The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

As my wallet gently weeps

With the upcoming release of Pegstivus, I’m getting ready to place my order … Ideally I’d like to just do one big online order, but I’m still not sure where or what. (I don’t really need to buy Pegstivus, as there will be quite a few local copies, so it’s not a pressing issue).

What will I be buying? Well, that assumes more planning than I normally make … right now there are two categories

Good titles I’d buy, but there is a local copy, so I don’t know:

  • Pegstivus
  • Automobile (also, a reprint)
  • Snow Tails
  • Dominion + Intrigue

Unknown titles that intrigue me, and there’s no local copy (italics mean I know little about it, so chime up):

  • FITS
  • Say Anything
  • Steel Driver (based on Larry’s comment)
  • Pruesschise Autobahn
  • Masters of Venice
  • Planet Steam
  • Shadow Hunters
  • Tales of the Arabian Knights
  • Die Hexer von Salem
  • Uruk
  • Roll through the Ages
  • Endeavour (based on some comments from last time)

It may be that I’ll just look at the various online shops, see who has what, and then decide based on availability. But if a) Any of you want to hcime in on the games I hadn’t mentioned before (in italics) or b) trade me your copy then that will solve that. (I’ll pretty much trade for anything on that list).

(I just noticed that Roll Through the Ages is now $20 at Boulder … at that price I think I’m willing to take the chance. Yes, this is the price I pay for not playing games at conventions, but $20 at risk is better than my time at gaming conventions for a game that may never get published).

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Written by taogaming

August 16, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Posted in Misc

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10 Responses

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  1. That’s a couple of nice lists, Brian (except for that BSG crap! 🙂 ). The Mayfair/Phalanx reprint of Automobile may be a ways away and finding copies of the Treefrog version may be tough. In addition, I’m not sure how many copies of Fragor’s Snow Tails are left; the Asmodee reprint is probably a better bet, but I don’t know if that’s out yet either. Finally, Steel Driver may also be in short supply and I don’t know if another company has picked that up yet; your best bet may be to trade for it.

    $20 for Roll Through the Ages is a sweet price. I paid $30 and I think I’ve gotten my money’s worth, but I definitely felt I was overpaying. It looks like FRED’s price-setting policy is cracking bit by bit. I’ve seen some relaxation of it by Mayfair as well. I also note that Boulder Jim is selling Through the Ages for the unheard of price of $48. Unfortunately, that is undoubtedly for the latest version of the game (which has what I think is garish art and some poor design decisions), but that’s still a great price for a great game. Characteristically, Jim says this in both games’ entries: “The price of this game used to be fixed. If you paid $xx.xx for this game you are a victim of price-fixing and an unscrupulous retailer”. Of course, that’s not true–the Supreme Court ruling made such “price-fixing” legal and the retailers had no choice but to comply, but that’s Jim for you.

    If you do pick up Roll Through the Ages, give the rules in the box a few tries and then check out designer Matt Leacock’s official variant “The Late Bronze Age”. It has its own entry on the Geek, which links to the rules and a very nice score sheet you can print out. It lengthens the game a bit (but many people think that’s a good thing) and adds some new developments which enriches the strategy. It’s the only way I’ll play now.

    I just put in an order myself for Steam and The Ra Dice Game. I need to play the former for the IGA vote and while there’s one copy of it in my group, its owner and I haven’t been showing up together, so I figured I’d better grab a copy for myself. It was $44 at Games Surplus, but the shipping was free, which makes the price quite reasonable. I’m looking forward to trying out the Base Game. I don’t really care for Ra that much, but I do like dice games, so I’m hoping The Ra Dice Game will be fun. It once again has some questionable physical design decisions in a Rio Grande produced game (white ink on a yellow die???), but it looks like there’s some good choices to be made and it might be that rarest of all creatures, an interactive dice game. Hopefully, I can get them both played next week.

    Larry Levy

    August 16, 2009 at 1:15 pm

  2. Well, I’m sure that availability and price will trim the list.

    I completely agree that FRED is well within their legal and moral rights to set whatever price they want. I simply respond by not buying (or even being vaguely tempted). Shocking, I know. I got Through the Ages via trading back when it was $90.

    Snow Tails is out via Asmodee. It’s a nice set, that’s what I was looking at.

    I have Age of Steam and see no need to get another version (locals have RRT).

    Brian

    August 16, 2009 at 2:12 pm

  3. I didn’t think much of Planet Steam. It’s got a bit of an endgame problem, everything you do is worth points in various amounts, so it gets excruciatingly calculational. Also, the market system, while clever, is not great at actually pricing things reasonably. It’s not a terrible game, but it’s very expensive and this kind of game has been done a lot better.

