Thursday, March 27, 2008

Memoir 44 • 10 Days in Asia • The Lord of the Rings

I have been playing a lot of board games with my wife lately (she's not a gamer, but does enjoy some of the mass market potential board games).

We've played six games of 10 Days in Asia in the last couple days, three games of Memoir '44 (only the first scenario) tonight, and countless games of Lord of the Rings (the non-competitive one) over the months.

These are all fantastic games, and certainly excellent games for couples to play together.

10 Days is simple, straight-forward and with enough luck and planning to keeping players coming back for more (strategic theorist probably won't enjoy it however). It's a simple travel game, done in the style of skip-bo, but adding countries that you must encounter in linear order, although boats, rails, and planes help you get around Asia. This is the fourth game in a very, very successful series. I assume Latin America is the last one they can do (America, Europe, and Africa being the previous three).

Memoir '44 is a light version of the Ambush series, allowing people who aren't World War II nerds to play squad level games without the Ph.D necessary to tackle Squad Leader. There are 16 scenarios in the core box and the rules can be digested in no time. In typical Days of Wonder style the components are gorgeous, high quality, and instantly draw you in. The Command deck of cards really make the game, and I would love to see more, to vary up the tactics in this game.

Since Reiner is among one of my favorite designers and I've had the pleasure of working with him FOUR times now, I can say nothing but great things about the Lord of the Rings co-operative board game. If I was forced to rank his games for myself -- and I would hate to do that -- it would go something like

Samurai
Ra
Lord of the Rings
Medici
Lost Cities
Tigris and Euphrates
Others

[Look for two great new Reiner games by the end of the year, btw.]

Lord of the Rings is the perfect co-operative board game. While Shadows over Camelot (a pristine example of collaborative play) has few, if any flaws, Lord of the Rings captures the essence of the story as closely as any game possibly can. It handles up to four very well (although a fifth requires the use of Fatty, who is hardly a comparable character) and everyone has a stake in the game from beginning to end.

I know I've played this game over 30 times, but I couldn't tell you exactly how many.

Expect more board game posts in the future, alongside my RPG notes (to anyone still reading this thing).