Thursday, June 03, 2010

Atlanta Game Fest Wrap-Up Part 3

Welcome to the third and final part of my Atlanta Game Fest wrap-up! There are just a few more new games that I haven't covered yet, so let's tackle those first:

Hansa Teutonica - I don't think this has even been widely released in North America yet, but it seemed to be the big hit of AGF. It's a straight-up worker placement game, but the different things you can do through the placements are interesting and varied. There are several "tracks" on the player board that can be gradually unlocked to provide more options each turn (more actions or placement options, easier worker replenishment, etc.), which allows for several strategies for victory. I enjoyed the hell out of this game, and it's definitely on my short list for my next big game order. Rating: 8/10

Macao - The other hit of AGF, there must have been half a dozen copies of Macao present. It's a resource collection game with a rather unique planning element. Each turn dice are rolled to determine the available resources, and players must allocate them to an upcoming turn (for example, a blue four and a green two are available, which means you can have four blue resources four turns from now, or two green resources two turns from now). Players can use their resources in a variety of ways, buying and selling trade goods, jockeying for turn order, or investing in infrastructure to allow more resource flexibility. There are huge penalties for having no resources on a given turn, so there's a lot of forward-thinking strategy here. The game mechanics are all extremely innovative, and the only knock against it is that my first session seemed to take forever. Our four-player game lasted nearly four hours, which is a bit longer than I wanted to spend on this type of game. I definitely want to give it another shot; if we can get the playtime to a reasonable length, I can see this becoming a favorite with my group. Rating: 7/10

Forbidden Island - I picked this up shortly before the Game Fest started, so it wasn't completely new to me. Designed by Matt Leacock (who also created Pandemic), Forbidden Island shares many concepts and mechanics with its predecessor. It's a pure cooperative game, where players are attempting to recover four treasures from an island. Unfortunately, the island is sinking rapidly, and there isn't much time to recover the treasures and escape the island. The game takes some knocks as being "Pandemic-lite", and while the description is appropriate, Forbidden Island plays much more quickly and has a strong enough theme that it never feels same-y. If you're a Pandemic fan and want something similar that plays in half an hour, this is a very good option. Rating: 8/10

I also had the opportunity to playtest two unpublished prototypes created by Richard Launius, designer of Arkham Horror. I won't go into too many details, but one was a thrilling cooperative sci-fi themed survival game, while the other was a frantic dungeon escape where players tried to one-up each other without getting the entire group killed. Richard loves giving players unique, well-defined characters and tons of dice to roll, and these prototypes were no exception. Both were a lot of fun (though the co-op game was decidedly more polished), and I hope to see them in a game store soon.

Oh, and I did mention my acquisition at the AGF flea market, right?

It's a complete Arkham Horror set, including all six expansions. Not only is the entirety of the Arkham Horror universe included, but the set is pimped-out with custom dice bags, plastic containers for all of the counters, nice printed tuckboxes for all of the cards, and extra printouts of player aids and "cheat sheets". And naturally, since Richard Launius was present at the event, I just had to get him to sign it, right?

And at long last, I think it's finally time to conclude my coverage of Atlanta Game Fest 16. The event was a success in every conceivable way. I had the opportunity to try tons of new games, and more importantly, I made several new friends.

I'm sure AGF will stand as one of the highlights of 2010 for me, and I can't wait for the next one!


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