Classic Bears of Cuba escape from the Pergamon Castle Zoo!

Like I said on the Picture of the Week, it’s been pretty crazy around my neck of the woods lately.  Between teaching classes literally every day at work for the last 2 weeks, sending my 4-year-old to Vacation Bible school and dance class, and then all the “normal” busy activities of daily living, I haven’t had much chance at all to sit down and write (or record, for that matter) much of anything.  I have, at least, made time to actually play some games, and am now a couple of weeks (3 weeks after Tuesday night) behind in my game night reports.  So, let’s attempt to catch up for at least the oldest 2 weeks in this article… 

Zooloretto Wurfelspiel [BGG]

I actually won this little game in a contest from This Board Game Life, which is one of my favorite new podcasts.  It’s the dice game of the boardgame that came from a card game, and I was pretty interested Photobucketto see both how it compared to the “real” Zooloretto and to Coloretto, which is a light filler game as well.

The basic decision each turn is really the same in all three games, except instead of drawing cards or pulling tiles, you have to decide whether to roll 2 dice or to take all the dice in one of the “trucks”.  Scoring is done on a gorgeous little illustrated scorepad picturing the 5 different types of animals.  Each cage has room for a different number of animals, ranging from 1 (the crocodile) to 5 (the lions).  You score 1 point per animal that you’ve collected, plus the first person to complete any enclosure scores 1 or 2 bonus points.  And if you ever take more of an animal type than you have room for, you check off that type in your barn, which will score you -2 points at the end.  But what I thought was really simple and clever was how they handled the coins (which are present in Zooloretto but not Coloretto).  Coins are the 6th face on the dice, and for each group of them you collect, you can either cancel out one animal type in your barn or score one additional point.

Time: 12 and 13 minutes
Game 1: Norton* 12, Brett* 11, James* 10
Game 2: James 16, Norton 13, Brett 13
Ratings: Norton 7

After these two games and then a handful more with my wife and at a more recent game night, I still don’t exactly have my mind made up yet about the Zooloretto Dice Game.  It’s probably even lighter than Coloretto, but it’s also notably faster.  And in the end, I’m not sure that there’s a lot of difference between the depth of the decisions between the two games.  But there’s also probably a little less “strategy” in the dice game, because one thing you could always do in Coloretto is to look at how many cards of a color are already in play to get a better idea of whether or not to invest in collecting it.  But Coloretto also has the Wild cards, which are sort of broken and probably make it a weaker game overall.  And something that came up this week is that the Dice Game is almost too short, and it punishes a more cautious approach since a more aggressive player can dictate when the end will come.

We’ll see, I suppose.  And if nothing else, it’s probably something that my 4-year-old could probably even play, so maybe that’s the main role it will find in my house.

Classic Flip 

The next thing I played was the prototype for a new game currently on Kickstarter, called Classic Flip.  It’s intended to be a family-weight card game that, it seems to me, would be at home in the same circles as Canasta, Phase 10, Rook, and a lot of other traditional card games.

The core element of the game is that most of the cards actually have two different values, one at each end.  So in the red/green suit, the red 5 is also a green 4 if you flip it around the other way.  And since the goal of each hand is to build a 5- or 6-card set of the same number, it’s cool that you could potentially be working on different numbers using the same cards.  


Thrown into the mix are also a number of special action cards that introduce varying amounts of chaos into the gameplay.  Things like being able to steal 3 random cards from all the other players’ hands, stealing one card of your choosing from someone else, discarding your hand and drawing a new one, takeing an extra turn, drawing extra cards, blocking someone else’s attack, and then the ultimate Chaos card, where everyone shuffles all their hands together and deals them back out at random.

When someone finally builds a set of 5 or more cards, they can then call “Flip” as their only action on their turn.  Everyone else gets one more turn, and then you score the hand.  

In our game, Matt did pretty consistently well, but then on the last turn when he was just about to win, Shawn put together a crazy set using many of the cards that multiply your score (which I didn’t even get into above) to score 160 points in one hand and almost won.   
Time: 43 minutes
Score: Matt* 200, Shawn* 170, Sean* 100, Norton* 80
Ratings: ??

It’s a little hard for me to decide what I want to say about Classic Flip right now.  I think that, first of all, it’s important for me to not expect it to be something it’s not trying to be.  The whole point is for it to be a family/casual game, so I’m trying to look at it in those terms.  And for the most part, the game is pretty good in that context.  I really love both the idea and the look of the double-ended cards, and think that on a casual level, the extra option of how you construct your sets using variable-value cards is pretty cool. 


The main problem, though, is that otherwise, there’s not a lot of real choice involved.  There are a number of wild cards and then these cards that multiply your score, and drawing into them is just inherently much more powerful than drawing a regular card.  Plus, some of the action cards (mainly the Chaos one) also work to completely undo and invalidate all of the choices that everyone has made up to that point in the hand, which I don’t like regardless of the weight of the game.

But the good thing is that the designer seems to still be open to recommendations to make the game better, so I hope it will be refined even more before final publication.  And once again, I really do like the whole premise and look of the deck, and for the $10 buy-in through Kickstarter, it’s probably still a pretty good investment.

So anyway, if you’d like to know more about Classic Flip, you can check out its website and its Kickstarter campaign page.

Bears! [BGG]

It wasn’t really my intent or desire, but this game night turned into sort of a filler-fest.  The next one we pulled out was Bears!, though, which is a lot of fun.  It’s a crazy dice-rollin’ and pair-matchin’ frenzy that I’m apparently pretty good at, and you just can’t beat the fun density you get out of this little gem.

