Monday, August 21, 2006

GAME STORE CONFIDENTIAL ~ Screw the mail, where's my Howizter?

I'll be making quite a few people cheerful today.

That's because this will be a relatively short entry. The last several days were consumed by visiting relatives from California, which included my brother, his daughter and son-in-law, their two kids and my mother. Along with that, my daughter flew in from Chicago, my dad drove out from Boise, my son Wyatt was here and thus commenced three full days of non-gaming activities.

Thankfully, all but the oldsters agreed to go to the rodeo with me... so despite not gaming, I at least got to see large animals pound arrogant humans into the dirt.

I did want to comment on Thurn and Taxis though. I finally managed to get my copy of this Rio Grande reprint into play a week or so back and it was a unique setting for me. An old buddy of mine and his wife were visiting Idaho and I managed to get Jumbo-Tron to come over and the four of us played this interesting looking Euro.

First off... I don't agree that it's "too much like Ticket to Ride". That's an accusation I've seen bandied about frequently. The similarity I think most detractors are talking about is the mechanic of snagging valuable VP's away in a stack of VP's that reduce in value as each one is scored. T2R:Marklin uses this same mechanic and it's a common enough one that singeling it out is pretty petty.

I believe this particular game will be played at my house a couple more times and then go onto the trade and/or eBay shelf. Here's why -

* It's not as easy to teach newbies as Ticket to Ride
* It's a bit too long as a Gateway Game
* Overall, it's a medium-boring game

I'm not suggesting Thurn and Taxis isn't a decent game, as Euro's go, it is decent. It just doesn't have a hook. You know, it doesn't grab me and give me the desire to play again and again.

On top of which, who really gives a crap about cartrights, mail routes and VP's? While I admit the game itself plays well and is smooth, at no point did I feel immersed. For the most part it seemed I was solving a puzzle, allocating my little wooden cities to maximize VP collection and racing to get a Level 7 Mail cart in order to end the game... all while parceling the wooden cities out quick enough so as not to have any left to count against my score.

All this makes me wonder why on the detractors of the game on BGG didn't accuse the designers of stealing from Age of Steam as well as Ticket to Ride. After all, the mechanic of getting a higher level Cart is similar to getting a train in Age of Steam that "goes faster".

Anyone who has bothered to look at my game ratings on The Geek knows I do like some Euros, so it's not like I'd pick on Thurn and Taxis because it's a Euro. It just isn't an exciting or fetching Euro. Keythedral is a great Euro. T2R as well (and yes, I catagorize the T2R series as Euro's). Age of Steam is a medium heavy Euro that is tough and appealing. RRT is a medium heavy Euro that is Americanized and highly replayable. I even pre-ordered the Roads & Boats reprint from Tom because of all the clamor over what a fantastic game it is.... and for $130+ it had better be a good one.

It's my humble opinion that Thurn and Taxis will win the big SDJ award but even that is meaningless to many because Niagra won that already and Niagra is one of the silliest games I've seen produced since I bought my kids a copy of Hungry, Hungry Hippos back in the 80's.

All this discussion really does is exhibit how much I enjoy conflict and aggression in my games. I bought Thurn and Taxis, true. But what I really want is Tide of Iron. Or Combat Commander. Or pretty much anything where people can sit down in the evening, crack open a beer or a Gatorade and start blowing the hell out of each other. Or, if weapons aren't involved, screwing each other over in an overt and "in your face" fashion.

By the way... if you have parents or grandparents in their 80's, invite them over. Every time I get around my octogenarian parents I come away feeling a little smarter, a little more humble and feeling a little more positive in general.

Have a great week and hopefully I'll be back Monday with some new insouciance designed specifically to piss off the largest number of gamers.


GrillTech said...

I agree with you on this one. I played Thurn and Taxis last tuesday and while it wasn't a bad game it really didn't leap out and excite me.

Chris said...

When I first joined BGG a year ago, I delved pretty heavily into Euros (prior to that, I'd only played Settlers of Catan). I think the novelty of the Euro play style has finally worn off, though, and I'm finding it more and more difficult to find a Euro that I really find to be fun.

Thurn and Taxis is one that I think is good, but not great. While there is certainly a level of strategic thinking involved, it seems it's missing something that would actually make it a lot of fun to play.

GROGnads said...

HEY! what the 'hell' mon? are you attempting to encroach upon MY "demographics"!?!
I am the 'one' who pisses OFF the most folks, so WATCH IT! or I shall have to lay the *smack-down* upon your "rails & rants" within the FLGS versus Online places 'threads', ya kno? You don't see 'moi' going around and competing for the MOST "pabulum pap" Reviews like some others, now do YOU? of course not! while I can fully understand this 'approach', since just L@@K at whom those "target audiences" comprise eh? Yep,
"simple IS as simple's FOR", and believe ME that many won't even 'get' THAT! For the most part regarding many folks, then it'll BE a "Moonshot" while for a select few, then it's "through the Wormhole in SPACE!" for their 'comprehension' ability.

Chance said...

I happened to really like Hungry Hungry Hippos.. Or I did at six when anything with metal marbles was going to be the best game ever made. Facinating as always

DWTripp said...

Grognads... I couldn't agree with you more.

As for Hungry, Hungry Hippos... some years ago when my daughter was in college she snagged the old copy we had and took it back to school with her. Apparently it's a great drinking game!

Anonymous said...

Hey DW I have two words for you, and you won't be disappointed:

Canal Mania.

Live the dream

Mike C. --