Gaming in Germany was looking pretty light on, really. I’d been so busy, apart from when people specifically came over to game, I was not even playing much with the kids.
Friday night, during dinner, Eleanor asked whether we could play “The Underground game with the Moles” – this is Buddel-Wuddel (English title Rig-a-dig Dig), a HABA game by Kramer and Ulrich.
Each player has 3 moles. At the start of the game, you load your moles onto two mine carts, one at a time. The mine carts only hold 4 moles, so in a 4-player game you start with only 2 travelling moles. On your turn, you roll the dice and then move either cart (whether or not it contains one of your moles) up to the shown number of spaces – and then rotate it a quarter turn. If the cart is adjacent to a space with a gnome on it (and most of the track *is* adjacent to those spaces), the mole (if any) that is adjacent to the gnome is kidnapped by the gnome and has to get out of the car. (If there was already a mole on the gnome space, it can hop back in.)
Any moles that are still in the car at the end of the track get treasure. The car is then re-set to the start and another placement round occurs.
There’s a little more to it than that, but it’s a very fun little game and worthy of more atttention than just “OMG! There’s a HABA game on special! I must buy it NOW!”
Since we were already sitting at the table, once the girls had gone to bed, Fraser and I started in on the little games that I’d picked up.
First game was another HABA title, Tier auf Tier: Das Duell.
Now we think Tier auf Tier (Animal upon Animal) is a fantastic little dexterity game – but neither of us was really impressed with this one. Each player takes 4 animals (an octopus, a squirrel, a goose and a *something else – possibly a goat*.). One player then rolls the two dice: the big die shows which animal must be on the bottom, the smaller one which must be on the top. And then it’s a race to be the first to get your four animals stacked. We won one round each and decided it could go away – it wasn’t really exciting us. I am not sure it would go over particularly well with children, as these animals are a bit harder to stack. Must try. I do, however, wonder whether it’s possible to combine the pieces from 2 copies of this with the pieces from Tier auf Tier. I suspect the scale is different..
Fortunately, the next three games were more successful.
First up was Ausgerechnet Uppsala! I had heard about this game and thought it sounded fabulous – basically, in very simplified form, you’re betting on whether a town is to the North, South, East or West of another town. Only problem is, you’ve probably never heard of half the places listed.
I thought I would be quite good at this, but Fraser won by a very embarassing 14 to my 3. And two of those 3 were for successfully guessing, in the last round, that we had six towns in the wrong place. Every time I got points, Fraser took them away from me. All that wargaming meant he knew general areas for a lot more obscure places than I did, and for some that were not so obscure.
We had a blast.
I may have to desecrate this set, though, and write on some of the cards – they use the German names for some places. Whether крастны площадь or Rote Platz is easier to understand, I leave to your imagination, but in our set it is going to be re-named Red Square. (yes, I know my Russian spelling is woeful these days).
Definitely need more of this game.
Next was Keltis: Der Weg der Steine. This is the small version of the boardgame of the card game, I believe, and is another in the around-5-Euro price bracket.
Fraser and I haven’t played Keltis yet, but we’ve played a bit of Lost Cities. I think I like this better. It seemed faster, and I think the simplified scoring makes it more accessible. The rules are very simple: On your turn, either take a faced tile or flip a tile and take it or leave it. You have at most 1 row in each colour, which may go either up or down. Tiles with celtic clover give you an immediate second turn, other tiles have wishing stones (bonus for total at end of game) or bonus points (point value at end of game). I won handily, 42 to Fraser’s 22.
Last for the evening was Einfach Genial: Wer zu viel riskiert, verliert (a small push-your-luck game in the Ingenious family). I had bought this originally, thinking it must be a mini mini version of Ingenious, thinking that the game’s title was just commentary. I realised my mistake when the pieces turned out to be single rather than double tiles.
The goal of the game is to be the first to collect 7 tiles in each of the 6 symbols/colours. At the start of the game, three tiles are turned over from the heap in the middle of the table (even the rules acknowledge that it’s unlikely to be a neat pile). On a player’s turn, they turn over tiles until they bust, or until they decide to stop. You bust if your tile matches one that you’ve already faced that round, or if it does NOT match one of the face-up tiles – and then your pieces go into that face-up area as well, to sweeten the pot. If you don’t bust, you see, you take not only the tiles you turned over but also any matching ones from the faced times in the centre of the table.
Once you get to 7 tiles of a colour/symbol, you say INGENIOUS! (does anyone else enforce that rule, I wonder) and take a second turn.
We both really enjoyed this one. Quick and light, but very fun. It also has the world’s best tile sheet ever – one large hexagon (for the rules summary card) and one teeny tiny little hexagon in one corner. Heh. I won by a pinch, exploiting the “at any time, instead of taking a turn, you may take exactly 1 tile from the faced-area” rule (Fraser still had 2 colours to complete).
Meanwhile, in the UK I tried a couple of games that were unfamiliar as well
Hoppladi-Hopplada is another lovely little dice game in the series that includes Heckmeck. I played this with the Shire Gamers last week and really enjoyed it, despite my usual luck with dice games. The push-your-luck element works particularly well.
Genial Spezial is another big box game in the Ingenious family, where players make connections between different spaces. I enjoyed it, and I don’t usually like abstracts much.
Bunte Runde is a charming children’s set collection game.
Wobbally is a very fun game in the Jenga style, but with balls.
And Heckmeck in the teeny tiny tin is beyond adorable.
Thanks to Steve in Cardiff, Shire Gamers, a Hippo, Jon in York, Mike and Robert for the gaming while I was away. And special thanks to Fraser, who let me go out on the town while he stayed at the hotel with the children.