Sunday, December 04, 2005

Mark's One Hundred: #70-#61

#70: Elfenland
Alan Moon took his classic gamer game Elfenroads and turned it into a great family game, Elfenland. When it won the Spiel des Jahres, it allowed him to go back and re-gamer it with the Elfengold expansion. I like both games (Elfenland & Elfenland + Elfengold) but don't get to play either of them nearly as much as I'd like.

I'm trying to decide if this is on my list because I really like it (which I do) or because I'm so spectacularly good at it (which I am). Either way, it's got an interesting parentage. Michael Schacht designed Web of Power - and then published a card game using the same kind of area control rules. Richelieu is a redesign for two players of that card game. What I like is that there is a very small random element - the trick is to think 2-4 turns ahead as you develop a plan for claiming provinces.

#68: Daytona 500
This is my personal favorite of the Kramer racing games that began with Tempo. (Tempo, btw, is completely abstract and is actually more of a gambling game. The one familiar element is the cards that move multiple players.) I like Detroit/Cleveland Grand Prix, but the payoff chart needs to be fixed. I guess what draws me in most about Daytona is how cleanly the system works while offering interesting choices each turn.

#67: Upwords
It's Scrabble with less board lock (thanks to the ability to build up) and for some reason I can visualize the stacking plays needed to succeed at this game.

#66: Zertz
As I've said in a number of places, I'm not a fan of abstract games, but Zertz sucked me in - what with the pretty bits & the rapidly shrinking playing surface & the wild tactical moves you can make. I'm what you'd call a "2nd level" player - I play intelligently, but I haven't "grokked" the game yet enough to avoid being beaten by those who love abstracts.

#65: Queen's Necklace
While the box says you can play this game of jewelry sales in pre-revolution France with 4 players, you're much better off playing it with 3. The falling values system is unusual and leads to some difficult decisions about what to buy and what to leave behind. There's some chaos, but it's manageable and fun... and that's all I ask from a game.

#64: Rosenkonig
Another very abstract game, this 2 player (or 4 playing partners) game about the War of the Roses not only looks nice, but plays like a charm. Despite the open information, the game doesn't ever seem to bog down in analysis paralysis.

#63: Mystery Rummy 2: Murders in the Rue Morgue
A splendid partnership game that didn't fare so well on the first couple of outings - it took us some time to see how tricky you can be in your card play with this rummy variant. Mike Fitzgerald is a card design genius. (BTW, don't play this unless you're playing partners - it's how the game shines.)

#62: Freight Train
Much like my decision between Starship Catan & Settlers Card Game, here I had to decide between the short & friendly Get the Goods or the long & table-eating Freight Train. Between the two, I find FT occupying more post-game brain space ("what if I'd just...?"), so it gets the nod. But either set-collecting game is a wonderful addition to your game collection!

#61: Affenraffen
It's a floor wax AND a desert topping... as this Michael Schacht game is actually a speed game and a memory game rolled into one. The addition of some action tiles allow for betting & messing with the leader.



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