I got to play only a couple of games off the list (current goal is around two a week if I am going to manage to play them all in 2014 so I don’t feel pressured – yet). I’m definitely going to have to set up a “two player game day”. There are about a half dozen games that I need to complete that are just two player games. I normally don’t buy those games anymore since I have such a hard time getting them to the table so it’s odd just how many two player games I still own. Speaking of which, Gen Con is just around the corner and I have until August 10th if I want to pre-register any games to the auction/store. I normally cull the ‘herd’ each year, but it is always a hassle to head to the city early, wait 4 or 5 hours at the convention hall in the auction room to put games up for sale. Then I have to pick the ones that don’t sell on Sunday and transport them back to my car. It’s nice since I have managed to get between two and three hundred dollars each year, but I’m not sure that it is worth it this year – I just don’t have many games that I want to part with.
I can’t believe that it took more than half the year to play The Settlers of Catan. I’m pretty sure that I don’t need to explain this one to anyone that is reading this column. I can’t believe that it isn’t 20 years old yet – though it is getting close. I will just say that this was my first designer board game that I bought back in the day and I haven’t looked back. It all started when I was tired of playing euchre, hearts and spades on break – there was four of us on the shift and after 30 minutes of those card games on a daily basis, I was ready for something difference (we were able to play games on our breaks back then). So I purchased this, brought it in and was great! From there, more games (between 20-40 minutes long most often) were bought and then more games after those were purchased and so on and so on. Now, more than a decade later, I have to complete a weekly column and force myself to play all my games I own in one year… I must say that the original game without expansions (I can deal with Seafarers, but Knight and Cities makes the game a bit too long for my tastes) is the best. The first game was played on an expansion maps (we played the Indiana/Ohio one) with the second being played with the original tiles. After all these years, the game is still great. If I ever start a weekend gaming get together, there will definitely be a Setters tournament!
The second game was Eclipse. I am a sucker for 4X games (4X stands for Explore, Expand, Exploit and Exterminate coined in 1993 – look to Wikipedia for more information; it’s a decent read, but I digress). Eclipse has a very elegant design that allows for a full empire building experience in around 2 to 3 hours (I’d say it’s about 30-45 minutes per player). There are nine turns in which each player takes actions to expand or move their influence, buy technology and upgrade, build or move ships (three separate actions actually). Players may take any number of actions (one action each phase) as long as they can pay for them at the end of a turn. The novel idea for this game is that discs are used to show ownership of a sector and the different actions a player takes that turn. So a player that owns 4 systems and does 5 actions pays the same in ‘upkeep’ as someone who has 7 systems and takes 2 actions! Once all players pass, any sectors containing multiple players without a treaty or any ancient ships attack each other (there are three types of ship classes and each player board have the ship design for each class which can be upgraded as new technologies are purchased). Combat is pretty simple (a modified result of 6+ or a roll of a 6 itself is a hit), but a battle can take a while at the beginning of the game (the different technologies can add better weapons, armor or targeting computers). The only issue that I have with this one is the final ninth turn scramble for territory as the game ends. The big land grab push in the ninth turn just feels wrong to me (and it seems that it always happens). Let me say that you do not want to be first on the final turn since you really want to react to what others are doing. I wish you didn’t know when the game was over so you couldn’t plan the overextending attack. Even with that fault, I love this game and wish we could play this one more often – perhaps additional plays will create new strategies.
I did pull out a solo experience of Flash Point: Fire Rescue while waiting for a friend to play Warmachine/Hordes at the local game store. It took three tries, both sides of the basic board and me picking the three specialist roles before I got a win, but I’m okay with that – it’s a great game. There is a new expansion on Kickstarter as I type this so if you want even more boards, I recommend it.
Until next time – Play a game!