Board Game Roundup #2
Treasure Island, Archipelago, Concordia
By MARK WILSON
Board Game Roundups are where I discuss games I’ve been playing recently. These aren’t full reviews, and are often first impressions of a game or only focused on a particular mechanic or idea. However, some are old standbys and are brief reminders of why I continue to love them.
Best Recent “New to Me” Game: Treasure Island
In this recent release, one player is Long John Silver and has hidden a treasure on an island. The other players are searching for it. Long John uses a mixture of true and false clues to try to keep players guessing until he/she escapes from their prison (after a certain number of rounds) and can race for the treasure alongside players. There are various special abilities and one-time use powers to change things up as well.
This is a very tactile game, involving drawing on the erasable board (and on your own, hidden erasable board with information only you have). It plays out like a very haphazard spatial logic puzzle. In my first play, a fellow player stumbled onto the treasure early (albeit after correctly interpreting a couple clues). In the second play, the game went about as long as possible, with Long John escaping and being one turn from winning, but not actually winning, since I figured it out in the 11th hour and took the win.
The board itself is the only issue; certain marker colors it comes with will NOT show up well on the board(s), and there are a lot of barely-visible elements (since there are a lot of visuals to cram into the map). A forgivable flaw, though, since I enjoy the premise.
Most Recent “New to Me” Game: Archipelago
A really unique game, not because of any single mechanic, but because of the confluence of several mechanics. I quite liked its subtle balance of having to work together to prevent disaster, but also trying to end with the most points. My big gripe is with the ending; despite the fact that I won, it felt abrupt and arbitrary. Since you never know all the victory conditions ( just your own and the public condition), the scoring felt random. You can mitigate the randomness somewhat, but given the limited number of turns you’ll have in any length of game, it’s a bit of a guessing game. I think this keeps it from being a favorite for me, though I’d happily play again.
Best of the Best (from my personal top games): Concordia
Concordia is a thoroughly a Euro-style game with no direct conflict, but there’s always tension between your decisions and those of other players. I also struggle to describe, but greatly appreciate, when the mechanics seem to flow seamlessly together into the experience. Playing Concordia feels…effortless? I don’t know the best adjective for it. But I love it.