Puerto Rico (Age 12+, 3-5 players, 90 min playing time)
When I saw a game of Puerto Rico being set up, described by Stuart Dagger (editor of 'The Counter') as “a work of pure genius”’ I felt called to ask if I could join the other players. As is my wont I wandered over and asked if there was space for one more player – thankfully they said yes.
Rowena, having played Puerto Rico once before, took on the mantle of guide and tutor to the rest of us and battled manfully against our constant questions and the rules. However, with the support of caffeine and perseverance on everybody’s part, the game
gradually came together and made sufficient sense that we set about raising plantations and all the other things that can be undertaken in this game. With my normal ability to enjoy the game whilst simultaneously loosing, the result for me was never in much doubt.
Race for the Galaxy (Age 12+, 2-4 players, 60 min playing time)
As the Puerto Rico game came to a close Cristiano tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I could help them with some questions on Race for the Galaxy (described elsewhere on my blog). This resulted in me joining their game replacing a player who was sadly very disillusioned with the game. With so many options available with the cards (many of which I have still not seen myself) I offered more knowledge, but hardly expertise. As one of my favourite games you might expect that I could do better than last place - but no! I can loose at any game!
Munchkin (Age 13+, 2-6 players, 60 min playing time)
Time for a wander round the two rooms being used and I caught up with Neil Mayer and Mark Rivera who invited me to join their game of Munchkin. I have a copy of Star Munchkin and so have read the rules but am yet to play it. Playing it confirmed my belief that Ian (my brother-in-law) will love it and the rest of us (my games group) somehow loose and be left with a slight sense of frustration.
If you haven’t come across the Munchkin series they offer a light hearted approach to various well known genres, the most well known one being Dungeons and Dragons – this was the one we played. Its quick, it’s relatively simple (although there is a lot of descriptive text on the cards) and highly mischievous. Each player has a character who may can be of a number of races (the default is human) and with special talents or ‘classes’ e.g. a warrior or wizard. The aim is to beat your opponents to getting your character to the lofty heights of Level 10. Your character kicks down doors and finds treasure sometimes defended by monsters varying in power from weak to awesome. As you beat monsters (assuming you do, there is always the option to run away) so you advance levels (1 level per dead monster). It seemed to me that the game had two distinct phases the first was the early game when everybody helps each other as a way to get more treasure and so advance levels and the second part of the game when the finishing post or Level 10 is within sight when everybody starts dumping on each other and doing all within their power to slow down or kill their one time friends.
Neil played a canny game and soon emerged as the most likely winner thereby attracting the unwanted attentions of his fellow players. The final round (when Level 10 was there for the taking) saw him being cursed, whereupon he revealed a counter curse, and meeting wandering monsters of massive power, however this only meant he revealed other hidden talents, so, in spite of some dastardly play by the rest of us (Mark and I in particular), which is incidentally encouraged within the rules of the game, he emerged triumphant to the hilarity and applause of the rest of us.
Munchkin is a very funny card game that could wreck friendships but if played with the right people in the right vein is great fun. A game I am sure Ian would love, if I ever bother to get it out for him to play!
Dixit (Age 8+, 3-6 players, 30 min playing time)
Then to the best game of the day, Dixit; this game has won the prestigious Spiel des Jahres award for 2010 and is a board game with beautiful components and gorgeous artwork plus a great rule mechanism. The idea is that each player has 6 large cards each with a very different colourful image. The first player (the story teller) uses a phrase or sentence to describe one of their cards. The other players then have to pick the card in their hand that most closely fits the description and put it face down in the centre of the table and shuffled. The cards are then turned over and lined up in a row and the players then vote on which one they think most closely matches the description given (you cannot vote for your own - obviously!). Depending on the votes points are awarded and your playing piece advanced the given number on the scoring track.
I am sure this description does not do this game justice. However it has gone to the top of my wish list and I would recommend it to any family group or group of social gamers. The artwork is stunning, the game play simple, with the ability for enjoyment to be found what ever your age. I don’t think you would spend more than half an hour playing it, if that but I am sure you would have a very enjoyable time.
Dixit would make a good filler or starter game.