Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Game I'm Looking Forward To

Here are simple overviews of several games that I enjoy playing. How many can you name?

-Area control game where you move all the pieces in one area to an adjacent area. Scoring is done when an area is totally cut off from all other areas.

-A race game where you play a card to move ahead and move backwards to collect more cards.

-An area control game where you not only fight for control of the ever-merging areas, but also for control of the majority color in an area.

-An area control game where the areas are decided by a pawn which moves along triangular spaces.

-An area control game where you place pieces in vertical sections of the board but the areas to control pass horizontally through 3 to 5 vertical sections.

If you recognized and enjoy these games, you join me in looking forward to the English release of Leo Colovini's Mauerbauer (Masons for those who are German-language handicapped). A Colovini game always has a unique twist to it, something new to it that challenges my thought processes. I get the feeling that if games are basically mathematical, then Colovini’s games are more geometric than algebraic; more about the special awareness than the numbers. I like that since I always hated algebra. I also like that his games usually have simple rules, and I don’t mind that the themes are thinner than one-ply toilet paper.

Sunday I got to play Europa 1945-2030 for the second time when Mike brought it to game day at my request. This one is a bit more involved than most of Colovini’s games and dealing with the overlays for each country is a pain in the butt but it’s still an interesting game with area influence and a little negotiation which can result in either happy cooperation or nasty back-stabbing. I was playing a bit nasty towards the end and it jumped up a bit me hard as a result. That means instead of being the winner, I came in 3rd out of four. Still, it left me wishing to play again.

An English translation of the rules for Mauerbauer from the Hans im Gluck site can be found on the Geek. This is probably not one of his most original designs since the ability to merge 2 cities before you score reminds me of Titicaca, another game that I thoroughly enjoy. That’s alright because it sounds like there’s plenty newness here for area-control freaks like myself to love. One twist, I think, is the fact that you do not own a particular color but are trying to place pieces in order to fulfill the requirements on the cards in your hand. Also the areas will develop differently each time you play so will be a totally new challenge, a feature I've liked in other games like Trias and Fjords.

This is one of the few new games that I’m really looking forward to. That’s actually a good thing since we just bought a new truck and will have payments to make for the first time in 4 years. You know what that means: either go on a starvation diet or slow down the game-buying mania. Well…I COULD stand to lose a little weight!

Oh, in case you were stumped by my Reader’s Digest condensed version of the games above, the answers are Clans, Cartagena, Carolus Magnus, Alexandros and Meridian.
Until next time, don’t trust King Arthur just because he’s king.



Seth Ben-Ezra said...

The first description could also apply to Bridges of Shangri-la.

Coldfoot said...

Not quite, Seth. In Bridges, only the Students move to an adjacent area--the Masters remain behind. And the areas aren't actually scored but the hierarchy is determined, and that happens whether the area is totally cut off or not. Another interesting Colovini game which I don't get to play very often.

Shannon Appelcline said...

Mauerbauer almost made it onto my top-10 Nurnburg list, but I ultimately decided otherwise because Colovini's games are relatively light, and at least his last one (Submarine) was a big miss for me.

Still, Mauerbauer looks interesting and I'll probably pick it up.

ekted said...

Thanks for the info. This one looks like an easy pick for me, especially because it can be played with 2.

ekted said...

Ok, now you've got me looking at Meridian too!

I will not collect all Colovini games.
I will not collect all Colovini games.
I will not collect all Colovini games.
I will not collect all Colovini games.
[rinse, repeat]

Anonymous said...

I'm a huge fan of Colovini and recommend that anyone trying one of his games for the first time go with the minimum number of players. In most of his games, the more players you add, the greater chance you have of chaos as your influence on the board drops.

Keep this in mind when you read the first reports of Mauerbauer/Masons. How many players were in the game? Go West was slammed for randomness and lack of control, but everyone seemed to try the game with four players. Go West is a fine two-player game -- albeit still one I can't play well.

Coldfoot said...

Thanks, Eric. This is one that I dismissed because there were so many complaints about it. I think I'll go back and re-assess it after reading your comment.

huzonfirst said...

Maybe that's why I dislike Colovini games so much--I never play them with two and they're probably not even the type of game I'd like to play two-player. Still, I suspect it's more that they're all extremely abstract and that I don't care for abstract games. Carolus is probably the only one of his games I'd actually request, although Magna Grecia is a solid game as well. I just played Incognito for the first time and thought it had some very clever elements. The luck in the movement got to be a bit much, but it's still a very interesting take on deduction games.