July. What a month! It falls just between June and August and I don’t want everybody to know, it’s a bit of a hidden gem, but it’s the perfect month to relax and enjoy life around here. So, I played some games and I want to talk about them here.
There’s a lot going on in this game and when you read the rules or somebody explains it to you, the first thing that comes to mind is: “What? How is this this going to work?”.
It’s a Euro game with a quirky theme. “Trains in ancient Egypt. What were you thinking, silly man!?” Well, it’s funny for minute or so, so don’t buy it for the theme, but the game is pretty OK and a bit awkward too. You first have to bid for player order. Not player order in the game, but to be the first to pick a role. The player order then depends on which roles the players pick. I don’t like that, it makes it hard to figure out if it’s worth your money and everybody bids very cautiously because of it.
The game itself is a collection of area majority, market manipulation, set collection and pick up and deliver. You can do two actions per turn, like building a track, shipping fruit, produce fruit, building building or draw more cards. These cards are needed because they determine what you can do, how well you can do it and where you can do it.
I enjoyed myself, it was a pretty good game, but sometimes I thought: ‘Maybe the designer wanted to accomplish too much in this game’. I sometimes felt out of control. I don’t think I’ll ever play this game again, so I leave it at that.
Camel Up: Supercup
I played Camel Up again this month. Now with the addition of one module of the Supercup expansion. We had nobody e at the table who played the Supercup expansion before and we had not much time to dive in the rules of the expansion, so we chose a module that looked fairly straightforward; the Photographer.
This module just adds another nice way to push your luck. As your action in your turn, you can now also become the photographer. You then place the Camera next to an empty space on the race track and try to take a picture of some camels. No other player can become the photographer as long as you are it and you can move the camera to other spots in your turn.
The goal is to guess on which spot a camel or, preferably, a stack of camels ends. If that happens before the end of the leg, you’ve shot the perfect picture and you get 1 coin for every camel that’s in the stack. You then retire as a photographer and other player can choose this action again. At the end of a leg, when you haven’t taken a photo, you also have to retire. It’s just bad luck.
This little module was not groundbreaking, but it was nice. The other modules also seem simple and easy to add to the game. I think, this is really an expansion for people who play the game often, not for those who take it out once or twice a year, so not a must-have.
Nations: The Dice Game
I have Nations. No, sorry, I sold it recently. Not because I did not like it, but because it did not get enough play time. That is partly my own fault, because I did not feel like playing it that much, honestly. Hopefully the new owner will play it a lot.
But I’m not here to talk about selling Nations, I’m here to talk about its baby-brother; Nations: the Dice Game.
Nations was already a very abstract civilization game and Nations: the Dice Game is even more simplified and abstracted.
You start with some basic buildings. However, the buildings themselves don’t really matter, what does matter is the dice they give you. The starting buildings give you one basic, white die each and on these dice you’ll find gold, food, book, stone or strength symbols. You roll the dice and with according to the symbols it shows, you can buy buildings or build wonders. The buildings you buy replace the old buildings and their dice with, probably, better or more useful dice. Advisers give you the ability to re-roll and colonies give you extra tokens with permanent symbols. Wonders can also be bought, but they do have to be built later on to benefit from them in the form of extra tokens and points.
Books are used to advance on the book track and if you are in front you’ll get points throughout the game. The strength and food icons give you points if you have a certain amount of them at the end of a round.
I must say that I found this game just OK. It’s a bit forgettable and it really has absolutely nothing to do with civilization building and the game Nations itself. It has a shorter playing time than Nations, that’s a plus, but in all other areas the dice game took the idea of Nations in the wrong direction in my opinion. Instead of making the game a bit more thematic, they made it more abstract. The art is still the same, which means boring. They left the special abilities of different nations out of the game and the different people and building feel even more out-of-place in this little nations you a forming.
They should have just made a whole new game, not a dice version of an exciting game. The theme is almost non-existent, so another theme should have been an easy aspect of the game to change.
The game is OK, but it doesn’t stand out, just as the art and the theme do not stand out.
In this civilization game you try to conquer different ‘provinces’ in ancient Greece. These provinces give you resources as long as you control them and with these resources you can buy new technologies, inventions or wonders on the market.
Olympos has some interesting mechanisms. The first one is that every actions you do on the board costs time. You can place armies on the board, you can move armies around, you can attack other players, but all these things have a cost and sometimes higher, sometimes lower depending on your strength. You do an action and you move a couple of spaces on the time-track. By doing that, you immediately change player order, because the player that is in last place on the time-track must take his turn. I like this mechanism, it makes you think twice about the things you do.
The resources you need to buy technologies that give you benefits or points will not always be in you possession. Once another player takes control of your province, you have to give that resource to that opponent. This makes that you can actively mess with other people’s plans, which is fun if you like that sort of thing.
Along the time-track you also find God spaces. When you pass these spots you may take a card that gives you something extra. Also, when a player passes it, a God will show up and he or she give you something good, or makes something bad happen, depending on how religious you are.
You get points for the territories you control, the market tiles you have acquired and the amount of time you have left on the track at the end of the game.
All in all, Olympos is a really nice and quick area control game. There’s a good amount of interaction as the players are constantly fighting over precious resources and there are just a lot of elements in this game, some I haven’t discussed here, that are very enjoyable. I think it goes a bit too far to say it’s a good civilization game, it just doesn’t feel like you are building a civilization, but it is a good game and that’s what’s important.
Well, I took me a while, but I got to play the Dirk Henn two-player game from 1997. And I liked it. The theme, the War of the Roses, isn’t really there, it’s just a nice abstract game.
The goal of the game is to create territories, as large as possible, with your tokens on the board, which is a nine by nine grid. The game starts with a crown token in the middle of the table and both players have their own, five at the start, movement cards, placed openly on the table. A card shows the direction of movement and the distance you can move, but, remember, the crown is your reference point. So, if you have a two value card that points to the left, you move the crown two spaces to the left and you place your token underneath it. Now the other player can take her turn, with the new crown location as a reference point.
You can also decide to attack your opponent by playing a movement card that makes you end up on a token of the other player and you hand in one of your four Hero cards. You can then flip the target token to your side. Another thing you can do is to draw a new movement card.
This is how the game goes. You go on, doing on of the three things per turn, until both player can’t do anything on their turn or all player pieces are on the board. Bigger territories score more points and the player with the most points wins.
Rosenkönig is a really nice game. It’s a strategic game, but your possibilities are limited by the movement cards you draw and that also makes that luck is a factor in this game. You just don’t know when certain movement card will turn up and because the crown keeps moving around, a three value movement to the south may be great in one turn, but useless one turn later. On the other hand, there’s no hidden information. You know exactly what your opponent can do, so you can take advantage of that.
There’s enough to wrap your head around. I like it. It’s quick, easy to teach, but it offers quite a bit of strategy.
I want to rename this segment. It must be something like ‘Quick Review Extravaganza’. Something like that, but much better. Any ideas?