March wasn’t the best gaming month for me according to the amount of games I played, but I have play some very good (older) ones, so it’s quality over quantity this month. That’s how it always should be probably. Here’s a short impression of a couple of the games I played in March 2015
The Castles of Burgundy
I played this game from Stephan Feld once before, a while ago. I really liked it, but I have not played it since. Last month I had an incredible urge to play it and so I borrowed it from a friend and played it a couple of times. It was just as good as I remembered (luckily, because memories can trick you sometimes). This is one of the best Felds, with very characteristic Feld mechanisms, rolling dice, using them to buy and build buildings in the countryside and getting points in many different ways. So good.
A very easy, very fun two-player game. Buy goods, sell goods, get points, buy goods, sell goods, get points. That’s basically how the game works, however there are some aspects that make it a little more interesting and very fun. Like the camels, they cannot be sold, but you can buy them and trade them for other goods. Or the fact that you get more points if you sell goods early. Or the idea that there is no endless demand for one kind of good, so you won’t get points for them all the time. Or you can get extra, secret point when you sell a certain amount. All this makes Jaipur a very good, very quick two-player game.
A solo game from Friedemann Friese. You have to help Robinson Crusoe to get off an island by training him and fighting of pirates in the end. It’s a deck builder where you basically build your deck by fighting enemies and winning cards. I owned this game, but sold it a while ago. Lately I kept thinking about it and wanted to play it again. I borrowed it, played it a couple of times and remembered why I sold it. I just find it an OK game. I can’t exactly tell you why it doesn’t amuse me that much. I mean mechanically it’s a very solid, very interesting game, but it just doesn’t do anything for me.
Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar
What a wonderful game this is. Worker placement with a cool timing mechanism, read rotating gears. For more details, read my review.
I made myself a promise to play this game ten times in 2014, but I did not even come close. And now, 2015, it hit the table two times in three days, mainly because a friend picked it as game of the evening. Now I can only think, why do I not play it more?
I played this game from Phil Eklund a couple of times this month, solo that is. In the solo game you play as all three tribes and you try to survive the harsh conditions of this not especially green land. You place workers on different cards in north and south Greenland. They might give you food, tools or other bonuses. You only have to roll the right number to get it. Every turn there’s an, mostly not so beneficial, event and Greenland freezes over round after round, so it becomes harder and harder to get your resources. It’s a very straightforward game if you can get through the rules. I think I like it. There are enough interesting mechanisms. There’s luck, but you can easily mitigate it. You can get into the theme of the game if you want to. It’s a part of history that hasn’t been covered a lot, or at all. The only thing that I’m not sure of is that I do not know if I find it engaging enough for a two-hour solo game. I’ll have to play it some more, I guess. No problem.
I finally was able to play, Spiel des Jahres nominee, Splendor. Get tokens, to buy cards that give you the option to buy more and more expensive and more valuable cards or tiles. There has been and still is a lot of buzz surrounding this game and I have to say: ‘I don’t really understand it.’ Don’t get me wrong. I like it, I think it’s a good game and I know that a lot of people played the heck out of it, but I don’t think it’s that good. It a bit like The Builders: Middle Ages, however I do like the pace in Splendor a bit better. Yes, I like the game and it’s easy to teach, but just not exciting enough for me. The low entry-level is one of the reasons, I think, for its success. Another one is probably its look. It’s pretty colourful and the chips just look and feel good. A solid game, but I don’t have the urge to play it much more.
Oh, Mancala. What a nice mechanism (or game actually). Combined with the point salad that mister Feld brings, this might be one of the best, or let’s just say one of the most fun games I played lately. Trying to make your mancala board work the way you want it to is such a fun thing to do. Sometimes it is brain hurting, but still fun. From conquering the provinces, to getting influence in the senate, to shipping goods, you can do all kind of stuff in the Roman Empire. A lot to think about, it’s definitely heavier than the Castles of Burgundy, but I think this game is also one of his top designs. I certainly recommend Trajan and can’t wait to play it again.
New additions to the collection
Hoyuk by Pierre Canuel
Cacao by Phil Walker-Harding