board or a specific city to any country. The points vary depending on how hard these connections are to manage.
India is more standard in its tickets and rail-building, with the exception of Ferries. Ferries are water routes that have one or two spots on them which must have a Locomotive to fill. And there is an additional end-game scoring for “mandala”, which means “circle” in Sanskrit. Every ticket you finish which has at least 2 distinct continuous paths qualifies for a bonus; the more tickets which qualify, the bigger the bonus. This is a clever variation because of how densely populated the map is, and it may be my favorite so far.
So with the leaves falling in the yard, and the squirrel gathering walnuts from the trees out back, I’m hoping to find the time and inclination to do more writing here. And Essen is just around the corner, friends!