I love me some Atlanta Game Fest. Sitting around with some fellow gamers, trying out games that you’ve always wanted to play but could never get your hands on. I often use the event to play some heavier games that aren’t quite as popular with my gaming group. This past weekend was one of my favorite years, as I got to play about a dozen games I had never played before. They might be older, but hey, they’re new to me, and maybe they’re new to you, too.
When I walked into Atlanta Game Fest on Thursday afternoon, the crowd hadn’t quite built up yet. People were playing games here and there, and I was moving towards the back of the room to talk to a group that looked like they were about to pick out a game and get started.
And that’s when I saw this:
I just kinda had to stop for a while and stare. I mean, look at it! It’s super cool! So many letters, seeming to defy gravity. And that’s definitely the draw of this game. Players take turns adding letters to the tower, using a tongue and groove mechanism so that the letters can be stable while being assembled in odd, mind-bending ways. When you place a letter, you then try to spell words based on the letters that connect to the one you just added. The scoring mechanic is simple – you get a point per letter – so there’s not much complexity with that element. Really, it’s all about what kind of cool balancing acts you can perform. And trust me, it’s a lot of fun.
Konexi is out of print, so getting a copy can be a little expensive. You can check out Amazon, but I personally got a copy on eBay for less than $20, so check that out, too.
The Shipwreck Arcana
The Shipwreck Arcana was actually the first game that I played at AGF this year. I was supposed to be attending a practice on Thursday evening, so by the time I got up to Alpharetta, I only had about an hour to game. Three other guys saw me wandering, asked if I would be interested in a logic and deduction game they were about to play. I graciously accepted, and sat down to this challenging but incredibly engaging game.
Each player is given a set of tiles in their player color numbered one through seven, while a bag is filled with some black tiles (called fates) numbered in the same way. The first player will draw two tiles randomly from this bag, and then look to the center of the table at four cards which will be laid out. Each of these cards has a specific rule for the tiles. For instance, the rule might be ‘if one of your fates is numbered 1, 2, or 3, and the other is not, then place the 1, 2, or 3 here’. Or maybe ‘If one of your fates is double or triple the other, put a fate here’. You will place one of your fates next to a card, and then the other players must the try to decide what the number is on the fate that you kept with you. This is done by not only pay attention to the card that was chosen, but also to the cards that were not chosen – all of the information must be considered as a choice is made. And remember those colored tiles you had? The other players will use your tiles as a visual aid, removing tiles that they have eliminated as options. Players can make a guess if they feel they’ve narrowed the option for the fate down to one choice, or they can pass and then try again the next round.
I questioned putting this game on the list, because it is really for a small niche of gamers. People that sit around and do sudokus and logic puzzles for fun. Like, not just when they’re bored, I mean like instead of going out at night. Fortunately, I would include myself in that group, and I had a great time with it. If you and your gaming group love a good thinker, maybe check this one out.
Get yourself a copy of The Shipwreck Arcana through Meromorph’s website.
This game smacks you in the face with some 80’s nostalgia and never lets up. It’s basically a tabletop version of the light bikes from Tron. Each player creates the path of their bike, trying to capture three Prisms that have been randomly scattered on the tabletop. The path of your bike is created with thin cardboard pieces, with the length of the pieces being determined by what ‘gear’ your bike is in. You can always go straight, but making turns requires a die roll. Fail, and you’ll end up going off-course, possibly crashing into a wall or another player.
The game plays quickly and simply. We were able to learn and play a round in about 30 minutes with three players. It has just enough randomness to keep you on your toes, but a good plan will definitely help you find the path to victory. The big draw here, though, is the crazy nostalgia factor, from the crazy characters (like a bike-riding shark) to the game box which resembles a collection of VHS tapes. Just thinking about it got me to place an order on Amazon as I was writing this piece, and I look forward to sharing this experience with my friends.
Pick yourself up a copy of Lazer Ryderz.
Century: Golem Edition
There’s been a buzz about Century: Spice Road since its release last year. I’ve heard from several outlets that it takes Splendor and makes it better. Now that’s quite a statement, as I very much like Splendor and believe it to be a very well-balanced game that allows players to plan and strategies dozens of moves ahead of time. So when my friend Melissa mentioned that we should play the game’s Golem Edition (with fancier components) as the night was winding down, I thought it was worth giving a shot.
While I’m not 100% on board quite yet, I can definitely see where people are coming from. Each player is trying to obtain points by purchasing golems, which cost you gems. Unlike in Splendor, some of the gems are more valuable than others, and you can upgrade from one to another using cards. Oh yeah, did I mention there are cards? In this way, Century definitely differs from Splendor, as what you do during a turn is limited by what cards you have in your hand. While that might sound like it holds you back, it actually gives you a lot more freedom to take whatever actions you want. Most of the cards center around obtaining or upgrading your gems, which can be used to purchase other cards (to help you get more gems later) or buy purchasing the golems (which get you on the path to victory). It’s different enough from Splendor to merit being its own game, but they are definitely similar enough to where many people may only want one or the other on their shelf. I’ve already got Splendor, but it might get the boot if Century continues to impress me.
Century: Golem Edition is available on Amazon.
I saw this game on a list of ‘Play to Win’ titles, which were going to be given away during AGF to a random person who had tried out the game over the weekend. While I wasn’t the lucky winner, I did play with the guy who was, and he was willing to sell it to me for just five bucks! What a pal.
Macroscope is an interesting twist on the ‘guess the image’ game you have probably played in multiple formats. A big stack of images is loaded into a special viewer – I think it’s supposed to be an old-timey camera, but I’m not 100% sure. Maybe I should read the rules or something. Anyway, players roll dice and take turns removing the plugs from the holes, revealing more and more of the image as they go. At any point, a player can venture a guess, which is worth as many points as there are holes still covered. They win these if they are right, but if they’re wrong, they will lose that number of points. Other players can venture their own guesses, and eventually the image is revealed and the points are doled out.
While this game didn’t go over all that well with my game partners at AGF, it did really well with some of my students a few days later. While they were skeptical at first, they quickly became very competitive about the images and trying to guess before their opponents. I do think that the game is better with some rules adjustments, but this title seems like a solid addition to any family game collection.
Macroscope is available on Amazon, so check it out today!
The next Atlanta Game Fest is October 25-28, so go ahead and make plans to join us!