Tuesday 27 December 2011


Plays: 2Px6.

Famiglia is a card game in a very small box. It is by Friedemann Friese (Power Grid, Factory Manager, Fearsome Floors). I already have enough simple card games in my collection, so Famiglia never caught my interest. However Allen had bought a copy, and assigned homework to me - to read the rules so that I could teach him to play afterwards. After reading the rules, it seemed a little quirky, relatively simple, and nothing too surprising. However, upon playing the game, I was pleasantly surprised.

The Game

Famiglia is a 2-player-only game, where the players compete to collect as many gangsters (cards) as possible, with each gangster being worth a number of points. There are four suits, each representing a different gangster family, and each having a special ability. Gangsters are numbered from 0 to 4. There is a Street, which is a common pool from which both players can recruit gangsters. The basic way of recruiting a gangster is to show two gangsters of the same gang of value one less than this gangster. E.g. show two Green 1's from your hand to claim Green 2 from the Street. One of the Green 1's will become exhausted, i.e. played into your own playing area and unusable unless you are able to take it back into your hand. So, to claim the higher valued gangsters, you will need to work your way up the hierarchy. You'd need five 0's to get four 1's, which can in turn be used to get three 2's, which can then get two 3's, and finally the single 4 of that family. This sounds ridiculously hard, needing to get every card in the family to be able to reach the big boss number 4. This is where the family powers come in.

The Mercenary (green) family gangsters can be used as jokers, e.g. a Mercenary 2 can be treated as an Accountant 1, and thus paired with a real Accountant 1 to claim an Accountant 2. The Accountant (blue) family gangsters can be used to swap cards between hand (unused) and play area (exhausted), e.g. by playing an Accountant 2, you swap two hand cards with two already played cards. This means some good cards can be reused. Brute (yellow) family gangsters reduce the values of other gangsters, e.g. by playing a Brute 2, a Mercenary 4 gangster can be treated as a Mercenary 2 gangster, and thus becomes much easier to claim. Famiglia (red) family gangsters have no special power, but they are worth more victory points compared to their counterparts in other families.

0-value gangsters can always be recruited for free, and when there are no such gangsters on the Street, a gangster can be discarded to bring new gangsters onto the Street. This is how gangsters enter the Street, and how they are discarded. The deck is played through twice, and then the game ends. Players score for all their gangsters, whether already played in front of them or still in hand.

That's "toilet" written on the forehead of the Green 1 guy.

Game in progress. Used or exhausted cards are laid in front of you. At this moment, there is only one card on the Street, the Red 1 guy. The Street is the card pool at the centre from which players can recruit gangsters.

The Play

What surprises me about this game is it has more depth than I expected. I underestimated it. The family powers are tempting, because they are quite handy. However, every time you use a Brute power or an Accountant power, you are playing one gangster into your play area, and thus reducing the number of gangsters you have in hand. This can be dangerous if you do it too much. You'll be short of cards to use for recruiting. Also you really need to plan your path into the gangster families. In some games where I hadn't planned properly, I ended up with gangsters (in hand) that could not be paired to claim any gangster on the Street. I was stuck and could only hope to end the game as soon as possible to minimise my opponent's chances to recruit more gangsters. So long-term planning is important. Don't walk into a dead end.

There is also the consideration of which families to go for. This partly depends on which gangsters are available on the Street. You have to play by ear and grab opportunities that come up. Working up a gangster family tree takes planning and commitment. You also need to meddle with your opponent's plans, e.g. taking gangsters that he wants, or discarding them, thus disrupting his plans or simply denying him victory points.

Some aspects of the game are quite tactical; short-term opportunities oriented. However working up a family tree is a long-term commitment that you need to plan for and keep in view. You often need to react to what your opponent is doing, so the game is quite interactive.

I didn't notice my daughter taking this photo when my wife and I were playing. The numbers at the bottom of the cards are the point values.

