Trambahn is a quick little card game for two players that’s like Ticket to Ride shacked up with Solitaire. You make your own little color-coded tram line empire, but when you score a certain color, so does your opponent. So you’d better keep an eye on that wiley tram building motherfucker.
Family friendly, not so much a brain crunch as a gentle massage as you try to optimise your tram lines and leer at your opponents’ tableau. Can be swingy though, which isn’t ideal for two players. And personally I find the artwork very dull.
But it’s 18 eur and travel size, so no need to be overly critical!
I played Camel Up and Colt Express at Consequences. Two games that are pretty, fast, fun, and family friendly!
In Camel Up you bet on which camel will win the race while also trying to manipulate the outcome. It’s silly but a lot tenser than what you’d expect.
In Colt Express you try to steal loot out of a running train by planning your turns in advance and then watching other people hilariously fuck up your turn. It’s like Roborally without the slog!
Most people I know are into games that are a little more complex or a little less random, but these babies are so easy and quick to get on the table that they would get so much play! These two guys could make Christmas a lot better.
We buy a lot at Spiel but we also have a rule: if there’s an empty demo table, we should play! Thus we end up playing a lot of silly games that aren’t necessarily very good. Like Casting!
Roborama! The best sit down game of the day, a light roborally with a fun programming mechanism!
Siggil, which probably isn’t very good but look how happy it makes Kristina.
You go to the biggest games fair in the world and you take that opportunity to trade a few games with other nerds from boardgamegeek.com. “No problem”, they say, “we have a set time and place for that”. And so you enter the maelstrom of nerds, waving your game or your nickname around, hoping the right people will spot you or you spot them. RPGGeek Math Trading meat grinder! It looks something like this:
And just in case you really wanted to know what the silliest game of Spiel 2015 looked like 🙂
And then we held hands is a two-player cooperative game about winning at relationships. There’s a web of emotions that you have to navigate, ring by ring, until you end up at the heart in the middle – signifying your strengthened relationship.
You navigate each ring by reaching eight emotion objectives – dots in your navigation matrix. You get to these dots by spending cards of the relevant colors. However, spending cards can put you out of balance (which means you can’t redraw cards), and moving to the left or the right of the field means you can only use the colors on the right or the left of your cards.
So you are facing an intricate two-player balance act of moving forward, restocking cards and getting both of you to the middle. If you can’t make a move, if the deck of cards runs out, well… I guess they were never really that into you.
The final kicker: you and your partner can’t talk about the game while playing it!
This is a pretty tough game: after two players we’ve made it to the final circle but not closer. I suspect if we ever do make it, the game will lose it’s shine, so it’ll be fun to tackle the challenge a few more times. The nice thing is that it really feels you are in this weird, intricate dance together, so some of the theme actually comes through. Which, of course, makes losing all the worse. But winning so much better!
Race for the Galaxy is my all time favorite game of all the universes. The game has already grown to monster size thanks to three amazing expansions. So when they announced a reboot of the game that was NOT compatible with the expansions, it caused quite a lot of controversy in the fan base. Fortunately, we could borrow a friend’s copy (Thanks, Frosty!).
It’s SO hard to look at this game without graduation goggles. Basically, Alien Artifacts adds an additional saucer to keep in the air: a mini-game of artifacts exploration. While you’re building up your galactic civilization, this huge floating alien spaceship has been discovered and all of you are competing to uncover the most of it and use it to your advantage. See, you can uncover artifacts that will give your building efforts a boost: a discount on developments, a free good to sell, an easier time exploring the alien ship… So you tend to go through waves of exploring and taking advantage of what you’ve found.
I’m not sure this reboot works as well with two people as the original game does. It feels like the Artifact exploring should be this mad scramble, and for us it’s just a leisurely walk in the park that we indulge in until our engine takes off. Then we ignore it while our tableau fires off the usual combo’s.
One design aspect really nags at me. One of the reasons Race is my favorite game is that the turns are simultaneous. I love simultaneous play, it means we play fast and furious and you always have stuff to do. But the Orb mini game… is played one person at a time. It’s not a big time drain (at least, not with two), but it does take away some of the awesome of the design, I think.
That said, it IS really cool to play our old favorite in a new version and see all the little changes. We easily play Race 10 times a year, but often we’ll be tempted more by newer games. So it’s kind of neat to be able to play our classic love in a new way.
