I have a lot of games. A lot of games that are on my shelves, or on my table being played, that I have told myself that I want to review at some point. For one reason or another, this doesn’t always happen. My goal here on The Opinionated Gamers is that I want to get about one review out per week, but I’d like to write about more games. So I’m taking a page out of Patrick Brennan’s playbook, and we’re going to start writing about games in threes, in snapshot form. This should be a good way for readers to get to know me and my gaming tastes a bit better, and also another way for me to talk about games that I maybe don’t really want to dedicate two thousand words to. Welcome to Three Games.
Archaeology: The New Expedition
If memory serves me correctly, Archaeology was Phil Walker-Harding’s first foray into published games all the way back in 2007. Nine years later, Z-Man Games re-released the game with a new twist or two and better production. My description of the game is of The New Expedition as I have never had the opportunity to play the original. Archaeology The New Expedition is a card game in which the players are archaeologists working in dig sites hoping to discover treasures to sell. In reality the game is a set collection game with some push your luck elements. On a turn a player will draw from a draw pile, aka the dig site.Players could draw a handful of different items, but what they hope to draw are treasures with varying amounts. But they could draw a thief — which allows the player to steal from another player’s hand. They could draw a sandstorm. When a sandstorm hits, all of the players lose half of their hand to the center market, which starts with five cards face up. Don’t worry, each player starts the game with one tent card that they can use to negate the effects of one sandstorm — choose wisely when you use it. The market is there to trade cards with in hopes of creating more valuable sets of treasures. You can also draw maps, and maps can be turned in to explore a monument that is chosen at the beginning of the game (I think this is the biggest change in the game). All this is done in hopes of creating the most valuable collection of treasures.
Archaeology The New Expedition is a wonderful set collection game. Draw a card, do as many trade actions as you possibly can, and move on to the next player. It plays super fast and there is a surprising amount of depth here. There are sets that you have to collect a lot of cards for in order to score a points, where there are other, far more rare ones that you only need two for, but will you ever see them? The changing market also presents some pressure for the players, you should know what everyone has been trading for, so you don’t want to drop in treasures that others are looking for, but you need to make trades to be successful. I am a bit less enamored with Archaeology at two player, but mileage may vary. I’d recommend it at any other player count, from three to five.
Every quiver needs a quick playing, fun, interactive shedding game, right? Well that’s what we have here in Friedemann Friese’s Fuji Flush. Fuji Flush contains cards numbered from two to twenty, with the rarity of the cards increasing as the cards increase in value — twos are far more common than twenties. At the start of a game, players are dealt six cards and through the game they are trying to get rid of all six. Players will play one card at a time going around the table. Each time a card is played it is compared to the cards previously played. If the played card is lower, nothing happens, but if it is higher than other cards at the table, the lower cards are discarded and the players who played those lower cards draw a new card. If a card in front of a player makes it around the table and back to the active player without having to be discarded, that card is flushed and the player will have one less card to get rid of. The fun twist to this is that if cards are played of the same value, they are added together and their sum is what will be checked, creating larger and larger numbers that players would need to get over in order to get rid of the combined cards. The first player to get rid of all of their cards wins the game.
This one is good for me because of those fleeting, part time alliances that you make with other players at the table. Hoping to make those lowly threes make it around the table by combining them and making them twelves or fifteens. These alliances will be fleeting though as not everyone will have the same cards and honestly, not everyone will need to work together to get cards flushed. It’s a wonderful little card game that has been a hit with everyone I have shown it to, but once again, don’t play this at the minimum player count, the more the merrier here as well.
Heul Doch Mau Mau
Heul Doch Mau Mau is the newest game in my Quiver and possibly, one of the most fun and interesting. Heul Doch Mau Mau is a ninety eight card game, with the cards in seven colors numbered from one to seven. Everyone is dealt four cards for their hand and one card face up in front of them. On a turn you are going to pick a card from your hand and play it, hopefully in front of you since the cards in front of you will be the points you score after the end of the game. When playing a card you have to match either color or number, but the catch is this — if you want to play in front of yourself, the card you play cannot be a legal play to the cards face up to your left or to your right. If your card can be legally played on a neighbor’s stack, you have to play their instead of your own stack. Unless, you choose to play the card face down in front of you on top of your scoring stack. Play will continue like this until all the cards have been played. When you go to score your stack of cards in front of the face down onion cards are going to be counted and will negate some face up cards in your stack. If you have three face down onion cards, all of your threes face up, do not count. Everything else that is still face up after getting rid of the cards that you cannot score are totaled at face value and the highest point total is the winner.
Heul Doch Mau Mau has no business being as interesting as it is. The simplistic rules really kind of hide a lot of fun, interesting choices that you will have to make. If you pay close enough attention to your neighbors and what they are doing, you know which cards you can play to their score piles that won’t be scored, or at least may not be scored because a lot of time you may place that face down card to adjust your non-scoring cards, or to just have more choices the net turn. It’s really a fantastic, light card game that is perfect to carry around in a quiver. Don’t forget to pack your tissue.
At last count, I had 12 games in my Quiver that I can take with me everywhere. Anything from light dice games, to some wonderful light card games and even some of my favorite trick taking games, like Sticheln or Wizard Extreme. To be fair, this has been more about the games than about the carrying case, but the Quiver is a fantastic travel case for card games and a great companion to my Init Bag. My only issue is that I don’t throw away boxes, so I have a dozen empty card game boxes to keep track of at home.
So, what’s in your quiver?
Thoughts from the Opinionated Gamers
James Nathan: I don’t use a Quiver, as I feel less confident that I’ll be able to interest other players without the box. That said, I do currently keep a copy of The Mind, Team Play, and 6 nimmt! in my car.
Recently I’ve been taking a manila envelope of rules with me to times where I might expect to play a game, and here are the rules (each for a standard deck of cards or a subset of one) that I have in it right now: Trapezista, Sheriff, Sinker, Anou, Halloween Tricks, Triple Crown, and Let Me Off.
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Love my Quiver – have both Archaeology and Fuji flush in mine as well!
Big fan of Fuji Flush — it’s a portable little beast, but also a riotously amusing game with the right crowd, and what’s more, is always better with a higher player count, which is increasingly rare nowadays. A clever, simple design, too, imho.