Sunday, March 30, 2008

March Game of the Month

This wasn't a bad month for gaming - 38 plays of stuff so far (23 different games, 8 new to me). There wasn't one game that was always at the front of my thinking really, so this month's game is one that was on my list of games to acquire for a long time - Himalaya. Himalaya is a game that melds a large number of different mechanics - pick-up-and-deliver, majority control, and programmed movements. The board has 20 different stops, each with 2-3 paths connecting out to other stops. Each path is one of three types, which allows you to program your moves by simply indicating which type of path you want your caravan to follow. You may also (instead of moving), pick up a good, or deliver goods indicated by an order token. Delivering goods allows a player to increase their majorities in religion, politics, or yaks (money). At the end of the game, the player with the lowest religious power is out. Then the player with the least political power is out, then the player left that is richest wins the game. Yes, there is some luck in the goods that come out and the orders that are available, however there is also the whole - "trying to guess what the other guys are trying to do" thing. The game plays up to 6 (I have the expansion as well), though I only played it with 4 players so far. I think with 5 or 6, things would be a bit more chaotic, but I think with 4, its too easy for one or two people to "sneak off" while the other 2-3 screw each other over. This was a pretty good game. And while its not an every week kind of deal, it was good for a few laughs as you watched one player "follow" another and miss the boat or count on a player to do something and cry out as neither did as intended. This game is fairly highly sought after (it took me a long time to track down), as it was only printed in Europe by Tilsit. not only that, but the expansion is expensive (relatively speaking). I'm glad I found a copy as its theme and system is definitely unique enough to earn a solid place in my collection.
As I mentioned, a number of other games could have taken this spot this month. Escalation was fun and would get play in my family, Pandemic was a solid and fun co-op game, Mykerinos got some good play thanks to MaBiWeb, and my wife liked Qwirkle a lot (so did I). In the end though, Himalaya just edge these guys out.


sourwyrm said...

i agree that it's a solid game -- we'll have to give Merchants of Venus a try, and see how this compares (you'll probably like Himalaya more since you're charmed by the more Euro-Blah types)

Matthew Frederick said...

I played it with four several times at the Gathering a couple of years ago and really fell for it. I totally dig programmed movement, and it utterly kicks Robo Rally's ass in that arena, for me. RR is just way too long, and the decisions aren't as interesting as in Himalaya.

Are there other programmed movement games I should try, that you know of?