Games from last Friday

Last weekend I visited my good friend Tommy and we had a great weekend full of fun and games. I’m going to write session reports about the whole weekend, a day at a time because they’re going to be a bit longer — lots of new games, you see. I’ll start with Friday.

I came from Tampere with Ari, as a free ride in a car with good company beats expensive train hands down. The approximately two hour journey went fairly quick discussing, well, games. And stuff. At Tommy’s place we met Laura, Tommy’s significant other who I hadn’t met before. She turned out to be a nice and friendly person. Tommy joined us soon. Ari went to pick up his parents from the airport (it was their Ari we had borrowed). While Ari was gone, I started the games with Tommy.

First game I played was Tamsk. I had tried by e-mail, but it wasn’t a good game that way. I was curious to see how it really worked. Well, with the real time pressure added, it was a much better game. Still, not quite as good as Zèrtz. We played two games, Tommy won the first and I got the second.

I knew Tommy had played some Go and I was curious to check out his skills. We played a quick 9×9 game and I promptly crushed him.

Then Ari and Vesa had joined us and the proper games could began. Tommy introduced us to Biberbande. That was fun. In Biberbande, you are dealt four cards and you get to look at two of them. After that, all of them will be secret for you and the other players. Then you can replace them with other. After someone wants to end the round, scores are counted. Lowest score wins after six rounds. Very simple, just about brainless actually, but quite fun in some silly way. One of those cheap little card games you really should add to your next Adam Spielt order.

Then, some more serious stuff. Vesa is a huge fan of Modern Art and wanted to play it as he doesn’t have an own copy. The problem is that I don’t like it… Well, I played one game because I don’t want to picky and it really isn’t that bad a game. Obviously I lost with a clear margin. I just don’t get the art market. Oh, and a game about art should really have better art in it. The pictures are just plain ugly.

If there’s a game I’d shame to admit having not played, it’d be Acquire. Well, no more. Ari had brought his copy and we played it. I sucked at this one, as the final results prove: Tommy 47300, Ari 44900, Vesa 40600, Mikko 20700… I missed all the important mergers, basically. It’s a classic and definitely a good one too, but I wasn’t too excited in the end. It’s the theme and the mechanics I don’t find particularly interesting… 😉 Well, I’d play another game any time, but I’m probably not going to be the one to suggest it.

I’ve read a lot about Knizia’s Taj Mahal, some of it good, some of it bad. Now I was able to try it out, as Tommy had recently bought it. Oh boy, I want it too! It’s a mean game. Players play cards with various symbols depicting the six items players want to get. When you yield, you get everything you have the most symbols shown. So you could get one or two items with just a single card, if you’re lucky. If you’re not, you won’t get anything after you’ve had a bloody long bidding war and your opponent plays that one more card. Very exciting game. Laura won, I came second with my careful tactic — I yielded immediately when I was able to secure a single good item or two items with one card. I avoided most big fights and got myself the very good yellow special card with it’s +2 bonus which I scored at least on five turns. Wonderful game!

Pueblo isn’t a bad game, either. This game from Kiesling & Kramer has players building a tower of strangely Tetris-like pieces. A piece goes around the blocks and gives minus points for those players whose pieces show. If it can see your colour on first level, you get one point. Second level means two points and so on. In the corners of the square playing area, each quarter is looked from bird’s eye view. Players have pieces both in their own colour and in neutral brown, which can be used to block one’s own pieces from the view. It’s quick, easy to teach and visually challenging. Not many games have a real third dimension to them. We played two games right away (there being five of us and the game only supported four), fortunately it only takes about 30 minutes.

The evening was getting late and Vesa had to leave. He had some time, however, so we squeezed in a game of Africa. I guess I’ve raved enough about Africa here, so no more about that.

As the very last game that night we played a game of Reiner Knizia’s Vampire, which is really a quite simple Rummy-type game. I did like the vampire theme, even though it is typically nonexistant. Some of the card colours are hard to tell from each other, but that’s minor. It was a somewhat entertaining experience, even though there are many better card games that fill the same niche (be it a light fun card game for four or a Rummy game you’re looking for).

And that’s it for Friday (well, actually, some very early Saturday as well). Next episode coming sooner or later!

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