Saturday, January 31, 2009

New Games This Month

I haven't done a whole lot of gaming this month (i.e. not as much as I want to) for a couple of reasons. Firstly, my personal game slave Scrabblette was away, and secondly, Scrabblette came home again. Scrabblette is one of my favourite opponents, but when she got back from being away for almost a month we had a backlog of movies to watch, presents to play with, a dog to dogsit, and so on. In particular I haven't played many new games this month, but that's also quite deliberate - I already have a lot of games that I like, and I'd just like to play them a lot more. As I've only played 4 new games I can give each of them a quick review.

Curses - Curses is perhaps the stupidest party game I've ever played. It has a lot of competition, e.g. The Dancing Egg Game. In Curses, each player is given curse cards requiring that they behave in some manner, such as they have to talk like a pirate, or they can't bend their elbows, or they have to wave their hands around whenever they speak. If a player fails to do any of the things required by their curse cards they can be called out as a curse breaker, at which point they lose the curse. When they've lost three curses they're eliminated from the game. The funny part comes when they have to talk like a pirate and not bend their elbows and wave their hands around when they speak ALL AT THE SAME TIME. It can be hard work, and if you play with kids like I do it can be fairly merciless. Add to those curses a requirement that whenever you're touched you have to say a nursery rhyme (in a voice like a pirate), and add kids who keep poking you, and you've got a challenging game. It is of course, kinda funny, and the kids loved it, but I'd prefer something a lot more cerebral.

Glory to Rome - This is a card game somewhat like San Juan on steroids, where each card can be used as raw materials, a building, or a character. The objective is to build enough buildings that you can steal enough raw materials to become the richest player. It's a pretty clever design, and I enjoyed the basic game. I haven't played the advanced game yet, where the buildings have special powers, but it seems there'd be a lot to keep up with. Although I liked the game I wasn't so impressed with the components, so I hope a bigger publisher picks it up. It definitely has depth and deserves a lot of play.

Slam Dunk Card Game - I would normally avoid children's card games, but this was designed by Knizia so it's worth a look. A guess it's a combination of Ra and Snap. Only Reiner could make it work. Essentially there are some donut cards which are worth points in particular combinations. Some are just worth negative points. One player lays cards down, and the others may slap their hand down on the table at any time to get the cards that have been laid. At the end of the game players calculate their points from the cards they've collected, and whoever has the most points wins. It's not so interesting, but I would play it with kids.

Der Schwarm - This is a German game based on the book by Frank Schatzing (which he wrote in German). I don't really understand the plot so well, but it seems there's something (called The Swarm) growing in the ocean which can change ocean currents and possess sea creatures. Players play research expeditions competing to find out the most about this swarm. The swarm is meanwhile eating their ships, attacking them with sea creatures, and generally being difficult. In our sole play we misplayed a rule which made it a bit too easy, but we liked it anyway. Players gather their actions by a Vikings-like auction, then execute those actions one by one. There's some cool player interaction as you see what actions other players have gathered and prepare to defend against them. Exploring the swarm is something of a connection game, and there are ships, whales and a giant crab which are remiscent of Escape From Atlantis. The kid and I enjoyed it, and we went out the next day and bought the novel (in English). It's almost 900 pages so I'd love to see the kid read it.


Todd D. said...

Which version of Glory To Rome are you using? The components and instructions are improved in later editions.

I liked it enough that I'm running it at a convention next weekend, along with some other stuff.

gregor said...

Glory to Rome is a current favourite-- definitely check out the "advanced" version, it's fabulous. You do have to keep an eye on what's happening, there's lots of quite deadly building combinations possible, but as many ways to combat them. I love the economics of the pool, the way the availability of different materials waxes and wanes.