I traded this game for one of my old unloved games. I have the best of luck with trades 🙂
Fidelitas is a short, simple filler game for 2 to 4 players. It’s a bit like a more involved version of Love Letter.
You’re seeing five location cards, with a bunch of person cards ‘visiting’ the different locations.
There’s a bunch of locations in the middle (Market, Warehouse, Tavern), and a bunch of person cards (Baker, Judge, Butcher) in your hand. Person cards all have an ability that will trigger as you play them. Usually their ability will let you move people around the locations in some way.
Also in your hand: two mission cards. The Mission cards will have stuff like “Gather four people of different guilds in the Market”, or “Make sure four locations are empty”.
Every turn, you play one Person card, do what the card says, and then score one of your missions if the conditions are met. Then you redraw, and the turn passes to the next person.
Here’s your hand: two mission cards (“Gain the trust of”) and two person cards.
And that’s the entire game! Easy as pie. When you play it with two, you’re both trying to get your guys into the right places while hindering your opponent from getting his guys into places. So you fall into a kind of tugging game around this immense slidey puzzle. It’s not too strategic, but you feel in control while you’re trying to tug the puzzle your way, and so it works well.
The chaos also means that you can really try to hinder your opponent – there’s no real risk of paralysing them, and half of the time you don’t know what exactly they’re trying to accomplish anyone. With two, double bluffing or misdirection will be useful and fun as well.
So, a short, sweet, travel-size filler that’s fun and involved. A keeper!
Warm up game! My Barbarians never properly entered the race as Jan’s Japanese battled Lowell’s Romans. This would become a recurring trend! Leaving me in the dust, I mean. Not Japanese vs. Roman battles (though that would be a much better trend).
Stupid Barbarians. I still love this game. It’s fun, has some player interaction but not too much, and it’s has lots of card variety to make the games different and combolicious.
Right of Succession
Lowell’s own game that he took to Cards Against Humanity’s Cardboard Deathmatch (or whatever it was called). As Jonna always says, never pass up an opportunity to play a game with its designer! Right of Succession turned out to be a crunchy game of area control with some auction and drafting mechanics thrown in for good measure.
You manage a house with different families in it. You want to optimize these families to allow prominent family members to achieve their potential in areas like religion, knowledge, finance etc. Not all area’s give points every round, though. The important areas are decided by the ruler in charge.
At the end of every round (and those go quite fast) you points if you are the first, second or third best placed for the three areas this particular ruler finds important. But rulers can change fast – every round you are invited to support other pretendents for the throne, or you can play the long game and invest your money in the next generation of upstart rulers.
Marrying your families will move them up one generation and give them a lot more options to become more skilled or specialized, but will also mean you have to give things up. Deciding when to marry is probably the toughest call in the game.
We enjoyed this game quite a bit! The quick rounds make for a nice dynamic that doesn’t bog down overly much, but it is still definitely a medium weight game with a good amount of crunch. I’m not sure if the theme sticks completely (moving people around different families feels a little weird), but it was really fun to recognize a lot of family names from RPGGeek. Check out the Hidaman family!
Lowell is planning to bring the game to kickstarter, and I hope he does.Want!
Jonna had gotten a copy of Dutch Blitz from the Holcomb family. They played it while we were roleplaying our Savage Worlds dungeon crawl. They were making more noise than we were!
Dutch Blitz is a type of speed patience. Everyone has a deck of cards (not quite playing cards) and deals out three face up cards, and a small pile of 10 cards face up. The goal is to clean out that pile of ten cards as quickly as possible. You do this by placing cards in the common area in the middle.
Piles in the middle have to be one color, start with one and go up one number at a time. Once you are rid of your 10 cards, you yell Dutch Blitz! And everyone else will score penalty points. Jonna creamed us all. Yet another simple game that’s surprisingly fun and we got really into it. Want!
A betting game made by the maker of Love Letter. High expectations! Sadly, it wasn’t a very good game. Every round you bet on one or two or a series of gladiators, and then cast spells (overtly or hidden) on the fighters to try to ensure your guy wins. It kind of reminds me of Munchkin, and it seems too random to actually affect very much. Too bad, Love Letter dude!
When I mentioned to Lowell that our niche was card games and that Glory to Rome was my holy grail game, he suggested Uchronia. Urchonia is another Carl Chudyk card game that uses a lot of the Glory to Rome mechanics. The theme is Ancient Roman times with dinosaurs – nothing wrong with that!
