Friday, December 31, 2010

First play: Isla Dorada...

... and boy did I have hopes for this one (see my excitement here).  Not to say they have been crushed, ESPECIALLY after one play.  But this game is very chaotic.  The random event cards can be a bit devastating when picked at the right times.  For example, by pure chance I drew a card before the final bidding round which allowed me to make two other players discard 3 adventure cards each.  This effectively locked one player out of the last round of bidding and cost her the game.  How arbitrary.

As well, I kept thinking of games like Ticket To Ride and Elfenland for which this game would share the same audience (and was definitely inspired by).  Both of those games seem to have an arc and climactic, nail-biting endings.  In this first game, I had played my winning cards by round 14 and couldn't improve my position anymore.  I basically sat quiet through the last two auctions before I could claim the win.  Hmmm.

Having said this, we were playing slow due to it being our first game and so it did seem to go on for awhile.  But we were definitely entertained and the artwork is fantastic but I'm just not sure there is enough control or long-term strategy to make this last more than a few plays.  I really hope I'm wrong because I could see this being quite a humorous, nasty little game.  We shall see.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy holidays...

Received my first Christmas card from a reader in Belgium.  Thanks, Pieter!  Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Grumpy Festivus, whatever you celebrate I hope you enjoy it and get lots of game-time over the holidays....

All the best in 2011!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

You tell me: holiday gaming...

What games will you be playing back home this holiday with the family and/or friends?  How many new rulesets will your grandma be subjected to?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A review of 7 Wonders...

Every year or so for the last little while a game has come out that is deep enough to offer long-term playability but also short enough to be addictively replayable, usually more than once per gaming session.  For our group of friends, recent examples of this have been Race For The Galaxy but more so Dominion.  Well, I was worried this year but I am happy to say that a game to rival these two modern classics has just been released right before the end of 2010.  Antoine Bauza's 7 Wonders plays like a cross between RFTG and that great little Japanese filler Fairy Tale but manages to handle up to 7 players without jumping outside of it's 30-40 minute time frame.  The mechanics in 7W are hardly original but are put together so well that the resulting experience is quite addictive and absorbing.

The entire game takes place over 3 ages in which each player plays 6 turns.  Each player starts with a hand of 7 cards and everyone picks a card to play at the same time.  Once everyone has played their card, the players pass their remaining hands to their neighbours (clockwise the first and third round, counter the second).  This is repeated 6 times until players play one of their last two cards and discard the other.  It's all pretty simple, especially if you've played Fairy Tale.  Where it gets interesting is how the cards can be played and their effects on the game.

Many cards, especially in the first age, produce one or more of the 7 resources for you once they are played face-up to your tableau.  Since you only start with one of these resources and most cards require certain resources to be played, er... "built", one often starts the game by building up resources.  And this brings me to the first interesting little twist in the game.  You can actually always purchase resources that your direct neighbours have available.  So there is often exchanges of money as well as continuous appraisals of the cards laid by one's neighbouring cities.  As well, certain cards provide discounts, extra coins, and some even lead to free plays of upcoming cards in later ages.

In the final age, a randomly determined subset of the 10 purple "guild" bonus cards show up (think 6-Dev's from RFTG).  If you literally play your cards right, you may be able to build one or more of these for an average of an extra 6-10 points each.  In a game where final scores are usually between 40 and 50, the guilds can often determine a winner.  There are also many other ways to rake in points:  every three coins gets you a point, building levels of your monument gets you a big bonus, and many of the cards lead to huge points depending on how you play them.  As well, at the end of each of the 3 ages every player checks their military might (red cards) with their direct neighbours and points are awarded or taken away according to who is the strongest, lending some much-needed interaction to the game.

In a single game, everyone usually plays about 18 cards and all players play them at the same time.  So the whole game is over fairly quickly.  But that quickness does not imply a shallowness of play.  There are many streams to victory in this great little game: heavy military red cards, green science cards, blue culture, or even building certain resources so your neighbours have to pay you tons.  But unlike RFTG where one plays a relatively singular strategy, it seems that players have to construct a more well-rounded city by building some military for protection, resources to help with building and earning money, and then at the same time take advantage of the opportunities that are passed to them.  In fact, the game feels a bit more like Agricola in that sense, just without all that agonizing, brain-burning pressure.

