Monday, April 19, 2004

Immer Oben Auf!

Immer oben auf!

by Alan Moon & Aaron Weissblum

Rating: A

I recently played this at the GatheringOfFriends2004. It used to be that I didn't like memory games at all. It somehow felt like exercising some "mental muscles" (ie, strategic and tactical thought) was fun while others (memory) was not. So, for a long time, I actively avoided memory games. Gradually, I began to change my mind about them. Part of the change was based on playing games with younger kids, who tend to have a serious edge in the memory department. The other part was discovery of a few games like MammaMia which have a substantial memory component, but that's not all there is to the game. While I wouldn't consider memory games a favorite genre at all, I've come to appreciate them and not look down my nose at them nearly so much. So, "Immer oben auf!" is a memory game, but don't take that as a bad thing.

The game is very simple: Each player has a stack of animal cubes only they can see. These animals come in three varieties (land, air, and sea) which is visible to all by their color, and two each of four animals in each variety. The goal of the game is to get your stack to nine animals. On your turn, you guess an opponents top animal. If you are right, you take it, and put it at the bottom of your stack. If you are wrong, they reveal it and put it at the bottom of their stack. If you're right, you go again, targeting a different player.

The game plays quickly and is more fun than it sounds. Remembering sequences of animals is difficult, but feels different than the usual spatial memory game. Instead, it feels like you're trying to remember the earlier events of the game which produced the sequence. Naturally, there's also an almost trivial deduction/bluff element in which guesses you make about other players animals given what you've seen and your current stack. Overall, if you don't think "memory" is a dirty word this is definitely worth a try.

Other memory games played at the Gathering that are worth trying: Masterdieb and Dicke Luft In Der Gruft.

Immer oben auf! info at boardgamegeek

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