Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Amuse-bouche: A trio to whet the appetite

Three new games recently arrived in the Jeremy/Giggling One household, having winged their way from the US via GatePlay.com (which, freight included, cost less than the best deal I could find in Australia before freight costs!).

First on the list was an expansion I had been hanging out for for some time: Dominion: Intrigue.

I bought the original earlier this year based on reputation alone (and mainly because I couldn't find another game I wanted to purchase with my games shop voucher) even though I wasn't completely sold on the premise.

Having played eight games of Dominion to date (I knew the Games Record on the sidebar would come in handy one day) I'm still not completely taken by the game. Sure it won the 2009 Spiel des Jahres, but I've never really felt it was that good.

Enter Intrigue which completely shakes things up and makes the game so much more interesting. While the base game had only one real strategy (use Copper to buy Silver -> use Silver to buy Gold -> use Gold to buy Provinces), Intrigue adds a whole new set of ways to win.

In particular, the cards that double as Victory Cards and Action Cards add an intriguing (ho ho) level to the desirability of Kingdom card, and with cards like Duke making Duchies worth purchasing, I think I'm going to enjoy this game a whole lot more.

Second on my gotta get list was Pandemic.

Having heard and read a lot about this game, and having seen the accolades it has received, it was an easy decision to purchase Pandemic.

I was also keen to add a co-op game to my collection, and Pandemic fits the bill nicely. I've only played it once so far, in a two player game at the beginner level (four epidemics) with The Giggling One, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I can see that it's going to take some kick arse strategies to beat this game at harder difficulties as we barely won with just four epidemics. Playing with the Dispatcher and Scientist, we were very close to running out of red cubes (only three left).

We found that we were better off trading cards and curing diseases, as trying to eradicate diseases was just too damn frustrating: just when you only have a few cubes of one colour left, a whole new bunch come on to the board in cities you've already cleared.

I'm definitely taking Pandemic to the next HoGS night.

The final game in the trio was one I was not intending to buy, but I'm bloody glad I did. While I was browsing GatePlay's website waiting for Pandemic to come back in stock, I came across Stone Age.

I had read one or two things about Stone Age, and it looked interesting, so I read (and watched) some reviews which helped me make my mind up about it.

Stone Age falls in the "worker placement" genre, and being a big fan of The Pillars of the Earth and Agricola, I thought I would like it.

And I do. As does The Giggling One. We gave this a go in a two player game, and The Giggling One absolutely trounced me. I employed my usual Agricola strategy and concentrated too much on getting extra workers, leaving me with food shortages necessitating sending workers hunting for food instead of obtaining other resources or cards. Don't do that is my advice.

All three games need loving, and will certainly be vying for my attention at coming games nights.

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