Archive for October, 2014

Revisiting games I had dismissed

October 25, 2014

Zack and Amy were my players this past Tuesday night.  One of the games we played was Auf Heller und Pfennig.  I had owned the American release, Kingdoms, a few years ago.  At that time, I hadn’t really cared for it.  It felt very abstract, and I quickly ditched it to move on to better games.

This spring I had a chance to get an inexpensive copy of the German 1st edition, and mostly out of curiosity I decided to get it.  It had sat on my shelf for a few months, but Zack and Amy were amenable, so we gave it a try.  Overall I think all three of us liked it a fair bit.

For me, I have been finding that games I quickly dismissed a decade ago sometimes work better for me upon revisitation.  I had this same experience with Medina, another game I felt was too abstract when I first tried it.  But found I rather enjoyed getting back to it in the past year or two.  I wouldn’t mind trying Carolus Magnus again, as that is another decade-old game that I have some memory of as having something interesting in it.

All this begs the question – why have I churned through so many games?  If I had kept them, I wouldn’t have to re-acquire – an activity I find I do more often than I think is normal with other game collectors/owners.


Nothing ESSEN-tial

October 20, 2014

The Essen game convention recently ended.  I attended this convention in 2004.  It is a mammoth event, sprawling over several halls at a convention complex in Essen, Germany.  I enjoyed attending in 2004, but have never been too tempted to return.  My German skills are limited, and I can buy a whole lot of games for the expense of attending.

As I have for several years, I read Kulkmann’s Game Box coverage.  Frank Schulte-Kulkmann is an enthusiastic game correspondent.  I found his English-language web site years ago, and have bookmarked his web site.  He isn’t all that active anymore, except for his Essen coverage.  If you have never seen his website, it is worth a look.  You can find it here:

This year, I didn’t really connect with any of the games he reported upon.  Sadly, last year’s games and this year’s games (so far) have not provided any major hits for me.  From the higher rated games from 2013-2014, I own Russian RailroadsSplendor, Twin Tin Bots, and a couple of 18xx games.  Nice games, but not the nectar that games from a decade ago represented.  Looking at BGG, I see Caverna is now a top 10 game.  I know Rob is a fan of this game, but I wasn’t especially enticed when I saw it played at the Fandango.  Eldritch Horror just looks like another Arkham Horror to my eyes.  Nations is also highly rated, but I am not willing to buy it, and no opportunity to try it has surfaced.

I checked, and I own a few other recent releases:  C.C. Higgins Rail PassString Savanna, Lost Valley and Whacky Wit.  I’m unsure if String Savanna will really hold up for me.  But since I intend to keep the previous string games: String Railroad and String Railroad: Transport, I think String Savanna is safely in my collection.  Lost Valley is a game I have loved in the past.  But I have not yet played the new edition.  C.C. Higgins is a game I like, but clearly it is not aimed at the modern Euro player.  And Whacky… well, it is just wonderful, but a total extravagance, and a game I marvel was ever made.

There is one more game from 2014, soon to be released, that I took a flyer on.  It is called Baseball Highlights 2045.  This may have been a mistake, as it is a 2-player game.  But a geek buddy of mine was raving it up, and my will crumbled.  I think it may arrive in a month or so.  I’ll butter Alex up to see if he is willing to give it a try.

If you were counting, that was just 10 games from 2013-2014 that I own.  I don’t have an easy way of counting, but I suspect I have added twice as many older games to my collection in the past two years.  I am sensing that I am getting left behind by my hobby.  I seem to dislike how newer games strike me.  I seem to find the faults more annoying and the features less compelling.  I fear I have become a CURMUDGEON.


Old Games & a new Myth

October 13, 2014

No gaming this Monday, but I thought I’d post anyways.  I believe I have two readers – so lets not stop the presses!

I played Myth twice on Saturday.  This is basically a rpg-board game.  Unlike Heroquest, all players get a hero, and some basic rules guide how we cope with the opposition.  Alex did a great job painting the miniatures, and they really added to the game.  In general, I enjoyed myself.  Seems like a tough game to get to the table though – it is really going to shine if you have a core group who plays it as a campaign.  And the folks who like that sort of stuff will tend to want to play traditional rpgs instead.

I also played Ben Hur twice on Saturday.  Oops – I taught it wrong.  The game has some accident cards, and I ruled that if you failed, you were out of the game.  Not so.  Instead if you fail your hand size is reduced by 1.  Oops.  Fortunately this is a speedy game, so no one had to sit out too long.  Regardless, it was fun to get one of these handmade wooden games out to play.  I had a heck of time fitting it all back in the tube.  But tonight I managed to get it packed in.

This year I’ve had a fair bit of fun playing old games.  Playing the wooden tile edition of Acquire really elevated the game for me.  Playing Mr. President twice was also a highlight.  Both of these games are old 3M bookshelf games.  I decided to order another 3m game off of eBay.  I just got a notice that my copy of Bazaar has shipped (which is curious since the post office observes Columbus Day).  I’m looking forward to trying it.

But I don’t need to order too many old games.  I own plenty.  I’ve been reading the rules to Orbit.  This is an old Franckh game.  Orbit is really three games, but one of them is sort of a precursor to Ricochet Robot.  I am doubtful I will be good at any of these games, but I am hoping to spring this on some Tuesday night gamers relatively soon, or perhaps at my B-Day game party.