And herein lies the difficulty that some have with the game.  For those who say it isn't deep, I think you're wrong.  One can definitely learn the cards and their build patterns and be able to play quite well.  But it really all depends what you are dealt and also what is passed to you.  And I think this is what actually takes the game from good to great.  Players require versatility with their choices and strategy as they don't have complete control of what cards they will end up seeing in their hands.  You can plan for a certain card but in the end your neighbour may use it to build their monument or play it themselves.  It makes the game feel a little more relaxed and, in my opinion, far more enjoyable.

So what do I think of the game? Well, I like it a WHOLE lot.  The game is easy-to-teach unlike RFTG, but still has a great amount of depth.  It is super-quick whether you have 3 people or 7 people, because your play really only depends on the two players adjacent to you.  It's lots of fun, especially when you get that one great card handed to you and actually have the resources to build it.  As well, the 7 different monuments have 2 different sides to play with so the starting choices add some real variety to each game.   All in all, this may not be my absolute favourite game of the year (I have yet to play Isla Dorada and I have high hopes) but given the play-time and awesome scalability, I think this is probably the best game of 2010.  Buy it, I don't think you'll regret it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

How to remix your Christmas gaming...

One of the many joys of having a semi-regular readership of this here blog is that friends and readers (who really are just friends I haven't met yet) send you anything odd they find on the intertubes that is remotely boardgame-related.

Thanks to Michaela for mentioning this little tidbit!

In my never-ending quest to get people to play something, anything other than Monopoly, I wholly endorse this product without even looking at it.  The Boardgame Remix Kit is a set of 26 different games to play with pieces from Monopoly, Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, and Clue.  And if you're reading this right now and you own one of these, I expect you probably don't play your old copies anymore as you've realized what else is out there.  Okay, maybe occasionally Scrabble....

The set of remixes is available in PDF form, a set of rules cards, an Iphone app (of course!), and soon a good old-fashioned hardcover book.  Definitely worth a download if you find yourself spending this holiday at your relatives' place with nothing but their standard collection of drek.

(via Boing Boing)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Merry Christmas....

I am looking at copies of Bauza's 7 Wonders and Faidutti's Isla Dorada on my kitchen table right now.

It's going to be a really fun Christmas...  That is if I can stop playing Agricola long enough to get 'em both out of the box!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How to scare a newbie...

Wanna learn a game about farming?  Seriously, it's really easy!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

'Tis the season...

Three seasonal items:

1)  Out of The Box Publishing, maker of the lovely '10 Days...' series of games is giving away games to needy kids.  All you have to do is go to there Facebook page and hit the Like button.  Pretty simple and some kid gets a game for Christmas.

2)  Love this.  Board Game Family has a great article about what games to give instead of the latest, dumbest version of Monopoly.  Did I mention I love this?

3)  I'm eyeing the chocolate versions of various classic board games like Scrabble and Clue.  Last year my sister gave me Monopoly which I was more than happy to consume.  I think I'll be passing these out to others this year.  It seems only appropriate.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

You tell me: your most played games....

Writing a blog about board games means one should try and play a variety of games, not only to remain knowledgable and up-to-date, but also so one doesn't keep posting about the same damn things all the time.  Unfortunately, our group of friends tend to get hooked on certain games.  There was a good 5-6 months where we ONLY played Dominion and for the last  year or so every evening has ended with a couple hours of Tichu.  This last month I've found that all I've wanted to play was Agricola (which is quickly becoming an all-time favourite, up there with Ticket To Ride and Acquire). 

What game is your group obsessed with?  Which games do you keep going back to night after night?

RELATED:  Dominion: Prosperity is now available and I can't help but want to play it.  More treasure and bigger points could get us back into Dominion....

