Ropecon 2014

First day of Ropecon – the largest non-commercial game event in Europe – done. The con got an interesting twist last year, when I decided to involve my now eight-year-old son. Now we’re here again. We’ve focused on board games, as the other program of the con has been somewhat uninteresting (or unsuitable for him). He’s eight, and quite the gamer already, and we got to play quite a bunch of new games, getting me a lot closer to my goal of 1000 BGG ratings (10 to go!).

Troll Hunt is a new Finnish game, Kickstarted recently. The copy we played was probably some kind of demo version, as it looked like 95% ready – some components looked a bit rough, and as far as I can tell, none of the backers have received their copies yet.

Troll Hunt is about placing lanterns and mirrors so that the light beams from lanterns is directed to the eyes of the trolls on board. Once you turn a troll into stone, new one pops out. The first player to petrify enough trolls wins.

The game is simple enough, and offers a nice little challenge. Not a bad game at all. The player scale is 2-3, which is somewhat unusual. My rating is Indifferent, but I wouldn’t say no if someone else suggested this.

High Five! was interesting, as it is a release I haven’t played yet. Looks like I haven’t missed a lot: it’s not very good. There’s a deck of cards as tiles, and players take turns placing tiles on board to form poker hands, which score points.

That is just about as bland as it sounds like. I can see some mainstream potential here, but I think there are many games that are much better for that. My initial rating was Indifferent, but actually it should be Avoid – if somebody were to suggest this, I’d quickly come up with other suggestions.

Squeeky is a small box game from Winning Moves and the authors of rather bland Terra Nova. This one wasn’t too bad: players race their mice towards cheese, trying to reach it with as valuable mice as possible.

The catch? First part of the track is your personal color-coded track, where you are safe. The rest is neutral, shared track, and there if your mice is landed on or bypassed by other mice, it is snatched.

Mice have point values of 1–7 and score that many points for you if they reach the cheese. Snatched mice are points for the snatcher and negative points for the owner. The point values are hidden during the game.

This is not a bad filler at all, it was quite fun and it’s simple enoug that it should work well for families with smaller children. Indifferent, but I wouldn’t say no if somebody suggested this.

Rally Fally is a race, played on a sloped surface. Player discs have magnets that attach to the board to prevent them from falling down the slope, but some parts of the board are not magnetic. Players have to race around the board, visiting palaces in corners.

The idea is nice, but the game doesn’t work with two players. There’s little excitement. The magnet mechanism is interesting, but the board is quite small, so I suppose you learn pretty quickly where the non-magnetic areas are.

This might be worth playing with four, but at least with two, I don’t think te game will last repeat play. Indifferent, but I could try again with four.

Husch Husch kleine Hexe is an old Heinz Meister game. It took me a longer time to decide which game to borrow from the Finnish. Board Game Society game library available in Ropecon, than to actually play this game. Not very efficient…

This is a simple game. Five witches are covered with hats. Roll a color die and lift a hat. If the color matches the color of the revealed witch, proceed one step. If you reach the end of the board with your move, you win. The sixth side of the die has an arrow, which means you swap two witches, without looking.

Sounds a lot like Geistertreppe, doesn’t it, but Geistertreppe is a lot more interesting. Husch Husch kleine Hexe works well for little children, but only for little children. Geistertreppe remains interesting for older kids and to some extent for adults as well. HHkH gets an Indifferent – I’d only play this with small children that can’t play better games.

Villit kuviot (Wild Patterns) is another Finnish Roll D6 release. In this game, players move tiles around on a 5×5 board, trying to form shapes on their cards to score the cards. You can also score on someone else’s turn, if you see your pattern on the board.

The game started well and everybody was excited – there were plenty of chances to score and so on. Then the engine started to sputter… Once the easy cards were done, we were left with harder cards – and those were tricky, considering there were five players messing with the board.

The game might work better with two or three players. Five was too much, and the box claims the game works with six… Actually, six players migh work as a team game. Anyway, the end game is someqhat problematic, to the extent that the rulebook had suggestions how to improve it. That’s not a good sign – why not make the game better in the first place, instead of offering fixes as a variant?

So, kind of fun, but with problems. Indifferent, but I’d only play with small number of players, and I’d probably want to add some house rules.

Samarkand is as old as I am – this Sid Sackson game was originally published in 1980. The Rio Grande release I got is from 1998, and looks like a good old Euro game, complete with Doris Mätthaus artwork.

This is a game of trading. On the board, there are three kinds of squares. Nomad camps let you trade cards, oases sell you cards and in cities you can sell your cards for money – the larger the set you sell, the more money you get. Money is the ultimate goal.

Movement is quite restricted, just one step of the time in the direction of arrows, so returning back to where you came from takes lots of time. You can pay to roll the die, which can get you far in no time at all, but without much control.

All in all quite a fun game. I bought this in an auction on a whim, since people whose opinions I appreciate have said good things about the game, and I wasn’t disappointed: it’s a good game indeed. Rating is easy Suggest.

Rest of the evening was an interesting, low-conflict game of King of Tokyo and a quick filler game of Vegas. A very good day of games, I’d say!

Haste Bock? has the cutest components, but the rulebook is quite an off-putting wall of text. Well, we managed to figure out how to play, and after a while got a hang of what to do. This kind of pushing and shoving is not my cup of tea, but it was tolerable with just two players. Indifferent.

Mont Saint Michel looks great – it’s a Drei Magier game – but the rulebook is rather atrocious. I guess we figured out, it’s a fairly simple game in the end. Players move six pawns around, trying to collect points for the pawns. The trick is that nobody knows who is who. You get couple of peeks for the identity of the pawns during the game, and as it happened, I didn’t figure out my identity at all during the game. I only knew which two colors I wasn’t. Now that doesn’t help playing well… This was an odd game. Avoid.

Sorry! Sliders is a silly bit of sliding and bumping. I’ve got Compact Curling which is based in the same kind of sliding mechanism, but is a better game. I also have a Crokinole board. So, not much use for Sorry! Sliders, but since it’s such a quick game, I wouldn’t mind playing it occasionally – it’s decent fun. Indifferent.

Zauber Stauber is a program-your-flight-path game, and the flying is not easy – the paths are pretty hard to see well, at least for me. Not to mention other witches suddenly appearing in front of you, blocking your way. Fun idea, but not enough game in it, I think. Indifferent.

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