Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Board Games IIb

Listening to:

Mendelssohn, Fair Melusina overture. Played by the Bern Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Peter Maag.

More Capsule Reviews of Board Games

For super-reduced reviews of games from our Monday Games Night, see Alban’s page.

Alhambra

Another so-called “gateway game”, perfect for introducing non-gamers to the hobby. It’s certainly pretty light, with simple mechanics, including an appealing tile-laying aspect. One is definitely at the mercy of a shuffled deck of money cards, and if playing with too many players (more than 3 or 4), it really does become impossible to plan because the revealed set of tiles that one purchases will change too much between one turn and the next. Not currently something I’d call to play myself, but I don’t actively dislike it.

Citadels

This game features a distinctive central mechanic, where each round sees you select a rôle from a set of cards, and then pass the remaining set onto your left for your neighbours to draw from. The psychology of judging what to take given what you expect others to take, and what you expect your predecessors to have taken, makes for a memorable game. I’ve mostly enjoyed my games of this, but it can drag something rotten if the card selections take too long. The rôle draws are done to build up a collection of victory-point-bearing city cards. These city cards are displayed face up on the table in front of you.

It’s possible to be badly victimised, though in a random way (people with the appropriate rôles pick their victims not by player identity, but by rôle, and so they can’t be sure who they will be harming). I don’t mind this much, but others have found this annoyingly frustrating.

Container

An economic simulation that I find very appealing. I’ve played it a few times, and always found it enjoyable, even if my strategic thinking has been completely superficial. For the moment, I’ve just been happy to sit back and think, Yes, there’s definitely an economic web happening here. The better player would then also figure out how to exploit that web in a reasonably long-term way. The flow of money, and the control given to the players make this a better economic game than Acquire, even if the turn-to-turn activity is pretty prosaic (production of wooden “containers”, the setting of prices, and occasional auctions).

Dominion

An extremely famous recent game, one that introduced the notion of “deck-building”. I’ve only played four times to date, but have enjoyed each experience so far. It’s pretty dry in terms of theme, but the mechanic is an appealing one to get one’s head around.