I met my brother yesterday for some games. We started with Nile, the new set-collecting game from Minion Games. It’s actually pretty good! At least as a two-player filler, that is. The game is about farming. There are five crops to plant and harvest. Each turn starts with a new flood card, which displays the crop that is harvested. If somebody has that crop planted, they take one card from the field to the storage.
Then one can trade. Two cards from hand or storage can be traded for one card from the deck or a new flood card, causing another harvest. After trading comes planting. You can start a new field, if nobody else has the same crop or you can play more cards than is in the current field. If you do that, the earlier field gets discarded, so there’s always at most one field per crop. You can also add cards to an old field. Instead of planting, you can speculate, that is play a Speculation card which lists two crops. If the next flood card shows one of them, you get three cards.
That’s it, pretty much. Repeat until you’ve gone through the deck as many times as there are players. On each cycle there’s one Plague of Locusts which destroys the largest field in play. In the end, the cards in storage determine the winner in Knizia style, so your weakest crop counts.
It’s fairly simple and plays fast, we took 15 minutes to play the first game and 10 minutes for the second. There was some nice take that effect when we stole fields from each other and some tactical decisions, too. Nile’s still fairly light-weight.
The art is fine, but the card quality is quite worthless. Some of the cards were damaged in the first shuffle, before we even started. I need to sleeve the cards, as this game’s going to see some more play. I want to see how the game works with more players. Three should be fine, maybe four as well, but I guess five will be a bit too much — I’m not sure I want to spend more than 20 minutes with Nile.
Tzaar almost counts as a new game — I’ve played it once in Helcon 2008 — now we played five games. I won the first two quickly, but then my brother caught on and beat me twice. The final game was very exciting and looked like a defeat to me, but in the end I was able to win the game when my brother made a small mistake. Mistakes can be costly in this game of choices and balancing…
Tzaar is fun, and definitely amongst my favourites in the Gipf series. It’s elegant and simple, looks beautiful and offers some interesting challenges, without being too heavy. Excellent work from Kris Burm.
We also played some San Juan — I’ve now played the game 99 times, and still love it. The expansion buildings make the game even better.