Monday, June 13, 2005

2005-02-01: ____, ____, Liar's Dice, Cheops, and Traumfabrik

Historical Session - February 1st, 2005.

Unpublished Prototype

This prototype is actually in the process of being published right now. I feel that this one is really a good game; original, strategic, and interesting to the end. I hope it gets the attention it deserves.

I should be able to post some information later on in the year.

Unpublished Prototype

I'm just not a big fan of party games. Occasionally one will be different enough to get my attention, but most of the time I bore of them pretty quickly. This one was no exception, unfortunately.

Liar's Dice

I've played this game many times in various forms. It's an easy game to set up and teach quickly. Frequently, it's just the perfect game for the situation.

Everyone secretly rolls five dice. They check what they rolled, and then beginning with the start player, players bid for what they think is showing on everyone's dice. First player might say that there are at least six threes out there. The next player has to raise the bid in some way, or call the previous player's bid. Everyone shows their dice and if there are less than the bid, the bidder loses dice equal to the difference. If there are more of the selected number than the bid, then the player who called loses the dice. One more note, the ones (or sixes depending on the version) are replaced with a star which can count as any number.

The game is all about statistics and bluffing. Is it probable that there are ten fives? Maybe they don't have any fives, or maybe they rolled all fives. Most of the time there is no right answer. You can play the statistics, but that will only give you a general idea of where to start. To just play the numbers and not take the other players' bluffing and habits into account will likely make you diceless. This is one of those games that is better the more you play with the same people, since you can start learning their patterns and tells.

Final Comment:
Enjoyable game for what it is. I've played it enough that I don't usually request it, but I'll still play it if asked. Also, simple to make your own copy; you just need 5 dice per player.


Cheops is set in Egypt and has players attempting to have the most of the highest priced scarabs. It feels pretty abstract in most regards, but not completely dry, either.

The basic board is a pyramid full of different colors of scarabs. Players start on the bottom row and place blocks building up to the top of the pyramid. Blocks depict four different people, and matching blocks cannot be set adjacent to each other. When you place a block, you get the scarab that is on that spot. Then, you can either keep that scarab which will score at the end according to the market at the top of the board, or you can sell it immediately for a quick buck and then place the scarab on the market tiles thus changing that color's worth for the endgame.

The market tiles per color can go up in worth as scarabs are placed there, but sometimes they can lower in value, or even seemingly random values. So the issue is, do you keep the color to score at the end, or use it to raise (or lower) the ending value? Usually, it is a pretty interesting dilemma in which you have to take the other players' motives into account. When the game ends, you score per scarab its market price shown at the top of the board. There also special tiles that you can pick up on the pyramid which can affect the market and other aspects of the game.

Final Comment:
I liked this one a lot. Many decisions to make, but nothing overly taxing. It's interesting to see the different scarabs values play out as some people might collect a specific color while others work to make sure that color is worth nothing. I'm going to make sure and try this one again in the near future.


This is one of Knizia's many auction based games. In most cases, Knizia's themes are pasted on and pretty much irrelevant. However, even if Traumfabrik's theme is pasted on, without it I'm not sure there'd be much left to be excited about.

Everyone starts with three movies they are trying to produce. All they have is the title of the film, a few initial stars (points), and the genre (comedy, drama, action). There are several bidding rounds for various tiles which act as different parts of the movie (director, music, special effects, actors, and even guest stars). They each have different amounts of stars (points) on each tile which will be added together to make the total value of the movie. Once all the slots are filled for each production, you total up the points, and pick up a new movie to start. Oscars (bonus points) are given to the best in each genre, as well as a Best Film and Worst Film award.

Theme usually doesn't matter much to me; if the game is good, then that's what is important. And likewise, bad games can't be saved by their theme (see: Hell Rail). But in this case, we have a mediocre game which is greatly improved by it's theme. Bidding for a 4 point tile isn't the same as bidding for Alfred Hitchcock to direct your King Kong movie. But if you weren't interested in classic films, is there anything here for you? Well, it's still a decent auction game; nothing special but still a solid game. Knizia has done many that I would consider superior to Traumfabrik, however.

Final Comment:
Traumfabrik is a decent auction game with a great theme. Fun the first time around, but not so sure it would have much replayability once the theme wore thin. But that's mostly because of it's competition; good auction games are easy to find.


At Thu Jun 16, 12:36:00 AM, Anonymous MeMe said...

Excellent comments here that sum up the feelings of this Knizia fan/movie buff exactly.

It was sure fun to do some revisionist casting the first play...kind of fun the second...and only alright the third. After that, I started looking to trade it away (didn't take long)!


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