I feel there ought to be some sort of fanfare as we approach the culmination of this year’s Golden Thingummy award, this time mere weeks after the beginning of the process (unlike last time!). So, in the red corner we have the delightfully devious deck-builder, Dominion, weighing in at an impressing 500-ish cards. And in the blue corner we have the rollocking and rambunctious Robo Rally, weighing in at six play boards, eight metal miniatures and a heap of cards and counters.
So, seconds out for the gold medal bout…
Our first game of the day was Dominion. Miss B selected the kingdom cards while I made tea. The tableau was layed out, we drew our initial hands and off we went.
This was again a pretty good game. I decided to experiment with just using a couple of kingdom cards (Bureaucrat and Remodel, if you are interested) though I did pick up a couple of other cards later to help cycle through the deck. Miss B was doing nicely largely with Throne Rooms and spies plus some other card drawing actions. Scoring was fairly even through most of the game until the last couple of rounds when I had some good draws while Miss B floundered a bit and I think the game was actually a lot closer than the 16 point gap would have suggested.
Miss B was a bit down over the final scores (our previous game had been much closer) and said it was a bad game this time even though she still thinks it is usually good.
The cards all sorted and put away we had a short break with drinks and snacks before getting our next game out.
I suggested we used two boards again for Robo Rally, which Miss B readily agreed with and chose the two we would use and fitted them together in the middle of the table. She also decided that this should be a three flag race in order to make the game a bit longer, so she set up the flags too (with me suggesting general vicinities for their location).
The game went reasonably well. I took a “pretty route”, partly because I fancied surfing conveyor belts and partly because of the cards I had. The rules we were playing were massively cut down: no lasers, no options and Miss B was allowed to program as many (or as few) register phases at a time as she liked, and could change them when the phase came up. To her credit, Miss B usually programmed at least four of the five phases each turn (wanting to reserve her last card until later) and quite often stuck to her choices — though there were a few panics and quick swaps of cards. She was doing well until she got snarled up in a corner somehow which meant that I won this game by a fair way too.
Here is Miss B’s assessment, typed by her own fair hands with a little advice over spelling: “Dominion was 10 out of 20 marks so was robo rally in this years competition but was not as good as last time 🙂 They both won the medal.what game do you think is going to win next year? Missb wrote this.”
So there we have it: the 2012 Golden Thingummy Award is a draw between Robo Rally and Dominion. I hadn’t expected that. Righto then, I expect we’ll try this again next year.
So, our next two contenders for this year’s award are, as I’m sure you remember, Robo Rally and Citadels. Once again two very different games. And first up…
Robo Rally is a great, chaotic game with a heap of players, but it’s just the two of us and Miss B and I have only previously played it once together. She is very much in love with the little robot miniatures, particularly Twonky, the one that looks like a walking TV set (a nice one, not a malicious one like Evil Edna). The game can be, however, pretty tricky even for adults due to the need to plan moves five steps ahead, which can lead to hilarious results when robots get in each other’s way. To make this manageable we didn’t use option cards or lasers and allowed Miss B to program each phase of the turn as it came up (with me programming all five phases as usual).
To Miss B’s credit, after the first few turns she started trying to program the full turn in the same way as I did. We agreed that she could change her programmed cards later if she needed to, but most of the time she didn’t, as it turned out. We also set up a pretty simple route across two boards which required a little interaction with conveyors but nothing too confusing (though I elected to surf around on conveyors to demonstrate how they worked and also to have more fun.
For my money, two-player Robo Rally with a lot of the juicy bits removed isn’t the most thrilling game ever, but it’s a bit of a giggle and as it happened we had the perfect close finish with us both reaching the finish line on the same register phase. Miss B’s thoughts on the game (transcribed from a bit of paper she wrote on): “I like it Becos it was very very very close.”
We have a lot more experience with playing Citadels and have a lot of fun with drafting the characters each turn (with two or three players you get two characters to use and this opens up all sorts of possibilities that aren’t really there in bigger games). So off we went…
We both had some good runs of play in this game, with Miss B managing to keep the crown through most of the game. She even managed to find a couple of ways to ensure she had plenty of district cards which meant that at the end she was able to start playing quite a few cards and complete the spread of different colours. Unfortunately I managed to end the game by getting an eighth district, probably only a turn before she would have done the same (judging by the cards she had in hand at the end). So the game was actually pretty close, even though the final score was rather less so.
