Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I like good cheap games that can fit in your pocket. Armorica is such a game.

Armorica is purportedly the third in publisher Vainglorious Games' Celtic Nations series; the other two (Cambria and Hibernia) will be published this year. For some reason they've given these games Latin names despite the Celtic theme, which truly puzzles me. Why not Celtic names? Do they think Latin names sound better or are easier to pronounce? I'm just saying.

Each player is trying to build a successful village, which requires a mix of villager-types represented by cards. Every round, a player chooses a Gaul and then a Roman to join his/her village. After this, players check to see if any of their villagers starve in the harsh winter. At the end of the game, the player with the best mix wins.

The basic mechanic here is card drafting--choosing from a common pool of candidates. BGG lists over 2000 games that involve card drafting--from Through the Ages to Little Busters-EX: DOTABATA Ranking Battle,  apparently a Dominion knockoff with an anime theme.

Bridge, with Drafting.
I sometimes wondered how games like Bridge would work if players were allowed to draft-and-pass cards the way they do in, say, 7 Wonders. And then I discovered Was Sticht?, which is included in Mu & Lots More, which is a trick-taking game in which players not only draft the cards they will be playing, but also the secret goals ("take the last trick", "take at least 2 tricks") they are trying to achieve. It is an awesome game (also cheap and fits in your pocket) whose designer is none other than Karl-Heinz Schmiel, of Die Macher fame.

Armorica is simple enough that an eight-year-old can play it and beat me--or at least, my eight-year-old. Maybe this is a tribute to his strategic skill, or maybe it means I truly stink at this game. The great thing is, since he's won a couple of times in a row, he loves it. Those of you with kids will understand why I am dreading the first time I actually win...because it will inevitably lead to a total loss of interest in the game for him. 


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