Archive for June, 2011

Where o’ Where to Post?

June 26, 2011

Just recently I’ve conceived the idea to do a series of posts in the BGG blogs about the over 500 games I have rid myself of.  If you care to read them they can be found here:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/blog/98/the-game-bistro.

I suspect that BGG will be a better read venue than here.

A few new items on the game shelves

June 17, 2011

I participated in a Math Trade over at BGG.  A math trade is a somewhat confusing method for multiple people to trade games.  As a simple example, Person A trades a game to Person B, Person B trades a game to Person C, and Person C trades a game to Person A.  In this way a trade can be accomplished, where no single pair of people could have found mutually acceptable games to trade.

I traded away Cyclades, a game I played once and UR: 1830 BC, a game I never played.  In return I got Long Shot, a light horse racing game for up to 8 to play, and an obscure older game called Pacific Northwest Rails, a game I decided to take a chance on.  My general sense is that I lost some value with these trades, but it is a way to leverage some games into new games.

I had hopes of enjoying Cyclades, and the initial play seemed mostly good.  I enjoyed my single play.  But many of my likely opponents were lukewarm to this one, and it does seem like the game is really best with 5 players.  The game play seemed a bit old-fashioned, (which I don’t mind), but also a bit abrupt.  It seemed like there ought to be a bit more game to play than there was.  And, unfairly, I felt Cyclades didn’t compare well to Giants, the previous game from this publisher that had so delighted me.

Ur: 1830 BC, was a game I recently set up and inspected, after owning it for at least a couple of years.  I had recently played Poseidon, and had been impressed.  Since Ur: 1830 BC was also an 18xx variant, I set it up and attempted to figure it out.  After solitairing it for part of a game, I realized that this game was surpassed by Poseidon, being a better 18xx variant, and a game that would actually groom players for an 18xx game; while Ur was just a more fiddly dead-end off the 18xx system.  So without a proper play, I said goodbye to Ur.  That said, I would have been happy to play it, but with stacks of actual 18xx games around there was no chance of that happening anytime soon.

Long Shot is one of the games I got in trade.  It is handsomely produced, with deluxe plastic horses, a big deck of Long Shot cards, a couple of dice and a lovely mounted raceboard.  It appears to be an hour-long game with easy rules, and with the possibility of hosting 8 players.  Perhaps this will take over some of the 8p gaming we might have done with Master Thieves.

Pacific Northwest Rails is an older game from a smaller publisher.  It comes in a long squared tube, which I have not yet investigated.  Mostly it has little commentary on BGG, but there were enough positive comments I thought it might merit some investigation.  I will publish more about this one in the future.

Apart from the math trade, I am also getting a few other new-to me games:

Water Lily: A very simple game, where you play within the game box.  It’s by Dominique Ehrhard, an author who can amuse me, or leave me behind.  I am quite fond of Don Pepe and Marakech.  I liked Iliad.  But Odysseus was bad, and a couple of others were merely okay (Montgolfiere and Die Weinhandler).  I also liked Serenissima years ago, although it did have some end game problems.  Based on how simple the game sounds, I suspect I will play it a few times, and then be ready to put it on a prize table.  But hope springs eternal!

Paper Clip Railways: Arrived this week.  It is, perhaps, an over wrought rendition of String Railways.  I am eager to try it, but don’t hold out a lot of hope that this is going to be a top-tier game.  But any game that uses hundreds of paperclips is a brave swipe at trying something new!

There is a certain joy in bringing in new games, and reading the rules, hoping it will provide some entertainment.  I’ll chronicle how these games do in the coming weeks.

Return to Planet Steam

June 14, 2011

Just five of us at the Bistro tonight.  We opted to play Planet Steam, which was great, because we had not played this since last fall.  We had one new player, so once again we did not use the Expert rules.  This is a long-standing goal of ours.  But the game is demanding enough just to learn, so we would not consider foisting these rules on a new or inexperienced player.

I have previously tried to avoid Planet Steam with a full complement of 5 players.  But tonight I did not mind the extra chaos and the reduced number of turns.  In general, I think there is more control with fewer players, and  4 still seems like the sweet spot.  Since I had not played with 5 in a very long time, I needed to be reminded what the extra role available was.  As it turned out, I never got him.  The IDF agent, I think?  Anyway he allows you to select a free resource, even if they are otherwise unavailable; or he allows for a free space ship upgrade.  He was a popular choice each round.

Chester walked away with the victory, with me a small gap back in second.  I had a great time playing this game, and it still remains at the top of my estimation.  I currently rate three games as a “10”.  Planet Steam and El Grande are my very favorite evening-length strategy games.  1830 is my other 10, if a longer game.

Despite Planet Steam being a favorite, I have never sought out the various expansion cards for the game.  They might be fine, but they seem to be the sort of expansion that change the way the game plays, and I am not too keen to do that to this nicely constructed game.

3 more from the Shelf

June 9, 2011

Tuesday night was full of gamers – 12 of them in all – about as big a turnout I’ve seen in months.  We broke into 3 different tables, 4 players per table.

I played New Orleans Big Band, at the intrigued request of one of the ladies.  The game was fun.  I didn’t really rate it highly, just giving it an ‘OK’, but we enjoyed playing together, and the theme was very enjoyable.  In game we are all promoters trying to put together a band.  We scour the French Quarter (of New Orleans) searching for musicians.  As you find them you put them behind your screen.  Unfortunately there are several event cards, which are rather capricious.  We willfully ignored the “lose a turn” effects, feeling they did nothing to promote the fun.  Nevertheless, one of the players got hammered by the event cards, while another waltzed through with no dire effects.  After the game, I threw away one of the cards, a musician Black Kathy, who basically loses the game for you if you get her.

So while we had fun, and the game played quickly there were the problems I mention above, and there was very little of the game actually on the board.  In truth, it could have been a cardgame.  So the game critic in me dinged the game, while at the same time I found myself enjoying the experience.

I then asked if folks would be willing to play Tonga Bonga, as I felt it was ideal for the tastes of one of the ladies playing.  After a bit of shuffling we found our foursome and proceeded to sail the isles of Tonga Bonga.  I find this game endearing for its lighthearted presentation.  But it really does offer a nice game for the gamer.  Do you post high wages to attract better movement dice?  Do you become miserly, to avoid spending too much money, and hope other players are forced to give you movement for free?  I tried a bit of both, and squeaked out a close victory.  At 45-60 minutes, I find this game delivers enough game in a brisk way to keep me engaged.

Finally, with a couple of people departing, we ended up with a table of 6 players, and an hour left.  I proposed Der Fliegende Teppich, or The Flying Carpet.  This proved brisk, fun and popular.

A nice night of gaming!