Analog Game Night – June 2007

We started out with a round of Coloretto waiting for our fifth but by the time he arrived we dealt him and played a round. If you’d like to try out an online version against bots to make a decision about purchasing your own copy, you can try it out here.

We thought we might have a sixth player coming soon so we pulled out China making it 2 for 2 for playing games by the same designer Michael Schacht.

I’ve played China many times and find the strategy pretty two-dimensional but it still remains a game worth pulling off the shelf. The pain of opening up a new territory only to have the player to your left plonk down an emissary before you can is a real ‘joy’. I think the game plays best when all players play at the same skill level. Sitting to the left of a novice player has definite advantages if they’re constantly placing houses bumping up the emissary limit for subsequent players.

Our sixth called to cancel and we lost a player around 9:30. We thought long and hard about pulling out Caylus but one of the was worried that it would run too long for a work night so we instead pulled out my new and unplayed copy of Arkadia. I played too conservatively but most of us did as well granting the most aggressive player the win. I enjoyed my first playing of Arkadia quite a bit. I’m not sure how it sat with the others at the table but I’m anxious to play it again. I’m still struggling with understanding how to juggle the decisions of when and what kind of building to build; when to place workers and how to evaluate the number, type, and position of those workers; when to ‘complete’ a building; how to evaluate the value of the exposed draw deck; and how best to manipulate the ‘seal’ market when placing castle pieces.

I also found it difficult to judge which seals to shoot for and I’m unsure if that’s even really a possibility given that you’re at the mercy of the cards you have and the moves of the players plonking down the Tetris-like buildings.

One aspect of the game I did notice was that it started out very slowly. Most players were placing buildings around the castle in order to gather the most neutral colored workers. As soon as the juicy tent camps were covered, the battle began for seals and the castle pieces started coming out onto the board. I misinterpreted the rate of castle piece placement as linear and because of this I misjudged how much time was left in the game. It’s my belief that when the first floor is covered you’re more than half done with the game as the likelihood of multiple building completions goes up as the board fills up. This upward trending rate curve for castle placement caught me with my proverbial architectural banners/pennants around my ankles. My first play felt abbreviated. I’m not necessarily sure I want the game to last longer but I did come away with the feeling that I was just getting into my stride when it came to an abrupt end.

All in all I like Arkadia and I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

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