Games Day XXXI

Is Bay Area Games Day really up to 31 already? That seems like a lot. It seems like just last year it was in single digits.

Anyway, lots of stuff this time, as I stayed from 10AM to almost 10PM and played quite a variety of games.

First out of the gates was Battlelines: The Stalingrad Campaign, the Operation Uranus mission. This was high on my play list because my first few plays have been promising, it seems like a neat game, and they have new modules coming out soon, so I need to decide if this is really something I want to stick with and keep buying or if it’s one to pass on. Even after playing again today, I remain oddly undecided – engaged enough to not discard it, yet not compelled enough to be sure I want to keep buying. It does have some neat stuff, I love the game concept … and yet somehow the game itself doesn’t quite move me. Part of it may be that the Romanian armored division I played was very weak in troop strength, so the board always felt a bit empty. Part of it also seemed that the campaign didn’t really develop – 100 points was only two hands, so losses never really stacked up. Part of it is that I’m still exploring the game and (to some degree) struggling with how to play, even though it’s not a hard game. I still do want to like this game, it still shows good promise, but I still need to play some more to be sure. At least I do still want to play, though. This is not going to be a game I’ll “schedule” play of, though, more something I’ll sucker an opponent into playing as a closer after a game of OCS or GCACW or something.

Next up was the ever-popular Attika, which went over very well again. In fact, after our four player game, the three other players went on to immediately play two more games while I went off to play Anno 1503. Yes, I still like the game, but yes, I also remain somewhat concerned about the downtime/analysis issue.

And, then, Anno 1503 again. If you recall the first time I played it, I had vaguely good things to say about it. Well, I am reconsidering slightly. I do like a lot of things about the game, the tough choices, the fact that it’s a friendlier game … but the length concerns me. We played 4 players, and I think the game went at least 25% past its expiration date. Given the lack of interaction, and the fact it’s a pretty simple, straightforward game, I really think it might just have to be shorter. Comparisons to Starfarers, which had a length problem at first, spring to mind – but Anno 1503 is no Starfarers, that’s for sure.

Ra is, well, Ra, what I’ve come to believe is one of the best boardgames going. It certainly helps that I’ve come to an understanding of it and have gotten pretty good; I think I’ve won 8 of my last 10 games, despite the fact that I am actually fairly poor at most other alea games with the exception of Taj Mahal and Chinatown (I think I have won maybe 2 of the 25+ games of Puerto Rico I’ve played). It’ll be interesting to see if I like Ra as much once things inevitably turn :). Part of this recent success is also almost certainly that I haven’t played that many games with Kim of late somehow.

Napoleon is one of the block games that I like in principle but have never managed to play as much as it seemed to deserve. This time I played the Columbia edition, while most of my playing time has actually been on the AH version. One of the things that I like a lot about the new version is that the tactical balance between infantry, artillery, and cavalry seems to be closer. We never used the “squares” rule in the AH edition, and now there is real incentive to do so and combined-arms tactics make real sense; while nominally Cavalry is double-fire and infantry is single-fire, I often found myself wanting for more infantry. The whole charge-countercharge flow seems more realistic. On balance, the block density seems a bit high, there seem fewer actual constraints on movement than in the AH edition which had some really tough choices, and it seems just a touch too easy to marshal your forces. And I think I’ll take the mapboard to Kinkos and get it blown up by at least 125%, because it’s just too small given the drastically increased number of blocks. Anyway, I enjoyed this game quite a bit and I’d definitely play it again. My first few plays of the new edition a couple years ago had been lukewarm, but apparently I learned enough from those games to apply the third time that I enjoyed it. This game was incredibly close, I was one eliminated Prussian block away from victory before getting buried in the final battle. Even then I had a chance due to some absolutely miserable anglo-allied die rolling.

The game that didn’t happen: My copy of Global Power arrived today, and if Funagain had remembered to include a copy of the rules, I would have almost certainly played. It looks really cool. But they didn’t, I didn’t, and it’ll have to wait for a little bit.

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