February 8, 2008

January 2008 Game Day Report

by Susan Rozmiarek

This was quite the productive game day for me. I played a game that has been sitting on our shelves, unplayed by me, for six years. I got to try a game that I've been curious about for over 20 years, and I got to play a game twice that I wanted to review.

This game won the Spiel des Jahres in 1984 while I was in college and long before I knew or cared anything about German game awards. It's been sitting on our shelves unloved for about six years although Ed managed to take it for spin once. Since it involves drawing rails with crayons, I really, really needed to play it. Alas, I was a bit disappointed. It wasn't a bad game by any means. The first part involved everyone drawing their routes on the map and connecting cities. (Hint: ditch the crayons and use plexiglass and dry erase markers). We used a fix that had the start player roll the dice once with the result being everyone's building budget that round. I think the original rules have each player rolling for their own money and thus possibly getting hosed by a bad roll as compared to everyone else. This was the best part of the game. Once most of the cities are connected, this phase is over and the game gets rather odd. Players now race their trains. Two cities are drawn randomly and players race their trains between them by rolling the dice and moving along their routes. You can use other people's tracks but you have to pay them. The first and second place finishers get a payout. This is repeated over and over until all the cities have been in a race. You don't have to participate in each race if you don't want to and you can also join another player and race together. If you do that, you share your tracks and split any payout. While the racing was kind of fun, it dragged on way too long and was so very luck-based compared to the more strategic track building phase. The game was okay and I'd certainly play it again, but I would much rather play an Empire Builder game.

Apparently I'm taking so long to build my track that Mark and David have fallen asleep. Either that or they are blinded by the glare of the plexiglass.


Back in college, I wasn't a gamer at all, but I skirted around the fringe due to my great love of fantasy fiction. Several fantasy games made their way into my possession due to their tantalizing theme and art. Most turned out to be duds with Dungeonquest being the only real gem from back then. Poor Talisman was the game that stayed on the store shelves, a victim of my meager student budget. To this day, I've wondered what I've missed. When this latest edition appeared, I was secretly longing to get it even though my gaming peers sneered at it in disgust. I would have gotten it too, but one of those peers was Ed who seemed to think we didn't need to waste our money. I thought I was going to have use some wily, female ways of persuasion to get my way, but new guy John brought it to our game day. So, I got to "try before I buy," a mantra that we've wisely taken up again.

Verdict: It's a fun check-you-brain-at-the-door beer and pretzels game for about an hour. Unfortunately, it drags on for more hours. I loved the art in this new edition although it was a little hard to see. It wove a great story although you had to be willing to accept the very unlucky bad things that happened. You've probably heard about the witch that turns players into a frog. Of course that had to happen to me. Thankfully, I managed to hop around unharmed until the spell wore off. It did come down to an exciting finish with all of us up on the last level. But, with all the other, better fantasy game we have, we really don't need this outdated, clunky one. Even so, little part of me still wants it for the collection. Sshhh. Don't tell Ed.

Jeff Jones and John's son look for a Talisman.

This is a neat set collecting game that is clever and plays quickly. I really, really liked it and would have gladly played it a third time after playing it twice. You can read my review, linked in the previous blog entry, if you want to know more about it. I'm too lazy to repeat again it here.

Paul, David, Lauren, Susan and Ed (taking picture) plays Lascaux.

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

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at February 8, 2008 4:33 PM


You'd rather play Empire Builder than Dampfross? Ewww...

And Prophecy covers the same ground as Talisman, only with more control.

Besides, I miss playing games with you guys.

Posted by: Mark Jackson on February 9, 2008 10:30 PM

I agree about Prophecy, although I've only played it once. The fact that we own it and Runebound is Ed's main ammunition against getting Talisman. I'm just such a sucker for these types of games. I want them ALL!

Isn't it about time you visited your in-laws?? :-)

Posted by: Susan on February 10, 2008 10:39 PM
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