Tuesday, October 22, 2002


I played Cannes, the new Splotter release. It's been characterized as
"Roads and Boats"-lite, and while it certainly shares several
qualities with R&B, it stands nicely on its own without supplanting
R&B or feeling less interesting than R&B.

The theme is about making movies, which require a variety of resources
(computers, people, and beer, which produce special effects, scripts
and stars, in various combinations) in multiple stages. There are
multiple types of movies (sci-fi movies, action movies, and the
amusingly translated "girlie movies" aka chick flicks) which require
different resources. This part of the game is interesting, but not
especially novel.

The really clever part of the game is how you access the resources and
production mechanisms. There are hexagonal tiles, which players
control the layout of, and then each player has five rods which they
use to form a "network" of connections between tiles. Only those
tiles connected to one's network are usable. This means you have to
carefully layout tiles and gradually change your network as your
resource and production needs change, all while other players are
impinging on the same space. Further, only a limited number of
resources can be retained between turns.

The play is very tense, and the timing of the endgame is interesting.
Like in Roads & Boats, the key to doing well seems to be to set up a
production "machine" as quickly as possible, and then run it longer
and better than the other players. Of course, other players may
attempt to interfere with your machine. Overall, the tension and
interaction was very nice, and the theme was engaging and fun, though
one player found the production hierarchy a little non-intuitive.

The components are also worth mentioning, as they are somewhat nicer
than many Splotter games in the past. They aren't quite up to the
major German publishing standards, but they are very nice all the
same, particularly more so than Roads & Boats.

I look forward to playing this one more, and if this sort of
production game is interesting to you, I highly recommend it. The
network mechanism is very new feeling, so I can't quite compare it to
anything else I've played, which alone makes this game worth trying.

Sunday, October 20, 2002

Just back from Essen, first comments

Well, I just got back from Essen, and thought I'd post some quick
comments. This is my second time to Essen, and you can href=http://www.mkgray.com:8000/essen/>read about my trip in 2000, if you want. This year,
I was only there for the end of Thursday and all of Friday and
Saturday. The "buzz" of the fair was Friedman Friese's new game
"Fische Fluppen Frikadellen", in which players can switch between
tables and multiple copies of the game. I didn't get a chance to play
this, but it seemed very well received.

I'll discuss other games below, but another nice thing about Essen
this year was I knew far more people there. It was great to see Scott
Alden, Greg Schloesser, James Miller, Mik Svellov, and many others.


This game of plate tectonics from Gecko Games was featured in the Doris
& Frank booth, and though the art was by Doris, the game was not by
Frank, but Ralf Lehmkuhl. I was very impressed with this game, and it
seems to have a variety of interesting options and the continental
drift mechanics are very nice. I'll try to write more later, but the
basic idea is one is competing for control over the new continents
that are being formed. On each players turn, they have some control
over the drift, and then action points to do things such as force more
drift, reproduce, move, and the like. Very nice. The only negative
comments I heard was that it was a bit dry, but I didn't find it so,
and unless players are very ponderous, it moved along at a good pace.

color=f8f0ff>ad acta

This small production game has a theme that seems hard to make
interesting: paper pushing. But, the game is quite fun, and lends
itself well to its theme. Each player runs an office, and documents
get pushed around and processed by various offices before being filed.
Precise timing of this processing is key to the game, as different
documents score different points depending on when the are filed. The
game is all about queue management, as documents come in to offices on
a last in first out basis. A few special action cards mix things up
nicely. Some found parts of a little too chaotic and hard to track,
and I see where he's coming from, but I very much enjoyed and
recommend the game.


This is a beautifully produced new game from Cwali, where players
produce competing zoos, attempting to attract the most visitors. This
game has a few nice mechanics that interlock nicely. Players
participate in a series of blind auctions for tiles which are layed in
a domino-like fashion, and compete for dominance in several categories
(types of animals and trees) as well as receiving bonuses for creating
path loops. I like auction games, so that part appealed to me, but I
found the other aspects very engaging as well. The art is also very
nice, though some speculated that people might assume it was a
children's game because of it. In any case, highly recommended.

color=f8f0ff>Canal Grande, FFF, Cannes, Age of Steam

These 4 also got a lot of good buzz (highly rated in the Fairplay
booth, and spoken of highly by those who'd played), but I didn't get a
chance to play them. I picked them all up except for Age of Steam.
I'll comment more once I play them.


Many people commented to Friedemann Friese that Frisch Fisch should be
republished. He commented on a certain irony in this because
apparently it took several years to sell out, and only once it had
completely sold out did an upsurge of interest start. The possibility
of another publisher doing an edition of Frisch Fisch seemed to be in
mind, but nothing specific, of course.

I also heard some other folks mumbling about the possibility of
Friedeman doing a new game for Alea. Would the box be green?

Nothing in the way of details, but a new Reiner Knizia "big" game from
Hans im Gluck is supposedly going to be out at Nurnberg, and
presumably this is the Egyptian game Chris Lawson mentioned last

I'll post more later, with photos...

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Going to Essen

Despite having lots of interesting topics to write on, I haven't had
the time to write here lately. Hopefully, I'll get time to write
about Lord of the Rings: Sauron, Roads & Boats, and some Lord of the
Rings: The Confrontation strategy.

All this will probably have to wait though, since I'm off to Essen,
and presumably that will be the most interesting thing to write about
for a little while. I hope to have some stuff up here early next