If you haven’t read Helcon III — Saturday yet, that’s the place to start from. Sunday began with a meeting, when the Finnish Diplomacy Association had it’s last meeting. It’s final now: the association will now be known as Finnish Boardgame Society or Suomen lautapeliseura. We’ll forget Diplomacy and start spreading the gospel of better board games. The goals for 2005 include getting 100 members, scoring some money from the government, organising few good events and getting a good web site running. We’ll try to have a chance to influence the game of the year awards and whatnot. I’m back at being the secretary. This should be good news to Finnish board gamers. I’ll let you know when the website is up.
After the meeting it was time to get Mall World going. I was anxious to try it out. Tommy explained the rules to us and boy, is the game confusing or what! It’s about building shops in a mall, while collecting orders to cash in on those shops. There are lots of auctions and what else.
There are some very clever ideas. Players can auction either one, two or three cards a turn. If you choose one card, you play it and pay to common fund. With two cards, there’s an auction (blind bidding). Highest bidder chooses a card and pays to common fund, active player gets the other card for free. With three cards, highest bidder pays to active player, second highest to the common fund and active player gets the last card for free. Nice.
But. There’s a similar problem as in Fifth Avenue. Orders are needed for scoring. Collecting them makes the game end sooner. You can either place shop tiles or an order. Only n+1 order can be played before a scoring happens in a n-player game. This all results in trouble, I think. First of all — n+1 orders means just one order for each player except the lucky bastard who gets two.
There’s an unpleasant forced atmosphere. I think the rounds are too short and offer too few actions. The rush to pick up and place orders is annoying. If someone places an order, you must too, otherwise you’re screwed. We did play the game wrong (not rules, but tactics) — I had too many useless order cards in my hand. Drawing order cards should be rare, I think, but that’s difficult to see when you’re playing the game for the first time.
My Geek rating is six right now, but I’m willing to try the game again. Now that I know the system better, I think I’ll enjoy the game more. However, I’m not surprised by the few sixes the game has received at the Geek. While Mall World certainly has some promise to it, it just wasn’t fun to play. I was frustrated and annoyed by the system. I’d rather play something fun, even if it’s less clever.
After that, there was precious little time before I had to leave, so only small games were possible. I challenged Tommy to a match of Yinsh, which I won. I also wanted to try my new copy of StreetSoccer, so we played that, too. That didn’t go so smoothly — I resigned, when Tommy had a 6-0 lead. That’s what you get when you play with dice — occasionally the luck can be seriously against you.
But yeah, I did get StreetSoccer. It was a trade I made with Phil. I also got Intrige (the new Amigo edition). In return I traded Canyon and some money. A good deal, I think, because Canyon is dead boring. I haven’t tried Intrige yet, but at least it shouldn’t be boring.
I also sold Tikal, Carolus Magnus, Alhambra and Carcassonne: Hunters & Gatherers. All are good games, but I really don’t have a need to own them. I’ve made progress, you see. Originally I just acquired and the thought of selling a game would’ve been a disgrace. Then I evolved to selling bad games I didn’t like and here I am, selling good games I just don’t care to own. I think that’s a healthy attitude and a real necessity, if I want to keep my game collection in check.
David Price has a good Helcon entry in his blog. He has some pictures, too. I took some pictures, but probably won’t publish them, as they aren’t really that impressive. The effort of publishing them is too high compared to the benefits, really. Tommy promised to post a Helcon report with pictures, but that’ll be in Finnish, I think. Anyway, I’ll link to it when I know about it.