After our pretty successful first day in Essen, we returned still burning with curiosity and enthusiasm.
Our first stroke on Friday was to try out Fire in the Lake at the UGG stand. We were quickly into the game as we’ve already played Cuba Libre. But while the mechanics are familiar, FitL is much more complex. There’s more units, more areas and possibly longer scenario’s. So we did a couple of enjoyable rounds, but not really knowing what would be a good strategy for each faction.
We then split up as two of us had arranged to play a prototype of Mahardika. This game about the Indonesian independence struggle has the feel of Pandemic, with a similar engine running ‘the Enemy’ (ie the Dutch colonial state and its allies) as the outbreaks. The main interest is how it ties in the history into the objective cards. You either solve two series of objectives, or you get defeated by the Enemy. It is hopeful to see this game coming from Indonesia.
Mahardika will not be published until later this year, but the publisher had Mat Goceng available, a simple card game where you duel your opponents with hidden identity and hidden objectives as the catch. I hope to play it soon.
We then reconvened to play Euphoria, a worker placement game that owes most of its appeal to the brilliant application of the theme to the board and game pieces. Brilliant green and orange, suitably dystopic locations such as the Incinerator of Historical Accuracy (it sounds even better in German). It is also neat that the workers are dice and you roll for their value every time they are taken off the board. Some of mechanisms neatly tied into the theme such as the risk of too much knowledge leading to workers escaping, but the layer of theme remains thin overall. So if you like worker placement games, this might actually be one of the more fun to have around.
Then Tragedy Looper. One that has good reviews from folks at Fortress Ameritrash so I wanted to try it out. I was cast as the MasterMind, ie the bad guy/gm. I think it is a wise move that Z-Man have included a introductory guide for the Mastermind in the first game because it really is tough to play it straight off the bat. I still made a clumsy mistake on the second day of the second loop which cost me the game. The players did well in deducting several of the character roles but not all.
As a treat we got to play the prototype of Conan Hyborian Quests, which will Kickstarter in January. The mechanism seem fine for a skirmish game, with the players spending energy and deciding whether they recover fast or slow. As all the scenarios have a time limit these are important decisions. The Bad Guy/Mastermind has a similar mechanic, and he uses energy to activate units or to roll emergency defense.
The evening was started with a quick game of Lost Legacy: Starship. It is strongly modeled on Love Letters with a slightly different ending (players having the opportunity to guess who has the ‘starship’). Nice, but I’m not sure that it will be worth it having several of these.
The main feature was Onward to Venus, a solid Martin Wallace steam punk fiction design. Ranging between Venus and the Kuiper Belt, the great European nations of the early 20th century take to the exploitation of these planets’ mineral resources, and some occasional big game hunting. The joy is in the possible crises on the planets (eg Martian attacks) and the bonus cards. After a tight finale we retired to bed well satisfied with another long and hard day’s work.