Saturday was a fun-filled day of gaming as well. Tommy’s brother Miikka joined us. He’s not a gamer the way we are, but likes to play games. We kicked the day off with a four-player game of Attika, a well-known favourite. It was a tough match, which I was finally able to win by connecting two shrines. I can thank Miikka for my victory, because he had kind of forgotten that connection brings victory and thus didn’t block me on his last turn.
Laura left, and Stefu hadn’t arrived yet, so we tried something fairly light and fast. Hansa fit the bill perfectly. Of Schacht’s games, I most like Web of Power and I did have good expectations for Hansa as well. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s not an instant hit and I’m not sure if I want to own it, but juggling your trades around the Baltic Sea was certainly entertaining. The game can be described as a lighter and more elegant version of Kogge. They are similar in many ways. Just give each player their own ship and replace the arrows with randomly chosen destinations and there you go!
Stefu joined us just when we were starting a game of Rheinländer. It’s a little known Knizia game from Hasbro’s European division. Somebody described it as Acquire meets Tigris & Euphrates. That’s a pretty good description! Players play cards, placing knights on the banks of Rhine. Adjacent knights form duchies, which are controlled by the player with the majority of the knights in them. When two duchies merge, the owner of the smaller one gets paid some points. It’s a fast game, where your options can be limited by what cards you have so there’s certainly quite a dose of luck involved. However, if you accept that, I found the game actually quite fun. After our first game, we were a it surprised: “Ok, so that’s it, then?” as the game was over kind of before it really started. We played another round, and it was more fun as we now knew what to expect. That’s basically my tip for you — don’t settle for a one round of Rheinländer. I think the game is fun, looks pretty nice and what’s best, it’s over in less than 30 minutes.
Age of Steam was the most important game on our “games-to-play” list. We lured Miikka, an innocent bystander, to join some track-building in Ireland. It was another fun-packed game, with lots of nasty situations. As it goes, the newbie did worst. Miikka commented that he really got the game on the last round. That’s nice. Stefu was unsurprisingly a best, being an accountant. He had most income and the most extensive railroad network. My game wasn’t very smooth, but I managed to share the second place with Tommy. The Irish map makes for a very nice and tight little game. It’s very good, and I quite think I prefer it over the basic game. It’s just so mean… It’s also quicker to play, which is always nice.
Next it was time for the funny game of peel the potatoes, wash the dishes and prepare the dinner. Tommy did a great job at the kitchen, cooking some delicious reindeer. He’s rather good with food, you know, even though he needed some guidance with the mashed potatoes… When the meal was ready and we waited for Tommy’s wife Laura to come home, we played two quick rounds of Isis & Osiris.
After the dinner, we started with a five-player game of Viva il Re!. It got a slightly luke-warm response, but after we got the game going, everybody seemed to enjoy it well. It was over quick, though, and we moved on to something more interesting: Ticket to Ride. Newbie Stefu got another chance to shine at train games, beating us with a healthy margin. I came second — I got my tickets from Los Angeles to Miami and a very good double route set: Dallas to New York and New Orleans to Montreal. However, I failed my Portland to Phoenix ticket, because I was missing one lousy card. Still, I probably wouldn’t have won Stefu even with it, so I was quite happy with my second place.
Then it was Tommy’s turn to choose. He’s a big fan of deduction games and wanted to try Black Vienna. It’s an old deduction game (published back in 1987), which is quite rare and fetches fairly high prices: at the BoardGameGeek marketplace it’s around 60 euros. That’s quite a lot for a card game! Surprisingly, the game’s ratings are lower than one would expect, with a high deviation. Tommy had a home-made copy — you can print the cards from the Geek.
There’s a crime league called the Black Vienna, with three members. Criminal cards (A-Z and Ö) are distributed to players, all except three. Then players start asking questions in form of cards mentioning three letters. Players place chips on the cards telling how many of those letters they have in their hands. That’s how it goes, until someone has figured out who the are the three criminals. It takes some brain work to do, I can tell you. Our game was slightly tragic, because nobody answered correctly. I was the first one to make a wrong accusation and had to wait for the other guys to finish, just answering their questions. That was boring, but of course it was my own fault to be so stupid. It’s a fun game, and while I’m certainly not going to hunt down an expensive copy, I just might make one for me.
Then we played San Juan. In the first game, Tommy ruled the game, building lots of big and valuable buildings. Miikka did quite well, too, abusing Prospector with his Library and Gold Mine. Stefu got a bit stuck, being the only real producer of the game. To add an insult to the injury, me and Miikka had buried both Guild Halls in our Chapels. He wanted another round, so after sauna we played one without Miikka. This time Stefu got his game moving much better. However, I was even better. As my first buildings, I built Prefecture and Library, which pretty much secured my income. I was able to build several large buildings and win Stefu’s larger array of cheaper buildings.
It was already quite late, so it was time for the last games. I paired with Laura to face Stefu and Tommy over the Crokinole board. Stefu and Tommy scored 80 points in the first round, so the rest was prett obvious. After four rounds, the score was 90-10. Oops.
The last game of the evening was a quick battle of Murfreesboro. It’s an American Civil War battle, thus the game was Battle Cry. It was fun to play, especially since Memoir ’44 is coming. Once again, I was surprised by how soon the battle was over. Maybe that’s just my poor skills as a general showing, but Tommy did beat me quite well. On the other hand, I did score four flags (of six needed) myself… It’s a fun game, anyway, if you don’t think about it as a serious wargame.