FX Schmid, £9
There is a sense of foreboding when the cards are laid out for Superblatt, another game about newspaper stories, but it is far removed from Extrablatt in mechanics if not in theme. The reasons for concern are that it is a Sid Sackson 'little' game and that the cards start in the exposed, staggered columns of Patience, that tortuous solitaire cardgame that I for one never managed to get out in my formative years and now wonder why I bothered trying. The cards depict four categories of news story and are uniform with two exceptions; some cards read Extra and others have a number of small triangles.
A turn consists of taking the topmost card from any column and adding it to your growing collection of stories - I think the gist is that you are building up the structure of your paper's coverage by topic. An Extra card gives you a further free selection and the triangle cards enable you to claim stories of the same colour from another player. The strategy at this point is making sure that the card you take is of use to you in building up your 'paper', but that you don't open up a better card or sequence for the next player, and the next, and the next. Simple enough if multiple-depth outcome analysis is your forte. Thankfully, there are twists to prevent brain meltdown.
The first tweak, and it is a good one, is that stories are valued for points on a 'trend' card (similar in effect to the Showbiz popularity mechanism) and one therefore tries to build up the largest holding in the most popular categories. The second twist is that you carry forward your story holding (or paper content) through three rounds, each with a different, initially unknown, trend card. The third tweak is that only the first and second placed papers score points, but if you have exactly the same number of stories as a rival both lose out on points to the next guy down the list a la Hols der Geier. This means that even with just one story card you have a shot at some big victory points, adding even more consideration to an already large number of variables.
In many ways a typical Sid Sackson game, Superblatt is perhaps a little too teutonic, needing chess-style forethought and frequent analysis of infinite 'if I do this, he does that and he does that' situations. The dead giveaway is the excessive time taken by players looking for the implications of taking a card, even when faced with a crystal clear short term option. In feel, Superblatt almost verges on Patience with added interaction (it is clearly another souped up card game) but the wrinkles almost save the day. It makes for an interesting diversion, though one that might struggle to get future attention. It works well, but is tough to play with any knowledge of what is going to happen long term, and I must say I am surprised at the seemingly bottomless market for these card games with varying levels of amendments. Nevertheless, recommended if this sort of game is up your street.
On to the review of Razzia or back to the review of Pirat.
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