I normally have a pretty good Game Radar. On receiving a game I will:
- blissfully pop out the cardboard chits and bits (“no, seriously, you can’t help”)
- admire the pieces
- read the rules
- note in amazement the typo on the back of the box (“Did no one check to see that the printer had the correct font driver installed?” Perhaps a rhetorical question, perhaps directed ever so slightly at Queen Games’ Fresco…)
… and have a pretty good sense of who is going to like the game.
So a confession: I am surprised that Splendor has been so wholeheartedly embraced by my game playing family and friends...
Open the creaky box.
Blow away the cobwebby strands from the cardboard pieces.
Light some candles.
And whatever you do…
DON’T try and follow the logic of the theme!
Whenever I introduce this game to friends, it is never just Viticulture, but always: ‘Viticulture, the strategic game of winemaking’. From the get-go, this is a game that completely embraces its theme. You want a strategic game about winemaking? This is for you! If you’re looking for an anarchic game about winemaking, or winemaking in the days following a zombie plague, then it may be best to look elsewhere…
Pick up train cards or place carriages on the board. Claim a specific route before your opponents do. Risk building a tunnel with no back up cards in your hand. The simmering tension of these decisions is what makes Ticket to Ride Europe a perfect addition to any board game collection.
I like to think of Catan as a completely reimagined Monopoly. However, rather than a linear track largely devoid of decisions, Catan provides players with a wide-open island to occupy. Towns (‘Monopoly houses’) and cities (‘Monopoly hotels’) spring up across the land, giving their owners access to adjacent building resources. Trading is encouraged, with resources regularly bartered between opponents. And while players won’t be sent ‘directly to jail’, there is a lurking robber that can momentarily stymie a player’s best-laid plans…