Thursday, November 25, 2010

First (and only) play: Sumeria

In a recent post by GamerChris, he describes Hansa Teutonica as a "soulless Eurogame" but states that he still quite likes it (as do I).  Well, Chris, if you want soulless Euro, have I got the game for you!  Reiver Games' Sumeria by Dirk Liekens is a cube-pushing, mind-numbing game of subtle, ineffective tactics that is about as dry as the desert it's board portrays.

The rules themselves are pretty simple.  Try to get a piece in the city of or a majority of your pieces in the top 3 of 8 regions by the end of each of the 6 rounds.  Add a piece, remove a piece, or move and possibly jump a piece over others to get to another region.  Every region you enter or remove a piece from usually changes the ranking of 2 of the 8 regions.  And therein lies the problem.  With each move from each player changing the ranking of the regions, often the top 3, it is nearly impossible to plan more than a turn or two ahead.  And when one is the first player in the round with a set number of turns before scoring, it is almost guaranteed that the players after you will completely change the top 3 regions before you get to score.

I suppose one could say the scoring mechanism is kinda neat, grabbing one or two of 4 different types of tiles which increase in value depending on how many you get (1, 3, 6, 10, etc...)  But this is hardly original, having been done many times before in MUCH more interesting games like Knizia's brilliant Taj Mahal, for example.  And since you barely have any control over what regions score anyways, it's impossible to plan to grab a certain tile over another.  You just grab whatever tiles you are able to and the choice is pretty much thought-free.

We played one 4-player round of this almost luck-free game and it gave us all a headache (but not in a good way).  You can analyze and plan all you want, and we tried, but in the end you realize that everyone can completely destroy those plans in the turns between yours and the scoring.  I suppose one would have more control in a game with 2 or 3 players, but to be honest, the mechanics of the game just aren't interesting or enough fun to be worth trying. 

At least it was easy to explain...

RELATED:  At the same games night, we played Tigris & Euphrates, another Euro by Reiner Knizia.  Every time I play T & E, I'm reminded of just how fantastic the game is.  This abstract representation of civilization-building and conflict boils everything down to its bare essence and leaves a deep strategy that still feels thematic and is, most surprisingly, a hell of lot of fun. Easily in my Top 10 games of all time and proof that strategic Euros do not have to be dry and soulless.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bridge nights...

...well, not really, but Tichu nights!  The last couple weeks we've had 12-13 people over playing Tichu.  It's been quite a lot of fun and we've already introduced some newbies to the game.  In a couple weeks, we may have enough for four tables.  I think we may need a bigger apartment.

I'm starting to feel like the homemaker hosting Bridge nights from days of yore.  I plan to make some lovely appies from Gourmet Game Night for the next evening.  May as well get me an apron with dragons all over it...

ASIDE:  BGN points us to an well-written article about Eurogames in which Settlers is referred to as a 'Monopoly-killer'.  Oh, if only.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The title of the latest Munchkin expansion...

...made me giggle this morning.  BGN announced it here.  Mind you, I have no interest in the game as it's far too random, chaotic, and long for my tastes.

Kinda reminds me of the famous cookbook for zombies and Cthulhu baddies:  the Nom-nom-nom-icon.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I love my new job...

Brought games to the office today and we played three rounds of Wits & Wagers over lunch.  Looks like we're gonna set up a regular office gaming lunch every couple weeks now because everyone was so interested.  Lovely.

Friday, November 12, 2010

National Gaming Day

Many libraries across the world are celebrating National Gaming Day tomorrow Saturday, Nov. 13th.  Check out the link here to see if your local library is having any events.  There will be board games and video games galore, including many generously donated copies of the delightful Wits and Wagers thanks to North Star Games.

I gotta say I've got mixed feelings about this event.  Now here me out:  On the one hand, I'm glad that board games are becoming more mainstream and libraries are realizing how great they are for teaching tools, social interaction, and all-around fun.  On the other hand, the more popular hobby gaming gets, the more new games will be designed and released each year.  And I barely have time to play all the ones I own.  And I can't seem to stop collecting more, no matter hard I try.  Oh, sweet agony...

