Thursday, February 08, 2007

New Games Are In!

My new game order arrived today. They are all now opened, caressed, punched, counted, and bagged. My comments that follow are regarding the physical quality of the games only.

Downfall of Pompeii
I opened this last because it was the biggest. Up until this point, I had no missing pieces. Alas, there were 3 missing yellows! Other than that, Pompeii scores very high in physical design. The board is pretty and functional. The tiles all punched out perfectly with no nubs, including the huge hole in the board where the volcano goes. The large red tile bag is a nice touch. The rules are very good. An "A" for long as I get my missing pieces.

Once again, the tiles punched out perfectly. The board is standard. I usually have no problems with game art, but complain about the graphic design. In this case it's the opposite: the design is fine, the art is not great and is rendered at a resolution low enough that you can see the pixels. Nice bits, bag, and box insert. The rules, however, put Valley Games' Die Macher rules to shame. They used some crazy font. I think it's called Illegible Sans Serif. Overall a "B+".

When talking about Rio Grande Games, I used to tell people, "Don't worry about Jay. He'll either do it right, or make it right." Since the recent releases of Goa, El Grande and now Medici, I don't say that any more. I've already discussed the terrible choice of colors in Medici vs Strozzi. They used the same art/graphics in Medici as well. Is that a light grayish-yellow or a light yellowish-gray? The insert (and basically the entire box) is a joke. There's nowhere for the board to go without modifying the insert or tossing it. Why spice bags instead of simple cubes? The cloth bag is too small for the number of tiles that need to go in it. Hermagor has a larger bag and fewer tiles. Speaking of tiles: since when does RGG publish a game where the tiles have nubs on them? I once asked Jay if he was going to be picking up Kreta. He said no because it wasn't good enough quality. Yet he's fine with Medici. Go figure. Overall a "C".

I think there's a Medici curse. No version of Medici has ever looked good. The strange thing is that it's the simplest game board ever. You need 5 tracks with 8 stages each. It's too simple to screw up. That may be the problem. With no real artistic or graphic design issues to deal with, they decided to make up issues. Let's use 5 shades of gray. Let's put the board into a mobius strip shape. Let's only show prime numbers on the score track. Don't quit your day jobs.

On the Underground
A small box (same size as Phoenix) with a huge gorgeous board (I was expecting something half this size) and tons of great wooden bits. After bagging all the colors separately, it's a little tight. The rules are very good. Overall an "A".

Colorful, functional, chunky wooden bits, a large bag, functional board, and nice rules. Overall an "A".

Standard hex tiles, tiny wooden dinosaur meeples, a good box, and black and white rules. This game deserves to be slightly larger with larger bits. Overall a "B".

You can't get a solid "A" if I have to clip tiles. This game has 40 of them along with 4 cardboard player aids. I think I spent an hour clipping. Other than that, it's fantastic. The cubes are big, and there's 5 very large wooden planks for the ziggurats. Overall an "A-".

The dice, cubes, pawns, camels, cards, and rules are all great. The box and insert are awkwardly sized and organized for the many boards that need to go in and on them. A different design was required. Overall a "B+".


At 2:38 AM, Anonymous Linnaeus said...

I definitely agree about the bits in Trias. The dino-meeples should be about twice the size that they actually are. Since it's the only game that Gecko has ever published (even still), I am inclined to forgive a couple of shaved corners, though.

At 2:48 AM, Blogger Seth Jaffee said...

Your mileage may vary with respect to The Downfall of Pompei (I guess I could say "YMMV WRT DoP," heh) but I was significantly unimpressed. I had some specific reasons before, but I can't bring them to mind at the moment (ATM). I'm curious to hear what you think of it.

On the other hand (OTOH) I am very impressed with On the Underground. OtU is probably one of my favorites now, and I've played it quite a bit since December. I'm becoming less thrilled with 5p games of it (or anything else for that matter), but it's still a terriffic game for 4, or 3, and I even like it with 2 players (and I don't like playing stuff 2p very much)!


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