Make the most of 40-45 minutes!

Here in Chennai we do not have a boardgaming of months  club. It is not practically possible to have regular gaming nights also. One reason is the nature of my profession entails a lot of travelling which is unexpected. It can also be that I am out of town for even a coupleat a stretch. I also have some very young children and you can imagine how our lives will actually revolve around them. Then of course there is the problem of enough people. Right now the number of people I have managed to introduce designer boardgames to is about 10-12. Of these 4 are at home including me!. 2 more are working professionals who only have weekends to squeeze in gaming time. There is one friend who regularly manages to come during his lunch hour and we get about 40-45 minutes of gaming. This could happen a couple of times each week. Gaming with my daughter is also restricted to this same time limit. She then has her TV programmes to catch up with etc etc etc. She also has a couple of friends who are in higher classes in school. They have a lot of school work etc and can again only play in the weekends. In the midst of tuitions and assignments they can squeeze in 40-45 minutes. So a majority of my personal gaming is 2 player games with the wife. This again is in the time slot of 40-45 minutes. She does have to catch up with house work, I have fone calls to attend.

Last night was a typical session with the wife. Kids are off to sleep. We have about 40-45 minutes to get some gaming done before retiring. I wanted to play the new Hansa that I had got last week. We had played it once and Aarthi was not completely taken in. Shreyasi played one game and seemed to like it and immediately said ‘ this is better than Elasund!’ Finally Aarthi just went to the game shelf and brought Samurai, Bohnanza and Cartagena. We actually finished all three games in 45 minutes flat. We had a lot of fun. Both of us play very fast with very little downtime especially in 2 player games. With three good fast games you can get enough variety and fun and make the most of 40-45 minutes! And the icing on the cake – I won all the 3 games played. Something I have never done against her.

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Knizia & the SDJ

The last one year of reading stuff about designer board games usually throws up two words – SDJ & Reiner Knizia. SDJ is the most prestigious gaming award for designer board games and Reiner Knizia is the most celebrated boardgame designer in the world. But the two have never met! Reiner has never won the SDJ and here is an excellent analysis of the yearwise SDJ awards with focus on how Knizia did not win. In India there are awards for different areas of human life. We have umpteen examples of how the deserving lose out for various reasons. The most hotly debated issues would be when the Indian cricket team is announced for an upcoming tour.

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Indian Govt Blog blackout ends!

Whew! Finally the blackout seems to have ended. I was really missing some of the boardgames blogs in bogspot etc because of the Indian Govt’s blackout. Now it is business as usual I think.

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Carcassonne versus Hunters & Gatherers

Funagain Games had a good offer of Carcassonne: Hunters & Gatherers for just 10$ if you bought some other game for 25$ so I went ahead and got this. The game reached me almost 8 months back and we just got in one play then. The first play was not entirely enjoyable and somehow the game never found the table. In the last couple of months my wife Aarthi and me have been playing a lot of 2 player Carcassonne and I was keen to get Hunters & Gatherers again to the table. Last night we played the game and I tell you I really really enjoyed the game. This review is mainly intended for people who have played Carcassonne and want to get another game. I really have not played any of the expansions for the original game and so cannot comment on the game. In case you are one of those who have played the original game, liked it, and are considering Hunters & Gatherers you might find this useful

Some initial personal thoughts

Please do not get H & G if you are not familiar with the original Carcassonne. I really consider this game as the next logical step in the Carcassonne ladder of gaming. The game adds just that extra element of complexity to the original to make it more strategic and interesting without compromising too much on the fun aspect. After Ticket to Ride and its Europe expansion I found the original so much more fun. The expansion was more complex but somehow the bounce associated with the fun aspect of the game seemed to have gone out there. But H & G is different. It really is one you should get.

