Zooloretto

I got Zooloretto yesterday and we played a 3 player game last night. Coloretto was my first intro to this exciting world and Zooloretto is a boardgame implementation of the same. Super game! It carries the same elements of Coloretto and adds some interesting variations bringing in money into the game. The choices are good and the gameplay is very involving and flows smoothly. It is also much simpler than last year’s SDJ winner Thurn & Taxis. Ideal game for the family and just that little extra to keep a hardcore gamer interested.

Dragon Delta – A good fun game

1. The game was a big hit with a couple of kids aged 6 and 10. Bth wanted to play it again after one play!

2. The game is a typical race game and reminded me of the old Chinese Checkers with the strategic euro element that makes it so much more interesting and fun.

3. The components are well produced though the box just looks a bit big for the amount of stuff in it.

4. The rules are simple and easy and can be explained in 5 minutes.

5. Pawns are moved across the delta based on a series of action cards. Each player chooses five cards out of their hand of action cards and place them face down below simultaneously.

6. The delta is filled with rocks. Stones have to be placed on the rocks, and planks across two stones to create a series of rickety bridges on which the pawn moves.

7. The dragon cards in each player’s hand cancel out the action of another player and adds just that element of nastiness to the game.

8. The other interesting factor is that though the planks are colour coded, this is mainly for the initial placement. There is also a restriction that when one plays, the card that helps one to replenish a plank from the board, you cannot take a similar sized plank that you already have. You can also not hold more than 2 colours of planks.

9. The game is won when the first player moves a pawn to a village on the opposite side of the delta. This again is colour coded in such a way that specific pawns have to move to specific villages in order to win.

10. Overall a good fun game, can be used as a gateway game also, has enough strategic elements to keep everyone interested. The theme also seems to sit very well on the game.

Thurn & Taxis: Power and Glory – Session report

This is a session report I posted on BGG.

I had enjoyed Thurn & Taxis so much ever since it came out. Most of our plays were only 2 player sessions with the wife, but the game was great and after I read somewhere that Alan Moon loved playing it with his wife, we were elated. So when the expansion came out I was keen to get. It came yesterday and I immediately got it out for a 2 player session with the wife. The game essentially plays the same as the original, but the ability to complete routes based on a flexible carriage strength is really clever. Instead of trying to increase the carriage strength as in the original, the focus now is to get rid of all the house by placing them on cities not placed before. There was also a race for the free cities early on, and the new 5 point token on a 8 route meant that we both concentrated on longer routes in the beginning. Strategically, the game offers a choice of going for longer routes across regions to place more houses on the board, and get the larger point tokens. Or you can opt for smaller routes and finish off provinces early. The main difference with the original in terms of game play is this flexibility in approach There seemed to be a streamlined predictability in the original where we constantly had to upgrade carriages and then go for longer routes. Overall a welcome addition to our personal game shelf. Though it may not be worth the cost if you have not enjoyed the original much and played it enough and need a change. PS: I lost the game badly!

Thurn & Taxis and the expansion

I got the new expansion for Thurn & Taxis and immediately we played a 2p session. Firstly I realised that I had played T&T wrongly for so long now. I have completely forgotten to reduce the points for houses not placed onto the board at the end of the game! Thanks to BGG I noticed it only today. anyway coming to the expansion, it is a new board with new cards. The only thing you need from the original game is the houses in the different colours. As someone posted on BGG, you don’t even need the original if you just get the expansion! Personally the expansion provides me with just that different feel and interest for someone who has got bored of the original but liked it a lot. So unless you really loved the original, played a lot, got bored, but would not mind playing the same game with a subtle shift, this expansion is not worth it.

Games played Apr 07

Finally a month with more 30 different games being played. A few new games also were played. And I finally played some games that I do not own! This means that I have some gaming partners who are getting to get other games so that the games I play are not restricted only to the ones I won.

Ticket to ride: 1910 USA – 15 plays

 Bohnanza – 14 plays My 6 year old son Sushanth learnt this and we enjoyed the different plays with different number of players. Excellent and simple family game. Easy to explain and loads of fun.

Thurn & Taxis – 6 plays

For Sale – 5 plays

Frank’s Zoo, Puerto Rico & Station Master – 4 plays each

We finally played Frank’s Zoo wit the full quota of 7 players. Great fun. Station Master was a new game for the month. A nice simple game that plays quick and fast with a lot of ‘take that’ to it. But I feel there is an unfinished look about the game. After a few plays I kind of got bored.

Category 5, Seafarers of Catan, Santiago & Ticket to ride: Marklin edition – 3 plays each.

I just love Seafarers. We played almost all the scenarios detailed and it was so much fun. But I do not like the 5/6 player expansions of both the base and the Seafarers. This game is to be played with 3 or 4. If you have more players play something else. There are so many better games for 5 and 6 people.  I liked Santiago a lot and it was a pity we only got 3 plays in.

Citadels, Coloretto, Empire Builder, Hive, Hornochsen,  Pickomino, Seafarers 5/6 players expansion, Settlers, Thief of Baghdad – 2 plays each.

