|Jan is a big Scrabble fan, whereas I am not. However, this Sid Sackson game recently published by Face To Face Games is a game about making money from forming words, so I thought it might work out well for both of us. We got to try it out this weekend.
The basic idea is that you buy letter tiles and try to form words from those letters to sell for a profit. A die is rolled and everybody draws a number of tiles indicated by the die. If you decide to keep the tiles, you pay for them by sqaring the number of dots showing on all the tiles you drew. You then add these to any other letters you already have and can choose to sell any word you can form from the letters. These are discarded and you receive payment equal to the square of the dots contained in the word you make. Longer words with more dots will, therefore, generate more profit but you can only retain 8 tiles at the end of your turn. Now it’s worth pointing out that there are a number of variants to the game but we went for the main game described by the rules, which involves drawing tiles at random. This works ok but you are at the mercy of lady luck as to whether you draw helpful or unhelpful tiles. The decisions are obvious: gather the maximum letters you can and then form the longest word you can. Much better in my view is the variant where you draft tiles one at a time from a display of face up letters. This gives some control and adds a little bit of interaction that is most definitely lacking in the basic game.
Buyword is ok but didn’t strike me as a game I’d choose to play very often. I won’t play the basic game again but it might be worth trying multi-player with the drafting rules.
Garry’s rating: 5 (basic version)
|The first session of 2005 saw my son, Chris, join us for the first time. To ease him in gently, I chose a couple of reasonably straightforward games, the first of which he has already played before.Knights
Players: Chris, Mark G, Mark K, Nige, Garry
Knights is a little card and dice game by Michael Schacht that came out quite a few years ago. The cards represent prizes that you obtain through rolling certain combinations of dice: the prizes can be castles, tournament wins or special abilities. You have six dice which can be rolled up to three times, banking any that you want to keep between rolls. However, you lose any die showing a 6. On your turn you can either try for one of two neutral cards that are available or a card that an opponent holds (except tournament cards). If you choose the latter and succeed in getting the right combination, the card owner has a chance to defend by rolling a higher combination than yours. The game ends once somebody claims their fourth castle or has two castles and three tournament wins or has three castles and gains the favour of the King by rolling at least four 5s. In our game, Mark K and Nige quickly built up their holdings of special ability cards. Chris and I spent a couple of turns trading castles, while Mark G kept failing to roll the combinations he was trying for. Eventually, I claimed a third castle which meant I immmediately became a target. One by one, the others came and tried to wrest a castle from me and each time they were valliantly repelled. My turn came around again and, urged on by my faithful followers, I succeeded in grabbing a fourth castle for the win. This is a very light fun game, with some tactics but the outcome mainly being subject to the roll of the dice. Mark K had a pretty strong position and should have been able to stop me at the end but the dice weren’t as kind to him as they were to me. However, it was very fitting that the first win of the year went to last year’s champion.
Ratings: Garry 6, Nige 5, Chris 6, Mark K 5, Mark G 6
Players: Chris, Mark G, Mark K, Nige, Garry
Our second game of the evening was this 1999 release by Zoch. As I’ve mentioned before, I am a big fan of Zoch’s production quality and this game has a fantastic gadget included, totally in keeping with the theme. Schrille Stille is all about the music charts and players act as promoters for the record labels, trying to push their acts to the top of the charts. On a turn, each player has a number of influence markers to use to affect the fortunes of the acts currently in the charts. The markers are placed within a cardboard holder, which has a ring of spaces (like a telephone dial) corresponding with the chart positions. All the cardboard holders are placed onto the gadget and the influence markers fall into holes in the gadget for each chart position. Each position is then dialled in turn and the influence markers for that position fall from the gadget onto the table and the act moves up or down depending on the markers revealed. Once all the acts have been resolved, VPs are awarded to those record labels whose acts are in positions 1 to 6, tip markers laid by the players are paid out as appropriate and those acts falling off the bottom of the chart are replaced by new entries. The whole process is very clever and players are involved all the while. Once someone passes 70 points, whoever has the most points at that point is the winner. This game was good fun but, for me, just went on a little too long. Part of this was because the result was extremely close with four players ending the penultimate turn on between 67 and 69 points. I was lagging well behind and the others were all hopeful that I would be overtaken by the dummy record label. Thankfully, that didn’t happen but the final round left Chris and Mark G tied and both claimed a joint win.
Result: Chris=Mark G 79, Nige 76, Mark K 75, Garry 51
Ratings: Chris 6, Mark G 7, Nige 7, Mark K 7, Garry 6
|The latest issue of The Games Journal is out and there is a fascinating review of Gang of Four included. Dave Shapiro is extremely enthusiastic in his praise for the game. I have to admit that I have been intrigued when reading about the game previously and the publisher, Days of Wonder, is one of my favourite companies at the moment, but the price has up to now put me off. Maybe now is the time to take the plunge and give it a go.. The direct link to the article is here.|
|A new auction and building game called Palazzo by Reiner Knizia is going to be released by Alea sometime in 2005, but not before April. Reiner already has numerous auction games to his name (Ra, Modern Art and Amun Re to name a few) and it will be interesting to see what new twist he has come up with this time. The fact that Alea are publishing it suggests to me it is going to worth waiting for. Also, it is supposed to be for 2-4 players and there aren’t too many auction games that I can name that work with two players.|
|Welcome to 2005. Start of a new year and I’ve decided to try an experiment with blogging. Not sure yet how it’s going to tie up with my Trickylight site but here I expect to put more in the way of boardgaming news, especially that relevant to the UK, as well as games played at the Shrewsbury Games Club and with the family. One of my new year resolutions is to get more gaming played at home – whether this will work or not, I don’t know but we’ll do our best. The site is starting off pretty modest. I’ve got to get a links list sorted fairly soon and hopefully a bit of publicity to get things off the ground. Keep watching this space…|