As I have mentioned earlier, I was surprised to see Pegasus Spiele make an appearance at the GenCon 2016 show in Indianapolis. One of the reasons that they were there was to get some interest in their (somewhat) newly acquired line of kids’ games. Last year, Pegasus acquired the rights to 13 children’s games previously produced by Selecta. Having owned 10 of them while my kids were growing up – I can attest that they are amongst the best kids games made, and I still go to these as go-to gifts for my nieces and nephews in the right age group. Monte Rolla and Viva Topo are amongst my all time best kids’ games…
But, the company also had a new line of small card games for show. Earlier, I have already reviewed Brains, a solo game by Dr. Reiner Knizia. Today, I will review two other small games in the same line. According to my press contact there, these small-format games are meant to fit into the 8-12 Euro price range. There are actually two different sizes here: small (5×7 in) and smaller (4.2 x 7 in).
Stadt Land Anders
- Designer: Peter Neugebauer
- Publisher: Pegasus Spiele
- Players: 2+
- Ages: 8+
- Time: ~10 minutes
- Times played: 3, with review copy provided by Pegasus Spiele
Stadt Land Anders roughly translates to “city – country – otherwise”. In this word game, players will try to come up with creative answers in five different categories. There are 30 category cards included in the box, and five of these are drawn/selected for use in the game. Each player is given a piece of paper to record answers on, and a simple grid is constructed. Each of the categories will get its own column. Five example categories might be: Toys, Country, Sport , Computer, and Animal. It’s up to the players to decide to choose them or do them randomly. The difficulty of the game is directly determined by the categories chosen!
The game is played over a number of rounds (agreed upon at the start of the game – usually between 5 and 9) – and in each round, a specification card is drawn from the deck. These cards are double sided, with green cards using letters as a guide and blue cards requiring more interpretation. Once a card is selected, players now try to record a single word answer for each of the five categories given the rule on the specification card.
For instance, if the specification card says “3 syllables”, my answers might be: Dominion (toys), Austria (country), basketball (sport), macintosh (computer), and buffalo (animal).
Players race to find answers. Once one player has written down all 5 answers, he says “Done” and the round ends. Everyone else can only finish writing the word they are actively writing at that moment. Alternatively, if a player has at least 2 answers but thinks that he cannot come up with any more, he can say “over in 10” and start counting down from 10 to 0. When he gets to 0, everyone must stop writing. The player who is counting may not write down anything once he triggers the countdown.
In either method of ending the round, scoring occurs at the end. All players read off their answers for a category. So long as the answer is deemed valid – that is that the players agree that the word complies with both the category and then specification – you score two points if you have a unique answer on the table and one point if you share your answer with at least one other player. Further, all players who had a valid word in the category score a bonus point for each opponent who has left the answer for this category blank. All five columns are scored in this fashion, and the total score for the round is written on the sheet. This is then repeated for the specified number of rounds, and the player with the most points wins.
This game falls into the category of enjoyable party game – one where my overall goal is not necessarily to win, but to enjoy the process of the game and exercise my creative skills a bit. The blue specification cards really create a loose game – as the answers to these rules will always be open to interpretation. Some examples of blue specifications are – “retro”, “thick”, “cheeky”, “tentative” and “yellow”. Our group tends to be loose and free, and as long as the answerer can explain why they think the answer is valid, we just let it slide. Like Boggle, Scattergories and other games with eliminating answers – part of the fun/enjoyment of the game is hearing what other people have come up with for answers to the questions.
The game may end up getting a second life around here as well. One of my boys studies German in high school, and the game may end up getting some play there. First, the cards are bilingual, so they can be read/used in both German and English… but as the students learn more and more vocabulary in their new language, this game could be a wonderful tool to assist the learning of a second language. I’ll report back on that later if it happens.
