Thursday, June 23, 2005

Harrisburg Games, Part 1

First game of the evening, I jumped into a game of Ticket to Ride with five players.

Ticket to Ride

I think this game is best described to non-gamers as being similar to Rummy. You can draw either a face-up card, or one off the top of the deck. If you make a set, you can lay them down for points. The bigger the set, the bigger the points. You can do this provided you have a spot for the set on the map. You then place your trains on the spot and you score the appropriate amount. At the end of the game, if you manage to have the cities connected by your trains that are depicted on your secret route cards, then you will score the points shown.

The reason I think that works better is that I think most people don't get the significance of the scoring during the game and focus solely on their secret routes. Granted, some are important to finish (anything over 12 points, in my opinion), but the rest can be easily made up by just placing more trains. There is nothing that says you have to finish the routes.

This is a fun, family type game. Sure you can get screwed by your ticket draws. Yes, someone can screw you out of your 20 point route (deliberately, or even worse, inadvertently). But if you don't take it too seriously, it can be a lot of fun.

Final Comment:
I think this should be a must have game for anyone that plays with non-gamers. Everyone I have introduced it to love it. Simple to grasp, with some decisions to make but nothing too taxing to discourage just enjoying yourself. If you don't play with non-gamers, however, I'd just get Ticket to Ride: Europe (review coming later).

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A quick game of Battle Line for filler while waiting for some other groups to finish.

Battle Line

Battle Line is a card game for two from Knizia. It is simply a deck of cards with six colors with a one through ten in each. Players are placing a card each turn into one of the nine battle fields between them. Following Poker type rules, the played cards compete against the opponents side for higher value in the separate battle fields. There can be only three cards in each battle field on each side. Once that happens, they are compared for value. Straight flushes will win against plain straight, or a straight would beat a flush, and so on. Whoever wins that battle field takes the token, and if someone gets three battlefields in a row, or any five, they win the game.

There are also tactics cards that you can draw which have varying powers. Interesting, sometimes, but not really a big part of the game. To put it this way, not a single one was drawn in our game.

Like Knizia's other great two-player card game, Lost Cities, this one takes a while to get going. The first few turns you won't know which direction to go so they are usually spent throwing out trash until you can find a strategy to follow. This might seem frustrating at first, but once you accept that it will usually be that way (at least it usually is for me), then it's easier to deal with.

Final Comment:
If you are looking for a quick game for two, I don't think you can get much better than this. Simple to learn, but lots of thinking to be had. If the tactics cards seem to make it too chaotic, just take them out.

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With the arrival of the Samuelsons we had some new players to join in, so Emma Samuelson taught me and three others Snorta.

Snorta

Okay, imagine War (you know, the pointless card game...) but with a large group yelling at each other as if born on a barn. If you are thinking pointless, but goofy, you are correct!

Players are given an animal of the barnyard variety mostly (pig, rooster, dog, donkey etc.). They are shown to everyone, and this will be the last time you see who has what animal. The cards are dealt out evenly to all the players and depict various pictures of animals on them. They are left in front in a facedown draw stack. In turn, each player flips over the top card of their draw stack and then place it on top of the discard pile. If that card matches any of the cards on the other players' discard piles, then those two players have to beat the other at calling the other players' hidden animal.

Okay, that probably sounds much more confusing than it should, so here's an example: Tom has the pig, and Samantha has the cat. Tom has a duck showing on the top of his discard pile. Samantha then reveals her next card which is also a duck. If Tom says "Meow!" first, he wins, while Samantha tries to beat him to the punch by saying "Oink!". The player who loses has to take both discard piles and put them under their draw pile. First player to run out of cards wins... and as you might expect, this could take a while.

Also, to add to the confusion, there is a Swap card that when flipped, that player trades his animal in with one from the bag. So, the whole game you are trying to remember that Tom was a pig, and suddenly he's now a sheep!

Final Comment:
Did I enjoy myself? Yeah, it was cute, but definitely a children's game. It seemed to go a little longer than I would like, but I don't think kids would mind this necessarily. Also, there is no strategy here, you just memorize the animals and watch for pairs, but again, not a problem with youngsters (I played my fair share of War when I was kid).

2 Comments:

At Fri Jun 24, 02:05:00 PM, Anonymous MeMe said...

Not "a single" tactics card drawn during Battle Line!? Are you insane?! Those are the first things to go in our grudge matches.

 
At Fri Jun 24, 03:09:00 PM, Blogger Fishbulb said...

Yeah, I guess I've just had too many games where I had Tactics cards taking space in my hand, but with no real use for them.

I don't know what his excuse was...

 

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