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RED FLAG: WARNING FOR THE WARY

[In the first installment of our new feature, we’re offering capsule commentary on THREE games that had so much going for it but failed to make the grade for us. You make your own decisions but remember: you’ve been warned!]

ANNO 1503 (Kosmos, 2-4 players, ages 11 and up, about an hour; about $45)

 

This seemed like a dream title. Klaus Teuber who gave us the classic The Settlers of Catan (Fall 1996 GA REPORT) was going to combine that great game with the exploration aspects of his Entdecker. Now, players would not only colonize an island but explore the waters around it. Brilliant, yes? Brilliant no! The game evolved into a four player solitaire. No matter what you do, you have NO effect on your opponents. Whatever your opponents do, they have NO effect on you! From playing the game, you got the feeling that interaction was cut from the design to shorten playing time. That was the unkindest cut of all! Probably the biggest disappointment of the season. Playing with yourself was never less fun. RED FLAG!

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LOGISTICO (Cwali, 2-5 players, ages 11 and up about an hour; $39.95)

 

The premise of this game is picking up and delivering goods around islands. You deliver via truck, plane and/or ship. But the same player always goes first each turn, giving him an advantage that the rules don’t ameliorate. Delivery costs escalate as you attempt to store goods on your transports making your profits less and less.

Bonus cards, giving you extra profit for delivery to certain areas, are so poorly printed and in such small type that you almost need a magnifying glass to see your bonus areas. And, since the islands are fictional, any sense of geography you might have is of no help! The death knell: each player starts with a bankroll of 40. By game’s end, it’s not unusual for the winner to have LESS than what he started out with. All that work and nothing to show for it. Irony: the rules allow you to SELL your truck and ship for 3 each making it possible to end with a score of 46 after your FIRST turn – and win the game! This is a game that promised so much but, despite its premise, failed to deliver. RED FLAG!

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TERRA (Days of Wonder, 3-6 players, ages 8 and up, 20-40 minutes; $19.95)

 

This Bruno Faidutti design is a card game with an interesting premise. Players attempt to solve a variety of international crises as they happen by playing cards onto it as it first appears (dubbed an “impending” crisis). The first player to do so gets 3 points, the player playing the largest numbered card gets 3 points. So what does the player who ends the crisis get? NOTHING! So why do it? An unsolved crisis moves to the center of the table (and played cards on it are lost) where is becomes a “full-blown” crisis. Once in the center, the game can end – and EVERYONE loses – if 3 crises from ONE area of the world are there or 4 of the same color or any 7 in any combination. Now here is where you get the big points. Play a card on a “full- blown” crisis and you can “hoard” three cards (in a particular run or matching set) where they are worth face value in victory points. (Sure you get 5 points if you are the final player to place the last card on a full blown crisis. But put away three “5” cards into your hoard and you’ll score 15 points at game’s end.) Cooperation is the key but why cooperate? Where’s the incentive? If your opponent is hoarding cards and you’re not, you’re not going to win. You’ll better off having the world blow up! This game is allegedly done in partnership with the UN’s UNESCO branch. Add game design/sponsorship to the list of things the UN doesn’t do well. Terra? Terrible! RED FLAG!


Have feedback? We’d love to hear from you.


Winter 2004 GA Report Articles

 

