Wednesday, February 2, 2011

First Plays: Magical Athlete and Gloria Picktoria...

In keeping with my February goals, Monday night we played two of my many games that had yet to be cracked open. And much to our delight, they were both quite a lot of fun, one being hilariously chaotic and the other being tactical and quite tense.

The first, Magical Athlete, is a rather silly game from Japan which is very easy to explain.  Everyone bids on various different characters and they all race them over a series of rounds.  The races are actually quite simple - one 6-sided die determines how far you move down a track with 30 spaces to the goal. 

Where it gets interesting is the interaction of the different characters.  Think Cosmic Encounter meets Snakes and Ladders.  Some characters move others back or cause others to lose turns, others  can guess on a winner or steal victory points earned from previous races.  It's all rather random and quite chaotic but it was also quick, hilarious, and fairly close at the end.  Unfortunately, the artwork on the board is god-awful but I still seem to like it a lot.

The second game of the night was a big hit and got played twice-in-a-row which is always a good sign.  You've probably never heard of it, but I did mention Gloria Picktoria in a previous post as it's a remake of a great Alan Moon card game which is a remake of an even older Alan Moon card game.  I love this game.  Love it.  And I'll be doing a more detailed review fairly soon (it'll probably start with the words "Alan Moon is brilliant") so I'll just talk about it briefly here.

GP is a little card game about getting majorities in one of the ten different colours.  First and second place are worth points, third is worth nothing.  One draws cards Ticket To Ride-style and plays them down in front using 3 action points a turn.  Fairly simple.  What ramps the tension up tremendously are the scoring cards that are mixed into the deck and come up fairly randomly.  There are 10 scoring cards and when the 4th, 7th, and 10th come out, scoring occurs immediately.   The brilliant addition to this version of the game is the nasty fox who leaps around the board like a hot potato, canceling out whomever's pile of cards he sits on.  This fox element takes what was already a great little card game (Get The Goods from 1996) and makes it an even more agonizing game of pushing your luck.  Fantastic.

I can't recommend the new version from 2007 enough.  I'll tell you more in a detailed review soon.  While you're waiting, go out and buy a copy!

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