Saturday, July 14, 2007

Game Night

After 10 or so plays--the last just tonight--Power Grid is losing steam with me. I've complained before about its inelegance, but that is not really the issue. The real problem is its lack of granularity in three different areas.

One, another player cutting you off from the only city you can built to cheaply can be devastating. You can't build. Therefore, the fuel you might have just bought at less-than-reasonable prices is wasted. The money you spent on it could have been used for a better plant, or saved to build elsewhere. And I don't really enjoy the spatial aspects of this game.

Two, the fuel market can be ridiculously unfair. One player could buy coal for 1, while you might have to pay 5. Players do not have enough control over their turn order to make this huge difference a matter of strategy. It almost feels like you are caught in a machine, moving at a specific pace trying not to get ground up by the gears.

Three, the game often ends with one player spending more cash than they had in the entire first half of the game building 4 or 5 new connections. The notion of tempo is completely lost. It's all or nothing.

I rate my games with fractional values because I like to compare even those that are very close in appeal. But when it comes to picking games for game night, I pretty much have 4 categories:
A - Games I will suggest and play any time: Taj Mahal, El Grande, Age of Steam, Princes of Florence, Maharaja.

B - Games I will play if others suggest them: Caylus, Carcassonne, Santiago, Manila, Attika.

C - Games I will play, but will actively try to suggest others: Ingenious, Reef Encounter, Oasis, Yspahan, Diamante.

D - Games I will not play (skipping game night if necessary): Ticket to Ride, Fairy Tale, Hacienda, Antiquity, Runebound.
Power Grid has moved from a B game to a C game.

Next up was a 2p game of Lord of the Rings with Mary Ann--a first time for her. I've only played twice before, and both times were solo. I had to refresh a little before playing.

I'm always amazed at how bad the original rules are, as well as the expanded version by Chris Lawson. I simply fail to see how anyone not obsessed with figuring out the game, and willing to spend hours on BGG, will ever figure this thing out. It's not a complex game by any means, but both sets are missing that very important game overview that would pull it all together. And the individual sections describing the flow of, for example, the active player's turn, are horrendous. I can't believe these were written by Knizia himself. Was it Hasbro or FFG's work?

Anyways, the game rocks. We played the entire Moria board incorrectly (we played only a single card after resolving any event tiles), and still managed to win.

I don't know the special cards off the top of my head by any means. At one point I was trying to decide if I should play cards or draw cards. I decided to draw cards. Mary Ann (as Sam) said, "Master Frodo, I really think you should move us along." I was down to 3 cards, but who am I to argue with Sam...or Mary Ann for that matter. I played 2 of my precioussssss cards. On my next turn, with only a single card left, Mary Ann plays Lembas, allowing me to draw 5 more cards! Nice job.

We destroyed the ring with Frodo and Sam at 4 corruption, and Sauron at 11, a very good result compared to my previous attempts. The game was a hit. If it holds up over the next few plays, I may look into the expansions. I'd appreciate the thoughts of anyone who has played any of the expansions, which work well for 2, and why.

Lord of the Rings image by breakmanynecks


At 1:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have the friends and foes expansion and you can borrow it if you want to give it a try.

Dawn and I have played it twice and the variety is nice. I think it makes it a little harder with 2 players but since you have more options (fighting monsters as a victory condition) It seems to be a worthwhile addition.



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