Sunday, October 19, 2008

Played a bunch of new games

The rate at which I play new games has been relatively steadily declining by 10-20% per year, until this year, when it looked like it might fall by by over 50%. As of last week, I had only played 29 new-to-me games this year (down from 73 in 2007, and a lot more in preceding years). But, yesterday I got to play a bunch (7) of new-to-me games, and I played two others earlier this week and that's worthy of a capsule reviews post. Because these are all based on one or two plays, they're probably, if anything, slightly over-inflated since I tend to like new things.

Tribune. [BGG] This obviously has a lot of positive buzz and it's fairly well deserved. It seems to have captured the positive qualities of a lot of role-selection/worker-placement games while playing in a reasonable time. The multiple parallel paths to victory quality is very nice. A-

Dreizehnte Holzwurm. [BGG] I got this as a "sweetener" in a trade over 5 years ago and only just got around to playing it. That's a real shame since it's a cute game of tactical cardplay and brinkmanship. The comparison to 6 nimmt! is a fair, but tenuous one. A nice filler. B

Handelsfursten. [BGG] A sort of generic Knizia filler card game. The game actually feels like it ends a little quickly for the number of potential opportunities for choices. In the end, it just didn't leave much of an impression, but makes a good filler. B

Container. [BGG] This is clearly a really neat economic game. It's also as try as the theme (container ships) would suggest. The system of A produces, B buys and resells to C who then auctions it to D, where A!=B, B!=C and C!=D is a little hard to wrap your head around, especially since the auction payouts are matched by the bank and the fact that your most common good type is thrown out. A little too much arbitrariness and dryness in an otherwise strong package. If I felt at all engaged, the rating would go up a lot. B-

Neue Heimant. [BGG] A cute little little auction game, but not one I enjoyed because the game has multiple sever "cliffs" in the final scoring. By that I mean an small change in where something gets built at the end of the game has a radical impact on scores. I like that kind of chaos/subtlety in the incremental mechanisms of games, but in the final scoring it's just sort of annoying. C

Witch's Brew. [BGG] A cute little role selection game with a nice cardplay twist. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite live up to its potential, in that the cardplay ends up feeling a bit too uncontrolled. But, maybe that's just inexperience. I should try this one a few more times before I make a real judgement. B+

Jamaica. [BGG] Wow. The art on this (same artist as Animalia) is beautiful and remarkably functional as well. It's definitely a "family game" but it's clever and quick. The multiple resources required to run the race and the ebb and flow of the cards makes for a nice experience. This was the biggest hit out of this crop of games. A

Cannonball Colony. [BGG] Cute little tactical conflict game. I wasn't going to call it a "wargme", but I guess it simply is. For the right person, this is probably a great game. For me, not so much. Too much pure direct conflict and the geometric and tactical nature was just not sufficiently engaging. C

Shadow Hunters. [BGG] A nice fun hidden alliances game. Some players are Hunters, some are Shadows, and some are Neutral, but you don't know who, so you go around attacking each other and gathering information. I think I agree with Felix's comment that it's better than Bang!, but scratches the same itch. Plus, it plays in much less time than it claims (30 minutes, not an hour). Not a lot of depth, but it's fun and that's the point of this sort of game. B+

Thursday, October 16, 2008

BaordGameGeek and AppEngine

AppEngine is fun. I've been fiddling on a number of personal projects using it lately, some involving BoardGameGeek. A month ago, I posted there, but forgot to post here: I made a fun BGG collection comparison tool. The combination of the BGG XML API and AppEngine with urlfetch (and ElementTree) makes writing BGG "add-ons" pretty easy. I'll certainly keep writing more, but other people should write some too. Don't know python? Well, it's a nice language and worth learning. :)

And, to get you started, here's the (sloppy, not cleaned up, but functional) library for fetching collection info from BGG. It lets you do things like:

coll = bggcoll.GetCollection(username)

while doing all the nice things like stuffing it in memcache, the datastore, and only refetching it from BGG if the local copy is stale.