Warriors: This is the Alan R Moon/Richard Borg game from Face 2 Face. It came out sometime late last year; I passed on it due to the 8+ on the side of the box and the fact that Face 2 Face does not yet have a winning track record for me (I’ve always disliked Kohl, Kies, und Knete/I’m the Boss rather intensely, and Buy Word seemed like a half-finished game to me). This is apparently an attempt to do Risk in a card game format, and I’d say it succeeded: it’s fairly tedious, random, and feels vaguely pointless while you’re playing it. Play some cards, pick on someone to attack, misunderstand the surprisingly fiddly rules, roll some dice. I see no reason to play this game as an adult, and I’m having a hard time spinning a reason to inflict it on your kids either. It’s rather cheap at least. And it is short. But play Clash of the Gladiators instead.
Candamir: Last time I played this, I thought this was a rather clever system with potential. I still do, but I don’t think that the game actually in the box delivers on the potential. The game is just too long and doesn’t quite have the player interaction a Settlers-style game requires. You spend too much time off in the wilderness, not trading or interacting with the other players. Otherwise, a lot of the game is great, but for a long game it’s missing the momentum that keeps you going. Interestingly, Teuber’s other most recent Settlers spin-off, Anno 1503, had the same problem. I am aware that Starfarers of Catan had similar initial play length problems, and eventually came down to a comfortable 90-120 minute play length, and I now consider it a classic. But in Starfarers, there were obvious efficiency gains to be made by knowing what you’re doing. It’s not clear that this is the case for Candamir. The game is largely in the flavor of adventuring, which is rather well-done, but not quite cool enough to keep me going for the length of the game.
Diamant: When I first played Diamant a couple weeks ago, I liked it well enough, but was taken a bit aback by what you’ve got to pay for it here in the US (and even the €20+ in the Europe is a bit steep). Further play has solidified it as a nice game, but basically a pretty plain-vanilla guessing game, good as filler, fun, but not something you’d want to pay that much for.
Louis XIV: This is now up to about 5 plays, and doing well. I quite enjoy it, but I have a hard time seeing how it’s going to make it past about 15 games or so. There just isn’t enough variability in the system for it to have strong replay value – the texture of the game is going to be pretty much the same each time. 15 plays is rather good, though, and I’m quite happy with the $25 I spent on it.
And finally, an older game …
Trias: Trias is a pretty straightforward influence game: get the most guys on various continents, which evolve as the game goes on. I think what keeps Trias coming off the shelf occasionally is just how differently the board develops each game, even though the continental drift rules are so simple. Sometimes you get dinky little continents breaking off one at a time, sometimes the big central island takes forever to break up, sometimes you get a few big islands, sometimes you get a bunch of dinky ones, sometimes you get a mix. It always has a different feel. It’s not a deep game, so it’s going to be one of those games you keep on your shelf and bring out only a few times a year, and it would probably suffer if overplayed. But given that constraint, a very nice little game.