QWERTYmartin's Unabridged Insights On Play
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New to me December 2020

Martin G
United Kingdom
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Don't fall in love with me yet, we've only recently met
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Happy new year all!

Marrakech - 5 plays -  7 
First Published 2007
Board Game: Marrakech

Surprisingly I'd never played despite seeing it around a lot. What fun! Definitely a light one, especially with 4, but lots of opportunities to play the odds and be a dick. Playing on BGA prompted me to trade for a delightfully tactile physical copy too.

Caravan - 1 play -  7 
First Published 2019
Board Game: Caravan

I'd had my eye on this since it came out last year but it was a bit pricey so I was glad to see it added to BGA. A real throwback 'German style' game from Joe Huber that I like a lot. It's a pick-up-and-deliver with coloured cubes randomly popping up on the board to be delivered to their matching destinations. But you're restricted to only 5 camels for your 'network' so you have to keep shuttling cubes along the camel train and bringing the back camel to the front.

And to make things tougher, just as you have got a cube close to its destination, another camel can swoop in to steal it. There's a clever mitigation to the thievery though - you each start with only one 'thief marker', which you have to give up to your victim. Nice stuff!

Ambiente Abissal - 3 plays -  7 
First Published 2020
Board Game: Ambiente Abissal

Another by my designer of the year Taiki Shinzawa (新澤 大樹). This is a minimalist climbing game with 'combos' of only 1 or 2 cards. With 3p, the cards go 1-6 in 6 suits, which are ranked. A pair can be two of the same suit or two of the same number and has to be beaten by a higher pair of the same type. The weird thing is what happens with singles -- when you lead one you don't state whether you're playing it for its suit or its number. That will only be determined when subsequent players' cards have eliminated one of the possibilities. For example, I lead 2 of the lowest suit, next player plays 4 of a higher suit, third player could still play either *any* card of a still higher suit, or a 5 or 6 of any suit.

It's a light one but does have some of the nice feel of deciding how to play your hand in Tichu or Haggis and seems like it'd work well as a pub game.

§egment Trix - 2 plays -  7 
First Published 2020
Board Game: §egment Trix

...and this one is his latest. The twist here is that the numbers on the cards are represented digital-watch-style and you can alter the number when you play a card by adding extra stick segments to it (e.g. a 0 becomes an 8 by adding the cross piece in the middle). The aim is to win exactly as many tricks as you have sticks remaining in your supply at the end of the hand. Genius!

Vivaldi - 2 plays -  7 
First Published 2019
Board Game: Vivaldi

This is a welcome updating of old Italian trick-taker Briscola Chiamata which I played once years ago. It's a 5p game in which each round is played as 2v3, but the teams are established by a bid and are initially secret (the 2 know they're on each other's team but the 3 only know one of the 2. The modernisation has streamlined the scoring nicely and also added a Sticheln-style pain suit.

Don Carlo - 2 plays -  7 
First Published 2020
Board Game: Don Carlo

Noticed this in the A la Carte card games award nominations this year. It's got Kramer as a co-designer and sounded interesting from the rules. I bought a copy but also threw it up on pc.io. Quite interesting - each player has their own deck of cards with values from 0-6. Each turn you play up to 4 cards as a 'codename' for an agent, always in ascending order (e.g. 134, 005). The agent is played to the country matching the total of its digits, but it has to have a different codename from any agent already there. You get immediate points based on the total number of agents already in that country, small bonuses for runs and 3-of-a-kinds, and then end-game points based on area majority in each country. Slight concern that the scoring will always end up very tight but we liked it.

Butterfly - 3 plays -  6 
First Published 2019
Board Game: Butterfly

Acceptable set-collection game on BGA. Grid movement like Game of Thrones: Hand of the King, scoring like Ra. Better with fewer players.

Haiclue - 1 play -  6 
First Published 2019
Board Game: Haiclue

Moderately amusing Dixit-ish word game on BGA. Four words are displayed publicly in the middle. Each player is secretly assigned one of these as a target and then arranges 2 or more words from their hand into a phrase/small poem related to the target. Each reveals in turn, and the other players simultaneously guess the target. Both clue-giver and clue-guesser score a point for a correct guess. Stinker is a lot more hilarious though.

Carcassonne Junior - 1 play
First Published 2009
Board Game: Carcassonne Junior

Got this for my daughter for Xmas. It's neat! Somehow they put regular Carc meeples in the box instead of Kids ones and the colours aren't the same. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realise that my colour was never going to show up on the tiles...
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