Sunday, September 17, 2006

Weekend Gaming

I played three new (to me) games at this last Friday's game night.

When I arrived, two new people (John and Nicolette) were setting up for a game of Wolfgang Kramer's Hacienda (BGG, BUY ME!). By the time I got in on the action and gotten an overview on gameplay, Tall Guy Jeff had also shown up. Jeff had played online, so he joined as well. Interestingly, Nicolette had showed up to GHG by posting for board game players on Craigslist. She had never been exposed to Euro or modern boardgames, so John came down from his regular group in Round Rock to show her a sampling of these games of ours. Hacienda's a medium weight Euro game using territory and routes to various locations; not something I'd choose to introduce someone to the hobby.

Hacienda is an economic game at its heart. Your three actions per turn can be used to buy cards, claim chains of land, place chains of animals to market, or buy features to garner you more points for your achievements- namely, waterholes and the eponymous haciendas. I've heard this game compared to Knizia's Through the Desert (BGG); I can see the relation. Both involve players making chains, getting points, and getting in each other's way, and neither game has a well-integrated theme. For what it's worth, the components are quite well made and you get a two-sided board for your nickel.

Overall, I mostly liked Hacienda, but I didn't do too well at it; I came in tied for third with Nicolette, whereas the other two experienced players had significant leads. I do believe John won due to a too-late move on Jeff's part. After playing it, I wanted to play it again, but not immediately. After sleeping on it, I took this game off my "want" list, having decided that I don't need to own it. Ultimately, I think this one is a little too dry for my tastes. Clever, though. The game took about an hour, hour and a half.

John next pulled out Hey! That's my Fish! (BGG, BUY ME!), which I had heard of but never played. Jeff had to leave for the call of the databases, so we played a three-player game of penguins eating fishes. This one is staying on my want list, as it's effectively a nice abstract strategy game played on hexes- this reminded me of ZERTZ (BGG) with its shrinking board. I also have a huge soft spot in my heart for jumping around ice floes thanks to Activision's Frostbite from my Atari 2600 days. The hexes and nifty wooden penguins are a plus, too. Something about the emergent gameplay reminded me of an electronic/computerized game of some kind, but I couldn't put my finger on which one without further reflection.

I actually won this one, with Nicolette in second and John in last place. The game almost takes longer to set up than to play- This is maybe ten or fifteen minutes and unusually deep, given its overtly light presentation.

Just before leaving, John introduced us to Reiner Knizia's Ingenious (BGG, BUY ME!), a very colorful game. (Note New Dan showing up brightly against the green terrain.) Ingenious is played on a hexagonal board, with players laying down tiles. Each tile has two color/symbols on it: a green circle, a blue star, etc. You get points based on runs of identical symbols in five of the six directions on each hex. Placing a single tile might net you four yellow points and two purple points, for instance. Dr. Knizia's clever bit for this one is that your final score is your lowest-scoring color. Thus, players must balance their scores across all six color/symbols.

Not shocker here, hexes + spatial awareness = Mischa like. I also won in a distant first, which never hurts. w00t! I hear this game can be played with partners, sort of like dominoes. Either way, this is on my list to get.

That's real blood. (Hi, Andre!) There are no excuses in Jungle Speed (BGG, BUY ME!)! A slew of people enjoyed several rounds of Jungle Speed: Andre, Cody, Daniel, New Dan, Nick, Nick, Sean, Norman and Katlyn. All told, I think we played four-, six-, eight- and ten-player games. I keep forgeting the special rules for four players, though; most important is that Color Match is always on.

Sunday night roleplaying didn't come together, so I broke out some board games. We played five-player Wiz-War (BGG, STILL OOP), introducing Sean to it for the first time. Nick won, despite out best efforts. Poor Phil had an ADRENALINE + FIREBALL + SUDDEN DEATH combo he never got to use during play.

After that, I cracked the plastic on King Me! (BGG, BUY ME!), which saw two plays for the evening. Not bad for a new-to-everyone game, right? There's some good bluffing and voting going on here, and the art is just evocative enough, with nice components and cards. I'm looking forward to playing King Me! with six.

Sometimes I wonder why people at my FLGS pass up some deals on the discount table. Usually, I'm just glad I got the game before someone else did. Luckily, I'd had my eye on this one for a while.

1 comment:

Dan said...

Sounds fun. I really want to try Hacienda....and Hey Thats my Fish....and King Me! Gotta play 'em all!

For those interested, here is a good web version of Ingenious.