With Essen fading slowly from memory, it was high-time to switch off the publishing/designing mind for a weekend and simply play games. So we did! We happily accepted the invitation to join the board games party organized by the amazing people behind BoardGameGirl.pl and drove 2 hours north of Warsaw to an idyllic region, set camp in a gorgeous wooden house and… stayed in for the next 48 hours playing games almost non-stop.
It’s hard to put the games we played in chronological order, so let’s just go through them as I remember them, leaving the best for last:
New York 1901 is a city building, tile-laying gateway game. Most of us liked it, but it is not one of my favorites of this year, perhaps a bit too light for my taste.
Skyliners (in the back) is load of fun, quick and innovative, also a bit too light for my taste, but I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Every time people played it they had fun and their laughter was disturbing our “serious” quest to become a Food Chain Magnate. The game from Splotter which generated huge queues at Spiel does not disappoint. After 3 hours of playing, I must admit that I came last by a long shot and yet this is one of the games I enjoyed the most. Neatly constructed game mechanisms combine euro mechanics with a race element making this game cutthroat in a very good way.
Grand Austria Hotel and Porta Nigra are other euro games fresh from Essen which left me high and dry. They are both very solid designs, with perfectly constructed game mechanisms, but they lack the wow factor. With two players they would probably feel more engaging because the down time between turns would be shorter.
Nippon on the other hand is one of the best euros of 2015. At first we were a bit overwhelmed by the iconography, thus my expectations were lowered. But with the quick and thorough explanations of Blazej, we powered through the game and it suddenly felt a lot more fun. And the compliments won’t stop here. This worker placement game which gave me the impression that it will be completely dry and disconnected from its theme managed to surprise us all once again. It actually felt like we’re trying to industrialize the late 19th century Japan and our efforts were rewarded by plenty of victory points (that was only half true in my case, I would have to leave the word plenty aside).
In the back side My Village was just being set up and in the end felt like a solid game, nothing less than we had expected.
Curse of the Black Dice stirred quite a controversy. A semi-cooperative game in which players lose together or win alone made a split impression. Love by a few and hated by others, it gave the overall feeling that it could be more than it is, which the production quality is on par with more established titles.
2-player games had a special place in our weekend getaway. The series was opened by Kune v. Lakia, a small cutthroat head-to-head between a princess and a duke splitting bunny possessions in a royal divorce. The princess seems to always emerge victorious. And after the yelling and screaming of a divorce, what can be better than to hold hands? … and then, we held hands was quite a controversial title as two player games are usually war games, not mind twisting cooperative games.
But the jewel of the crown was 7 Wonders: Duel, by far the best game of this event in the opinion of the majority of the participants. I must admit my initial skepticism – I was simply not sold on the idea of a 2-player drafting game and I could simply not see how a best seller like 7 Wonders can be perfectly adapted to be played with less than 3 players. I am happy to admit that I was wrong. The game is great, if not perfect, highly competitive and still quite short, with several paths to victory and huge replay value – basically everything a gamer could wish for.
Not to make anyone jealous, but I simply have to add that all of the above took place in the middle of the nature, surrounded by lakes and forest, in the amazing company of friends, children and cute medium-sized dogs. What more can one wish for?