I’m back from the 2009 Gathering of Friends, the 10 day long boardgaming con. I’m also (mostly) recovered.
This year, I focused more on relaxing, hanging out with fellow designers, and playing prototypes moreso than playing every new board game that came out. (Also, I made the final table of both the Loopin’ Louie and Hold ‘Em tournaments).
That said, there were 3 stand out games that I played that were “must buys” for me.
From the same designer and publisher as Galaxy Trucker, this is the kind of game I always wanted to invent but never did. It’s a co-operative game, set on a space ship. Unfortunately, space creatures start to attack the ship both from the outside and within, and you have 10 minutes (in real time) to try and deal with them. Basically, you work with your fellow crew members to plan ahead your moves, firing laser cannons, powering up the shields, and managing the power. (And making sure the ship’s screen saver doesn’t come on by wiggling the mouse occasionally- seriously!) You have 10 minutes to plan your moves, and a CD plays and tells you when new threats will arrive, as well as throwing in additional complications like the communications system going down and losing the ability to talk to your shipmates. Then once the 10 minutes are up, you run out your moves and see if the space ship completes its mission and then jumps away… or gets torn apart by space squid.
It combines several game types that I enjoy but others might not (co-operative, real time, programming) to create a really unique experience. Plus, the different tracks on the CD, decks of cards, and tracks that the bad guys follow all make for a very replayable game. Combined, it avoids many of the problems of co-operative games…. and you get to crew a spaceship. How cool is that?
This sums it up perfectly: “Reiner Knizia’s Tetris: The Board Game.”
This is a multiplayer puzzle where everyone has the same bank of pieces (including all the tetris pieces, but also pentominoes and a few other smaller pieces). Everyone starts with a different piece on their own board, then new pieces are flipped up from a deck. You then slide that piece down your board into place. The basic objective is to leave as few gaps as possible, but each level (there are 4 in every game) poses its own challenges dictated by the board you use.
If it all sounds simple, it is. But there’s a lot going on for it: a mix of luck and strategy that make it really interesting. It’s the kind of design that makes me both love and hate Knizia.
Unfortunately, to the disappointment of many I’m sure, I cannot yet talk about it since it was still in prototype form. I will point you to the BGG page on it which contains all the publicly known information so far, including that it will include a full set of cards to play the game by itself without needing the base set (and to replace your worn-down coppers from all that shuffling). There’s also information about 3 of the cards that will be in the set. What those cards don’t tell you is that there’s far more decision-making in this set: many cards give you options of “do A or B.”
I liked the new cards, but honestly, I think I’ll like them a lot more when I mix them in with the original set. I didn’t particularly care for using all expansion cards in the games I played, but I see a lot of possibilities when combined with some of the staples from the original set. Of course, I’m buying it no matter what: Dominion is the biggest game to hit our group in a long time.