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DAS REGELN WIR SCHON! (Moskito): Easily the best of show. Absolutely brilliant. Karl-Heinz Schmiel discards the ``every other year'' theory with this one, since I also loved WAS STICHT last year. Game is about making and changing the rules of the game, all through the play of cards and taking of chips. I've played it three times and it gets better each time. Will probably wind up being one of my four all-time favorite games. Unfortunately, the whole game is in German, including many cards with lots of writing on them. But if you have a translation, the cards are only a problem during the first game. Besides, you can make up an English card deck if you really like it, like I'm doing. Self-balancing game, with lots of ways to catch up or stay in the lead. Has some action elements too (don't speak at a certain time, knock on the table at a certain time, stand up as you play a card, etc.), which I usually hate, but they work in this game. In fact, I may add some more action rule cards of my own. Of course, if you don't like this kind of stuff, you can leave out these cards. There is one which concerns knocking at a certain time which should be left out because it doesn't really work. Lots to think about but not too much as in EXTRABLATT. Lots of laughs with all the strategy and tension.

FALSCHE FUFFZIGER (Friedemann Friese): May be the second best business game ever, second only to SCHOKO & CO. Might even be as good except for a small luck element that may not be as significant as I think. I played it twice. Subject is counterfeit money. Lots of clever mechanics within the overall system. Not as long as it appears.

WUCHERER (Friedemann Friese): Great little card game about apartment houses. Double sided cards drive the system. Quick, possibly too quick with 5 or 6, but you can easily extend it. A hassle the first time through because of all the different cards, but worth it, and the second game is much easier.

TERRAIN VAGUE (Ludodelire): A game that everyone likes when they play it, but no one seems in a rush to play again. Probably because it is very chess-like and involved. Great system with lots of interaction and lots of clever balancing elements. The subject is teenage gangs at war in a junkyard. Sort of an abstract wargame. I only played it once, but I'd try it again.

WURMELN (Blatz): Worm race game that is simple but lots of fun. Some people I didn't think would like it because of the mechanics and/or the theme, did like it anyway.

VOLLE LOTTE (Abacus): Great little card and dice game. Sort of YAHTZEE and CAN'T STOP with cards. Don't pass it up.

TRAUMLAND (Piatnik): Terrific trick taking card game. The twist is that a trick can be any number of cards from 1-30, depending on what's played when. I played it a bunch of times. I liked it better with 3 than 4, but it was still okay with 4. Probably overpriced since all you get is a card deck in a much too large box, but the play value is real. By Hartmutt Witt, designer of KOALITION among others.

LAST PARADISE (Franckh): This one was really new last year, but I just got to play it for the first time. A great 20 minute game with just enough strategy to keep you interested. Great bidding system. Unfortunately, it just isn't worth the 90-100 DM price. Reiner Knizia design.

BIG BOSS (Franckh): After the first game, I thought this was better than ACQUIRE. But I've changed my mind now, after the second game. A good ACQUIRE VARIANT, but again, probably not worth the 100 DM price, even with the nice components.

TEUFEL, TEUFEL (Salagames): Abstract game with a very unusual system. I'd try it again, but I can't decide what the replay value is yet. By Hartmutt Witt.

AUSGEBREMST (ASS): Uses the same basic system as AVE CAESAR by Ravensburger, except the theme this time around is auto racing. Everyone seems to like it. Adds more strategy to the system and gives you a lot more variety with more tracks and various difficulty levels.

KOHLE, KIES, KNETE (Schmidt): Terrific Sid Sackson game about making deals. I played it twice, both times with 6 players, and each game took about 3 hours. So 6 players may not be the best number. With 4 players, it should only take 1 1/2 hours. There are periods in the game, a couple of minutes long, where everyone just draws cards. But these slight lulls are necessary because the rest of the game is played a frantic pace. If you like loud, fast-moving games with lots of diplomacy and manipulation, this one is for you. I can't wait to play it again.

HOBBITS (Ringgeister): Didn't get to play this one, because there isn't an English translation yet. Looks beautiful. Iron Crown is supposedly publishing an English version soon.

VERKEHRSCHAOS (Klee): Lots of good word of mouth about this one since I've gotten back from Germany. Game is about traffic jams in the city. There is a problem with the way the game ends, but apparently there are homemade rules to correct this already. This is the one I completely missed at Essen. Last year it was ZANKAPFEL.

Alan Moon

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Next: AND WHO DID YOU Up: Sumo 20 index Previous: A SECOND VIEW ON
Stuart Dagger