Earlier, I posted a list of games that I was bent on learning in 2022. In that list were a good half-dozen trick-taking and climbing games, representing my favorite game subtype. It turns out, those six weren't the only trick-takers/climbers in my sights for the year.
public games - French deck
Doppelkopf - maybe this means supporting Doppelkopf 2.0 as well, if I get enough plays in.
another Jass game, maybe Mittlere Jass because it looks so unique. Also, there is a Jass-like game called "29" played in India, that does not seem to have a BGG entry. It does have app versions, however.
public games - Tarot deck
Le Plateau for sure. I laminated the boards but did not get it on the table over the holidays.
French Tarot might be the next Tarot game to learn. It leads Parlett's chapter on the family.
If I can get to it, I also have a Cego deck. And of course, there's Königrufen (BGG link?), which was Freud's favorite game. That might be a lot to squeeze into 2022.
Jekyll vs Hyde the 2-player game. Imported from amazon.de. Really looking forward to try this one out.
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde the 2-by-2 partnership game. Just when I thought I was going to make a PnP version, I saw the Mont Taber edition on amazon.de.
Scout! the acclaimed climbing game, from Oink. This was available on BGG's Game Store.
Anansi was included to score the free shipping on my Scout order. It's a flashy looking game that should, just on appearances, get its chances this year.
Oracle from Stefan Dorra is arriving from amazon.de, one of these days. When it does, there's some translating to do (maybe I'll post my efforts somewhere before making a file). Dorra is the only designer with more than one game in the Trickster Hall of Fame ...
... so I'm also importing Wizard Extreme (aka Sluff Off, Zing!, etc.), probably his most well-known trick-taker. I own a poor-quality copy of Zing!, so perhaps a nicer production will get this overdue game to the table.
Haggis is also one I'm going to finally get on the table as well.
Time Chase is also sitting on my shelf (bought last year). The comments about it have not been stellar, but the gimmick of claiming past tricks is interesting.
That makes 12 new-to-me trick-takers for the year, plus a pledge to get my head around Doko. There's only one Japanese design here, which is a reflection of availability. If I can PnP or play a version online, I'm definitely up for trying several of the recent designs coming from there.
I'm also importing Länder toppen! and Inseln toppen!, but these might be more "knowledge" games, depending on how much strategy there is. After getting a holiday play of Timeline in, I just couldn't resist these any longer.
Games Learnt and Evaluated
Archive for Pete K
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17 Jan 2022
I knew Auf Achse was going to be a fast-playing, family-weight Euro, but I listed it under my "Worth the Effort?" list anyway:I wrote:I'll have to print out the English rulebook, as this one came over from amazon.deIt turns out that not just the rulebook needs translating, but the 28 Ereigniskarten (Event Cards) as well. Luckily, someone (BGG user David Vander Ark) already published very good English versions of the card texts, albeit in the form of paste-ups. I wanted to keep using the German cards, and easily look up the translations on a sheet (someone else made a single-page lookup table, but I thought that was too hard to read). Hence, my copy/paste job for black-and-white printing: Event Card translations (Schmidt version), B&W alphabetized
There you can see that there's no card art or symbology - just text. My son was a good sport about looking up the cards and trying to pronounce the German title words. And for us, figuring out the signage is actually thematic in a game about traveling the highways of another country.
As for the gameplay, there is some strategy in acquiring and combining your shipping contracts. The player with the most cash at the end wins, but you do not want to be left at the end with uncompleted routes. "Public" contracts, which are auctioned quite often, are the key to winning or losing, in my estimation: spend too much, or get the wrong ones, and you hand someone a victory. The construction sign (a mild version of the Catan robber, that just gets in your way) and some event cards provide single-turn annoyances, but my son used them against me a lot better than I against him.
So, worth the effort? Too soon to tell after a single play, but the game looks like it would be fun with more players. I can see why it's been in print for all these years.
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14 Jan 2022
The previous post was my list of favorite games that, for one or more reasons, require significant effort to get played. These were the principal obstacles that I identified:
each session has a prescribed set-up
-- as opposed to the set-up being the same, or very similar, for every session. Wargames with scenarios fit this category.
each session has a randomized set-up
-- this usually means un-randomizing components or cards at the end
daunting learning curve
-- a large set of strange icons, or multiple sets of rules, can discourage casual players. Casual players are by far the most common sort of players.
variable player roles
-- asymmetric rules can have a large overhead, especially when players switch roles mid-game or between games
Whether or not a particular game is "high effort" is a judgement that requires a standard. Is a game more effort to set up and/or teach than Puerto Rico?
Like many, I have a rather large stack of unplayed games in my collection. This seems inevitable, since the more I'm in this hobby, the more I tend to concentrate on a particular subgenre or designer at any given time. The past few years, it's been trick-taking card games: they provide marvelous variety with a small amount of components, and reward experience handsomely. But really, it's the perceived effort in getting new, unfamiliar games to the table that keeps them unplayed.