The Thoughts

Famiglia is a fast and clever card game, and has some depth that is not immediately apparent. It is tactical, but also has some longer-term strategy. It is quite interactive. I enjoy working out clever uses of cards, especially combinations of card plays that result in big moves. I have now bought the game. I have not yet reached my self-imposed quota of 20 new games per year, but I didn't buying Famiglia just because I didn't want to waste a slot. I do like it enough to want a copy for myself.

Buy from Noble Knight Games. Status: in stock (at time of this post).

Sunday 25 December 2011

new concise ref sheets

New reference sheets for games released. Download here. New / updated games are:

  1. Airlines Europe
  2. Antiquity
  3. The Bottle Imp
  4. Coney Island
  5. Dungeon Petz
  6. Famiglia
  7. Jab
  8. Manoeuvre (correction done)
  9. Mondo
  10. Power Grid: The First Sparks
  11. Successors (3rd edition)
  12. Undermining
  13. Urban Sprawl

Full list of games is here.

Friday 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Don't arrest the wrong guy...

Wednesday 21 December 2011

fun with Uno

You probably don't expect to read about Uno at a boardgame hobbyist's blog. It is such a common game that there is not much to talk about; and to us gamers, it is much inferior to the kind of games that we play. But you can still have a lot of fun with Uno. On a whim, I brought it on a family trip, along with a number of other games. I introduced it to my children (6 and 4), using very slightly simplified rules, and we had a blast. It is simple enough for my 4-year-old to play, and the luck factor is big enough for her to win a fair share of games. She can't even fan her cards properly yet, and holds them in a stack, then flips through them one by one to see whether there is any card she can play. My wife and I prefer to play Draw Two's and Draw Four's on each other and not the children, and we blatantly encourage our children to play such cards on the other parent. Catching people forgetting to say "Uno" is fun. The simple "take-that" elements are fun. I don't think I want to play Uno with a group of adults, but the games with the family were a lot of fun. It is about enjoying the simple things in life, and the togetherness.

My hand of cards.

My family. 4 years old, none-of-your-business years old and 6 years old.

Uno was the most played game over that weekend.

Thursday 15 December 2011


Plays: 4Px1.

Antiquity, published by Splotter Spellen (publisher of Indonesia, the game in my current blog header), was first released in 2004, reprinted in 2006, then went out-of-print, and in 2011 it was reprinted again. Prior to this 2011 reprint, prices for a copy were ridiculously high. I thought although I would probably like the game, I wouldn't be paying this kind of price for a boardgame. When I learned of the 2011 reprint, I decided to try-before-buy. It is still expensive, recommended retail price being EUR80 (around USD105 / MYR335), but if I like it enough, I will pull the trigger. Jeff has a copy, so I read the rules, and found a Friday to visit OTK to try the game.

The Game

The theme of Antiquity is developing cities in medieval Italy, but I find the actual mechanisms very relevant to the modern world. The game board is made of hexes representing different types of terrain. Each player starts with one city on the map, and has a 7x7 grid off the board which represents the space available in that city to construct buildings. You can construct buildings in your city (and later, cities) as well as in the countryside, i.e. the main game board. You start with building houses, each of which give you a worker. Most buildings need a worker to operate. You build countryside buildings to gain resources, e.g. woodcutters' huts, fisheries, farms. You build city buildings for various functions, e.g. stores to keep your resources, cart shops to allow you to build countryside buildings, harbours to allow you to access water spaces. So far, everything sounds fine. It sounds like a pleasant city-building or civilisation-building game. But Antiquity is not "pleasant" at all.

First, you get famine. Every round there is a general famine level which keeps going up. Some incidents cause it to increase more quickly, some cause it to drop slightly. If you do not have enough food in store, or buildings which help reduce famine effects, you get starvation, and you are "awarded" graves which you must put in your city, occupying precious space. Sometimes you are even forced to put graves on your buildings, rendering them unusable. Like Age of Steam, you start the game on a slippery slope. You need to plan to get yourself out of that hole and not get caught in the downward spiral. Second, you have pollution. When you farm, or fish, or mine, the plot of land you use is exhausted and becomes polluted. As you exploit the lands around your cities, you gradually deplete usable land. You need to expand your zone of control (normally two steps out from your cities and inns) to gain more land, and this is the main competition in the game - racing to use land before your opponents do so. Every city you own produces pollution every round (think of it as rubbish), and you need to dump this pollution somewhere in your zone of control. So pollution will grow and grow, and this is the other quicksand pit that you need to climb out of before you drown.

