Got back home yesterday after 3 weeks down under in Australia and New Zealand. Mohan in Mebourne thought he should buy me a game and I decided on Thurn & Taxis. He also gave me Quicksand that he did not like. Actually he had not even played a single game of it. But I thought it might be interesting for Sushanth. The list of unplayed games is slowly piling up here. We played Buy Low Sell High yesterday. aarthi thought it was too serious a game.
The last week or so has been great in Australia. We managed to get some good gaming done though I was a bit handicapped becos I only had about 3 games with me. The new game I played was Reiner Knizia’s Buy Low Sell High a game about stock market trading. I really liked the game and the elegance of the mechanics. Again like Knizia games the stock bits have a way of getting knocked over very easily! It is a good game though and very simple to explain to people also. Also played Lost Cities, Setlers, Alhambra and Ticket to Ride. Charu and Suresh have been introduced to gaming and they are hooked! I visited Mind Games a boardgame store in Swanston street in Mebourne. A nice collection of games with a good stock of euros. I bought the Kramer game Wildlife for 45 Au$ and Settlers card game for 30 Au$.
Have been in Auckland the last week or so. Was just browsing through the Whitcoulls store on queen st in the city. And I found Settlers, Seafarers, Carcassonne, Transamerica, Tikal, Age of Mythology, Doom, Nexus Ops, Roborally, Ricochet Robot and a few more that I cannot remember. I was pleasantly surprised and happy to come across these placed along with the more popular Scrabble, Monopoly, Cranium etc etc.
Prices seem ok not too much. I picked up Railroad Tycoon, Coda and Motley Fool Buy Low Sell High altogether for about 130 NZ$.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I look forward to the 1st of every month to chronicle my last month’s gaming activities. So here they are.
Bohnanza – Tops the list with 9 plays. I got the game last year and have been playing only 2 player games with Aarthi. Then sometime last December Shreyasi learnt the game and really liked it. This summer during the school holidays Sai and Guha also learnt the game and began enjoying it so much. This month we played many 5/4 player games. Shreyasi is at her emotional best in this game blackmailing her parents to donating beans she wants. Guha seems to have a good strategy of regularly donating unwanted beans and managing to win some of the games. Two of the games were very close with one game getting scores of 22, 21, 20, 19 and 18!!!
Alhambra – 7 plays for the month. Except for 1 two player with Aarthi, the rest were all 3 player games with Aarthi and Varadu. Seems like fatigue had caught up with us towards the end of the month especially after Varadu expressed the wish to learn a few more of the games.
Rat – A – Tat Cat – 7 plays. A new acquisition this month mainly for Sushanth who lingers around the gaming area wanting to participate actively. This was a good addition and everyone likes it. A good game for kids and a good filler for adults. After a long session of Funkenschlag Aravind really enjoyed a couple of plays of this.
Hansa – I have a sentimental attachment to Michael Schacht because the first game I got was Coloretto. I had got Hansa only recently and immediately it was introduced to everyone. Aravind and Bharati enjoyed the game. Shreyasi likes it because there is money in it. Aarthi still hasn’t got into the logic of the game completely but like it with 3 or 4 players. Varadu played his second game yesterday and it was a close tussle with Aarthi and me tied at 45 points each and 14 market booths on the board. So with 6 plays for the month this was good.
The Settlers of Catan – This Aarthi’s favorite game and Varadu also likes it very much. So once a week during Varadu’s lunch hour wee get in a session of Settlers. I have had a good winning streak the last many plays until Aarthi won a very close game with Varadu and me ready to win on our next turns. It was the closest game we had so far. 5 plays for the month.
Carcassonne – It is really growing on us now especially the 2 player version. More strategies are slowly unravelling and the game is getting meaner.
Elasund – We have gotten boared of playing the 2 player version now. Need to introduce it to Varadu soon.
Hare & Tortoise – I finally won a very close game this month.
Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper – My winning streak was finally broken by Aarthi at the end of the month.
Power Grid: Italy/France – Excellent expansion to the original game. Power Grid is my favorite all time number 1 game and the new expansion with a slight variation in the way the goods are allocated initially changes the complexion of the game completely. I have had this for the last 4 months and finally opened it and it immediately saw 4 plays.
3 plays – For Sale, Lost Cities, Through the Desert & Trans Europa
Finally the plays for For Sale has come down. Lost Cities was a new acqusition this month. But has not seen too many plays. Aarthi does not like the size of the cards!
2 plays – Modern Art, Power Grid, Ra, Royal Turf, Samurai & Schildkroetenrennen
Carcassonne: Hunters & Gatherers, Cartagena, Coloretto, Euphrat & Tigris, Puerto Rico, San Juan, That’s Life!, Ticket to Ride: Europe, Vampire & Zertz all getting 1 play each. Of the above the most refreshing was San Juan. We got back to the game after more than 6 months. Especially since I got Puerto Rico I have not played San Juan. It was great fun and I am going to write a comparative review. Euphrat & Tigris was a disaster again! Aarthi just cannot get into the game. It will be a few months before it hits the table unless Mr Scott Nicholson can post a video of this soon! Aarthi does not like H & G either.
Overall a good month of gaming. Not much travel for me. Varadu came in atleast 3 times a week. Even Aravind and Bharati came about 3 times this month as did Sai and Guha. Aarthi and me have also gamed a lot of 2 player games. And many games hit the table again. But I am already depressed about August gaming. With travel on the up I don’t think I will be able to get in even 30 plays overall. Let us see how my forecast works.