Wednesday, January 16, 2008

More New Games!

Last night's game night was a good one. Plenty of people. Lots of good games.

My first game of the night was the new Alea title: In the Year of the Dragon. This is a game by Stefan Feld, who is the same guy who did Notre Dame. That doesn't surprise me because In the Year of the Dragon, in a way, seems kind of similar to Notre Dame ... in a "ratty" sort of way. In Notre Dame you're constantly beating back the rats. In this game you're constantly beating back all sorts of different kinds of bad things. At the beginning of the game I felt like I had no idea what I was doing but after a couple of rounds I felt like I kind of got the hang of it and at the end of the game I came in third (out of five) but I was only one point behind the player in second, who was only one point behind the leader! All three of those scores were in the 90s so that's a pretty tight grouping! I have to say that this is a very good game. I liked it very, very much.

Next up for me was Kingsburg. This is a fun little dice rolling/production game. On each turn, each player rolls three (sometimes more) dice to determine turn order (lowest roll goes first). Then in turn order they take turns using combinations of the dice they rolled to claim spaces on the board. For instance, if you've rolled a 2-4-5 then you could claim the 2 space and the 9 space, or the 6 and the 5, or the 11, or ... well you get the idea. Spaces then produce resources or some other player benefit. Resources are used to build buildings which in turn may offer other benefits or victory points or some combination of the two. While the game is perhaps a little luck heavy, it's simple to learn and it's pretty fun. I particularly liked how players who roll poorly get to go first so they get first crack at what they want each round. It's not a perfect game but it's surprisingly fun!

Next we played an aborted game of Tichu. We only got a few hands in before one of our players had to leave so we replaced him with another player. Then we played a couple more hands and another player had to leave so we gave it up and moved on to...

Was Sticht, one of the games in Mü and Lots More. This is a very unique trick taking game and I'd have to say right up front that this is not suitable for inexperienced card players. There are a couple of things which set this game apart. First, each player has a number of goals that they are trying to achieve with each hand; things like "take exactly three tricks", or "take the fewest tricks", or "don't take any red cards". Second, cards aren't dealt, they're drafted. The 36 cards (9 cards in four suits) are shuffled and then laid face up in a 9x4 grid. The start player secretly discovers trump for that hand and then each player takes turn drafting a card from one of the four in the first row. The start player then tells the others which player would have won if those four cards had been played as a trick. In this way the other players can deduce what trump is by the time a few rows have been taken. My initial reaction to this game was that while I thought it was a good game, I didn't care for it. I have a hard enough time counting cards in a regular trick taking game; but this game, with it's varied goals and visible drafting, demands that players count almost each and every card. That's way beyond the ability of my feeble brain. I will admit though that I started to warm to it by the end of the game and now I find myself wanting to try it again. Perhaps I'm just a glutton for punishment.

Other games that were played last night include Hamburgum (which I REALLY want to play soon), Vinci (one of my favorite civilization conquest games), and War of the Ring.

War of the Ring came out a few years back and I really enjoyed it the couple of times I played it. There are two things that have kept it off my table since then: it's a two player game, and it takes FOREVER to play. It's a very long game but if you have the time then it's very worth the investment. The pieces are lovely and the theme is really strong.


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