Gaming on a rainy day

It is a rainy day here in Chennai. Children have been asked to stay home by the Government of Tamil Nadu. So we decided to open Diamant which I had got from my German trip last month. We played 3 continuous  games of with Aarthi, Sushanth and Shreyasi making up the 4 players with me. I had a good win twice out of the 3 games. Everyone enjoyed the game very much especially Sushanth. Finally we have more games that Sushanth can also join in. Later in the afternoon we played an exciting 3 player game of Atlantic Star. Aarthi won with 75 points followed by Shreyasi (her 1st game) with 74 and myself 73. This was such a close game and after 6 plays of 2 player games with Aarthi this was different and interesting. This is a great game. Shreyasi found the going tough after a point but overall the experience was terrific. Super buy for just 10 euros.

In the evening Guha also joined  and we played 2 more games of Diamant this time with 5 players. This is a quick fast filler and a lot of fun. A good gateway game to get people into gaming. We rounded off the evening with Railroad Tycoon a 4 player game. Aarthi beat quite comfortably in the end. She had a free run on the east coast while Guha and me were fighting it out around Chicago.

Hopefully after the kids sleep Aarthi and me can get in Hansa and Crazy Chicken!

Current hot favorite

Atlantic Star – This is the current hot favorite game at home. The game is superb and has some very different mechanics that provide fun and excitement. The game is for 2-6 players. We have only played 2 player versions but Aarthi wants to play it everyday. I got the game because it was available for 10 euros and had Dirk Henn’s name as the designer.

powered by performancing firefox

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?”

Gaming session with the kids

Shreyasi is down with fever. Sushanth was begging for a gaming session. So the four of us finally decided to have a family session. After the initial arguments about what games t play aarthi came up with the idea of drawing lots. So 3 games were suggested by Shreyasi and Sushanth. The six were written on pieces of paper and I picked up. We ended up with Mille Bornes, Marrakesh & Ra.

We decided on individual plays instead of tems for Mille Bornes and Shreyasi won easily with Sushanth coming in a close second. We next played Ra. Even though Sushanth is only 6 he knows the game verry well and can play it. Yesterday he was just in the mood for passing everything making things easy for Shreyasi to win comfortably. Sushanth opted out of Marrakesh after an argument with Shreyasi on who should start first! So we played a 3 player and I won comfortably.

Just 1 play so far!

I was just going through the list of owned games that I maintain on BGG. as I was browsing through the list I found the following had been played just once.

Settlers of Catan – The card game – Now I really liked Settlers and thought the card game would be a good chance to play with Aarthi on a regular basis. After the first play she just thought that turning the cards around to indicate resources held was a bad idea. Anyway I really liked the game and I hope I can convince her to play more of it.

Bang – I played a 5 player game of this with some people who were complete gaming newbies and the game never sat down. I really have to sit with the rules before getting it in one of our weekend sessions.

Hellas – The soldiers in the game kept falling down! We had the German edition and we found it a bit cumbersome to refer to translations everytime. It was our first real confrontation style game. Just never clicked I think.

Industria – Seemed like a good game and I think it will grow on us after another playing. But getting so many other games since then has kept this out from hitting the table.

Terra – Bruno Faidutti, on sale at 75% but the game was a bore really.

Louis IV – Highly rated and a very good game. But getting through the rules was really tough. The first play was quite fiddly and I think we are not yet ready for this.

Train games ladder

Train games are fascinating and provide hours and hours of fun. There are so many different types of train games with varying degrees of complexity and fun. There are the kids games, the gateway games, the more complex but less of a gamer’s game and of course the hardcore gamer’s games. My personal experience with train games at the moment is only about 5 games. They include the 3 Ticket to ride games, Transeuropa and Railroad Tycoon. I can already see a ladder forming in my gaming experience with train games.

The best intro to train games is Transeuropa. a very simple game that introduces the concept of having to form and connect a network of trains. Every player has a set of coloured cities and they have to connect all of them before anyone else by placing tracks on the board. The best part of this game is it is quick fast and fun and perfect for introducing anyone to board games especially train games.

The next step up the ladder could be Ticket to ride. Of course there are instances where people have played TTR first and then found Transeuropa to bee far simpler. But TTR establishes the concept of a personal network of trains as opposed to the general network in Transeuropa. So each personal network hopes to achieve destination tickets or routes and awards points. There is an element of set collection and the game can also get quite tense and exciting with routes getting blocked! Ticket to ride – Europe is an extension of the basic TTR with a few additional features. Personally for me I’d rather give this a miss and go to the Marklin edition directly. Europe is good if you get tired of playing too much TTR as we did in the beginning because of less access to more games!

Ticket to ride – Marklin is the next step and the best of the TTR series. I the dimension of passengers, and delivery and introduces this as a precursor to the goods delivery mechanic of more complex train games.

Railroad tycoon is at the moment my highest step in the train games ladder. It kind of culminates in all the mechanics that I have exposed to like routes, laying tracks, delivering goods and achieving goals. It beautifully introduces the concept of finance and money in to the game. It also adds the auction mechanic to determine the start player for each turn. all these things add a wholesome experience to RRT and makes it the perfect train game that I have played so far.

So what next? My appetite is whetted. I love train games and I want all of them. I have looked up Union Pacific, Age of Steam and the 18xx series as the culmination in this ladder. I hope to fit in more games with different degrees of complexity into the their appropriate steps in the ladder so that a more complete view at most of the games is possible. But for a newbie like me with about 1 1/2 years of strategy board gaming this seems like a nice way to go through this.

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.