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The 2013 Golden Game Award: The Final

September 5, 2013 Comments off

So, at last we come to the final stage of the 2013 Golden Game Awards. The remaining competitors are the fun kid’s game, Enuk, and the slightly cut down rail game, Empire Express, both of which were Miss B’s nominations at the first stage of the competition.

Just so you know what the competition is: Empire Express versus Enuk.

Just so you know what the competition is: Empire Express versus Enuk.

For the final we played Empire Express first. Having played this very recently, Miss B was instantly right in the swing of things and figuring out where she wanted to deliver goods. In Empire Express I generally help her by pointing out the locations and sources of goods that come up on demand cards and pretty much leave her to it apart from pointing out a neat route if she seems to be struggling. This seems to work well and the only trouble she really has with the game is when the crayons break due to her slightly rough handling of them. The manufacturer claims that the crayons are very special ones and that we shouldn’t use regular ones on the board (I know the quality of crayons can vary wildly, so this seems plausible to me), so it would be nice to get hold of a fresh supply of unbroken ones some time.

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The game gets into its late stages with Miss B running maple syrup to Pittsburgh to put her within striking range of victory, but can I get my imports to Chicago first?

This game took us about an hour, which surprised me as I was expecting longer. In our previous play, Miss B caught me napping and beat me into the ground, but this time it was much closer and I just managed to scrape a win, just scraping past the winning post the turn before Miss B would have gone screaming past it. High fives all round for a very close game.

Miss B’s thoughts: “There’s not many games around with crayons in. I think there should be more games around that have drawing in because I like having a bit of a sketch.”

Our game of Enuk was also pretty close. Certainly more so than our last game, during which I was pretty much served. Miss B made an excellent start, while I seemed to unerringly (and un-herringly) pick up a piece of igloo every time (which ends your turn). Still, I eventually managed to find the scoring animals and due to having to resort to the unsportsmanlike tactic of actually paying attention, I managed to catch up and squeeze in a narrow win again.

I forgot to take a photo until the end, so here we are, with the final round of guesswork based on the claimed igloo tiles...

I forgot to take a photo until the end, so here we are, with the final round of guesswork based on the claimed igloo tiles…

Enuk is definitely a game we play on an even footing, which makes it well worth having in the collection. As I said after our previous play, the game is growing on me and was definitely worth the few quid it cost us.

Miss B’s thoughts: “It’s really annoying when you get a really good set and they are all the same and then you get something that scares them all off and then you only get one thing. Apart from that I really like it.”

So, that is it for another year.  We had a lot of fun playing all four games, but in the end only one could be the winner.  Actually that is a lie as last year we had two joint winners.  But this year we definitely have just one, which is…

Drumroll…

Empire Express.

The winner does a lap of honour with Miss B.

The winner does a lap of honour with Miss B.

I got this game after someone recommended it to me on Board Game Geek after I asked for recommendations for train games that might work for Miss B and myself, and it turns out this was a very good pick.  We’ve had a few plays so far and once the current set up gets a bit old, there is an advanced way of playing in the rules which is more like the full crayon rail games where you don’t get the easy start that we have been using here.  All in all, I’m happier with this purchase than I thought I would be.  Thanks for the recommendation, whoever you were!

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Categories: TaG Awards Tags: , ,

The 2013 Golden Game Award: Game-Off Number 2

August 20, 2013 2 comments

The sun rises quietly over the peaceful valley, seemingly unaware of the advice of the recently late Elmore Leonard to never begin a book with weather. Or perhaps fully aware that this is a blog post, not a book. Either way, the peace is soon to be shattered as two titans manoeuvre for position in the epic battle that would echo throughout history and come to be known as the second game-off in the 2013 Golden Game Award.

The match-up of the century, two games that go together like peaches and Costello.

The match-up of the century, two games that go together like peaches and Costello.

At the head of the vast legions of imperial Rome stands Augustus, the first Emperor and commander of heaps of little red wooden legionaries (one of which has no head), which he will fearlessly deploy in order to control cards depicting senators and provinces within the Empire. They take position in the high ground overlooking…

…The endless ice flows occupied by enormous numbers of polar bears, seals and the dread shoals of herring, all being eagerly looked for by a little Eskimo boy named Enuk, who is waiting for his parents to build an igloo.

It seems an uneven match. After all, what hope do the legions have against polar bears? But one way or another, this ancient rivalry must end…

I must admit that since we got it, Enuk has actually grown on me.  It is just a game of turning over random tiles, occasionally remembering stuff, and a bit of push-your-luck where you never come out empty handed, but it plays smoothly and it’s just… charming, I suppose.  I’m glad it’s not a game we play all the time, but as kids’ games go it’s excellent and, to be fair, Miss B deserves to play kids’ games when she wants to.  This game was fun and was eventually won by Miss B, who awarded the game a score of 15 out of 20.

