Friday, April 04, 2008

91 Days of Gaming: The New Stuff

Some of the games that are new to me here in the first quarter of 2008 didn't end up in the 91 Days: Five & Dime... so I thought I'd comment on them in their own post.

3 times
  • Gumball Rally - what a sweet little racing game... one of the guys in my group compares it to Formula Motor Racing (which I also own but don't like nearly as much as this). Note: the designer, Ted Cheatham, is a very good friend, so I may be a bit biased. But the fact that it plays up to 8 players is a major plus for a filler game.
  • Risk Express - Yahtzee meets Risk in a very enjoyable little dice game. I still don't get why this isn't being released in the U.S.
  • Soccer Tactics World - Imagine if you took the much-loved StreetSoccer & complicated it slightly. Two things happen: (1) it takes longer to play, and (2) you end up with a much more soccer-like game. I like it so far.
2 times
  • Prophecy - this lies somewhere between Return of the Heroes (the most Euro-ish of the fantasy adventure games) and Talisman (the "old school" classic that is, despite being reprinted, starting to really show it's age)... which is not a bad place to be. We've been playing to 2 artifacts (meaning no final battle) which actually works very well. (BTW, I'm looking for a copy of the Z-Man edition to trade for... the copy Braeden & I have been playing belongs to Steve - hi, Steve! - and he's planning to trade it away.)
1 time
  • Alchemist - this is a kinda fiddly game of pushing cubes that was alright with my group but I could see turning into a nightmare with the wrong think-y kind of player. Nothing awful but nothing great.
  • Arkadia - my one play of this was very enjoyable... it's a thinker but didn't seem to lock up with AP (analysis paralysis). Of course, the fact that I got this for about $6 at the Barnes & Noble clearance didn't hurt my opinion of it, either.
  • Bobbin' Bumblebee - the generic reprint of Loopin' Louie you can find at which, surprisingly, is a pretty good little game. The physics works differently than LL, so you have to learn some new skills.
  • Container - some lousy art choices (what in the HECK is the island/blob thing?) and overly layered game play (you mean I have to offer something which sells then sells again then take it to the island to get points?) doom what could have been an interesting game. Once was enough, thanks.
  • Cranium Squawkbox: Lunch Munch - a better game than Pirate's Passage... but that's not saying much.
  • Cuba - This is another "build your economic/victory point" engine games... and though the laws mechanic is interesting, the game seems to go too quickly for you to really build up any head of steam. And, even as I say "it seems to go too quickly", it felt like the game ran too long. I'd rather be playing Princes of Florence.
  • Darjeeling - a tile picker-upper that's cute but fiddly. I don't need to own but I'd play it again.
  • Die Macher - I finally played this monster/classic... and now I understand what the fuss is all about. We set aside a night to play the game - and while there were only three of us, it was still a blast. (I can not imagine the chaos with 5 players - yikes!) Scott Nicholson's video review/rules explanation is required viewing before you play - the three of us were all newbies & with that intro, we managed to cruise right through the game without any major rules problems. I won a squeaker (11 pts separated the three of us at the end) by saving enough cash to control the polls in the later elections - we called it "push polling" and it was enough to keep the other two parties at bay. I'll gladly play again but it requires setting aside 1/2 a day to play.
  • Felix: The Cat in the Sack - great art & sneaky gameplay make this a nice 30 min. auction game that reminds me a bit of For Sale, but not really.
  • Kingsburg - the only problem with this nicely made dice game is the length. If it was an hour, I'd love it. At 90 min., it's long-ish.
  • Leonardo da Vinci - Aladdin's Dragons meets Princes of Florence... blech. I won the only game I played of this, but I really managed to luck into the win by hoarding goods & hoping for the right cards to come up. They did. Again, I'd rather be playing Princes of Florence.
  • Mutant Chronicles: Siege of the Citadel - this early Richard Borg shoot-em-up design came to me in a math trade... and now I need to set aside a day or two to get a crew involved in a full campaign. We played a couple of scenarios & realized we didn't fully get all the rules. But, I like the Space Hulk-y feel with shorter scenarios & the campaign structure.
  • Pandemic - possibly the best cooperative game since Lord of the Rings... and mercifully shorter (about 45 min.). Added bonus: NOT a fantasy game, which means it's easier to introduce to a wider crew of non-gamers.
  • Schildi Strandkröte - the small box cousin to Schildi Schrillkröte, it has hands down the best "game" of the two boxes in it. (Each game is actually the components to play 3-5 different games.) That game is Turtle Bowling, which is fun with a capital "F".
  • Tannhäuser - an innovative way of doing movement & line of sight for a combat game (using the board) is hampered a bit by what feels like unbalanced squads. I'd be willing to play again & see if I'm wrong.
  • Trampelfanten - this is Das Storrisches Muli with nicer pieces & a couple of rules changes. More PC (politically correct) than Muli & in a smaller box.
  • Zero! - this is the Pacific Theater version of the Down In Flames system... I only got to play one dogfight (which I won) but I'm looking forward to teaching this nifty card game to my group.


ironcates said...

I really enjoyed this post. Hopefully the stars will align and we'll get another game of Die Macher in. This time with me :)

Risk Express and Bobbin' Bumblebee are great lighter fare. I know have all the Hasbro Express games except Sorry.

I'd rank them:

Surprisingly, Battleship just isn't as interesting as the rest, even being a Knizia design. I guess I had higher hopes. All of the rest are great renditions of the original theme and they play in 20 min!

I agree on Tannhauser we need to play it again. I also need to play Prophecy again before I trade/sell it. My impression of Prophecy was just that it was too random and long. I think we had a rule wrong, the cards were unknown at first which would take out a little of the random part. Anyway, my thoughts for now. Hope to see you Saturday.

ironcates said...

oops "I now have"

Dani In NC said...

My daughter's attitude toward most games is lukewarm, but she lights up when she sees a Cranium box. My mother bought Doodle Tales and Wacky Words, and my daughter begs to play them both. I'm not crazy about them myself, but they promote a bit of creativity.

ironcates said...

Didn't you play 1960 this year?