Yesterday’s games started with a three-player Modern Art with Petri and Hannu. This was our first game with the new Finnish edition. It’s gorgeous, and I’m glad to report it works well. Pretty much the only problem is the small size of the screens: they tip over and can’t cover a huge pile of money. However, in this game it isn’t such a big deal anyway, just keep your money in a mixed heap and nobody can figure out how much you have.
It was a good game, mostly because I won with a wide margin. Hannu was a complete newbie, though, but played a decent game. Petri likes to save money, which worked well, but perhaps he just didn’t have the right paintings to sell. Hard to say. I was missing doubles myself, but got two good ones in the final deal, so that helped. Final scores were satisfying 598-482-436.
While waiting for the other table to finish their game, I played two quick rounds of Strohmann-Tarock with Hannu, winning both. In the second, I declined from leading, thinking my hand was poor. Well, I won hands down, thanks to large number of kings and having the top trumps. It certainly taught me a lesson about hand-values in Strohmann: courts are good in this game, as it’s much easier to secure points with kings and queens (when you see a number card of the same suit on top of a strawman pile, it’s easy to lead a king…). Fun game, Strohmann is a nice diversion when you only have two players.
Glory to Rome was high on top of my list of games to try, mostly thanks to Brian Bankler’s writings. I bought a copy — just 20 euros, ordered from US, not bad! — and off we went. I’m glad to report I wasn’t disappointed: this game rocks!
Of course we played it all wrong: all rules included with 5 players, all newbies. So we took 90 minutes… But I wanted to experience the full thing right away, instant gratification and so on. But I can see why they recommend a smaller approach, because it is one of the harder games to grok (it kind of reminded me of Through the Ages, both games need a sort of paradigm shift to get it).
It’s such a wonderful game, the way the cards flow from one place to the other is beautiful (if confusing). I also find it refreshing that the authors haven’t gone for the extra-balanced style, but instead the building actions are at times completely over-the-top. In our game Mari dominated the scores, because she had Coliseum and she fed all Make’s and Petri’s clients to the lions and ended up with a full vault.
That was brutal, especially if you expected the typical “don’t touch” approach to player interaction these games usually have. Like I said, it’s refreshing, and it makes Glory to Rome worth having, as it’s so different from other games in the genre. Let’s see how easy it is to get others try this one again, I know I want to.