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.