On the main game board, that big piece at the back is my city. I have a woodcutter's hut on the right. When building it, you first place grassland tiles on the forest spaces, then wood resources on them. Finally you place a worker on the (imaginary) hut itself, which is the centre of the woodcutting area. Every round, you harvest one wood resource, leaving behind grassland. Once all the wood resources are collected, your worker returns to the city and can be used for other jobs. The fishery in the foreground works in a similar way. When building it, you first place pollution markers on the water spaces, and then fish resouces on top of them. This means once you harvest the fish, you leave behind a polluted water space.

To win, you need to be first to achieve one of the five victory conditions. In addition to struggling against the game system, you also need to race against your opponents. During the game, when you build a cathedral, you must pick a patron saint, who gives you some special abilities, and also determines your victory condition. Victory conditions include building all 20 houses, constructing all available buildings in the game, having 3 each of all food and luxury resource types, and spreading your zone of control to completely cover the zone of control of another player. If two or more players achieve their victory conditions at the same time, tiebreaker is unpolluted space in your zone of control.

The Play

I did a 4-player game with Jeff, Dennis and Kevin. Jeff has played before, the rest of us were new. I have read the rules so I taught Dennis and Kevin with Jeff filling in the gaps. Our game had a tough start. All four of us did Explore, and all four of us found food resources, which caused the famine level to shoot up. Starvation aplenty! I sent out a farmer and a woodcutter out early, to ensure I had a stable supply of food and wood for the first few rounds. Jeff was first to start working on a luxury resource (gold), and it gave him some flexibility. The rest of us were not as ambitious and hadn't planned that far. Managing famine and pollution was tough. From the start I felt like I was in the red and trying to claw my way back to the break even point. Goods spoilt every round and without a manned store they would be wasted. This was yet another challenge. I built a big store to manage this. However I later regretted it, because I selected the patron saint that allowed me to store an unlimited amount of resources in my cathedral. My big 3x2 store became a waste.

My city had many water tiles nearby, so I made good use of the harbour, which allowed me to increase my zone of control to these lakes and their coasts. I was also active in building inns, which let me further expand my zone of control to more and more lakes. These helped me a lot. I had access to more lakes to fish / dive for pearls / harvest dye. I had access to more farmland and mines too. Also very importantly, I had access to garbage dumping ground. Dennis and Jeff quickly built dumps which prevented me from dumping on spaces within their zone of control. That protected "their" lands somewhat, but thankfully I still had plenty of "dumpable" space.

This was how I started my first city in the first round.

My first city soon getting rather congested.

The patron saint I selected required me to collect 3 each of 8 types of resources (food and luxury). That meant I needed much space to farm and to collect resources. So expanding my zone of control was important. I only built up to two cities. Dennis, Kevin and I all struggled with building our second city. We had not planned ahead far enough, and before we were ready to build our second city, our first city had started filling up and our growth was stalled. Jeff had planned better, and still had much space in his first city when he built his second. Although each additional city produced more pollution, he built a dump and fountains to neutralise that. Jeff went for the patron saint which required all building types to be constructed. He later built a 3rd city. The additional pollution was scary, but he needed the city space.

I was yellow, Dennis blue, Jeff black. We all had two cities at this point. I used my inns aggressively. They are the small squares with yellow emblems. Look at all those pollution markers (skulls on red background). Scary!

In a 4-player game, 8 game board pieces are used to construct the main game board. At this point, Kevin (red) had not built his second city, and things were getting tough for him. Jeff was now planning his third city. That's his hand looking for a suitable spot.

