- HuzonfirstUnited States
VirginiaBest hobby, with the best people in the world. Gaming is the best!
Bison is yet another game from the remarkably prolific team of Kramer and Kiesling. The design has gotten decidedly mixed reviews, but I enjoyed my one playing of it. Players need to deploy their Indian hunters, tepees, and canoes over the plains of the Great Northwest, with the ultimate objective of maximizing their food income on the final turn. The game is full of tough decisions and rewards thoughtful play. For me, it's another winner from K&K.
One nice feature is the game's high level of angst. Your initial food supply (which you use both to perform actions and to buy the items you deploy) seems quite sufficient at the beginning of the game. But as you start using those more expensive actions and pick up a canoe or two at the Shawnee Wal-Mart, things suddenly get tight. I mean real tight. Worst of all, you really need to balance your food supply for the purchases, so it can become a major objective to find a nice area where you can snatch up a few turkeys to match your healthy stocks of bison and salmon. Needless to say, this is easier said than done. And like Kramer’s Princes of Florence, you only have a tiny number of actions for the entire game, so you really can’t afford to waste any. So you’re being squeezed in a number of ways, all of them enjoyable.
Bison has gotten a good deal of criticism for adding nothing new to the world of Area Control games, a complaint which frankly puzzles me. I mean, you have three forms of currency, sequential actions (including some unusual movement options), and a unique victory condition—-the only thing that matters is how much income you can achieve on your final turn. That, along with a fine, tightly designed game, sounds like it should be more than enough to distinguish it. I can see that those who are allergic to Area Control games would find nothing to allay their distaste, but the rest of the gaming world should find this a quality design. I will say that if spending 90 minutes or so staring at the board is something you actively avoid, you should probably stay away from these noble hunting grounds. This is a thinker. But I have no such prejudice and consider this one of the better and more underrated games of the year. Like last year’s Hacienda, another Kramer design, it’s the economic element that makes this fairly abstract game much more interesting to me. I’m glad I finally got the chance to play Bison and hope I can get it to the table more regularly.
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- Will(frogmind)United States
- I wholeheartedly agree. This little game is hugely underrated and falsely maligned. Yes, it borrows ideas but i don't think i have played a euro in the last couple years that doesn't. The fact that the end round is all that matters makes the game unique as everything up to that is simply positioning in order to make a final push - this allows for people to not get comfortable or dismayed by an obvious leader problem.
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