Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A couple of new ones...

Well, not much to say this week, I've got vacation hanging over my head so am rushing around to put that together.

I'll be seeing some nieces and nephews, they're all still fairly young so I think I'll just bring along Igloo Pop and No Thanks! as they can fit quite a range of players as well as a decent range of numbers of players.

I've manage to game quite a bit in the past two weeks, just a little above normal and that is mostly due to my recent aquisition of Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery by Tropical Games. That is a long name, but the game deserves it. As I'm sure other people might have mentioned elsewhere, there aren't a lot of new mechanics to be seen here, but they are all well-oiled and work together to make a very nice game. My favorite style of game, in fact. Lots of agonizing choices where there are several good things you want to do but not enough resources to pull them all off. It seems like a fairly quick game but does tend to pull in at around two hours, and not the one hour I keep thinking it takes... To top it off, the game has a nice snowball (or engine building or "garden-tending") style to it so everyone's strategies tend to pay off in greater and greater amounts as the game goes on... I've played it 3 or 4 times in the past week and will be playing it some more in the future, I'm sure.

The other game I've been playing is the Stonehenge game anthology put out by Titanic Games. This is a set of pieces for five players consisting of a deck of cards, a circular track on a playing board, some round colored tokens, and some colored bar-shaped tokens. Then five "big-name" designers all developed a game for this set of pieces. Purchasers are, of course, also encouraged to try to design their own games - something I'm glad to see encouraged as I think it will help foster some nice creativity in younger minds and possibly swell the ranks of game designers in general. (More games for me to play, possibly.) In any case, I enjoyed most of the games I tried in Stonehenge. They all tended to take about 45 minutes to an hour to play and had a nice amount of gameplay contained in that short period of time. I wouldn't have wanted the games to go much longer as they weren't as deep as most games that aren't "anthologies", but for 60 minutes they were a very nice treat. In fact, in one evening I played five games of Stonehenge. Two games each of the first and third game in the instruction manual (each game takes up 2 pages of instructions so they aren't that complex) and then one game of the set.

We (the four, then five of us) all liked the first game a sort of area control game, and enjoyed the third - based around bidding for stones to collect sets of like colors. The last game we played, was supposed to be a wargame but was more like another area control. It was interesting but I think it was limited by the small deck size. I think that struck the heart of the limiting factor of this sort of anthology. Since all the parts are set out ahead of time, you can't customize things to "fix" problems as they arise. I wonder if the wargame would play better if it had just a bit more time to develop - thus needing slightly more cards. Then again, I guess our group could tinker with it ourselves, that's what the anthology is trying to promote in the first place.

Bottom line: I've got to finish vacation preparations so that's all for today. But if you're looking for a "bottom line" on the Stonehenge anthology, I give it a pretty big thumbs up. There are at least 2 if not 3 quality games there that can be played in a medium-short period of time and be quite enjoyable (strategic/not just a time waster). That is a somewhat rare category and with a couple varieties of game to choose from in one box, that's a pretty good deal.

No comments: