Weekend games for adults too!

11 May

As I mentioned a few days ago, last weekend was a really good one for gaming.

Two friends came over on Saturday night. We started with a quick 3-player game of Nelly (Andreas, Ueli & Lukas Frei, Queen Games). Reading reviews of this, I think that (a) I was missing some sticky bits that might have helped to prevent the turtles slipping off Nelly’s back quite so quickly and (b) I did not take the instruction to “hold your nose” quite literally enough. I will not make the second mistake again!

The meat for the evening, though, was Macao (Stefan Feld, Alea/Rio Grande). Feld is my hero of gaming at the moment because his games are just that good. We were all relatively familiar with this game so there was just a reminder stage rather than an actual rules explanation needed, which is always good.

This was my third play, I think, of Macao. It’s a clever game where you gain resources not for now but for later – and the later you get them, the more you get. Lots of planning and thought – but in micro stages, so the analysis paralysis never becomes overwhelming.There are some bonuses tiles that score at the end of the game, but this is not one of those games (cough Stone Age and Egizia I am looking at you) where you score 12 points during the game and then 5,000 points in Secret End-Game Bonuses. Because I am quite literal-minded, I like to call those, “The Games Melissa Does Not Like.”

Anyway, bonuses aside, I was pleased because I achieved my personal victory condition: Scoring More Than Fraser. I came second to Stefanie but you get quite used to that when you play with Stefanie. And she had THIRTY POINTS in end-game bonuses. (This was the OK kind though because we knew about them. And I had 17 or so.)

The other good thing about Saturday night, apart from Playing Games, was Getting Games. Ever since I heard about Die Burgen von Burgund / Castles of Burgundy (Stefan Feld, Alea), I have wanted to try it. (So has Fraser, not least because he calls it Burgen Burgen Burgen Burgen Burgen and giggles when he says it.) It was originally released in a three-language edition at Essen OMGYEARS ago, but was never picked up by Rio Grande Games for their Alea reprint editions. Now Ravensburger have finally released an English-language edition and I’d been waiting for it to reach Australia.

I had a message from MilSims that it should be in some time last week, so on Friday morning I rang them to find out whether it was in. “We’re just unpacking it now,” they told me – which was great, because the Bigster wanted a copy of Dominion to give her best friend for her birthday, and MilSims’ price on that is nearly half what others charge. The new game wasn’t on their website yet, so I couldn’t order it – so I asked them to put a copy of each aside and then begged a friend to collect them for me. Apparently when she got there they hadn’t even put it on their system yet. How was I so desperate for it! Gamers! *eyeroll*

We didn’t play this on Saturday because it would have been a learning game for us all, but Fraser and I broke it out for a two-player learning game on Sunday night – and it did not disappoint. Another very tight game about making the most of what is available and finding groups that work well together. I’m not very good at this type of game but I enjoy it a lot. We’re still pretty slow, because we’re learning what all the tiles do, but we managed a second play with a friend last night (which featured 37 points of chickens) and scored a lot more than we had before.

And then we played Kingdom Builder (Donald X Vaccarino, Queen Games) which is just fun on cardboard. With house placement. I think I like this more than Dominion.

And I think we’ll play them both again this weekend.


Posted by on May 11, 2012 in games


14 responses to “Weekend games for adults too!

  1. huzonfirst

    May 11, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Happy to see you’re both Fans of the Fabulous Feld, like me. Hopefully, you’ll get the chance to play Trajan soon, which is also excellent. The boy is definitely on a hot streak.

    • Melissa

      May 11, 2012 at 1:24 pm

      We were just talking about Trajan last night. It’s one I’d be happy to buy sight-unseen.

  2. Richard Dewsbery

    May 11, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    I’m not a fan of Feld – his games always hurt in some way (Take In The Year of Dragon – I can see it’s a good game, I just don’t like the way your task is to constantly manage pain so that the game system does the least harm to your score), and however good they might be I never seem to find them any fun. I picked up Macao in German and have never managed to play it, and Trajan turned out to be a game I loathe – far too much thinking layered on top of a pretty standard sort of set collecting game.

    I bought and played Burgen von Burgen Burgen this week; not sure how to take it to be honest. I *quite* liked it, but it ran terribly long (3 hours for a 4-player game), and I wasn’t sue whether all the thinking really contributed to the overall scores at the end of the game. It’s sort of a Hacienda on super-steroids – and Hacienda doesn’t get played any more anyway.

