Beyond Monopoly

Posted by barb on Oct 3, 2003 in Games |

We had tried signing up for the September 18 section of this class, but were moved to the September 25 section. Then Isabel came through DC, and disrupted the September 18 class, and ultimately caused our section to be moved to today.

Totally worth the wait!

The class introduced us to board games designed for adults. Especially those types of games that require strategy over luck to win. We started by playing “Through the Desert,” a German game in which you try to build up caravans. You earn points during game play by taking over water holes and reaching oases. Once game play has ended, you also earn points by having the longest caravan of various colors. The game was quite engaging, and I found that I wanted to pay attention to what everyone was doing, rather than just being interested when my turn came around. I think Andrew and I will end up buying this game soon.

The second game we played was “Trans America”, which is a railroad building game. Each round, you have a set of cities, one each from the south, east, midwest, west and central US, which you need to connect with railroad. I don’t think either Andrew or I found this game as engaging as “Through the Desert”, though still far more interesting than other chance-based games.

The final game was “Wooly Bully”. In this game you lay down tiles with town, pasture and/or forest (and sheep) to enclose the largest number of your sheep as possible (in one enclosure — I missed this point, so totally missed the point of the game). This one was also fun, and the teacher mentioned that it can be quite fun with just two players (the other games wouldn’t be as good for two players). I think I liked this one more than “Trans America”, though “Through the Desert” was my favorite of the evening.

Most of these-type games come from Europe. American games tend to be more in the category of luck or party games. This can make these more engaging board games hard to find in American game shops. A good web site to find these types of games is Fun Again. Some games to look for are those that have won the “Spiel des Jahres”, Germany’s Game of the Year award or Deutscher SpielePreis. The Germany award tends to be more family-oriented while the Deutscher award tends to be more strategy games, though for many years the same game has won both awards.

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