Dennis and Kevin were disadvantaged in the early game because they had built only one cart shop each, as opposed to Jeff and I who had built two. Cart shops were important to ensure resource gatherers (e.g. farmers, miners) could be sent out to work, and countryside buildings could be constructed. Later Dennis was crippled by the lack of a wood supply. He had no wood, and thus could not even build a woodcutter's hut to secure a supply of wood. Kevin was hampered by graves. Due to his first city running out of space, and the famine level, he had to place new graves on his buildings, disabling them, and thus further hurting him. This is not a "pleasant" game at all! At time things looked so bleak that the victory conditions simply felt too distant. We had to worry about survival first.

Later in the game, I managed to reach a kind of equilibrium. My patron saint gave me Doraemon's pocket (infinite storage), letting me stockpile lots of food and thus I feared famines no more. I built a dump and two fountains, neutralising the 6 pollution every round from my 2 cities. I had a hospital which let me remove graves now and then, and a faculty of alchemy which let me clean up pollution. Woohoo! Sustainable development!

Eventually it was Jeff who won by constructing all building types. I had been working towards my victory condition too, but unfortunately I was just one resource short. In that final round, I used the Forced Labour building, which I had previously thought was not very useful. It makes you collect three resources instead of one from all your resource locations, but you must discard the first resource collected from each location. So it will waste your resources and deplete your land more quickly. However in my situation this was exactly what I needed to boost my production for that round. Too bad I was just one olive short of achieving my victory condition. If Jeff and I tied, tiebreaker would be the number of unpolluted spaces in our zones of control.

I had almost achieved my victory condition of 3 each of the 8 food and luxury resources. I was only short of one olive (top right).

My two cities at game end.

The Thoughts

I like Antiquity a lot. I like the cruelty of the famines and the pollution, and how the game challenges you to stay afloat. You need to plan ahead, not only to survive, but also to try to win. There are five different ways to win, and you don't need to decide up front which one to go for. Do you decide early so that you can start using the patron saint ability, or decide later so that you are not committed too early and have more flexibility? Antiquity is not just another development game or engine building game. The challenges it throws at you make it more than that. Player interaction is in the form of racing to gain access to more plots of land and to use them. You don't raise armies or send arsonists, but digging your neighbour's gold and dumping garbage at your neighbour's doorstep can be just as nasty. There are many game board pieces that can be used to build the game board, and they are double-sided. This provides some replayability because your strategy can be very different depending on the terrain near your first city.

The game we played took 3.5 hours, but I can see the time going down now that we know the game and have some ideas about what works and what doesn't. Many actions can be done simultaneously, so there isn't much waiting time. The game looks complex, but is not really that complex. I find it more straight-forward than Die Macher, for example. In Die Macher, things that you do have implications which are not immediately appreciated, but in Antiquity you can see the big picture more easily. The game is fiddly, as in there are many small components you need to handle, but I don't find it too bad. It's less fiddly than the shipping that you do in Indonesia (another Splotter game that I like a lot). I plan to get a copy of Antiquity and hope to convince my wife to try it. It should work well for two, unlike Indonesia which doesn't.

The game is unforgiving, especially to new players, so you should heed the strategy tips in the rulebook. However we didn't follow the suggestion of first timers playing without famine or pollution. I think that would make the game a little pointless.

Cubes on the main game board are resource collectors - farmers, fishermen, miners etc.

Wednesday 7 December 2011


Plays: 4Px1.

The Game

K2 is a mountain-climbing game. You have two mountaineers, and within a fixed number of rounds, you try to get them to climb as high as possible. You score based on how high each of them gets, but only if they remain alive by game end.

Actions in the game are driven by cards. Every player has his own deck of cards, and the decks are all the same. You have a hand of 6 cards, and must play 3 every round. Throughout the game you will cycle through your deck quite a number of times. The deck is small enough that you will have some idea of what cards have come out and what are coming. Cards are used for two things, movement and acclimatisation.

Let's talk about acclimatisation first, which I tend to think of as health, so I will just call it "health". Both your climbers start with health 1. If health drops to 0, your climber dies. You need to build up your health before you try to go further up. Some lower locations increase your health, some cards too. Higher locations reduce your health, and poor weather conditions as well. You need to always manage your health, because a dead climber, even if he has reached the peak, scores no points. Movement is simple. You need one movement point per step. Some locations, especially at higher altitudes, cost more movement points. Weather conditions may also increase movement costs.

