20 Oct – Day 2
New offering from Leo Colovini (Cartagena, Carolus Magnus, Magna Grecia). Players influence members of the emperor’s court by placing face down tokens to move characters higher or lower in the court. When scoring, players add together the current value of the characters in the color chosen by the player winning the vote. First play felt like there wasn’t much control but I suspect this is deeper than at first glance. Had a very Colovini feel to it.
Die Baumeister von Arkadia
New big box from Rudiger Dorn. Easy to play. Either place workers on the board or place a new buildin on the board. When a building is surrounded by workers, it is finished. The player finishing the building collects the token on the building and adds a tower section to the middle of the board. Every player with one or more adjacent workers collects tokens equal to the number of workers adjacent to the building. Tokens can be converted to money 4 times during the game and again at the end by multiplying the number of tokens being converted times the number of seals of the same color currently being shown on the tower being built in the center of the board. Excellent game. Not sure when/if it will be released in english.
Chris and I played this in the afternoon with one other person. This game is divided into landscapes and buildings. Water and forests match up with castles. Meadows and fields match up with farms. And grape growing areas match up with vineyards. Each turn new tiles are turned up and each player bids with a card from his hand to be the first to play. In general, you pick tiles in bid order but some of the cards allow you to do other things. As the regions become larger, you accumulate points at the end of each turn. You also have a limited number of tokens to show ownership of the buildings. If you want to move a token to a new building, you have to sell an existing one. The game is well designed but didn’t grab me or Chris. We wanted this one to be over with about halfway through. This may appeal to those who like Hacienda or similar games. I think Hacienda is probably the better game though.
Elephant in the China Shop
In the US, this should be Bull in a China Shop but in Europe, it’s not. This is a quick filler card game we played at the hotel in the evening. On your turn, you either pick a face up elephant card or purchase a face up china card. If you take an elephant, it destroys a certain type and amount of china in your shop (e.g. a big, blue elephant destroys all blue china in your shop) and you get a money card. If you have 2 money cards, you must buy a piece of china. There are 4 scoring rounds and you choose to score one of 4 ways (a little like Yahtzee) — largest of each color, smallest of each color, sum of all, sum of one color.
Tile laying game. Basically, add a tile to the playing area and place buildings if possible. Tile laying feels a little like Java as you can build up as well as out. You do want to get at least 3 tiles since temples can only be built on this level. Potentially a decent game for those that like tile laying. It was late when we started this one so it’s hard to say if our lack of enthusiasm for the game was the game or how tire we were.
21 Oct – Day 3
Hung around the Amigo booth until a demo person was free and could show me a couple of games. Had an explanation of Walhalla (Valhalla). Tiles are layed out to form long fjords that you send viking ships into. These are loaded with warriors that unload on either side of the ship as it stops within the fjord. If there is another warrior at this location, they fight and one will go to Valhalla. If not, the warrior moves into the location. Each location provides some benefit or resource to help in the fighting and moving warriors to Valhalla and then on to Asgard. Points are scored after all the ships have been moved into the fjords. Points in Valhalla are based on majorities. Looked interesting but did not pick up a copy.
Released last year by the designer of Oltre Mare. Like Oltre Mare, this has to do with set collection and majorities. Picked up a copy of this and Hermagor (Ornella’s new release).
Blind bidding game to see who can collect the most shrunken heads by Friedemann Friese. We missed the rule that you are limited in your bid to 1 – 4 gems and made the game seem busted. However, even playing correctly, I don’t think I’d like it much. But then, I’m not a big fan of blind bidding.
New release from Ystari (Ys, Caylus). Easy to play. Current player roles a handful of dice. The dice are group by each number and arranged from lowest to highest on the action board. Highest grouping (i.e. usually the 6’s) are always placed on the money action. Each player picks an action and gets to take as many of that action as dice for that action. Plays quickly with no down time. This one ended up #1 on the voting at the Fairplay booth. I liked it a lot and brought back a copy.
Another of the games being demo’d at the Sunriver booth. This is by Ben Corliss. This is an abstract game with some similarities to Mancala. The idea is members of different tribes (i.e. the colors) are scattered across the islands (i.e. 6x6 grid). On your turn, you place your wayfinder (pawn/token) and pick up all the people at that location and redistribute them across the islands. As tokens of the same color come together at a location, villages are formed and points scored. This is a nice abstract game and it comes unusually packaged — the playing mat is flexible and is rolled up and stored in a tube.
22 Oct – Day 4
Die Saulen der Erde (Pillars of the Earth)
This ended up at #2 in the voting at the Fairplay booth. Played over 7 rounds, you place workers around the board to collect resources and special abilities. At the end of each round, you spend resources to contribute to the building of the next section of the cathedral and collect victory points as a result. Had a little of a Caylus feel to it in that you walk the board (like walking the road in Caylus) to resolve each of the special abilities or resource collection actions. I liked this one a lot. I’d say it was in the top three for me. Didn’t pick up a copy as there was considerable german on the cards used in the game. Not a big issue since these are all face up. However, and english version is expected in Jan/Feb.
Prototype of Alea’s next big box game. Interesting action selection mechanic. Each player draws three cards from their own set of action cards, drafts one and passes the remainder to the left. This repeats until everyone has 3 cards. Then each player plays 2 of the 3 cards as actions. The game appears to be very unforgiving and you must play very carefully early on. I was spread too thin amongst the different actions and couldn’t really do much past the halfway point in the game. Should be a good game but may turn some off if it is rather easy to be out of the game early and it is obvious you cannot catch up.