Christmas is a quiet time with regards to wargaming but I do tend to play more boardgames at this time of year. My wife and I visited our friends, Val and Chris, on New Years Eve, and they (again) had a selection of new games to play (they must spend a small fortune on them!).
We started by playing two games of ‘Splendor’. I found this to be an interesting game that began slowly with players focussing on the lower value gems, but then the game progressively accelerated as the players stock of gems increased. Players were now able to buy the more costly gems with victory points associated. Once a few players started attracting visiting notables then all knew that the game end was close (i.e a player had reached 15 victory points). I thought the game mechanism for Splendor was strong but lacked player interaction; each player seemed to be focussed on his/her target gems. I did not think about using the ‘reserve purchase’ option to block my opponents intentions (although Chris may have done some of this!). I found the theme to be weak; we could have been buying anything really (gems, spices, or whatever you want). The components were good; we all agreed that using ‘poker chip’ counters to represent the different gems was excellent. It gave the game a quality feel which would have been lost if the designers had simply used card counters instead to save on costs. To summarise, a good game but the lack of theme may restrict the number of times it gets played.
Next we played a few games of ‘Camel Up’, a silly racing/betting game. I am sure there are many skilful tactics involved around when, and how, to bet on the potential winning/losing camel, but anyone who thinks too much about this game is missing the point. This is game to have fun with. We all certainly enjoyed the fast pace of the races and I seem to recall that I actually won a game, which is a rarity. So this game gets a thumbs-up from me.
Finally we finished the afternoon by playing my copy of ‘King of New York’. As mentioned in my last blog post, I was interested in what experienced ‘King of Tokyo’ players would think of the changes. Well, the game flowed smoothly, with both Val and Chris quickly picked up the new and changed rules. Again the ‘Statue of Liberty’ was more sort after than the ‘Oscar’ card, and players seemed more intent on taking out ‘military units’ than in the previous playing. I think both Val and Chris liked the new version of the game and thought the changes/additions all worked OK. They felt that if you already owned King of Tokyo, then buying the New York version would not be worthwhile, but if you didn’t have either game then KoNY would be the version to go for.Finally, Val and Chris gave me the game ‘Blueprints’ as a Christmas prezzie (thanks). We did not have time to play on the day but when we got home, Elaine and I played a few 2-player games. We then took the game to some friends, Rod and Jeanette, the next weekend and tried the 4-player version. This is a nice, quick-play, filler game that revolves around building buildings out of coloured dice which are randomly selected from a bag, and rolled. The design of the building can conform to a blueprint card, but you can ignore the blueprint if wish. The different dice colours represent different material types, each of which scores in a different manner. The number of pips can also determine whether a second of higher storey can be added, and can influence the scoring of the building. The game is played in 3 rounds with victory points awarded for the highest scoring building of each round, plus various ‘special’ prizes if building has meet certain criteria (5 storey building; 5 dice of the same material type; 4 dice with the same pip score; a ‘straight’ of pip scores). After only one round, everyone had understood the rules and game concept. The 3 round game lasted roughly 30 minutes. The components were good (I like dice!). Game play did require some thought, but not too deep, and, so far, no player has gone off-piste by not conforming to the blueprint they were given (interesting).