Well, it is February so onto the new game I'd like to play - Senji. Senji is supposed to combine diplomacy, conquest, and economics mechanics into a 90 minute game. It is by Bruno Cathala and Serge Laget(Shadows over Camelot). A lot of the mechanics sound a lot like A Game of Thrones "lite", which to me is a good thing. Senji is about the waring states of Japan and trying to accumulate honor (VPs). Each round, whomever is in the lead "hosts the Emperor" which allows them to determine the play order for the round. Bash the leader? You bet, but not before they take advantage of it. Each round starts with 4 minutes of diplomatic time (via timer). You can make verbal agreements or "binding" agreements by trading cards (which represent your house/clan/family or other player's cards). Next, everyone places their orders (recruit troops, draw cards, or move) face down in their provinces. Then the player hosting the Emperor activates the provinces in whatever order they see fit. After the orders have been completed, players can turn in their economic cards in various sets (which earns points). Then rinse and repeat until someone scores the required number of points to win.
There are a couple of routes to victory, since you can score points for attacking (and defending) and you can score points economically (the cards represent trade) as well as for how you treat the other player's cards you are given. I like that there are multiple paths to victory, some amount of negotiation/bluffing that can take place and so forth. I'm also pretty sure that I will suck at this game and much like the bribery part that can take place in games where one guy is in control (Santigo), I think I'll suck at both influencing the person in charge and /or being the person in charge. Be that as it may, the lure of a 90 minute A Game of Thrones is hard to pass up.