(Thanks to Luke at North Star Games for the tip)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How to explain the first game of Agricola to beginners...

Don't tell them how the final scoring works until... well... the final scoring.  Trust me.  I now have a partner willing and interested in playing Agricola a second time.   YES!!!

Oh and don't tell them how each action works either until they ACTUALLY have the option to take the action.  Seriously.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The battle of the bands...

That is, RUBBER bands. Remember how much fun it was to shoot elastic bands in elementary school? Well, this new game Battle Bands is looking to revive that bad habit and add some cool customization to the game. And to top it off the elastics are shaped like really friggin' cool monsters!!!

Each different creature comes with a corresponding element and description card adding some depth to the simple game of shooting elastics at other elastics.  Certain colours beat other colours immediately, otherwise the creature with the highest strength wins.

Having received this game in the mail, I must say at first I didn't think I was the target audience...  But having opened it up now, you can't help wanting to play with the colourful elastic characters.  I'm looking forward to playing this with my 6-year-old nephew when I get back home at Christmas.  Although the 37-year-old I live with looked pretty excited when I opened up the box.  Maybe we'll try it before then.

For more info you can check out their website here.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The word on the street is...

If you're in Chicago near the end of November, you should stop by and check out the Chicago Toy and Game Fair Nov. 20-21st.  This is one more event that I have heard about too late.  But I actually live within a day's drive of Chicago and I've heard the city is beautiful.  So next year, next year...

Out of The Box Games, makers of the great "10 Days In..." series of games, also have a word game Word On The Street which I've heard good things about but have yet to play.  They'll be having a championship for WOTS using an enormous 50 foot version of the game.  Fun.  If you're curious about what that looks like, see below.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

First Play: Dragonheart...

In fact, the first three plays - one right after the other right after the other.  We just had to play one more game.

If you like Lost Cities and/or you like Jaipur, you're pretty much guaranteed to like this game.  What it loses in strategy compared to those two games, it gains in sheer speed of play and simplicity of explanation.  Simply put, you play cards which can capture other cards which can also capture other cards... and so on and so on.

Simple and delightful and another reason for my partner and I to turn off the TV and spend some more quality time together.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I feel like this might be fun if I ever had any chance of winning...

BGN announced the latest game in what seems like a new trend in game mechanics - "paint-mixing" (Fresco by Queen Games being the first, of course).  Hmmmm.  Well, I suppose it's a bit more thematic than "deck-building" or "worker-placement".

Unlike Fresco which is a worker-placement game with an element of paint mixing, the main idea of Pastiche is to mix colours together to come up with secondary and tertiary colours and use these colours to paint works of art.

Ugh. The game actually sounds like it could be fun but if you're colour-blind like me, you realize the nightmare that THIS would cause.  I was once seen wearing pink pants to class and I was totally oblivious.  Turns out my favourite white pants had been washed with a red shirt.

I may just have to sit and watch others play this one....

Friday, October 29, 2010

Best birthday gift ever pt. 2...

 I blogged a few days ago about Cynthia Nims' delightful Gourmet Game Night cookbook that my sister sent me for my birthday.  I LOVE food and cooking and experimenting with different styles of cuisine and I also love games (obviously).  So this was a match made in heaven...

The book itself is a treasure-trove of surprisingly good recipes.  I've been drooling over the Homemade Pretzel Sticks with Three Mustards and the Banana Bread with Hazelnut Cream Cheese Filling (I know, seriously.)  The book even has a list of some great game stores in the US and gives props to not only the classic games but also to Ticket To Ride and Apples To Apples.  Nice!