Of the lot, I liked the look of Thief of Baghdad. It is a very clever game and has something in it. But there is an element of monotony to the way we have to play our hand each turn. This can get to you after a point. Maybe a play once or twice a year but not more. I did not like Pickomino that much. Hive is a great game and I really like it a lot. One game that I want to get from the lot of new games played last month. Hornochsen is a bit more strategic than Category 5 but I prefer the latter.

Amun-Re, Cartagena, Hare & Tortoise, Elfenland, Metro, Modern art, Mystery Rummy Jack the Ripper,  Power Grid, Power Grid Italy/France, Rat-a-tat cat, Transeuropa & Winners Circle – 1 play each

I liked Amun-Re but prefer Ra which is a more elegant and simple game with deep strategy. Metro was a bit of a bore and it was nice to play Elfenland again.  Overall a great month of gaming, some new games played and looking forward the kids’ holidays to play more in May.

TTR 1910:USA – What makes it different and better

I have been raving about this game the last few months and just noticed that the no of plays is close to 100 now.  We have been playing it everyday almost. Aarthi (my wife) just loves the game and does not mind playing it with any number of players. What makes it different? Is it not the same as the original game? Well here is my take on this. Firstly 1910 has 3 different ways of playing the game. I don’t care for the 1910 or the Big Cities version that much. It is the mega game that is most engaging. Firstly the mega game has 65 destination tickets. There for there is a lot at stake in terms of points. There have been games where we have runaway winners with 200+ points. There have been games with players winning only because of the bonus got from completing the maximum no of tickets. There have been 5 player games where everyone gets minus points and it becomes a scramble to get the winner. There have been games where one tries to finish the game fast and not allow others to pick up more tickets. There are some obvious strategies to the design of the tickets. If you can connect LA-NY-Chicago-Miami quickly then you can make a killing picking up more tickets. But this becomes very difficult if one player keeps picking cards from the deck and you never get the cards you want.

In terms of no of players, the game is very tight with 3 and 5. But with 2 and 4 the strategy depends more on the ability to pick more tickets. Sometimes picking more tickets can also backfire and each one ends up picking the others’ tickets and getting minuses in the process! Overall the game is engaging, tense, bouncy and makes you completely forget the original. I had got bored of the original but after getting this the game has picked up immensely.

Giro Galoppo – Game review

I first came across this game in Bruno Faidutti’s site about kids games. Sushanth misses playing so many of the games in my collection and I wanted to get some more games that he could play.

Gio Galoppo
Anyway Giro Galoppo is just that. A very good children’s game that scales well from 5 years. The moment I brought the game out Sushanht’s eyes lighted up and he asked me “Does the game have these toys that are there on the cover?” The cover had a picture of horses and riders. The game itself is a simple race game. The track has 3 types of spaces. Grass spaces, Sand spaces and natural obstacles. There are 5 other wooden obstacle pieces that can be placed at random on the sand spaces to bring more variety and replayability. Each player has a horse and a rider. The pieces are wooden and excellent in quality. Each player also gets six movement cards numbered from 1 to 6 that they can play from their hand. After six turns the cards are taken back into the hand to continue. Movement is the number of spaces the card depicts. The only rules to be followed are, no two tokens can be on the same space. This means that if one were to land on a space where someone else occupied, then he/she has to be moved BACK to the next unoccupied space! Also if the player is likely to land on an obstacle, then h/she stays where they are without moving!. There is a finish line and there are spaces beyond the finish line also. This is to give a chance to the other players to puch back the leader if they can also finish in that turn and thereby upset the final standings!

The game is very light, plays very fast in about 20 minutes and can be good fun to play with the younger children. The best compliment for the game could be my son Sushanth’s statement ” Can I just play with the pieces for sometime on my own after the game is over?”

Marrakesh – A simple elegant kids game

HABA is a company that makes great kids games. I had read about Marrakesh and got it on my recent Germany trip. Opening the game I found excellent components with ‘meeple-ised’ camels and a modular board to be constructed with different pieces of the desert. Two pieces however were different, they being the Oasis and the Drifting dunes pieces. The object of the game is to collect precious tokens marked with numbers that count for victory points. These pieces are in 4 colours in descending order of value. Camels move across the desert to reach Marrakesh where they can pick up these tokens. Each player has 4 camels of a colour.

Movement is through the drawing of tokens in a bag. These tokens are of 3 kinds. The ones marked with dots allow you to move your camel the number of pieces on the desert as there are dots. The other kind of movement tokens are sandstorms. These cause the desert path in front to get extended by moving the last piece of desert to the front. This is a very interesting addition whereby the race track can get extended. Also the camels occupying the last space on the desert that has to be moved now automatically drop out of the race. The third type of movement token is an exchange token. This means you can move one of your camels to the space occupied by your own camel in front. Or move an oppenent’s camel back to the last space occupied by another of your opponent’s camel.

