Thunderstone

Two plays of “Thunderstone”:http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/53953/thunderstone tonight.

Combined scores were:
# Duncan 15 + 32 = 47
# Iain 19 + 17 = 36
# Rafa 13 + 22 = 35
# Chris 15 + 19 = 34

It was fun, but I got a headache from reading small text at a distance in bad light.

I was impressed by the difference in feel between each play. There is very little waiting around for others as you always have something to think about. Thunderstone grabs me much more than Dominion, which felt very dry. The rules felt a little convoluted for the style of game. We printed out some revised rules from BGG, which seemed to help.

I’d like to play again. 7/10

Union Pacific

I played Union Pacific, with four players, for the first time yesterday. Interesting. I didn’t see too many game play similarities with Ticket to Ride. It’s usually compared to Get the Goods, which shares the dividend cards and the stock building element, although Union Pacific has a couple more layers.

Balancing track building with competing for shares was fun, although the track building element had usability problems, as the track cards are hard to distinguish. We played using my new poker chip set, assembled according to “JC Lawrences’s recommendations”:http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/1657399#1657399. Incidentally, there’s a good offer right now at “Gamble.co.uk”:http://gamble.co.uk for a carousel of 200 decent quality poker chips for £15.

I definitely want to try Union Pacific again soon. It’s very solid, but I wonder if newer stock games like Chicago Express have improved upon it?

8/10

Die Dolmengötter

We played “Amun-Re”:http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/5404 and “Die Dolmengötter”:http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/17988 last night. A new games group has opened up in Isleworth, about 10 minutes drive from my house, and I’m very optimistic about it. It should mean consistently getting 4/5 players, so I should have more to write about at least.

Amun-Re was OK. I won, which was nice, but I’ll never love it. I don’t mind abstract games, see below, but Amun Re is too ponderous for my taste.

I also finally got to play Die Dolmengötter. Mikko Saari’s “rave review”:http://www.melankolia.net/gameblog/archives/2009/01/gaming_year_2008.html convinced me to buy it and I’m glad I did. If you like the crowded manouvering of “Hey! That’s My Fish”:http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/8203 and want something more elaborate, you should try this. We played with four and we finished about 45 minutes including rules explanation. 20-30 minutes or under is realistic from the second play onwards.

Die Dolmengötter

The components and gameplay also remind me a little of “Nuggets”:http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/8229 – another obscure, but excellent game.

Nuggets

Die Dolmengötter deserves a wider audience. Maybe the tacked-on theme and no English-language release reduced its impact.

8/10 but should climb with repeated play.

Small World

We played three player Small World at Chris’s place last night. It went down well.

Small World is basically claustrophobic Risk. The main developments on Risk are:
* fixed ten turn duration
* getting VPs at the end of every turn for holding regions
* diceless combat (mostly)
* lots of special powers
* your armies get no reinforcements. Once the kingdom expands to its limit, you have to put your army into decline and start a new one with different powers

Small World’s designer released a game called Vinci back in 1999 that was the foundation for Small World. I played Vinci a few years ago and remember it as having drab graphics and a confusing rulebook. Those two criticisms certainly don’t apply to Small World.

The map is very colourful and the tiles and counters are very attractive. Some argue that they are less usable than Vinci, but I found them OK. To be fair, the counters might be hard to track in a six-player game.

I didn’t read the rules, but full player aids are included and I quickly grasped everything I needed to know. I have played quite a bit of Risk at Conquer Club recently and that helped me get back into the swing of things.

Other improvements over Vinci are shorter play time and a better executed fantasy theme.

Some argue that Small World is Vinci for Dummies, but if you take it for what it is, a light multiplayer romp, it’s great.

This is Bruno Faidutti’s game of the year and I can see why.

7/10, but could climb.

P.S. I wrote this post using Pyroom. Certainly helped me keep focussed.