Here’s a run down of some of the board games I’ve been playing recently.
This is a really well-produced, and fun racing game. You captain a pirate ship around the island, paying rent, winning gold, feeding your crew, and fighting your rivals along the way. I got it as a present, and I couldn’t be more pleased with it.
Jamaica is a great gateway game, and spans the ages nicely. I taught my niece and nephew to play it, and they kept wanting to play more, admitting that it was much better than Monopoly. So that’s a win.
This week I wanted to buy myself a board game, but was feeling frugal, so I opted for a small one for less pennies. At the recommendation of the man in Eclectic Games, I got Langfinger, which is a quick and lean worker placement game.
You play a thief, organising your night around tooling up for jobs, breaking into a mansion, restocking, breaking into a museum, then fencing off your ill-gotten gains. I really enjoyed it, and it’s a great stepping stone into the world of worker placement games.
At the other end of the scale is Yedo. I enjoy Lords of Waterdeep, but never felt immersed in the theme, and felt it was a bit of a cube pusher (but fun nonetheless). Yedo on the other hand is strongly thematic, and has a few gaming mechanisms that really pop.
The board seems a bit busy at first, but it’s really not, and when you get a chance to look at it, the artwork is great. It’s long(ish), and can be a bit nasty if you play the Samurai setting, but I’ll definitely be wanting to play this more.
Power Grid: First Sparks
I’ll be honest, when I first played Power Grid, I didn’t get it. I understood how it worked and played, but I didn’t see all the layers of tactics and the overall strategy of it. That said, perhaps we played it too early in our gaming lives, and when we revisited a month or so ago, it suddenly made a lot more sense. Consequently, we cracked it open a few times, and had much more of game with it.
First Sparks was designed as an anniversary celebration, streamlining the game mechanics and setting it all in an emerging stone age society. I think it’s actually a better introduction to Power Grid than the original game. It’s also too much fun to say Mammoth in a stupid voice.
It surprised me to realise that this was the first pick up and delivery board game I’ve played. It won’t be the last. I instantly understood how to play it, not least because I spent a lot of time playing computer games like Transport Tycoon. I’m not usually a big fan of dice rolling mechanics (Kingsburg aside), but I didn’t mind it in this at all. Indeed, the way dice are used in the Guild negotiations is clever, and that aspect of the game offered some nice interaction and intrigue.
Sky Traders has all sorts of balancing mechanisms, so if you can’t afford to buy the profitable goods, you can still make money to seed later transactions. The steampunk motif sort of comes through, and Phlogiston is a fun word, but it’s not the essence of the game. You can also dive into the black market, and manipulate prices of illegal grog to make a huge (if dangerous) profit.
On My Wishlist …
Crude, Le Harve, Die Macher, Pillars of the Earth, Article 27, Letters From Whitechapel, and many, many, many, many, more.