Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Anatomy of a Review: Description

And next comes probably my favorite challenge in a review.  The description.  Why is it a challenge?  Because I want it to be "about a paragraph".  Any longer and you might as well go read the rules.  I really like the idea of trying to squeeze the essence of what a game is about and how it works into a very small space.

What do I mention?

I try to mention the theme at least.  Maybe what the players are suppose to represent or do.

I try to mention what options a player will have on their turn, or what the major parts of a game round are.

I also mention how a player wins.  And if it's a VP game, then a quick summary of the major sources of VP.

I really despise reviews that are nothing but rules regurgitations.  I do not want to tell people about every little bit of the rules book.  If you want to know how to play a game, then go read the rules, not a review.

Here are some examples of my "Descriptions" in reviews:

Acquire - Acquire is a loose stock market simulation game. The players represent shrewd businessmen that invest in various hotel chains that appear on the board. The board consists of a grid of square spaces that are slowly filled in with tiles by the players. When two tiles are placed next to each other a hotel is formed. When two hotels are linked, they merge and become one.

Each player's turn consists of:

A. Playing a tile.
B. Purchasing up to 3 stocks.

The game ends when the board fills up and the player with the most money wins. The ways to earn money are:

A. Having your stocks increase in value (Adding tiles to their corresponding hotel).
B. Earning bonuses paid out to first and second majority holders during a merger.

Yspahan - Yspahan has a largely forgettable theme supplemented by cute camel meeples. They're not pastel sadly, but you can have lots of fun stacking cubes on their backs.

What Yspahan does have is an unforgettable use of dice. Each turn you role a bucket of dice. You put them on an action track grouped by pip count and in ascending pip count. Each space represents a unique action, and the more dice on the space the larger the benefit. Each player takes a group of dice and performs an action. Then a new day starts and the bucket of dice are rolled again.

What actions do you get to do?

1. Collect resources.
2. Place cubes in the market place.
3. Move cubes from the market to the caravan.

You can also build buildings and take cards that both let you break the rules.

You collect points from:

1. Building buildings
2. Having cubes in the market or the caravan
3. Cards that give bonuses

Race for the Galaxy - Race for the Galaxy (Race) is a card game about settling and developing your own Empire. You pay to add cards to your Empire from your hand by discarding other cards from your hand. The cards already in your Empire give you all sorts of abilities and bonuses conveyed by a wide array of iconography. Some cards represent worlds that can produce goods. These goods can be traded in for more cards or consumed for points.

Before each turn, all players simultaneously choose what phases they want to occur. The phases allow different actions such as drawing new cards, adding cards to your Empire, or producing and using goods. If any player chooses a particular phase, then all players get to perform the corresponding action, but those players who actually instigated the phase get a bonus.

Play continues until an Empire reaches a certain size or a certain number of points have been claimed by consumption of goods. The players then add up the points they have earned from:

1. The points listed on the cards in their Empires.
2. The points they have earned from consuming goods.
3. Certain large development cards give a conditional bonus based on other cards in your Empire.

Race for the Galaxy's Description is a little longer than I like.  But I didn't feel comfortable cutting more out of it.  And in reality, it's quite the complicated game.

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Behave. Your mamma could read this.