While we are in between community-award contests, I think it might be fun to open up an ongoing thread where we can post game reviews. The goal is to help preserve games and identify forgotten classics. The challenge is to find, play, and review games that were designed before the original community design contests (in other words, any game pre 2004).
Any game that was designed between the invention of the pyramids and January 2004 qualifies, to the exclusion of those few that are already considered popular classics (those on the SSCL) or which are "published" games. If a game was made before 2004 and was subsequently entered into the first IGDC (which was open to older games), it is still eligible for the Game Review initiative.
When you have a short review of a forgotten classic, please post it here. With so many new games being designed each year, there are bound to be several games that would otherwise go largely unplayed.
List of Eligible Games for Review:
Games that should probably be removed:
Martian Backgammon and Thin Ice were published in Playing With Pyramids.
CrackeD Ice, DNA, and Martian Mud Wrestling were published in various issues of Hypothermia.
IceTraders is listed on icehousegames.org as published, although I'm not sure where. It was later developed into Homeworlds, which has been published several times.
It would make Andy very sad if you left Spicklehead on the list.
Thanks for checking that. I thought that I had taken all of the Hypothermia games out, but some of them snuck back in. If someone thinks a game should be included that I missed, I'll be happy to check into that too.
We had been thinking of ways to recognize great community games from before 2004, and this seems a simple way to do so. I'm sure that many players have played at least one two of these already, and I'm curious as to which games people would recommend to be played or to be wary of.
I've added the list to the above, so I can edit it easier.
If you're looking for rules to a particular game, I recommend that people look on the icehousegames wiki first, as the most recent rules and links should be there. A few games might be only available from SLICK.
I have not included games that were considered to be in a largely unfinished. A few of these may be found to actually be complete if examined further, as Martian Mids was found to be. However, these should be taken on a case by case basis, so I think it's best not to include them all here at this time.
Invaders of Mars: This is a game of doing yourself the least amount of harm. The strategy is to pick your poison smartly and to force your opponent into doing more damage to themselves than they would like. It's one of those games that gets more strategic as the rounds progress. To mend the rules, players should, as Brilk suggested, have a queen seek out the drones when possible, instead of landing on players pieces when no babies are left. In some ways, this is a predecessor of Gleebs and Grues (similar in its theme, scale, and the fact that players are not only competing against themselves but also a malevolent force), which is a really good game in its own right.
Verdict: Is this a classic? When played with the amended rules, this game is a lot of fun. The game has stronger narrative/theme than many of the games of its time period. Its mechanic is simple and effective. Invaders of Mars doesn't have as much strategic depth as some classics, but it doesn't need to. I'd call this a casual classic, with average to good replay appeal. For its fun and originality, I'd rate it around 7 out of 10 aliens.
I've fixed the list above to include links to all the games that qualify. The restrictions placed on what qualifies were perhaps kind of strict, but the goal is to concentrate on games that meet certain criteria that often means they are overlooked with so many other games out there.
This game is inspired by its namesake, developed over one hundred years ago and its redesign called Camelot. The pyramid variant has the appeal of a largely blank board at the start, and thus the game can go in many disparate directions right from the beginning. I played this game a lot when I first got my pyramid pieces, and I took it up again for this review. In the context of all the games I’ve played since, I suppose that I’d have to more judicial in how I grade it. It feels a little like checkers, but much more deliberate and strategic. It’s also a game where one misstep can, and usually does, end it.
I’ve read a few comments on this game that indicate that players may not have been using their playing options to the fullest. This is understandable as there is little direction in the rules and some of the ways of winning this game go counter to how we typically play games. Remember the following and you should have a good game of it. 1. Pawns can move in any direction diagonally, and queens can jump backwards and forwards on the board. 2. If you have a jump, you MUST take it. Jumps can suddenly appear after the other player takes their turn, so both players need to be aware of the changing board. 3. Remember that you only need two queens to win, so sacrificing a queen to help another queen out is sometimes wise.
Underappreciated? Yes it is. Is it a classic? Perhaps not, but I still recommend it. Despite liking it as much as I do, it does borrow much from it’s predecessor; add to that it doesn’t have a high pyramicity rating either. However, it is, despite it’s terse rules, well designed, and offers a good replay value. With so many good pyramid games, it’s not a game I’d say was “required” playing, but it’s one to try for fans of strategy games. 7/10