At this time, Sabrina was feeling a bit tired and wanted to watch "Dancing with the Stars", so Dave and Rich continued with 2P games. Looking at the 2P library, Rich pulled out a couple of owned yet unplayed games....
The first up was Phoenix. A game full of brightly coloured bits in 6 colours. 6 large blocks (1 of each colour) are randomly placed along the central line of the game board. Out of 30 pawns (5 of each of the 6 colours), players randomly draw 10 placing them in a row next to the blocks. Players then attempt to use a hand of maneuver cards to adjust their pawn arrangements so that the colours of the pawns are in the same order as the blocks in the middle of the board. The first to do this scores 5 points. Additional points are awarded for having all 6 colours in pawns and for longer sequences of pawns of the same colour. A complete game consists of 3 rounds with the winner having the most points.
The first round went to Rich as he maneuvered his pawns then adjusted the central blocks to gain the match. So Rich scores 5 points for being first plus 3 points for a 4-pawn colour chain. Dave did manage to get a 3-pawn chain for 2 points.
The next round started with each player having all 6 colours amongst their pawns. Dave then managed a nice move to not only disrupt Rich's patterns but also to take Rich's sole yellow pawn away. This gave Dave the round win (5 points) and the all colour bonus (4 points) while Rich only had a 3-pawn chain for 2 points. (10-11 Dave)
The final round started with a mix of colours on both sides, but Rich was barely moving his line having been dealt only single moves and small rotates. Dave on the other hand was making large moves and swaps and quickly lined up 3 Green - 4 Blue - 3 Red for 12 points (5 points for first, plus the chain bonuses). Rich did have all 6 colours but in a hodgepodge so could only score the 4 points that round.
So after 3 rounds - 14-23 - Dave wins.
With card draws (and hence luck of the draw), this game is bound to have a luck component to it. One will need the right cards to get the pawns moved about. Even more critical (I believe) than cards that move in one's own line are the few cards that can adjust the central blocks and the few cards that allow swaps between the two sides. Any round that has one player holding more of those cards is bound to be frustrating for the other player. Playing multiple rounds does mitigate this somewhat, but I wonder if 3 rounds is a tad short.
The game does play quickly, we were over in about 30 minutes after the rules explanation. With such a rapid play, one could add a few more rounds to help balance out the card draw. Otherwise, this is a nice tactile game. Large wooden blocks, hefty, colourful pawns sit on a small but functional game board. Both Dave and I did note a feeling of similarity to this game and Gene Pool as games where one is trying to get to a set pattern, but must watch what the opponent is trying to do as a key block might be critical.
About this last point, Dave did comment:
There's quite a bit of similarity to Gene Pool, but the for the difference is pretty big. In Gene Pool there are no cards to constrain what moves you can make. Everyone has the same options every turn (unless of course, one of the draw stacks is empty). The only luck in Gene Pool is the initial layout of the base pairs and the goal cards you happen to draw. However, Gene Pool has more hidden information. You don't know your opponent's goal, whereas you do in Phoenix (though you don't know if he'll modify that goal at all via cardplay).
I enjoyed both games. I think I liked Gene Pool a little better.