Sunday, March 26, 2006

Game Rules Update

The past few weeks have been rife with new game rules. It almost seems like some companies are wising up to the fact that online rules equals more sales. I'd like to take some credit for that, but I think it's mostly self-realization on the part of publishers which has prompted this result. This is a good thing.

This time we have a strange mix of games from 1983 to the future.

Silk Road
: This nasty little game has a rulebook with a mere two pages. The player with the leader marker gets to auction it off. The player who wins chooses where to move the caravan, chooses one of the actions there (one less action than the number of players), then passes the turn to the player of his/her choice! The actions are all similar (buy/sell/trade goods, and a few others to break the rules), but the fact that each player gets to choose who goes next could create some real screwage. Also, the amount of information to choose from with all the action tiles visible could lead to some severe AP. Seems like a solid game, but it's still only a maybe for me right now.

Byzantium: I had to read this through twice just a feeling for how the game worked. It's definitely not for the feint of heart, yet I can see myself teaching it in only 15 minutes. Once again, I am attracted to the fact that you play more than one side and the multiple victory conditions (a la Liberte). The rules are slightly rough around the edges and not presented as clearly as they could be. Nevertheless, it's on my want list.

Mykerinos: This is Ystari's third game. In my opinion, they still have not learned their lesson about rulebook layout and graphics, or game board scoring tracks. However, the rules are very solid and the game sounds fun. It seems to fall in the filler-plus weight (akin to Carcassonne with an expansion or two). There are a lot of mechanics packed into this one: spatial play, resource management, area influence, set collection, and action selection similar to Byzantium. It's close to being on my want list, but I'm still waiting on images that show production quality and maybe some more feedback on play.

Blue Max: This old-time airplane dogfighting game caught my attention on while setting up a game of Cartagena. The heart of the game is very simple. Fly around in planes using Simultaneous Action Selection to choose your next maneuvers. If an enemy plane is directly in front of you, the server rolls the die, consults the charts, and tells you want kinds of damage you have taken. Each plane type has its own properties (stability, maneuvers, engine, wings, tail, fuselage, and fuel. So far I've only played a couple of 2p games, but you can have up to 10 in a 5v5 massive dogfight. This one I am not buying; I don't think I would enjoy it offline at all.

Mesopotamia: I've been waiting a long time for the rules to appear online. Unfortunately, now that they have, I find it not very interesting. I could be wrong. It's difficult to tell with this one. I disliked Through the Desert and Hacienda when I first read the rules. After playing online, I found Through the Desert to be quite fun, and Hacienda to be yucky. So I'm in a wait-and-see mode. If it's ever available online, I'll definitely try it out.


Elasund: This one I ignored too long simply because I dislike the original Settlers. Well, the only thing it has in common is the name and the 2d6. I really like the 10 cube victory condition and the fact that if someone is ahead of you, you don't necessarily have to catch up right off, you can knock them back. I definitely need to try this one.

Mexica: Having played Java, and finding it a bit under-developed, I avoided looking at Tikal and Mexica for a long time. After playing Tikal on and liking it more than Java, I decided to check out Mexica. It is different enough from the other two to be worth a closer look. It still has that K&K feeling to it, but is "fresh" to me.

My next game order is going to be difficult to put together, and is looking to be rather large.


At 9:03 AM, Blogger Coldfoot said...

"Yucky", Jim? I've read a lot of comments on games and I don't believe I've heard that one before! Was that the next word on your adjective list? :)

At 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where did you manage to play Hacienda online?

I own Hacienda and it's quickly becoming one of my favorite games.

At 12:32 PM, Blogger ekted said...

To me Hacienda feels like a cross between Alhambra and Through the Desert. While I like both of those games a lot, the combination just doesn't work for me. Imagine TtD where instead of choosing your 2 camels, you drew them out of a bag.

At 7:15 PM, Blogger jtakagi said...

This makes sense now, I was wondering whether you had those games or not. I saw you posting about Silk Road and Mykerinos and was wondering how you were playing them when they weren't even out yet! :)

At 1:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You can play Hacienda online at

At 2:21 AM, Blogger Pawnstar said...

Java "underdeveloped"?

At 7:30 AM, Blogger ekted said...


I've mentioned this elsewhere. If you occupy a city at any level, you can hold a festival there. The only thing that affects your choice is the value of the resort. So if you occupy two 10's, just pick one. There really should be more mechanics making the choice difficult. Perhaps your level in the resort or number of workers gives you a bonus. To me it jusy feels like there's a missing mechanic.


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