October 30, 2007

Game Night Report for October 18, 2007

by Susan Rozmiarek

We finally have a Thursday evening free and Mark takes off and cancels game night. Grrr. Fortunately it was Mike C. to the rescue and he opened us his bachelor pad (ha! not for long, apparently) to his fellow game geeks.


Oh my, I AM liking this little jewel. This was the first playing for me but I've played it twice since. Originally, this looked like a bland little abstract in the same vein as many others. Plus, it is (was?) only available from Funagain which is rather pricey for an online store. But, since Ed had heard good things about it, their savvy marketing ploy worked and we placed our last game order with them. Good decision. This is an excellent game which falls in the beloved Ingenius/Qwirkle category for me. It's short and simple yet requires a bit of thinking to do well. It also has a lot of that delicious "oh, please, please let me draw the tile I need" drama. The game is very clever and different enough from others like it to make me glad I have a copy. Btw, this would make a good "spouse game" for those of you always on the lookout for such.


I've written about this fine game before. I was hoping to try it with the 5& 6 player expansion but we ended up with just three. It was a little less tense with fewer players as there was more room to wander without constantly running into someone else. And yet Mike still managed to irritate me several times by stealing things out from under my nose! It was still enjoyable though, and a very close game.


This is an economic snowball game which means that I should adore it, but for some reason I was unimpressed. I think that there have been so many of these types of games in recent years that I've gotten picky. I have played one of its predecessors, The Scepter of Zavandor, but it was a long time ago and I remember that the game seemed very confusing, in part because of the theme and a weird thing with the currency in the game. The theme in Phoenicia doesn't grab me either and feels downright boring although it at least makes sense. As far as the game play goes, I felt like I got sucked onto a particular path too early, leaving me with few options. It felt a bit too scripted. Okay, I'll just admit it. I was bored. In contrast, I really enjoyed another recent game of this type, Pillars of the Earth. I know that I am making any members of the Carnivore Club cringe, but I really like the excitement and tactical adjustments that have to be made when a little luck is thrown into a game's design. That being said, I really wouldn't mind playing Phoenicia again to see if my opinion improves. These types of games need to be played multiple times to really get a good feel for them. We'll see.

I don't think Ed took any pictures but Mike posted one along with his thoughts on the games he played here.

Random gaming thoughts:

Essen: Usually, I am salivating over the previews, reviews, reports, pictures and any other little tidbits that the lucky gamers who go are willing to throw out in the various online forums and blogs. This year- not so much. Sure, I kept one eye on it, but to be honest, there was just too much. Waaaayyy too much. The cream will float to the top and even get published in English eventually. These days, I'm not even guaranteed to like the cream. And, if we miss something, we can just be happy playing one of the other 800+ (!) games we own. I do appreciate all the in-depth reports people have been posting and I have been skimming them. My favorite is Mike Siggins' blog. His entertaining short takes on the games are just the right amount of coverage for my game-overloaded brain.

Big-box buying: I'm surprised about how many of our gaming dollars have been spent at our local big-box stores lately. We all know that those gaming aisles are supposed to be devoid of anything worthwhile for the serious elite gamer. (I guess I'm not one of those!) A few weeks ago, there was a 30% off sale on Hasbro games at Toys R Us and I scored the new Swarm of the Marro base set for Heroscape. This past week I went back and joy of joys, they had gotten in the Monopoly Express game that I was raving about in my previous post. But, that wasn't all. They had all of the exclusive Heroscape flagbearers in stock! We had been trying to get those in math trades, thinking them to be long gone from the stores. They have now been tucked away for Shea for Christmas. I am also eyeing a "Where's Waldo" type of game at Target called Pictureka. Frank Branham had nice things to say about it in his blog on BGN. Obviously, I'm regressing as a gamer by buying "toys," a party game and a game with Monopoly in the title ;-) However, we are planning to get 1960: The Making of the President soon so I guess I'm not too far gone yet!

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at October 30, 2007 7:48 PM


I really wanted to love Phoenicia. I like Zepter but its exhausting; I'm wiped out by the time I'm finished playing. But, I had a similar type of reaction to you... there just wasn't enough there to keep me interested in the long run. Heck, Zombie Fluxx interests me more just due to the entertainment value (and I hate basic Fluxx).

Posted by: Jon on November 1, 2007 9:41 AM

Do you think that too much has been extracted from Phoenicia? It struck me as a bit like Age of Steam, where the system has been boiled down to the essentials. It is of course correspondingly quick.

I can heartily recommend 1960. Now on my third game and finding it a real two hour struggle. In a good way.

Posted by: Mike Siggins on November 3, 2007 1:24 AM

MikeS: After looking over the Scepter rules again (it's been a REALLY long time), I'd have to say that the trimming down for Phoenicia is probably a good thing for me. The fussy thing with the dust is distracting and I'd rather not start with a unique advantage that nudges me toward a particular strategy right away. I've also been skimming the articles discussing Phoenicia and realizing that my opponents and I may have missed a lot of the nuances. It sure gets a good grade from a lot of people whose opinions I respect. Brian Bankler rated it a 10! I'll be interested to hear your take on it.

Posted by: Susan on November 4, 2007 4:56 PM

Jon: Better not let Mark or MikeC hear you comparing Phoenicia unfavorably to a Flu(ff)xx game. They'll throw you right out of the Thursday group!

Posted by: Susan on November 4, 2007 4:59 PM
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