In this segment I talk about games I’ve played for the first time. I won’t talk about games I own myself, but games that I’ll probably only play once or not very often for whatever reason. If I get the chance to play them a couple more times, I will also review them. For now, here are my thoughts.
Last game day I’ve played a four-player game of Trains and it was very entertaining. You build rails, stations and your deck. There are a lot of similarities with Dominion (base game) when you only look at the card types and it plays just as fast, but it gives you a more options. Options concerning actions on the board. You can lay rails from your starting position to other places on the board, your goal is to connect cities and build station expansions in these cities, because cities with your tracks in it can give you points. Another difference with Dominion is that when you use some cards, e.g. lay rails or build a station, you have to draw waste cards. These waste cards will clog up your deck, so you must find a way to get rid of these cards. A player can focus on building tracks and scoring a lot of points in cites with stations, but he can also focus on deck building alone and still compete with the rail builders on the board. It’s really interesting and Trains falls exactly in the same niche as Dominion, but I like Trains better. I do wonder how expandable Trains is compared to Dominion, the theme is a bit limiting. Of course they can always publish new maps. But who am I kidding, I’ve only played it once and I’m already talking about expansions.
Istanbul (Pegasus Spiele)
An interesting worker placement game. I’ve played it with four players. You are a merchant and you have four assistants. You are walking through a bazaar, 16 location tiles in a 4×4 grid, and on every tile you can do something. There are basically four resources in the game and there’s money. You use these resources and the money to buy rubies. When a player has five rubies, he wins the game. The most interesting thing about this game is the way you use your workers. You start with a stack of four assistant workers and your leader on top. You must move one or two tiles with you whole stack, the tile you end your turn on is the action you may perform, but you have to leave one assistant behind. In this way you lose an assistant every turn, then you must go to well, to call back all assistants, or you can go back to location with assistants on it to pick up these little helpers and preform those tile actions. So, in in your turn you must pick up or leave behind one assistant to perform an action. The actions are pretty standard, take goods, exchange goods for money and exchange good or money for rubies. Nothing new here. The only thing that sets this game apart is the different style of worker placement. It’s a pretty quick worker placement game and that’s also a plus., but I have to play this game a couple more times to know if I really like it.
Trading. In the Mediterranean. Provinces with different cities produce different goods. Players have two colonists (a ship and a dude) in Rome to start with and some more in their supply. You can set up a trade network by sending these colonist to several cities and settle there. So far the game is very similar to many, many other games. The interesting part is the deck buildingish part of the game, You start with some cards in your hand. These are your action cards and on your turn you pick one card and perform that action. Actions like produce goods, place new colonists, trade, copy other cards, etc. During the game you can buy other cards to add to your deck. All used cards go on your discard pile and only when you play the Tribune card, you can get take these back in your hand.
Each card is related to a Roman god and that’s how you score points. For instance, at the end of the game for each Saturnus card you have you will gain one point for every province with at least one of your settlements in it. So when you have a lot of Saturnus cards and have houses in multiple provinces, you will earn a lot of points with the aid of Saturnus. I do think that scoring in this game is a bit vague. Information concerning the gods is written on the cards and your opponents cards aren’t visible most of the time, you don’t really know how things are going compared to your opponents. It’s a big surprise at the end of the game. I did like this game quite a bit. I hope I can play it more often.