It was a sparse(r) night tonight, just 5 of us, so we started with a quick round of Die Sieben Siegel. Wizard has been quite popular for a long time in our group, but I’d gotten a little tired of it so this is a very nice change of pace. It’s a little more cerebral I think than most Oh Hell variants, which usually works for me. It feels like it has a bit more control. I keep saying I’m going to acquire my own copy, but I haven’t had cause to put in a larger order to any of the usual online suspects yet, and shipping runs almost as much as the game for small stuff like this.
We then had a surprisingly difficult time settling on the next game, given how many great games there are for 5. After a few minutes of waffling we settled on Union Pacific, the classic game from Alan Moon, which we haven’t played in quite some time (and which I was interested in after the slightly less-than-optimal experience with Oasis). This game reminded me a bit why it took me a while to really warm to this game. It is superficially a very chaotic game, and it can seem a bit like you don’t have much control what with how the stock emerges randomly and with the sometimes draconian restrictions on playing stock. Drill down a little bit, though, and it’s clear there are a lot of nice tensions in this game, tough choices to be made, and good players win. Not as reliably as in, say, Acquire, and the final scores seem rather “damped” (it’s hard to win or lose by a big margin barring truly egregious play, and final scores will tend to be close). Still, the game often actively entices you to make bad choices, and you have to resist your instincts.
We played with the rules as printed, that allows you both draft a UP and discard a stock for a UP. For some reason some players don’t like this, and use a variant allowing you to do either or, but I’ve never understand the need or reason for doing this. More choices are good, and the UP simply isn’t as dominating as people seem to think. Our game was won by the player who had the 3rd largest UP holding, followed in 2nd place by the player with the 4th most UP. Like everything else in this game, it’s all about efficiency, not so much having the most of the best, so I think giving the players more options is good.