    Of course, I truly despised Automobile. Yes, I don’t tend to like Martin Wallace games much. But I usually don’t mind playing them once or maybe twice and never wanting to play them again, but Automobile I thought was just awful, all of the problematic elements of Wallace games thrown into sharp relief with no redeeming qualities.

    On the other hand, I liked Steam; I was optimistic that finally giving him a decent developer (the Mayfair crew) might help him to produce an actual, 100% functional and actually fun game. And I’ve been pretty happy with it – it’s much better and feels far more professional than the amateur hour Age of Steam and RRT. I’ll actually play it with some enthusiasm. Of course, my strong preference is for the “Basic?” game.

    Roll Through the Ages is fun, but if you’re a gamer you really need to play with the Trading “variant”. A few people like the solitaire nature of the basic game, or don’t get why you would want to trade, but by default I think you want to go with them.

    I like Tales of the Arabian Knights quite a lot, but it requires the right mindset to play. In that, it’s an “experience” game that appears to actually work. It’s not a game where you can just do stuff and see what happens as in a lot of this genre of game. You need to actually play the game, use your skills to pursue encounters that you’re good at, and understand the sort of things the stories reward. If you play it as an “experience game” and just wander around doing random stuff, it’s a recipe for frustration. On the other hand, it is pretty random, so if you try too hard to win, it’s also a recipe for frustration. So you need to play to win, in that playing to win will produce the best and most fun experience, although given that it’s a pretty random game you may not actually win.

    Chris Farrell

    August 16, 2009 at 4:34 pm

  4. I didn’t think much of Planet Steam. It’s got a bit of an endgame problem, everything you do is worth points in various amounts, so it gets excruciatingly calculational. Also, the market system, while clever, is not great at actually pricing things reasonably. It’s not a terrible game, but it’s very expensive and this kind of game has been done a lot better.

    Of course, I truly despised Automobile. Yes, I don’t tend to like Martin Wallace games much. But I usually don’t mind playing them once or maybe twice and never wanting to play them again, but Automobile I thought was just awful, all of the problematic elements of Wallace games thrown into sharp relief with no redeeming qualities.

    On the other hand, I liked Steam; I was optimistic that finally giving him a decent developer (the Mayfair crew) might help him to produce an actual, 100% functional and actually fun game. And I’ve been pretty happy with it – it’s much better and feels far more professional than the amateur hour Age of Steam and RRT. I’ll actually play it with some enthusiasm. Of course, my strong preference is for the “Basic?” game.

    Roll Through the Ages is fun, but if you’re a gamer you really need to play with the Trading “variant”. A few people like the solitaire nature of the basic game, or don’t get why you would want to trade, but by default I think you want to go with them.

    I like Tales of the Arabian Knights quite a lot, but it requires the right mindset to play. In that, it’s an “experience” game that appears to actually work. It’s not a game where you can just do stuff and see what happens as in a lot of this genre of game. You need to actually play the game, use your skills to pursue encounters that you’re good at, and understand the sort of things the stories reward. If you play it as an “experience game” and just wander around doing random stuff, it’s a recipe for frustration. On the other hand, it is pretty random, so if you try too hard to win, it’s also a recipe for frustration. So you need to play to win, in that playing to win will produce the best and most fun experience, although given that it’s a pretty random game you may not actually win.

    Chris Farrell

    August 16, 2009 at 4:34 pm

  5. Brian, I have Say Anything, which is a hoot (with the right group). It’s a game that by it’s nature adjusts well with any game group. Crazy rowdy bunch? check. Catholic orthodox? check.

    I had RttA. I sold it because I got burned out playing it. Maybe the free online variant would have been enough to make me keep it.

    I also just picked up Steam. I thought that I would only stick to the ‘standard’ (read advanced) game, but that and the ‘base game’ are very different. I’d like to try both. From just reading the rules, I don’t feel like the ‘standard’ will simply replace the base game. The Base to me feels like a better RRT. The Standard is more like AoS, which I am ashamed to admit, I’ve never played.

    I’ll bring both to the next game night that I’ll be able to make it to (in 3 weeks).

    Rob

    August 16, 2009 at 6:08 pm

  6. Brian, I have Say Anything, which is a hoot (with the right group). It’s a game that by it’s nature adjusts well with any game group. Crazy rowdy bunch? check. Catholic orthodox? check.

    I had RttA. I sold it because I got burned out playing it. Maybe the free online variant would have been enough to make me keep it.

    I also just picked up Steam. I thought that I would only stick to the ‘standard’ (read advanced) game, but that and the ‘base game’ are very different. I’d like to try both. From just reading the rules, I don’t feel like the ‘standard’ will simply replace the base game. The Base to me feels like a better RRT. The Standard is more like AoS, which I am ashamed to admit, I’ve never played.

