Black Death must have bored people to death + New Acquisitions in April 2017

                                                            

GADZOOKS!! A card game that is complete and there isn’t a Booster to buy for it. It is called PLAGUE & PESTILENCE It is a card game from the USA, made by the charmingly titled publisher, Hilary’s Toy Box. If my memory serves me right Hilary was the owner of a game-shop in New England and she had decided to make a game. What do you get for your money? A much larger plastic box than usual - about four times as high as a normal card game - with 140 cards, two death cubes, and a little rule book.

The theme of the game sold it to me. I love games set in the medieval days in Europe and this fitted the bill and threw in the Black Death as a bonus. When reading the rules however I felt more and more uneasy. This didn’t sound like it was going to be any good. On the contrary it sounded like it was going to be very bad. Yep! This was going to be tedious and more tedious. But I and my friends ventured on. Perhaps some ‘magic’ will happen.

The cards are admittedly quite beautiful to look at, assuming medieval-like copper-coloured pictures in black / white. Rather nice in fact and the publisher has gone to a lot of trouble to get illustrations that fitted the theme. Sometimes it is not much difference to one card or another. You have to look hard. The Population Cards are different to the game cards in that they are double-sided. Lose your population cards and you lose the game and must drop out whilst others continue until only one player is left. The so-called "death cubes" (6-sided dice) have a skull that replaces the 1 on a normal die. And that’s that, the skulls have no special rules in the game so two ordinary dice would still make the game perfectly playable. At the time when the game was published I happened to know my old friend Jim Koplow was selling such dice with an eye on role-players who might like them and Hilary probably purchased a ton of such dice to put into her game.

Well, after taking on all the rules, we were anxious to start. Players get a certain number of Population Cards and a hand of game cards. The undealt Population Cards are set aside. The undealt game cards are stacked face down to form a draw-pile. The game cards show in a corner either a rat, which promises bad luck, or a sun, which means good. In addition, each card clearly shows what effect it will have. They essentially will get you more points or less. Points in this case are reflected by the total of your population. Winner is the player who is the last to still have population points (cards). After playing a card you roll the ferocious death dice and check your throw against the table in the rules twice (once for each die) The result can be something bad against a fellow player who loses population perhaps or it could be something good for you (gaining points or gaining an advantage, such as a dice bonus). This is simply a matter of obeying the result, there is no strategy involved at all. The switching of Population cards becomes highly tedious to be honest. There is a second "phase" to the game, in which you will always lose points by dice instead of gaining them. This phase is triggered by the Death-Chess card, as soon as it is drawn from the draw-pile.

The many different cards named and described with detail and imagination, such as, for example, Fire, Drought, Pied Piper of Hamelin, etc., etc. - not to forget the plague, of course - have only one function: you, or others, lose or gain points (cards). The war cards do not help much: if you play one, two other players have to roll against each other and both lose. The winner of this war gets a little more favourable result, i.e. still loses populations but has less losses than the other guy.

Now you might think that I have not described subtle strategies but you would be wrong as there is no strategy. In fact, we decided that it was great to be knocked out of the game. Ah, heaven! That lucky player does not have to go on, he or she can move on to better games (note: nearly all other card games are better than this one). The cards are nice though so this game will still be bought by collectors. The cards have pointed corners, not rounded, so they are easily creased. Best to put them in plastic sleeves if you still intend playing the game. Instead of experiencing the Black Death in medieval Europe, the players will experience how Yawning Boredom spreads quicker than the Plague. Instead of dark glares as they are knocked out, our players showed serene joy on their faces because they were allowed to leave the game because of their total loss of population.

Give this one a miss unless you are a collector.

Now to the new games here in April 2017........ (Special Note: Some of these games are from a magazine called Spielboxchen. I'd never heard of it but it is made by the same publishers as Spielbox but it is aimed at parents of children and children themselves. It comes out once or twice a year and all the issues have a game insert).

Ehre der Samurai

Amigo

2002

Kuntenbunter Reim-Salat

Schmid

1960

Mission Luna

Spielboxchen Magazine

2009

Die heisse Schlacht am kalten Buffet

Ravensburger

1990

Hecht im Karpfenteich

Saller & Brunner Verlag

1990

Balance-Turm

Toys-for-all

2000

Mia and Me: Mia und ihre Freunde

Schmidt

2012

Halma

Klee

1980

Nichts wie raus Hier!

Spielboxchen Magazine

2008

4 gleich 10

Spielboxchen Magazine

2013

Sequenz

Spear-Spiele

1976

Lieber bairisch sterben

Moskito-Spiele

1988

Remember

Kids' Games

1995

Pasha

White Goblin Games

2013

Trau Dich

Spielboxchen Magazine

2007

We Will Wok You

Pegasus

2012

Alkohol

Miko

1988

 

Unser Hund

Bielefelder

1975

Biathlon

Spielboxchen Magazine

2009

Max und Moritz Leiterspiel

Klee

1970

Kunterbunter Reimsalat

FX Schmid

1980

Wer ist der Grösste?

Spielboxchen Magazine

2010

Kniffel

Schmidt

1970

 

Paku Paku

Ravensburger

2017

Wer war's?

Ravensburger for McDonald's

2015

Ringelreihen

Ravensburger

1990

Schlag auf Schlag

Schmid

1960

Versunkene Schätze

Spielboxchen Magazine

2012

Seeräuber-Spiel

Espenlaub

1990

Die Wilden Hühner und die Liebe

Kosmos

2007

 

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