Unity Games XIV
The largest Unity Games turnout to date occurred on Saturday with over 350 attendees. We took over the entire Wakefield Sheraton Conference Center, and kept it busy from 9:00am until they kicked us out at midnight. It was yet again a spectacular feast of board gaming goodness.
Thanks to Craig, Adam, Dave, Pitt and the rest of the UG steering committee for another great convention. Thanks to Adam and Craig for the charity auction. Thanks to Phil for running the teaching area and setting up the huge number of labels for game storage and math trade spaces. Thanks to Jeff for running the math trade.
A personal thanks to Eric for teaching Agricola, to Bryan for teaching New England, to David for allowing us to use his custom-made wooden Dune board (pictured), and to Al, Scott, Dom, Josh, and James who played it with me.
I started the day in the teaching area with Agricola. I haven't been as excited as most about this game, but I still wanted to try it. We played a 5p game without any of the cards. Even as a learning game, it took less than 2 hours to play. It has elements of Caylus, St Petersburg, and maybe Notre Dame. I found the action selection to be too coarse for my tastes. In Caylus, for example, if you need wood you might be able to get it free, or pay for it, or trade for it, etc. In Agricola, you might not ever be able to get something you need. I dislike being a slave to the turn order unless there is something to mitigate it. I'll play it again, but I have no interest in owning it.
Next up was Dune. Another Holy Grail game for me that, this time, did not disappoint. There's too much to say here, so I'll leave it for my next post.
Next up, Bryan taught us one of his favorites, New England. The tile laying part of the game is quite unremarkable; it's the competition for the tiles that make it's work. I suppose you could call it an auction mechanic. Players each select a coin from 1-10 which sets the price they are willing to pay for 0-2 tiles and/or cards. This also sets the turn order, highest going first. As is typical in Euro games, you must make a difficult trade-off between good resources and cost. And since money is open, you can often play some nasty games by setting a price that forces another player to pay an unreasonable amount for a single tile they desperately need, or give up the tile to another player who would choose before them. Not bad.
I finally hooked up with one of my BSW buddies, Jeff (nyriv). We got a group of 6 together for Vinci, a game I cannot refuse even with the threat of the 6p downtime. We finished in a remarkable 2 hours, with me barely able to keep out of last place. I said, "Kill green!" early on, but no one listened. I love the civilization selection mechanism and the ebb and flow of the 12 (!) civilizations on the board. Your choice of powers and where you expand on the board are affected by other players' powers, terrain, current scores, and future powers. This one isn't getting old.
Red Dragon Inn fell into the same category as Cutthroat Caverns for me. It's silly without managing to be fun. You are playing random cards from your hand with no setup. In Magic, you typically have many cards in play which set your stance and can restrict your possibilities. In this game, there's no warning and no defense unless you just happen to have a specific card. It's all random.
I closed out the night teaching Cold War: CIA vs KGB. This one succeeds where the previous fails. It does have a lot of randomness, but you can work with it. And on the psychological side, it's just as fun as games like Shazamm! and Lord of the Rings: Confrontation.
Dune image by dfontes