I'm fortunate enough to have a small group of people at my workplace to play games with at lunchtime... Lunchtime gaming has certain requirements that are very different from other types of gaming, so this is a review based primarily on those.
Features of lunchtime gaming
Short Duration - As we only have 45 minutes to play, and our group likes to play 2 or 3 games in that time, games need to play within 15-20 minutes.
Easy to Learn - The first play must take no longer than 45 minutes, ideally should be 30 mintues or less, and it really helps if we can fit in a 2nd play on the same day. In addition, the game must be straightforward enough that non-gamers pick up the mechanisms quite quickly.
Screwage - The nature of gaming with work colleagues in the middle of tough/stressful days means we want to vent, and what better way to do so than to pick on each other, so games with a high "Screw You" factor go down well. This can either be direct play against other players, or more subtle manipulation of the game state.
Variability - In my group, a good lunchtime game sees a lot of play.. therefore a game has to have a very high replay return on learning investment... Games that are very similar every time they get played soon tire.
Fun - Probably the most important aspect of lunchtime gaming is having a bit of fun, to relieve the stress or monotony of the working day. A lunchtime game needs a fun theme... preferably one that's not too childish... and it needs to encourage a bit of excitement and table talk. Ideally people in other rooms should hear that you're having a good time!
How does R-Eco Stack Up
A game of R-Eco plays in about 20 mintes, so it is very well suited to our time frame... we can play a couple of games, or play this and something else, which really suits my lunchtime group.
Ease of Learning -
The rules are pretty simple... play any number of cards of the same suit on the appropriate pile. If the cards in that pile equal or exceed 4 empty the pile and take the topmost scoring token. Collect all cards in the supply at that pile. If over the hand limit discard to personal negative score pile. For some lunchtime gamers however, there can be a bit of confusion over which pile to play which suit to, because each pile has a face up supply and a discard pile. Other than that the game is very easy to learn.
Unfortunately there is very little screwage in the game... what there is, is very indirect and comes simply by playing on piles that you think/know others want to play on... All card draws are open, so aside from the 3 cards dealt at the start of the game you could track what everyone has, and make it more likely that you could successfully mess up other peoples plans, but in practice the game doesn't merit that level of depth.
There isn't much variability in the game. Supply cards are face up, but they come out randomly so the game plays out slightly differently, and slghtly different strategies work in certain circumstances, but overall it's pretty samey after a few plays.
I guess recycling can be fun, and IRL I'm actually quite pro-recycling... the fun comes from seeing your opponents have to dump illegally, particularly if you were able to force up the supply cards at the location they played... and from forcing them to take the negative scoring chips. Other than that the game is very much about careful hand management, with some elements of pushing your luck.
There really isn't a great deal of screwage or variability in this game.. I've played it 9 times so far, mostly at lunchtime, and already it is getting left in favour of favourites such as Guillotine and Pickomino.
- Ease of Learning
Overall this is an above average lunchtime game, but the lack of variability and screwage means that it won't hit the table all that often in our group.
My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
I like this game too. I've played it 30 times, including 5 times in a row with my non-gaming relatives, who "got" the concept immediately and kept asking to play it again.
You have to love a game in which you can get VPs for being an "Honorary Garbage Collector"!
Nice review. I prefer R-Eco to games like Guilltoine becuase I think it has more strategy, especially in terms of hand management. I also enjoy watching the various piles fill and empty. I think the game has a decent amount of screwage as it is easy to steal the VP chip that your opponents were building towards.
I would give it a bit more screwage rating than you have - if you keep track of the cards everyone picks up, you know what they have and can play accordingly and force others to pick up cards they don't want (many times causing them to exceed the hand limit). It's just the initial hand that no one knows what you have. However, that can be more work than some people may want to do (myself included in general )- especially in the environment you describe...