Well, the Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone, and this usually marks the end of my post-Essen gaming extravaganza(s). This year, I didn’t make it to my usual conventions (Great Lakes Games or BGG.con), but I did manage to host a few gaming weekends at my house in the past month as well as having my brother over for a full week around Thanksgiving.
The final tally of Essen gaming in the month post-Essen is: 15 gaming sessions, about 115 games total, 47 different new Essen games for a total of 93 plays. Admittedly, my writing output has been low during that time, but I’ve been trying to get 2-3 plays in of the games that I want to write about! The first few reviews have been written up, and will start hitting the blog either late this week or early next week – they’re currently awaiting opinions from the other OG writers, but I thought I’d still give some capsule first impressions of games that I’ve played only once so far. (Games that have been played 2+ times will likely get more in depth coverage in the coming weeks, so I’ll wait until then to write up those games!)
Samurai Sword – this is the new version of Bang! which is supposed to eliminate the issue of player elimination. It does this by giving players a number of hit points. When you lose all of your hit points, you give an honor point to the player who dealt the final damage to you, and then you are “invisible” until your next turn. The game goes on untilone player is out of honor point. At that point, players reveal their identities and the secret alliances are revealed, and a winner is calculated… For me, the game felt a bit long as there was a lot of trading honor points back and forth. I actually liked the quickness of Bang! Even if I was eliminated without a turn, it was a quick game filled with laughs. That being said, there is a bit more strategy in the longer game as well as in the figuring out of the secret partnerships (though in our group, it only takes a few turns to figure out who is attacking whom…)
PI – a new deduction game from Martin Wallace. Or maybe it’s better to say that this is three mini-deduction games stuck together. The individual round is interesting, and it lasts about 20 minutes. Like all deduction games, it is dependent on all the players making correct responses to the questions. The game itself is designed nicely, and clever questions can help you eliminate large portions of the board to help you deduce the crime. There is a little bit of interplay between the players in the game because each card can only be used once, so there may be times when you cannot get the piece of information you want, but other than that, it feels pretty solitaire-y. The other indirect bit of interaction is that the round snowballs at the end – once a player makes a correct guess, he marks those answers down in his color, and this often allows someone else to solve their crime once those options are eliminated. If the game ended after a single round, it would be just right for me. The 2nd and 3rd rounds are essentially the same as the first, and the game becomes a bit long without anything different happening.
Kosmonauts – an interesting game of space exploration with vector movements. You control a ship and you are trying to navigate to the different planets in the solar system. Your ship gets movement points in the six directions of a hex, and true to the physics of movement in a vacuum, you keep that movement momentum into your next turn. It’s a neat idea, and it was enjoyable in my first game – though I have only played it as a 2-player game. I reserve judgement until I see what the competition is like in a 4p game.
Trick of the Rails – this is a Japanese card game that I played OR a Japanese card game that played me. I’m honestly not sure which of the two is the true statement, though I suppose it depends whether you think I’m a Minoan or a Cretan. In any event, this is “trick taking” game with 10 rounds where you either gain a share in one of the 5 companies in the game or you add cards to the companies which set the value of the stocks. Either I didn’t grok the game, or there isn’t a lot of control over what happens. In any event, it was a game that I played nearly randomly, I managed to squeak out a win, and I have no idea why the final result ended up the way that it did. It did only take about 20 minutes, so at least there’s that…
Out of Gears – a simultaneous selection game where you try to collect gears from junkyards. You get 2 points for gears in your color and 1 point for all other gears. You only have 3 options each turn, and like most simultaneous selection games, it helps if you can read the minds of your opponents or figure out what they want to do so you can stop it. I’m not the biggest fan of this sort of game, but Out of Gears does it well – especially because it plays up to 8 and lasts for only 11 rounds, so the whole game takes about 25-30 minutes. My boys seemed to like it and quickly picked it up, so that has something to be said for it as well.
Unexpected Treasures – another simultaneous selection game, previously known as Fundstucke. I have always liked this one as there feels like there is a little bit more than just trying to outguess your opponents. In this game, you still want to try to suss out your opponents’ intentions so that you get the action you want, but there is an added element of trying to collect the right pieces of junk that match the scoring cards. A really nice game in a small package.
OK, back to writing up some full reviews!
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor