Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Extended Forecast: Stay Indoors and Play Games

It's only December and I'm already tiring of winter, this is especially depressing when you consider that winter doesn't officially begin for 17 more days. Fortunately the arrival of winter denotes the start of the indoor boardgaming league. This year's teams are "Team Knizia" with moi as the self appointed captain and "Team Vlad" headed up by the wife. "Team Puerto Rico" has co-captains this year, both of whom have been able to get their PR fix via the computer. "Team Yellow and Sons" has been swamped with work and not able to attend as often, likewise "Team Purple" moved out of town and can't make it in for games as often. The lack of a regular game night has hampered "Team RPG" and "Team Twenty-Something", but we're working on that.

For some reason the league missed our yearly Advanced Civilization game on the day after Thanksgiving, but to tell the truth I preferred playing several shorter games that day. Antike, Taj Mahal and Fury of Dracula have dominated the league this season. FoD is wearing out its welcome, but Taj Mahal and Antike will probably hit the table for years to come.

Speaking of Antike, as a gamer who likes the Civ-Lite genre, allow me to make a couple observations. Forget raiding the refrigerator between turns or taking a bathroom break during Antike. It will be your turn before you get your zipper down.

Antike is the Civ-Lite game that makes you feel like it is always your turn. Rounds go fast. On your turn you can only do one thing. Occasionally players will choose to move their military units which may take slightly longer, but still goes relatively quickly.

Every round players receive one coin token. Coins build up with amazing speed. This constantly causes players to ponder as they look at their pile of coins, "Did I pay for that last item? How'd I get so much money?"

I've now had a chance to play Hollywood Blockbuster, the reprint of the popular game Traumfabrik. Traumfabrik was only available in German until quite recently. Although I don't consider it to be an upper tier game, it was fun. I wonder if Hollywood Blockbuster would be a decent gateway game. Actors and directors depicted in the game have familiar sounding names: Spikely, Woodrow Alien, Jack Nickeldime, Brad Pittfall, etc. That familiarity may serve to make the game less intimidating to a newbie. Gameplay itself is quite simple. Judging the value of a token in order to make a bid is the toughest part of the game.

Hollywood Blockbuster is played over four identical rounds. Nothing in the round is complicated. After the first round, subsequent rounds should go smoothly. I can see this game as a game veterans and non-gamers could easily play together.

Lastly: I didn't think it could happen. I have a new favorite game. After a couple games of Taj Mahal I tepidly said that it could possibly be my second favorite game, edging Puerto Rico out of that slot. After several more plays I find myself even more enamored with the game. With more play Taj Mahal has replaced another Knizia gem, Tigris and Euphrates, as my favorite game.

It's a good 'un.

2 comments:

MWChapel said...

Hey, you live in Alaska~! I don't think your allowed to tire of winter. But at least you have a hobby that is conducive of staying in. The only problem being getting friends to fight the weather to come play them with you. ;)

Joe Gola said...

Didn't I tell you? Taj Mahal kicks ass.