Some thoughts about recent games
Factory Manager — Now that I’ve played a few times (after my aborted two player attempt), I believe there’s a good (bone-dry) game here. There should be tension in the bidding, particularly the novel fact that you bid costs personal actions for yourself AND opportunities for all players. The more you bid, the fewer actions you get; but also the fewer tiles available. So if your opponents bid zero (or maybe one) and have a decent number of actions, bidding one more to go last (for the big discount on multiple tiles) or first (to get the best tiles) rocks. But if you bid one to go last and then everyone starts bidding 1-2, you are likely to miss out.
But that’s theoretical tension, and in practice our bidding seems lax, and most players just take what’s available without thinking. Too much going on? I don’t know. I suspect it will take everyone 3-5 games to start getting into it, and I’m not sure my group will last that long. Still, I’m willing to gut it out.
Vasco de Gama — After playing this, my mind wandered to JBDG’s article about Bombs … and the Vasco do Gama worker-placement arrangement (where you pick your position, and some positions are free, but others cost more and more) versus the Caylus mechanism (with the provost). Caylus, clearly, has da bomb. And Vasco de Gama lowers the stakes. On the other hand, you have some cases where people press their luck to get the first ship out, but that only matters if they have prepared ships left over from last turn (usually not ideal). I’ve had Caylus in the bag for a while, and this does nothing to supplant it.
Peleponnes — Well, it’s fast. I’m not sure what to think about this. This feels like a gourmet meal where you get one baby carrot sauced with a nice cilantro and a sprig of parsley in an otherwise-empty plate. You manage resources, money, population, disasters, etc! But you only have 8 auctions, so “managing” seems too strong. Perhaps I’m just confused because the first disaster to hit cost one player 10 resources and the other players … nothing. Shorter games should have more chaos, but should games with few decision points have more or less chaos?
Peleponnes doesn’t feel like a Civ in 2 Hours candidate, just because it doesn’t feel like a Civ game. It’s an auction game that happens to have resources. I like that cilantro, but I’m hungry, dammit. I’ll try it again, but only because I haven’t kicked my addiction to novelty. I expect after another few games I’ll never have a desire to suggest this.