    Kingdom Builder I think is a much more approachable game, but as I wasn’t blown away by it and with Queen’s discounting policy likely to kick in at some point I’ll buy it in a year or two.

    • huzonfirst

      May 12, 2012 at 1:51 am

      Richard, Burgundy definitely gets quicker with experience. It also helps to have a group that doesn’t try to squeeze every last bit of optimal play out of it (which is impossible, anyway) and just finds a decent option and goes with it. Naturally, your “decent options” get better with time. When I first started playing it, my 4-player games were 2.5+ hours and the downtime was a significant problem. But with my current group, the duration is closer to 90 minutes and the game zips along. That makes it one of my favorites of the year.

      Before we cut the time down, I played it a number of times with 3 players and that definitely helped. The 3-player game is almost as good as the 4-player one, IMO. Or, you could go the 2-player route, as Melissa and Fraser did. I’ve always thought it would play very well with 2 and really emphasize the importance of defense.

      Of course, at the end of the day, it’s still Feld, with all the strengths and weaknesses of all his other designs. I’m glad you may have found one of his titles that you enjoy, but even if your duration comes down, it may not be a game that truly clicks for you.

      • Fraser

        May 14, 2012 at 1:41 pm

        After my first play of Burgen Burgen Burgen Burgen Burgen I decided to make a list of well known AP players that I would *not* being playing Burgen Burgen Burgen Burgen Burgen with. It can slow down a little towards then end, although not to the 3 hour stage Richard mentioned (we’ve only played up to three so far)

      • Melissa

        May 14, 2012 at 2:04 pm

        Fraser, do you agree that we’re getting a LOT faster at Burgen^5? I didn’t time our game on Saturday night but I’d say it was at least 1/3 faster than that first game.

      • Melissa

        May 14, 2012 at 2:06 pm

        Oh and Larry – the 2-player game reminds me a little of 2-player Goa – not in the game itself but in the sense that it is really quite different with two. It can be frustrating, when not all the tiles come out and OMG THERE WERE ONLY THREE SHEEP TILES AND I HAD TO BUY TWO OF THEM *cough* – harder to work towards a particular goal, I think – but there’s much more of a sense of competition and the interaction (which is really very indirect) feels much more targeted.

      • huzonfirst

        May 14, 2012 at 2:48 pm

        Melissa, when we play with 3, we reveal which tiles won’t be in the game before the game begins. That way, we know that sheep will be scarce or not to count on a particular Science tile to appear. You could do the same thing with 2. I prefer a game with fewer surprises, but it might not bother you as much (although it sounds like it might).

        • Fraser

          May 14, 2012 at 2:54 pm

          I think it’s just that there were more chicken tiles that game than sheep πŸ˜‰

          • Melissa

            May 14, 2012 at 3:04 pm

            Grumble. But I do quite like the randomness of it. And if they were revealed, I think I would get a bit AP-prone about “were there any of these?” (It’s like when people memorise the number of tiles in Carcassonne. I prefer my games to have surprises.)

          • Fraser

            May 14, 2012 at 3:06 pm

            I would tend to agree. We are now aware that the full complement of any given animal may not come out, so will no longer bank on it. It would be a bit like making a list of the knowledge tiles that are or are not available. Way too prone to AP moments πŸ™‚

      • huzonfirst

        May 14, 2012 at 3:52 pm

        Yes, that’s why I put it the way I did. I don’t obsess over the revealed tiles–I’ll see if any animals are over- or under-represented and will check how many of a specific building is in the supply before deciding whether to take its bonus tile or not. So it doesn’t really add to the downtime in our games at all. But I see how it could add to the game’s AP with some folks.

    • Melissa

      May 14, 2012 at 2:03 pm

      Richard, I’ve not played In the Year of the Dragon, although we own it. I especially like games with restricted number of actions, which is a sweet spot that Feld works very well. Add micro-turns and I am a very happy person indeed. Macao was a big hit for us although it took a long time to get it to the table – and Notre Dame is another Feld favourite that doesn’t see enough play.
      Fraser and I are already finding, after 3 plays, that Burgen^5 is playing more quickly – it’s a game where familiarity really speeds things up enormously.
      I agree that KB is approachable. It’s another that plays really quickly with just 2 players, which I appreciate. Anything that encourages us to get some gaming in in the evening is a good thing for me! πŸ™‚


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