When we published our review and discussion of Kingdom Builder, one of our readers gave a great suggestion: in addition to our first-impression style review, it might be interesting to go back and write a more detailed review later on, incorporating more discussion of strategy and how our opinions of the game have changed over time. Discussing strategy and particular optimization decisions is coming; it's on my list of resolutions for the new year. But the idea of revisiting old games to see how well they've held up or how our approach to them has changed is especially intriguing, since a particular game could lose its luster after playing it only a few times, or the strategic implications of a game might only become clear after running through it once or twice.
initial review has abated a bit as we've gotten more familiar with the rules, which has made Kingdom Builder quicker and more fun. We're still getting new combinations of map tiles and scoring objectives--in fact, in our most recent game, we drew the "Citizens" objective for the first time ever--so the game continues to feel fresh. Most importantly, we haven't played with the disastrous combination of Paddock and Hermits again, but we have played with both Paddock and Hermits alone, and the game worked just fine.
Verdict: Kingdom Builder is still good. Now that the rules are more familiar to us, and now that we've identified the rare combinations of mechanics that break the game, it's actually getting better. Almost as importantly, Kingdom Builder is short enough that we can play it multiple times in the same night and engaging enough that we actually want to.
Verdict: I still enjoy Small World also, but it's clear to me that it would require several, perhaps dozens of, play-throughs before you could develop anything approaching an optimal strategy. That, combined with Small World's inherent low variance, could make this another game that's worth coming back to. I'd love to try Small World in its iPad incarnation; like Ticket to Ride, this game has to be more fun when the computer takes care of the constant but unexciting numerical computation for you.
Verdict: we're not playing Tongiaki for the deeply complex tactical experience; as far as I can tell, we've exhausted all the possible strategies at this point, and we know that winning it is as much a function of variance as of good gameplay. Instead, the reason we keep coming back to it is that it's fun to make your friends' boats sink, and it's a refreshing "palate-cleanser" between more demanding games.
Verdict: Blokus is a game that is probably going to appeal to an entirely different set of people than the "heavy" Euro games will, and it's a bit unusual in that it doesn't neatly fit into the strictures of "Euro" or "American die-roller" or "party". Play this one if you're into visual-spatial puzzlers. Don't play it if you don't have exactly four people.