By this time it was quite late in the day and Miss B wasn’t happy with the end of the game. She said she did still really like the game in general, but: “I was very Dicaponted with How it EnDeD.” (Again, she wrote this down for me.)
So which is the winner? My choice from these two would certainly be Citadels, but this time Miss B’s experience was better with Robo Rally, so that is the game that she has chosen to go forward to the final. Coming up soon, then, Robo Rally versus Dominion for this year’s Golden Thingummy Award…
You may remember that last summer Miss B and I selected a few games to play off against each other and see which one we liked best. By “we” I meant, of course, Miss B, who has the final vote in all things. I took a long time to write all this up but the eventual winner was the worthy Enchanted Forest.
Well, it is that time again and perhaps we will turn the Golden Thingummy Award into an annual thing. So here we go…
The selection procedure for the shortlist is that we make a big pile out of the games that we have played over the last year (the ones that we can play with just the two of us, anyway) and Miss B selects two of them. I then choose two more games that I think would be good contenders (based on the fun we have had with them plus a bit of my personal bias).
Miss B’s picks were…
Dominion. Miss B said, “I’m not sure why but I just like it.” I reckon this is a good, if slightly surprising choice. As long as we can keep the most disruptive cards (like the Witch) out of the game, we can have a lot of fun with this.
Robo Rally. Miss B said, “I like Twonky because I could make it out of a box.” A slightly random comment, but for those of you not in the know, Twonky is one of the robots in the game, and looks like a cute walking television (not at all like Evil Edna). I’m not sure this game is a strong one for us right now: we’ve played it once and it is a bit of a struggle, even with enormous concessions made to make it easier for Miss B. We’ll see.I was genuinely surprised that Miss B didn’t pick Sleeping Queens, which has been her go-to game for some time. But you know what I was saying about personal bias? Well, while I’m happy playing Sleeping Queens because it is a fairly decent game and Miss B loves it, I’ll never choose it myself. So, my picks were…
Carcassonne. We’ve not played this for a while, but it has always gone down well and is just a solid, fun game.
Citadels. A new one to us, but has already had a few plays and is becoming a firm favourite with a nice combination of ease of play and layered bluffing and psychology.
If I had a third pick it would probably have been Coloretto, which is just great.
So, that is our shortlist. We’ll be having two semi-final sessions where we will pick a pair of games to try together as a grand final. Updates will follow in the coming weeks…
I was reminded of Robo Rally recently and thought to myself that it’s a fun game that we should try playing sometime. Bleeding ambitious though, so this would take a little thought on the best way to approach playing with a 5-year-old in a not-completely-trivial way. I think we ended up with something pretty workable.
So, what we did was ignore lasers and option cards, and we chose what I figured was the most straightforward board (“Island”), with just two flags to visit on opposite edges of the board, so there was a route which avoided conveyors, etc. (though I chose to go via the conveyors to demonstrate what happened). We then, instead of programming the whole turn at once, worked through each register phase, choosing a card for each move as we went along. After a few turns I switched to setting up the five cards in advance, which made things a little more fun — and I’m kicking myself for not thinking of that at the beginning of the game.
All-in-all this setup seemed to work pretty well. Miss B needed a little help with getting the right and left rotations straight in her head but, to be fair, that’s the case with many adults too. She didn’t like the idea of the lasers and having damage, so I’m quite happy leaving that out for the time being. I think she enjoyed it as an unusual sort of race game but, for the moment at least, robots directly interfering with each other (via lasers, shoving, etc.) is not what she wants to see. Maybe we’ll introduce some of those elements later.
Oh, and painted miniature robots make for instant win, even though I still need to paint the bases on them. Maybe this is sufficient incentive for me to finally finish the job. Overall I think things went very well and I expect we’ll be playing again, though I have no idea how long it will be before we develop into doing the programming aspect of the game. It probably won’t be soon.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 5¼): “I liked it but it was tricky. I really liked the robots. I liked Twonky the best.”
The game: Robo Rally (Wizards of the Coast), 2 to 8 players aged 12+.