The game

The game adds some nice interesting elements. Instead of the 3 scoring areas like cloisters, roads and cities, we have just 2, rivers and forests. But the role of the rivers get maginified becasue rivers can end in lakes that can give rise to newer rivers thereby creating a whole river system that can be scored again based on the number of fish that are found in lakes. The forests add the strategic element of having gold nuggets in some tiles. This gives you access to picking 1 of 12 different bonus tiles that help score more points. The other area in the landscape are meadows, very much like the farms in the original. Only difference is that the meadows are littered with different animals like deer, sabre tooth tigers, mammoths and aurochs. Tigers can kill deer, while a fire tile can drive the tiger away. One of the bonus tiles has a sacred shrine and the holder of the meeple (hunter) there will score for all the animals in that meadow even if he/she has the lowest no of meeples. So instead of meadows supplying grass to the forests, we score for the number of animals in the meadows. Some bonus tiles have forest segments with mushrooms that add extra points to the completed forest.

Conclusion

Excellent addition to the Carcassonne family. The scoring is more in this game and you seem to be getting a lot of points. There are many river and forest segments to complete and score. We seem to be completing and scoring almost every turn. This kept the game going at a good pace and made it exciting for us. The river system is really excellent and once the hut is placed we work towards expanding the river system as much as possible. The components are superior to the original. Now we have scoring tiles of 50 and 100 points that you can use instead of putting down your meeple after comleting 50 points and trying newer poses for the meeple when you complete a 100 points! The artwork and the land scape that pans out is really beautiful with lovely colours that are pleasant to the eye. Overall a very very enjoyable game.

A good long game night

After many months my brother in law Aravind and his wife Bharaticam home for a game night. The kids were packed off to sleep and Aarthi and me joined them at around 10 pm. We started with Funkenschlag. I was keen to play the France map of the new expansion while Aravind wanted to play Italy in honour of the new football World champs. We finally just settled on the Germany map instead. It was a close game between Aarthi and Aravind but Aarthi won easily in the end. I was quite behind with some bad strategy early that made me spend a lot to build a few cities. I also lost out on the bigger plants early.

We then went for a much lighter game and played Transeuropa. As soon as I explained the game Bharati was all excited at the simplicity and elegance of the game. But poor Bharati lost almost 9 spaces in the first round itself and finished the game in the second round. I won the first round but had 4 spaces to finish in the second and so tied for 1st place with Aarthi.

Now Aravind suggested For Sale. The first game was an easy win for me. But Aarthi played strongly and won the second game, her first win after nearly 20-25 plays! I now wanted to play Ra. It was a low scoring game and Aravind won over me easily with the others trailing. We next got out the house favorite Hare & Tortoise. We have played so many games of this so it was quite tense and close. Aarthi won over me by just one turn. Now I wanted to play Carcassonne, Bharati wanted to play Bohnanza. We debated some more but it was past 2 am. So we just played another round of Hare & Tortoise. This time I beat Bharati to the post by just 1 turn with Aravind just behind on the next turn. That was probably the closest game we had played in a long time now.

Overall a good long and enjoyable night of gaming. No interruptions from kids, parents, telephone calls!

Bomb blasts kill potential board gamers

The board gaming scene is just improving in India. People are getting aware of designer board games. And this happens

Bomb blasts kill potential board gamers

Atleast 183 people died. And they could have been potential board gamers. People who could have learnt about Settlers, Puerto Rico, Funkenschlag! They could have started a Mumbai Boardgaming club. They could have organised the first Indian Games Con in Matunga, Mumbai. They could have organised the National Boardgaming championships with the winners being sent to Essen for the World championships. But some moron terrorists thought otherwise.

I am so upset over the above incident. Before someone can pounce on me for the rather sarcastic tone in the above post, I mentioned this because of the subject of my blog more than anything else. Seriously speaking if such people think that they can get their way by killing people they are sadly mistaken. These acts can only be committed by people who have no respect for themselves or for others. My heart goes out to the people of Mumbai who have borne the brunt of so many hardships. The earlier blasts, the crazy spell of rain last year and now this.

Ticket to Ride expansion

A very interesting Ticket to Ride expansion is being planned for October 2006. I really liked the original game and the new bigger cards with the expansion will be a real bonus!

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