New Acquisitions: September 2015 + Asara, a game that might have 'limboed' under your radar

Only bad news in September. My arthritis is significantly worse and my Tournament Director at both my Bridge clubs has owned up to cheating. I am not angry, just disappointed. He is ranked 17th in the world although I suspect that his ranking will plummet in the next weeks. Sad, sad day. Now to happier things;

ASARA was designed by Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling (a sure sign of quality), You are an architect who is competing to build towers. In turn, this will gain you prestige and the highest prestige at the end will win the game. The game is played over 4 years (four rounds), during which you will be acquiring the pieces for your towers and assembling them.

The cards in the game are in a range of colours. By placing your cards on certain places on the board allows you to buy a tower tile. The tower tiles of the same colour can be used to start a building or increase a building’s height. An interesting feature is the mechanic of taking an action. Once a card has been played in one of the action spaces on the board, all subsequent cards played in that area have to follow the original card’s colour. Think of it as a variation of a rule in trick-taking game. Once a suit is led, other players must play in that suit to take advantage of that space. Your cards will open up some stratagems. You could, for example, place cards to use up spaces for other players or you could do it just to set a required colour that the other players must 'follow suit' (which, on a good day, they might not possess).  Not every action space provides tower tiles. You can earn cash, hire a spy, and you can claim to be the first player next round. Turn order is very important. Let’s say that you need a white roof and one does turn up. By going first you can snaffle that tile as your first action. Don’t over-look the money situation. It is much too important to do that. These non-building actions must also follow the rule that subsequent cards must be the same colour. On this point, a player can play any two cards face-down to represent any colour. That is very useful, but kind of expensive. Using two of your cards for just one action means you are, in effect, missing a turn.

At the end of the 4th year evaluation After the scoring part of the 4th round, there is one final scoring:

The players with the highest and second highest towers of each colour scores points. The points depend on the tower colour and are proportional to their cost. For example, the brown tower pays out 4 points to the highest player and 2 to the second highest, while the white tower pays out 12 points the highest player and 6 to the second highest.
A bonus score is given out for the players having the single highest tower and second highest tower overall, score 8 and 4 points respectively.
A bonus score is given out for the players with the largest number of towers and second largest number overall, 12 and 6 respectively.
And you get a bonus score of 1 point every 10 coins you have.

Asara is a wonderful game (dare I say a family game?). I do accept that it is light-weight as far as complicated rules go but don’t hold that against it. The rules are short and clear. The game flows like a good game should. There is no analysis-paralysis. The artwork is top-quality (by the ubiquitous Frank Vohwinkel) . There are some advanced rules and they do enhance the playing experience. Overall it gets an 8 out of 10 from me.

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