Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Big Cochabamba Gamesfest

Well, Tom from Switzerland has been here for a few days now, and we've played all of the prize games except Safranito, which will be played soon. I think it's time I started giving some opinions. I'll start with the games I've played more than once, and hopefully do a second post when I've played the others again.

Asara - Meh. It's a family game, but there's not much to it. It's the sort of game where you can do some things to help yourself, but otherwise you're a sailor on the seas of fate, or player chaos in this instance. People take the stuff you want, put the wrong coloured cards in the wrong places, and generally interfere with your elegant strategy. Some people like that in a game, I don't so much.

Luna - I chose this because it can be played solitaire. My first solitaire play I was slightly overwhelmed by the complexity of the system, and lost to the AI opponent. My second play I taught the rules with Tom's assistance, so I guess I wasn't as overwhelmed as I thought. I played reasonably well, but we were all efficiently beaten by Tom. I know I have more things to learn. As a solitaire game it's a nice change from things like Ghost Stories and Yggdrasil and Thunderstone and Pandemic where the turns are simple and you're responding to chaos. Luna is effectively randomness-free after the set-up, so it's susceptible to analysis (and analysis-paralysis for those who are so inclined). It's the sort of solitaire game where you can think as deeply as you like, and that won't be deep enough. I like the style, and although I'm not completely convinced by the game, it's intriguing.

Skull and Roses - This is the second lightest of the games, and is a bit like Liar's Dice but even simpler. It takes up to 6 players and goes for about 20 minutes, so we've been playing it to finish the evenings off. It's not the sort of game you'd gather together specifically to play, but it's easy enough to quickly teach and play a round or two with non-gamers. Now that the SdJ has been defined as being for quite light games, I guess it was a good candidate.

Die Burgen von Burgund - I've saved the best for last! There's a school of though that says that this is one of those games where the moves are so finely balanced you can't really make a bad one, and so you can't really make a good one either. The best you can hope for is that you take the stuff someone else wants :-). And then in the end, someone wins because the scoring rules say that they have to, and you're not sure whether it was good play or a butterfly flapping its wings in Essen that caused it.

On the other hand, dBvB definitely has a feelgood factor to it, in that you can almost always achieve something, and you can't screw yourself so badly that you won't be able to make good moves in the future. So in the end, nobody feels like they played really badly and nobody's disappointed. It does take two hours though, so there is some sense that you've taken a long time to randomly select a winner - like Killer Bunnies with all the expansions. Yet despite all this, I like it, and the people I've played with generally agree.

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