Thursday 25 August 2016

What's Brown and Schticky?

We talked last week about the games that I brought with me from Australia and have been enjoying this year, but thanks to a splurge or two and some generous donations, my games collection is looking a lot healthier now than it did when I left Australia. I mentioned the 7 Wonders expansion already, but I thought it might be fun to have a quick look at the rest of the new additions.

I think I met this clever little card game first week that we were here and I instantly went out and bought it, as it's the sort of silly little game that you can pull out quick and throw down a round or two and my collection was sorely lacking in one of those. It mostly operates as a filler between big games, but I've found that the simple version of this works for most crowds as a bit of a brain-warmer, too, and it mostly gets played for that reason at college rather than at the board-games club where we have lots of short little games and the 3-4 player restriction can be a bit of a downer.

Another one that I played at the club and loved, Paperback is best described as Dominion meets scrabble, and I added it to my collection precisely to try and get in the people that like the word games (this being Oxford there's quite a few around). It has the tendency to drag on with people who HAVE played Dominion before as they tend to avoid the victory point cards, which is an essential skill in Dominion but since they're still jokers they're not utterly useless cards in Paperback and should almost always be chosen unless there's an extremely strong reason to avoid them.

Not technically a new game, but I brought along this nice little abstract strategy number because it's extremely small so there's really no reason not to bring it. The fact that it fits snugly in my Paperback box means that it comes to most events. It's come out a couple of times at the beginning of sessions when we're waiting for players, but since I rarely have a chance to pull out a 2-player game and Mrs. Owl doesn't play this one (yet) it doesn't see the light of day that often. 

Not so much a new addition as a replacement for an old favourite that went to Schoolies one year and never came home, Saboteur was going cheap the other day so I picked it up chiefly to have something in my armoury to try and deflect any suggestions of Mafia, Werewolf, Resistance, Avalon, Secret Hitler or Coup, since as a social deduction game I hate it a lot less than those other titles. This copy came with Saboteur 2, but I'm pretty sure the base game is just a better idea most of the time. I'm yet to get this one to table, but as long as I remember the rules correctly, I'm confident it's good to go.

I would never have bought this strange worker-placement myself, given that I tend to go for the lighter fare when it comes to buying games, but I was given it (and the incredible box) by some friends last time I was in Australia, a surprising and utterly undeserved present that I somehow managed to squeeze into my luggage on short notice. I still can't exactly describe what it is about the game that I like, but it's fair to say that it's unlike anything else I've ever played and it retains enough difference every game to reward multiple plays. I feel like I don't play it enough, and given that I've already played it 9 times this year, I guess that's just about as good a recommendation I can hand out to a game.

The deserved winner of the most recent Spiel des Jahre award, Codenames doesn't really need any introduction. I never get sick of playing or teaching it. After playing it a couple of dozen times I got a copy myself, I know of at least two more copies that I've caused to be bought after I infected other people with a love for this aggressively virulent little word game. It's become a college favourite, and I've discovered that with a little finesse I can play with my friends at home over Skype, so those are both big positives.

A game I met back in Australia and thought was perfect for my kind of parties, most of the action in Chrononauts involves messing with history in order to kill or save Hitler. Somehow I always end up having to save the guy, but I like it anyway. Since I managed to pick up a copy dirt cheap, I now own this silly little card game, which makes the occasional appearance at some of the more raucous gaming nights that I attend. This is as munchkinish/fluxxy a game as I can manage, but every now and then I get a kick out of it.

This one looks like a super-cute kids game about feeding a family of penguins, and I suppose that it is that, but it's also a ruthless little abstract strategy game that plays in a short time, works great with 1,2 or 3 players, and keeps people coming back for more. I think all abstract strategy games could probably be made into great penguin games, with a little bit of effort. I have the new little edition, but the original deluxe full-size one is good too. Surprisingly, (since I'm the chess player in the household and strategy games aren't her jam) I've played half a dozen games of this with Mrs. Owl and haven't beaten her yet.

Between Two Cities
An odd city-building drafting game that I added to my collection recently to scratch the Sushi-Go itch with something a little different, I love the way that this game flows and how close people's games always are at the end. I like this one not just so the game itself but for the stream of home-brewed variants that keep popping up to help keep what is ultimately a very simple, luck based game interesting.

Guilds of London
I decided that if I was going to buy a bunch of games when I went to UKBGE, I should at least come home with one BIG game, and this much-anticipated number was what I ended up with (my friend and I got two of the last 12 copies). This is quite a standard worker placement, but it has a great theme, lots of different strategies to win, and a single-player mode that I really enjoy (single player board game! I know!). I don't think I've pulled it out enough to totally make up my mind about exactly how good it is, as it takes a long time to teach new players since it has a lot of cards and a whole extensive symbology that you need to pick up on.

Not technically mine, but living in my collection since a friend never wants to see it again, I've also come into possession of a copy of innovation (the ugly ugly first printing rather than the crisp new one). For some reason there's a lot of hate for this one at board games club, which surprises me, and they're often into games where there's a lot going on, but I think they think that it's TOO random. It's true that the experience differs wildly each time you play, but that's one of the reasons that I really like it. I really enjoy manipulating my hand to make strong combos only to have my plans foiled by one of my opponents by accident.

Blaugust Writing Prompts
1) Ever lent anyone something you liked and never got it back? (If it was me, sorry!)
2) Tell us about a children's game or activity that you still enjoy.
3) Got any new games lately?


Alethea said...

I think my favourite thing about Between Two Cities is that so far our games have been very collegial. It's not a competitive, cutthroat game. The "meanest" actions you're going to take are to sweettalk your neighbours into doing things that favour you - but that sweettalk usually takes the form of "hey if you do this, it will make both of *your* cities better".

I wonder if this is a common play experience, or whether we are just yet to sully the game.

Have you played Istanbul with the Coffee expansion yet? I think it picks up the pace nicely. In regular Istanbul I feel like the end of the game can be anticlimactic, waiting to be put to death and hanging on turn by turn attempting to block. The Coffee expansion opens things up a bit - it gives you freedom to do what you want and not as much struggle over the same locations to get victory points.

In a way it also makes your failure more inevitable, which to me I think is a good thing as you're not stuck in limbo chasing the leading player around. The addition of an uncapped resource means you can get a lot of stuff done quite speedily too, making a wagon-less build viable.

As far as light/heavy fair goes, I generally like winners of the Kennerspiel because theoretically they're well regarded so my time sitting down and playing it won't be in vain. For me, I balk at the idea of sitting down to the table for a game with an advertised play length longer than an hour. I don't mind if games go longer if I'm enjoying them though ;)

I think I need to play more Istanbul.

Also also have you played Patchwork? Would be interested to hear your thoughts on it. I'd seen mixed reviews of it but finally got a chance to play it myself. It's one of those games I think I'll enjoy going out to a library and borrowing rather than owning for ourselves.

Mark said...

What a coincidence! I also need to play more Istanbul! Got any time free this weekend for some cardboard?