<< The Newest Diceless Game | Main | Wish 49 >>

May 30, 2003

Favorite Games I

As some readers here know, I'm a pretty serious fan of board and card games as well as RPGs, so I thought I'd start a series here of micro-reviews of favorite games, just to help spread the word a bit.

I have no idea how long this will go on, but I have a lot of favorite games, so it might be quite a while. Except several swings to the land of Cheapass Games and more than a few mentions of the name Reiner Knizia.

I'll start with the favorite, a game I'm rarely without just in case I have 15 minutes and someone interested in playing. En Garde is a Knizia classic, a card game of fencing that, despite its simple and highly mathematical mechanics, achieves a very good feel in play. It's easy to learn, as the rules teach the game in three levels, starting extremely simple and slowly adding the more complex parry and advance-and-attack rules. It's a small game (just a couple dozen cards) with only a few "bits" (cards you lay out to create a board and dice printed with fencer silouettes to use as place-markers), but it packs a lot of fun into a small package.

Settlers of Catan is also an easy choice. Players are in the role of tribal leaders on an island trying to build up from a couple villages to a thriving urbanized culture more quickly than do the other tribes on the island, building with a set of 5 resources developed at random each turn. Trading between players is all but required, as another player will likely be the only easy way to get the resource you need. Some people dislike its high "luck" element (resources are produced at random and if your numbers don't come up, you lose out), some people make it take forever by playing too seriously (the style of game really calls for quick, light play), but if you can avoid taking it too seriously, it's a great way to pass some time. Almost anyone, even non-gamers, can quickly come to understand its goals and methods and become a reasonably good by their third or fourth game. And, if you keep the game quick, it plays fast enough that you can get through several games in an evening. The expansions are more for the pure gamer crowd (particularly Cities and Knights set), as they add complexities and length for strategic options that casual players aren't likely to appreciate, but the basic game is pure gold.

Posted by ghoul at May 30, 2003 10:10 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Is it Catan or Cataan? Wouldn't want anybody unable to find it.

Agree that it's an awesome game, and very nice to look at as well. When I first played it, my husband cornered the brick market and kicked our butts thereby.

Posted by: Dorothea Salo at May 30, 2003 10:21 AM

Just one 'a' at the end. Amazon is sold out just now, but I was able to use them to check the box.

Bricks are the best resource to corner, IMO, as you need them at all stages of the game. Stone is the second best, as you need lots of those once it becomes a city-building race (and it will), but many players short them early-on since they're not vital right away. Of course, this changes if you add the expansions (sheep and wood get a big boost from Seafarers, for example).

But, regardless of the expansions, one important strategy Catan players learn is to watch out for market-cornering and build to prevent/bust up such whenever possible.

Posted by: Ghoul at May 30, 2003 11:12 AM

Settlers is a fantastic game, and one that allows all levels of players to do well - like Yatzee, it is part strategy, part luck - and folks like me have a chance at winning too... I really like this game.

We just played the card game Munchkin with some friends, that one is a lot of fun, too... and hilarious with the jokes...

Posted by: jenn at May 31, 2003 04:06 PM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Remember me?