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Sunday, August 14, 2005


Two (old) new games.

I've owned Alhambra for almost two years and I finally had a chance to play it. It was a game I bought because it was a "Spiel des Jahres" (German Family Game of the Year) winner in 2003. I hadn't read much about the game prior to purchasing it and after reading the rules I was left unimpressed.

After one play I must say, 2003 must have been a weak year for games.

Here's the list of 2003 SdJ nominees lifted directly from Erik Arneson's "About" page:

Alhambra by Dirk Henn, a tile-laying, city-building game.

Amun-Re by Reiner Knizia, in which players compete to build pyramids and grow crops in ancient Egypt.

Attribut by Marcel-Andre Casaola-Merkle, a party game about guessing the opinions of other players.

Balloon Cup by Stephen Glenn, a tremendous two-player game about hot air balloons.

Clans by Leo Colovini, in which individual huts are moved together to form villages and no one knows for sure which color their opponents are.

Coloretto by Michael Schacht, a very light and quick set-collection card game.

Dracheninsel by Tom Schoeps, which requires players to work together to haul treasure back to their ships.

Edel, Stein & Reich
by Reinhard Staupe, an update of the gem-collecting game Basari.

Fische, Fluppen, Frikadellen by Friedemann Friese, which finds players collecting fetishes to free the princess, sometimes jumping from table to table to do so.

Paris Paris by Michael Schacht, his second nomination this year and a game in which players compete to own shops and bistros in the areas most popular among the tourists.

Richelieu by Michael Schacht, his third nomination this year.

Die Werewolfe vom Dusterwald, a public domain game best known in the United States as Werewolf or Mafia.

I haven't played any of these games except Werewolf, and it is a public domain game that doesn't require a board or game pieces. I will eventually acquire Amun-Re, but I'm in no hurry. I've considered a couple of these games for play at the Boys and Girls Club, but in the end I didn't want them enough to spend my money.

Durch die Wuste (Through the Desert) was released in 1998. It was a SdJ nominee that year. The '98 Spiel des Jahres winner was Elfenland.

The 1998 SdJ nominees included: Basari, Caesar & Cleopatra, Canyon, David & Goliath, Die Macher, GIPF, Minister, Tigris & Euphrates, Through the Desert, Tonga Bonga, and Tycoon.

Now that was a fine year for games. Every one (except Tonga Bonga which I have never heard of) is either a game I have played and liked, or a game I want to play.

"Through the Desert" is a fine game. It is an excellent, pure strategy game with several paths to victory, yet you aren't overwhelmed with choices. I've played a couple more times since the first outing, and I know it will see more plays soon. I've rated 160+ games on Boardgamegeek.com, "Through the Desert" will be my 5th "10" and only my 3rd stand-alone boardgame to receive that rating.

If you don't already own it get the reprint. There is a reason pastel camels have become a running joke in the boardgame community and it has everything to do with this being such a memorable game. It will sell out soon.

Good Gaming

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