January 26, 2005

To B or not to B

by Susan Rozmiarek

This week and next I am trying to play some of the “B” games in our collection. I have four that I’ve never played – Buffy the Vampire Slayer Game, Böse Buben, Breakthru, and Battletech. I’m not sure our group would like the Buffy game. That might be one to play with the kids. Battletech is one of Ed’s old games and definitely not my cup of tea. Breakthru is his old game as well, but definitely has possibilities as I enjoy abstract games more these days. We picked Böse Buben off a prize table and it looks like a possibility as a filler.

RRGamers – 1/20/05

Since Ed was gone on a business trip last week and missed out on games, I was the Designated Parental Unit tonight, meaning I got to ferry Kevin back and forth from soccer practice and take Shea to a science fair. I did manage to get in one game.


This is a very nifty checkers-like game of racing kangaroos. It comes in an irritatingly large box that is mostly air. The bits are nice, though – big, chunky, colorful wooden kangaroos and a big vinyl map. The map is a grid of spaces with a pond, or billabong in the center and a start/finish line. The kangaroos race around the billabong in a circle. You get to move one of your kangaroos each turn. The movement rules are the heart of the game and are quite clever. A kangaroo can move like the King in Chess, one space in any direction, or he can jump over another kangaroo. When jumping, he jumps in a straight line (orthogonally or diagonally) such that he lands on the other side of the kangaroo and ends up the same distance away from the other kangaroo as he was before. For example, if my kangaroo is two spaces behind the kangaroo I want to jump, my kangaroo will land two spaces in front of that kangaroo. The thing is, in doing so, the spot he lands on has to be unoccupied and he can only jump over one kangaroo at a time. He can, however, jump over as many kangaroos on a single turn as he is legally able, one at a time. A clever series of jumps can move a kangaroo quite a long distance. You are constantly trying to set yourself up for long jumps or series of jumps, while also trying to block opponents from being able to do the same.

Ed and I had both played this several times, but it had been a while. Mike and Adam were new to the game. They both made the mistake of stranding a kangaroo too far behind the pack. Similar to the game the Cartegena, you often have to work from the back, being careful not to leave pieces so far behind by themselves that they can’t take advantage of chains created by the other pieces. Now that they have played the game, I doubt either of them will let that happen again.

I like this game a lot. It’s simple, elegant and makes me feel clever when I spot a killer move.

Results: Susan-1st, Ed -2nd, Adam-3rd, Mike-4th

Austin IBM Lunchtime Gamers 1/21/05

Since I hadn’t played enough games to satisfy my hunger the night before, I headed down to Ed’s workplace to play with the lunch crowd there.

Big City

This was one of the games that hooked me when we first discovered German games years ago. Lavishly produced with all the molded buildings and with fairly simple rules, it was a perfect introduction to “building” games. The game has a nice mix of simple strategy and luck that makes it very enjoyable to new and casual players. The game is definitely better with fewer players, though, as planning becomes very difficult with more.

This was a very odd game of Big City. Very few streetcars were played. They were not a factor at all. I also got off to a very unlucky start. My initial card that matched the city section that I got to place was a park. Everyone else was able to place their section such that they got a two-section building score on their first turn. It set the tone for the entire game for me and I trailed the whole game. I almost beat Mark, but an evil factory placement by Jon towards the end rendered some of my cards useless and guaranteed me a last place finish. This playing was definitely not as satisfying as I remembered the game to be. I’m wondering if it was an aberration or due to the fact that my tastes have evolved from playing many, many different games over the years. I’m hoping it is the former.

Results: Jon in first by a mile, followed by Ed, Mark and me in last.

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at January 26, 2005 7:39 PM

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