Board game club: Steel Driver, Torres

Formissimo box

I had a great time at today’s board game club (yeah, the baby’s still waiting for a nice day to be born — perhaps next week?). I started with quick five-player game of Formissimo, which is a simple speed test pattern recognition puzzle.

Cards have images with different attributes. 30 cards are laid on the table and every player gets one. Then you just have to find a card with a picture that has at most one attribute different from the card you have. Continue finding new cards until you can’t, then say stop. Everybody who hasn’t made a mistake scores one point per card.

It’s simple and really fast. A round can be over in seconds and a whole game is done in five minutes or so. With five players, it was perhaps too fast. The task is fairly simple, though it’s also fairly easy to make mistakes. This won’t replace Flix Mix or Set, but I’ll play this again — but preferably with just three or four players.

Steel Driver box

My Milan-Spiele order arrived last Friday after just two months of waiting. The delivery itself was very swift, as the parcel was posted on Monday. We just had to wait for Duck Dealer… Obviously worth the wait. That game seems interesting. I also got Formissimo and Steel Driver in that order, so it was time to get Steel Driver on the table again.

Last time I played Steel Driver was in Helcon. Again we had five players. The game is quite easy to teach, which is nice. We also played fast, finishing the game in just 60 minutes.

It was a good game, with players using interesting tactics. One of the players figured out that since he doesn’t know much about the end game works except that it’s huge, he tries to make as much money (points) during the game as possible. He pretty much always paid all his money to buy the share he wanted and then developed the railroads a lot.

In the end he was second to last, so it didn’t quite work out, but I think there’s some potential in that strategy. It’s just that his shares weren’t good enough in the end. I did well and bought a total of eight shares (the practical maximum in five-player games is ten). That included about four really good shares, which was enough to secure my victory.

I like Steel Driver. It’s a refreshing change from Wabash & Co that you use a fixed income of cubes to bid and the shares produce different currency, that’s what makes Steel Driver interesting and worth playing.

Torres box

According to my stats, the last time I played Torres was in August 2002. Six and half years ago, that is. The game has lingered in my mind since and I often thought about buying it. I think somebody thought about publishing it in Finnish, which made me hopeful, but that didn’t happen. Finally I got the game in a math trade, I traded Chinatown for it. I even got the old version, I prefer the Cimatoribus art of that version.

We had four players in our game, with fairly little experience. So, of course we had all the action cards available for everybody. That way nobody has to remember what the decks contain. To me, that seems like the best way to play the game anyway, though I could try the version where everybody has a personal deck and the cards are drawn — now it seemed like people had few action points too much at times.

It was a fun game. I was slightly annoyed by the lack of interesting building options in the end — why do anything less valuable when I could simply expand my main castle with two tower blocks for eight points? Everybody thought I would win, and I did have a great castle 11 blocks wide — but I was on the fifth floor and Riku and Toni were on the fourth floor, so that was just 11 points for me. In the other hand, those guys got 51 and 42 points from the king’s castle, while I got just 18 points — a loss of 33 and 24 points for me.

That was enough, I didn’t win but I did place second. In what I understand is typical for Torres, the final scores were 238, 236, 235 and 193 — so the difference between 1st and 3rd is just over 1% of the total score. Can’t feel too bad about a third place like that.

Hopefully I’ll get to play Torres again before 2015…

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