Games - February 18, 2003

We played Rail Baron again this weekend. I lost again, now 0 for adulthood. Our 9 year old son won, again. I got off to a very slow start and actually thought I'd be eliminated before the endgame when Wes snatched the last of the big 3 railroads (ATSF) from me just before I could buy it. But I made a bit of a comeback later and actually entertained thoughts of winning when I got up around $150,000. But he creamed us by about $50,000 and delayed his declaration for his 'home run' until he was in Los Angeles and needed to get back to Oakland. It was great fun, but it does disturb me that I've never tried to throw a game and still haven't won.

I would also like to comment on the Harry Potter Quidditch Card Game. We recently got a second copy of this game as a gift and I noticed it while digging up Rail Baron. The Quidditch Card Game is the worst game ever. Our oldest son still tries to play it because of the Harry Potter tie-in, but it's unworkable. It tries to be faithful to the 'real' Quidditch game, which is already pretty nonsensical and unimportant (except for the one player able to make the winning move). It works great in the books & movies, but not at all when there are real people on each team. So the card game takes that difficult situation and makes it infinitely worse. The rules make no sense. They're not too complicated - we have bookshelves full of great and often more complex games. They just don't work. Most of the game is spent wondering what to do next. And what do the rules say? Usually, nothing about what happens when particular cards are played. We tried to make a go of it, but it's just unsalvageable.

In contrast, the Harry Potter Mystery at Hogwarts game is a perfectly decent game. It's basically a Clue clone, with a few small rule variations. But it works. The Spider-Man vs The Green Goblin game also works. It's nothing great, but it has enough elements of luck and even simple strategy to qualify as a 'game' and our 6 year old son loves it. Licensed games are often more 'license' than 'game', but I think most of them are OK. There aren't many games I actively dislike, but the Quidditch Card Game is definitely an exception.

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Last Update: February 19, 2003

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