Board Game Capsule Reviews: Pre-Origins Plate-Clearing

Today I’m talking about a few board games whose only connection is that I’ve first tried them at Origins, and had the chance to play them more since, but haven’t yet written an official review. With the Origins convention happening again later this week, it seems like a good time to catch up on these.


20th Century box

20th Century

20th Century

20th Century intrigued me right away: A complex engine-building game whose driving design goal seemed to be to include as many types of auctions as possible. Despite that, though, it’s become obvious that this isn’t an “auction game”. Normally, all the bidding would act as an equalizer, guaranteeing that no one would be able to grab a resource for less than anyone else was willing to pay. Here, though, it’s common for people to get blocked out of auctions when they would have been happy to outbid someone else. This happens mostly because players can choose when they drop out of a round. The rewards for doing this early make dropping out into its own auction, but that means that the player will miss out on later bids, and the items might go way too cheaply.

Instead, the draw of 20th Century is the system you’re building. Everyone makes their own tile-based kingdom of cities, railroads, and, if they aren’t careful, pollution. It’s fun, but it does get repetitive. Despite the elements that are supposed to vary from game to game, they started feeling the same to me quickly. This is a fun one to try, but its best if you’re the type of person who intends to sample a bunch of games without playing them over and over.

Grade: C+


FITS box

FITS

FITS

This Tetris-inspired game ended up living up to its potential: It’s fun and accessible for non-gamers, but interesting for more serious gamers as well. Admittedly, it gets a little repetitive. About half the time I feel bored with it before its four rounds are over. The games are always interesting at the start, though, especially if there are new players to get excited over the possibilities of the system. It is fun as long as it only reaches the table occasionally.

Grade: B


GOSU cover

GOSU

GOSU

I got to play this only once more, so I still don’t feel ready to review it. However, I definitely have more context to add to my initial impressions: Based on two three-player games, I thought the system seemed interesting, but the strategy was lost in the chaos. Since then, I’ve tried it again with four players, and it was exactly the same. It was long, unpredictable, and while there are supposed to be strategic reasons to drop out of a round early, anyone who did so always had to sit out a for long time while the situation on the board completely changed. Also, this made three games in a row in which someone won using a special victory condition on a card that someone else had played!

One of the people with me was a big fan of the game, but he was shocked by the way this one played out. Apparently, it was the first time he had tried it with more than two players. I can see how that would make a difference. Having only one opponent would cut out most of the chaos, and would also mean that when you’re ready to end the round, the other person probably is as well. So at this point, I feel confident saying that Gosu is a complete mess with more than two players. However, it was designed with two players in mind, and it seems to be completely different like that. I’ll withhold judgment until I get to try it the “real” way.


Box images are from Board Game Geek. Follow the links on the images for details and photographer credits.

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