May 28, 2004

Session Report for May 20, 2004

by Susan Rozmiarek

The early birds started off with MŁ, which was abandoned after one hand as more people showed up. This was just enough to refresh us with the rules and whet our appetite for more. I really, really must play a full game of this! Itís got a learning curve that Iíve barely even begun to explore.

We then played a round of Thingamajig, once again aborting when the last arrivals trickled in. At this point, I was starting to wonder if I was going to play a full game of anything. Fortunately, we now had enough to split into two tables.

Africa

It has been over a year since this light exploration game has hit the table. I donít find the game terribly exciting, but itís pleasant enough and not too taxing, making it an excellent choice for family or casual gamers. It has a fair bit of luck but also many tactical decisions. This type of game is often prone to too much group thinking, so it is wise to lay down the laws for table talk before the game starts. Our game had two new players, so we were more liberal than usual with allowing table talk.

My explorer excelled as a big game hunter, turning over tile after tile of exotic animals. I was able to build a few camps amongst the wild beasts for some decent points, but then was unable to discover hardly any monuments to acquire additional camps to build. My explorer was also was no Indiana Jones, only able to unearth a few rare artifacts. He did manage to find some valuable gems, which earned him second place in the ďmost gemsĒ contest. This, coupled with his hunting success, garnered him a tie for second place glories.

Results: Doug/Ed 45, Susan/Francesca 42, Roxana 29


Intrepid explorers Francesca, Doug, Roxana, Susan and Ed explore the wilds of Africa.

A couple of hardy explorers find riches in Africa.

Iglu Iglu

I had played a two-player game of this with Ed and you can read my earlier report for a better description of the game. I was a little apprehensive about playing it with more players as I thought it would become too chaotic. Well, there was more chaos to be sure, but it also was a whole lot of fun with more players fighting for dominance on the ice. On Bruno Faiduttiís website, he currently has an editorial about the trend in German games lately toward non-violence with less player interaction. In comparing older games, he has this to say about Settlers of Catan and El Grande:

ďThere were no battles, but players were still playing on the same map, and there was always a strong rivalry, either to be the first on the most interesting crossings - in Settlers of Catan - or to get the majority and take control of the most interesting areas - in El Grande.Ē

It is no surprise then, that this is the type of game that he and Bruno Cathala have designed with Iglu Iglu, but in their own style, loaded with theme with a good dollop of luck and chaos. While it doesnít belong up there on the top shelf with those elegant, venerable classics, I find Iglu Iglu to be enjoyable nonetheless. Thereís loads of competition between players, with each turn often presenting tactical decisions to either help yourself or hurt someone else, preferably both. And while it is very competitive and has many opportunities for hosing other players, it doesnít overstep the boundaries of ďmeannessĒ for my comfort level. I can see, however, that this game is not going to be to the taste of some players. The constantly changing board and the luck of the tiles makes long-term planning hard. If you like tactical games though, this one has some neat mechanisms, including one that reminds me somewhat of the shifting maze in The aMAZEing Labyrinth.

Our game started out with the race to the middle to pluck the largest fish from the frigid waters. Polar bears soon made an appearance, but not the harpoons necessary to defeat them. As islands formed from the melting ice, the competition to control the larger ones became fierce. Francesca was the first to build an igloo on a large center island, but soon learned the error of building one too early as we made sure her island steadily shrank in size. A big island in the corner became very crowded, ensuring that it would retain its size with each tile being occupied. It was Doug who then made a very clever move at the end to win the game. I had a nice island all to myself in one corner with lots of stable, packed ice. Ed was able to chase me off with a rampaging polar bear, leaving the island empty. Doug then kayaked to it and used a Thaw tile he had been saving to melt the very last possible ice tile on the board, triggering the end of the game. This gave him a huge number of points for being the sole occupant of the island.

I think the gamerís variant for scoring looks a bit more balanced and I want to try using it next time along with the blocking rules for igloos. All four of us enjoyed the game, so Iím sure Iíll get a chance soon.

Results: Doug 39, Francesca 22, Ed 21, Susan 20


The start of Iglu Iglu.

A close up of the Iglu Iglu Inuits.

Other games played: Magna Grecia, Canít Stop, Trendy


Peter, Marty, Jon and someone leaning out of the picture play Magnba Grecia.

Ahh, that someone is Mark. Bad Mark for for trying to get out of the picture.

A little Trendy action to wind down from Magna Grecia.

Mark, Peter and Jon push their luck in Can't Stop while Peter's wife Francesca looks on.

For more pictures from this gaming session and others, see our Gaming Picture Gallery.

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at May 28, 2004 3:13 PM

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