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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Waiting for Santa

OK, I’m a little too old and my kids are a little too old to try the “stay up late and wait for Santa” game. But there are still a few tricks in store. The teenagers got a new computer, they’re convinced we didn’t bring it out on vacation, and it will be under the tree tomorrow morning!

There’s another kind of waiting too. We’re at the beach for Christmas and New Years’ – a real week’s vacation – and this is the right place to bring games you’ve waited to play, sometimes for years. In my case, it’s mostly games that just arrived in a big shipment from Germany or very recent trades. In some cases these are grail games, so there’s a high sense of anticipation and positive regard.

The Terrain Game
This game I lusted after based on a picture. Hand-made, huge chunks of wood, the kind of game you want to sit out on a coffee table. The only minor disappointment was that when it arrived in the mail it was smaller than I figured. I had always thought it was hex shaped pieces about 1.5 inches across and the tallest maybe 5 inches. It’s actually about a third smaller, like 1 inch across by 3 inches. But it’s still beautiful. The game play? Oh yeah, we’re supposed to want games based on great or challenging play(!) Well, this one’s actually on the light side. But for a family gathering it may be great. We’ll see.

Tal der Konige
Definitely one from my grail list for a long time. Tal der Konige, Valley of the Kings, is a triangular shaped box and a large triangle board, with lots of yummy wooden cubes used to build pyramids in multiple colors. Managing your group of leaders, workers and thieves, some auctioning and some action points to spend. Found English rules on the Geek, so we’re good to go. Great reviews, so I’m really looking forward to this.

I’ve had this forever, but have never played it oddly enough. It was on the table a few weeks ago at Doug and Mimi’s game day in Vancouver, but I wasn’t in the lucky four. Oil drilling, speculation, resource management, a volatile sales market. What could be more fun? Well, maybe not fun, but this one sure has the marks for tight play, good balance and interesting struggles. Hopefully I’ll learn it this week before we go up to Chris and family’s for New Years gaming.

Schmidt Acquire
Sid Sackson’s Acquire is one of my wife’s favorites. We can play on any of the many versions, but I’ve wanted the Schmidt Speile version for years. Before Avalon Hill did a new publication and made theirs three dimensional, Schmidt had already done that (here's a great picture). So we got it, we’ll play it and probably love it this week.

Sadly I just learned there’s yet another Acquire grail to chase. Evidently Schmidt also released a special edition, with a quad board – each tile A1, B3, etc, has four spaces in a block on the board instead of a single space. There are pictures on the Geek, and while it looks long it looks so cool!

Control Nut
James Miller created this clever card game, and traded Chris for Havoc in Germany at Essen. My good friend Jeff DeBoer gave me a copy as a gift (thanks Jeff!) Chris has played it and says it’s very good, so I brought it along to learn it too.

Olympia 2000
We have a friend who at one time was interested in publishing a re-print of this Stefan Dorra game. Since it was part of the German shipment, I brought it along to learn it. Ancient Olympics, where you enter athletes in various events and score based on how well they do. Some lighter fun in a card game.

Well, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good game!


  • At 5:33 PM, Anonymous Susan Rozmiarek said…

    Tal der Konige was one of our "grails" for a long time and we eventually bagged a well-worn but cheap copy on eBay. We haven't played it in years but I remember liking it a lot. The only annoying thing is that the box doesn;t fit well on our shelves >:(


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