This year our presents were heavy on games. In part, this is because our friendly local game store, Ship It! Games, has closed its doors. A sad event, but we were able to buy a bunch of games at bargain prices before they were gone.
We're really going to miss that store. Fortunately, we're still in contact with Chris Wright, the owner. He's a great guy and everyone here at our house wishes him well in his future endeavors.
Ticket to Ride
The first game that got opened was Ticket to Ride by Days of Wonder. This game has been around for a while and has won many awards. I've heard a lot of good things about it.
We have played it several times now, and we agree. It's a great game.
What's special about the game is that it doesn't take a whole lot of thinking to play. There is a strategic element, but if you're brain-fried after a long day at work, this is a game you can still pull out and enjoy, even with opponents who are at the top of their game. It's fun, easy to concentrate on short term objectives if that's all you're up for, and the set is designed very nicely too. Five stars!
Next comes the expansion to Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game by Flying Frog Games. Growing Hunger adds several new scenarios and heros, as well as new cards, items, and so on. It makes LNOE a much stronger game overall, though the new cards dilute the old cards when added to the decks. The place where this is a problem is mainly with the Zombie Deck. The "Shamble" card, in particular, comes up less often than it should. We may convert a few of the present cards into Shamble cards, or add the Shamble power as a secondary use for one of the other cards to try to rebalance things.
We haven't played this one, yet, but we're really looking forward to it. We really enjoy the Munchkin card game (that's our other "I'm fried and don't want a game that makes me think" game.) Unfortunately, the rules are very poorly written compared to the card game. They're very confusing, poorly organized, and long-winded. This is the opposite of the writing in the card game's rules.
Fortunately, it looks like a lot of the card game is in the board game. But I can tell our first game or two is going to be exploring the rules and trying to get them right. Steve Jackson, get an editor or another writer to redo those rules in a future printing! I was able to play Stellar Conquest properly first try, lo, these many years ago. I can't make heads or tails of a bunch of the rulesheets for Munchkin Quest!
This is another one we haven't played yet but are looking forward to. It looks like a game based on Warcraft II, with some World of Warcraft and Warcraft III elements in it. The pieces are not as nice as we were hoping for, and to be honest we've been pretty spoiled by the fantastic sets that Days of Wonder produces (we've got Small World and, of course, Ticket to Ride from Days of Wonder.) The Warcraft pieces are wood, but they're kinda crude chiaroscuro shapes for different general unit types. But we've enjoyed other games from Fantasy Flight Games (notably Talisman, which they rescued from fading away right after we bought our fourth edition copy, and its expansions.)
Ah, well, the real telling will be in the game itself.
Munchkin is one of our favorite "play me anytime" games. We have the original core set plus the first expansion, Unnatural Axe. And now we have "Demented Dungeons"! We're really looking forward to adding the Dungeon rules to our game. One of the great things about this expansion is that it won't make our door and treasure decks taller, putting off the day when we'll need to build or buy a deck holder for our Munchkin cards.