On my GCL on BGG (if that makes any sense at all) I posted a tribute to Karl-Heinz Schmiel.  His most recent game is from 2007, making him a forgotten designer for the modern gamer.  Fortunately there are enough greybeards like me on the list to garner some discussion.  After some of the commentary, I am now hepped up to play my German edition of Tyranno Ex, and that will definitely be on my request list for the B-Day game day.


October 8, 2014

Last night 6 of us gathered for some gaming.  I will admit that 6 is not my favorite number.  Many games cannot handle 6 players, and several games that do handles 6 players, shouldn’t.  Last week we had six players as well, and we played Power Grid.  That was good, but I wasn’t interested in playing Power Grid two weeks in a row.  I asked a leading question, would anyone be opposed to a racing game?  One player, John, said he wasn’t  especially keen on racing games, but he would up for trying one.  With no other objections, I proposed we play Turfmaster.

Turfmaster is an old favorite, but I play this game very infrequently.  The rules to this game are very easy.  But the positional stuff on the board is quite interesting.  The game alternates between playing cards to move and rolling dice.  There are just enough restrictions to the movement rules to keep the horses mostly bunched up.  So each race is usually tight.  I had us play the Steeplechase game, which adds some additional problems for players to cope with on the track.  We played our three heats, along with the rules explanation and some preliminary chit-chat, and still finished before 9:00 p.m.  I was pleased with how well the game was received, and have hope that I might be able to table Turfmaster again in the not too distant future.

Alex had brought a couple of games with him, and four of us were still up for another game, so he taught us how to play Ys.  Ys is a game I had played a couple of times before, but honestly it had never impressed me.  But with this play, I enjoyed the game more than ever before.  While there are some complications, especially with the cards, this game is sort of old school – a game built around a single cool idea.  Modern Euros don’t seem to do this much anymore.  Many new games have multiple mechanisms and sub-games you need to learn.  Ys is pretty clean.  You bid with two pawns.  One is visible, while the second one is placed with the value hidden.  (Pawns have values from 1 – 4.)  Otherwise it is an astute battle for majorities in various districts and cube colors all in the pursuit of having the highest VP value.  Ys ran a bit longer than advertised, but that was primarily due to the players.  A couple of us were really cogitating on what moves to take.  I raised my estimation of Ys by a couple of points last night.  I would happily play more of it.

An unexpected trip

October 6, 2014

Recently I pulled all my games into the Bistro.  This has meant I have been handling my old Microgame collection for the first time in many years.  I pulled out Melee, the old Steve Jackson combat game, and did a bit of solitaire gaming over the weekend.  I was reminded that I really like this system.  Melee was expanded by a companion game, Wizard.  Together, these games were known as The Fantasy Trip.

When I was introduced to these games The Fantasy Trip (TFT) was a going concern.  Compared to D&D, I recall esteeming TFT as much more logical and specific.  The story of Steve Jackson’s departure from Metagaming and Metagaming’s subsequent collapse is recorded elsewhere by people who were there.  But ultimately TFT had to die, and Steve Jackson eventually morphed TFT into “GURPS”.  GURPS is much more of a full-blown role-playing system.  But Melee/Wizard are at their heart, a tabletop miniatures fighting system.

I’ve so enjoyed reacquainting myself with these old microgames, that I have ordered a few of the old microquests off of eBay.  I just received Grailquest, and anticipate seeking the Holy Grail in Arthurian England, and I am awaiting delivery of Security Station, which is a combat only (no magic) module about penetrating a High-Tech station.  I also found a company, Dark City games, who continues to support this old system.  To avoid legalities they have renamed the system to Legends of the Ancient World, but it is clearly The Fantasy Trip.  I’ve ordered a couple of their solo adventures too.  One will have me be a Roman Legionaire stationed on the Rhine, and another sounded sort of Lovecraftian.

So I’ll see how this goes.  I am anticipating having fun with this old favorite set of games, coupled with some new, or new-to-me adventures.  All of these modules are written for solitaire play.  Should be fun!

Tuesday Night Gaming

October 1, 2014

Last night Ed was the first to arrive, so I played Whacky Wit with him.  This was lots of fun, and most everyone else showed up during our game.  This game draws a lot of attention, and generates smiles and excitement as you play.  Yes, it is totally too expensive.  But I am getting a lot of enjoyment out of it.  wakawakawakawaka…..

We ended up at 6, which isn’t my favorite number, for gaming.  We debated a bit about what to play.  Some folks were up for Princes of the Renaissance or Great Fire of London, but I declared my support for the third title proposed, and we ended up playing Power Grid.  I have played a lot of Power Grid over the years, and for a while I was totally burnt out on it.  But I’ve begun playing occasionally again.  My recent plays had all been on the original Germany map.  So last night I was interested in playing on an expansion map.  There was some interest in playing either Korea or China, so we grabbed the board, and ultimately decided to play the Korea game – partially because it looked easier on the extra rules.

Korea is interesting because there are two marketplaces.  In the usual order players have to declare where they will buy, then they actually buy after everyone has committed.  It’s a simple change to the rules.  But the ripples into the game are interesting.  Each market is unique.  North Korea doesn’t sell uranium.  And both markets have different capacities and refill rates.  I quite liked the changes for this version of the game.

After gaming, I browsed BGG, and re-discovered that a deluxe version of Power Grid is coming.  I am enticed.  I expect that I will be buying the deluxe version once it becomes available in the USA.