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A winning streak, normal service and another good overlooked game

I am very much of the school that 'it's the taking part that counts', and if i was not then there would not really be a school to belong to. My game victories are not too frequent, and if my performance at boardgames were to be say , imagined into a cricket team i'd bat number nine and only be allowed to throw down my Chinamen when the opposition had already passed 400. Neverthless i love games, with a real prediliction for ones i am bad at, or at least do badly at.

However, last week i had a purple patch. I won a game of 'Tigris and Euphrates' (proof that if a monkey could play chess for a million years it might beat Kasparov) against a seasoned pro, i then won a game of 'Power Grid' on BrettSpielWelt against a field of 500+ gamers, accidently won a game of Innovation and then a game of 'Giants'. Thnking that a 30 year long bad patch had come to an end, i challened my wife to a game of 'World Without End' - and that's when normal service was resumed. Losing by six points i complimented her on her strategy, to which she replied that she did not have a strategy, had been thinking about work throughout the game and had, effectively played randomly. Hubris is an unatractive quality, and thanks to Donna for reminding me of my boardgamng place.

'Innovation', if you don't know already, is the new game by Carl Chudyk (of GLory to Rome fame). Gameplay feels a bit like Glory to Rome (via Race for the Galaxy) but the game is more of a brain burner and quite unforgiving. Not having a copy i am insanely jealous of the foresighted 120 who picked up the pre-production copies that were printed. I predict this will the gaming sensation of 2010 when it comes out later this summer

On to the overlooked game - it's Giants by Mategot. Until recently i was selling this game at £14.99 and i now regret not keeping a copy. It's very good. The first thing you notice about the game is the lavish production, it has an attractive board (depicting Easter island) and imposing looking Moais that you are erecting for VPs. One grumble is that the scuplts of the workers, Priests and Cheifs are different (usually a good thing) but here it just added a bit of cinfuion to the board, you can tell them apart by colour and base shape but I would have preferred them a little more uniform.

The game itself is a hybrid worker placement/Pick up and deliver game with a twist of auction. Each round you auction Moais (which must be sculpted by your workers thus using them), you then place workers, your chief or your sorcere on the board. The workers are placed to help move your (and other players) moais to the VP squares surrounding the Island, the sorceror can be used to get you more workers, auction tokens, logs or a headdress for the Moais (extra VPs if delivered). The Chief can act as a strong worker or as a Sorceror under certain conditions. Both the cheief and the Sorceror can be used to reserve a juicy VP square for your Moai.

After your tribe has been place don the board you take it in turn to move the Moais and headdresses. This is one of the most intereting partsof the game, as it requires more than one worker to shift the larger (more VPs) Moais and to do so you may have to use hexs on network created by another player. Because there is no restiction on the number of workers, or from which player, that may occopy a hex, then coopartion is very likely. And you get rewarded for doing so, if i were to use another players worker to help move a Moai then they will score VPs.

The Moais starton one side of the island and can ne movced to VP squares sourrounding the island. The biggest payoffs come at the far side of the island and the larger the Moai (they come in three sizes) the bigger the VP multiple. Headress for the Moais (neet little scuplts - some of which look like Tommy Cooper's fez) start at the oppositbe end of the Island to the Moais and the points scored for headresses are highest on the opposite side (nearest the where the Moais start)

There is a delicious tension in the game; do i go the large paying Moais which will take a few turns to get there or try and score quick points and possibly end the game (it fisnhs after a certain number of Moais are built, depending on the number of players)quickly? There is alos a tension between building up your tribe to help socre the big moais or gettng them on the board quickly.

The only critcism of the game is that there are not many paths to victory. Its about scoring Moais and helping others move them, and whilst this might be intersting for a few games it might not have much long term replayability. Which is probably why it ended up in the bargain bin, as an RRP of £45 for a game that you will only play 3 or 4 times is a bit steep. Nevertheless, if you can find a cheap copy i'd snap it up. I only wish i had when the were sitting on the shelf at £15.

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