Broad appeal, anyway.
Wasn’t too long ago that I spent a Saturday playing Small World, The Scepter of Zavandor, Dominion, and 7 Wonders. Last week, the first three.
It’s time to play a new boardgame (including boardcardgames). The question is: which one?
Before getting further into that, what’s wrong with the above?
Small World is adequate, in my mind. I’d rather play it than El Grande or Tigris & Euphrates, two other games that feel more tactical to me, even if the entirety of Small World’s interaction mechanics is really strategic. It just feels like it’s missing something. I played Small World Underground at KublaCon, which had more things going on, but I don’t know that more things going on is a good thing. The elegance (and balance) of the game can very easily be lost.
I’d rather play Chariot Lords and its ilk if I’m going to play a game of armies showing up, beating down stiff-necked people, and going into decline.
I mentioned previously how I feel about Scepter. Not really changed. For whatever reason, I enjoy it and still keep trying to do different things to the extent that that is possible. I really hated playing Outpost, but maybe, that was due to not having enough experience to understand correct play or because Outpost was much harsher. Scepter is the group’s favorite game, so something with similar features would make the most sense.
But, there’s barely anything left to do. I played Druid in one of those sessions and never went to the gems track, losing by 2 points that I could have squeezed out somewhere with better play, ending the game with only five rubies as my gems. We did converse in the car ride home about how unexciting the emerald strategy is, which makes me want to try it. I so often play an opal, sapphire, production artifact strategy no matter my role that I can’t really remember what it’s like to do emeralds.
Dominion is still repetitive. Race for the Galaxy would interest me much more, but one of our players hates it. 7 Wonders is a bit programmed with just the base set.
Of course, if we had a more varied number of players, I think the games would show off other features. We always have four with this group. I know Scepter plays differently with a different, especially odd, number of players, 7 Wonders uses different cards, Small World has a different board, though I don’t know how much that will change the feel of the game, and Dominion is Dominion.
We have access to other games. Puerto Rico, though, feels played out to me. Settlers is Settlers. I don’t bring Pizarro & Co. as another player hates it. I don’t bring Age of Empires III because I find it rather dull, even if the figures/ships are aesthetically pleasing. Caylus is a game I don’t look favorably on. Etc. I did bring In The Year Of The Dragon last time, but I just don’t find it compelling. It actually has a similar feel in mechanics to me of Small World in that there’s just not enough going on for me to care, whether there’s enough going on for the game to be objectively a good game or not.
I would, of course, prefer doing HeroQuest, but that’s not in the same vein as Euroboardgames.
So, I did some boardgamegeek research. I went to the top of the ratings and worked down to some degree. I didn’t revisit Power Grid, hoping for something newer to be well suited to the group. I think we want something on the lighter side, if not necessarily light, with low paralysis by analysis issues, manageable amounts of fiddly bits, low treachery/backstabbing, and maybe the right flavor.
Le Havre has an amazing review. It’s reasonably positive, has lots of things you can do … Probably has too many things you can do. While the suggestion is to simply do something and learn rather than overanalyze, I’d imagine a game with lots going on may lead to AP (analysis paralysis).
Ora et Labora just sounded worse for our group than Le Havre. In one review, it mentions being more difficult than Le Havre while either being a reimagining of that game or a cross between it and Agricola. I rather despise Agricola, with only the animal management being kind of amusing. Anyway, I’m leery of Euroboardgames where the reviewers think it’s dense or the strategy is complex.
I did not look at Through the Ages (this time), but if you read one of my few boardgame posts where I mentioned playing, you can imagine why. I think it has weak flavor, nonintuitive mechanics, requires memorization unlike, say, 7 Wonders where memorization will make you a better player but isn’t necessary to being competitive, and is too long for the payoff.
Brass sounded like a nice theme. My notes from reading a review are “too dense, too harsh”.
Dominant Species review makes it sound too mean for what I want to play.
I can see about trying to sneak in a game like Race for the Galaxy to see if the player will hate Eminent Domain and/or Glory to Rome as well, but I didn’t get a chance to read their reviews.
Nor did I get a chance to read Steam’s reviews, though I might have long enough ago that I forgot what they said.
In terms of games I could see playing but not necessarily getting, Stone Age and Phoenicia would both be strong candidates. What I fear with both is that they too quickly become a bore. I don’t think Stone Age is all that great a game, I just thought, after a couple of plays, that it’s reasonable as a low stress game. Phoenicia I’ve only played twice and it seems limited, but it was low stress and otherwise pleasant right away.
While I’d like to play Glen More again, I don’t feel like I’ve played it enough to recommend it, and I’m not sure whether the group would enjoy it. Galaxy Trucker kind of fits in this camp as well. Merchants of Venus would probably work for the group, but there’s a reason I haven’t played it in ages – it seemed to quickly become rather mediocre as an experience. Modern Art would make sense for the group, but I feel like I’ve played that out.
So, what’s the conclusion? Study reviews of Phoenicia? Read reviews of the other Zavandor themed games, like The Mines of Zavandor? Keep looking at games from Steam down on BGG’s rankings? Play other stuff? Not like there’s a shortage of boardgaming in the area. I think it’s nearly every day of the week somewhere in the Bay Area.
Suggestions for a game that would seem to fit this group are welcome.