We were in Jyväskylä this weekend. A pleasant weekend, again, children love visiting my mom, always a success. Johanna was with us and we could sneak to go eat a nice meal (my new food love: churros) and watch a movie (Limitless was pretty good, and it was fun to watch a movie knowing nearly nothing and having very few expectations).
For games, I accidentally picked an author theme. Since Johanna was coming, there was less time for games so I decided to take something fast and simple. Samarkand: Routes to Riches is always good, and SNCF was another game I was interested in playing. I didn’t notice both were David V.H. Peters designs (Samarkand with Harry Wu) until later.
SNCF was not familiar, but it’s so simple and quick I knew it would work… And it sure did. We played five games of it and just two games of Samarkand. SNCF was a great success. The first game had my opponents somewhat confused, but they soon grokked the game and the scores went soaring up — in the fourth game, the third place (we only played three-player games) would’ve been enough to win the first game.
SNCF is a fun game and once you get the fact that exchanging a good share to two weaker shares might make a lot of sense, the mid-game comes to life and things get interesting. Collecting lots of shares is important, perhaps more important than playing the board, but that’s not something to miss either. All in all, it’s a pretty good game for something that easily plays in 20 minutes.
Samarkand — well, I’ve now played 20 games, and I love it. It’s a great game. Fast, fun, interesting tactical challenges… In the second game I had a nice corner thing going: the cards I got pretty much commanded that I start with orange Byzant and yellow Alans, and for the third family I chose the red Levant family for the proximity, as my cards didn’t really give me any good ideas.
I was rewarded with one very good goods card next to the reds and I was able to mix my families and push red to meet other families so that I could drive the game to a fairly swift end. A clear victory for me!
Ananda Gupta’s comments on BoardGameGeek are spot on: “Provides 80% of the fun of more complicated robber baron style games in about 1/10 the play time.” Few games give me the satisfaction this game does.