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 Random.org 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....

Friday, September 17, 2010

On The Horizon: Caylus with dice...

...or at least that's my impression after reading the rules of Troyes.   Of course, James over at MetaGames beat me to the punch on getting excited about this puppy.  Check out his comments and then have a look at the rules.  Very cool!  Yet another fascinating way to use dice and, despite my aversion to worker-placement games lately, this one looks like a hit.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cleaning out the closet... GAME GIVEAWAY!!!!!

I have been told... er, I mean, "asked" to trim down the game collection a bit.  We live in a small condo and we are starting to run out of shelf space so I'm ditching some games.  I suppose I could sell 'em but I thought, hey, why not just give them away to the readers of this humble little blog here who have stuck around even though I've posted minimally for the last couple months.  So I'm more than happy to send these babies off to a new home where they'll be taken care of.  All I ask is that if you want one of the big games, just send like 10 bucks my way via PayPal or something to cover some of the shipping. 

If you're interested, shoot me an email at domcontests@hotmail.com with a list of the games you'd want in order of your preference.  I'll draw winners in a week or so.  And if as many people as last time enter, you're likely to get something...

The 9 games up for grabs are:

Top Dogs - A cute, little card game that was WAY too lightweight for our group.  Might be great for a family, though, as it has some decisions and basic multiplication skills are required.

Vikings - Played this a couple times and tried to get into it.  Just seemed like a few too many rules to get through before the game emerged.  Oh well, it's a hit on BGG so you might love it.

Dos Rios - Played once.  Fun but rather long.  Had that take-down-the-leader aspect that makes me despise Settlers of Catan.  It's all yours...

Shadows Over Camelot - Some people SWEAR by this game.  I'll stick with Lord of The Rings and Pandemic.

Once Upon A Time - A game about telling stories where you actually have to tell stories.  Only played it once and it was so long ago, I've forgotten how it went.  But it's not my thing anyways.

Incan Gold - Please take it.  This game brings so many groups of people so much joy and I find it to be just tedious.  But then, I'm kinda fussy.... 

Union Pacific - An old Alan Moon game that isn't half bad despite being a bit too long.  Kinda plays like Ticket To Ride meets Acquire.  I think I'll stick with Ticket To Ride and Acquire.  Note: A card is missing but the game is still totally playable.  I've had to mark some stock cards to indicate this.  Take it or leave it.  The game is OOP so it's impossible to get a replacement card, sadly.

Carolus Magnus - I actually think this Leo Colovini game is quite clever and original.  But the last couple of games have ended in a roll-off much like every game I seem to play of Settlers of Catan.  Happy to pass it on to someone who'll appreciate the extremely clever design.  This is the hardest to part with but we just haven't played it in over a year so why keep it.

Cranium: Super-expensive turbo power edition (or something) - This was a gift.  Trust me.  And it was played twice.  With the person who gave it to me.  'Nuff said.  If you like Cranium, I'm told this is the ultimate version.  And it's even got a loud, flashing lighted timer.  I have Wits and Wagers and Dixit to keep me happy.

(As you can tell, I'd probably give away our copy of Settlers, too, if I didn't think my partner would kill me.  And it is a good memory...  the first of many Euros...)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Oh Tichu, how I hate thee....

Two games of Tichu.  

One last night ended with a friend shouting at his girlfriend and me shouting at the friend and calling him a rather immature term for a man's bits and pieces.

A game tonight with more heated arguments between another friend criticizing his partner and me trying to tell him his tone was out of line.

Sigh.  I think we need to shelve this one for awhile and go back to Dominion.  Does anyone else get this angry and passionate about Tichu?  It's actually becoming for us more volatile than a drunken game of Risk....

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First Play: Asteroyds and Hansa...

Games night at the University of Waterloo continued this week despite the Labour Day holiday (gamers don't stop for stupid holidays!)  I tried two games, one new and one old:

Asteroyds - This fun little game comes from the fantastic French game company, Ystari Games.  Imagine the programming of Robo Rally combined with the perilous racing of a game like Mississippi Queen or Speedboats.  Except the obstacles move.  And you have less than a minute to program your spaceship's move.  This is ridiculous, painful fun and it's a hoot to watch your opponents collide with an asteroid on their first move and waste their whole turn.  I can see us playing many games of this at the end of an evening.

Hansa - An older release from the defunct company Uberplay (who I'm realizing imported some damn fine games) was a game I picked up in a trade by mail.  And what a treat.  A thoroughly European little economic game to which I lost horribly.  Hard to describe the play except to say that it is very tactical and each player uses the same piece to move around the board.  Unusual but quite fun.  Looking forward to playing this again. 

On a side note:  The digital camera has crapped out for good, I think, hence the lack of game pictures lately.  I expect to have my hands on a lender fairly soon and then this blog should become quite a bit more colourful again.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Guest post: Dealing with the stigma...

Apparently my buddy Rami takes this blog much more seriously than me.  Here's another well-thought-out contribution: 

Rami here again. So this has been puzzling me for a long time: I unfortunately do not have the privilege of having a large group of personal friends who enjoy boardgaming. While trying to convert some, I noticed that there is often a huge stigma associated with boardgames. Either people think they are childish, are too difficult, or can in no way be fun. I try to get past this. Show them small little games at first, where skill could come a little later, and make them really simplistic and fun. With some this has worked, but others refused even this treatment.

When I ask people why they don’t want to play, I often get bland and uninformative answers. They rarely have a reason, or if they do have one, they rarely want to tell it to me. The weirdest thing is they will refuse a game and then go sit around and do nothing (it’s not that we alienate them, there’s a bunch of people not playing games around) – so it seems like they’d rather do nothing than try a boardgame. This just boggles my mind! How horribly do you have to see this game so that doing nothing at all looks good in comparison?

So I have this one friend that always refused to play any game. At one point I somehow managed to convince him to play one game of Coloretto – and he loved it! However, when a few days later I recommended another game, the stigma still stuck. He is now willing to play Coloretto if I bring out the game, but anything else gets an automatic 'No' without any consideration. So even though I showed him that these games are simple and fun, the stigma still persists.

What is it about games or maybe about us as players that make these games so… repulsive to other people? Why do these fears continue to exist even as boardgames are becoming more of a mainstream activity? How the hell do I get more of my friends to embrace boardgames?!?!

Rami is an occasional writer for DeathofMonopoly. If his commentary dazes, confuses, excites, intrigues, or congests you, then feel free to tell him about it by emailing him at rfinkelshtein@gmail.com

Labour day weekend...

...and the weather looks just awful here in southwestern Ontario.  Sigh.  Looks like we'll have to stay in and play games.  *cue disingenuous sad trombone*