Saturday, January 15, 2011

I wo-wo-wo-wo-wonder (Clans x2, Vikings, 7 Wonders)

Shemp went on a rare buying spree and purchased three games recently. Clans, Vikings and Acquire made it under the tree for Christmas. Tonight, we played Clans and Vikings, as well as my christmas present: 7 Wonders.


Clans is an older euro that was released in 2002. It's ostensibly about the formation of clans in early human history, but it's really just a pasted on theme. It is played on a board broken up in several small terrain sections (plains, mountains, etc). Wooden huts in 5 different colours are seeded across the board, one per space. On a turn, players must move all the huts in one space to an adjacent space with at least one hut (the clans are consolidating into bigger, more populous clans). Once a grouping is no longer connected to a space with any other huts, it is scored. All colours present receive the same number of points UNLESS all colours are present, in which case any singles are eliminated before scoring. The game is played over a couple of different eras and each features a terrain where bonus points are gained, and a terrain where no points can be gained (because that clan is DOOOOMED). The catch is that each player is secretly dealt a colour at the beginning of the game, so no one knows which colour is benefiting which player at the beginning (and, even at the end, in our case). There is therefore a requirement for bluffing if you don't want other players to start hosing you because they know who you are.

Clans reminds me of China, in the sense that it feels like a lot of game in just 30 minutes. It's extremely simple, but the combination of secret roles and possibility for screwage made it quite enjoyable. We actually played twice, and in the second game we were already seeing some layers to the strategy... scoring groups of huts in the doomed terrain to get the tokens off the board, moving groups of huts into combinations that encouraged other players to make your moves for you, etc. Good game.


Vikings is also a kind of old school euro. It's central mechanic is an auction where players have to bid for a combination of vikings and land tiles. The vikings and land tiles are then placed on a player's tableau, where vikings in different places gives money, victory points, etc. There is too much to explain here, but it's essentially an efficiency game that feels like a more forgiving Princes of Florence. There is a nice mechanic where pirate ships must be guarded by warriors, or they nullify al the vikings placed in that column. It was a fun game that I would gladly play again, but it's not a stand-out either.

In this session, I went for fishermen vikings early and didn't get much else other than warriors. Although the fisherman did net me a huge number of points at the end, I was so far behind that I still ended way last. Kozure was far in the lead. Clearly he nurtures his inner viking.

7 Wonders

7 Wonders is quite popular right now, so I won't bother describing it much other than to say that it's a card drafting game with a theme of building civilizations. Cards can be used to gain money, to build a wonder of the world, or build a building/ develop a technology. Remarkably, it plays in 30-45 minutes even if played by 7 players.

The trick to making the game work so quickly even with large number is that each player is only able to interact with their neighbor on the right and left. In other words, no matter how many players are playing it's alway essentially a series of discreet 3 player games going in a circle.

In my opinion, this game is pretty slick. There are many things to consider, and many different paths to follow (production, science, wonders, etc). Although I felt dissatisfied with Fairy Tale, 7 Wonders feels substantial enough while you are playing. It's obviously been seriously playtested... it plays very smoothly. Also, the card art is extremely well done.

Overall, this game seems really good. There aren't many good 7 player games out there that play quickly, and even fewer that play as well across the entire player range (from 3 to 7 players).

Our first game was extremely close. I was forever the whipping boy as my military might was forgotten in favour of going for scientific achievements. I did managed to get quite a few and the big points made at the end gave me the win.

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