Sunday, June 30, 2013

Quick Reviews 2nd Quarter 2013

I didn't get to try as many new games in the past three months as I would have liked, but I did get a few in. The following are my quick reviews, ordered from most anticipated to least anticipated. I hope to cover a few favorites in depth in the months to come.

Rarely do I feel a movie, TV show, book or game delivers on the hype I overhear before experiencing it for myself. But it sure feels great when it does.

The Resistance is more of an experience than a game, and that is the ultimate compliment. Five to Ten players act as a rebellious group attempting to undermine an oppressive government. Some of them however are spies attempting to work against the group. This game offers a simple rule set anyone can pick up in five minutes and forces the players to make each game an experience, full of double thinking, suspicion and empty offerings of trust.

I can't recommend it enough.

The Resistance Verdict: 10 out of 10

I remembered when Gra-Gra Company was originally brought to the US by Z-Man Games in and thus when I saw the re-titled Stack Market at a discount retailer for under $4 I figured it was worth a try.

Players stack wooden dice into buildings that represent their growing investments in companies and are rewarded for increasing the height these buildings and punished when a building collapses.

There are some interesting ideas as two people can be working on the same building at once and players can switch buildings at the end of their turn. The problems are insurmountable though as the rules are clunky (the average player is likely to end up with less money than the started the game with) and it lacked the hold-your-breath anticipation and fun of a game like Jenga. I'm glad I gave it a try but it simply won't be revisited by me anytime soon.

Stack Market Verdict: 5 out of 10

We shouldn't judge a book by its cover and neither should we judge a game. But abstracts can often be the worst offenders as they lack any imaginative presentation. I gave Atoll a try simply because it puts in the effort to make the game play intuitive and easier on the eyes.

If you look a the board to your left and took a guess  as to how it is played you'd probably come pretty close. Something should be said for the importance of graphic design for this month's topic of approachability. Players take either black or white pieces and alternate turns in order to strategically place their pieces to connect to diametrically opposed sides on their color in one continuous line.

It has some interesting ideas in regards to blocking your opponent and requires the forethought to think many turns ahead. This is a quality abstract, but unfortunately it just isn't for me.

Atoll Verdict: 4.5 out of 10

After Atoll I gave another abstract a shot, this time with a light theme called Tricky Safari. Players move their camera (the red or yellow piece in the lower left and upper right corners in the picture) orthogonality or diagonally around the board to capture photos of each of the area's diverse species.

Players each take one turn trying to position themselves in front of (relative to the animal's arrow) or beside an animal, scoring up to one point per animal. After each has taken a turn, all ten animals move forward, with delicate rules in place in cases where they run into water spaces or brush.

Tricky Safari really grew on me as I became more impressed with each game. A good player has to think not only about this turn but similar to billiards, how they will set themselves up for the next turn. I'd guess this might be a tedious game to play in person (constantly moving ten neutral pieces) but it is a wonderful little abstract available on Yourturnmyturn.

Tricky Safari Verdict: 7 out of 10