I visited Jyväskylä last weekend and played quite a few games. I had just few games with me, so the games were repeated more than usually. That’s different and to be honest, I quite enjoyed it.
Lost Cities: I brought a brand-new Finnish copy of the game as a mother’s day gift and ended up playing 10 rounds during the weekend. I have now played over 100 rounds of the game. I still enjoy it, so it can’t be completely useless, even if it’s not my favourite two-player game.
Dawn Under: I’ve only played this one at Jyväskylä, but it’s quite popular there. I should try this one with my regular crowd to see how the game works with all adults. The kids love this one, that’s for sure, and I like it too. It’s just so different from anything else (except the basic memory game, but then again Dawn Under is just so much better game). Definitely a keeper.
Frank’s Zoo: The latest addition to my collection of delightful little card games. Frank’s Zoo is a climbing game with a twist. The ranking of the cards goes in two parallel and intertwining hiearchies and has a loop (elephant, the biggest land animal, is beaten by the mouse). It was great fun and the shifting partnerships worked great. I think we had the right amount of players, which is five. The game’s fairly easy to play, but like other climbing games, has some depth in the hand management.
St. Petersburg: The mandatory games of St. Petersburg were primarily a test of my new poker chips in action. Even if the test wasn’t quite succesful (one of the boys insisted on being the banker), I still think using the chips is easier than handling the paper money. Picking up the right amount of money is faster.
The most interesting thing about our games was the second game, which I won. Instead of collecting aristocrats, I ended up collecting good buildings and in the end, I had about six exchange card buildings or so. With five aristocrats or so I was able to win the game with a healthy margin. It was quite pleasant to see other strategy than aristocrat hoarding win the game.
Mhing: The game of the weekend. During the three days, we played over 40 rounds of Mhing. I’m not sure if I’ve ever played that much Mahjong. The reason is simple: a round of Mhing takes typically around or under 10 minutes. Setting up the wall of tiles and doing the rituals in Mahjong takes about as much, and you’re not even playing the round yet. Since I prefer to use my game time playing the games, the cards beat the tiles hands down. They’re not as pretty or nice to touch, but if you want to play the game, you can’t beat the cards.
The cards are a full Mahjong set, but the rules of Mhing as packaged is a simplified subset of Mahjong. Even when I’m coming to Mhing from Mahjong, I don’t feel the need for more complicated rules. First of all, I like the credit-based counting (certain combinations score credits, which are transformed to points using a sort of exponential scale). Second, the combinations are well-chosen. They offer enough variety. And of course, if the game seems too simple, it’s always possible to add new scoring hands (or stuff like kongs). I even like the flowers (which are a pure luck element) and the wild cards.
This all combined, I find it very unlikely I’ll be playing much Mahjong in the future. Mhing rocks. During the weekend we mostly played with four, but also few rounds with three. Both are fine. I’d like to try the two-player game (Tero says it sucks, many in Geek — for example Chris Farrell — say it’s the only way to play the game), I wouldn’t play with more than four.
What else? Yeah, I played a bit of Poker; I guess that’s what the chips do to people. It sure did remind me of how silly game the plain old draw poker is, especially with two players and no real money at the stake.