Belfort: A worker placement, area control game by Tasty Minstrel Games. with a fantasy city building game. Actually, the only fantasy element is that you have elves, dwarfs, and gnomes as workers, instead of humans with specialties. The artwork is pretty but very busy, making the game appear to be FFG level complex when it's really straightforward worker placement.
Place guys to earn money, resources, more guys, or bonuses, including private worker placement locations. use resources to buy buildings in the five areas. Reward control in the areas after rounds 3, 5, and 7. Works fine, but nothing new.
Nefarious: Another game by Donald Vaccarino, designer of Dominion. Yesterday's other new game by him (Kingdom Builders) was pleasant enough spacial manipulation, but not really special imho. This one is better.
It's a bare distilled Race For the Galaxy/7 Wonders with a very light invention theme. The game is nothing but cards. Each round, all players select one of four roles to play and reveal. Each player ears money for the roles selected by his neighbors if he has assigned meeples to that role on his board. Then the players do the roles in number order. 1) assign meeples to roles. 2) pay money to play invention cards. These give points and usually a benefit like earn or lose cards or money. 3) take 2 coins and an invention card. 4) take four coins.
Repeat until someone has 20 points. One more thing: each game, two random special rules (out of 30 or so) that modify the game are revealed at the beginning of the game. That's it.
It was quick (20-30 minutes normally), challenging, and essentially perfect. However, in our game we drew the absolute worst two special rule combination possible (I checked afterwards, and I'm not exaggerating). After every invention was played, everyone other than the one who played the invention lost all of his or her money. It made for some frustration, but some humor as well. Plays for up to five, I think. Unfortunately, FunAgain was charging $60 for this card game, which was way too much.
Tanto Cuore: Nearly an exact clone of Dominion, except it's from Japan, so the game is themed about hiring maids with various skimpy outfits (nothing too salacious). It was being demoed by a girl wearing a skimpy outfit, too; she must have been freezing in the hall. The cards were unique to the game, at least, and there were a few minor rule twists, but nothing that changed it from being Dominion.
Meltdown 2020: A "rescue all your guys from the board" game, usually seen in a fire or volcano themed game. This one had hexes with scattered nuclear plants, which melted down. The more they melted, the more damage they did to neighboring citizens. Each citizen could take three cumulative points until dead. You had three vehicles of various sizes and capacity to rescue them. And the entire game ended if the plants hit a certain level.
It's a light filler route planning game, although I expect it's marketed and priced as a full meaty game. It was good. Didn't inspire me to buy it, but I'd happily play it.
7 Wonders: I joined yet another game, and played straight blue again. This time I was entirely straight blue, earning 15 points from my wonders, 37 points from blue, and -5 from military. That was it. I came in third with 47. The two winners each has 53.
Walnut Grove: By Lookout Games. This is a meaty western themed town and farm game. It was late, so I don't feel I gave it my all. There are eight rounds (years) to the game. Each year has four seasons: pick farm tiles and add to your farm, allocate workers to produce goods on the farm (one good for every contiguous tile in an area), move your guy in the large town rondel to buy stuff with your goods or buy more goods (worker placement, pay money every once in a while), pay your farm hands in food and heat.
It's a tough system, and you're (at least I was) constantly struggling for food and heat, making progress very difficult. There are many avenues for victory points, most of which I never had time to explore.
If you enjoy the Alea games, this will fit in nicely; if you don't, you'll probably be tired of games with pastoral themes and pushing cubes about. I'm happy to play again until I can get a handle on the game, at least.
For lunch, my friends and I went to Dallas to the one of three kosher eateries in Dallas, the Madras Pavilion. It's veggie Indian, authentic enough that most of the people eating there were Indian rather than visibly Jewish. It was also pretty spicy but good (better than my constant stream of cold cuts and peanut butter, anyway).