Ben Bateson(ousgg)United Kingdom
Ross-on-WyeOi! Hands off...
Three again this week; it's rapidly becoming the standard number for the Ross-on-Wyers. But it does give us a good slant on games that are traditionally only played with a table of four - more on that later.
Ben, Becky and John set up shop alongside a table of rowdy farmers who threatened to bellow folk songs all night. Thankfully this wasn't the case, but you get all sorts at the White Lion. We opened with Innovation, and Becky and JP played a very mutual-backslappy game with plenty of Dogma that benefited each other. I was stuck with a haul of castle cards which I didn't really want, and reduced to late-game Machine Tooling (yawn) in order to try and get back into the running.
This might have been the play that destroys Innovation for me. The lack of any viable control was yet again frustrating, and while I enjoy the little situations that can arise and the deceptively well-integrated thematics there is just too much chaos. I found myself thinking longingly of Glory To Rome on the way home, although that is hardly the archetype of structured, logical games...
Toledo next - a game about which I had failed to gather any firm opinions during my initial trawl of the Geek. Almost uber-lite by Martin Wallace's standard, it explores the hitherto unexplored niche between Caylus and Sorry!, and for the large part comes up smelling of roses. You need to play it very carefully, a point which I initially neglected while exploring the possibility of making it a lightning game: pushing three men into play while the others were still filling up the building trail. I suspect things would have gone better for me if I'd followed it through, but Becky pushed ahead with a last critical sword delivery. She, in turn, was trumped by John after we were both forced to reconsider our strategy. We all enjoyed Toledo, although I have lingering doubts about whether the endgame is as good as it should be. However, as something that can be played out in 30 minutes, it should be an excellent filler in future.
It's not like Becky to allow two brand new games to the table in one night, so it was with some trepidation that we unpacked Oregon, the latest (and by the looks of things, last) in my line of very cheap Works purchases. Having enjoyed Batavia last week, there were high hopes. After making a major rules misinterpretation we played half a game of random rubbish, but then sorted it out and got it right. What lay there was a pleasant enough coordinated-card tile game which John effectively took down in midgame with a huge score from a church. I suspect this might play most effectively with four players when there is a chance to really crowd the board. As it stood, it was reasonable but hardly outstanding. And the ability to win way before the official 'end' is a worry.
With the clock ticking past ten, it was time for the fillers, and we had time for two. Taluva is a real joy for us; a game that looks absolutely incredible on the table, and is full of intricate little situations and options. Potentially, it's weakest with three players, but that didn't stop any of us enjoying it. John won again. In fact, I think he won everything tonight.
We closed with a pet favourite of mine: Metallurgy. Another great-looking game on the table, more strategy than might be otherwise immediately apparent, and probably another one that is weak with three (I quite like playing partnerships with 4P). It was a night championing those games that too often gather dust on the shelves: perhaps it's easy to see why in some cases, but the likes of Toledo and Taluva deserve better.