Sunday, December 24, 2006

Games and More Games

Between an impromptu couple of 2p games on Friday night and all-day session at the Condo on Saturday, I played 8 games in the last 2 days. If I could continue to play games continuously over the next 2 days with not a sight of blinking lights nor the sound of jingling bells, I would. Alas, all those around me are slaves to the trappings of ritual and the guilt of secularized religion. Fortunately, I have a solo game to carry me through.

O Zoo Le Mio
I taught this game to Mary Ann. We played two 2p games. I won the first; she won the second. The thing I didn't explain well was that each zoo tile works like a domino with a single square pen at each end. We've played so much Carcassonne that she thought the adjacency of like pens was based on how the grass areas connected, and that the roads cut them up. My bad. This game works well with 2, but I'm thinking 3 is the best number.

Roads & Boats
Josh was hot to try this second Splotter offering (we tried Antiquity previously). The rules were too painful to read, so I bailed and let Mike teach me. Well it turns out the game is too painful to play. At least that is what I concluded after 3 hours. I don't mind some logistics and some tech tree, but this game is ridiculous. To get coins, I have to bring fuel and 2 gold to a mint. To build a mint, I need 2 wood and a stone. To get fuel, I need to bring 2 wood to a coal plant. To build a coal plant, I need 3 wood. By the time you get close to making the one thing you spent the entire game trying to make, the game ends. Meanwhile, an opponent's donkey wanders unhindered through your stuff picking up anything you can't hold for free. There's a lot of very high ratings for this on BGG, and like Ticket to Ride, I completely fail to see why. At least the latter is over quickly.

First time for all of us. Part of the attraction of this game for me is that it's a little like Magic: The Gathering, but self-contained. No expansions. No collectibility. After a couple of rounds, we all started to get a feeling for the various kinds of interaction. Josh won the first 2 rounds, and Mike came in last. After 4 rounds, Josh was positioned to win. Mike and I had to work against him, netting Mike the valuable Helen victory card. Now we were all within range, so no alliances formed. I won the final round, and the game, based partly on the lack of cards of my opponents. It was good, but I think playing 2 teams of 2 would be even more fun.

Leonardo da Vinci
This game has been compared to the highly-rated Princes of Florence, but I would say that's fairly superficial. The mechanics are pretty simple. The game is not very deep, other than needing to plan very carefully. If you spend a turn or 2 collecting the resources necessary to start an invention, and someone completes it before start it, you pretty much lose the game. You almost have to know what other people are making, and how quickly. But that takes way too much effort for a game like this. Also, the game seems to be over before you can ramp up your process. A little unsatisfying and anti-climactic, but it will take a few more plays to decide for sure.

Modern Art
First time for Josh. We used the "Monkey Variant". Mike and I tried to give good advice for the new player, but he didn't enjoy the math aspect of the game. Regardless, Josh ended up winning the game on a killer final round, ending with over 400.

You can't play games all day and not play at least 1 game of Subbuteo. So we did. Mike made a total of 4 shots on goal and scored on 3 of them. I made a total of 1 shot on goal, but it was saved by the goalie. Mike's "Wall of Men" defense seems to be working well for him; I have a hard time getting through it and keeping control. I will need to adapt.

Medici vs Strozzi
First time for both Mike and I. Players start with 300. After the first round, we both had around 250. So while we were at least maintaining the balance, we were both overbidding. I was determined to adjust. It's harder than you think. You can tell yourself, "I won't bid to high," or, "I'll just refuse those higher bids," but at each and every set of goods, you look at the results if you don't win and over-react. After the second round, I was down just a bit, and Mike was up just a bit. He was doing a slightly better job of valuing the sets than I. In the final round, Mike had his ships full except for 2 spaces on 1 ship. I used this to my advantage by always drawing 3 tiles and underpricing them. Mike eventually opted to pay and discard them just to get control. The game ended with me in the high 200's and Mike in the low 200's. This game is more math-intensive than Modern Art, but really is a nice elegant game. I am a little disappointed by the subtle colors of the goods and the fact that the goods colors on the boards and tiles don't match.

Leonardo da Vinci image by RoSKoMaNTe


At 1:42 PM, Blogger dave said...

"In the final round, Mike had his ships full except for 2 spaces on 1 ship. I used this to my advantage by always drawing 3 tiles and underpricing them."

The obvious counter to that is for him to overprice the lots that he is drawing.

At 1:05 PM, Blogger John said...

What is the "Monkey Variant" for Modern Art?

At 1:11 PM, Blogger ekted said...

For 3p only, but play as if it's a 4p game. Create a dummy player with a hand of cards, face down. After EACH player's normal turn, that player MAY flip over a card from the dummy's hand. This card is not auctioned, but it does count towards the 5 cards required to end the round. This adds a little extra unknown to the mix that is partly controllable. If you really want to end the round but are otherwise unable to, you can take a chance by drawing a card "from the Monkey".


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