Saturday, June 21, 2008

New Games Played

Wow, I've been fairly slack at this blogging thing. I suspect I've been using all of my creative energies actually writing new code at work. Also, I ran out of ideas for a while. Now I have ideas but am not sufficiently lacking in alternative entertainment to make writing them down the best option. Anyway, I've been playing the games received in the math trade so I'll share my opinions with you. Because I know my opinions are important to you.

Architekton is a semi-abstract tile laying game. By "semi-abstract" I mean a game where the theme is pasted on - other examples would be Through the Desert and Alexandros. Michael Schacht and Leo Colovini do semi-abstracts almost exclusively. Scrabblette and I like them a lot, but I think I liked this one more than Scrabblette did. Scrabblette was happily matching tile edges together when I went and deliberately played one that didn't match against one of her buildings. That was when she realised that I actually was an opponent, but I think the thought of deliberately not matching a tile edge disturbed her. I liked the game, but I think it would be very different played more viciously.

I received Attribute with the intention of giving it to my sister, but my kid liked it so he complained that "they already have Apples to Apples, why can't we keep this one?" Well, OK. We played it with my sister's family as well and they seemed to like Apples to Apples a little better as the scoring is easier. My nephew's comment was "this game would be better if I could read". Attribute is a fun game if you've got a group of friends who can pay out on each other, which I deliberately emphasized by choosing topics such as "my belly". And the rule in our house now is that bananas are elegant. Don't talk to me, talk to the green sheep.

Terrace and Blackbeard I've already discussed elsewhere. Blackbeard will get another go, but it's not a great game.

The kid and Jane and I played Warhamster Rally. This game was surprisingly like Roborally or Flying Carpet, and it took a few minutes of play to figure that out. The Dork Tower theme is confusing to people who know nothing about Dork Tower, and the kid found that the game was harder than he'd expected. Once I realised what was going on I totally ruled and easily won the race. We didn't have any deliberate screwage in our game, and although that's against the designer's intent I prefer it that way. Games where I invent a great plan and get it screwed over by malicious opponents (damn them, why must they oppose maliciously?) don't engage me. Warhamster Rally is cute and a decent game, but I don't think the kids will play it with me :-(.

BTW, after we played Warhamster Rally the kid pulled out Frank Branham's other game, Nodwick, and we played two rounds of that. That's a game where the silly play matches the silly theme, and even Scrabblette the abstract girl joined us to play that. It's a bit like Bohnanza without rules, or Pit with the handbrake on.

Scrabblette and I also played Cabale. Whenever I try a new abstract game, particularly one with nice bits, I wonder whether it's going to be a decent game or just something someone dreamed up and decided to sell, trusting that difficult rules would confuse people into buying it. There was no need to worry about Cabale, it is an interesting game. It's played on a hex-hex board, and there's a rather confusing rule where you need to move your runner in an elbow move, i.e. along a straight line, around a corner, along another straight line. Eventually we figured out that it was easier to barricade the other runner than try to defend your own scoring markers, so we got into a battle where the first priority was blocking and scoring was secondary. As I'd noticed this a little earlier than Scrabblette, I was able to build a wall preventing her from getting near the high-scoring spaces. She did the same, but the area I was locked into was better than the area she was locked into, and I rushed to finish the game before anything bad happened. The rules take a bit of understanding, but a very decent game emerges.

That's all we've played so far. Having read the Stonehenge rules I can't help but agree that it's a project designed to make a number of mediocre games, but I would definitely like to try the one designed by Bruno Faidutti. I have some ideas for games of my own as well, but I'm not very motivated to design a game when I have so many others to play anyway.

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