January 19, 2005

Session Report for January 13, 2005

by Susan Rozmiarek

This game session is brought to you by the letter "A."

I’ve always been very bothered by all the unplayed or seldom played games in our collection. This year, I’m hoping to address this in a way proposed by Jon Theys on the Spielfriek Yahoo group. My goal is to work through the alphabet, allowing two weeks per letter, and playing at least one game with a name starting with that letter. The focus, of course, will be on unplayed games and games that haven’t hit the table in a very long time. This will force me to take a close look at our collection in small sections. So tonight, I was hoping to get at least one “A” game to the table. I was pleased to actually manage three.


First up for the early birds was this quick, new card game. People seemed to be raving about this one after the Essen game fair, but so far I am only mildly impressed. The part of the game I find most enjoyable is gambling about how many times a card that I want will stay on the table, allowing the chips to pile up for me to take. There doesn’t seem to be many meaningful decisions to make, just a bit of risk-taking. Nonetheless, even though I don’t believe it is quite deserving of all the buzz it has generated, I do find it to be a very simple, quick and pleasant filler.

Results: Marty +11, Mark -19, Adam -40, Susan -45, Mike -54

Aladdin’s Dragons

Our group played this Richard Breese game several years ago. We played a rule incorrectly, which soured everyone on the game, and it hasn’t seen the light of day since. It’s been so long that I can’t even remember which rule we goofed, making it an excellent candidate for an “A” game. We went straight for the advanced version with magic cards, as the basic version looked rather dull.

This game is simply gorgeous, with the board and cards beautifully illustrated by the talented Doris Matthäus. The currency in the game is treasure, represented by a pile of colorful, shiny, plastic bits molded into several different shapes. Very nice overall to look at, I must say.

The game’s main mechanism is blind bidding, which is repeated over and over. If you aren’t a fan of that mechanism, stay far, far away from this game. Believe me, you’ll hate it. I rather like it myself, but it is taken to the extreme in Aladdin’s Dragons. Detractors of the game in our group complain that the whole game is just guesswork, but I find it to involve lots of planning and bluffing. All the elements interlock and must be taken into consideration when planning the round and doling out your limited bidding chips. Aladdin’s Dragons actually reminds me a lot of Wallenstein. Yes, you read that correctly. Wallenstein. In both games, the heart of the gameplay is a big planning phase, where you have to try and predict what your opponents will do. You know in what order things will be resolved (well, only half of them in Wallenstein) and this order may be crucial to your planning decisions. Then, you sit back and watch things get resolved, with only a few decisions to be made during this phase. After that, you repeat the whole process again. The magic cards in Aladdin’s Dragons, which do various things, create a good bit of chaos, but they are fun. We played with the variant that has the two available magic cards each round face-up, so you not only know what you are bidding on, but also what cards people may have in their hands.

I really enjoyed this game and with three people, it played in about an hour. I wish I could get it to the table more often.

Results: It was a close finish with Francesca in first place and Peter and I barely trailing behind.

The aMAZEing Labyrinth

My son just loves this game, so it is definitely not underplayed at my house, but I thought it might be a good shorter game to play while waiting for the other tables to finish. While it looks like just a kid’s game, it is enough of a mental exercise to be enjoyable by adults as well. Each turn presents a little, tactical, spatial puzzle of trying to shift the labyrinth so that you have a path to your goal. I like it a lot.

Results: Francesca – 1st, Susan – 2nd, Peter – 3rd


Well, we never could get in sync with the other tables’ ending times, so Peter, Francesca and I pulled out Attika, a game we were all familiar with and all like. It’s nice sitting down to a game where only a quick rules refresher is needed.

Attika was a huge hit with our group when it came out. It was subsequently played to death and everyone got burned out on it. I hadn’t played it for almost a year so it was overdue to be played.

Since we had all played before, it was a fairly competitive game. Connection threats were recognized and nullified several times. Francesca ended the game by placing all of her buildings a turn before I would have been able. Peter was fairly close as well. I would easily tire of this game again, but bringing it out on an occasional basis is fine.

Some other notes about tonight:

Mark, Doug, Clark, and Weldon played a 1 hour & 45 minute game of Hansa (!) Doug claims that Mark was the one taking “forever” to move.

Das Zepter von Zavandor was played yet again. This game is a current “darling” of our group. I got to play it a few weeks ago and it is indeed an excellent game and not for the faint of heart. There is a bit of a learning curve and I got crushed. It’s one of those games that snowball, making it crucial to make good decisions early-on as it hard to catch up once you fall behind. There are several strategies to pursue and the variety of possible decisions creates a lot of turn angst. It is so popular with our group, that yet another Adam Spielt order has been organized to order copies.

Next week: Games that start with the letter “B.” This is starting to sound like an episode of Sesame Street.

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at January 19, 2005 8:45 PM


Geschenkt scores:
Adam -40
Mike -54
Mark -19
Susan -45
Marty +11

Posted by: Adam on January 21, 2005 12:01 AM

I updated the results in the report.

Posted by: Ed on January 21, 2005 8:18 AM
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