Wednesday, December 02, 2009

All new! All singing! All dancing!

Shiny! Shiny!
We were 4 for games on Sunday, pleasing Gav because we came in under the 5-player limit which is one of the new features of the Risk (Revised Edition) he'd been inspired to buy after my comments about our recent big game of the current edition of classic Risk. A combination of Gav's bubbling enthusiasm for his new toy coupled with natural curiosity in the face of a radical redesign of this popular and well-known game meant that Tony- whose pick it was, was happy to elect to try the new game.

What went down
We played the 4-player starter game: a fixed setup for quickstart, and no rewards for objectives. This proved to be a great way to get rolling. The inevitable clunks and fumbles aside, the logical and coherent revised rules proved easy to pick up and we soon found ourselves playing a game that felt a bit like classic Risk with added blitzkrieg- a lot of fun, let me tell you!

Gav almost won in round 4- by controlling 2 enemy capitals, so grabbing that game-winning 3rd objective; and he'd gone first, meaning that he'd've won in turn 13 of a 4-player game. He was foiled in the end by triple then double 1's on attack rolls as his overstretched forces' would-be 'final offensive' petered out. Still, we'd seen an example of just how dynamic the new Risk really is, of just how much more it rewards aggressive play than does the classic edition.

I began holed up in Australasia and grabbed Asia too just before Gav's premature 'last big push' in N. America. No one made any spoiling attacks to deny me Asia's resources and I reaped a satisfyingly numerous 18 units on my next turn, which gave me my own 2nd objective. After this I made the mistake of playing the game with classic Risk's tempo, regrouping for 2 turns instead of launching an attack to steal Gav's capital- you can't win without your capital, no matter how many objectives you've taken. Gav's second great N. American offensive went in on turn 6 and Tony's capital fell to join Andy's under Gav's iron heel.

The conqueror
The conquered 0

This rocks! More when I've had another game and had a chance to pore over the components a bit.

Woof! Woof!
My recent family visit taking me east, I spent an afternoon in Dundee catching up with an old buddy. Rainy Saturday afternoon or not, how could I resist checking out Highlander Games (website not updated in 10 years, but the address and telephone are at least still correct) while in town? I'd last visited some 4 years ago, so it was pleasing to find the store- and Gary- still there. I had a nice chat, and came away with a copy of the Lamont brothers' newest game- Snow Tails, which regular readers might remember Gordon demoed for me at UK Games Expo'09 in Birmingham back in June.

Keen to give my new game a runout, I brought Snow Tails to the table on Sunday. The game's essential simplicity was soon evident as Andy was able to get us moving in short order by taking over the rules, getting things set up (the beginners' track- the Nutcracker, right), and telling us all what to do. We could find only one point which was less than clear in the otherwise solid rules: how do you determine your speed- for purposes of safe cornering, when using bonus movement for balanced sleds? It didn't take long for us to figure that you'd only count the bonus movement if you'd actually used it to enter the corner. In the cool view of hindsight I can now see that this was the sensible interpretation.

What went down
The cardplay proved as taxing as I'd remembered, with Andy making reference to the infamous 'Roborally shuffle'. There was hilarity all round as we cursed our damn cards and wondered what the frakk we were going to do. I had made some points about how Gordon's disdain for dents had given him his victory in June's demo, so Gav took an early lead at the expense of 2 dents to his sled. He lost this lead around the halfway mark, but regained it shortly thereafter thanks to sneaking in through the oh so tight inside lane of a U-turn (above).

It was me and Gav nip and tuck in the home straight. Gav crossed the line first, but I finished 1 space in front when my move was done- the winner!

World beater
Dog beater 1
Dogs awaiting their days 0

Family-friendly theme and gameplay make Snow Tails a strong candidate to bring to the table to complement classic family boardgames like Monopoly or Cluedo. Moreover, a game that experienced gamers- of any genre, can get up and running within 15-20 minutes of opening the box strikes me as ideal fodder for festive family fun. So Snow Tails should be a good bet for gamers looking for some boardgames action on xmas day.

Around our table? Racing games- non-violent or otherwise, are not exactly the most popular genre with Sunday's crew; but everyone enjoyed the game and there were neither major complaints nor flatout refusals ever to play again. Snow Tails might not be the most common visitor to our Sunday session tables, but I'm sure its occasional appearances will be as regular as at least I can make them.

"All change!"-: again?!
We had time for one last quickie before dinner- my favourite meatball lasagne Millefoglie alla 'guardiese'. I'd also just bought the latest edition (v4.0) of Looney Labs' #1 moneyspinner- Fluxx, so out it came.

My excuse for buying my 3rd copy of original Fluxx was that it has 16 extra cards. It also has new full colour artwork, but it was the cards which got me. There are new cards of the familiar types, but also 2 entirely new kinds of card:
  • Creepers: brand new, or old cards recategorised, Creepers are anti-Keepers; ie. you must keep them, and- barring a few exceptions- you can't win while you do; the 'Radioactive Potato' provoked much amusement on Sunday.
  • The Metarule: an optional rule modifying the basic rules but which cannot be removed as can new rules; interestingly, the metarule in the v4.0 set was invented by games designer and author Keith Baker who- regular readers might remember, was a guest chez yours truly during his world tour back in June.
We only had time for one game, which was insufficient properly to judge what effect the changes have had on the game. So far I like them; but then, I would: it's mine, and I won.

Would-be ruler on the make
Leader of the pack, making the rules 2
The pack, shuffling nervously 0

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