Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Santiago...my white whale

There is no game that frustrates, eludes, confounds, and fascinates me like Santiago. Every time I play this game I lose...and I don't just lose by a little. I'm way, way, way behind everyone else. Not one decision I make ever seems to be the right one: I drop out at the wrong time; I pay too much; I pay too little; I choose the wrong crop; I put it in the wrong place; I misjudge where everyone is going. Yet I still love the game. It may kill me, but I'll get this game...or die trying.

I played the Moon/Weissblum game Oasis for the first time. It seemed an awful lot like New England--a game I hate. Some interesting mechanics, but it just didn't grab me. I have yet to play a game from this pair that I enjoy...with the notable exception of San Marco, which I really, really like 3-player.

And finally, I was able to play Oltre Mare. This was the much-lauded game that was released by a very small publisher in a very small edition. So when Rio Grande Games--God bless you Jay!--announced they would pick it up, I was anxious to play it. It was...just okay. This is the epitome of the hand-management game. But in the end it felt kind of clunky to me; like the pieces didn't quite fit together. I'd probably play again, but I'm glad I played before I bought it.

I find myself being less impulsive with game purchases now that I've come down off the yearlong high of finding Eurogames. I think this started when I was this close to buying Revolution: The Dutch Revolt sight unseen. I mean, it was going to be my next purchase, bar none. Then I was fortuitously able to play it on a Saturday all-day gaming session. Holy smokes did I dodge a bullet. It's not that it's a bad game--I believe that it's a well-done and well-balanced game (and that's saying something when there are 5 distinct powers at work). It's just not my type of game, and I didn't know that until I played it. All that to say that I feel blessed to have James and Sheila Davis in my gaming group. Knowing that I can play literally anything--even the impossible-to-find stuff--is an incredible boon.

1 comment:

Daren said...

Thy quandary is self's quandary. (Sometimes Cory complements self by saying that thou and self have similar tastes, or are both good at a particular game...high praise for self!) Quandary, thus: Wargames are long; Wargames take multiple plays to learn well-ruled play; Wargames take more plays to try different strategies/tactics; Wargames take more plays to play both sides (double for quartet-game, thus: SoR). Solution, thus:
1) No playing of long Euro's during all-day game sessions, unless circumstances (i.e., other players' wishes) dictate contrary-wise. This is Wargame time.
2a) Pick a game and stick to it. Thus: Plan to play Carthage once every two moons for eight moons. Do so.
2b) Play via Cyberboard or PBEM. Warhorse is easy to set up and supports many shorter games (Hannibal, HotS, etc. SoR is more difficult because of temporal delays associated with playing quadrangle). Skype is easy to set up, thus: Voice communication during remote gaming. Disadvantages, thus: Both players must own game; table space is required across large temporal domain; play takes place across large temporal domain.
It can be done. Other game-time will take injuries; patience is required. Yet, done!