I'm also happy to report that the author also has a website here with tons more recipes and ideas and rules to a few simple games.  I'm in heaven.  Here's a recent mouth-watering recipe from her website:
Mocha Cheesecake Bars
from Gourmet Game Night (c) Cynthia Nims

The ever-popular cheesecake makes an easy transition to game night, taking on a shallower square form that’s easy to cut into finger-friendly pieces. If you’re unable to find simple chocolate wafer cookies (the Nabisco brand wafers are a great choice), you can use graham crackers crumbs instead for the crust.
1 1/4 cups very fine chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (4 to 5 ounces cookies)

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

2 tablespoons Kahlua or other coffee liqueur

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a medium bowl, combine the cookie crumbs and melted butter and stir to evenly mix. Put the crumb mixture in a 9-inch square cake pan and press the crumbs evenly across the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust until set, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 F.
Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over medium heat, stirring occasionally. (Alternatively, melt the chocolate in a microwave.) Take the top bowl from the heat and stir in the coffee liqueur and espresso powder. Set aside to cool.
Whip the cream cheese and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until well blended. Add the eggs and continue beating to make a smooth batter, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the chocolate mixture until thoroughly incorporated.
Pour the batter onto the cooled crust and spread it out evenly. Bake the cheesecake until set, 35 to 40 minutes. Set aside on a wire rack to cool completely, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
Cut the cheesecake into 5 strips each direction, for 25 squares. Arrange them on a platter or tray and serve.
Makes 25 cheesecake bars
↑ can double all ingredients, making the cheesecake in 2 pans
↓ best not to halve; extra will keep well for a few days, covered and refrigerated
¤ can make the cheesecake up to 2 days ahead, cover, and refrigerate

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What do you think the chances are...

...that I can get a hold of a copy of the first printing of 7 Wonders before they run out? 

I'm crossing my fingers but I still say the chances are pretty low......

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Best birthday gift ever...

My sister seems to know me very well (or else maybe she ocassionally reads this-here blog thingy).  In any case, the cookbook which arrived in the mail today was simple and perfect and totally made my week....

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

More pics from Games Night...

More gaming this Monday night at the University of Waterloo...  Much fun was had.

A game of the delightful little 1-2 player co-op Onirim while we waited.

Lost Cities, which I have yet to play

Lovely bits and scorecards for Inca Empire

The gorgeous board for Inca Empire
So many games that didn't get played...   :(
Dominion.  Of course.
Everyone started with Ricochet Robot when the night began.

Fun night although I really only played the 10-minute Onirim and Inca Empire.  And I must say Inca Empire was fantastic.  Heavy but relatively easy to learn and really well-balanced.  In fact, the balancing mechanisms were reminiscent of Power Grid.  The road-building felt a bit like Empire Builder.  But in the end, this great game was all its own.  Looking forward to playing it further.  I'm glad Z-Man picked this one up...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

And the Games Magazine Game of the Year goes to..., Jump Gate?  This year Games Magazine makes an... "unusual" choice for the best game of the year.  Not a bad choice as far as I know, as I have yet to play the game to decide, but a game that I have never heard of and has made little to no waves in the gaming community.

This is actually kind of par for the course for Games Magazine.  I've been reading them since I was a little kid, before BoardGameGeek or even the advent of the internet as we know it (oh god,  so old.)  I used to get giddy when the December issue arrived always two months early.  I'd spend the afternoon drooling over all the great board games that I thought I'd never get to play.  In the last decade, since they split the board games up from the video games, their choices of top game each year have definitely been interesting.  Last year was definitely a good pick - Small World from Days of Wonder.   But take 2004, for example - Alan Moon's New England won.  This was the year another game from Alan Moon came out called Ticket to Ride.  It swept the Spiel des Jahres and remains one of the best-selling games of all time.  Does anyone still remember the out-of-print New England?  I have a copy somewhere which I had bought on the recommendation.  Must play that a second time....
I must say I'm curious to play Jump Gate, given that Small World and Torres have won previously.  But does anyone have a copy so we can try it?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The time of Essen '10 draws near...

...and I keep reading BoardGame News.  Really, if you care at all about the new games coming out this Fall you should check out the site.  The other Eric Martin does an amazing job previewing the new releases and it is probably the best and most up-to-date English-language site for board games. 

I won't even tell you which games I'm looking forward to anymore as I probably will not get to play even half of them.  But it's nice to dream...

