Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Brief Game Night

This week's game night was shorter than normal for me. I had just returned late Monday night (well, actually early Tuesday morning) from taking my two youngest boys to Disneyland and since I was tired and hadn't been around the rest of the family for several days I decided to cut my game night short and head home at around eight. In spite of that, I still managed to get in a few good games. We had a couple of new comers and plenty of old timers so I suspect that my early exit was barely noticed.

First up for me was a few rounds of No Thanks! The more I play it, the more I love this simple light filler game. It's so easy to teach, it plays so quickly, and it packs so small that it's just the perfect thing when you have a few spare minutes to fill and an uncertain number of players.

Next up was a meatier game: Wolfgang and Ursula Kramer's Wildlife Adventure. This is an older game, released in 1985. Its line extension mechanism inspired Alan Moon's game Santa Fe which later evolved into Clippers. Wildlife Adventure's theme is endangered species. Players help guide three expeditions to different parts of the globe in order to visit the habitats of various endangered species. It's a pretty decent game but it didn't really grab me. I'm not sure if the dated bits put me off or the clumsy way you have to locate your species on the board by name (countries or cities would have been more familiar to me and therefore easier). Perhaps its just that I made so many mistakes because I wasn't familiar with the rules. Either way, while it's not a bad game and I'm glad I played, it's definitely not a game that I'll be going out of my way to play again.

Wrapping up the night for me was a new game: Iliad by Dominique Ehrhard. This is a card game where players supposedly lead armies participating in the siege of Troy. In some respects the theme is moderately well done, with hoplites, chariots, archers and other units giving some semblance of the feel of an ancient battle. In other ways, the theme doesn't work so well. Were there Elephants at the siege of Troy? I don't think so. Also, it didn't really convey the feel of a siege to me. Theme problems aside, I enjoyed the game very much. The mechanics are very good and while the game is relatively simple, there's more than enough depth to hold my interest. I particularly liked how you have to make decisions about whether to play defensively or offensively with each play. With each turn you have to decide if it's better to play a card to your army, attack another army, or just stop playing cards and hope the benefit you get for stopping early will make your army strong enough to carry the battle. We only played a few rounds since I had to leave early but I'll definitely be looking to play this one all the way through soon.

Other games played included Tichu, Yspahan and I'm sure there were many others.


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