Every player has two climbers of different shapes, and each climber has a tent matching his shape. This player board records the acclimatisation level of the two climbers. At first I equated acclimatisation to health, and placed the marker on 10, i.e. full health. The correct way is to start with 1pt of acclimatisation. Numbers beyond 6 have a darker background, which means you can't "store" any acclimatisation more than 6. If at the end of a round you have more than 6, you set your value to 6.

The cards are nice. Numbers in a blue circle are acclimatisation ("health") points, and numbers in green are movement points. The rightmost card is worth different number of points depending on whether you use it to move upwards or downwards.

The implementation of weather conditions is clever. It is integrated with the round countdown. Weather conditions differ every round, sometimes there is increased movement costs, sometimes there is a health penalty, and usually these apply to specific altitudes. Naturally, bad things tend to happen at higher altitudes. Because of this, players often need to plan where they land, to avoid bad weather. You will get weather forecasts at least three rounds ahead, which lets you plan your next moves.

There is a space limit for each location, which depends on the number of players and the altitude. Players will often experience traffic jams near the peak, due to limited space. Turn order is important. When you are the start player for a round, you can plan your card play with certainty. Cards are selected secretly and simultaneously by all players every round, but executed in player order. If you are late in turn order, you may find your way blocked.

That on the top left is the start player marker for a round. It passes to the next clockwise player every round. Every player has his own draw deck and discard pile.

The game board. The right side of the game board (i.e. bottow of this photo) has boxes to record the highest altitude each climber achieves (which is his score). The game board is two-sided. I think this is the easier side.

Every climber has the chance to build one tent, which reduces the health penalty by one. Once built, it cannot be moved, so this is an important decision. Good use of a tent can be a life-saver.

After 18 rounds, players add up the scores for climbers who are still alive, based on how high they have climbed, and the highest scorer wins.

The Play

John taught Allen, Chee Seng and I the game, and he is the only one who has played it before. The rules are simple and thematic, but mountain climbing is quite challenging. It takes much forward planning. You need to pay attention to the weather forecast, you need to watch which routes your opponents are taking, you need to pay attention to player order, and at the same time you are subject to the card draws. Since you have a hand of 6 and you play 3 per round, there is some forward planning you can do, keeping good cards for the right moment.

Chee Seng always kept his two climbers together, triggering some jokes about Brokeback Mountain. We kept telling him this was mountain-climbing, and this was not the time for any romantic hanky-panky. Two climbers were definitely not allowed to share the same tent. As his climbers approached the peak, space limitation forced them to split up eventually, which triggered another round of jokes. John was first to have one of his climbers reach the top. He focused on getting one climber up, while the other stayed behind. This is probably the best strategy. It is very difficult to manage the health levels of two climbers being at high altitudes at the same time.

Look at Chee Seng's two blue climbers... sheesh...

John (yellow) was first to reach the top. A number of tents have been set up near the peak.

I was first to have one of my climbers killed. Aarrgghh!! I had miscalculated the health penalties, and missed by just 1 health point. That was painful. Later Chee Seng also lost one of his climbers, which triggered yet another Brokeback Mountain joke. Allen was the only one who managed to get both his climbers to reach the top, so he won the game with full marks (20pts). John was second, and of course Chee Seng and I were far behind. We tied for last.

The dead. Blue is Chee Seng's, green is mine.

Game end. The two boards on the right side of this photo are the weather boards. Each board covers 3 rounds, and has the corresponding weather conditions.

The Thoughts

The feeling I get when playing the game is very much like facing an insurmountable feat. Health penalties and movement costs get worse and worse, and sometimes the card draws are just not ideal. There is much you can plan ahead for, and you must catch the right opportunity and coordinate the timing to shoot for the peak. I think the game is very much about good preparation, and striking at the right moment. You are wasting time if you charge, but don't quite get there, then fall back a little, and try to reorganise and strike out again. It is better to be precise in your preparation and get it done in one perfect shot. Of course, that's easier said than done, when you are dependent on cards you draw and you also need to compete for limited space.