So here are my Worth-the-Effort? games I need to start playing in 2022:
American Civil War games
Almost without exception, light wargames are more effort than Puerto Rico.
Hold the Line: The American Civil War
I need to sticker the blocks and learn the Hold the Line rules, but this is supposed to be a good light wargame.
A House Divided
I have the Phalanx edition, but have not broken it out yet. It's not supposed to be too complicated, but it is a wargame.
Classic Reiner Knizia games
These are big-box designs of his, which have been in the queue for far too long. I might be wrong about Babylonia, but all of these appear to be more work than Puerto Rico.
Tigris and Euphrates
Classic "OG" games
Being older Euros, these might lack the slick how-to video coverage that every newly published game seems to get these days. But beyond that, they might not actually be all that much work.
I'll have to print out the English rulebook, as this one came over from amazon.de
In the Shadow of the Emperor
It's certainly ... yellow. I thrifted this some years back, and hopefully it will reward the effort needed to learn how it operates.
My threshold for "high-effort" trick-takers is the excellent game Sheepshead, which does require players to pick up different suit rank-orders, point values of cards and rules allowing hidden partnerships. It's not that bad to learn (I wrote a long review on BGG, if that helps), but it does take a bit of practice to play competently. So, this year I'm planning on tackling games with this sort of complexity, or at least with some counterintuitive twists.
I think these two can be considered good entry points into Tarot/Tarock games.
A newer Stefan Dorra game that is coming from amazon.de sometime next month. I believe there will be some translating involved, before getting this to the table.
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
This rather counter-intuitive game is notoriously hard to get, but I just imported a copy from amazon.de. Probably a lot less rules overhead than Sheepshead to be honest, but I plan on sinking my writer's eyeteeth into the thematic content at some point. I also have the 2-player Jekyll vs. Hyde, so that should be fun comparison someday.
This is not a new-to-me game for 2022, but I'm not at all satisfied with how well I've learned it so far. It's a priority to get in a lot more games of it throughout the year.
This climbing card game has actually been in my collection longer than any on the list, and I even lost track of it for a few years. I definitely owe it some attention, now that I've tried out so many other card games over the past few years.
Anyway, if you found this post because of the games mentioned, my apologies. But it is January so these kind of elaborate promises are to be expected, perhaps.
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14 Jan 2022
Recently, the Dice Tower published one of their Top 10 lists: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6sYSRQsoUs
This list featured games that required significant effort to get played, but proved good enough to be adjudged "worth it."
It was the first Top 10 list of theirs I made it through in quite some time; usually these videos take far too long for my taste, but the topic was interesting. For all their bias toward the newly published and marketed, the DT folks do churn through a ton of games.
From my own collection, grouped by their largest obstacle to the table:
Each Session has a Prescribed Set-Up
Memoir 44 continues to get its plays, despite the time we need to set up each scenario, go over the special rules, and put everything away.
Power Grid requires setting up the resource market and often, special rules to go over for many of the maps. The variety these maps bring to the game is well worth it.
504 demands that you assemble the rulebook (the web app really helps, here), but each unique game is a learning experience.
Each Session has a Randomized Set-Up
Dominion has a set-up time helped out by the Dominion Shuffle app, but we still have to review what each kingdom pile contributes. And of course, each deck has to be disassembled at the end of the game.
Awkward Guests is even more involved in its deck build than Dominion: set up requires great care because a wrong card can destroy players' deduction efforts, and the cleanup requires sorting the cards before storing them.
Daunting Learning Curve
Race for the Galaxy famously throws a complex iconography at you, to maintain text-free cards. This is not a trend that took root in designer card games, and for us Jump Drive has seen more plays, recently.
Twilight Struggle not only has a large number of interconnecting rules and victory conditions, but players who have familiarity with the card deck will have an undeniable advantage over those who don't. This is probably a trait of all card-driven wargames.
Modern Art is probably the most demanding auction game I own, due to its four types of featured auctions. The last-card rule is also easy to miss.
Core Worlds is a deckbuilder that requires more planning and bookkeeping than Dominion. The Galactic Order expansion adds even more moving parts but supplies extra paths to victory.
Variable Player Roles
Cosmic Encounter is surprisingly demanding, because every player has to understand which stage in a round is the correct moment to use their alien power, artifact or flare card. Games can swing on technicalities.
Captain Sonar is a game I don't own, but have played several times. Every role is performed more or less simultaneously, and if someone makes a rules mistake they can confer an advantage to their own team.
These games are all very highly rated, and mostly form my personal favorites. There is something to be said about putting a lot into a gaming experience to get the most out of it. The next post, in the true spirit of January, will list games I haven't played yet, due to the perceived effort required to get them to the table.
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