I visited Jyväskylä last weekend. Agricola was a must after last time. This time the boys were out of town, so it was just me, my mother and Ismo. We managed to play two games, first one taking 60 minutes and second one just 50 minutes.
That’s very nice efficiency and certainly reinforces Chris Farrell’s comments about Agricola being fixed-fun game (see Iain’s blog entry about Agricola). I agree to some extent: the five-player game is good, but takes too long. I’d rather play two three-player games in the same time.
How it went? Well, I won the first one, then lost the second when my mom and Ismo both improved their game. In the second game, I spent way too many actions feeding my family, emphasizing the need of effective food production. Still, fun, fun, fun!
We played a game of Caylus Magna Carta, too (I had given it to them as a Christmas present). I thought I didn’t do that well, but actually won by one point. I did pretty much nothing in the last few rounds, but obviously had done enough before… Had the game lasted for one more round, I would’ve probably lost. That’s lucky, especially as I did nothing to actually end the game.
He played a great game of Xiangqi, though. He hadn’t played before and had some usual trouble with the pieces, but managed to beat me eventually. I thought I won the game twice or so, but he managed to survive and mated my king in the end. Well played, and a very exciting match!
We have a bit of Xiangqi history, actually. Years ago, at least 15 years ago or so, we found this set of wooden discs with oriental writing on them in the old family farm house. We had no idea what it was; I just remember being disappointed it wasn’t a Mahjong set (I knew and loved the solitaire tile-picking game back then). With no rules, board or any explanation included, we just toyed around with the pieces.
When I started getting into Xiangqi recently, I was finally able to identify that old game as Xiangqi. It was a nicer set than mine, too, with somewhat larger pieces. The board was either missing or separate from the pieces. So, no wonder my brother was interested in trying the game.
He had brought his latest time-waster with him. Guitar Hero III and two guitars… Well, I had to try it (I’ve played Guitar Hero II once before). It was fun, and playing together was pretty cool. While my mom and Ismo entertained Nooa, we played through the co-op career mode on easy. While it was fun, it’s not a game I feel a need to own and practise a lot… Not my game in that way, no.
In other video game news, I’ve enjoyed Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass on Nintendo DS. It’s pretty nifty with all the DS-specific interface stuff. Lots of drawing, writing, scratching and swishing with the stylus, blowing and shouting with the microphone and other things like that, all very well done. As far as game design goes, it’s Zelda alright, in good and bad.
I must say though, as I play only when Nooa is sleeping, yelling isn’t quite my favourite game mechanic…