My mother (AKA Grandma) came over to our house for her weekly Saturday gaming session this morning. While I was fixing us some drinks we were joined by my seven year old daughter (AKA Maddie) who started rummaging around our game cabinet and pulled out Enchanted Forest for us to play.
Enchanted Forest is a roll-and-move memory game where the object is to be the first to locate three special items to claim the kingdom. A deck of cards representing the objects is shuffled and placed on the castle space. The top card is turned face up and this is the object everyone is looking for.
Under each plastic tree is a picture of one of the special items. You roll two six-sided dice and move using each die separately. For example, if you roll a six and a four you can move six forward and four backwards or combine the scores to move a longer way in one direction. As you are moving around forest trails with lots of junctions, being able to split movement like this is very helpful. Once you land in the space adjacent to a tree you may look under the tree to see what item is hidden beneath it without letting the other players see.
If you roll doubles on the dice you get to use magic. Options for magic include changing the top card on the deck, moving closer to the castle, or moving to any unoccupied tree space. Once you have located the item that matches the face-up card you move to the castle to make your guess of where the item is. If you guess correctly you get to keep the item card and a new item card is turned over. If you guess incorrectly you are sent back to the starting village space on the other side of the board.
My strategy was to move around the board until I'd located about half of the available items and then race to the castle. At that point I didn't know where the item on the card was but hoped that either Maddie or Grandma would use magic at some point to change the top card to hinder me. Luckily for me they did, and the new card was one which I knew where it was located.
I was able to stay at the castle for two turns and chose successfully twice. After that I had to head back into the forest for more exploring. I did go on to win the game with 3 cards, Grandma came 2nd with 1 card and Maddie came third with 0 cards. This is a great game with fun elements of memory and bluff.
Next up I chose Poison. This is a card game where players are dealt hands of cards of three differently coloured potions of varying strength (red, blue and purple in values of 1, 2, 4, 5 & 7) and poison potions (green of value 4). Three large cauldron boards are placed in the middle and it is on to these boards the cards are played one at a time in clockwise order. Once a coloured card is played on to a board no other colours may be played on that particular cauldron board. However, poison cards may be played on any board. As soon as a card is played that takes the value of the cards on the cauldron over 13 then the player who played the card takes all the cards on the cauldron, leaving the card they played as the sole remaining card on the cauldron.
The game is played over as many rounds as there are players. At the end of a round the cards you have taken are scored. Now, the aim of the game is the be the person with the least points. If you have the most cards of all players in a particular colour then that colour is not scored against you. Otherwise you score one point for every card you have. Poison cards are worth two points. I quite enjoy this game and it's sad that this is the only play so far this year. Grandma took the win with 9 points, I came 2nd with 11 points, and Maddie (who took a while to understand the strategy) came 3rd with 25 points.
Maddie then decided to do something else so that left Grandma and I looking for a two-player game. I chose The Downfall of Pompeii. This is a game which has as its theme the destruction of the Roman city of Pompeii in AD79. The game is played in two phases. In the first phase players populate the city with their people which are represented by little coloured wooded columns. I was black and Grandma was red. The second half of the game is triggered by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and is where players then try to exit their people to safety through one of the many city gates. You score one point for every one of your pieces which exits the city.
The strategy of the first phase is obviously to try to get your people in the prime real estate close to the city gates. Being able to do this is determined by what cards you are dealt. Each card represents a building and you have four cards in your hand at any one time. Play a card and place one of your people into that building then redraw back to four cards.
The deck of cards is specially constructed at the start of the game and is randomly seeded with Omen cards and two AD79 cards. The way the deck is constructed the Omen and AD79 cards will appear at roughly certain times. The Omen cards allow you choose an opponent's piece and throw it into the 3D volcano on the board. The AD79 cards trigger the phases in the game.
Anyway, the second phase is probably the more interesting phase. This is when the lava starts to flow and you get to place lava tiles on parts of the city. What's really amusing is when you have the opportunity to place a lava tile on a space that is filled with your opponent's pieces. Into the volcano they go! It's also fun to block off city gates that your opponent's people are trying to exit from. As with any good European game your actions are limited and although you want to move all of your people each turn you may only choose two. You can almost hear the screams of fear and panic from your little wooden pieces as they flee through the city to the various gates while ash falls from the sky. Fun times :) . I went on to take the win with 15 points while Grandma came 2nd with 9 points.