Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Showing posts with label For The Win. Show all posts
Showing posts with label For The Win. Show all posts

Friday, December 12, 2014

The game time conundrum revisited

A couple of years ago, I looked over my game collection and sighed at the number of games that hadn't seen the attention they deserved.  I wrote a post listing games that I wanted to spend more time on, even as I realized that as long as leisure time is limited and the game collection is big, there will always be neglected games on my shelves.  It's a topic worth revisiting from time to time - both because it's interesting to see how the list has changed (and how it hasn't) and because it's helpful to look at the collection with fresh eyes and think about resurrecting a few titles that might bear dusting off and playing again.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Reflecting on the symmetry of abstracts

My good friend Grant Greffey recently gave me a copy of Sparta (designer Yannick Holtkamp, artist Claus
(c) Queen Games.
Used by permission
, publisher Queen), a rather clever abstract in the category of perfect-information zero-luck two-player games.  My wife Kathy and I tried it out last night, and we confirmed something that we've observed with other games in this category:  There are many games in which Kathy and I go toe-to-toe, and a few in which she can wipe the floor with me, but I pretty much have the advantage in these pure two-player abstracts.  She's good at them, but I usually win, which makes them imperfect candidates for our cocktail hour gaming.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"For the Win" on the deck

For the Win final position
This evening I got home from work late, so we only had time for a quick game out on the back deck before Kathy made dinner.  So we played For The Win (designer Michael Eskue, artist Eric J. Carter, publisher Tasty Minstrel), a nice little open-information zero-luck abstract that I picked up in the first Kickstarter I ever backed.  We hadn't played since last July, when I wrote about my initial impression of the game in some detail, so it was fun to come back to this one with fresh eyes.  We just had time for one game, but it was a nice satisfying diversion while the chicken marinaded until it was time to put it on the grill.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Losing "For The Win"

Kathy (black) wins second game
of For The Win.  Can I blame it
on the martini?
I recently received my copy of For The Win (designer Michael Eskue, artist Eric J. Carter, publisher Tasty Minstrel) from its Kickstarter campaign.  I was intrigued by early reviews that compared it to Hive!, which I enjoy but which my wife dislikes.  Something about FTW struck me as different - a lighter theme, a more approachable mechanic, not sure what - different enough, at least, to kick in and see what Michael E. had put together.

I hadn't bothered with the pre-release print-and-play version because, to me, the appeal of FTW as it was for Hive! is the physical domino-quality tileset.  Yes, the gameplay is important, but as with 24/7 and Confusion: Espionage and Deception in the Cold War, there's a tactile gratification to handling the bakelite-style game pieces.  And FTW does not disappoint.  In fact, somehow I had the mistaken impression that the tiles would be significantly smaller.  I had envisioned something like 7/8-inch (22mm) squares, but they are in fact 1 1/4 - inch (31mm) square, a very comfortably sized playing piece.  
Bakelite-quality square tiles make for a gratifying tactile experience.

We played our first two rounds of FTW at our customary cocktail hour this afternoon.   We found the game to be easy to understand but tricky to strategize, as I suppose any good two-player abstract game should be.  It is also a rather quick play.  I think it took Kathy less than 45 minutes to learn the game and beat me twice at it.  Now, to be fair, the first game we were taking a rather ad hoc approach just to get the feel of the game and the mechanics of the rules.  It was in the second game that we each buckled down and tried to exercise some real tactics.  (And, yes, she won that game, too.)

As it happens, Kathy and I misinterpreted (that is, I misread the rule and misled my wife) the behavior of the monkey's banana.  We assumed that the monkey's banana action renders all tiles adjacent to the monkey face down (inactive), regardless of original state.  Instead, a closer reading of the rules shows that "tiles that were face up are now face down and vice versa [emphasis added]."  So now I see the monkey in a whole new light.  The monkey can be used to activate multiple friendly pieces in a single action.  <Bwa-ha-ha-HAH>  I make no claim that this rule misinterpretation was in any way a factor in my losing the game twice in a row.  I just wanted to point that out.  

All kidding aside, we really like FTW as a two-player abstract short game with simple rules, no luck, and considerable potential for depth.  I'm reluctant to call it a "filler" only because we don't know just how tactically challenging it might prove.  I have to say, I'm very pleased with this Kickstarter discovery.