Interesting games I’ve played recently:
Amun-Re From the designer of Ra, Medici, Tigris and Euphrates, and like a gazillion other games, comes another reprint of his classics. This game is another auction game, but after the auction you buy farmers, special power cards, and most importantly bricks. Because, enough bricks (3) means you make a pyramid in the region, and pyramids score points!
However, the cost for all these things escalates. The first brick/worker/card is just a coin. The second is 2 coins, the third 3 coins, etc. Hence, you can buy one brick for one dollar, but 4 bricks costs you ten bucks! Ditto with workers and special cards. You always want to buy things for a dollar (Robocop joke here). Or not, as left over money is not worth a lot in points. However, before you buy bricks, a territory for each player is auctioned off. Each territory has something special about it. One territory just pays out 8 bucks every turn. Some territories come with free bricks. Etc.
The other mechanism is the “offering phase.” Basically, all players can put secretly put money into a final pool… or “steal” 3 coins from it. At certain thresholds, the amount of money each work pays out goes up. Hence, if you have a lot of workers, you might want to offer high so as to get a bigger payout. Plus, there are bonuses for offering the most, namely bricks, cards, and workers. Finally, after 3 rounds, everyone loses their teritories and workers (but not cards), and the territories are auctioned off again in 3 rounds… now with pyramids already attached. There are certainly other things, but that is the gist of it. I really liked it, a classic Knizia game for a reason.
Anachony This worker placement Euro reminded me most of Manhattan project. There is a central board where spots are limited and competed for, but players can get their own personal buildings as well. The other mechanism is a time travel conceit. Essentially, at the start of every round players can use chits to request some resource from their future selves. In the interim this can cause problems. Players with more demand chits will have to roll a die and get paradoxes. Enough paradoxes and an anomaly forms taking up one of your personal building spots. Getting rid of them costs resources, and not getting rid of them costs VP. Of course, those original resources? Will eventually needed to be given back to your past selves. Sort of an interesting way to take a loan.
After only 1 playthrough, I am giving the game a thumbs down though, mostly for turn order mechanisms. Getting more buildings is critically important to build your engine. However, I spent most of the game 4th in turn order, which meant I could buy fewer buildings because the spots filled up. To move up in turn order, you need to go to a specific spot on the board that is only available after all spots for some specific actions are filled Think of it like a game of Stone Age where if all the middle board spots are filled, you can take another spot which gives you your choice of middle board actions and first player next turn. In theory the 4th player gets the best of that exchange, but if anyone “breaks pattern” and does something else instead, you are left with what’s left and first player gets their pick and is first player again.
Other than that, a lot of mechanisms which felt “point salad” to me and not tightly integrated. It was not an actively bad game, but not one I will look to play again.
If you haven’t played this, you owe it to yourself to play it. Every turn you make an investment, which is taking a card from a market and a cardboard point chevron to go with it. However, that investment? It’s a one time payout. For the rest of the game, you will have to pay the interest on the investment every 3 to 5 rounds. The only way to stay ahead, of course, is to make more investments. Meanwhile, players can attempt to buy point chevrons from each other, but if the price is to low the solicited player can buy your chevron by matching the price.
The “truth” in the theme, the tension of knowing you are going to go bankrupt and all that really matters is that some one else goes bankrupt first while you are holding a bunch of points, and the dread you feel when some hands you an envelope and says “offer.” These are some of my favorite things.