South African Railroads, Skat

I’ve missed two previous Wednesdays (the whole days, simply gone, no sight of them), so I was very glad to be able to attend this week. Vacation hit this week, and lots of people were already playing by noon and we had eight people playing at the same time, which is unusually good.

When I arrived, the crew was finishing a six-player race of Moto Grand Prix. The opinions weren’t great, but the game sure looks pretty nice:

Afternoon racing

After the race, Tuomo went to get something to eat, so we were able to try a review copy I have. It’s a Finnish family game Jälkipeli, fairly simple deal. I played it before with three players and it sucked, but felt like it could work with more players. With six the game shined, as much as it will ever shine. Not a bad for a simple card game, it sure does offer some excitement, but it’s nothing I need to play more. It won’t win the Finnish game of the year (it’s a candidate, which is why I got the review copy).

I’ve wanted to get South African Railroads on table as long as I’ve had it, and finally the stars were aligned right. Petri, Sonja and Hannu were all Winsome veterans of varying experience, so the group was just correct. We have mostly played Wabash and that side of family, so this was a bit of an odd beast, coming from the Pampas side of the family. Hannu got the hang of it, though, and gave us a solid beating. I was able to get myself on the second place, thanks to the red railroad which got badly cut off right in the beginning. Nobody bought the shares, I was able to do some development to make it pay dividends and hey, it was worth $31 to me in the end. Hannu did have a single green share worth $38, though…

South African Railroads packs a lot of punch in 70 minutes. I can see the game run faster, but it might also take up to 90 minutes, depending on how it’s played. It’s clever, fun and definitely one of the highlights in my Winsome collection.

This does mean the still unplayed Veld Railroads reprint I bought last year is going to the trade pile. South African Railroads is a streamlined version of Veld, and I don’t really see how a more complicated game would offer anything that SAR just doesn’t do better. This also makes me wonder if I should also get rid of Pampas Railroads, played exactly once. SAR just might obsolete that one as well… I’m sure it’s a great game, but at two hours or so it’s also uncomfortably long. Well, that one will probably survive the current cull.

In any case, if anybody wants to buy Veld Railroads, I’ve got a copy for sale.

Rails in South Africa

We moved on to lighter rails, String Railway. What needs to be said is that I won, my second victory so far (ok, so it was tied, but still!).

Sonja left, leaving the three of us. I sensed an opportunity and seized it: Skat! We managed to play nine hands of Skat. I’ve played lots of Xskat on my phone (I’m currently playing an epic match, which is approaching the 500th hand), and I’ve really wanted to play some actual face-to-face Skat. Now the ice has been broken, hopefully there’s more of this later. Skat is a great game. We played some pretty good hands, too. Fun fun fun.

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