Here are my thoughts on some games I’ve been playing lately:
New World: A Carcassonne Game – New World isn’t a whole lot different from other Carcassonne games (and let’s be honest, how many more of these do we really need?) but the change it makes is pretty cool. You build from east to west, and there are two “surveyors” who also travel in that direction. If you score a feature and your meeple is in the same column as a surveyor, you get bonus points. Also, when the surveyors move, they clean up any non-scoring meeples behind them. These two items add a nice timing and push-your-luck element to it. If you already own a Carcassonne, this may not be a must, but I got it with a gift card, making it five bucks. Plays well with two players too.
Small World – I’d only played Vinci once, but remember liking it. This re-theme is just an all-around great game. It’s confrontational without being fiddly, it’s nice-looking without being ridiculously overproduced, and it’s quick to teach, learn and play without being lighter than air. And for once, I think I actually am happy with the fantasy theme, as it makes the whole thing a lot more fun and funny. In fact, after only one play I was down for my own copy of it.
Le Havre – It’s lonely being the one guy in the world who isn’t blown away by Agricola. In fact, I like it less each time I play it, and I wasn’t that crazy about it to start. Le Havre still has that same agonizing schtick where if you want to pick your nose you need to start producing boogers 15 turns in advance and pray that the index finger is available when they’re finally ready. I want a game about building houses to be about building houses, not about planting oak saplings and waiting for them to grow so I can eventually use the saw I had to build on them to cut them down and etc. etc. etc. So choosing between Agricola and Le Havre is, for me, something akin to deciding whether or not I want my right hand or left hand cut off. I could choose Le Havre and losing my left hand simply because they both would annoy me less.
Ghost Stories – If you’re looking for a co-op game that will knock you down, kick you in the stomach, take your wallet, and then burn the contents and laugh at you, this is the game for you! I’m not saying it’s not fun, but goddamn. Not only did we lose miserably, it seems like you have to have an extremely fortuitous set of events to happen to win, and that’s just on the easy level. I imagine when you finally beat this thing it’s some cause for celebration. Tense, brutal, and pitiless. But damn, I want to play it again.
Roll Through the Ages – I’m starting to realize I just plain don’t like dice games. Like everyone else, I was looking forward to this civilization-building dice game, but unlike everyone else, it falls flat for me. There’s just nothing there. You roll your dice and do whatever you can with them. When it’s not your turn you watch other people roll dice. Surely some kind of “battle” outcome could have been integrated so that it makes a difference if anyone else is playing and what they’re doing. I won’t turn down a game of it, but I’m not itching to play it.
Princes of Machu Picchu – Another worker placement game, sort of, although this one distinguishes itself with absolutely hideous artwork and one of the worst boards you’ll ever see. I don’t have much to say about it because honestly, it’s pretty much an average game that nobody will be thinking much about in a few months, assuming they’re even thinking about it now. Sorry to seem like such a jerk but hey, that’s how it is.
Roborally – The problem with liking RoboRally is that so many people dislike it. And when I say “dislike” what I mean is, they would rather get twelve cancers than play it. It has something for just about everyone to hate: a fair amount of luck, some timed elements, malicious confrontation, player elimination, lack of balance — really, it’s a wonder it doesn’t also come with dice that you have to somehow stack on top of each other. I love it, but alas, I’m pretty much alone in that. Matt hadn’t ever played it, though, so I brought it over for him to try. And shock of shocks — he enjoyed it! Now, we kept things calm. One board, two flags, so that the game didn’t get too frustrating and go on forever. That’s probably the key to enjoying it. But hooray, at last I have someone who will actually play it with me!