Lighter games and Tarock

With my regular Wednesday games cancelled thanks to Johanna’s plans, I had to come up with something else. A friend has a game day every Monday, so I went and checked out that party. It was good, so maybe I’ll join them again some other time.

Tsuro coverWe had planned some Tarock, but were missing few players, so we had to improvise. I wanted to give Tsuro a go. It’s apparently a pretty good filler for plenty of people. Well, there were only three of us, but who cares… Well, Tsuro is certainly a very easy game and fun to play too, but it’s not best with just three, I guess. With more, there’s probably more fun, though less control. Hard to say, but I can see why people like the game. It’s very, very easy to teach, which makes it rather ideal for some situations. I won, thanks to my superior pathway skills.

Blue piece on the edge of the board
Tsuro piece on the edge of the board. Photo: Chris Norwood (kilroy_locke)

The Downfall of Pompeii box coverThe Downfall of Pompeii was more interesting. This one’s designed by Klaus-Jürgen Wrede, but not quite as popular as his other game. The game runs in two parts. The first part has players placing their people in the city of Pompeii. It’s card-based, with some benefits when you have the right cards. There are also omens of the coming destruction, which allow you to dump opposing pieces to the volcano. For some reason Mari, our hostess, drew most of the omens, and I hear that has happened before…

Once the first part is over, the panic and terror begins. The volcano starts grumbling and spitting lava. Players draw lava tiles from the bag, making the lava spread out to the city while moving their pieces towards the city gates. Try to burn and block other players with the lava, while getting out, it’s that easy.

The game is fun, maybe a bit bland in the first phase, but the second phase is good. The game is kind of mean and interactive, but not particularly evil. No hard feelings, yet you get to burn people. Whee!

I thought I played well, but then everybody played just as well (except Tapani, our host, who is regularly last in the game for some odd reason) and the tie-breaker placed me firmly on the fourth place. Tapani was fifth, and even though the game doesn’t officially support a fifth player, the five-player game worked well.

The Downfall of Pompeii is a fun game, nothing particularly special or worth buying, but nevertheless a fairly solid game, with some advanced filler potential as it plays swiftly. I wouldn’t mind playing the game again.

Playing The Downfall of Pompeii
People are scrambling at the gates to escape the lava. Photo: Chris Norwood (kilroy_locke)

We did get some Tarock and Tarot action. We started with Ottocento, the crazy Bolognese Tarot variant. It’s an odd game and a horrible luckfest, as scoring the wild cards can mean huge swings. My team won the game in one round, as we plucked just about every court card and scored something like 1000 points against 50. Getting the other team try the game again may be tricky. I’d like to play this more — it’s a luckfest, but a fun luckfest and the cards are charming. They are also an huge obstacle to actually playing the game.

A game of Slovenian Tarok went much easier, as the guys had played it before. We played for an hour and a half or so, getting ten rounds. Not bad, considering we had some rules discussion too. Rounds were mostly successful, with some real highlights like an auction where misére bid was topped by an alone without bid and then by open misére, which was then executed succesfully.

I was fortunately able to win the game, thanks to a very good hand — after exchange, I held three kings and rest were tarocks. I made announced trula and unannounced pagatulti with a good score, making 90 points or so.

As you can see, I’m experimenting with photos here. BoardGameGeek has finally some Creative Commons licences in action, which means I can freely use photos from the Geek without taking the effort to ask for a permission — in my experience people will give that permission, I don’t think I’ve ever been denied a permission to use a Geek photo somewhere else, but waiting for the permission before using the picture is annoying. With Creative Commons licenses, I don’t have to ask. That’s a good thing.

Of course, it would be best to have pictures of the actual game played, but that’s not going to happen. Maybe when I get a cell phone with a good enough camera (the current phone doesn’t have a good camera, not good enough) and an easy way to get the photos out of the camera, I can start taking more pictures, but now, taking a camera with me is just too much trouble. Hope you like these pictures, I think they are good photos. Chris is a good photographer, but it’s just a funny coincidence both photos are by him.

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7 responses to “Lighter games and Tarock”

  1. I heard that Tsuro just got picked up by Mayfair to be the flagship of their new quick-play line (to hopefully appeal more to mass-market game buyers). Personally, I never thought that it was very interesting, but a lot of people seem to like it.

    And Downfall of Pompeii is a game that I really want to like, but something about the card play in the first part of the game just rubs me the wrong way.

    It’s always cool to see my photos pop up different places, and I hope that you and others will continue to find them useful. I think that the addition of Creative Commons choices at BGG is the best thing to happen to the image-management process there in a very long time. Ownership and copyright on the internet is so fuzzy and confusing, and this went a long way to clarify the whole shebang for a lot of people.

  2. Tsuro is a pretty game that is fun to teach and family friendly. It is nice that 8 can play and it tends to play better with more people. The one thing that can suck with a larger group is getting knocked out early then having to sit and watch. I have tried with 2 or 3 players using 2 colors each. It is ok. My group likes heavier games but this makes a great filler or starter.

  3. Maybe you should play more with us. Sonja can take all the actual game photos you need. (Yes, this is an invitation.)

  4. Tsuro is great as a filler party game and I always enjoy playing it. It is a good party game because it can be taught in minutes. And since it only takes around 15 minutes eliminated players aren’t forced to watch others play for too long.

  5. Up to now I had always assumed it was OK to use photos from the Geek, but clearly not. From now on I’ll use Creative Commons photos, but I’m not going to get rid of the old photos. that would take too much work. If someone complains, I’ll take them off.

  6. Well, everybody I’ve asked has so far given me permission to use a picture, so I guess most Geek photo uploaders won’t mind (and in this case “keep until someone complains” is probably a sound policy, especially if you’ve got image credit displayed properly). I would like to see more Creative Commons licensed photos there, that “All rights reserved” is a boring sight if any.