Bobby's Games

I will be posting monthly recaps of my gaming which I have been doing in GeekLists. I'll also be commenting on games on occasion, though I can tell you that I will be behind the curve because I just don't get to play the new games as soon as some people do.
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Rolling on and sinking fast

Bobby Warren
United States
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This avatar stinks!
I played a couple of Mike's new acquisitions this past weekend and thought I would comment on them.

First up was Rolling Freight which he has had for a while. Mike hadn't read the rules in a while, but we were looking for a game with five players and Michael suggested it, so we dove into the game.

This is a game in the same family as Age of Steam and Railways of the World, except each player uses dice to generate the actions which they can perform on a turn. From memory, the actions are: buy an improvement, claim a route contract, work on a contact which was claimed, and deliver goods.

One of the really smart things designer Kevin Nunn did (hi Kevin!) was to have each player roll their dice at the end of their turns so they could plan out their turns. The problem I had while playing this game is it didn't matter too much until the player before me started taking his turn because things changed so much between player turns. It was also really, really long. I think we played for 2.5 hours and just managed to get 2/3 of the way through the game. I managed to burn through the battery in my iPhone between turns because it took so long for my turn to come back around.

Both complaints would be fixed by playing with fewer players and I wonder if four might be a better maximum for the game unless everyone was really familiar with it?

The cards for the improvements and contracts are really, really small, but they are effective and once there is a familiarity with the iconography they work just fine. The board is harder to find things on. The graphic design is very, very busy but I can't suggest a better way of handling marking the routes between cities.

I'd really like to try it again, though with fewer players.

Sinking fast

Next up was Atlantis Rising.

Mike and I played this in the evening at his place with his wife. They had both played before so going through the explanation was quick and we were off to try and save Atlantis from sinking by building the 10 parts of a machine which would save it.

Each player gets one of the special roles and three workers to place on tasks. They take turns placing the workers on one of the six spokes of the board which each has a function. The abilities at the ends of the spokes are better than the ones closer to the middle of the spokes.

After placing the workers, the pain starts. A card is flipped over for each player, and most of them cause one, or more, spaces on a spoke to sink. Any workers on the space are discarded for the turn and returned to the owner. Then the Greek navy attacks, which can also sink spaces.

Then the workers can activate. Gathering the resources to build the machine parts requires a roll of a die which gets harder the closer to the middle of the spokes. There are also knowledge cards which can help, some mystical blue glass beads which can be used to modify things and un-sink spaces (if you have a LOT of them).

The players are unable to trade amongst themselves without a special card which only happens once in a while, so it really is not all that cooperative. As a cooperative game, this fails because it doesn't require a lot of player interaction. It also fails for me because it is one of those games that is built on a slippery slope. Initially, things might be balanced, but once the players start losing, they start losing badly and no amount of clever play will make up for the fact that the game was designed to beat you down.
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