The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Brief Impressions

I’ve been a bit under the weather (in terms of games and writing), so just a few quick thoughts rather than anything thought out:

  • I’ve now played Power Grid: First Sparks a 3rd time. It’s fine, but I’m solidly indifferent to it.
  • I should review Sekigahara at some point. (Oh wait, I did).
  • I’m getting ready for another spring cleaning auction, and I think I’ll bite the bullet and get rid of Paths of Glory (unplayed in a decade), Blue Moon (several years), Scepter of Zavandor (ditto, and Phoenicia scratches that itch) and several other good games I’m unlikely to play again, as well as chaff. Actually, perhaps instead of a sale I should just try to trade them for a few good games. Anyone want to get rid of their copy of 1846?
  • Another reason for wanting 1846 is some locals want to try 18xx, and I’d like to teach them a version I haven’t played (and that’s friendly to beginners). So, it would be a public service….
  • Leader 1 isn’t bad, but it just made me want to play Breaking Away or Homas Tour. I did like the fact that everyone starts in the Peleton, which moves as a single unit, so the real question is “When to break away” and early turns are fast.
  • The Galaxy Trucker Expansion ships are neat.  That I need to play again.
  • Archer was renewed again, and Adam Reed apparently signed a production deal with FX, so I think the future of my favorite comedy series is bright.

Written by taogaming

February 25, 2012 at 10:21 am

16 Responses

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  1. I can’t imagine starting with anything other than 1830, but perhaps I am just sentimental.

    Ben Kindt

    February 25, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    • We’re just showing our age … back in my day there was only ’29 (available in the UK) and ’30 (US). I remember getting 1835 right after it first became available in the US, and then suddenly the variants started to flow.


      February 26, 2012 at 9:38 am

  2. I think 1846 is an ideal starter game for 18XX. Here’s a review I wrote explaining my reasons for thinking this:

    IMHO there are many serious drawbacks to 1830 (which doesn’t mean sufficiently motivated players won’t learn the series no matter what game they start with.)

    Eric Brosius

    February 25, 2012 at 4:19 pm

  3. Coincidentally, I just played 6-Tage Rennen for the first time last week, and all it did was make me want to play Breaking Away. The race game genre is one of the hardest to get right.

    Eric Brosius

    February 25, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    • From what I’ve read, 1830 sounds like one of the worst 18xx stater games.

      Eric, my only 18xx experience is a bunch of 1829 games about 25 years ago and one game of Steam over Holland (which I kind of struggled with). I’d love to check out 1846, not only as a gateway to the genre, but also as a possible staple. My main objective is to find a good game from the family that plays in a reasonable time (3 hours would be ideal, but 4 is acceptable–and I don’t mean Huber time!). If you wouldn’t mind teaching it to me, maybe we can get a mostly newbie game in at the Gathering. I’m not sure if you’ll be attending, Brian, but if so, that would be a great game to play together.

      I’ve also been interested in Poseidon, but that may be too 18xx-lite for your tastes, Eric.


      February 25, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    • I really liked 6-Tage Rennen the first few times, but it’s luster soon wore off. I think it would totally ignored if it arrived today (under a new name) and rightfully so. Nostalgia…


      February 26, 2012 at 9:37 am

  4. Larry, I am sure we can get a game for you at the Gathering. For reasons that take too long to explain in this post but would be happy to explain separately, I don’t think “mostly newbie” games are good for teaching 18XX, but if more people want to learn, I’d be happy to organize multiple games (with 1 or 2 newbies in each game.) I’m almost sure you will be able to play 3-player games in under 3 hours unless you have people with severe AP.

    Poseidon is not too 18XX-lite for my tastes; in fact, I prefer the simpler games, but I found it didn’t appeal to me for reasons other than simplicity (my ratings for different 18XX games vary widely.)

    Eric Brosius

    February 25, 2012 at 11:30 pm

  5. Concerning sparks: Did anybody notice that tgere are no sparks in it? Anyway: How does it play when the setup is assymetrical? I have played ponly the layout from the setup so far and I think the part where you distribute a clan offers very few interesting choices and is 90% obvious (the cheapest spots as long as you get somewhat variety). But that means the interesting decisions are just during the phase were you choose the cards and the rest is just “managing parts”.
    But I would be interetsted if it would be differnt with a assymetrical board.


    February 26, 2012 at 2:54 am

    • I have no idea how the asymmetric board would play. One of my concerns is that my rule for expanding is “Grab the cheap spots ASAP and, when in doubt, grab the spots that are likely to be contested first or open new technologies.”


      February 26, 2012 at 9:35 am

      • Thats exactly how my game felt. But I think there might me more to it if players actually have a chance on gaining a monopoly or oif the ways to other ressources are more difficult.


        February 26, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    • Peer, my only game of Sparks so far was with 3 players and the recommended setup. I thought it was interesting, but a little loose. I attributed that to playing with only 3, since the Geek recommends 4-5 players, but the setup might have also been a contributing factor. Hopefully I’ll be able to play the game next week or so and I’ll try to get the group to use the standard setup rules.


      February 26, 2012 at 9:51 am

    • My one play was with an asymmetrical board, so I can’t judge it against the symmetrical. I wasn’t impressed with it. The technologies are a neat idea that would be interesting to add to regular Power Grid (the mini-expansion cards do that a little bit) but the rest of it was solidly meh.

      Having asymmetric positions meant initial placement had some interest, in particular to stop one player from having a monopoly, but after that it wan’t that big a deal. The lack of a real auction hurts the game I think.


      February 27, 2012 at 11:45 am

      • Sad to hear that. I was hoping for a different answer…
        I dont think its the lack of auctions. The selection phase is very clever imho. But its followed by a lot of phases that are just managing parts and dont offer any decisions. So the ratio gametime vs decision time is a bit off.


        February 28, 2012 at 12:02 pm

      • Played a 5-player game with an assymetrical setup and enjoyed it. And while I agree with Peer that some of the clan distribution decisions are simply “grab the cheapest spots”, I felt there was more to it than that. For one thing, “get some variety” and “grab the cheapest spots” weren’t always easy to accomplish simultaneously. Secondly, there are some bottlenecks that it’s important to get to first. There are also times when it’s pretty important to get access to a fishing space or to that second mammoth space. Finally, a big decision is how quickly to expand, weighing more economic expansion versus the desire to go later in the turn order. These may not be hugely difficult decisions, but I don’t think they’re obvious and they require good judgment.

        As I said, I think it’s a nice little design that gives you a reasonable amount to think about for a short game. However, I agree that it’s much lighter than either the original Funkenschlag or Power Grid.


        March 4, 2012 at 1:44 am

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