I spent most of last week with my family on vacation, but I did bring a couple of games with me in order to get some games off the list. Most of the games (with two exceptions – more on this later) that I took with me were games that I played when I was younger – like the age that my nephews are currently. I didn’t get as many of those games finished as I would have liked, but the few that we did complete were a good start on getting through the “Nostalgic Games” as I have been calling them. If everything goes well, I will need only a second Nostalgic Night to get through the remainder – pending that I can find some people willing to play Solarquest and IU-opoly…
The first game off the list was kind of an accident, but in the end it worked. I had brought my copy of Settlers of Catan, but when I opened the game, the original hexes were not to be found. It seems that I had placed those hexes in my Seafarers expansion by mistake. So without a full copy of that game, we had to play something else so I pulled out Clue – 1986 edition (as with all these nostalgic games, I have the original game from when I was a kid – a few are a bit worse for wear, but all playable). It turns out that Clue is my only deduction game that I own, which I admit is pretty odd. Honestly, after playing it a total of three times (once with my parents) during the week, it isn’t a horrible game. The idea that you need to move between the rooms and that you have to drag the other players about when you make a suggestion for the murder are poor mechanics, but the rest isn’t so bad. My youngest nephew really took to this game and requested this one for most of the week so I am not going to complain. One high point was when my older nephew after seeing the Mrs. White card, was like: “Oh my, I didn’t think she would look like that” which was a dead giveaway to what the card he had seen and made us all giggle! Right game for the right crowd.
The second game was a five player game of Scotland Yard. This is exactly the opposite of the game Nuns on the Run that I talked about in an earlier column. In Scotland Yard, one player takes the role of Mr. X who is trying to avoid capture from the best detectives in the city (the other players). Mr. X moves in secret with the detectives knowing only what mode of transportation (taxi, bus, underground or black ticket – a wild that even allows river travel) that Mr. X took. Every couple of turns, Mr. X must reveal their location allowing the detectives to close the gap. Mr. X wins if not caught after 24 moves. This game didn’t go over very well which might have been due to the fact that people were tired after a long day of activities or some other issue that I just can’t place. I was Mr. X and I was pretty glad when I made a tactical mistake in turn 17 or so that allowed them to catch me – otherwise it would have slogged on for another hour. I can’t help but think that this game would be better with only two players since it can really suffer from one person playing the game for all of the detectives.
The final game off the list isn’t a nostalgic game, but I know my older nephew like strategy games so I brought Memoir ’44. This is one of the many games by Richard Borg that uses the “Battle Card” mechanic to move your troops on the battlefield (along with Battlelore, Command and Colors: Ancients and Battle Cry). Turns are pretty simple, you play a command card from your hand that allows you to move a number of units in one (or all) of the three sections of the battlefield. Units that you command may move and finally battle at an enemy unit – for example: infantry get three dice at range 1, two dice at range 2 and one die at range 3. Terrain can affect your movement, ability to battle that turn and the number of dice an enemy get to roll against you for combat. The custom dice determine hits for each of the three types of units in the base game (infantry, armor or artillery) with a unit being destroyed once all elements are removed (4 for infantry and 3 for armor). One of the sides on the dice is a retreat flag which doesn’t weaken the unit but moves it back which can create some interesting tension. All in all, the game is pretty strategic for how easy it is to play and understand (there are a ton of expansions for this one). After playing, I really want to get Command and Colors: Ancients since I have heard that the designer really refined the system in his later games. In the end, I will probably not pick it up since I always have problems getting two player games to the table.
Until next time – Play a game!