The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

The Quick Review & The Economics of Time

My overall thought — Eh

I’ve been playing European games for a long time, and my tastes (over the last several years) have moved back towards longer games. It seems to me that most of the new games had a ‘been there, done that’ feel to them. They weren’t bad, but I felt no strong desire to play them again at the Gathering. These games included In the Shadow of the Emperor, Amazonas, Australia, Leapfrog, Tower of Babel, Ticket to Ride Europe, and Ubongo. Full details are available elsewhere. Which isn’t to say that I won’t play again. I’ll probably give most of them another shot. It all comes down to the time constraints.

The Gathering allows me to play long games, new games, or chat with friends. In this equation, short new games lose. I can play them in a few weeks (when they hit the streets) at a weekly gaming session. But even playing 3 hour games proves problematic. And I can’t catch up with non-locals anywhere else.

Given that these games appear to be ‘variations on a theme,’ I felt no pressing need to play them again. They weren’t bad. They weren’t great. Eh.

I played Louis XIV twice, and I think that it may have been the hit of the show. But I don’t know. Partially people played it because there were multiple copies available (and then Jay brought some from Rio Grande’s new printing). It was new and easy to get into a game. By contrast, there was only a single copy of Heckmeck (and Shadows over Camelot). So Louis gave the appearance of being the hit. Ditto In the Shadow of the Emperor.

But I don’t think there was a hit this year. I’m confident that there was no Puerto Rico or Settlers. There are lots of good games, but no game will stand head and shoulders above the crowd, and I suspect we won’t be playing many of them three years down the line.

Games that struck me as having more novel mechanics were Reef Encounter, Around the World in 80 Days, Neuland, and Shadows of Camelot.

I could be talked into playing almost any of those games again; some of them may actually be worth buying. But they generally weren’t worth playing again last week.

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Written by taogaming

April 18, 2005 at 5:21 pm

Posted in Convention Reports

One Response

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  1. Funny, I was talking with a few friends, and my review of most of the new games was the same as yours … “eh”. Especially Amazonas, Australia, Leapfrog (can’t believe I was talked into that one), TtR:E, and Heckmeck.

    Tower of Babel, though, I thought was pretty good. I still like having some lightish, shorter games around, and Babel was definitely much better than the rest.

    Louis XIV looked good, but I think will suffer from being an “inbetween” game – meatier than alea’s small-box stuff, but lighter than the big-box games. It was in a sweet spot for me, but I doubt it will be highly replayable. I deliberately avoided playing it more than once, to avoid burning it out right away.

    Shadow of the Emperor I’m of mixed minds on. It’s cool and different. But I’m not sure the game really works.

    Chris Farrell

    April 18, 2005 at 7:40 pm


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