A lot of our gaming last week took place at the UK Games Expo in Birmingham. We managed to play quite a few demos in our 1 day visit and a couple of full games too, but with only one day to see everything, playing full games took a bit of a back seat and only one game, Tastu, features here. As a bonus, on Sunday we caught up with a friend at Board in the City, the game cafe in Southampton and managed to cram in 6 games, including some new titles.
Here’s are Yellow Meeple’s first impressions;
· Tatsu is the new game from the designer of Hive. Like Hive, Tatsu is a 2-player abstract game with lovely quality, chunky tokens as the playing pieces. In the case of Tatsu your pieces are 3 different dragons – a vine dragon who can prevent your opponent’s pieces, a water dragon who returns you opponent’s pieces tot eh supply and a fire dragon who eliminates your opponent’s piece entirely. To determine movement you roll two 6-sided dice to move round the circular track in the opposite direction to your opponent. If you land on the spot with their piece you take action against it or you can land on spots which allow you to bring out new dragons from your supply. The game is quite tactical, but the dice rolling does add a significant element of luck – on each turn you’re essentially working with what you’ve got and hoping your opponent doesn’t get a perfect roll next turn to eliminate your pieces. For me, although the luck helped someone like me who almost always loses 2-player abstracts, it was too much of an influence in the game and made it last a little too long with large swings in board control. I think we’ll stick to Hive in this case.
· Dobble (or Spot It!) is a really common game, but for some reason one I’ve never played. It’s a simple variant, or collection of variants on snap, which sounds a bit boring, but because of the number of pictures on each card and the fact that every card has a match with every other card, I just found it fascinating. It’s amazing how you can sit there absolutely convinced that there is no match when it’s staring you in the face, just because of the different colour palettes and size of the pictures. It’s a very light game, but I’d be more than happy to have this as a filler that can be played by anyone of all ages.
· Knuckling Knights is a yellow box HABA game. Ever since I fell in love with Rhino Hero and to a lesser extent enjoyed Animal upon Animal, I’ve felt compelled to try any HABA games I see. Even though they’re aimed at kids, I need to find out which are fun for adults who enjoy something light and silly once in a while. The appeal of Knuckling Knight is definitely in the board – you play using the box itself and cover it in a flat terrain with two whole and a slot for you to build a dice tower-type construction. On your turn you roll a dice which can have the results, 1, 2 or a picture of a gate. When you roll a 1 or 2 you put that many knights in the tower. If you roll the gate you can either call out the fact that there are no knights in the tower or remove the gate which lets all the knights fall. Many knights will roll into the holes in the board and they are lost. The person who pulled the gates gets all their knights back and can take one of each of the other colours. Your aim is to have the most knights at the end of the round. The game is entirely luck, but I could see its appeal to young kids, especially with the components. Not one for adults really, but I’m still looking at all the HABA games I see.
· Steampunk Rally is a racing game, backed up by card drafting and dice placement mechanics. Given that it’s a racing game, I’ve been avoiding trying it with two players, but I was definitely wrong to do so! In Steampunk Rally, each player is building an invention from cards drafted on each turn. During the draft phase you can either add cards to your invention or cash them in for cogs or dice to spend on future phases of the round. After all cards are drafted you need to vent your invention, which uses cogs to allow you to remove dice blocking up action spots on your invention. The next phase is dice placement where you roll any dice in your dice pool and allocate these to actions which might move your invention forward on the track, prevent the damage you gain for travelling over rough terrain or generate more dice or cogs. It appears to take quite a lot of skill to create an effective machine that gives you the dice you need and balances out movement and defence from damage. Each turn is also a puzzle to figure out your best moves and the dice you’ll need to do them. The game is supposed to be played simultaneously which we found a bit difficult as it was interesting to see the strategies your opponent is using. In a game with more players, you’d have to get over this otherwise turns would just take too long and it would stop feeling like a race. I think we will end up buying Steampunk Rally as it really fits into our collection as a more ‘thinky’ racing game.
We’re now very much at the stage of moving house, hopefully in the next two weeks, so somehow we’ve got to pack up our collection, transport it across the country and buy some Kallax shelves to give them a new home. I can’t wait to sort out our game room, but I suppose there are bigger priorities like a bed and a fridge, so even our new games from the UK Games Expo might not see the light of day for a few weeks!