Monday, June 05, 2006

Hot or Not - Boardgames

Played two new boardgames on Friday night.

The second one's called Caylus - it's very much in the Puerto Rico/St. Petersberg school of design - there's a basic premise (you're building a castle for a King and, in order to do so, you have to build up the town surrounding the castle) and a nice economy - you can gradually build up a more sophisticated town that'll give you money, victory points and the raw materials needed to contribute to the castle.

I didn't enjoy this one so much - it felt very samey to me - in that it's really nice and playable, but similar in concept to many other 'German' boardgames that I've played over the last couple of years.

The first game was Fury of Dracula - the game covers all the major cities of Europe - one player controls Dracula, who moves from city to city, trying to breed new vampires and laying traps for the players hunting him. Everyone else plays the Hunters - we don't know where Dracula is, so we have to use deduction to track him down and fight him, while avoiding his traps. There's lots of nice stuff in here: a co-operative game, a nice combat system, a real sense of threat on both sides.

And I really like this. So, comparing the 2 games, I've decided that I like games with strong colour that mean something to the game. To clarify - in Caylus, when you buy a Stonemason so that you can build a Bank, it feels to me the same as buying a Wibble to build a Neek. There's nothing in the process of buying and strategising that makes me feel like a construction worker, or that I'm building anything.

In contrast, in Fury of Dracula, every element of colour is designed to either create period detail or to engage you in the conflict between Dracula and the Hunters - the backs of the cards, the emphasis on combat and tracking, the way the map of Europe works, the unreliable rail system, ... there's even a ticking clock that counts down the hours till nightfall ... at which point, Dracula becomes more powerful (mechanically) in the game.
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