    I’ll bring both to the next game night that I’ll be able to make it to (in 3 weeks).

    Rob

    August 16, 2009 at 6:08 pm

  7. The only games on your lists I own are Dominion &Intrigue. It will take me a while to get my money’s worth, but I know I’ll be playing them steadily for a solid year at least. I play Dominion maybe once every two weeks.
    The only game I’m interested in on your list is Planet Steam, but I’m coming across more and more negative comments (see above) and will probably take a pass especially at its retail price.
    So my next bulk order would be entirely different from yours.

    jacob

    August 16, 2009 at 8:42 pm

  8. I have the original Tales of the Arabian Nights and have played it quite a lot. You can reduce the frustration a great deal by using the 2-player rule whereby one draws two cards each turn and chooses which to encounter. Here are a few more variants: http://www.jeffgoldsmith.org/games/arabian.html
    If you play it more than a couple of times, you’ll learn the common encounters (e.g. Badly Lost, Strange Customs), so you’ll need to handicap experienced ones. See the link above for some ideas on how to do that.

    The only others I’ve played on the unknown list are:

    FITS – if you love Tetris, get a copy. Otherwise, play it once or twice and that’s enough.

    Masters of Venice – try it before you buy. It’s definitely a gamer’s game, but it’s not necessarily a fun game for everyone.

    Roll through the Ages – At $20, it’s definitely worth it. In April, we were playing it in 20-25 minutes (3 players) and everyone seemed engaged. I don’t see its having huge staying power, but there obviously will be expansions. I’m looking forward to trying the Late Bronze Age, but even the basic game has enough strategic options that it won’t get used up too quickly.

    JeffG

    August 17, 2009 at 8:29 am

  9. I have the original Tales of the Arabian Nights and have played it quite a lot. You can reduce the frustration a great deal by using the 2-player rule whereby one draws two cards each turn and chooses which to encounter. Here are a few more variants: http://www.jeffgoldsmith.org/games/arabian.html
    If you play it more than a couple of times, you’ll learn the common encounters (e.g. Badly Lost, Strange Customs), so you’ll need to handicap experienced ones. See the link above for some ideas on how to do that.

    The only others I’ve played on the unknown list are:

    FITS – if you love Tetris, get a copy. Otherwise, play it once or twice and that’s enough.

    Masters of Venice – try it before you buy. It’s definitely a gamer’s game, but it’s not necessarily a fun game for everyone.

    Roll through the Ages – At $20, it’s definitely worth it. In April, we were playing it in 20-25 minutes (3 players) and everyone seemed engaged. I don’t see its having huge staying power, but there obviously will be expansions. I’m looking forward to trying the Late Bronze Age, but even the basic game has enough strategic options that it won’t get used up too quickly.

    JeffG

    August 17, 2009 at 8:29 am

  10. Shadow Hunters is a good 30 minute game in the style of Werewolf or Cash and Guns. It provides a mechanism to determine who is aligned, but it can be tricky due to one character being allowed to lie. I still remember the time I thought I had everyone pegged but the Unknown messed me up bigtime.

    The Snow Tails Asmodee version is available, it’s the one I have.

    I really like Planet Steam but I don’t think it’s worth the price it’s selling for, and it definitely isn’t worth buying if you haven’t tried it. It’s best with 3 or 4, with 2 the market doesn’t have enough movement and with 5 there’s too few turns.

    Roll through the Ages, hmm. I like it and if it is available for $20 I”m tempted to pick it up. At $15 it’s a no brainer. The Gryphon edition has much clearer dice than the original Fred. Ra the Dice Game is very similar in feel and result, and I may actually prefer it (based on one play).

    frunk

    August 17, 2009 at 2:15 pm

  11. Shadow Hunters is a good 30 minute game in the style of Werewolf or Cash and Guns. It provides a mechanism to determine who is aligned, but it can be tricky due to one character being allowed to lie. I still remember the time I thought I had everyone pegged but the Unknown messed me up bigtime.

    The Snow Tails Asmodee version is available, it’s the one I have.

    I really like Planet Steam but I don’t think it’s worth the price it’s selling for, and it definitely isn’t worth buying if you haven’t tried it. It’s best with 3 or 4, with 2 the market doesn’t have enough movement and with 5 there’s too few turns.

    Roll through the Ages, hmm. I like it and if it is available for $20 I”m tempted to pick it up. At $15 it’s a no brainer. The Gryphon edition has much clearer dice than the original Fred. Ra the Dice Game is very similar in feel and result, and I may actually prefer it (based on one play).

    frunk

    August 17, 2009 at 2:15 pm


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