Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sizing Up My Collection: Light Strategy

I've purchased about ten new designer games this year so far (let's see...Pandemic, Dominion, Agricola, Memoir '44, Fury of Dracula, Wits & Wagers, Say Anything, For Sale, Neuroshima Hex!, and Wasabi!) This is in addition to several titles we acquired at Christmastime, so my collection has seen explosive growth through the first three months of this year.

It's been better than a month now since my latest influx of new games, and since I've been experiencing a little gaming downtime over the past week or so I figure it's about time to take stock of my collection and decide where to go from here. I'd like to sort through my board games and detail my opinions of each, estimate how many plays they've seen this year and whether I feel they've been underplayed, and size up how they fit into my collection as a whole. Ultimately this post should detail which games I already own that need to see more table time, and due to weak spots in my collection, which games I'd like to purchase later in the year.

For each game I will list:

Its title,
# of plays it's seen this year,
my current numerical rating, and
some of my thoughts on the game.

Core of My Collection: Light Strategy Games

22 plays (about half in person, half online) Hits the table enough.
10/10 I had rated this a 9 for some time, but it is just too good to not be a 10.

I've played Pandemic live with 2, 3, and 4 players, as well as solo and online. It works well in all these scenarios, although my favorite is 4 player live. More roles in the game leads to more interesting strategies, and more people playing makes for a more entertaining shared experience. An essential part of my collection, Pandemic makes it very likely I'll buy another cooperative game soon, as well as the forthcoming expansion Pandemic: On the Brink.

18 plays (vast majority in person 2-player, one 3-player, and a couple online) I'd like to get in more live 3 and 4-player games.
9/10 Just a little too light and quick to be a 10, perhaps.

Primarily I play this with the Mrs. as a 2-player game, and it works rather well in that capacity. I'd really like to teach this one to more people so we could get some regular multi player games going as well. Another essential game in my collection. Will be expanded by Dominion: Intrigue later this year.

Settlers of Catan
15 plays (mostly online)

A classic and one I still enjoy playing on a regular basis. Probably the game I would be the most worried about overplaying and getting sick of, Settlers has held up to many plays remarkably well. The Cities & Knights expansion needs to get to the table soon, we have yet to play an entire game of that.

Neuroshima Hex!
14 plays (3 in person, the rest online)

I really enjoy this one, but still have a lot of plays to log before I can cement my opinion. Live I've only played it 2-player and not many times. Online I've played with both 2 and 3-player, although with 3 it seems especially chaotic (in a bad way). I would like to play 4-player team mode, since that seems like it would be the best multi player scenario.

10 plays (2, 3, and 4 players) Scales fairly well to 2-player, but cleaner and more interesting with 4.
7/10 Needs more plays, especially with 4 players.

A game I enjoyed immediately, although I've soured on it a little, mostly because it is a bit more abstract than I'd like. I think it is a solid game, so I would like to get it to the table a bit more. Awesome components and clever mechanics make for lots of potential here, but I'm not fully sold.

9 plays (one in person, the rest online)
9/10 I love this game, if I played it more often I might rate it a 10.

Certainly one of my top games: simple to teach, lots of good expansions, potential to win through conservative or aggressive play. I need to find more opportunities to play this one in person, but it's quite enjoyable online too. I have yet to play the Traders & Builders or Princess & Dragon expansions nearly enough, and whenever I'm able to start getting this to the table more often I'll pick up the more recent Abbey & Mayor.

8 plays (all 2-player in person) I need to give this game a chance with 3 and 4 players as well.
6/10 A little too light and the mechanics don't mesh well. Also, needs more plays to cement my opinion.

A game I've played exclusively with the Mrs. I feel the mechanics are a little disjointed. The game is fairly fun, however, and I will seldom turn down a game if the Mrs. would like to play. I do need to give this a chance multi player as well. Has the potential to be a keeper, but the jury's still out.

Memoir '44
5 plays, all 2-player
7/10 Needs more plays.

Seems like a solid game, and certainly fun. I haven't played it enough to get a good feel for the system, and to see if the luck of the draw/roll evens out after a few games. Not in a rush to buy more war-themed games until I give this one more of a shot.

Carcassonne: the Castle
4 plays (all in person)

Played this one exclusively with the Mrs. She's not that high on Carcassonne in general, so it's unlikely I'll really break this one in until I have more 2-player opportunities with other people.

3 plays (all in person & 2-player)
3/10 Subject to big increase if I can manage to make it play quickly with less deep thought!

Thus far the weaknesses of Wasabi! seem to overshadow the strengths. While it seems that this should be a light fast-paced tile laying game with cool theme, thus far it has come across as plodding and dull. I think for this one to be fun it needs to be fast and light-hearted, but there is so much going here between tiles on board, tiles and recipes in hand, and special action cards, that it is tough to make quick decisions. The result is a game with light depth and heavy attitude--not a good combination. Obviously this is an opinion after very few plays, so I'll need to get this to the table more and try to play it in a way that will actually be fun.

Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation
0 Plays

I rather enjoy this reimplementation of the basic Stratego mechanic. As in Carcassonne: the Castle, it doesn't get play time because my primary 2-player opponent doesn't care for it.

Summing Up

The core games in the light strategy portion of my collection are Pandemic, Dominion, Carcassonne, and Settlers of Catan. These are games that, for the most part, I've played often with a variety of different people and I very much enjoy. If I were only able to keep these four games and had plenty of people who were up for playing them, I would still be pretty satisfied.

The rest of the games here range from games I know I like but need to play more (Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation, Memoir '44, Neuroshima Hex!) to games I somewhat enjoy but need more plays to determine if they're keepers (Metropolys, Carcassonne: the Castle, Alhambra) to the ugly duckling that has potential but thus far looks more like a flop (Wasabi!)

It is becoming increasingly clear that the Mrs. prefers heavy 2-player strategy games, so I'm leaning away from buying more light 2-player offerings. Instead, I'll probably look to pick up a few more good multi player games in this category. Also, as I mentioned above, another good light coop would be great; at the moment I'm leaning toward Space Alert or Ghost Stories. Finally, I will probably acquire a couple of expansions this year for my favorite light strategy games: Pandemic: On the Brink, Dominion: Intrigue, and Carcassonne: Abbey & Mayor. Neuroshima Hex: Babel 13 might make this list if the base game gets a lot more plays over the next few months.

Next up: considering the rest of my collection (heavy strategy, filler, and party games).

1 comment:

rich said...

Loving the Lord of the Rings mod. Anything that apes Stratego is A-OK in my book.