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Thinking Out Loud

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Game Session Recap for 7/11/05

After a long, exhausting day of getting various writing projects completed, and a toddler-induced struggle over what to have for -- or better put, whether or not to have -- supper, I was pretty wiped out. But thankfully, around 7:30, Eva (DeiTass) and Jorge (hibikir) were still up for some gaming. Chester (cornjob) was going to join us later, after his wife got back from running errands.


When I got to Eva & Jorge's, Eva was busy making supper, so Jorge and I started out playing Schotten-Totten. I had played Battle Lines a few times, and enjoyed it but found the leaders a bit too much extra chaos for what was a simple game. So I was pleasantly surprised to find Schotten-Totten a simpler, cleaner game. Has a bit of a Lost Cities vibe, which ain't a bad thing. You need to pick and choose your spots, know when to abandon an area, and assess the risk/options when you commit cards to a location. It was a close, tense game that came down to the very end. Neither of us got 3 in a row, and Jorge won 5-4. Schotten-Totten gets a 7.5 from me, and is a 2-player game I would play again and again.


After that wrapped up, Eva joined us and we played a 3 player game of Carcassonne: The City, which I had not played before. I had trouble adjusting to the complete change of negative space assessment -- the dark space was now what the light green space was in Carc: Hunters & Gatherers, etc. And the fact that tiles didn't have to line up perfectly took a while to register. But I loved the addition of the city walls and guard meeples, and the tower scoring, etc. Unfortunately, I only triggered scoring once during the entire 2nd and 3rd stack of tiles -- I never had the opportunity to close off anything for any player to get to place a tower until my 3rd to last move or so.

Jorge won by a considerable amount (130? 140ish?), I came in second with about 115, and Eva had 110 or so. Luck of the draw is clearly evident, but not as overwhelming as in some games as I felt I could still make good decisions and score well despite tile draws. Considering Jorge scored 18 points from Tower placement to my 3 points -- if I had closed off a scoring area one more time and he one less time, that could have been an 8-10 point swing... that makes for a pretty close game. I also really, really like the city wall element, of slowly but surely confining the playing area. It adds a bit more tension, another tactical layer and helps alleviate the biggest problem of standard Carc - the interminable end game. I give Carc: The City a solid 8.5.


Finally Chester arrived, and we got to play two more games I hadn't tried before. First up was Members Only, another Knizia game that triggered thoughts of Colossal Arena while the rules were being explained. After the first round, we thought the game would only last 3, or possibly 4, total rounds of bidding. We were waaaay off. The game, which I thought would be a breezy, 30 minute affair, clocked in just around an hour. I think we were all far too aggressive with our bidding early on, and now see the value in more conservative bids to inch toward that 5-pt scoring threshold. It was a fun, lightly interactive game which I'd definitely play again -- but I felt for the gameplay experience and mechanics, it wore a bit long. The game feels like it should only last 30 minutes, not an hour.

I think Chester won with 40 points, Eva had 30, Jorge had 25ish, and I had a whopping 17. For the last 5 turns of the game, I failed every single bid - both my conservative and aggressive ones. And 3 of my tokens never left their starting positions! So I think it was a solid combination of bad luck and completely sucking at assessing the game situation. I give Members Only a 6.5 -- I'd play it again, but it's a tad too long for the niche it fills.


We wrapped up for the night playing Elfenland, a game Chester's raved about for a while. Considering he raved about Age of Steam, a game I didn't enjoy very much, I was a bit leery. And considering my last exposure to an Alan Moon game -- Ticket to Ride: Europe (a game I never want to play again) -- I approached Elfenland with trepidation. Thankfully, it was a solid, enjoyable game. Much, much better than Ticket to Ride. You need to manage both your hand of transportation cards and devise a route using the transportation tiles to make the most out of all your options -- or try to find ways to tag along on someone else's plays to conserve cards. I felt that Elfenland had just the right amount of long-term strategy, and just the right amount of short-term optimization for my tastes. I enjoyed playing with the destination cities as an added wrinkle, but felt the hazards were a bit overkill on targeting other players. You have to plan ahead just enough to end one turn in a position to give yourself several options to proceed on the following turn based on the card draw and available tiles -- but even with a poor draw, you can proceed, albeit it could cost you in the long run.

Eva and Chester both ended with 17 points, with Eva winning on the tiebreaker. For having one turn where I only grabbed 4 points, I was pleased to end up 3rd with 16 points. Jorge surged early and had a few turns with lots of points, but had to move over a lot of empty cities on the last turn to get to his destination, and ended with 15 points. I think the game took about 90 minutes, which feels about right for the amount of decision making. There's very little player interaction, unless it's trying to predict someone's move and block it with ineffecient modes of transportation. I had a good time and would definitely play again, so I give Elfenland a 7.0.


  • I found your blog yesterday and I would like to say hello to a fellow game blogger!

    My blog about abstract games is http://sagme.blogspot.com/

    Cheers, João Pedro Neto

    By Blogger sLx, at 2:30 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger sLx, at 2:30 AM  

  • Thanks for the warm welcome! Always nice to meet other gaming enthusiasts online. Game on!

    By Blogger Jason Little, at 10:55 AM  

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