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Saturday, March 05, 2005


Unexpected evening off. Some initial impressions.

Went into work on noon Saturday expecting to work 12 hours. Got off at 7 p.m. Went home, the old lady was studying for a professional exam that she takes in a couple weeks, so I took the kids and went to a friend's house for the evening in order to give her some study time alone.

My friend has Medina. I've been wanting to play it since I found out he had bought it. Got my chance. Played with him and one of his kids. Wasn't too impressed.

Medina is theoretically a sound, pure strategy game. Players have an identical assortment of pieces to place on the board, they place two each turn. Placement will tax your brain, there is a quite a bit of strategy to consider. Play is purely strategy, there are no random factors to consider. The game lasts about 30 minutes. Scoring is simple and straightforward.

The problems? For starters it only plays with 3 or 4 players, not 2, not 5, and especially not 6. Only 3 or 4. Secondly it is very dry. Dry, dry, dry. The theme of building a city is not very convincing. It is an abstract game with simple rules. Also, it seems as if it is a contest of attrition. It seems to me as though the first person to make a move for points loses. Perhaps this is a brilliant aspect of a brilliant game that I will appreciate more with further plays, I will have to report back on that.

I do recognize that it is a gamer's game, and will appeal to lots of people who appreciate quality games. The design is solid, the components are quality, and thought is required. I just didn't find my first game to be fun, nor do I expect subsequent plays to be fun. I could be wrong, though.

After Medina we switched to Blood Feud in New York, a new game from Eagle games. This game flew in under my radar. I usually am up on upcoming releases, this one took me by surprise. I hadn't heard of it until I saw it at the store.

It is a game that just looks cool. The cover art is cool, and the theme is interesting. BFiNY is a simple, war game, comparable to Axis and Allies or Samurai Swords with fewer units. Players control mobsters in NYC. Each player starts in a small area of a borough and attempts to expand his control throughout the city. Players can build and control illegal enterprises, bribe police precincts, ransom opponent's family members, hire more muscle, and buy speed boats and helicopters.

The mobster theme works quite well. Perhaps too well. The goal is to eliminate the other players. Player elimination is a problem in the game. However, in a mob-war game you might be able to overlook it for the sake of theme.

We played with three, six can play the game. We just played a couple rounds to get a feel for the game, we had no intention of finishing it when we started. It definitely is a game I wouldn't want to play seriously with fewer than 5 players. The more the better. My initial impression is that it is a fun game, but a dice-fest with length issues (loooong game, not an 8+ hour game, but a 6+ hour game that lasts a couple hours longer than the fun it provides).

Both games will require more plays.

Good gaming,

Recently rediscovered Medina on BSW with Gerald
"Linnaeus" Cameron. I remember being taught the game by John Brier and thinking "eh". Found new appreciation for it about a year later. But you're right, the theme is off (who are the players, gods?) and it a completely cerebral tile placement/timing/brinkmanship game. It won't be a game I'll suggest, but I will probably play if asked.

Brinksmanship. I have seen that word used to describe games before. I really never thought about what it meant. Yes, it is a good word to describe Medina.

Chalk up a new word for my game vocabulary. I'll be looking for a way to use it soon.
I can't imagine that a game of Blood Feud took so long. Our games clocked in considerably less time (four hours at most). Were people not agressive enough?
(Shame faced.) Well...(Ahem). I did say we were playing a 3 player game and only played for a while.

It was just an initial impression.

The 3 player game gave each player lots of room for expansion, we played for about an hour and a half and got no where. We were barely bumping heads from our "power bases" after an hour (4 or 5 rounds). I just did the math and figured it would be at least a 4 hour game, more with more players.

You are probably right. With more players it would go faster. Less opportunity to build up massive forces, less opportunity to protect your family members with buffer zones full of thugs.
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