Thursday, April 28, 2016

Lots of board gaming lately

Here we are, looking very confused (witness Mike's expression) as Ptom explains Steampunk Rally to us
Our Sunday evening game crew has been playing a lot of board games, lately. I think everybody is in a lull phase on having a miniatures game ready to host, so we've been falling back on board games. Last Sunday, we were at Ptom's house and he pulled out a new purchase. There were seven of us in attendance, and that tends to limit what games we can play.

So, we decided to give Ptom's "Steampunk Rally" a try. Wow, what a complex game. Ptom read us the rules, and we were all confused at several points. Several times I quipped, "So, tell me again why we're not playing Seven Wonders right now?" Seven Wonders is my favorite multiplayer boardgame right now, but Steve said he dislikes it and had nixed it. Of course, he brought Munchkin...which to my thinking, is about as limited a game as you can play. Who draws the lucky cards? Who does everybody pick on? Whoopie...! So, I nixed that one in reply...ha, ha!

Anyway, back to Steampunk Rally. Players take on the role of famous inventors or scientists -- Tesla, Marconi, Einstein, Edison, and several others were in our game. They are constructing a steampunkish contraption from the cards they draw to race around a rocky track that tends to tear apart your machine. There are three different types of energy -- steam, electricity, and heat. Your contraption will probably specialize in one of them, but need all types eventually. There are a number of strange mechanics in the game. You place colored dice on your machine to represent you powering up your machine, but then you have to pay to take them off -- "venting" them -- before you can re-power it.

There is certainly a lot of variety, and we felt a lot more confident about the game after playing several rounds. However, not my favorite new game of the ones we've played.

The previous Sunday we had also been at Ptom's. We tried another recent purchase of his -- the inaptly named "Five Tribes," which seems to be quite popular. As often is the case with Eurogames, there is a "veneer" of history or setting thrown over game mechanics. This one seemed to have the thinnest of veneers. Tribes is a terrible English word for what in the game are five different castes or guilds that you try to utilize to earn the most victory points. They even call their pieces "meeples" at one point -- the generic gamer's term for the little wooden playing pieces that appear in most Eurogames. They couldn't think of another term that fit their Middle Eastern / South Asia motif and setting?

All complaining about the veneer aside, this is an excellent game. There are so many paths to victory, so many strategies to utilize to win, that every game could be different. We played it twice and had two completely different strategies win the game. In the first game, Joel won by focusing on controlling tiles for victory points, while in the second game Ptom won ("Ptom's Winning!") by using the commodities. I look forward to playing this one again.

Finally, the previous week we got to try out a new purchase of mine. I had picked up a copy of Splendor at Barnes & Noble because they were having a sale to benefit my school's library. I run a weekly board game club at the school, and the kids were complaining I was bringing the same games over and over again. Earlier, I had posted on the Facebook page of the  Columbus Area Boardgaming Society (CABS), asking what game would be good for middle schoolers. Four or five of my 30 responses were for this game.

In Splendor, you are a gem merchant, picking up five different types of gems (or gold -- which is like a wild card). You use these gems to purchase cards, which give you a permanent bonus of one gem of a certain color. There are three tiers of cards, each costing progressively more gems. Some of the cards provide victory points, most of the lower tier ones do not. If you collect enough "bonus cards" you may acquire a noble as a customer, which provides you with more victory points.

Between the one time we played it at Joel's two Sundays ago, and the twice I've played it at the school board game club, I've yet to win this game. It is fun, fast, and a clever design. The kids loved it and picked it up quickly. So, it was a worthwhile purchase, and definitely a game I enjoy playing and look forward to trying again (and getting that elusive victory!).

Three weeks of Sundays, and three new board games!

1 comment:

  1. This isn't related to your boardgame article but posting on your most recent entry seemed the surest way that you would receive my praise. nevisfr shared a link to your blog from the LA forums and this is a treasure trove! Thanks so much for documenting all that you have done; So much to learn here.