UPDATE:  Okay, okay, I take that back...  Here's one game from Zoch that sounds just awesome!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Second play: Lords of Vegas...

Oh, yes, it's good.  In fact, it's the first American-style strategy game that I've really enjoyed despite the limited decisions and ridiculous swings of luck.  Now if only we could get the play-time down from almost 3 hours to the supposed 60 minutes it should actually take, then I'd say this was the best board game so far this year.  It's definitely the most fun.

Expect a review fairly soon...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

First play: Lords of Vegas...

Four of us settled down with some beers and snacks last night to play the Mayfair Games' new Lords of Vegas, by Mike Selinker and James Ernest of Cheapass Games fame.  I had watched a very positive Dice Tower review so the excitement was there.  And I am happy to say the game was actually as fun as Tom Vasel had said.  It reminded me at first of Acquire in the building and joining of casinos but eventually the game became a pretty wild strategy/luck mish-mash.  While playing it, I actually felt the same way I did the first couple times I played Settlers of Catan due to the crazy interaction, tons of dice-rolling and trading, and just enough tough decisions to make you think you have some control.  What this game seems to have that Settlers missed is some real balancing mechanisms both in the scoring and the play.  On one play I had three actions in a row ruined by bad die rolls.  On the following turn, I flipped a card that gave me control of the largest casino on the board.  Awesome.  Now, wild random swings of fortune are usually something I despise in games but they seemed to benefit all players fairly evenly last night.  And given that this game is about gambling and building casinos it actually seemed quite appropriate and thematic.  But it's hard to say if the luck will balance out every time.  People say that about Settlers and I think they're wrong.  We'll definitely be playing this one a few more times to find out. 

I have one complaint, though.  The graphic design is dated, cluttered, and not up to Mayfair standards, especially for such a winning title.  It doesn't break the game by any stretch but for someone who is colour-blind living a dimly lit condo, there were a few moments of confusion trying to find the red and green transparent chips on the dark sections of the board. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

A farmer's life is for me...

Played Agricola for the second time in my life last night.  The first game I'd played left me wondering, the second has me hooked.  There's something wonderfully rewarding about watching your pastures and farmyards expand, watching your family grow, and seeing your crops and livestock become plentiful enough to sustain you through the winter.  I think I know what I want for my birthday this month.

Oh, and I realize I'm like 4 years behind all you serious gamers.  Sorry, I've been playing Acquire....

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Review of Mosaix...

A new breed of games has come out since the classic Take It Easy (which I still play when I'm with a larger group of people).   I like to think of as, well,  'Nu-Bingo' - 'Bingo' because everyone plays the exact same randomly drawn pieces at the same time and 'Nu' because there is actually some strategy involved. The game FITS has been a big hit with us and falls into this category as does the recent release Cities (which I have yet to play but have read very good things).

So when I heard Mosaix described as Take It Easy with dice instead of numbers, it definitely piqued my interest. Even better, when the game showed up in a lovely tin case and at a very cheap price point, well, you can see my reaction here. The great thing now that we've played it a few times is that this little game, described as a "brain-teaser" in the rules, is actually quite a fun little brain-burner despite the quick play-time.

 Components and Rules

Well, I've already gushed about the tin case.  But the great thing is the boards and dice inside are just as nice.  Four wipe-off boards, markers, and special dice all fill the little tin.  And the rulebook is easy-to-read, clearly laid out, and LOADED with examples.    
Verdict:  Simple, colourful components.  Excellent rulebook.  Great value.

Gameplay and Strategy

The game itself is pretty simple.  Each player has a 7x7 grid to fill in with one of the three symbols on the dice.  One at a time each players takes a turn to roll the four dice and then position the dice in one of seven possible connected 'Tetris'-like shapes.  Once the rolling player has fixed the shape, everyone including that player must write those symbols on the board in that shape.  You are not allowed to cover spaces that are already filled but you can write some symbols off the edge of the board, effectively ignoring them.  This continues around and around until one person has filled their grid or can't legally add any more symbols.  The game then ends and each player works out their score.

