Saturday, July 15, 2006

Daughters, BSW vs FtF and some new games

Daughter the Younger
A couple of days ago I played what I would consider the first or second game with Daughter the Younger. We played Color Clowns properly. We took it in turns to roll the dice and place the appropriate shape to make the required color as determined by the dice roll. As I mentioned in my review it's quite a tedious game towards then end, but the pattern recognition, turn taking and appreciation of mixing colours are all very educational for a three year old. The two of us have played this many times before, but previously we have just been playing with the bits as opposed to playing the game. I'll have to see if there is a complete set of Tummy Ache left after her "playing" with it. If there is I think this could be the next cab off the rank. We also got close to a real game of Dominos this week, mostly following the rules of placing pieces. In about two years we should have that home grown four player Settlers game. For now if we could just convince her not to go and help herself to games off the shelves, some of "her" games would be more complete and ready for real play.

Daughter the Elder
We picked up Yinsh and Dvonn recently because they were heavily reduced. Melissa and I have played a couple of games of Yinsh and so far she has scored one ring. She was a bit tired for our first game, but will free admit that abstracts are not her forté. The first game I played with Daughter the Elder she lost three to two. The second game she won! The third game was mine, but again only three to two. She picks up quick our girl, and not only abstracts. The last game of San Juan we played was a tie. In the majority of games we play with her we just play straight rules, no handicapping for anyone, so she is doing this on her own. I keep forgetting that she was quite a mean Chess player by age six, so I shouldn't be surprised that an almost eight year old will beat me after a couple of outings of a game, but I am.

BSW vs FtF
Last weekend I played three five player games of Power Grid, two on BSW during the Lupis Landing on-line convention and one face to face at ConVic 4 (although you will only see the latter appear in my games logged stats as I only log face to face games). The comparison of the games reinforced the opinion that I have had for a while which is that I do better at most games face to face than I do on-line. In face to face games, especially ones like Power Grid, I tend to be more aware of what is going on and what position different players are in. In on-line games the end game seems to suddenly sneak up on me, even though all the information is theoretically available to me as per the face to face game. For some reason I don't seem to concentrate as much with the on-line games and play much more in a by the seat of my pants style. This seemed to be backed up by the fact that I came fourth in both the BSW games and second in the face to face game.

In card games like 6 Nimmt! , Diamant or Lost Cities I do quite well on-line, but as soon as the complexity gets upped a bit I seem to flounder in the electronic environment. I even found this against computer opponents. On the PC version of Saint Petersburg Melissa can consistently beat the computer version at a much higher level than I can, yet when we play face to face I usually beat her.

New (to me) games
In the last few weeks I have managed to chalk up quite a few first plays for games - Age of Steam, Saboteur, Mü und Mehr, Tombouctou, Poison Pot, Express, Memoir '44, and Yinsh.

Age of Steam
I actually picked up my copy of Age of Steam about two years ago based on extensive GeekBuddy Analysis and other research at BGG. Following up the conclusion of that analysis I also have the first three expansions and about a fortnight ago I finally played it!

All I can say is my GeekBuddies did me no wrong, I really enjoyed it. I didn't go bankrupt and I ended the game in the middle of the field. It has a lot of fans at the weekly Gamers@Dockers and monthly Eurogamesfest sessions so I hope to get to play it again soon. I wasn't even aware that there was a fourth (official) expansion for this out until this week. Another thing to keep my eyes out for.

My analysis after a single play is that Age of Steam is not the super heavy that it is sometimes made out to be and whilst Railroad Tycoon craps all over it in terms of components, Age of Steam is the one that I would prefer to replay the most.

After a couple of games my conclusion is that it needs six or more players for a better experience. Wise man say - with eight players and only two saboteurs, the gold will most likely be found. The scoring does seem rather arbitrary, but it is a fun filler type game that can keep a lot of people occupied. We found at ConVic 4 that it can be picked up by non-gamers very quickly.

Mü und Mehr
So far I have played Mü and The Last Panther out of the Mü und Mehr box. With Mü the bidding and, more to the point, the bidding strategies and tactics take a few hands to start to get your head around them. It is an interesting game with quite a bit of depth once the bidding is down pat. The Last Panther is really a nothing more than a Hearts (or fill in your local regional name) variant, not that there is anything wrong with that - it was a mainstay of lunch times in my first year at University.

This game is nicely themed, the mechanics of moving the camel trains works well, it scales well and the scoring system is interesting. However I my overall impression was only lukewarm. We played it four player, there were five important bits of information available each round, but any individual player would only find out about three of them. It felt like an artificially constrained version of Cluedo to me. I could utilise the information that I did know, but the complete ignorance about the other two seemed to make it a bit of a luckfest about who was going to be robbed or not.

Poison Pot
This was one of the games that John Farrell brought down on his visit to Melbourne for ConVic 4. A ruthless abstract which caters for two or three players. I only played it once and got slaughtered, but I would happily play it again.

I believe this can be played as individuals, but I it would seem to be much better as a partnership game. Dates back to 1990 and there seems to be a nod to Mille Bornes with the disaster cards. It has its own clever mechanics though, the passing of cards between partners as the locomotives is one that particularly stands out. Certainly not a filler, but still a game I would certainly play again and wouldn't mind obtaining.

Memoir '44
The Manly Man, Joe Steadman is correct, this is not a simulation. It is however a nice and simple game. So far I have only played one of the simple starting scenarios but look forward to working my way through the other ones.

As mentioned above, I have played it with Melissa and Daughter the Elder. I like this a lot.

One thing I noticed doing some of the research for links etc. for this piece is that whilst my games logged stuff is almost up to to date, my games owned is not and my ratings are, in some cases, woefully out of date. There are games I have played many times that I still haven't rated or commented on. I need to bite the bullet, extract my collection and review all ratings. The only problem being that could cut into game time :-)

Mmm meeples taste like...


huzonfirst said...

Fraser, my experiences with electronic gaming vs. face-to-face gaming exactly mirror yours. For some reason, I find it very difficult to concentrate away from a real game board. I am also keenly aware that for most players, online play is faster, so I put a lot of pressure on myself to play quickly, so I won't be delaying them. This, of course, only serves to heighten the problem. As a result, I tend to stay away from electronic gaming with real opponents and prefer to play against the computer. The St. Pete program is one of the best (I much prefer it to FTF play) and the various San Juan programs, though they all contain bugs, are fun to play as well.

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Dani In NC said...

Missing pieces in games is a universal problem with kids. Only recently have my children matured to the point where I can trust them not to mess with games unless they are ready to play properly (ages 13, 9, 9, and 8). I still have trouble getting them to return a standard deck of cards intact, however. Perhaps they have heard me say that I can get decks 2 for $1 too many times!