I quite enjoyed K2. It is thematic. Every part of the game works well together. Everything ties back to health and movement points, so the game is easy to teach and easy to understand. It's a medium weight game suitable for families and gamers. It certainly is a different experience from the average Eurogame. This is a game where the mechanisms really produce the feeling of the subject matter, as opposed to being tools invented or collated to construct a game based on a rare topic. This is what I admire most about this game.

I actually have not watched Brokeback Mountain. Maybe I should.

Sunday 4 December 2011

Airlines Europe

Plays: 4Px1.

The Game

Airlines Europe is a game about investing in airlines, growing them, and making money from your investments. It is played on a map of Europe, with many cities depicted and many routes betweens, each having some spots that airlines can claim. There are many airline companies, and at the start of the game, each of them only has one starting airport, and their share values are low. During the game, players spend money to expand the airlines' networks by claiming routes, growing outwards from their starting airport. As these airline networks grow, the share value of the airlines also increase, and the payouts will increase too. Players also collect airline shares, and during the three payout rounds, they earn victory points (VP's) based on shareholding majority. Collecting and owning shares is a two-step process. There is an action for taking a share from a common pool (Ticket to Ride style) into your hand, and another action to play shares into your playing area. The shares need to be in play before they are considered being own by you. As the game progresses, you compete in shareholding in the various companies, and yet also cooperate in growing companies which you and some opponents have invested in together.

Shares in hand are not shares owned. You need to play them onto your playing area first. The number on the share card indicates the numbers of shares of that airline.

Front: my share holdings. Middle: The share market always has 5 cards for players to pick from. If you don't want any of them, you can blind draw from the draw deck.

One weird company works differently from others - Abacus. It doesn't have an airport and doesn't claim routes. You have to use an action to trade shares in your hand for Abacus shares. During the three payout rounds, Abacus pays out pre-determined VP's. So this is yet another company which the players compete in, albeit in a slightly different manner.

The game ends after the third payout round.

The Play

BGG says Airlines Europe is best with four, and we had four players - Allen, John, Chee Seng and I. All were new to the game. The game starts with some every player having some shares, which makes the starting positions slightly different. All of us were quite diversified in our investments. Only Chee Seng and John bothered with Abacus. Allen and I only put in token effort to gain 3rd place VP's. Money was very tight, and we often had to take the Take Money action, or Play Card action which also gave money. The Expand Airline action is tricky. For one action you can do one or two expansions. During the game I realised that it is not always better to do two expansions. Whether you do one or two expansions, you only get to take one share. Each expansion costs money, so if you do two expansions, you will soon run out of money and need to take some money-earning action. If you do single expansions, you don't get to expand airlines as quickly, but you will be able to collect more shares because of using fewer money-earning actions. This is an interesting balance.

The game board. Some cities have coloured markers, which are the airline headquarters. When expanding (claiming routes), airlines must start from their headquarters. Allen was the majority shareholder for the blue airline from the start, and he spent much effort growing it. The track around the board is for recording the share value. At this moment green and white were leading.

The orange tile is a bonus tile, which only four companies have. If the orange airline expands its routes to reach London, its share value gets a boost of 6.

This being an investment game, we had to constantly watch the share-holdings of other players, and also the shares available in the common pool. This common pool restricted our options somewhat, and prevented the game from becoming very open. You can't claim any share you want. I think this is good. The game is less absolute and less calculable. There was fighting for majority shareholding within each airline. There was also the mentality of "why don't you do the hard work since you also own shares in the company". Smaller shareholders tried to leech off the efforts of the bigger shareholders. Vested interests were very intertwined so it was very hard to not indirectly help others. The game is about how to help yourself most, how to piggy-back on others' efforts, and how to invest wisely. The payout rounds are semi-random, so you won't know exactly when they will happen. Sometimes you need to gamble a bit and hope they happen at a good time, e.g. right after you wrest majority in some airlines.

