Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Back to Game Night

Labor Day has come and gone. School has returned to the Puget Sound. Game Night continues.

Once again a large number of our group devoted pretty much their entire evening to Fantasy Flight's new game Star Craft. We're still anticipating this game's arrival in the store soon. The copy that our guys are playing is a pre-release copy that one of them picked up at the PAX game convention the other weekend. Fantasy Flight has yet to officially release the game. Several of our guys have played it two weeks in a row now so I'd say it's a good'n. Still too long for my tastes but I can't deny the appeal of those gorgeous bits. Super cool.

My first game was a lighter affair: If Wishes Were Fishes. I like it. But I will say that I can't help feeling that the game played me rather than the other way around. It seemed like each turn there was an obvious best choice which I felt more or less compelled to take. I lost again but on my last turn I had the option of either ending the game and settling for second place or prolonging the game in the hope against hope that the right fish would flop into the shallows. I chose the latter option and it seriously damaged my score, but had luck favored me then things might have turned out very differently. It's fun. I love the worms. But I can't help thinking that the winner is more or less decided by a crap shoot.

Not so for my next game. We played Arkadia with the full compliment of four gamers. This time I did much better than the last time I played. In point of fact, I won. The game is quite abstract and perhaps a tad cerebral but I really like it. It's just long enough to allow for some long term strategizing and yet not so long that it goes on much past the point where a clear winner emerges. That's a good thing because it seems that there are too many games where the leader is determined fairly early on and then the rest of the game, players find themselves playing a hopeless game of catchup. That doesn't happen in this game. By the time you realize the situation is hopeless (or in the bag) the game is nearly over. I also really like the simplicity of the game mechanics. It works very well.

Meanwhile four others played a game of Notre Dame. I'm hearing more and more comparisons with Puerto Rico and I think that's a good thing. It's really a very good game. Simple rules, deep strategy, right length. One of our players mentioned that it seems like a lot of players are putting forward what they think are unbeatable strategies on the Geek only to have others put forward effective counters to the strategies. I agree that this always bodes well for a game. It means that the game has depth. Not only because there are so many supposed "winning" strategies; but also because there are people out there who consider the game worthy of such in-depth analysis.

My final game of the evening was actually two games of Tichu. The first game was notable in that my partner and I won the game in a mere six hands. Almost every hand was a double win and there were a couple of Tichu calls superimposed on those double wins as well. To call it a rout would be understating things. The second game was a little more normal. We lost that one but it wasn't nearly as lopsided and it took a much more normal number of hands to reach 1000 points.


At 10:54 PM, September 07, 2007, Blogger Christopher Rama Rao said...

Notre Dame isn't as good as Puerto Rico (or Caylus), but it's a solid 9 in my book. It hits the "PR lite" niche squarely that Louis XIV and Pillars of the Earth narrowly missed.

BTW, before playing Notre Dame, 3 of us actually played Byzantium first - a quite underrated Martin Wallace game.


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