This was my first visit for 4 weeks (I skipped the last one due to the previously-mentioned wicker man burning trip!). It was an unusually-quiet meeting… the good weather probably wasn’t on our side, and quite a few regulars had disappeared to the UK Games Expo for the weekend. Attendance peaked at about 15-16 people … 3 of which were (I think?) first-timers.
The short numbers made things a little awkward. Usually, there’s a steady progression of games starting and stopping all evening, meaning it’s easy to drop into a game, and you never have to wait *too* long for something that might appeal to you… but, due to the short numbers, that wasn’t really the case this time.
Stuff I played:
Due to the aforementioned bodycount issues, we somehow ended up with 7 players gathered around this one… with (new) Emily and (different) John playing together as a team. It was an enjoyable game, but I made a really bad purchase at around the half-way mark, which stalled my expansion at a critical point, and I never really managed to recover. This meant that the game was pretty much a three-horse race from stage 2 onwards… with Les being the metaphorical horse who ran marginally faster than the other metaphorical horses.
I’ve never played this before. Given that Amun Re is a game that’s (a) Set in ancient Egypt, and (b) has a quirky auction mechanic at the heart of it, you might guess that it’s a Reiner Knizia title. And you’d be right… One of his better ones, as it turns out.
Before we started, Les pitched it as a “fairly simple” game that didn’t take too long to play. Well… technically, it *is* simple — or, at least, the mechanisms are simple when you take them individually — but there are a lot of different bits to it, and the game explanation took quite some time to get through. A group on a different table managed to learn, play, and finish a complete game of Ingenious before we’d even got through our rules explanation(!)
In essence, it’s a game where you use a slightly odd (but fun!) bidding mechanism to claim chunks of land. Each plot of land has various perks – e.g. plots near the nile can support farms, some plots give you special action cards, some are better for building pyramids, etc etc. You claim land, build farms and pyramids, sacrifice some of your wealth to the temple, and score victory points accordingly.
As with most Knizia games (especially the Egypt-themed ones), It all seemed a bit dry and un-engaging at first… but after a while things started to click with respect to the strategies and subtleties involved, and the game became really enjoyable. It was a close game – I think that all five players thought they were in with a chance when the final scoring round arrived… but James was the ultimate victor.
HOWEVER… the game seemed to go on FOREVER!… we clocked up something like three and a half hours by the time we finished. I enjoyed the game, but I’m not sure that the length justified the pay-off. (I mean… we could’ve played Le Havre in that length of time. Now *THAT’S* a game that’s worth devoting 3+ hours of your life to!).
Plus, maybe following a long-ish, auction-driven, mathy game (Power Grid) with an even longer auction-driven, mathy game (Amun Re) isn’t particularly conducive to a balanced gaming diet 😉
Archaeology – The Card Game
I’d brought along my new copy of Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small, in case I got the opportunity to fit in a half-hour filler for two. Unfortunately — while I did find myself in need of a half-hour filler to round off the evening — we had one person too many, so out came the old standby of Archaeology. A nice, simple wind-down after the furious brain-activity of the earlier games.
And so another session drew to a close. Not sure that I’ll make the next one – looks like we have house guests on the 9th (boooo!).
Other games I spotted being played on the night: Nexus Ops, Agricola, Carcassonne, Alien Frontiers, Discworld Ankh Morpork, and — of course — Battlestar Galactica. There’s always a game of Battlestar Galactica (ugh!)
CREDITS: The usual photographer had disappeared to the UK expo this week, so this time I stole pics from Olly’s Google+ stream (Power Grid), a random Board Game Geek gallery page (Amun Re), and a previous Newcastle Gamers session (Archaeology). Newcastle Gamers meets on the second and last Saturday of the month… usual cost is £3, but your first visit is free. More details here.