I met some guys last Saturday for a small session of games. I’ll be missing the next two board game club sessions for various reasons (mostly Essen), so it was good to get some games going.
We started with Turbo Taxi, as we were one player short. Well, the missing player joined us after the first round, but he jumped right in and we finished the game. Now Turbo Taxi is one of those speed games, where players are faced with a mental task that needs to completed ASAP. Here the deal is to create a 3×3 road network, given four locations to connect and a specific piece to put in the center.
As the case usually is, a quick player will dominate the game. I thought I was good, and it turned out I am, but Olli M. was even better. In the end he got seven rounds, I won twice and Ville and Petri didn’t get any. It turned out Ville had been one piece short the whole game, so that may have hindered his performance, but it was pretty obvious who’s the best. I was constantly about 30 seconds behind Olli.
Turbo Taxi is fun, but to be really great, it needs players of equal skill level. Therefore I expect I won’t be playing it a lot, but we’ll see how it goes down in the board game club. At least it’s fast.
Then it was time for Louis XIV, this year’s DSP winner. Last time we played we had to rush through the game and the rules in 60-70 minutes. This time we spent 90 minutes actually playing the game. More waiting, but probably much more enjoyable experience.
I had played before, as had Olli. Ville and Petri were clearly on a lower level of understanding… There’s a learning curve. Petri commented that he figured out the game, pretty much, in the end of the third round or so. That’s nice. He did pretty well, kind of, as he scored seven missions. I had just five and Olli might have had only four, maybe five. Despite the difference, the game was actually very close: 45-44-42-41.
What’s more important, it was Olli who won the game. He had least missions, but he had the most coat-of-arms. He got the mission that provided him one every round and went for them, collecting as much of them as he could. As a result, he got four or so bonus coat-of-arms in the end. Not bad. I lost, but it was so close… And that bugs me a bit, just a bit. With slightly different mix of coat-of-arms, I could’ve been third or so. But, no, it’s not a big deal — it just turns out that way and that’s it. I’m not going for some variant rule, at least at this point and I think I’ll probably sell the game rather than play it enough to need variants.
I don’t know — it’s a pretty good game, and the DSP win isn’t wrong or anything (I mean, the competition hasn’t been that tough this year), but… Well, I do like the tactics of the game, how you can plan your turn in advance and then do just small changes in your plans while the turns progress (which means I could play the game pretty fast, if others were up to it — that way I could actually enjoy the game more, if it really was a 60-minute game or even faster).
However, it’s a fairly complicated game, in a messy way. Hard to learn and the bias against difficult games comes up again. I mean, Louis XIV would probably be a good game, if it was played enough. I’m not sure if I see that happening… The way the game should survive the phase where you have to play it with newbies and suffer that learning curve and explaining the slightly messy rules, so you can get to the point where everybody knows the rules and the game and plays fast and the game is real good fun, it’s just too hard when there are games that are more fun right away (and they too can be deep games).
It’s a bit of a shame, but I’m not going to get sobby over it. I’ll have my fun with Louis XIV and sell it then, eventually. I’m probably not selling it at Helcon (if there’s a Helcon) this year, but maybe at some point next year. There are too many games to worry too much about a single game.
Then, Modern Art. I used this one in the advertising and at least Petri was eager to try it for the first time. We set off selling art, and this time I knew exactly what I would do. I’ve really figured out the game, and I really enjoy playing it. I guess here lies a lesson I could learn and which could apply to Louis XIV as well, but hey… that’s different.
Anyway, I did well, too. 547 is a decent score, but unfortunately Ville had 556. Olli scored 439, while Petri got 343. Modern Art is well-known for the fact that a newbie can mess the game by bidding too much — well, here something to that extent happened. I’m not saying the game was spoiled or anything, but I think few paintings went for a price that was a bit too much. I got the profits on one or two such cases, so I guess I shouldn’t complain. After all, Modern Art is a tricky game, learning to price the paintings right takes some time.
I’ve upped my rating to eight, and it just might hit nine with further play. I can’t help it: it’s such a good game. The auctions are just so sweet… All the different problems you have. How to price the fixed price auctions correctly? How much to offer? How low margin is reasonable? Do I really want to give this much money to the auctioneer for this low a profit? It’s an interesting game, definitely.
To finish our afternoon, we played two rounds of Geschenkt. It’s still fun, though I wonder if Essen will bring another small and fun card game. However, I’d still predict more life for Geschenkt.