Megallurgie is a new game from Argentum, the folks who brought us the Garden Gnome game. This is basically a tile-laying game in card game format. You are trying to form contiguous areas of like-typed metals (iron, copper, silver, gold), but the trick is that copper always has to be stacked on top of iron, silver on copper, and so on, so the game has a layered feel. Once you complete a group, you score a point, and have to remove some of the cards from that group, leaving new metals revealed (except for iron, which will shrink the playing surface). It’s listed as 2-4 on the box, and I had played once before with 2, which I think is the ideal number. With more, you have the problem that if you screw up, you benefit the player to your left, which is a little awkward always. It’s kinda neat, it’s different, and I don’t regret the $5 or so I spent on it as an Adam Spielt throw-in … but not a great game by any stretch. The $12 FunAgain is asking is too much.
Zwergen Ziehen is a kid’s game. Not bad, but as card games go, it’s just a silly diversion for the 12+ set. I enjoyed the 10 minutes or so we spent on it, but would not have wanted to invest more. Better than How Ruck! in the tug-of-war games genre, but that’s not saying a lot.
After a second time out for Reef Encounter, I remain really impressed. It’s a great management/tactical game. This might have a shot at the best German-type game of the year. I even managed to win, on the strength of a big score in a dominant (5-point) coral. I was nervous because I had invested a lot in that one reef, spending inefficiently to grow it and lock in the big points; but it turned out to be worth it. Again, a few more games will be required, but this seems much better than Keythedral, so hopefully there will be a reprint.
Addenda on Ys: I forgot to point out after my last game that I actually discovered we had been playing slightly incorrectly. Collected gems are supposed to be open, while we had been intuitively putting them behind the screen (why else is there a screen?). Even after the mistake was discovered, we continued to play that way. Next time I’ll try to play the “right” way, but I seriously doubt it will change my opinion much. Open vs secret scoring is often a matter of personal preference, and 99% of the time I’ll go with keeping things secret, and it usually seems the right thing to do (the sole exception I can think of is Acquire, in which I prefer open holdings). It depends on what degree of analytical heavy lifting you want. I guess my feeling is that German-type games are usually pretty casual by nature, on the scale of these things.