Yesterday I finally got Neue Heimat on table in our game group. It’s been a while since I bought it. We played a full game of three rounds. Despite the extra length, I think that is pretty much the only way to play. I tried the one-round game in Helcon, and it’s easy to tell it just isn’t the same.
The full game has one problem, though: length. Our group of me and Ville with the experience of the Helcon play and Mari and Petri with no experience at all took almost two hours to play the full game. First round took about 45 minutes, the last round was fortunately a bit faster.
Let’s start with that — it’s a bit much for something this repetitive. However, I believe the game can fairly easily be played in about 90 minutes, which would be fine for me. There are lots of auctions in this game, lots and lots of them, and playing them just slightly faster will make a big difference.
So, it’s an auction game. Players auction bits of houses and roofs to put on top of them. The player who buys the first cube of each colour owns that colour for the round and scores all buildings with that colour in top. There are three rows and the round is over when two rows are complete (four houses, all with roofs). In the end complete rows score positive (value of cubes + the roof for the owner of the top cube) and incomplete rows score negative.
There’s some special cubes which can make rows longer or shorter and a mayor that can double the value of a row. Those can also be auctioned. Players can also put money in secret illegal earnings, which score points in the end. Otherwise money is worth no points, but your cash reserve is carried to the next round in multi-round games.
How’s the game, then? Well, apparently we aren’t very good builders. I don’t know what’s typical, but we started nicely with a total fail round, where everybody but me went negative (not that I mind), Petri with whopping -40 points.
Next round saw some more damages, this time enhanced by the score-doubling mayor placed in front of a row that never finished. Oops. Mari, who was just one point in the negative, took a hit of -42 points. Ouch. Ville took some negative points as well, while Petri and me managed to finish the round on positive points.
The final round was much better. Ville decided to play the no buildings strategy, focusing on collecting money in his illegal earnings reserve. That worked out fine, he scored 19 points, but unfortunately he didn’t manage to sabotage the building efforts enough. Petri got three colours, Mari got two, and both scored about 40 points from their buildings. Add to that Mari’s cash reserves and she scored 56 points on the last round.
However, it was my steady performance (7, 12, 19) that squeezed a one-point victory over Mari. Final scores were 38-37-16-3, so in the end, everybody made it!
Shooting Neue Heimat
The game was long, but it was also fun. There were several mean moments, funny bits and exciting situations. Many auctions were a bit ho-hum, but there was enough excitement. The funniest part was probably my luck in drawing roof domes on the first two rounds — the domes are numbered 1-6 twice, and on five draws, my average was slightly over 5.5. Larger is better.
Here’s the mandatory photography bit. I started with my 50mm “nifty-fifty” lens in the camera, but it’s too long, especially with a crop body where it’s the equivalent of a 80mm lens. I’ve shot good game photos with it, but doing so requires more moving about than is suitable for a game evening where I don’t want the photography to draw too much attention from the game. Thus, I switched to the 18-55mm zoom, which is much better for this kind of photography.
This shoot also gave me new ideas on future lens purchases. I’ve now got my eyes on Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens. That sounds just about perfect for this kind of use. The focal length range is good — I don’t need much wider (and I read the 17mm on Tamron is good and wide) and 50mm is well enough, as well. The f/2.8 on full range is the sweet bit. The light I get ranges from weak to moderate, I don’t want to use flash, so I need a fast lens. The Tamron is cheap, too (only about 490 € with a stabilizer and just 290 € without), where similar Canon lens costs 950 €.
Again, click through to Geek to see larger versions (and thumb the photos if you like them).