Game Night: Silicon Valley Boardgamers

For Sale was a quick round of filler as 5 of us had shown up, and we were sure more were coming, and For Sale has about the best bang for time investment of any short game I’ve played. And I won, proving that you can win just about anything if you’ve been playing off and on for 5 years and your opponents have never seen the game before (auction games are usually not my forte).

Speaking of which … Amun-Re is a game that I like a lot. This time must be about my 10th play, and it’s still going strong, still revealing new depth, and still playing in different ways each time due to the vagaries of the order in which the provinces come out who is playing. I did horribly this game because, for some reason, I was finding it hard to concentrate. I don’t know why. But like Taj Mahal and Tigris & Euphrates, this is not a game you can play on autopilot and expect to do remotely well, so I came in last. I find the early game very difficult, and usually get reamed somehow by committing to some element of a strategy (usually farmer-light vs. farmer-heavy) only to find things going the other way and everybody else zooming past me. I know it’s heresy, but Amun-Re might actually be better than Tigris & Euphrates and on par with Taj Mahal (*).

Last of the night was Urland with the new expansion. I think Urland is really a very nice game, better than its predecessor (Ursuppe) actually, rather underrated, and I think the new gene cards are much better than the new genes that came with the Ursuppe 5-6 player expansion. Mutation came out in our game, which is an interesting gene, as did Photogenic and Nocturnal (the latter too late to have much impact as it turned out). We played with the guidelines in the rulebook, which adds only a few of the new genes in a game; next time I think I’ll just mix up all the expansion genes in with the originals.

(*) Endnote: Although I like my Best of the Knizia Boardgames list on BoardGameGeek, I must admit it contains something of a white lie – I don’t actually think quite that highly of Tigris & Euphrates, and succumbed to it’s popular acclaim in ranking it #3. While you’d hardly go wrong with it, in my heart of hearts, I think Taj Mahal (#7) and Tigris & Euphrates should probably be reversed. If you think swapping #3 and #7 doesn’t make any sense, well, I didn’t want the top of the list to be dominated by all “big” games (T&E, Taj, Amun-Re). I might be coming to the conclusion that Amun-Re is better than Tigris & Euphrates, actually. But, I’ll be cautious on that for the moment.

2014 Footnote: I’ve been reposting these articles verbatim until now, but I feel like I have to add here that 2004 me was pretty wrong about this. Amun Re and Taj Mahal are both great games, and would likely be the crown jewels of any designer other than Reiner Knizia. Taj Mahal is even an almost-classic which still gets occasional play. But Tigris & Euphrates is the clear masterpiece which I’ve come to appreciate more over time. It also doesn’t help that Taj Mahal has been sort of supplanted by Beowulf, while Tigris & Euphrates has never been emulated.

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