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July 2014, my three favorite discoveries

Mike Fogus
United States
Burke
Virginia
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I've been trying to keep a list of my three favorite games discovered every month. I try to limit it to three, but lately it's been tough as I've discovered many quality and fun games. Without further ado, here are my favorite three discoveries for the month of July 2014.

see the previous entry

Catchup

Catchup is a game that's been on my radar almost since the beginning of my foray into the wonderful world of board and card gaming. That said, I'm ashamed to admit that it wasn't until I had the chance to play a beta version of Catchup on my iPhone (review forthcoming, the release version will be out on August 7th) that I discovered the joys of this elegant gem.

Catchup is a connection game of majority control on a 5-hex board with a very simple set of rules: 1) a player can place 1 or 2 stones on their turn and 2) if the size of their largest groups grows as a result of their placements then the other player may place up to 3 stones. The player with the largest group at the end (with a fractal tiebreaker) wins.

That's it.

Amazingly this simple ruleset belies the fact that the game is quite deep. In my plays so far at the tabletop and on the phone/tablet have revealed hints of Hex and Y with a similar feel to the timing tension that I get when playing Battle Line.

"Should I connect now? If I don't I might get cut off there, but if I do I'll reveal my plan..."

Good fun!


Koi-Koi

Koi-Koi is a Japanese fishing/rummy-style game played with a deck of Hanafuda cards. The goal of the game is to build important sets of cards before your opponent(s) do. That simplified goal doesn't do justice to the game because there is a balancing act between trying to build a set before your opponent and getting more points. I haven't quit memorized the sets and do not have a good feel for when to stop versus trying to get more points (aside from the obvious conditions where your opponent is about to get a high-scoring set or you're clearly behind late).

That said I can see this game getting many many plays in the coming decades in my home, so it'll all work itself out in eventually. An interesting side note is that Koi-Koi has reignited my interest in another fishing game Scopa. The set collection aspect of Koi-Koi has made me gain a deeper appreciation of the similar mechanic in Scopa.


Kamisado

Kamisado is another game that has been on my radar from the beginning, but I don't feel guilty about not playing because until recently the price has been prohibitive. Thankfully, I was able to find a great price for a Kamisado set on Amazon (thanks to CamelCamelCamel), so I snatched it right up. Regarding the complexity-level of its ruleset, Kamisado runs a similar vein as Catchup. In summary, the rules are: move a piece onto a colored square, that color is the color your opponent must move, the first player to reach the other side wins. There are advanced rules, but I've only played <10 times, so I'm sticking to the basics for now.

Kamisado's "choose your opponent's move" mechanic

From a game design perspective I love the idea of choosing the move of your opponent and have made it a mission to try as many as possible. Indeed, I just broke out my Shibumi set
and played a game of Spree that uses this interesting mechanic. At the moment the only other game that springs to mind that does this is Quarto, but I might just be blanking at the moment. I'd love to learn of more, so any recommendations are welcomed.

Let another month of discovery begin!
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