Just a shorter visit tonight, as Kim was not feeling well and she needs to recover for a lengthy business trip next week.
First up was Santiago, one of the new games on my “try before you buy list”. The basic idea is that you are bidding on crops, which you install on plots of land. Those lands must then be irrigated, lest your crops fail; one player (the one who “lost” the bidding for crops) gets to chose where the irrigation goes, taking bribes. Then at the end of the game, you score points for owning bits of large fields of like-planted plots. This was a pretty clever, simple game which I modestly liked. Strikes me as being good for in the range of 5 plays, which isn’t too bad. It’s a little analysis-heavy, and plots once they get large seem to have an unfortunate “snowball” effect. Still, worth playing. Worth buying? A tougher call.
And second was the ever-popular Attika. Kim is now at 3 plays, I’m at 5 or 6, and we’ve reached a verdict … it’s a thumbs down. It was close, it was a game we both wanted to like, but it just has too many unfortunate features. Key among them for me is that the winner is often decided by who fails to properly block one of their opponents. It’s usually easy enough to prevent someone from winning, but you have to do it; virtually every game I’ve played has been won by the player to the left of someone who missed a blocking move, or who was able to make a move once everyone else was tapped out from blocking other people. This is really not entertaining; just Kill Doctor Lucky, but a lot more work. Secondly, the game is a lot of work, analysing what tiles are left in the piles at what building costs, whether or not other players are capable of winning on their turn, how building costs work out … this game can easily degenerate into analysis paralysis and tedium if people start to do all this work. Now, this isn’t in itself bad, but it just doesn’t seem to be in service of anything. Like I said, it’s all about who blocks whom and making your power play at the right time. All in all, the game has a feel similar to Durch die Wüste in the end – but Durch die Wüste is a substantially superior game. I would play Attika again – it’s not exactly a bad game – but my enthusiasm has waned.