Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Three More Games Off The List

Besides Chaos in the Old World that we got to the table just over a week ago, I've played a couple more of the games on my list.

Dave and I have played several games of Neuroshima Hex! over the last few days, with Dave undefeated thus far. The game can be frustrating because as you draw your army tiles often you don't get a good mix of units and action tiles or attacking units and modules. When you draw two of your five battle tiles in the same turn no good can come of it! There are lots of tactical decisions to be made in this one, but certainly poor draws can really take you out of a game.

Dave read about a variant where you separate the unit tiles and action tiles, then shuffle each pile and choose how many from each deck to draw from during the game. This would avoid much of the imbalanced part of the game and greatly increase the chances of drawing generally useful hands.

The Mrs. and I played a game of Alhambra this afternoon. Alhambra is a fairly quick-playing light strategy game for 2-6 players. It did win the Spiel des Jahres in 2003, and the Mrs. enjoys it, but it's never quite clicked for me. Half of the game is acquiring currency cards and using them to buy tiles, and the other half arranging those tiles in a way to build your own personal Alhambra. By purchasing and placing a majority of different types of tiles you score VPs that will eventually lead to victory (or not so much as was the case for me today!) After losing to the Mrs. today and to Dave a number of times recently, I'm starting to think that I have simply lost the ability to win at board games!

The (Updated!) List:

  • Through the Ages -- I'm slowly working through the rules for this one and taking notes to boot. Eventually we'll get this one to the table, but it's taking quite some time to digest the rules, and since there are three increasingly complicated ways to play leading up to the full game (and I'm only learning the simple game currently), this is a process that might take a while.
  • For Sale
  • Fury of Dracula
  • Scotland Yard
  • Puerto Rico
  • Caylus
  • Blokus
  • Memoir '44
  • Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Chaos in the Old World

Finally brought Chaos in the Old World to the table Saturday night. Dave, Monica, the Mrs. and I worked through the rules and made it through a couple of rounds before we called it a night. Armed with a better understanding of the rules, we met up again the next night, minus Monica, and played through a full game.

Dave & the Mrs. seemed to think poorly of the amount of luck in the game (because of die rolls as well as card draws), but I feel that the vast quantity of decisions in Chaos in the Old World more than makes up for this. One of the major benefits a board game gains by having luck elements is a need for players to adjust strategy as conditions change unexpectedly. This is certainly a quality I enjoy in games, and after one play I think there is an appropriate amount of luck present. (Though, of course, this opinion is subject to change, and certain other players in the room may strongly disagree!)

There is a lot going on here: players can win either by advancing their own personal victory dials to a certain level, or by achieving a certain threshold on the common victory point track. VPs themselves can be gained both through having a strong military presence in a region (by dominating the area), or by corrupting a region with one's rather weak cultist figures (eventually ruining a region and gaining large numbers of VPs). In Chaos, players must balance their personal victory goals with paying close attention to the other players' goals as to block them from advancing too quickly.

As in El Grande (another area control game), there does seem to be a disadvantage in building a strong early presence in the game, as the other players are very motivated to take down the leader. I felt in this first play I established myself a little too early as the leader and paid for that fact throughout the mid-game. Dave, through some good late-game die rolls and maximizing his victory dial bonuses, ended up the winner, but if one roll during the last turn would have landed differently the game would have gone an additional round and anyone could have been victorious.

I eagerly await our next play of Chaos in the Old World, as it is a deep and intriguing game, both very thematic and seemingly well balanced.