Boardgame club meeting: Puerto Rico, Die Händler, Carcassonne: H&G

The last meeting for this year of the Tampere University board game club was yesterday. We had a nice amount of people playing lots of different games. The Game of the Year -award was given to Puerto Rico (last year’s winner was Carcassonne) and the finals of the Spirit of the Game -tournament was played. Olli Hämäläinen was the big winner, carrying home the Mug of Might award.

But, the games:

The games began with a game of Carcassonne: Hunters & Gatherers. It was my first face-to-face game of the new Carcassonne. It’s better that way — the Brettspielwelt game is hard to play because the tiles get too small. It’s nice, some of the new twists are very good (I love the rivers), but it takes too long. Sure, some of it was because the game was new to us, but still — 5-player game took 45 minutes. Regular Carcassonne never takes that long. The tiles are more complicated, people spent more time thinking about their tile placement. I think Carcassonne works better when played relatively fast.

Second game I played was my third playing of Die Händler. I was joined with Manu and Robert, so it was also my first 3-player game. The game works equally well with only three players. It was a fun game. Robert got a bit left behind in the status, partly because of a rules confusion. Eventually I won the game with one step from Robert, while Manu was one step behind Robert.

I like the game. Robert thought there was too much stuff going on, he prefers games that are simpler. He’s right — those who like simple games, should stay far from Die Händler. Manu seemed to like the game, however, even though he suffered a bit from being the only player with no capability to move the Courier. The basic distribution of the special abilities is bad, because the Courier is important and if you don’t have the ability to move it, you won’t be getting many cards. Fortunately Manu was able to get one Sozialer Aufstieg, which is the best card of them all. Auctioning the special abilities is good, so the Courier abilities will cost more.

Then it was time for the Spirit of the Game -tourney finals. The final game was the Game of the Year, Puerto Rico. The five most successful players played the final game, winner being the winner of the tournament. It was an interesting game and quite close too, at least between the more experienced top three. Robert and Janne, being less experienced (Robert playing his first game) were a bit further behind. Me and Olli, the top two, played both Factory strategy. I did it better, as I had all five crops going, but Olli won the game anyway.

Then I took an opportunity to play a new game: Isis & Osiris. It’s a sort of abstract memory game. Players have two kinds of tokens: round markers in their own colour and number tiles. The board is 6×6 grid, which starts empty. Players have two options during their turn: either place a marker or a tile. The tiles (which are really thick and feel very good) have numbers from -4 to +4. You must choose one blind, show it and place it on the board face down. Markers are placed next to the tiles and in the end, score points according to the four tiles next to them. So, you must place your own markers to good scoring places and place the negative tiles so they hurt your opponents. You must also remember where are the good and the bad tiles, so you’re guaranteed some surprises in the end.

Few people seem to like the game and I agree it is very simple. I’d still give it 8, because it was great fun. I’m not sure how long that fun will last, but since the game takes only five minutes or so, it’s not a big deal. I wouldn’t buy the game myself, or at least pay much for it, but I like it still. As the components are so simple, it’s a possible DIY project.

My evening ended with a six-player game of DIY Bluff. I was the first one out after 15 minutes of playing, and I didn’t wait to see the result, but instead went home. This was the first game played with the “show-and-reroll”-rule, and I think it was ok. At least it made the first bids more interesting. In the other hand, it also made the game a bit longer, I think.

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