Saturday, July 15, 2006

Thursday night: Two Knizias

I've sung the praises of Reiner Knizia before.

We played Modern Art and Medici, two of his highly-rated games on Thursday. R.J., Chris B., and Crystal came over and we lost no time in diving into a game of Modern Art.

As you may recall, I got Modern Art in a giant box of games I ordered. I threw it in to get free shipping. I did that, oh, over 3 years ago, and Modern Art is the reason why I don't do that much anymore. I meant well - It's by a designer I like, it's rated as one of the best dang games of all time, and I have some friends that like it.

Yet it took me 2 years to break the shrink wrap, and another year or more to have it hit the table. Never mind that I have a whole gaming group of novices who will play anything- ANYTHING- I pull off the shelf, plus another whole gaming group in the Houston Gamers who will play almost anything except Rocketville.

Modern Art is played in 4 seasons. You start with a hand of 8 cards, each with a painting that is an artist and an auction type. On each person's turn, they put up a card for auction, and then either someone else pays them to put the card in their collection, or the auctioneer overbids and pays the bank to put the card in their collection. It's all zero-sum at this point.

After 5 paintings (cards) of one artist hit the table, the season ends, and each person gets paid out based on the popularity of the artist. The more paintings, the more you get paid. If you bought unfashionable artists, well, tough.

Anyway, Crystal won with a score of about $540,000. Chris had ~$450,000 or so, and Lee and I were in the $370,000 range, $3,000 from each other... perfectly appropriate for being married over 9 years. R.J. was stuck out with something under $200,000.

Modern Art is supposed to be a classic. I guess in Germany, where they'll play a game over and over, that's great. We don't typically have a game hit the table often enough for every player to play perfectly rationally. I gotta rate this a solid 5.5, or "MEH" in you primitive humans' language.

If I ever get 5 people together that understand Modern Art completely, well, I think the outcome will depend totally on how good they each do at card-counting everyone's money, and which paintings they draw. Wow. That means the absolute best rating Modern Art can get is a 6. I don't approve of card-counting OR total randomness.

Then we played Medici and I lost, lost, lost, lost. Lee won by a good bit. It's a 9 out of 10 for me. Wow, do I love this game. Don't know why. I just do. Maybe it's the cargo, maybe it's the stack of goods, maybe it's the little ships.

I'd like to play some more of these games, and the other Knizia auction games, to see where the group finally says, "Enough! No more auction games, ever!"

Gamecount: Individual game sessions played for the year = 119, New game titles played for the year = 18.


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