Catch Up

Several obstacles have got in the way of games playing in the last few months. Most importantly, my games group fizzled out, with only three players of us available at most. I also finished a long project at work and I trained hard for the London Marathon (3h 25m). At any rate, now things have quietened down, I have been playing a few games and the break has done me good.

Naturally I fitted in a “few”: noteworthy games since January:

* “Hero Clix”: – I played this at “Bush Bash”:, a club in Shepherd’s Bush. A group meet every Tuesday to play Heroclix. It is not my kind of game, with basic mechanics and lots of special power combinations, but it was enjoyable enough. 4/10.

* “Wizard Kings”: – We played “Surprise Attack”: Barbarians have a big advantage as defenders here, as they are so strong nautically. This can be countered by a strong mix of aquatic chaos units for the attacker, but my “chaos unit mix”:*/ does not give the Amazons particularly strong aquatics. Scenario design has always been a problem for Wizard Kings. Even the best, like Chris Farrell’s, can be made average if the unit mix is not right. Now that Wizard Kings is collectible, that will be even more difficult to get right. Demoted to 8/10

* “Commands & Colors: Ancients”: – I enjoy this a lot, but there is not much to say about it. It is nothing revolutionary after playing Memoir ’44 and Battle Cry, but it feels more historical while still flowing quickly. 8/10

* “Mykerinos”: – I found this bland. After playing two months ago, I can barely remember the mechanics. 4/10

* “On the Underground”: – I can see the similarities to Ticket to Ride, with a similar use of tickets, but it is more abstract and demanding. I read someone’s comment that a “Piccadilly Line” is unbeatable, and that tactic won our game. Even though I’m a Londoner: 5/10

* “Die Macher”: – I finally got to play the Valley Games edition. After seven years of hype, it is hardly surprising that I was a little disappointed. It is probably on a par with Antiquity in complexity, but I did not find it quite as tough to play. This 3rd edition includes a shorter variant where you play fewer regional elections, which I suspect would be subject to the “Pareto principle”:
Some of the issue cards are very hard to distinguish. It might be worth substituting some scanned copies from the German editions. “Scott Nicholson”: suggested some player aids that we found useful. 8/10.

* “Descent: The Well of Darkness”: – this is growing on me. I played DM this time and got sadistic pleasure in destroying the adventurers in the second room. If only it played in three hours.
I think character selection should not be totally random. The adventurers were both relatively weak ranged weapon users, so wilted under beastman pressure. Maybe the players should be able to pick their preferred character blend of ranged, melee and magic users first and then choose randomly among those categories? 8/10.

* “Vampire”: – Typical Knizia. Fast, easy and fun. This one has less replayability than most, but it makes up for that in accessibility. Unfortunately the card art is fugly, which makes it a no-buy for me. It would probably be easy to make my own deck. 6/10.

* “Bridgette”: – I heard about this from “Ben Baldanza’s Trick-Taking for Two”: article. I introduced the basic version to my Bridge-playing friend who normally hates two player games, although he has always enjoyed “German Whist”: He liked Bridgette similarly and I should be able to persuade him to play this with me more regularly. The bidding and scoring are very interesting and the colons add a lot of strategy. I bought the ugly Mayfair Games version, which includes advanced rules, but it is probably worth trying the “basic game for free”: first.

* “Settlers of Catan Card Game”: – I played this with my brother-in-law, who also dislikes two player games, but again this was a big hit. He loves all Catan games, so I really should have got it sooner. 8/10.

* “Cleopatra and the Society of Architects”: – I visited Steve of the “Boardgamer podcast” last Saturday and had a good time with his group. They are a very smiley, happy bunch. Cleopatra was better than I thought it would be. It is interactive, easy and fast with lovely components. Like most Days of Wonder games suspect there will not be much replay value, but it is fine for what it is. 7/10.

Steve is trying to organise a public games group around Richmond. Hopefully this will lead to more gaming.