Part 1 of this article can be found here
Camel Up - eggertspiele
I’ve never watched the Grand National on TV, and I wouldn’t recommend it for it makes for quite dull viewing. To summarise; forty odd horses go forward until one of them goes more forward than the rest. Meh. If it were more like Camel Up though, I would change my mind. I’d enjoy watching horses carrying horses upon horses, all moving based on the rolls of enormous dice that fall out of a giant pyramid, while a cast of slightly stereotyped characters make frantic bidding as to who they thought would win and who would lose.
It’s a betting game, pure and simple, where you’ll constantly agonise over whether to take a lower payout now but give others more information to play with, or take a punt with a bet that could pay out big. There is also a logical, tactical side to it, as you work out who can or can’t possibly win by where the camels are placed (they can stack up and carry each other forwards) and affect the outcomes through clever placement of tiles, but ultimately it’s a distracting, luck based, fun experience which will teach you that gambling is wrong, but so much fun and addictive when you win. (Note: Probably not suitable for kids)
Colt Express - Ludonaute
The Wild West. Gun toting thieves. A speeding train. Fighting. Looting. And a mean ole Sheriff. All of these and a three-dimensional moveable train are included in the fantastically fun game Colt Express. That’s right, an ACTUAL MOVEABLE train!!! I feel like you’re not excited enough about this, hence my use of caps lock and three exclamation marks.
Awesome components aside, this is very much a programming game to get people into programming games. Each player has a limited amount of actions per turn in order to move their character around the train and steal loot, while avoiding the punches and bullets of their rivals as well as the aforementioned Sheriff, which can cause you to lose your valuables and clog up your hand with useless cards making life aboard the speeding train very difficult indeed. Add to this several rounds where each play is slightly different (“Oh, you can’t see where your opponent went after you’ve chased him up onto the roof of the train? Too bad!”) and some specific character abilities and you’ve got yourself a hour of pure non-esoteric fun. Just watch out for those tunnels OK?
Geistes Blitz (a.k.a Ghost Blitz) - Zoch Verlag
Five objects lie on the table in front of you. A grey mouse. A blue book. A green bottle. A red chair. A white ghost. A card is flipped over, showing a red mouse and a green ghost. You grab the book, because neither the book or the colour blue are represented in this picture, and you win the card. The next card is flipped over. You see a grey book and a red chair on it. You reach for the chair. Why? Because on the card the chair is the colour it’s supposed to be. That’s how it works. When the next card is revealed, before you’ve even worked out that it’s the ghost, your opponent has already grabbed it. How the hell did they figure it out so quickly? You’re definitely going to get the next one right, but as it’s turned over you grab the ghost, but you realise too late that you were meant to grab the book instead. You give up one of your cards and hang your head in shame. This bloody game!
I’m telling you, I’m not doing this game justice through this medium. It’s something wonderful, and I urge you to play it. Picking a reaction game with a tricky mechanic might seem risky, but ultimately it’s had such a high success rate with my friends I don’t even think it’s valid concern. The moment you ‘get’ it you are hooked. There are more difficult variations involving shouting out answers, and then you learn that there are two sequels to it that up the ante even further with their crazy rules involving reflections in mirrors and a clock. If like a dirty drug dealer you can push this into your friends hands, you might just find yourself a new gaming addict.
And that’s that. As a game guru I will often refer customers to try these games if they aren’t really comfortable with the classics, and the results have almost always been positive. If you have a suggestion of your own, feel free to comment below with why it would be a great choice. At the very least I hope I’ve given you some new ideas on this classic dilemma. In the meantime, play on, friends, play on!
By Russell Chapman