Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Gaming Light and Gaming Heavy

Whoa, I'm behind on my notes. This is from a game session at Great Hall two weeks ago.

We had a hard time deciding what to hit the table first; New Dan had brought a bunch of games, I had only brought a few. I also recall that Norman and Katelyn had started a long game already with a few of their friends, and Dan and Kelly had shouldered showing some new-to-the-hobby people (Phil and Robin) some intro games: Through the Desert and Carcassonne.

Java (BGG, BUY ME!) (not the coffee, not the language, but the island) became our first choice. I and New Dan had only played it once, and Sean had never played it before. A long review of the rules later, and we got down to playing. Just as teaching a game requires skill, writing elegant rules also requires careful attention. Java plays much lighter than it reads; its rules are a little too complete. Java's a clever buildy 3D tile-laying German game of area control with an elegant high-ground/king-of-the-hill mechanic for points. In short, this is exactly the sort of game that Cat would hate.

Players are building up the island of Java with hex tiles of villages and rice paddies: a communal pool of identical triplets shared by the players, plus a per-player limited number of singletons and doubles. You've got action points that let you deploy tiles, move your guys, build and improve cities, lay down water, and buy cards. Throwing parties is free. Parties (paid for by cards) earn points for whoever has the most guys on the highest level in the city. There's a possibility for analysis paralysis, but with three new players, we found ourselves looking for moves for each other, suggesting the best play.

BGG says that there's a sort of unofficial set of games by the same designers, Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling: the Masks Trilogy, consisting of Tikal, Java, and Mexica. Interestingly, another game I recall liking greatly, Torres, is also by these same two designers and precedes all three games.. I recall not liking Tikal, and I've never played Mexica. But it makes me feel better about sometimes confusing Tikal and Java.

We had a close game: Dan won by four points over me, and I fourteen points over Sean. Total play time plus rules review was around two hours.

King Me! (BGG, BUY ME!) came out as a filler for New Dan, Jeff, Marc, myself, Sean, and another guy whose name I can't read. Light as it may be, there's strategy here, I know; the experienced played (me) won by a hefty margin.

For some reason, I've noted down that others were playing San Juan, Fury of Dracula, and Mall of Horror. Not me, though. One day I'll play Fury of Dracula, though.

And, of course, Jungle Speed (BGG, BUY ME!) hit the table. Such an excellent game! I've also just gotten the Expansion (it's from France), which is full of evil delight.

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