Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Houston Gamers wrap-up: In with the new...

I made it to the Houston Gamers this Saturday, and played 3 new games:

-Ark. Players compete to load animals onto Noah's Ark, to get recognized for loading a variety of "good" animals. Lots of fiddly rules that preserve the theme: The mosquito chases a medium-sized animal out, carnivores can't be in a room with an herbivore their size or smaller, etc.
German artists Doris and Frank are at work on this one. They're primarily recognized for the artwork in Frank's Zoo and Ursuppe/Primordial Soup.

I ended up winning the game after making a couple of good decisions. I liked this game. There's a nice mix of randomness and strategy... I think. I would definitely play again and am thinking about buying a copy.

-Ra. After winning Ark, I was invited into a 3-player game of Ra that turned into a 5-player game. I've played lots of games by Reiner Knizia before. Heck, I've even played lots of AUCTION GAMES by this designer before. I own a copy of Amun-Re, an AUCTION GAME ABOUT BUILDING DYNASTIES IN EGYPT. Please, Dr. Knizia, can I stop building dynasties now?

Ra is complicated. It may be the most complicated auction game I've ever played. I got the sense that one can be good at Ra. I also got the sense that it might take a while. I got my clock cleaned. There is a giant bag of tiles, and periodically, auctions occur. In a 5-player game, there'll be between 30 and 70-odd auctions. Sometimes players call for them; sometimes, game mechanics force the auction.

Lordy. There are a huge number of tiles in a big bag, which are drawn out one-by-one. About a third of them trigger an auction. Players are guaranteed to have asymmetric pseudo-money tokens, so it'll be all uneven if someone wants a SEIZURE... oops, I mean AUCTION.

Ra's clearly a gamers' game, full of depth and replayability. However, I doubt I could get it to the table; it takes too long for me and it's too abstract.

-Third and final game, Cinq-O. Eeh, it's a cute little dice game that's broken. You get several chances to re-roll 6 dice to make combinations and score points. It's like a much more forgiving Yahtzee that doesn't involve a special scorepad. The scoring was all jacked up, and there was no point except to roll the dice and see you could get. I had already figured most of it out, when someone else at the table announced it was broken, and that finished sucking all the fun out of the game.

Gamecount for the year = 34. Shoot! I'm behind.
Games learned or played for the first time = 9. Woot! I'm ahead.


Blogger Agent Easy said...

Ra isn't that complicated... give it another chance!

The scoring is a lot to take in all at once, but the value of each tile is printed on the board.

Beleive me, once you've played 1 or 2 games, it's second nature.

There is a certain amount of luck in this game, but you are right that a good player will win more often. It's a game that manages to be pretty short, yet have depth and interesting decisions.

8:31 PM  

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