Mondo: Der rasante Legespass
- Designer: Michael Schacht
- Publisher: Pegasus Spiele
- Players: 2-4
- Ages: 8+
- Time: ~15 minutes
- Times played: 3, with review copy provided by Pegasus Spiele
Mondo originally came out in 2011, and I remember playing it for the first time at the Gathering of Friends. I am honestly not sure if I have played it since, but I recall it being a rapid fire game of drawing tiles and trying to create a world on your player board.
This new mini 2016 version which I think translates to Mondo: the quick fun game is a slimmed down version that introduces the main mechanics of the game but on a much smaller scale. In the original game, you were drawing tiles to create a world of 18 spaces. In the Legespass, you only have a 3×3 grid to work with. To save component space (and to confuse poor Craig V), you have to be able to visualize the X-shape of the world as you will not have a friendly grid to guide your world building.
The 48 double sided tiles are strewn on the table, and then when someone sets the way-too-long timer of 4 minutes, play begins. Only using one hand, players fish through the tile pile to select tiles to build their island. You will need on center piece with no water on it, four outside middles which are 3/4 land and 1/4 water and then four outer corners which are half land and half water. When you put it together correctly, you will have an x-shaped island which is completely surrounded by water AND no water in the interior.
When you pick up a tile, you can orient it any way you want, and if you decide that you don’t want it, you can throw it back into the pile. However, once you place a tile in front of you in your 3×3 grid – it can not be moved or re-oriented any longer.
Whenever you finish, you announce “Done!” and simply wait for everyone else to finish. As you cannot move any tiles once placed, you might as well say Done as there is nothing else you can do. Once everyone is finished OR the timer runs out (mine is just over 4 minutes) – you first check and see that you have a valid island – that is one which has all external faces of the 3×3 grid showing water and all internal sides showing land. It is possible that you do not finish the 3×3 grid – but as long as all of the pieces are valid in the spaces where they lay, you can still score.
Scoring is similar to basic Mondo.
- You score 1 point for each animal visible in your island
- You score 2 points for each complete and enclosed landscape that has no misconnections
- Minus 1 point per volcano for the player with the most volcanoes visible
- Minus 1 point for each tile missing from the 3×3 grid
- Minus 1 point for each misconnection – that is tile borders where the colors do not match
- There is a 4 point bonus for the player who finished the round first
[Note – the minimum score for any player in any round is zero]
The game is played over a total of three rounds, and the player with the most points at the end is the winner.
Mondo: Der rasante Legesapss is a good small format game. While it seems that speed would be the key to winning – I think that there is more to it than just being the first to pick up nine tiles. You really need to be able to look quickly at the mass of tiles and have a plan on which ones you need to complete your island. Keeping an eye on your opponents may also help – if they are going for a particular landscape type, you might want to choose something else in order to limit competition – or you might want to take one of that type to make it harder for your opponent to finish their board. Also knowing where you stand in the race for volcanoes can make a huge difference. The penalty on -1 point per volcano can be brutal.
We have found that the time limit of 4 minutes is way too long for our group. We have yet to have a round where we all didn’t finish prior to the alarm going off. A trial run at 2:30 brought additional time pressure into the game, and it seemed to enhance the game as it was no longer a guarantee that everyone would finish in time AND it did bring enough pressure into the game that sometimes players ended up taking suboptimal pieces to finish their grid.
This version of the game is nice and simple. Not too many tiles to choose from, but enough that you can pursue whatever strategy you want. In a four player game, only 12 are left on the table if everyone successfully builds their island, so you have to still be quick to get the best selection. Also, there are no tasks or scoring modifiers which makes this an excellent introductory game. For the size of the box and the price point, this is a good fit.
Mondo: Der rasante Legespass is a nice miniaturized version of the full game – enough here to give you the feel of a whole game, but honestly, maybe not enough to hold your attention on a permanent basis. This is a great filler while you’re waiting between games or maybe as an opener/closer on a game night. It also has the advantage of having a nice big brother – so if you get a good response to this version of the game, it might be time to graduate to the full Mondo experience.
Until your next appointment
The Gaming Doctor