Augustus was nominated for this year’s Spiel des Jahres award and, I think, deservedly so as it is a fun, slick, family game which uses a mechanic (bingo) that we don’t see often, and uses it very cleverly.  Miss B definitely “gets” this game and competes well in it, though is yet to win.  She did a good job again this time, focussing on collecting a combination of senators which set my efforts back as well as scoring quite a lot of bonus points at the end.  I still somehow managed to win, though.  Miss B’s special scoring system resulted in a score of 14 out of 20 for Augustus.

After all that (which was a lot quicker than the first game-off), Miss B told me that, “Enuk is better because it’s a bit of a memory game and I like to get my brain working, whereas Augustus is just bingo with more movement and things like that.”  Yes, she actually used the word “whereas”.  I don’t know where she got that from.

So, our second finalist is Enuk.  Coming up soon, the final, between Enuk and Empire Express.  Stay tuned.

Categories: TaG Awards Tags: , ,

The 2013 Golden Game Award (formerly the Golden Thingummy): The Shortlist

August 15, 2013 2 comments

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while (or have rummaged around in the archives), you may be aware that for the last couple of years Miss B and I have given a notional award for some game that we think is good. So, in what is definitely now an annual tradition, I give you the opening salvo in the 2013 Golden Game Award.

If you would like to maintain a sense of suspense, please don't look at this picture until you have read the rest of the post.

If you would like to maintain a sense of suspense, please don’t look at this picture until you have read the rest of the post.

This is, of course, a change of name. As Miss B gets older and develops more sophisticated critical faculties, she seems to be developing a knack for spotting when I am talking absolute rubbish. As part of this she has decided that the Golden Thingummy is not a title suitable for such an auspicious endeavour as this (possibly not her exact words), so from now on we have a new, more sensible name.

The rules are this… We have a shortlist of four candidate games from those that we have played over the last year, two picked by Miss B and two picked by myself in a vain attempt to choose something that she might prefer to her own picks. The games, incidentally, must be ones for us to play with just the two of them, so Apples to Apples is off the cards. We then have two game-offs, playing one of her choices and one of mine back-to-back before discussing how the games went and getting Miss B to choose the one she preferred on the day. Then the two winning games go through to a grand final game-off to decide which will be awarded the prize of… Well, nothing, not even including prestige.

In 2011 the winner was Enchanted Forest, played with simplified rules.

In 2012 Miss B couldn’t decide an outright winner, so Dominion and Robo Rally (also with some rule concessions to make it viable for a 5-year-old) shared the honours.

This year the shortlist has been drawn up and, if you have seen the picture at the top of this post, you will already know what the selections were. I seriously suck at this suspense thing. But just for the sake of form…

Miss B’s choices were Empire Express and Enuk. Two more different games can hardly be imagined given the candidates, but they are both games that Miss B loves and Empire Express in particular doesn’t get played as often as we would like due to it taking a comparatively long time to play (the box says 60-90 minutes, which is probably about right for the two of us).

My choices were Augustus and Catan Junior, both of which are quick, fun and work some of those Euro-gaming muscles a little. Catan Junior is a great game to have in the collection and one which we have, in the past, pulled out when a friend of Miss B’s came for a play date.

So, over the next week or two I plan to post the gory details of our game-offs. Can you handle the suspense…?

Why do the herrings get scared off by the salmon?

January 28, 2013 Comments off

I picked up a game called Enuk at The Works just before Christmas. It is supposedly about a little Eskimo (that’s the term used in the game, even if it isn’t correct) boy helping his parents build an igloo while looking out for arctic wildlife. It looked cute and the reviews and ratings on The Geek weren’t bad for a kids’ game, so I picked it up.

Two polar bears and some herring... Do we risk another tile...?

Two bears and some herring… Do we risk another tile…?

This very much is a kids’ game. But what stops this from being a tile-matching memory game is a really neat little press-your-luck mechanic. You see, you turn over tiles and can keep turning over tiles until you choose to stop, you find a piece of the igloo, or animals start scaring each other off. Herring flee from salmon; salmon flee from seals, seals from polar bears and polar bears from reindeer accompanied by humans. So when you have turned over a few tiles you have to decide whether to claim those for your scoring stack, or turn over another and risk losing several tiles due to one of these fleeing issues. I really rather like that. And Miss B, after a little confusion for the first couple of times, got to really enjoy this aspect of the game.

Our first game was over remarkably quickly — when eight reindeer tiles have been drawn, the day ends and there is a special memory round for people who have managed to find bits of the igloo. So we had a second game, which used up pretty much all the tiles. Miss B won comfortably in both games.

I quite like this. The game is very random indeed, but due to it rewarding some memory, it is less so than most dice games, and that press-your-luck aspect makes the game feel rather more meaty than I had expected. It’s not enough that I would play this with an all-adult group, but it’s definitely a worthwhile purchase and Miss B is keen to play it again.

The verdict from Miss B (aged 6): “Really good because of the way things ran away from each other.”

The game: Enuk (Queen Kids), 2 to 5 players aged 5+.