Sadly the new Frank Nestel game disappoints on many levels. The quite head-bending placement rules for the animal cards (which are similar confusing at first as “Zoff im Zoo”) hide the fact that this is a pure “you-are-played” game, especially when played with more than 3 players. Before you can actually start to develop any card management strategy the rain cards end the game and everything is simply down to the luck of your card draw. There are also very few possibilities where you can actually “act” in this game, and while the other players ponder their move you simply sit there and correct their mistakes. I still give this game 5 points for some very nice drawings by Doris Matthäus, but it will be a disappointing experience for most gamers and too confusing for normalos. “Zoff im Zoo” remains the superior game, as there you actually are the player, not the played-one.
Alexander the Great
This looks like a wargame, but it ain't. In fact in this game players ALL represent the armies of Alexander, simply trying to get the best of the spoils of conquest. The rules are relatively simple but the game can be very fiddly, as after the secret cube placement is revealed your move can be calculated, which can take quite a long while when playing with uber-geeks. Still, there are no obvious faults with this game, and the mechanics themselves are logical and interesting, without being amazingly new. The map, large as it is, still creates a lot of fiddling around with your pawns that constantly hide the temple and city symbols. Interestingly only a small part of the map is ever used at one time. Not a game for the grognard but for the Euro gamer who wants some VERY light historic flair, but basically this could have been a game about many things. Still, a better than average game, as one would expect from Phalanx.
This is a very light tile-laying game that can be explained in under 5 minutes and played in 30. Basically you always have a choice of destroying the buildings of other players or furthering your own, although sometimes the choice can be made for you by the luck of your draw. Very tactical with 2 players, a luck-fest with 6, but still an enjoyable little game. The art is very good looking and the egyptian theme is well realized. Might be a very good game to play with children as well, for geeks it will work as a light filler game.
Emanuela Ornella doesn't disappoint with his new game – I actually liked it a bit more than Oltre Mare even, but that could be a matter of taste. Game mechanics are very clever (with some getting used to necessary), and the end result might also have to do a lot with the draw of the cards, but still this is a very interactive game (and the interaction is on several levels: auctioning, counter placement, competition for role cards). All these elements combine to form a complex whole that can at no moment be exactly pinned down (for example who is REALLY leading in VP's). Might be a bit dry for non-geeks, but gamers will have a lot of food for thought here.