The key to the game and the challenge is in the scoring.  Each player circles all connected groups of the same symbols and then crosses out any symbols in groups of 4 or less.  Then, for each symbol the player scores the number of different groups of that symbol times the number of that symbol still on the board.  Aha.  So 1 group of 17 only scores 1x17=17 points but 3 groups of 5 symbols (only 15 symbols) will score 3x15=45 points.  So now each player is trying to maximize the number of groups of each symbol whilst still trying to get each group to cover at least 5 squares.

So how does it play?  It sounds simple but it's actually surprisingly tricky, especially when you are the dice roller.  Once players boards begin to fill up, your choice of how to arrange the dice becomes very important.  You want to arrange the dice to your benefit but not to the other player's.  Okay, it's not chess, but it will you give you a slight headache trying to work out the arrangements.  And it's also hard to try and figure out when to stop growing a group of circles and instead start another group of circles on the other side of your grid.  I actually did okay my first game and then lost horribly on my second game (see the green board in the bottom picture).  Why?  Because I was careful and wrote a lot of symbols off the edge of the board trying to set everything up right.  Unfortunately, my fellow players pushed on and finished the round quickly leaving me with a lot of empty spaces and crossed out groups of 3 or 4.  Grrrr...
Verdict:  Simple and quick to play, but puzzling enough to have you scratching your head.  Great!


Oh yeah, you gotta buy this one if you like puzzles, interaction and/or dice.  Especially for the price.  The game is fun, short, and great exercise for the brain.  And it works great with 2, 3, or, 4 players (haven't tried the solitaire rules yet).  Before you even finish scoring your first game you'll be grabbing the paper towel to wipe the board so can play again to try for a better score.  That's a good sign...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tin makes me feel special...

I'm liking how lots of new games are coming out in collectible tin cases and are still super cheap - Mosaix for 12 bucks and Forbidden Island for around 16.  Kinda makes me feel like that woman on the Ikea commercial....

Game giveaway finished...

Sending out emails to the winners right now.  Not sure if people want their names posted so I'll them out.  Thanks to everyone who responded and I'm sorry if you missed out on this round.  I imagine the way I seem to be purchasing games lately that this'll probably end up being a bi-annual event.

21 emails, 9 winners who have to thank for their games.  Cheers...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Some random tidbits...

Age of Industry - I've waited a couple years to play Martin Wallace's Brass but I never picked it up because it seemed too complicated for my group.  I now have this streamlined version in my hot little hands...  Yippee!

Haggis - No, not the food.  Check out Brian Bankler's description of this 2-3 player version of Tichu.  Sounds a little gentler but still quite strategic.  Now I'll have to play Tichu all the time.

Game giveaway! - In case you missed the post last week, check it out here.  I'll draw names on Friday!

UPDATED:  Age of Industry just won the International Gamers Award for 2010!  The IGA is like the serious strategy gamers' version of the Spiel des Jahres.  Even more excited to play it now. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cottage weekend... Eat Poop You Cat!

Hanging with the boys at the cottage this weekend.  GamerChris will be happy to know that someone suggested a certain parlour game that ended up being a riot.  He didn't know that online it's famously called Eat Poop You Cat (or recently published as Telestrations).  Basically, you cross that old game of telephone with Pictionary and the results are pretty damn funny.  Here are the rules from BGG:
Each player starts with a piece of paper and a pencil. At the top of the paper, each player writes a sentence. Then they pass the papers to their left. The next player "draws" the sentence a la Pictionary, then folds the paper so only the drawing is visible and passes it to their left. The next player looks at the drawing and writes a sentence that they think the drawing represents. This continues until all players have their original paper back. At the end, all players unfold their paper, and much hilarity ensues as "I am the Walrus, koo-koo-ca-choo" becomes "Hitler and I danced the night away in a disco."

The game continues until everyone runs out of paper or everyone has added something to each paper, always ending on a sentence.
Here's a relatively family-friendly example from last night....

And here's some random pics whose complete interpretations can't be repeated here....