We had a very good game session yesterday. It started with just me and four guys, but hey, we had a blast even if noone else joined us until much later.
It’s very lucky and some of the moves are fairly obvious, but the dice manage to make the game very exciting, as well. Once again we played with the variant to start the goods at zero space. Works well, and our game took about an hour to play, which was pretty good for something this shallow.
I started with two silk shares, which can be bad. However, for some reason silk picked up fairly well. In the end silk was the key share, thus my two shares were worth 60 points each. Add to that a 20 peso share of ginseng and 46 pesos of cash thanks to a very good last round and you get a very handsome victory (126-107-93-69-60). The guys enjoyed the game, I think, and I’ll bring it next time as well, because I want to explore the game a bit more.
We then tried another stock market game. Robert had played Dividends while he was in Singapore and wasn’t too interested, but I think this time it was a bit better… Dividends is a decent stock market game. It’s quite chaotic (might be realistic, too, but it’s certainly a brutal simplification), but supports up to 12 players. We had five, which left me wanting to try the game with, say, eight or so.
Obviously I sucked at it. Final scores ranged from 12450 (Robert) to 6200 (me); you start with 4000. Ouch. I still enjoyed it, and would certainly play it again. Currently my rating is seven, but this game does fill a niche few games reside in, so for now I’m definitely keeping it. It’s a pretty rare situation, though, having eight or so players in need of a game for the whole group, so we’ll see if I’ll ever actually end up playing the game.
Boomtown, a game from two Brunos (Cathala and Faidutti) was up next. It’s a genre I like: quick and clever auction games. Boomtown is clever, that’s for sure. When someone wins an auction, he gets the first choice of cards. Everybody gets one, going around the table clockwise. The money used is goes around the table counterclockwise, every player keeps half (rounded up) and passes the remain on.
It’s a neat mechanic, where everybody benefits: you usually get at least some money or a decent card. I like it. Then there’s a die roll mechanism, a bit like Settlers of Catan; it can be equally aggravating, but buying the right cards helps a lot there.
All in all, I quite enjoyed Boomtown, even if it’s a bit more chaotic and random than some of the other small auction games I enjoy (which tend to be generally pretty unrandom).
Next up was FarFalia, which I’ve had for a while now. Yesterday we finally had five people willing to play the game. It’s a trick-taking game with an interesting shifting partnership system. We played using the Chinkway rules, so we had five rounds so that everyone was partnered with everybody else and played one round alone.
FarFalia is a simple trick-taking game with few twists. The goal of the game is to collect target cards of different suits (there are five cards, which can be of any suit). The teams score 3-15 points, depending on how many cards they can get. Players can choose one card of each won trick, so collecting the cards can get tricky.
However, FarFalia is a fairly simple game when it comes to strange trick-taking games. I wouldn’t even call it strange. This means it’s very easy to teach to anyone who knows trick-taking games and even to those who don’t. In the other hand, it’s perhaps a bit too simple: there are more interesting games to play.
One of the bigger problems is that FarFalia has good hands and bad hands. That’s not nice, especially after playing games like Cosmic Eidex or Die Sieben Siegel, where the whole concept is alien: you just have hands that are played in different way. In FarFalia the only thing you can do if you have a bad hand is to hope your partner has a better one.
Well, skill plays some part: in our game, Robert scored on average 11.2 points on each hand, while I had just 6.4 and I wasn’t even last. However, some of those low scores were clearly caused by useless cards.
Anyway, it’s not a bad game, no, but perhaps a slightly mediocre one. I’m glad to have it, but it wouldn’t get on my short list of the very best trick-taking games.
Those of you who know my taste in games might be surprised by the next turn of events: I requested Modern Art! I wanted to refresh my memory, since it’s over two years since I last played it (I thought it was HelCon 2002, but it was Tommy’s game weekend in 2003). I’ve disliked it a lot, but hey, I think it just might be a good game in the end!
This time I kind of figured it out better. I certainly did much better: final scores were 483, 384, 381, 368 and 260. I won! I made a huge blunder on the last round, but got lucky with it and scored almost 100 points there alone (I paid 50 for a painting worth 90 from myself, while it was in no way secure that artist would be in top three).
I don’t know, I don’t know… I like auction games and Modern Art is an important auction game. I enjoyed it a lot this time, the decisions are interesting. I complained when we started how seeing my initial hand meant nothing for me, but I think I’m getting closer understanding the game. I might even learn to like it; I certainly won’t oppose a game of it anymore. I want to play more! How bizarre is that?
Our final game was a quick game of Louis XIV. We were fast: our four-player game with three newbies took just 60-70 minutes, including rules explanation! That was pretty swift, but hey, I had a strict deadline.
Despite the forced pace of the game, I enjoyed it. It was such a simple game, I had to actually spend most of the time waiting since most of the decisions felt very easy (not in a sense that I’d do the optimal plays, but finding satisfying moves was very easy and thus I could play the game very fast).
Guess what, I wasn’t even disturbed by the end-game coat-of-arms deal. It’s not that bad, I think, but then again, that’s just after one game. I think the final result was just: Robert won, since he got the most stuff and Olli M. lost, because he had just four missions while the rest of us had six. Makes sense.
It was all pretty interesting, I enjoyed the game. However, I need to play more before forming a decent opinion of the game. I think all the limitations in the game made it feel a bit fresh for an influence game. It’s certainly more to my liking than Goa.
Lots of good games this time, so it was a very pleasing session despite the lack of gamers present.