Saturday was Bob Day for January. I had specifically asked for any of 4 different games to be brought and taught. Of the 3 that were brought, I got a chance to play 2 of them. This is their story...
Holy Grail Desanctified
I've been trying to obtain a copy of Princes of the Renaissance for a long time. Fortunately for me, I have been unable to do so. The game fell utterly flat. It had all the promise and structure of other great Martin Wallace games, namely Perikles and Liberté, but failed to live up to my expectations.
During the first decade, players snatch up all of the military tiles. This sets the base attack and defense values used for the rest of the game. These values can only be further modified by acquiring city tiles which give you various +1 and +2 adjustments. Once you get to this point, the whole game is all about tweaking the "stock values" of the 5 cities by declaring battles, and auctioning "shares" in them.
Each player has approximately the same military strength (except me because I failed to see this exact problem I am describing) to which is added a single die roll. So battles are won and lost by chance, which increases and decreases city values. This kind of system works in Struggle of Empires and Perikles because attack and defense strengths rise and fall over the course of the games, players have choices where to apply them, and units can be lost. Princes seemed to degrade into players trying to create battles where they benefit no matter who wins and loses, who fights and who doesn't. I found this wholly unappealing.
Geek Buddy Failure
I put a lot of weight on the ratings of my geek buddies because I carefully choose them based on existing matches and/or useful comments. Blue Moon City was a game I had read the rules to twice and dismissed. But my geek buddies said otherwise. This worked well with Beowulf in the past, so I decided to give it a try.
I found the game to be silly. There's no other word for it. There's no long-term or even medium-term planning whatsoever. There are too many card types to do any kind of hand management. Buildings get completed all around you before it becomes your turn again. I don't see any game here at all. Sadly, I have to rate it a 3.
On top of all that, the production quality is horrible. What's that? Why am I picking on Blue Moon City and not on the quality-inferior Princes of the Renaissance? Because it certainly looks like effort was actually made in BMC. If the game is going to be physically dysfunctional, just don't make the effort. It's not as horrible as Fairy Tale, but pretty close.
Princes of the Renaissance image by Terminus_Est