When a camel lands on an Oasis piece of desert it gains 3 additional spaces. If it passes through the Drifting dune space it just stops there that turn even if it can move according to the token drawn. The game ends when all but one of the players’ camel/camels remain on board. Then this last player can draw 3 tokens. Movement tokens are limited in number and are recycled back into the bag after all of them have been drawn atleast once.

The game is a typical kids game which engages everyone with a little bit of tactics and luck. The theme is pretty good and some of the mechanics are very thematic especially for kids. The scoring also is quite tight and both the games I played was won by just 1 point. Overall an excellent kids game that needs to be in every house that has young gamers below the age of 7/8.

Feuer Schlucker – Game review

I was in Frankfurt and just walked into a local department store. Saw a small card game by Reiner Knizia for just 4€ and just picked it up. The pictures of the cards at the back also did not have any text and i thought it must be playable easily. Came back checked out the Geek and saw a pretty low rank. Downloaded the rules and played a couple of 2 player games and found a pretty simple, fast filler with limited strategic options, some interactibility and fun.

The game has 55 cards and 36 spectator tiles. The theme is that the cards represent attractions in a circus and the tiles are spectators watching them. Each player starts a discard pile for himself by playing cards with the top card only being visible. The cards played provide opportunities to pick up spectators and the one with the most spectators in the end is the winner. Each player has a hand of 5 cards and this gets refilled back to 5 everytime cards are played.

The different cards are numbered cards (2,3 & 4), cotton candy vendor card, clown card, human pyramid card and leo the lion. Numbered cards allow u to pick up the number of spectators mentioned. But if some one else has also played the same numbered card in front of them then u can pick the requisite no of spectators from the guy who played that card the last. Cotton candy card allows u to pick up 2 spectators from any player. Human pyramid allows u to pick the no of spectators as there are visible among all the piles in front of the players. The clowns are the instance where u can play multiple cards and pick up as many spectators as cards played. Leo the lion adds a nice twist to the game. Every one gives up the no of spectators as the last card played in front of them depicts. All the discard piles and the remaining draw deck in reshuffled and the game continues.

The game ends when all the spectators are exhausted. There may be a case with the draw deck being exhausted and players holding onto the lion cards with some spectators still remaining. In this case play just goes on without any drawing of cards.

The couple of games we played were very close and tight in the scoring. Not too much strategy can be employed especially as the hand is just limited to 5 cards. But there is a very nice rhythm and flow to the game and I have a feeling it could be very chaotic and fun with the full 5 players.

Ticket to Ride – Marklin Edition game review

We got TTR-Marklin today and immediately opened and set up a 4 player game. A preliminary reding of the rules promised a very good game and the experience was really worth it.

I have played all the 3 games and I feel that TTR-Marklin is the best of the three. This retains most of the tension and feel of the original game and adds some an excellent dimesion with the passengers and tokens. We were not entirely happy with TTR-Europe when we played it a few times. The only good thing was the separation between the long and short routes that equalised a bit of the luck of the draw in the original TTR. The concept of tunnels and stations were ok but did not add much to the original game. After a few plays we definitely preferred the original.

But Marklin is a different cup of tea altogether. It has brought back the bounce that the original had and that seemed missing in Europe. The tension element remains. The passengers and the separation between the 2 types of destination tickets gives everyone an opportunity to come back into the game.

The components

Firstly the trains are the same. The scoring tokens which were wooden in the original have become plastic which is a shame. The passengers look nice. But the tokens are too small and cause some problems because we are all not pianists! Another thing about the train cards is that they have depicted original Marklin trains. The problems is that the different black train cards would have different trains on them. This can be disconcerting if one is used to the original and the europe version of the cards. I also missed the small cubes showing all the colours in the original locomotive cards. The map is a map of Germany with connections to Switzerland, Netherlands, Austria and France with each country having between 1 and 3 spots to connect to.

Game play

The game follows most of the original rules with the addition of passengers. I will assume that people reading this are familiar with original rules. If not please read a review of the original game. The passengers can be placed on one of the 2 cities that are being connected by placing trains in a turn. The passenger then can move and collect point tokens placed on the cities and collect extra points. One can also use the route of another player and collect tokens if one has a passenger card which is part of the train car deck. Now there are 4 actions per turn. Drawing cards, drawing destination tickets, Moving a passenger and collecting tokens or placing trains and collecting 2 cities. Because of the 2 ifferent types of destination tickets depicting long and short routes, one can now pick up any combo of 4 tickets and choose to retain only one. a very good option and also better to the rules in the original. The game play is streamlined and proceeds very smoothly.

Conclusion

The game is the best in the TTR series. The first play really had us all vey excited with a feeling of wanting to play more. We did not get this in TTR-Erope sadly. While the game is not as simple as the original to serve as a gateway game it can stilll be played by gamers with a little experience easily. I have a couple of young boys aged 13 and 15 in our apartment complex who join us for weekly gaming sessions. Both of them have never played TTR though they have tasted Transeuropa. They both understood the game very well, caught on to the strategy and thought the game was very good. I think TTR-Marklin is an excellent addition to any games shelf and is really my favorite TTR game of the 3 released so far.

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