So I'm continuing today with my tour of great Euro-games to introduce newcomers, with two excellent boardgames, Reiner Knizia's Lord of the Rings, and Z-Man Games' Pandemic. Both of these take a twist on the traditional board game by being co-operative rather than competitive, which is no stranger to our role-players. This makes them particularly good for your role-players to make the transition to board-gaming.
My criteria from last time was three-fold: Simple, a Clear Goal, and Deepening Strategy. We'll check out each of these in my personal trifecta of Introductory Euro-games.
Lord of the Rings
Simplicity: A middling rating here, while the pieces are easy to understand there are a lot of them. The concept of moving tracks on two separate boards is confusing the first time you play through. What you do on a turn is straightforward, and you don't have to manage a "bad guy" phase.
Clear Goal: Pretty good rating here, you're supposed to destroy the ring without dying. The thing that keeps this from an awesomely clear goal is that the purpose of tracks that don't finish a given board is ambiguous. Some of the card text takes some thinking, but for the most part is straightforward.
Deepening Strategy: Yessiree. This game never quite plays the same way twice, and there are lots of subtleties that emerge after a few plays. Even better, to do well everyone really needs to cooperate. The one disheartening thing, is that this game has player elimination if you are corrupted by Sauron, which is rough on newcomers sometimes.
Simplicity: Pretty good rating on this. The player turn can be a little confusing the first round, but visual aides help this considerably. It takes one play to realize what to expect from the Virus turn. Once the basic hurdles are done, turns fly by with disconcerting speed.
Clear Goal: Yep, great job here. You have to stop the viruses from overrunning the globe. Colorful little squares are a clear and easy visual representation of the enemy, and even younger gamers can grasp that quickly. The more complicated sub-goals you might pursue really just serve to deepen the strategy.
Deepening Strategy: Excellent rating on this. The first game is your test drive, and you figure out that you HAVE to talk to the other players, with some frequency. Learning how best to respond and capitalize on special abilities of each CDC character is the epiphany that comes with the second play. By the third play and onward you see patterns that can get you saving the world with ease, but still encounter new chain reactions that will shock you.
Well I hope you enjoyed my quick exploration of Euro-gaming, expect new Pen and Paper role-playing posts soon!