Time: 10 minutes
Score: Norton 107, Matt* 90, Shawn* 77
Ratings: Norton 8, Matt 8, Shawn 8

Pergamon [BGG]

I picked up Pergamon recently in a trade, and actually got to play it a couple of times over these two game nights.  It’s a quick-moving set-collection game about archaeology, and so far, I’ve been pretty impressed with it.  Over 12 short turns, you play this little mini-game to collect funds, then decide which levels of the dig you’ll excavate, and occasionally decide that you’ve got a good enough exhibit to show at the museum.  Your score is the number of tickets you sell at four different points in the game, based on the quality of your exhibits in the museum at the time.

In the first game, we had one big issue that sort of screwed things up for us.  The way the excavation tiles work is that on either end, they have half of a picture of one of the four types of artifacts that you might find.  So on one end, you might have the right half of a pot and the other end is the left half of a bracelet.  To build your exhibit, you string together tiles (left half to right half) to complete as many artifacts as you can.  It’s pretty clever, actually, except that the lighting/shading of the two halves of the pitcher don’t really look like they go together, so we were all sitting there for 2/3 of the game wondering when the other halves of all these artifacts would show up.  So obviously, our play may have gone a little differently if we had known what we were doing.

Time: 54 and 65 minutes
Game 1: Brett* 25, Norton* 24, James* 18
Game 2: Norton 24, Chip 23, Kenny* 14, Keith* 13
Ratings: Brett 6, Norton 7.5, James 5.5, Chip 7.5, Keith 7, Kenny 7


But regardless of errors in our play, I’ve definitely enjoyed Pergamon so far.  The mechanics around how you position yourself to receive funding is really interesting (it may actually be the most critical decision in the game), and there are enough different approaches you can take to putting together exhibits and showing them in the museum that I can see some room to explore further.  I also wonder if, with experienced players, the play time might be able to get down into the 30-45 minute range, which would make it pretty incredible.

The Castles of Burgundy [BGG]

So then, finally, I got to play the Game of the Month!  This was only my third play ever, and it was the first time trying out one of the alternate player boards.  But it was also the play when the lightbulb really came on for me and I felt like I was really able to make some plans and have the capability and understanding to actually enact them to some extent.

PhotobucketMy board had a lot of really small areas, so my plan was to complete as many of them as I could in the early-going.  But that wasn’t quite as easy as I thought it might be, since you have to build adjacent to what you’ve alerady built.  So then still early on, I picked up the technology tile that gives you 1 bonus point per good that you sell, so I sort of used that to give me a little more direction for the rest of the game, in which I really focused on getting lots of ships (winning the big bonus for filling all my water spaces) and selling lots of goods.  It turned out pretty well.

However, it didn’t turn out as well as Chris’ ridiculous pig farm did.  As I showed in my Picture of the Week on Monday, he scored a stupid 108 points from this one massive farm (with a little help from the tech tile that lets you score 1 extra point per animal tile scored).  He played a really solid game otherwise as well, and took the win by 18 points. 

The infamous piggies…

Time: 90 minutes
Score: Chris 238, Norton 220, Chip 215, Shawn* 211
Ratings: Chris 8.5, Norton 8, Chip 8, Shawn 8

I really like The Castles of Burgundy a lot.  I’d love to officially review it soon, but I still feel like I haven’t gotten the complete picture of what it has to offer quite yet. So even though it’s a little hard to do with recent GotM!‘s, I’m going to keep trying to get it to the table and get a little more experience with it first. 

My board at game end

Santiago de Cuba [BGG]

PhotobucketAnd then to finish off the night, Kenny and Keith joined me in a nice game of Santiago de Cuba.  I tried out a couple of different things than I did in my first play.  Mostly, I tried playing around with getting wood from my close friend Miguel.  And then, later in the game when Miguel started giving wood to Kenny and Keith, I got a little jealous.  Keith, though, managed to do the best job actually loading goods on the ship, and he took the win in his first play.

Yeah, wood and all aside, I’m really liking Santiago de Cuba a lot.  It’s very tactical and requires a lot of flexibility to see and respond to what situation you’re given, which can be pretty cool and exciting, expecially when you’re still trying to assemble at least some semblance of an organized strategy.  And it’s also pretty cool how the order of the Cuban and building tiles changes the combinations for each time you play. 

Time: 61 minutes
Score: Keith* 39, Norton 35, Kenny 30
Ratings: Keith 8, Norton 8, Kenny 8


Other Games Played
(sorry, but I’m a little lazy and don’t feel like writing out all the stats…)
Alien Frontiers
Castles of Burgundy
Kingdom Builder (with Nomads)
Knightmare Chess
Medici x2
Space Hulk: Death Angel
Super Dungeon Explore


* First play for that Person


  1. Another great session report! I’m a fan of quite a few of the games that you mentioned this time.

    Zooloretto Wurfelspiel is finding its way to the table less and less nowadays, but it’s still a great game to play with co-workers at lunch. Very similar to Coloretto but the play is a little more interesting with the dice.

    I definitely have a soft spot for both Santiago de Cuba and Pergamon. They’re both these cool little games with some out of the ordinary tasks/mechanisms.

    And, as for your GotM, it’s Feldtastic! 🙂


  2. Chris Norwood

    Feldtastic… that’s about right!  Seems like I’m definitely a bit of a Feld Fanboy these days.

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