Patience Ain’t a Virtue (or: More Carpe-ing!)

ToledoIt’s been a long time since I’ve written a gaming rant, so here we go …

Last Wednesday, I played Martin Wallace’s Toledo for the first time in five years. Back in the day I reviewed it as an entirely adequate family game, but it didn’t thrill me. Now that I’ve played it again half-a-decade later, I think I can better explain why.

For me, Toledo’s main problem is that it depends on its players dutifully storing away cards, like a squirrel planning for winter. Sure, you could play your cards fast and furious, but that’s a recipe for losing. That’s because card play in Toledo stacks: you’re allowed to play as many cards as you like during a turn, provided that they all have the same value.

In other words, like most eurogames Toledo is ruled by the tyranny of efficiency: you have to figure out how to eke out the most efficient plays, to save a fraction of a turn here or a fraction of a resource there. Ultimately, those little efficiencies add up, and the player who has fractioned the most wins.

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Shannon’s Christmas ’13 Gift-Giving Guide

Last year, I published my first gaming gift guide. It was a look at new-ish board and card games that might make nice gifts for a variety of gamers. Last year’s listing may be a year old, but it’s still very relevant, and I still recommend the games on it. However, if you’re looking for things that are even newer, here are my top suggestions of games from the last year or two.

For the Family Gamer

These games might work well for the casual family that occasionally enjoys a game. I thought this category was particularly strong this year, with all the games in it being quick, light, original, and fun.

AugustusAugustus (Hurican, 2013, $40)
Super Short Play (< 30 minutes)
Designed by Paolo Mori

When I first saw this game, I was told that it was “eurogame Bingo”. That disconcerted me because it sounded really simplistic. However, it turns out to be a great description of the game and it’s a lot of fun.

In this game, a player gets a few different “BINGO” cards, each of which requires several icons to finish. Icon chits are then pulled from the bag one at a time. The game gains depth from the fact that: (1) you have to decide which card to place each icon on; (2) cards have special powers when completed that you can use to help yourself in the future; and (3) you’re also competing for achieving certain goals first. You add all thistogether and you have a colorful and evocative game.

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