VP's were hidden so during the game I didn't have much idea who was leading and who was trailing. By game end, our scores were not far apart. Allen won, I was second, Chee Seng and John had the same score, but John won by tiebreaker - Abacus shares. Before game end I was thinking whether Chee Seng and John would win because they were the only ones taking Abacus seriously, while Allen and I didn't spend much effort. Abacus did pay out well, but I think investing in it was costly for both Chee Seng and John, because they had to fight hard for it, sacrificing shares they could have owned in other airlines. So Abacus is a clever mechanism that spices things up a little.

The Thoughts

Airlines Europe is an investment game, and investment games are generally not my cup of tea. So it didn't do much for me. I think it is well-designed and well-balanced. That is not surprising since this is a refined version of Alan Moon's previous games, e.g. Union Pacific. Airlines Europe, being an investment game, has this aspect of multiple entities (airlines) that multiple players have vested interests in. There is jostling for position in the shareholding. While the airlines compete with each other, the players have to manipulate this competition such that they as the players are the ones benefiting, and not any particular airline(s). After the game, I realised that the payouts are good for 1st and 2nd place shareholders, but drop significantly for 3rd place onwards, so there is incentive to fight for the first two spots within an airline, as opposed to simply diversifying everywhere. The way that we played may not have been the best way.

Buy from Noble Knight Games. Status: in stock (at time of this post).

Thursday 1 December 2011

good Eurogames and good movies

A random thoughts post...

Good movies

I have a love-hate relationship with good drama movies. I usually like this kind of movies (e.g. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Shawshank Redemption, The King's Speech), but somehow I often find myself resisting to watch them. Maybe it's because I find it hard to commit the time and to invest the emotional commitment to watch such movies. I don't experience such dilemmas with comedies. It's strange how I often don't give such movies a chance. I still have not watched Slumdog Millionaire.

I notice that there is a similarity with how I treat typical Eurogames, not really a parallel, just partial similarity. I tend to feel that they lack creativity and they can't break out of a mould, and I rarely give them any chance, even though I started the hobby with these games. Nowadays I tend to prefer heavy Eurogames. I recently read Michael Schacht's new game Coney Island described as a potential classic like Web of Power / China. Coney Island never interested me, simply because it's a light-to-medium weight Eurogame (sorry Michael). But China is a game that I like and admire very much. So, I probably should not be dismissing new games based on such unfair criteria. The challenge for a boardgame hobbyist nowadays is how to filter through the overwhelming number games being published every year to find the games he likes. I rely on snippets I read from various online sources - boardgame blogs and www.boardgamegeek.com rankings and news, and I tend to just browse quickly, only delving deeper when something really catches my interest. Because of this, I think many good games slip through. Unfortunate, but inevitable.

Hey, that's our song!

I entered the hobby in 2003 / 2004. Games that I bought and played heavily during that period (the formation years) would always have a special place in my heart, just like pop songs during one's teenage years. For me, "our songs" are games like The Princes of Florence, Carcassonne, and Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper. There are newer games which have similarities with these games, some may even be better designs, but they will always be inferior to "our songs". If I want to play games with similar depth, or using similar mechanisms, I would just turn to "our songs". There is no need to buy a newer game unless it is significantly different or provides something that I don't have yet.

Newer boardgamers will have their own newer "our songs", and we old farts may frown upon them, just like the even older farts frown upon our "our songs". Noone is right and noone is wrong.

And then there are some classics that most people can agree on. Can I compare Acquire to When I Fall in Love?

Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper


Cooperative Ark

My 6-year-old daughter Shee Yun wanted to play Ark after reading a book about Noah's Ark. It's a bit too much for a 6-year-old, so I created a cooperative version. Players have a hand of 4 cards, and take turns adding one animal to the ark. Weights of animals and tilt of the ark are played. Restrictions on carnivores, herbivores, and food apply. Room temperatures apply. Room size applies. Special animal rules (exclamation marks), animal categories (fast animals, shy animals, heavy animals etc), and payment for new rooms don't apply. There is no scoring. We just worked together to place all the animals onto the ark, in as few rooms as we could. It was quite pointless, but she enjoyed it.