I don’t know if it is the brain sluggishness brought on by the heat, the increased summer workload at the shop, or my attempts to play outside as much as possible before the rains hit. But for some reason, I’ve been digging the lighter games lately. It could also be that we’ve had a few good ones hit our shelves in the past month. Here’s a quick run-down of some of the little guys I’ve been enjoying.
Friday the 13th: No, this is not a game about a troubled kid in a hockey mask terrorizing coeds. This is from the uber-brain of Reinier Knizia and it is a re-theme of his older card game, Poison. Friday the 13th has some large, attractively illustrated, and very hard to handle cards in 3 suits. The game feels like a trick-taking game, so card-counters will be in heaven. You will play cards to suited-piles, and if you tip the total over 13, you take the cards. Generally a bad thing, but great if you shoot the moon and have the most of a given suit. Simple and fun to watch those piles build to a point where one player is just outta luck.
Biblios: This is a re-release of a game that last sat on our shelves last year. Another example of a game that sold very well but the publisher decided to take a year to reprint it. Thankfully they did get some copies out, because it is a blast. You play 2 rounds, and much like the game For Sale, in the first round you collect cards, then use them in the auction during the second round. It all boils down to set-collecting, but you get to choose the cards that go in the auction and you get to adjust the final scoring for each suit. You won’t be able to play just one round of this one.
Lost Legacy: The Starship: This is another one of Seiji Kanai’s games with only 16 cards. Love Letter is his most famous, but Brave Rats is another one, and I’ve been forcing this one on everyone I can to fill tiny time gaps. In Lost Legacy, you simply draw a card, play a card, and try to deduce who has what cards. Ultimately you want to find the starship card to win. This is Love Letter with a teensy bit more choice and a theme that works. A perfect filler.
Seventh Hero: This is a borderline filler, as it is closer to 45 minutes in length. This game also got poo-pooed at the shop on the first try due to some rules arguments and just general lack of desire to have fun. I still enjoy it, largely because I like to watch the frustration in others when they realize they’ve been stuck in a no-win situation with the card I’ve passed around the table.
Now, my gaming time has not just been filled with these lighter games, although I’ve been playing more of them than usual. This past weekend though, I had the chance to attend the inaugural convention held by a long-time loyal customer whose interest is big, heavy wargames. I cannot say enough good things about this experience. Beyond the games, I had the chance to play with fantastic folks that I did not know at all before running the silliest game shop in Portland. This is why I opened the shop, to build a community of gamers, rather than just a group of nameless people playing games. Thanks to Ty for making this happen. As much as I’d like to do something like this at the shop, we are a business, and the shopping must go on, so I’m grateful I was able to get away to TyCon 2014. Here’s what I played:
Roads and Boats: It’s big, and sorta heavy, but it is not what you’d consider a wargame. That did not stop 1 of the players from trying to turn it into one. Roads and Boats feels like a civilization game, but with opportunity to send your donkeys and geese out to the fields to do some baby-making. Yeah, there are some interesting ideas in this nearly-impossible-to-find game, but it is really an industry-building and pick-up-and-deliver game with a malleable map and a whole host of paths to try.
Here I Stand: Holy Hand Grenade! This is a monster of a game. We’re talking 3 different games in one really. Here’s the tagline: ‘the first game in over 25 years to cover the political and religious conflicts of early 16th Century Europe’. Boy, why did it take them 25 years to make another one? Well, because there is so much going on in this game. I played as the Protestants, so for about 6 hours I did nothing but fight the Papacy for the hearts and minds of the good people of Germany and translate the bible into 3 different languages. During this time, on the other side of the table, France, England, and the Hapsburgs were battling for space as well as for treasures from the New World. Oh, and then the Ottomans were making pitiful pirating attempts along the Mediterranean coast. This is a game you need to play 6 times so that you can try each faction, because they are all very different. In the end, 10 hours later, God won, perhaps only due to exhaustion. Truly an epic game that belongs at every TyCon in the future.
Hope all of you have been playing some sweet games. Clear your tables and balance your checkbooks for next week, because the first of the GenCon beauties should be arriving. Rumor has it that Imperial Settlers will be in the shop by next Wednesday, and after playing its predecessor, 51st State, I cannot wait! We’ll see what other excitement arrives. Happy gaming folks!