First Impressions from Essen
We’ve decided that we’re going to hold off on writing our group reviews until around Thanksgiving – in order to give as many of our writers a chance to play the games at the fall conventions (Great Lakes Games, Sasquatch, BGG.con, EuroQuest, Basement Con, Lobster Trap, etc) and allow for as many comments as possible on the new games.
In the meantime, I thought I would write up some quick mini-capsule reviews of some of the new games that I’ve played. Most of the games have only been played once, so clearly my opinions are still forming on the games – but I know that many people are trying to figure out which games they want to buy/try first, and to that end, any opinions will be helpful. These thoughts will eventually be edited/incorporated into the full review that will come in the next few months, but I will try to talk about the new games a little bit at a time until we’re ready for full reviews. I will try to give a short description of the game(s) in each piece and some quick thoughts about them. The rules are not meant to be comprehensive – merely enough to give a flavor for how the game works.
Tile Laying Games: Citrus, Sanssouci
- Designer: Jeff Allers
- Publisher: dlp games
Game idea: On a turn, place tiles or harvest. If tiles: players choose a row of tiles from the supply grid – they must pay for, take, and place all tiles in that row to the board. Board is seeded with 3 fincas, and colored tiles must be placed in matching colored plantations starting from spaces orthogonally adjacent to a finca. Mark the area with your meeple. When all 8 spaces surrounding a finca are filled, it is scored. Counting all squares in plantations that have any tiles adjacent to finca, total the number of squares per player, award points to first and second. Then, a new finca is placed on board. If money: remove your meeple from the board (those tiles are now neutral), and get money.
Thoughts: Very interesting tile selection mechanic. There are definitely times when you do not want to take the max number of tiles because you can’t afford them or you don’t have great places to put them. Money is tight, and the only way to get more money is to remove your meeples from the board – which then means that you can’t score VPs for them when fincas are scored – though if you time it right, you can remove meeples when they have already been scored. There are a few special action tiles that you can collect which can be very beneficial and adds additional strategy to tile placement. Thus far, we have only played short game, and game length was perfect for me – about 45 mins. This version is shorter by removing 3 fincas from game. I will have to see if adding these 3 back in does anything other than making the game longer. I am definitely interested in playing full game after the short initial game.
- Designer: Michael Kiesling
- Publisher: Ravensburger
Game Overview: Players have a deck of 18 cards – either have two colors on them or have a garden icon. You have a hand of 2 cards. On the board, 10 tiles are placed – each tile has an icon printed on it; its location on the board determines the color, 2 each x 5 colors. On your turn, play a card and take a tile that matches – from one of the two colors shown if a color card or matching icon if an icon card. Then, placed the tile. If you take a fountain tile from the purple row, it must go on the purple fountain spot. If that spot is filled, you can flip it over to gardener side and place in same row or column as appointed spot. Then you may move one of your figures, using paths on tiles placed, down a row and score points equal to how far down he has gone (from 1 to 6 points). Figures must end movement on a real icon tile though, not a gardener. Players use all 18 cards in their deck. At end, there is some bonus scoring based on cards dealt at start of game.
Thoughts: Another game that hits my sweet spot. I love the tile choosing/placement mechanic. On most turns, there are usually a number of tiles from the supply of ten that are useful, and you have to figure out what is best. The game doesn’t clump up because players are often looking for different things – due to different setup positions as well as different goals. Decisions can get tough in midgame as you have to balance desire to score points now (moving your meeples) versus setting up endgame bonuses. It is easy to learn and suitable for all levels of gamers. There is also an expansion/expert board included but we haven’t even gotten there yet as we’ve enjoyed the base game – but this adds to the replayability/complexity.