I am still emptying boxes at the new flat…. but gaming has resumed.
Budapest 1956: Days of Ire
We have been playing a lot of this game. So far I have only played the Russians but will eventually swap. It’s good. Very good. And the games have been getting better.
What we have is an excellent asymmetrical game system that would be of universal appeal were it not for the subject matter – the Hungarian revolution of 1956. The two sides are the Soviets – working with the Hungarian army – that need to contain and crush the revolution, and the Revolutionaries. Plural, because the side of uprising can be played cooperatively by up to four players. The two roles are very different. The Revolutionaries are tasked with a mission system, requiring trained fighters providing the right resources at the right time and in the right place. Too many missions remaining at game end, or low morale, can see an instant loss. Conversely they can win by taking out all the military. The Russians use these tanks and troops to kill the fighters, delay them, and lay missions using a Twilight Struggle style card system.
It all works really well. Not perfect because the Soviets get to control all the missions which is a bit back to front. The games have been going down to the wire, the game seems well balanced, and it is all over in a couple of hours tops. Recommended but many will find the theme offputting.
Sagrada was quite a hit at the recent Gathering and had sold out on arrival here in the UK. Copies are now appearing. The theme is building a stained glass window and, in fairness, it is true to that subject matter. Each player is given a different target design, there will be game specific victory conditions, and tools to help you through. None of this can disguise the fact that it is a puzzle, with shades of Sudoku and Take it Easy. The fact that I made three grave errors in my first game proves my incompetence at puzzles but I was not too far adrift. It is quick (30 mins), attractive, and I would happily play again.
Backpacks and Blisters
In the heady days of the early Nineties, we played anything The Ragnars produced. After History of the World we expected great things and everything was fine until 1500 Gold…. But Backpacks and Blisters was good. For the time it was outstanding, and I imagine had a good run in shops in the Lake District and beyond. Whether it was worth a re-issue 25 years later was tested at the recent Wednesday Night session.
And with a couple of exceptions, yeah, it’s fine. Not stellar, never was, but it is fun and clever. There is a real sense of heading out on a longish walk, getting tired and needing a bus home. It is multiplayer solitaire and could drag a little with a lot of players, but we had fun. I’ll admit to being surprised.
The concerns are the dated and redundant Heavy Backpack rule, which just got summarily dumped after three turns, and exactly what punishment the Ragnars and the graphic designer deserve. Virtually illegible text. Just the worst possible decision on font, colour, size and positioning for the locations. Which are frankly all you need to look at. Shocking.
Now we are talking. For the second time this month I have been excited. The first was finding Dropfleet in the local game store. The second was reading the rules for 1750 because I knew it was going to work.
The game is the 18th century global war between Britain and France, that most of us know as the Seven Years War. We have little focus on Europe, although all powers are represented, but more on the colonial conflicts in North America, the Caribbean, India and Africa. At heart it is a simple card wargame; in play it is quite brutal. Cards are tight. Money is tight. Chaos and Take That are strong. You will know by now if you’ll like it.
About the only negative is that the pacing is off. You are slow to start and then, as sometimes happens, the game is over before strategy unfolds. The designers know this and suggest a game of 14 turns rather than 10, which personally I would start with, together with all the advanced rules.
I am not saying this is Polis or W1815, yet, but 1750 is modern, well designed and definitely worth a look. I think it will improve with further plays and I intend to buy one, which says it all.
UK Games Expo
I haven’t been for a few years and having just moved house I was not expecting to make it this time. But plans have changed and I should be there for the Friday. Happy to meet up with anyone going along, but with 200 stands time may be tight. See you there. https://www.ukgamesexpo.co.uk/