Posted by: david865williams | July 3, 2012

My first con of the summer, thoughts on a few games

Just got back from my first trip to Oasis of Fun in Atlanta. Summer is my time to stay up PAST 9:00 playing games, and it was nice to get away for a few days to push some meeples.

The new hotness at the convention was a game called Village. Every time I looked around, it was on a table. It’s a worker placement game with a couple of twists. Instead of filling an empty slot on the board, you take a cube from the board which acts as a resource you can spend now or later, and as your ticket to perform an action in that area. More novel, though, was the management of death. Your meeples in Village may live long and distinguished lives and, upon their passing, be recorded in the village chronicle, bringing notoriety to your family. So not only do you manage how your people live in Village, you manage how, when, and where they die to gain points. This game feels fresh, but it did not make it above a 7 for me. I can enjoy games where there’s just too much going on to accurately calculate and compare the value of actions, but they usually don’t make it into that “must play” category for me. Village holds my interest, and I will happily sit down to it, but I won’t be twisting your arm to play it.

More intriguing for me was Edo. This has the feel of a worker placement, but the limiting factor in your moves is not racing your fellow players to spots on the board, but instead a novel system of selecting actions. Each of the 10 or so standard actions occupies one-fourth of a square tile (hereafter “card”, but they’re nice and thick cardboard). Some of the most common actions are duplicated on different cards. To plan your turn, you orient each of your 3 cards on a rack so that the action you selected is on the bottom. So, for instance, you may want to gather stone and build a new building, but Doh!, those two actions are on the same card. You can only do one of them! This makes for some interesting planning. You can buy extra cards from a supply to give you more flexibility in future turns, but THAT costs an action and money. Is it worth it? There’s also a bit of a prisoner’s dilemma in that if everyone gathers rice, everyone gathers less. If you’re the only one, you gather more. Edo has some novel decisions, and an original color palette. It’s a game I’ll be looking to play more.

Sun, Sea, and Sand was out at least 4 times during the weekend. For a game that was never released in the States, it has steadily gained popularity. As people play it, they like it. It’s an hour-long brightly colored excursion into building a beach resort, and became my first ever must-have game at Gulf Games 28in Gatlinburg last summer.

Another favorite of mine that bears mention is Lancaster. It baffles me that this game hasn’t taken off. No one brought it to Oasis, but Peter Hendee was nice enough to text his brother Andy. I had seen Andy grab Lancaster as the very first pick off the prize table at GG28. So Andy brought Lancaster when he arrived the next day and it was– unpunched! Argh! It’s like finding out your dream girl left the dance with another guy, but he just dropped her off at 10:30! I coulda worn the stickers off the knights if I’d had that game this whole time. But I digress. Ian applied stickers while I sorted cardboard. Our first game didn’t go well. We could only find one more person, and with only 3 players, there’s just no tension to Lancaster. Howerver, our pupil cleaned my plow, and edged out Ian, and he was very positive about the game. My zeal for Lancaster was restored the next evening when we got a 5-player game up. This game was fantastic, everything Lancaster (and board gaming) is supposed to be. Lots of interesting decisions, tactics, speculation on opposing moves, and a few exciting moments of “will-it-or-won’t-it” work when making a bit of a gambit in knight placement. All 3 new players were definitely ready to play again, including one who admitted he caught on late to some key mechanics, and really got left behind in this play. He said he could still appreciate what a great game it is.

I don’t own a copy. Yet. But my resolve is wavering. I may have to have this game. And if I get it, you all should hold still and let me teach it to you.

One other game that made a impression on me was Florenza, even though I didn’t play it. (Here we go again, right?) No, I’m not claiming to have grokked this game, but Greg was playing it with a group at the table next to me while I learned Edo. Apparently, Florenza has the most exciting 6-sided die rolls in the history of random chance. The noise coming from that table was quite enthusiastic. I’m not sure how well I’d actually like it, if luck has people that wound up about a die roll, but it’d be nice to be that excited about a game. Not exactly the dry, calculating detachment that leads one to victory in Power Grid.

Thanks for reading! Hopefully I’ll sit down across from you at one of these games soon.

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Responses

  1. This was my fourth (or fifth?) Oasis of Fun and, as always, I had a splendid time. Like most game conventions, the socializing with fellow gamers is even more fun than the games themselves. I always enjoy getting together with familiar folks and meeting new folks. This year was no exception, as I met some great new folks that are now friends.

    Yes, David, Florenza was great. It truly is a fascinating and fun game, albeit a bit long (3 1/2 hours). Lots of planning and choices, plus some fun dice rolls that caused us to chant “one, one, one” over-and-over again as we attempted to influence the dice rolls. This is a hidden gem, one that has been overlooked by the gaming community. A true shame.

  2. I liked Village, Edo, and Sun, Sea and Sand. Lancaster was not a favorite of mine but I can see why others like it.


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