Thursday, 1 November 2012
by Mike Head at 21:18
Five of us tonight, we decided to try a new game Mercurius, from a newish Polish designer. Dave D was a little reluctant to play, as he had found previous games which solely relied on a stock market mechanism to be rather dry or just plain bad, but we gave it a go as it wasn't supposed to take more than an hour or so. Basically on your turn you (a) buy and sell shares and commodities (b) play a card which affects the price of one type of share and one type of commodity (c) draw another card. Sounds a bit like the old game Speculate I seem to recall, but the new twist here is that you play the card onto the left of your personal playboard, which has space for three cards, all other cards move one space to the right and if there isn't room for all of them then the card on the right drops out, and all the cards on your board have an effect each turn, so price movements can be quite significant (or ups and downs can cancel each other out). There are some one-off cards too which you can play once per game, of which the most useful is probably the Dividend card, which pays out cash per share for the company/city of your choice.
Well we had some fun from the game, mostly from misnaming some of the shares and commodities to something more akin to the graphics on their ownership tokens, so we had 'Newcastle United' as one share, there was a 'Twix Bar' commodity, etc., but I'm not convinced the fun is long-lived. As Dave D suspected, the game at heart is very dry, very much an exercise in analysis of a single mechanic, and fortunately we didn't AP it like we can do with some games otherwise the downtime particularly with five could be bad. After I'd won comfortably Steve H said it was my type of game, and certainly as I analysis mechanisms and processes for a living perhaps he's right, but it's not one I'd want to play often. For dryness it's up there with Executive Decision, an old 3M (precursors to Avalon Hill) commodities bidding game I've had since the 70's, but at least with that it's simultaneous actions with no downtime, and it does make a damn fine postal game which I ran a few times in my zine publishing days.
After that, Andy had remembered to bring Bohnanza (see last blog) and we all are happy to play that, it was an excellent game and ended up a pretty close contest, Steve H beat me on the tie-break, then finishing off with a quick filler 6 Nimmt!, I've had some pretty horrible pasting at this in the past but somehow this time always felt reasonably in control, beating Dave F by a single point and gaining a bit of revenge on Steve H for Bohnanza because he got really hosed and came in last.
Labels: Wednesday Sessions