Jun 17, 2015

Getting back into Boardgames

This post has been a long time coming.  Every once in a while, life just gets really busy, and in this case the "free" time my wife and I had together suffered, which meant that less board games got played.  A couple of weeks ago we found some time to play again, and some thoughts on that are below.  However, ironically enough, this post then got delayed because we got busy again!

We have a couple of groups of friends that we play board games with, but the majority we play are with just my wife and I.  When the opportunity arises, playing a game is usually my preference, where as my wife will prefer to watch a show together.  Now that things have settled down a bit I am sure we will play more often, but with a couple of new seasons of some of our favourite shows on Netflix, I am sure the TV option will happen more often too.

What really struck me when we went to play again was our choice of games.  It probably doesn't take a genius to figure out that they are among our favourite games, but I really noticed that it was a combination of each of our preferences, plus which games are decent 2-Player games.  What also struck me is which game we didn't chose; Dominion.  I would still rank it as one of my top games, and is also likely still our most played game (the only possible competitor would be 7 Wonders).  My wife has commented a few times that it is no longer high on her list, primarily because she finds the large library of cards (we have a bunch of expansions) adds confusion and adds to the setup time.  Despite a few of our friends having copies of this, it rarely gets played in a group setting, so it has been a while since I last played it.


The first choice wasn't a surprise at all - 7 Wonders.  It is a top pick always, both 2-Player and in groups.  Despite having played it enough times to have the majority of the 3-player basic cards memorized, I find that the variety from the wonders, the guilds, the leaders and the black cards (when we play with the expansions) is enough to keep it fresh each game.  I also really like the "dummy" player concept this game uses.  The "dummy" has a hand of cards, one of which is added to one particular hand (which is passed each turn, so it evens out) which means that when you have that hand there is at least one new card, and possibly two (if the other player didn't use it last turn).  You then play your card and one for the "dummy" allowing some ability to block the other player or combat their strategy (e.g. not allowing them to have an easy military win).  It also means that there is one card at the bottom of the dummy pile that isn't seen by either player, stopping you from building your strategy around any particular card.  In the game below we played with all our expansions (cities, leaders & wonders).

7 Wonders - Completed game (my wife's area at the bottom and me at the top)
Something that has really struck me with the cities expansion is that the addition of diplomacy tokens in 2-Player (and likely also in 3-player) significantly reduces the value of military and victory token related leaders/guilds.  As soon as a diplomacy token is played the three combats that would of normally taken place is reduced to a single combat.  Depending on the combination of black cards, wonders and leaders it is not uncommon to have this happen in both the 2nd and 3rd rounds, greatly reducing the number of points from military.  I have yet to find a good way to balance this, so please feel free to share any ideas!

The next game to come out was a little bit of a surprise - Stone Age.  This is a game that has been getting more and more play time.  The 2-Player version (compared to playing with more) simply limits you to only one player on each resource each turn, and only two of the three "prime" spots (extra person, agricultural track or tools) can be used.  We seem to think that this works well, it keeps the game very similar to more players, but also creates some necessity to take what you need when you can so that the other player doesn't block you.  I think it also gets played a lot because while you end up fighting for resources, there isn't a lot of other direct interaction, so you get to see your area get built up as the game goes on.  Its also relatively easy to set up!

Stone Age - During scoring (from my wife's side)

There are also a few new games in our collection, but those will be the subject of some later posts.