Date: May 8, 2003

Games: Vampire, "Edel, Stein, & Reich", Trendy, Domaine

Attendees: Ed, Jon, Mark, Robert, Susan

Reporter: Susan Rozmiarek

We seem to be playing a lot of Knizia card games lately and tonight was no exception. We chose Vampire for a quick starter game.

Vampire: Ed, Jon, Mark, Robert, Susan

This a pretty basic rummy variant, with a few clever twists. There's nothing too terribly new or innovative here, but it is a pleasant filler nonetheless and I was glad to see it hit the table after a long hiatus. This was the tightest game of this I'd ever seen. Nobody really got burned too badly. Each suit ended up with a low meld of zero cards.

Results: Mark 25, Susan 24, Ed 23, Robert 22

Edel, Stein, & Reich "Come on, do we have a deal or not?" Asks Robert while haggling with Susan in Edel, Stein, & Reich.
Edel. Stein, & Reich!: Ed, Jon, Mark, Robert, Susan

I've never gotten the chance to play Basari, but I've always had the hunch that I would like it so I was eager to get this new reincarnation. For some reason, I've always excelled at games that use a simultaneous action selection mechanism. Maybe it's woman's intuition, or perhaps I just play with a bunch of predictably greedy people. Whatever the reason, this game was no exception. I jumped out to a decent lead in the first round by having majorities in two gem colors. I was able to double my lead in the second round, partly due having the majority of certificates. The third round fell completely flat for me. I didn't score a single point, while Robert and Ed made impressive comebacks. Unfortunately for them, it wasn't enough to catch me.

Results: Susan 53, Robert 42, Ed 42, Jon 29, Mark 26

I liked this game. I wouldn't count it as one of my favorites, but it's one I'd always be willing to play. I think it would be rather dull without the action cards, though, so I'm not sure now if I would like Basari. I guess I'll have to play it someday and find out.

Trendy: Ed, Jon, Mark, Robert, Susan

Robert only had time for a short game, so out came Trendy. This game has been very popular with us lately. Everyone is clamoring for their own copy, but it is curiously scarce on this side of the pond. It's too bad, because this game would an ideal one for non-gamers, especially women. It's light, easy to teach and about fashion. Perfect! All you guys who complain that you can't get your wife/girlfriend to play games take note. T-r-e-n-d-y. We just need to get more retailers over here to carry it.

As always, the game went by in a blur. We play it very quickly. And as usual, just like in real life, I was not the fashion trendsetter. The very fashionable Robert strolled down the runway for the win.

Results: Robert 115, Ed 105, Susan 104, Mark 92, Jon 88

Playing Domaine Mark gets his mining income while Susan and Jon look up during Domaine.
Domaine: Ed, Jon, Mark, Susan

This was our first go at the new reworking of Löwenherz, just released by Mayfair. Now, I consider Löwenherz an excellent game, but I will admit the mean nature of the game can reduce me to tears. Well, not really, but it can be very deflating and frustratingat times. Domaine intoduces a number of changes that reduces but not totally eliminates this meanness. I'm not going to elaborate on them here, for that see our review of Domaine for a complete description, but I will say that I don't think the changes can quite be called a "dumbing down." Game play is still tight and tense, but simpler and different in some ways.

Domaine setup Domaine board after the initial setup.
I realized early on that there was no way I was going to be able develop domaines around all my castles so I concentrated on one in the corner and a neighboring one in the center near the high scoring Royal City. I remembered the strategy in Löwenherz of surrounding small areas first and then expanding them. This didn't seem such a viable strategy here, since controlling mines in Domaine generates much needed income every turn. I was able to form a larger domaine with three unique mines about midway through the game. With the ducats rolling in each turn, I was able to fortify and expand it and also work on a establishing a domaine that included the Royal City. Ed tried to stop me, but he was spread a little too thin battling Jon and Mark for control of the opposite corner. I nearly lost control of the Royal City to Mark near the end of the game, but was able to form a treaty with his neighboring domaine to squelch the threat. Jon nearly pipped me at the end, but my productive mines gave me points for having the most wealth.

Blue knight group A close up of Mark's blue knights as they protect his castle in Domaine.
Results: Susan 24, Jon 23, Ed 18, Mark, 12

I really enjoyed this first playing of Domaine. Having the new card-play as a part of the game I could manage without much hassling and haggling from other players lowered my stress level to a more comfortable level. While I have a hunch some veteran Löwenherz players will want to stick with the old version, which I still consider a superb game, I had more fun playing Domaine. We'll see if my opinion holds with repeated playings.

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

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Copyright © 2003, Ed Rozmiarek