RogerBW's Blog

Thirsty Meeples September 2019 13 September 2019

Back to the boardgame café. With images; cc-by-sa on everything.

We planned ahead and dove into Sierra West, which is nominally a one-hour game… and I guess it could be, if you knew what you were doing, but we took more like two and a half, granted including setup and learning the rules.

It's… very much a modern Euro. There are a bunch of things you can do, each of which racks up a track which will eventually score you points. There are multipliers which make particular things the obvious course of action.

But there's also a great deal of randomness, which meant there was never much scope for planning. Some things need to get done by the end of the game if you're to have any hope of winning (get your wagon to the ×4 space, fill all your cabin spaces, flip all your animal tiles) and we all did them. But a turn consists of seeing what cards you've drawn (and therefore what you can do at all), picking from a fairly small number of options, and doing it. (Shades of Terraforming Mars.) Considering it as a worker-placement game, you only have two workers (two and a half in some cases), and it rarely seemed worth putting one out of contention from the main resource-gathering track in order to get various minor bonuses.

Taken as a mechanics exercise I suppose it's quite interesting, but I really like my games to have better thematic integration; there's nothing in here that says "settling the American West" more than "collecting colours and numbers". I didn't hate it, but if you offered me fifty quid to swear I'd never play it again I'd take the money without a second thought.

That took most of the evening, but we finished off with Timeline: Science and Discoveries, a set I don't think we've played before; mildly challenging and enjoyable as always. (Though I'm not sure what "The Invasion of Normandy" was doing in there…)

[Buy Sierra West at Amazon] [Buy Timeline: Science and Discoveries at Amazon] and help support the blog. ["As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases."]

  1. Posted by Dr Bob at 03:50pm on 13 September 2019

    Do people often offer you fifty quid to swear you'd never play a game again? How can I sign up for this? There are LOTS of games I'd never play again! :-)

    What do you actually DO in Timeline? (Apart from discover the Invasion of Normandy, obviously. Probably while on a marine biology field trip or something...)

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 03:58pm on 13 September 2019

    No, it just occurred to me as a step up from "I want never to play this again", which is a way I feel about some athematic Euros. It wasn't that far from my tastes.

    If you offered me twenty quid, I'd haver about it.

    Timeline in a nutshell: each card has an event printed on both sides (e.g. "the discovery of radium"), and a date printed only on one side. Your hand is date-side-down on the table, and you start with one card date-side-up in the middle. On your turn, you pick one of your cards, move it to the place in the middle where you think it fits (i.e. in date order), then flip it over. If it does fit, it stays there, lengthening the row in the middle and making the next placement more difficult; otherwise, it goes out of the game and you take another card. First to empty their hand wins.

    There are lots of sets with different themes, and they can be mixed and matched freely (well, except for Star Wars and such like where you're arranging events from the films in order).

  3. Posted by Dr Bob at 10:55am on 15 September 2019

    I think game review websites really, really need a "how much money would it take for me to never play this game again" category, as well as stars and comments! :-)

    Star Wars Timeline doesn't sound like much fun.

  4. Posted by RogerBW at 10:57am on 15 September 2019

    The end result of playing Star Wars Timeline (Original Trilogy Edition - of course there's a prequel trilogy one too) was that we all felt vaguely soiled. Especially the winner, which I have a horrible feeling may have been I.

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