Goa head and wake me when it's over
by Susan Rozmiarek
Last night I played Goa and was so bored by about the second turn that I was fiddling with my phone and checking Facebook updates. Not a good sign. The irony of it was that I was the one who suggested the game. There were murmurings of playing Caylus (which I loathe) and I panicked and tried to divert them to another heavy eurogame that I vaguely remember sorta liking about 6 years ago when I played it once or twice. Okay, so I've changed. A lot. This two-and-a-half hour exercise in tedium drove home a few points for me:
1. I just don't like auctions much, particularly when they are the driving mechanism in the game. In Goa, it's about acquiring that all important tile in the first half of the round, with a frustrating limit on what is available and a vicious auction that further frustrates me trying to predict what others will bid. Because, in a once-around auction, if you blow it, you don't get another chance to raise your bid. Some people love this sort of thing. I don't, and I need to stop trying. The decisions in the second half of a round, the player actions part, just don't seem as interesting and were kind of obvious to me depending on if and what tile I was able to snag in the auction. I never felt like I was doing something clever. Note: perhaps this is why I lost badly, LOL. I did have some terrible luck flipping those pilgrim cards which was annoying, but for me, that part was actually the most excitement I felt the entire game, which isn't saying much.
2. If a game is going to keep my attention for several hours, it has got to have some sort of coherent theme that makes me feel like that I'm doing more than pushing a few wooden bits around. I also need some "wow" moments whether they come in the form of an incredibly lucky dice roll (hitting a curve just right in Formula De when the odds are shaky) or pulling off a big clever move that I've been setting up for a few turns (shipping a bunch of cotton in Brass, flipping several of my tiles). Goa has neither a real theme nor any really exciting moments for me. It's just dull, dull, dull.
Notice that my examples above are Formula De and Brass. I'm having a great time playing Brass online and I played a face-to-face game last week which was equally enjoyable. The mechanisms in Brass really fit the theme well. Formula De was the week before and while race games aren't usually a favorite of mine, we played a two-lap race which was the perfect length and it was definitely not boring.
The other table last night was playing Age of Steam with a moon expansion. Age of Steam is another game I loathe despite my admiration for the design, because once again, the auctions are such a vital and central part of the game. At least the rest of the game involves many interesting decisions, unlike Goa. I have tried Steam once though, and found it to be much more palatable.
at March 11, 2010 12:19 PM
I'm not sure if "two-and a half" was intended as a length or a rating; assuming the former, I can understand entirely. I enjoy Goa, but it's a one hour game, maybe 75 minutes if teaching. At 2+ hours, yes, it's dull.
I also don't look at the auctions as being the driving mechanism of the game - if they felt that way to me, it wouldn't be a game I cared for much. (For me, the auctions feel similar to those in Outpost - important, but you can't win the game by focusing on auctions no matter how well you do with them.)
Not that it's a reason for you to spend more time on Goa, but it is quite interesting with two players, a fact which surprised me.