Autumn game season roundup

It’s the season for new games. Here’s a quick run-through of some recent titles.

The long-awaited Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Deck-Building Game arrived, I translated the cards and we just played our first game. Interesting! Different enough from the new games, and the fans of the first game will like this just for the new cards (and there are some pretty hot new cards – try combining the new Gandalf the White ally with Shadowfax and you’ll be raising hell).

If you didn’t like the first game, there’s nothing in the second one to convert you. We (that is me and my son) dig this a lot, though, and I think this’ll replace the first part for a while now – maybe then we’ll start combining sets (for the record we’ve got 27 plays out of the first game so far). Enthusiastic

Qwixx was a complete impulse purchase, but I’ve already played six games. It’s fun. Roll dice, check boxes, and try to score as high as you can. Almost trivial to teach, plays quickly and what’s best, keeps everybody involved. Active player gets more choices than the other players, but everybody can use part of the active players’ roll. Very clever. This’ll become a staple filler, I believe, and I expect this to hit 20+ plays this year, easy. Suggest

I’ve been thinking about mobile web development recently, so building a iPhone-friendly Qwixx scoring app was a good practise. So, if you want to save scoring sheets, you can visit http://www.mikkosaari.fi/qwixx/on your smart phone. You can check boxes and it’ll count score and prevent you from checking boxes you’re not supposed to check.

Ab in die Tonne (Abacus 2013; there are at least two other games with this title) or Roskis is a fun little card-game. Everybody plays a card (1–10) simultaneously. In the ascending order, everybody adds that many items in the garbage. Eventually, the something falls out, and the guilty player takes some minus points. Simple and fun. Maybe a little too simple (and a little too big a box) to succeed as a filler for gamers – my friends weren’t too impressed – but my kids love it, because of the wooden garbage (milk cartons, cans, apples and bottles), and I find playing the game fun, so I’d say it’s a success as a family game. Suggest

La Boca was on few SdJ prediction lists, but failed to make an appearance. It’s a pity, because it’s a pretty good game. Co-operative building with wooden blocks. The trick of the game is that two players build the structure and the card shows what each should see – they don’t see what the other should see, so it requires some coordination, especially if you manage to score a lot as that requires completing the structure in less than a minute. Quite funny, but perhaps more of an activity than a game. I don’t know; I rather enjoyed our game and hope to play more. Suggest

Pharaoh Code is a math puzzle game. Roll three dice (d8, d10, d12) and use at least two numbers to form a simple equation that matches a tile on board, then grab the tile for points. Repeat. Very simple. I enjoyed this, but I know this will not see much play. Getting my friends to play this again will be hard, and I can’t play this with my kids, either, I’d just win. So, tricky.

However, if you happen to be an elementary school math teacher, you probably want to have this for class room activity. It’s good math training (though the kids who are better at arithmetic will just crush the weaker kids). Indifferent in practise, though I would not say no to this game.

The Haunted Clock Tower is an old Heinz Meister game from 1994. The game was recently released in new edition, and there’s a Finnish edition as well. This is a co-operative memory game. Players turn a tile at a time, and the aim is to find three matching tiles. Simple, not much of a game, but a fun activity for the whole family or for the children. Indifferent – I rather play games.

In Bananas you try to get your monkeys off the board. Looks like an abstract, but the monkeys are hidden, so there’s a memory element and in the end it’s pretty much down to luck. Works for kids, but not very interesting for adults. Bit too chaotic for my tastes.Indifferent

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