Monday, July 15, 2013

Neue Heimat : Shoebox of a game. Literally...

Lots of sabotaging...
I first played this game very early on when I was heading to Meetups to meet new people and learn about this wonderful world of modern boardgaming. I believe I did not know what I was doing then and I was quite out of my league. Can't remember the scores then but I am pretty sure I sucked :P

I have been reading a lot of reviews about this and it seems to be a very cut throat style of game and I was eager to give it another go to see if it is. This is a light-medium weight game where the players will carry the game. How fun or how competitive the game is will depend quite a fair bit on the players. So it may sound like a party game (Because most party games are light hearted and dependant on players to make it all fun) but it is definitely not for everyone. There is a lot of screwage and a lot of blocking in this game and if you are one who is iffy about such direct confrontation, stay away from the game.
How much screwage? Well here are a few points:

1) Closed economy. Meaning that there is no way for you to earn income other than by getting it from other players. How do you get money? The main gist of the game is the auction mechanism which happens every player's turn. Players pick an object to auction and each player gets to bid only once. The player who started the auction now has a choice to get the money offered by the highest bidder OR pay that highest bidder that amount of money to keep the object. Genius no? If you are the last player to bid, you can decide if you want to bid high enough to make the active player pay through his nose. But if you want to win, then you have to bid just high enough to make it attractive for the active player to take your money but not sabotage yourself for later rounds. If you are not the last player to bid, you can mark up the prices to make both the last player and the active player suffer.

2) Covering of other player's color cubes. During the game, you are expected to place cubes on top of other cubes (in descending order meaning the larger number forms the base). Now the important point here is whichever color is on top will now own the entire tower. Players don't choose a color at the beginning (indeed they can win the game without any colors) but when they win the first color of that type, they will automatically receive a small indicative cube of that color. Meaning at the end game, any towers of that color will score him/her points. So you can strategically take over someone else's hard placed number 5 or 6 cube and own that tower.

3) Adjustment cubes + Mayor. Adjustment cubes can be auctioned off as well and the winner gets to extend or contract a line. Now there are 3 rows in the game and the game ends when 2 rows are completed (typically 4 completed buildings). With the adjustment cubes, players can extend (meaning that row needs more completed buildings with the roof to be considered complete) or contract (meaning less completed buildings is required). This will either greatly lengthen the game or shorten it a lot. Why does this matter? Because only buildings in the 2 completed rows will score positive points. All buildings in the last row will score negative points. The Mayor when placed at a row in the end game will double the effect (i.e. double the positive or negative points of that row).

Only thing negative I can say about the game is the somewhat gaudy looking town board, the somewhat dated looking number cubes and the box the game came in. It looks like a bright red shoebox. Seriously....but those are minor quibbles of this game.

So as you can see and tell, I had a lot of fun with this game. There is a lot of back and forth, tit for tat and also positioning so that you don't get screwed too badly or make sure someone else is screwed worse than you. Very often there will be at least 1 player who has negative points and sometimes the player that wins is the one with 0 points. Quite fun and high interaction game but again be warned this is not for everyone. Recommended!

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