November 30, 2005

Comments on Games played - 11/13/05

by Susan Rozmiarek

Mission: Planète Rouge

Well, I’d gotten rather tired of Citadels after playing it to death when it first came out, but this game revives that whole character card mechanism in a wonderfully fresh way. Instead of a building game like Citadels, this is an area control game with the areas in contention being ten regions of the planet Mars.

For each game turn, a number of shuttle tiles are chosen randomly. Each depicts the destination and the number of astronauts it can carry. As these shuttles fill up they are “launched” and at the end of a turn the astronauts in them are deposited in the destined region on the round game board that represents Mars. Having majorities in these regions at the end of the three scoring rounds in the game gets you points. Players also have secret goals for points at the end of the game. If this all sounds like just another bland majority control game, well, it would be if it wasn’t for the variable character card mechanism which in this game is slightly different and even more cleverly done than in Citadels. The character played determines how many astronauts the player can place in shuttles as well as a special action to execute. The special actions create a good bit of chaos as is expected in a Faidutti game, but I actually felt like I had some control. The order in which the cards get executed is very important and creates some interesting decisions. It was actually quite a bit of fun and more playings will determine whether those feelings of control are an illusion or not. The theme and the art are totally cool.

Note: There is a good bit of French text on the cards, making it worthwhile to wait for the English edition. Even so, learning a few key French words and having a few players’ aides made playing the French edition easy enough.

Mission: Planète Rouge up close.


This is a neat blind bidding and bluffing game that has similarities to Aladdin’s Dragons, but seems a bit cleaner. Players place influence markers in the various regions on the board hoping to have the majority at the end of each round. The markers are placed facedown so others cannot see the numerical value, which is where the bluffing comes in to play. Majorities win gems, action cards, or affect the gem values. Naturally, your hope is to have the most valuable colors of gems at the end of the game. The game did start to feel a bit repetitive and long, but it ended just as I was starting to lose interest. I also like the theme of Aladdin’s Dragons much better; here it feels a bit dry and dull.

Near the end of the fourth Ys turn.


The dice hated me. Really, really hated me. When is someone going to reprint this awesome game of screwage and luck-pushing? It feels totally different than all others of its ilk and it gets requested over and over, year after year in our group.

Susan, Paul, Kevin, Mike and Ed ( taking picture) get random with Exxtra.

Elasund: The First City

This was my second time around for this game and it only served to strengthen my opinion that this is a really, really good game. The opinion of everyone I’ve played with has been overwhelmingly positive. I’m a big fan of games like Anno 1503 and Princes of Florence that let me sit back and build my stuff with only indirect interference from my fellow players. So, I probably shouldn’t like a highly confrontational game that encourages the demolishing of my beautiful buildings that took me such careful planning to build. But, I am really enjoying this game. As the board fills, the competition gets fierce and you really feel like you’ve pulled off something clever if you are able to set things up to plop down a big building, destroying an opponent’s in the process. And I love feeling clever :-) Unfortunately, in this playing, the adults, including me, did not feel clever at all as we all got whupped by a 12 year-old.

Susan teaches Elasund: The First City to Mark, Kevin and Mike.


This is yet another “push-your-luck” game that is a current darling of our group, especially when we have a large group. I read in the recent issue of Knucklebones in an Alan Moon interview that the game is currently being looked at by both Mattel and Hasbro. Tie this game in with a blockbuster adventure movie (where is that next Indiana Jones movie?) and watch it sell, sell, sell. The game is fast, fun and perfect for families. I hope it gets picked up by one of those Big Boys so it can be appreciated by the masses.

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

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at November 30, 2005 5:14 PM

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