Having already played Innovation and Mottainai (the so-called “spiritual successor to Glory to Rome’), I didn’t need a lot of explanation. Jan hadn’t played Mottainai yet, and had to get used to cycling his cards from the middle to his hand to his resource stack to either Activities or Building Projects. You know, the usual GTR stuff. This was a fun brain crunchy game! I just can’t get enough of Carl’s card-games – even though they are all pretty similar I still want them all. I think Carl might pass Vlaada Chvatil as my favorite game designer – or at least as my must buy one.
Finally we tried out this Martin Wallace classic that Lowell thought would take two hours to play. Gha! Brass is about the industrial revolution in Mid-England. The game is divided into two parts: One where you build waterways and try to shape your industry around them. Then in the second part those waterways go away and you race a second time to get as many railways as you can and built your industries around them again.
I scored big in the first part and had a nice pile of money to see me into the second, but starting fully over set me back a fair bit. A few mistakes left me behind as Jan once again trounced Lowell. I had quite a bit of AP this game and they made fun of me and called me Rahdo!
I didn’t like Brass on first play – the rules and the game play seem messy and inconsistent and dividing the game up in two parts is frustrating. It might improve on repeat plays as you get more equipped to plan ahead, which is what this game is all about.
When we were in Minnesota, Andre showed us her kickstarter edition of Machine of Death where you work together as squad of improve hitmen trying to take out people in hilariously overcomplicated ways. We tried to kill George Clooney by using a nespresso trail to lead him into a piranha trap, David Letterman with an exploding thumbtack chair, Stan Lee with a murderous mummy, and Batman with a bipolar bear. Very silly!
In Wisconsin we played Pit– a game of real-time set collection with a trading theme. You need to get a set of nine cards of the same type by trading your unwanted cards with the other players. As fast as you can. Lots of shouting and laughter happened as Mike beat us all at stocks trading.
But that was nothing compared to Spoons, a family game of (again) set collection but with much more hilarious results. Once you get your set of four playing cards (say all 4’s) together, you can grab a spoon off of the table. That’s the signal for everyone else to grab a spoon too, except there’s one spoon less than there are people. Every time you end up empty handed you are that much closer to getting bumped out of the game.
So it’s like musical chairs with spoons. Hilarity and slapstick comedy ensues as people battle for the right to wear the spoon crown and put their name on it. Yes, this family has an actual spoon crown, though the last time anyone put their name on it was in 2006. Well, that was going to change!
I love family games and we all got into it. Especially Caitlin made a few Olympics-worthy dives for the spoons because she didn’t want to lose, and got into a few tug of war matches with Lori and Jan.
But I wanted my name on that crown, damnit! We took out the parents first, and after that I only had to beat out Jan, Caitlin and Megan to become Spoon Queen of the Day. An honor I was happy to accept, an one that came with complimentary cat.
My kayak club always goes for a drink after a training. Some of the members talk about kayaking almost exclusively. I’m not that big of a kayak nerd yet and I haven’t been on any trips… so if they really go at it, I’m happy to check my phone for a while.
Because it’s a holiday tomorrow the kids could stay and have a drink too. And one of them was packing a game box! I zoned in on that fucker like a sniper on speed.
Jules: YOU HAVE A GAME! Er… I mean, you have a game. 9-year old: Yes, do you want to play? Jules: YES!
Thanks, 9-year old! The other people thought I must have been the most social person ever, selflessly entertaining a small child like that. Little did they know it was the other way around.
The game was called Cocotaki (or Cuckoo Zoo) and was apparently a UNO variant. I wouldn’t know, I never played UNO. You could only add a card to the stack if it had a color or animal in common, and if you played an animal, you had to make that animal’s sound. Except if it’s a red card, in which case you say nothing. Except when it’s red rooster, in which case you say Cocotaki!
So basically like a drinking game without the drinking. Not very interesting but, much like pizza and sex – even when a game is bad it’s still good! We played three or four rounds, including one mega round with a hand of twenty cards instead of 10. She forgot to say (or not say) the right word a few times, but trounced me in every round. I don’t really know how! It’s a quick kids game, and fun enough.
There’s something deliciously weird about mixing up hobbies like this. I got pretty excited about bringing new games to play with the kids, but then I realized they normally can’t come for drinks. Definite upside to future camping trips 🙂