The Five for September (Brandon Kempf)
It’s that time, time to look back on the month that has passed and chat about Five Games that stand out to me for one reason or the other.
September 2018 was the lightest month of the year so far, with 43 plays of 29 different games. Surprisingly, only 12 of them were new.
Let’s start out with the disappointment of the month for me, Mercado. I’m not sure what ended up ultimately leading me to pick this up when I walked into the Miniature Market store last month, I think it may have been W. Eric Martin’s video overview on BGG. But ultimately his enthusiasm for the game didn’t really manifest itself in our plays. Ultimately this one kind of just feels like a pull stuff from the bag game where you have little control over what is in the bag. Don’t get me wrong, I like lighter weight games that let you just laugh and have a good time, but Mercado didn’t do that, I didn’t find the good time. It plays fast, like 30 minutes with 4 players fast, but even that isn’t a saving grace here. Oh and that price, $60 msrp for what amounts to a 30 minute filler? It just didn’t add up for me. I hate to say this as I love Kosmos and I like the games of Rudiger Dorn, but if you really want to try this one, find someone else who already bought it or wait for it to hit the bargain bins.
Medici The Card Game
We live on Reiner Knizia games around here, if you follow me on Twitter or listen to the podcast you know that just having Knizia’s name on the box is enough to get us to play, as you’ll probably see later in this post. Medici the Card Game is basically a distilling of the wonderful auction title Medici, but it removes the auction and makes the games simply a push your luck card drawing game and it works, but I still enjoy playing Medici more as I love that auction element where you are bidding your victory points to gain cards. On your turn you have to turn over at least 1 card from the deck and as many as 3, then you have to take at least the last card but could take any of the previous 2 cards, or none. You load them on your boat and once you hit your boat capacity you are out of the round. Points are scored for majorities and largest boat load just like in Medici and highest total wins. It works, it works perfectly fine and it’s a good option to break out when you just feel like playing Medici but a bit faster. Oh, and Dutrait once again knocks it out of the park, like he always does.
Catch the Moon
I missed this one at Gen Con this year sadly, but I paid enough attention to a couple folks that I latched on to it after and as soon as it went on sale I snatched it up. Catch the Moon is a dexterity game, think of it as Jenga but in reverse, and with tiny wooden ladders instead of wooden blocks. It’s simple, the game starts with two starting ladders on the “board” which is a puffy white cloud. After that, each player rolls a die, and similar to what Animal Upon Animal does, this die tells you what you have to do. You either have to place a ladder on the structure that touches only one other ladder, or you place one that touches only two other ladders, or the final option is that you have to build on the structure so that the ladder you are placing is higher than any other ladder on the structure and you may touch no more than two other ladders. If things fall or touch the base, take a tear, take the final tear and you lose the game. Player with the fewest tears at the end, unless they took that final tear, wins. It’s beautiful, it’s fun and it smells of rich mahogany, just kidding it smells like laser cut wood, but I imagine that’s pretty close.
Knights of Charlemagne
So, Chris Wray of the Opinionated Gamers brought this one over one night. I had never heard of this, or it’s predecessor Tabula Rasa or the zombie version that came after Hungry. But, as we do, this is another Reiner Knizia game so we had to play it — and I am quite glad that we did. Really light and really quick to play, this one has a bit of that Battle Line/Schotten Totten feel. You are playing cards to columns and trying to fight for majorities, you basically play a card, and then draw a card. We only played it three players so we never really got to try the team version of it, but it was entertaining and you feel like you have just enough control that it can feel strategic, but you never know what your opponent is going to do. You see you have two different ways to play, you can place cards based on numbers in a section or use the color in a different section. Everything scores at the end majorities wise, if there are ties everyone just gets a base 1 point who tied. I don’t know how easy it is to find this one, but I imagine the newer zombie version is easier to track down than the wonderful Playroom version we played. Well worth the effort though.
I’m not sure that I can say much more about this game than I did in the review I posted last week. But just to try, Mesozooic is played out in two parts, part one is a drafting game where you are drafting cards to place in your puzzle in front of you. That’s right, I said puzzle, as part two is you moving your pieces around trying to complete your puzzle in 45 seconds to score as many points as possible. Well that’s easy you say, just move things around and place them where they need to be, well hold up there, it’s not that easy, see you arrange your puzzle in a 4x4 grid and you are missing one piece to that puzzle, so you are sliding cards around like a missing piece puzzle to try to complete it. Not so easy now, is it? It’s a charming little game that I hope doesn’t get lost in this sea of games that hit us this time every year.
So that’s September for me, please feel free to tell me what you’ve been playing in the comments below, I’d love to hear what I’ve been missing!