Classico Games – El Grande, Hanabi Deluxe and Robinson Crusoe
Jon Bruton’s collection is nothing short of glorious, of course I mean his board gaming collection. The down side is that it can sometimes take 10-15 minutes to actually agree on a game. Often, the look or theme of an older game is disagreeable, it is Jon’s insistence and persistence that mostly pays off. With 30 plus years of experience in board gaming, he generally gets it right. So off slid El Grande from the shelf with his consummate knowledge that is was indeed a classic. And he was right.
I had never played El Grande and cannot wait to play it again. There are some games that can be termed “bitchy” and are “bitchy” for the sake of being “bitchy”. El Grande is a game of stitching people up, but only in doing so to keep their points tally in check. It does not feel that you are being picked on for the sake of it, it simply must be done and it feels right to be stabbed in the back. Beware those that think they have a healthy lead. It will not last for long.
El Grande is a fairly simple game of cube (your caballeros) placement in various provinces on the board to gain points. Each province scores a variety of points for 1st/2nd/3rd and the person with the most points at the end of 9 rounds wins the game. Simple! Nah. Now mix in the “King” and Special action cards of varying degrees of powerful moves, which you have to bid on each turn and which dictate how many caballeros you can place the board, brews up to a superb game mechanic.
This game ebbed, flowed and changed in so many different ways as players were stitched, bashed and generally pegged back. The winner was also in doubt until the finally tally, but we were in shock and awe to realise that we had all beaten Jon into last place. Trust me, that is a very rare occurrence. So just for prosperity, Jon is red…. I was blue. The moral of the story, never say no if a master boardgamer says it’s Classico!
A glorious 7.5/10 for me and surely a campaign for a reprint!
A Game that Sparks in the Dark…Hannabi!!
Tuesday and cometh the second instalment at Jon’s for the week. Would another Classico from the dusty past emerge. Actually no, but in my opinion two modern games, which will become classics. Hannabi is one of the best starter games on the market today (check out The Dice Towers youtube review of Hannabi here). It’s a game that when you first look at it you may think…. “really….” It’s a co-op game, where you all are trying to lay down sequential cards to depict a range of firework displays. Here is the twist. No player can see their own hand. You have to provide clues to players in order for them play or discard the correct card. Sounds easy. Not in reality, there are only a limited amount of clue tokens and a limited amount of turns. So when Jon produced his beautiful wooden deluxe set (not yet available in the UK), with domino pieces rather than cards, it had to be played. We did badly, but as ever it was fun, fun, fun.
As a starter game Hanabi always gets a 7.5/10. Classic
Not just Another Co-op Game…Survival of the Fittest!!
Another co-op game then emerged, Robinson Crusoe : Adventure on the Cursed Island. I must admit, I had been looking forward to playing this for a while. It is a game of growing reputation. A co-op game of survival on a desert island.
Each player has a specialist character with a specialist skill e.g. Cook, Explorer, Soldier etc. The game is split over a set period of turns and the island generally gets tougher, as the game progresses with weather and storms etc. Each game can be played to a particular pre-set scenario that needs to be completed. Ours was to build a massive bonfire/beacon to enable a rescue from the Island.
We succeeded, but not without our trials and later to discover that we used some of tools we created multiple times on a turn, rather than just the once. Robinson Crusoe is a tough and challenging game. It oozes atmosphere and truly punishes you, if you do not collaborate and pool your collective resources. When the weather started to hit, you really appreciate why you “starved” for a turn to build that shelter. Mechanically this game is superb and very challenging with a very high scope for replay-ability. However, what also gives this game the edge is that it really good fun. It is very atmospheric and with player’s specialised skills, it creates imagination and banter.
We uncovered/found a consiquator helm that protected every one of us during an attack, jokes abound that all four would be walking around with this giant helm! Adam was our “soldier” and was sent in the jungle to hunt and would also come back, alive with his kill, but battered, bruised and mauled. We envisaged and discussed stripping the animals we killed and utilising everything from the carcass, except someone piped up with their foreskins! However these were used to adorn the helm as trophies to signify our skills, the picture of this mounted on the “Soldier’s” wall when he return home had us in giggles.
Robinson flies high for me with a 8/10.
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By Day - Director of online Games and Toy Store Gamesquest. By Night - Father to two girls and husband to one wife! Board Gamer, Blogger and general dogsbody!