Boardgames To Go

Mark Johnson's occasional and opinionated podcast, Boardgames To Go, now has its own blog on Boardgamegeek.
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A couple familiar classics, plus family gaming

Mark Johnson
United States
Santa Clarita
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That's a Palm Pilot on the left, and a pink iPod mini on the right. Yes, I've been doing BGTG that long!
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I've really enjoyed dropping in on my new Denver friends when on a business trip out here. Last week I got to meet & re-meet those folks, and get two classic games to the table.

From gallery of MarkEJohnson
From gallery of MarkEJohnson

You probably know that Medici, on the left, is one of my all-time favorites. Yet I hadn't played in at least a couple years. We had a group of five (a perfect number for this game!), where all others were new to it. This is the first time I'd seen the latest(?) Rio Grande version, and it's just as horrible of a production as I'd feared. The commodities are tiles instead of cards, which actually works worse in gameplay. The wooden markers don't really fit well on the places they're supposed to go on the board. Worst of all, the commodities (5 distinct card suits in the original & best Amigo version, as well as the pretty-good French edition) are 5 INdistinguishable, bland icons. Really horrible, and a travesty to a good game. You'd do better to make your own cards on ArtsCow and construct your own simple board.

In the game I thought I was going to do the horrible thing--teach everyone the game, then wipe the floor with them. Everyone was overbidding, and I got some lucky purchases for cheap or free as they filled their boats. But guess what? Another player shrewdly maxed out one of his suits, scoring the +5 bonus in the second round, and +20 in the third to win the game!

Next up was Perudo, actually the nice, Spiel des Jahres edition called Bluff. This is a classic I've always held at arm's length, probably because I get destroyed by my local friends. Perhaps I'm learning how to play it, or I had a good night. I was still the second person out, but that was better than normal! It was a great finish, typical of this game, where two players with a single die each were able to whittle down the guy with three dice until he dropped out. Then the two remaining ones had their final showdown, which ended when both rolled a star under their cups!


From gallery of MarkEJohnson
From gallery of MarkEJohnson

Back at home, I enjoyed playing some games with family, too. How many remember the one on the left? This is Tally Ho!, a Kosmos 2-player I don't hear much about. I think it's pretty great, though, and Kosmos must've thought so, too--this is actually a reprint of a much older game. I've never seen that original, but this Kosmos/Rio Grande title is one of my keepers. Sure, there's luck in the flip of the tiles, especially the direction of the hunters' guns, but that's what makes it FUN. Also, there's room for a lot of clever positional play with the revealed tiles.

Just last night I finally got to get my deluxe edition of Hanabi to the table. What I really want to do is play this version with domino or mahjong-like tiles OUTdoors, such as by the pool. But it was too hot yesterday. Maybe later. I'd played a bunch of Hanabi with my daughter & her boyfriend earlier this summer, using the cards, of course. After refreshing my wife with the rules (it had been years since she'd played). We looked carefully, but I think I'm lucky--no tiles are marked. (Though I understand the publisher is good about replacements.) We ended up with a score of 19, about what we usually get. Even though the cards are more ergonomic, in some respects, in other ways the tiles are nicer, and the deluxe pieces just add the aesthetic appeal of the game.
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