In the absence of other stuff, here's my summary of some games I played this week, and some others I didn't.
First up, I didn't play Paris Connection, which was played by Dave F, Andy, Claire, Steve Pe and Mike; however, I have played it before and think it's a cracking, fast-paced economic game with tons of depth for its length. Six railway companies start from Paris(?) and build lines out to other towns and cities on a hex map of France. So far, so Chicago Express (apart from the France bit); but PC is a much simpler game. On a player's turn they may take one action only: lay up to 5 sections of track for any company; take a share; or trade a held share for two identical shares of a different company. Laying track to new destinations increases the share value of a company, and the aim is to hold the highest combined share value at the game's end.
Yes, really, that's it; and that is its genius. The game is further simplified by the facts that there is no cash money: shares double as track and comprise the game's only currency. The more track one lays (provided it connects to a town or city), the higher the share value climbs whilst the scarcity of shares (and, as a consequence, track) increases.
Anyone can play this game, and it's over in 45 mins, but in that time each player has had to make some tough decisions: do I sell my share in red, which looks spent, to buy two blue as the price climbs? or do I lay track in green to a random spot in the woods just to deplete resources because I don't hold any green shares? Simple, involving and very, very good. I liked it so much, I bought the game... but anyone who knows me knows that's not saying much.
Andy, Steve H, Dave D and I played Roborally. I don't have a heck of a lot to say about it other than I was narrowly beaten by Dave when I got a handful of turn cards when in his laser sights and he shot me to bits. We played Dave's Wizards of the Coast version which, component-wise, beats my Avalon Hill version hands down. I do prefer some of the later AH rules (for example, timer for other players once the first has programmed his registers) and the player boards with damage accrued. The only naff rule in WotC is the "virtual" robots, but it's not terrible, just not very consistent in my opinion.
Roborally is both simple and complex; both logical and chaotic. I love it to bits. We should play more.
Steve romped away with Ra: the Dice Game by virtue of his propensity to flood. He won by some margin.
On the other table, after Paris Connection, they played 7 Wonders with the Leaders expansion. I've yet to try Leaders, and am curious to see how it plays, but there are so many games that are just plain better than 7 Wonders that I haven't quite got around to it yet. It's not that 7 Wonders is a bad game - I just find it a bit ordinary. It ploughs a furrow of mediocrity that's all too common. Pick a card, pass; pick a card pass. Its tendency is toward being a game about managing the player following in a similar fashion to Puerto Rico - at least, that's the mechanism I'm most reminded of.