Monday, March 18, 2002

Battle Line, Flinke Pinke, Space Beans

My theme for the day seems to be the defense of games (and versions of
games) that are often maligned...

color=f8f0ff>Battle Line

I played my 30th game of
Battle Line
today. I've played agains 9
different opponents, and I think I finally am reasonably skilled at
the game. It sure took long enough :-)

I lost my first game of Battle Line. This was back in fall of 2000.
Then, I lost my second game. I began to think I was seeing the error
of my ways. I lost a third time. Well, I kept trying. I lost the
fourth time. I kept playing. In the end, I didn't win until my 9th
game, and that against a friend who had never played before. Since
then, my record has been 12 wins in 22 games, or about average. What
an amazing game.

Some small portion of those games have been with the Schotten-Totten
rules (no 10's, no tactics cards, hand size of 6), but despite claims
to the contrary by some, I am convinced the tactics cards actually
decrease the luck in the game and substantially enhance it. There are
few enough of them that it's easy to keep in mind what they all do,
and the can't play more than one more than your opponent keeps their
power appropriately in check. Many games, three or fewer tactics
cards are played.

In my opinion, this is probably the best two-player game I have ever

color=f8f0ff>Flinke Pinke

Here's another Knizia game that has another version. The "other
version" here is also the American version, though no major rule
changes have been made in this case. The physical production of the
American version, Quandary, is dramatically different however.

Flinke Pinke is a beautifully elegant and simple package. A deck of
30 simply produced but attractive cards and as many chips in 5 colors.
It's small, it's compact, it's portable and it works. Quandary, on
the other hand is a beatuifully produced behemoth. Instead of cards,
players have large plastic tiles. Instead of simple chips, again,
large plastic tiles. All of this necessitates a board, since the
tiles don't stack/overlay nicely the way cards do. The resulting box
is large (Pictionary sized/shaped), and while the bits are beautiful,
it's way overproduced.

While I admire nicely manufactured games as much as the next guy,
Flinke Pinke/Quandary is a great game and that greatness is not
reduced by use of cards and chips. For me, space is the primary
constraint in my game collection, and I'm much happier with Flinke
Pinke than with another unnecassarily oversized box.

I need to remember to pull this out more often, especially with 4

color=f8f0ff>Space Beans

I played my 10th game of Space Beans today. This game also seems to
have a undeserved bad reputation. Players who spend a lot of time
card counting can come very close to breaking the game, but not
entirely. Certainly, played the "wrong way", this game can take far
too long and not be much fun, but played "right", it's amusing,
strategic and fun.

The "right" way to play is to not think heavily about one's choices,
and play quickly. This isn't to say that one shouldn't think at all,
but it's not a good game to spend time pondering. The mechanics make
for some fun planning and bluffing. The art, of course, is wonderful.

This isn't a game that will get another 10 plays very quickly, but I
enjoyed the first 10 times and more than got my money's worth.

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