Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Game Night Writeup

Last night's game night was pretty well attended. Most of the regulars were there. We were even graced by Curt's presence after this week's holiday schedule freed him from his regular Tuesday conflict. Curt was responsible for inviting many of us to this game group so it's always nice to have Curt join us, particularly since he's always got a few hard to find imports in his box.

We opened with my brand new homemade version of Liar's Dice. I finally gave up trying to find a good version of the game for purchase and I went ahead and built my own seven player version complete with full color laminated bidding board. We even lucked into finding the perfect paper cups in the cafeteria. I'm quite pleased with the results.

After enough people arrived we broke up into two groups. One group played Ark, the lovely Doris and Frank card game/board game hybrid. I've written about it before so I'll just say that I really like this game and move on.

I mentioned that Curt had brought some imports. One of those was König Salomons Schatzkammer (King Solomon's Mine) which five of us played while the others were playing Ark. This game was released last year in Germany. The pieces are lovely: a very nice plastic playing tray and tons of ultra-thick tiles. Players "dig" through stacks of tiles in search of gold, scrolls and magic items. It's a set collection game with an interesting three dimensional element and cards that dictate which things you can collect as well as playing order. It's a very interesting concept but it really didn't work all that well for me. I felt that although it wasn't an unusually long game, it was still far too long and too chaotic for what it was. For me the game seemed to drag and I was spending far too much of the game just sitting around waiting for my turn. Normally I'd want to use that time to plan ahead for my turn but by the time my turn came around it seemed that the board had changed so much that planning ahead was almost a waste of time. Perhaps I would have liked it better with fewer than five players. We actually ended up playing it twice but I would have been satisfied with only a single playing.

The Ark players next played Elasund. I recently reviewed that game so scroll down a bit if you want to know more about it. Suffice to say that I think it's the best thing that Klaus Teuber has done in years.

After King Solomon's Mine was finally reburied, Curt pulled out another German import. This time it was a game from 2002 by Friedemann Friese, who is perhaps best known as the designer of Power Grid and Fearsome Floors. Fische Fluppen Frikadellen (Fish Fags Fricassee) is a quirky pickup and delivery set building game. Players move their pawns from shop to shop trading odd items such as cigarettes, booze, fish, and hamburgers in an effort to collect sets. Sets are then traded in for "fetishes" (which look like little idols). The first player to collect three fetishes wins the game. There are a lot of little mechanisms in this game which combined with Friedemann's quirky sense of humor and penchant for the color green and the letter F add up to a decent game. There are even rules for combining up to three sets for a multi-table game that supports up to fifteen players but we only had the one set. I enjoyed this game better than King Solomon's Mines (the fact that I won might have something to do with that) but I still don't think that it's all that special. It's certainly not nearly as good as Power Grid or even Fearsome Floors. Still, it's unique and it's always nice to play something new. I enjoyed it.

By this time things were winding down but Curt, Adam and I decided we had time for one more game. We decided to play Louis XIV which Curt and I hadn't played in over a year and Adam had never played before. It took me a few minutes to refresh my memory on the rules but once things got started it all came back to me. This is a nice little area control game with some production aspects. Players try and gain influence over the courtiers in King Louis' court, each of whom offers certain rewards. Rewards are traded in to play mission cards which grant abilities that help players gain more influence in subsequent rounds. I really enjoy this game. I think it's just the right length and it I like its blend of mechanisms. Some complain about the random shield scoring at the end and indeed we played with a house rule that eliminates this but truth be told, I don't mind the random shield scoring and I'm just as happy playing the game as designed. Our game was very close with Curt finishing in first place, and Adam (who we all thought was winning) coming in last.

Come join us next Tuesday!


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