Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2013 Board Game Review - Part 3

OK, this will wrap up Saturday and Sunday of Lone Star Game Fest (and the new games I played there) and my board game review for this year.

Power Grid: Italy
This will be quick as I've covered Power Grid before (short re-cap there: buy it).  I had a chance to finally play on the Italy map.  This is an older map (published in 2005) and is part of the France/Italy set.  It is somewhat claustrophobic, but not as bad as the Japan map (which, by the way, is the train game definition of claustrophobia rails - very little clear land and expensive mountains to build over).

Summary: I like this map, better than the France map on the other side of the board.  It promotes thinking about what cities you want to connect without invoking the analysis paralysis that can happen in more confined maps.  The lack of convolution or special rules makes it a good follow up to the maps that come with the game.

The Castles of Burgundy
This might or might not be out of print at this point, so buy it if you see it and like territory building games.  Each player has a "map" of their territory, which is a hexagon-shaped map of hexagons (see here).  In the basic game, everyone has the same map.  In the expert, the maps are all different.  There is a central board where pieces (improvements to your domain) become available each round.  What you can select is handled by rolling two dice.  What ever individual numbers come up correspond to a small selection of pieces.  There is also a small silver piece economy based on how many mines you have built, plus some of the pieces provide silver immediately when placed in your domain.

Each round consists of five turns.  On your turn you roll the dice, use one number to pick a piece from the main board, use the other number to determine where you place the piece on your domain, and see if you scored points.  Fields score points for live stock, the number scored based on the number of animals on the tile, which ranges from 2-5 (IIRC), plus the number of the same animal type you already have.  So if you have four cows already and you add a piece with 3 cows on it, you score 7 points for that piece.  Mines give you silver between rounds, ships let you move up the turn order, buildings for city spaces provide a variety of benefits and your domain map has them all spelled out in some of the best iconography I've ever seen in a board game.

You also score extra points for completing an entire region on your map, based on the number of hexes in the region (1-5 on the basic maps).  There is also a bonus for completing all regions of the same type - so all your fields regions (you have 2) or town regions, etc.

The game takes a small bit to explain, but really, once you've had the icons on the boards explained once you never really need to reference the rules again. They did some superb icon work on this game.

Summary: I will buy a copy of this game shortly I liked it so much.  I suggest you do as well if you like territory building games.


And that's it for this year.  I played more than two games on Saturday and Sunday, but they were repeats of the games I reviewed this year (except Game of Thrones) or last year.  I got in a second game of Zombicide (Doug is unlucky for me), a game of King of Tokyo (a favorite from last year), taught Ticket to Ride to someone who "had had a bad experience", and then another game of Infinite City (a really attractive game I must track down).


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