The 2014 TaG Award: Game-off number 2
Now we reach the second game-off which, by a process of elimination, comprises Mutant Meeples versus Darjeeling. As these are potentially longer games (although neither is particularly long) than those in the first match-up, we had made sure that we had a whole afternoon available for play. Miss B came up with a system for deciding which game to play first, and soon we were setting up…
Mutant Meeples came first. This is a puzzle game, where everyone simultaneously tries to figure out how to move a super-powered meeple to a random location on a grid in the fewest possible moves. The problem is that each time you are successful you lose the ability to use the meeple that reached the target, meaning that as you move towards winning your options are reduced and the game gets hard for you. We have only played the game a few times so far. Miss B loves it, though the speed-solving aspect can make things very stressful and result in brief bouts of tears.
During this play I got an early lead, but having quickly lost the use of three meeples, Miss B started catching up. Actually, she is getting very good at solving puzzles using a single meeple, though really struggles to see how to work things out moving multiple meeples in a turn — something that is sometimes required. In the end, we were level pegging as the last puzzle was set and I won by a single point. Go me!
Then we moved onto our recently-acquired Darjeeling, a nice, fairly light set collection game with some nice twists as to how you collect the things you are collecting and what you do with them in the end. At first glance, Darjeeling looks fairly complicated for family play, but Miss B took to it almost instantly, and quickly got a pretty good handle on strategy. I really couldn’t be happier with this purchase (if you’re in the UK you may be able to find it at The Works, the book discounter).
Anyway, the game went quickly, with Miss B managing to get a good lead early on. The game has a system where, when you ship a load of tea, the shipment continues to provide you with victory points until enough other shipments have taken place. This means that if you manage to send off a consignment before other players are ready to follow, you can score quite a few points in the ensuing turns, or at least force the others to ship smaller loads than they were planning. Miss B took great advantage of this early on, but in the mid-game I managed to return the favour and ended up scoring a very narrow victory.
Despite our concerns that these games may take a while to play, each of them was complete in less than an hour and enjoyed them both. So it became time to vote.
I like both of these games, and probably slightly prefer Darjeeling, but on this occasion I figured we had a lot of fun with both, so I gave both of them a score of 8 out of 10, meaning that Miss B would be making the decision. She decided that Darjeeling was good and worth 8 points, but Mutant Meeples was worth 9. She entered all the data onto her bits of paper and announced that, with a total score of 17 out of 20, Mutant Meeples was the winner.
And so we now have two games for the grand final, which will be Gubs and Mutant Meeples. That should be a fun gaming session, so look out for the report soon.