Saturday, February 12, 2005

PR, Oceania, Traumfabrik

The thread of the strategy discussion about Puerto Rico continued on the Tao of Gaming ( I won't reproduce the entire discussion here. In fact I thought we had beaten it to death, so I took it off the board into email.

A good discussion with polite people who disagree is a wonderful thing. Good discussions with people who agree are easy to find. Rude discussions with people who disagree even more so. Aside from the occasional anti-Jewish/anti-Israel vandal, most people I converse with on the Internet are very nice, like most people everywhere, I guess.

Thursday morning I received Oceania, and Thursday evening I played it with my wife, Rachel. It plays, as expected, like a Carcassonne light - very light. There are thirty tiles. Each round is basically:

1. Choose the tile on the board next to which you be adding the new tile.
2. Pick the new tile at random, and place it if you can. If you can't, place in front of you.
3. Place one of your scouts on the tile, if you want.

Two other rules:
- If you already have tiles in front of you, you can replace step 2 with: sacrifice a scout and place a tile in front of you.
- Every time a single square is surrounded on all side by placed tiles, fill it in with a reserve tile.

At the end of the game, whoever has the most scouts on any land mass scores the number of tiles in the land mass. Minus two for each unplaced tile in front of you.

Impressions: Quick and light is what they were aiming for, and it really is. Ten minutes should be enough for a game. Your scout supply is correctly limited, so that sacrificing one to place an unplaced tile is painful.

Tile placement is not too difficult, however - the random nature of the tile draw is more frustrating than fun for me, but the ability to rectify a bad draw by sacrificing a scout makes up for it.

All in all, it is a pleasant game which suits a nice niche for a ten minute diversion while waiting for others to finish another game. I will have to play it a number of times to see if it is the sort of game that "plays out" or that can hold continual interest with some sort of subtle strategy.

In other news, I continue to lose PR games - ironic considering my boasts that I am "in the zone", or "discovering strategies", as I have previously posted about PR. Blah.

This Saturday I played Traumfabrik with my lunch guests and discovered that it is pretty easy to teach, which makes it almost a crossover from a party game to a strategy game. Sweet. Still, conversation among the non-gamer guests made me realize all the more how sorely I need to branch out and get a few party games so as to "hook" people in. All I have is Apples to Apples - not enough, I fear. I hear good things about Time's Up and Beyond Balderdash. Time to look into them.


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