Sunday, January 29, 2006

First Impressions of Elasund & Fist Full of Cards

This afternoon, I found a little bit of time to sit down and play a couple of games with the family.

First up, was Klaus Teuber's latest game in the Catan Adventures series: Elasund - The First City. The previous game in the series, Candamir, was a pretty good game but it didn't seem to really stand out. My first impression of Elasund is that this is a better game. The game still retains some of the settlers flavor; dice are rolled, items are produced, ships move, things are built. There's certainly an element of luck here. But there is also a fair amount of strategy and a healthy dose of direct player competition.

Players are trying to build the first city in Catan. This involves placing building permit disks which are then converted into buildings. Buildings occupy one or more plots. The deliciously nasty part is that larger buildings can be built over smaller buildings, in which case the smaller buildings are removed from the board. Since buildings are directly tied to production (as well as victory points), building over another player's buildings is one of the most satisfying ways of improving your position.

Kray, Michael and I played today. I thought I had the game sewn up but near the end of the game I made a fatal misstep and left an opening for Kray to race from behind and surprise us all. It was a very enjoyable game. I look forward to playing it again.

Next up was the new mini-expansion for BANG! This is a 15-card expansion called A Fistful of Cards.

It had been quite some time since we had played Bang as a family. A few years back we played it quite often but with so many other games to choose from, Bang was left languishing on the shelf. I was only too happy to have another excuse to bring it out.

A Fistful of Cards is a mini-expansion similar to Bang's first expansion: High Noon. Fifteen cards are placed in a stack in the center of the table and each time the Sheriff plays, he reveals another card. This card alters the rules of the game in some way. For instance, one of the cards replaces the "draw 2 cards" rule with a rule whereby a player can continue to add cards from the top of the deck to his hand as long as he can correctly guess the color of its suit. Another card resurrects the first player killed from the game.

I rather hope this new expansion will give us a few more excuses to play Bang again. Some dislike Bang for its randomness and for its player elimination but I still have a soft spot for this game. I love the theme and I love the humor in the game. I also love the metagame of trying to guess who has which roll. If A Fist Full of Cards gets Bang to the table a little more often then I'll call it a success.


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