Reviewed by K-ban ATTIKA (Hans im Glück/Rio Grande Games, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up; about 60 minutes; $32.95) Marcel-Andre’ Casasola Merkle is best known for authoring unique card games for German publisher Adlung. His 2 best Adlung designs, Verrater (see our Flashback this issue) and Meuterer, made novel use of a single deck of cards, as both played more like a board game costing ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy CHINA MOON (Eurogames/Descartes Editeur, 3-5 players, about 30 minutes, ages 12 and up; $19.95) It is a paradox often found in games from Europe that games offering critical thinking challenging for adults often come embodied with incredulous themes. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. Take, for instance, China Moon, the latest creation from Bruno Faidutti. As you might suspect from ...
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Raising the RED Flag Since our beginnings back in 1986, we have always been on the lookout for the best games on the market. The idea has always been to spotlight those quality games so that our members could get the most out of their leisure time and money. Throughout the years, we've played, literally, THOUSANDS of games for thousands of days for tens of ...
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Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser FEURIO! (Edition Erlkönig, 3-4 players, ages 10 and up, 30 minutes; about $20) One of the joys of attending the Spiele Faire in Essen is discovering a game that flies under the radar. In other words, a game that is not being released by one of the major game manufacturers and isn’t receiving much fanfare, yet turns out to be ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy FISH EAT FISH (Out of the Box Games, 2-5 players, ages 8 to adult, 20-30 minutes; $19.99) Inspiration is found in many places. In Fish Eat Fish, Reiner Knizia takes a little bit of Sid Sackson's Focus (featured as our Game Classic this issue) and adds a twist or two to create something light and fluffy. Fish Eat Fish comes square ...
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[This issue features Attika, the new game by Marcel Casola Merkle. But this is not the first time Merkle's work has appeared in GA REPORT. Back in the Winter 1999 issue, we uncovered a wonderfully intricate CARD game that had all the heft of a boardgame. Here, from that issue, is a FLASHBACK to that game: Verrater.] VERRÄTER (Adlung Spiele, 3-4 players, ages 12 and ...
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[In this issue, we feature Industria, the latest creation by Michael Schacht who first appeared in our pages with his Web of Power game four years ago! Here, from our Summer 2000 issue, is our look at that classic game of political power in Europe, as seen by Kban] WEB OF POWER (Rio Grande Games, 3-5 players, ages 12 and up, 30-45 minutes; out of ...
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[Once again, it's time to revisit great games that are, alas, no longer with us. In the past installments of our Game Classics series, we have featured an incredible assortment of brilliant designs: Astron, Bantu, Broker, Can't Stop, Daytona 500, Holiday, Kimbo, Mr. President, Ploy, Rich Uncle, Square Mile, Stock Market Game (by Gabriel), Summit, Troque/Troke and Wildcatter. This time around, we focus our attention ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy INDUSTRIA (Queen Games/Uberplay, 3-4 players, ages 10 and up, about 1 hour; about $30) Michael Schacht, best known for Web of Power (Summer 2000 GA REPORT) where he delved into political growth and expansion, turns to exploring industrial growth and expansion in his new offering: Industria. Industria comes with a mounted gameboard, 60 industry tiles, 4 sets of color coded markers, ...
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Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser PRINCES OF THE RENAISSANCE (Warfrog, 3-6 players, about 2 hours; $44.95) Martin Wallace is gradually becoming one of my favorite designers … but this took a bit of time. I wasn’t overly enthused by his earlier creations, but his previous two designs released under the Warfrog label – Liberté and Age of Steam (Winter 2003 GA REPORT) – are outstanding ...
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[In the first installment of our new feature, we're offering capsule commentary on THREE games that had so much going for it but failed to make the grade for us. You make your own decisions but remember: you've been warned!] ANNO 1503 (Kosmos, 2-4 players, ages 11 and up, about an hour; about $45) This seemed like a dream title. Klaus Teuber who gave us ...
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In this issue, we welcome Larry Levy. Larry's gaming experience is extensive. Larry was wondering if the world was ready for TWO Levys. The only response is to quote from Mae West: "Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!". Larry writes: "I've been entranced with games of all sorts for most of my life. However, when I discovered the world of German gaming ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Parker Brothers, 2 or more players or team, ages 13 and up, about 45 minutes; Disc 1, 2, 3 and 4; $19.99 each) Success breeds success. Think about TV series like Law and Order and CSI and the flood of spin-offs that flowed from those sources. In gaming, a recent big success was the marriage of movies, DVDs and game play ...
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