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Thinking Out Loud

Monday, June 26, 2006

Quick Hits >> Dos Rios, Medina, Palazzo

I got some more gaming in last Friday, finally getting together with Jorge and Eva for the first time since the Geekway to the West. Alfred Wallace graced us with his estimable presence, stopping by St. Louis during his whirlwind trip throughout the Midwest. We only got four games in, but also got quite a bit of kibitzing in as well -- a most enjoyable evening.

Dos Rios (by Franz-Benno Delonge of Manila fame) -- Love the production quality, and love the planning and visualization to reroute the river, but there is little you can do before your turn to prepare yourself, as the board changes dramatically from turn to turn -- which means a lot of AP and downtime. Even with that, the game would be about an 8.5 for me if it weren't for the absolutely atrocious endgame -- reaching the point of foregone conclusion where the only turn option you have is to do nothing and let Player A win, or do something and let Player B win. That is not a fun position to be in. Initial Impressions: 7/10

Dos Rios ran into an odd kingmaking quirk at the end of the game. After my turn, I had enough money to play my last casa to win the game on my next turn. But the Jorge, the player to my right, had enough money that if he earned $400 on the other two players' turns, he'd have enough money to place his Hacienda and win. That put Alfred and Eva in an odd situation -- either do nothing, and guarantee that I win, or do something and virtually guarantee that Jorge won. Since there is no other score or means to track success other than casas/haciendas placed, there's really nothing to "aim for" to try and come in second, so to speak.

Medina (by Steffan Dorra) -- Very nice bits, nice illusion of 3D and pretty fun for what it is. Feels a bit like a "flat" Torres or even a bit like Marracash (sometimes forced to help other players, so pick and choose your spots). I really enjoyed the game, and glad I finally tried it out. Despite its simple rules, there are some tough decisions and great gameplay in here. This and Marracash have changed my opinion of Dorra as a "filler only" designer. Initial Impressions: 7/10

Palazzo (by Reiner Knizia) -- Seems awfully clunky and mathematically uneven for an RK design. Odd situations occured throughout the game where your best move was to do nothing, lest you set up the next player for a strong turn -- but unfortunately, you're forced into these spots. Also gameplay easily bogs down in money drafting early on... there's no reason *not* to draft money over and over and over until you're through the entire deck. Sometimes it felt that whoever "blinks" first and takes a build/auction turn gets less out of their action than others who can benefit from the tiles remaining on the board after that move. And I was disappointed how incredibly derivative the scoring and structure were to Clocktowers and Alhambra. One of the least original RK games I've seen so far. Rating After 5 Plays: 5.5/10

Fairy Tale (Z-Man games edition) -- I really like the drafting mechanic, but found the art (in the Z-Man version) squeezed into a cluttered, ugly frame with the large icons. The strategy eludes me. Despite feeling that I make good personal and defensive drafting positions, I tend to come in last. There's something about the game that I just don't get. I'm not good at games requiring memory elements, and I can never remember what's missing from a hand being passed to me to deduce who has drafted what cards, etc. [UPDATE] The more I play, the more I do like it, and can appreciate the larger, blocky icons to easily see what other players have. Very fun with 3 or 4. Rating After 6 Plays: 8/10

Over the weekend, one of my special orders also came in from Clicks. Sadly, they couldn't track down a copy of Crusader Rex (none of their distributors carried it), but I did get A House Divided (3rd Edition) and Gulo Gulo. While I was there, I also snagged Alexander the Great, a few Navia Dratp expansions and Papa Bear, hoping the latter is something Ben might be able to play soon.


  • I'll be interested in your opinions on Alexander the Great when you get a chance to play it.

    By Blogger ekted, at 9:28 AM  

  • "(Medina) Feels a bit like a "flat" Torres..."

    Interesting. In Torres I always have the feeling that I want to do more. In Medina I always want to do *less* on my turn. ;)

    By Blogger Rick, at 2:39 PM  

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