Four editions, three strikes...
In this week's review, posted at Miniaturemarket.com, I try really hard to get you interested in buying the fourth edition of Drakon so that my overseers there will buy me a Lamborghini Countach in exchange for helping to sell a $20 game whose fortunes I doubt interest very many people, including FFG. I give the game a low rating of two stars because, let's face, the game just kind of sucks. It's kind of charming in a dull way, and it's not particularly offensive. But it's also releasing (for the fourth time) in an era when you can pick up DungeonQuest or Wiz-War off the same retail shelf. This was not the case when the game first came out.
See what I did there? I tried to lure you into MORE EXPENSIVE purchases at MM with a bad review. That's how us shills operate. Confidence men, all of us.
There is a weird irony, because I've owned Drakon three times now and I've also owned Relic three times now. I wanted to break out Talisman for Gaming by Michael a couple of weeks ago and a couple of my buddies were miffed that I let go of Relic, because they wanted to do that instead. I found a copy for a whopping $12 (in shrink), so I've now owned that game three times. I believe that these are the only two games I've actually owned thrice.
Anyway, we played Relic the other night and it's good. As is the conventional wisdom, it is a mild improvement in some ways over Talisman, but it's also not particularly noteworthy outside of that context. That said, we played a pretty fast three player game (like 90 minutes)...Ultramarine dude, Sister of Battle gal and the ersatz Nazi...I was the Space Marine, and I just tore it the hell up all game. I leveled up stupid fast, got a relic pretty early on (a lame one, but a relic nonetheless). I made a do-or-die roll to avoid the sixth corruption card in the inner tier and waltzed up to Kairos, the Fateweaver and he paid the ultimate price. It was fun. I think I may get the expansions. It's kind of weird how this game just sort of...exists. Nobody really gets excited about it, but it is a really good Talisman game. I actually do think I'd be inclined to reach for it over Talisman next time, and that's saying a lot.
LOVING Broom Service. It is definitely part of this "Classic German Family Games" revivial, and it very much reminds me of those late 1990s, early 2000s titles when they felt fresh and foreign. But this game could never have existed then, it is definitely modern. The central mechanic is brilliant at a "why hasn't someone done this before" level- everyone picks four action cards out of identical decks, and then the lead player plays one and states whether they are going to be Brave or Cowardly. If you're a coward, you take a lesser action right away. But if you're Brave and want the enhanced action, you go to the next player. If they have the card in their four, they MUST play it and declare Brave or Cowardly. If they go Brave, you LOSE every right to take an action on that card, so you're screwed out of a turn in a game that only has 28 total. But then the next player might pre-empt their action if they have the card and choose Brave. It's really a fun mechanic, and I love the whimsical witches setting. I always do. Definitely a Potter/Kiki's Delivery Service/Worst Witch vibe going on. I never played Witches' Brew, so don't ask.
The Knizia project is going strong, I played one the other day that has got to be one of the most unloved and ugliest games I've seen in recent years...it's Ilium, done back in 2008 by Playroom. It's definitely second (or even third) tier Knizia, but for some reason the design just fascinates me. There's almost nothing to it in terms of rules, the distribution of rewards is more complicated than taking an action. It's almost reminiscent of Samurai in some ways and I think the evolutionary thread lies there, with this concept of pieces conveying influence in two or more different areas. But then it has this tricky distribution mechanic. It has something to do with digging up ancient Troy, and there is actually a theme- the first person to dig doesn't always find the best stuff, and someone else can piggyback on your work.
I also played Pickomino for the first time, that's a fun dice game. I wish my kids were just a little older to be able to grasp it.