Here are just a few random comments on some of the games that got played today (I wasn’t in all of them):
Carabande: We played on one track plus one expansion set, which is really the way to go. People get sucked into these huge track layouts because it looks so cool, but game-wise, one set and three laps really is ideal, and even that might be just a touch too long.
Atlantic Star: One of the few really good games for 6. On the one hand, it is pretty serial and so can be a touch slow, but on the other hand you get to groan as the good ships/actors you need come and go before you get a chance to snag them. And there are really painful choices almost every turn. A fun game, if not quite top-tier.
The Dream Game: I don’t know how many readers will be familiar with this, as I couldn’t find a reference for it online (perhaps it has a different “official” name?). This is a party game, the basic idea of which is that topics are chosen (say, U.S. Presidents), and then each player writes down some words for that category (say, Fred Washington). You then get points for how many other people write that word/name/phrase/whatever down, regardless of correctness or any other factors. Fairly weak as these things go, certainly nothing on Celebrites or Apples to Apples, two popular “gamer’s” party games. It lacks any inherent fun value. Play Personal Preference with a group of friends who all know each other, or Time’s Up/Celebrities with a mixed group.
The Wrath of Rohan: This scenario is one from The Two Towers, in which the Rohirrim attempt to run down the fleeing Uruk-Hai. Chase scenarios have issues by default, and despite promise, I think this scenario just doesn’t quite work after all – the Rohirrim just don’t have enough time to catch up and make things interesting. Not one I’ll play again without some modification, I think.
Titan: the Arena: Great game – simple, fun, yet subtle, and it has stood up quite well over time. Looking forward to the re-issue this summer.
St. Petersburg: This game is still holding up pretty well, and I like it. Sure, it certainly isn’t a top-shelf type game – not something that will still be played a lot next year – but it is fun and interesting, and it is at the right price point given all that. Tough choices throughout, yet not so tough the game gets bogged down.
Tigris & Euphrates: I played this with one friend who had played many times before and two more who had never played. I like this game quite a bit, but it is terribly difficult to play with people of differing experience levels. There is a couple-game learning curve in which you really just have no idea what you are doing and are just trying various things to see what happens (one of the great things about Settlers was that it was a subtle enough game to be quite engaging, yet familiar and approachable enough that smart new players who are paying attention can play well).