Greetings from Laudan Takaa. It's nice that you have stumbled upon my first musings from the board and beyond.
In the midst of the bustle of everyday life, the game collection inevitably gets more longing looks in this household than actual playtime. When the obligatory duties have been completed at the end of the day and there's time for a short gaming session, it's obvious that the resources and time don't suffice for grand adventures.
Quick setup and gameplay, as well as easily understandable and memorable rules, are criteria that guide our choices for weekday evenings, at least in our household. As we explore our own games, we often find ourselves asking what makes certain games so captivating and replayable despite their small size. Good examples of this are 7 Wonders Duel, Res Arcana, and Summoner Wars 2nd Edition.
Of these three, the most well-known, 7 Wonders Duel, is simply brilliant in its simplicity. Its clear color and symbol world combined with straightforward gameplay and versatile winning possibilities is a recipe that rarely comes by. The game components consist of only about a hundred cards, a few tokens, and a pile of coins. 7 Wonders Duel brings along a big game content even though, due to its small size, it fits in your pocket and is also well-suited for a smaller table. Choose the wonders, shuffle the cards, place them on the table, and the game can begin. The passage of three eras as a mini-empire leader is a real treat for weekday evenings as it can be completed in under half an hour with preparations.
Res Arcana follows the same formula and shares its component DNA with 7 Wonders Duel. What sets Res Arcana apart from almost all other strategic engine-building games is Tom Lehmann's bold choice to give the player only eight cards for the entire game. It is up to the player to choose the most suitable mage for their cards and create the best possible machine to achieve 10 victory points, which starts the endgame phase. Simply put, it's eight cards, one mage, and countless possibilities to fine-tune your machine towards victory. Collect resources, play a card, and prepare for the next round. Res Arcana also offers the option of card drafting at the beginning of the game, which affects the spirit of the game, as assembling your own machine from chosen cards is much more straightforward than the interesting unpredictability of the basic game. I myself prefer the normal game mode and recommend it to anyone who wants to add this gem to their collection. As a bonus, the game package interior is also very functional, making preparations and packaging a breeze. Res Arcana sits well as a two-player weekday evening game and is a great filler for starting a larger game night with multiple players.
The third game mentioned, Summoner Wars 2nd edition, is a new version of the 2010s strategy classic that continues on the path paved by its predecessors. The base game consists of four armies with clearly different game mechanics, each with 30 of their own cards, and in addition, the box contains a game board, a few tokens, and dice. Despite its low number of components, Summoner Wars stands up to much more heavy-duty strategic war games. The 2nd edition improves the biggest problem of the original game, namely the ugly art, and also improves many small areas of the rules and refines the game mechanics even further. Summoner Wars draws inspiration partly from classic board games such as chess, as the movement, attack, and placement of a player's troops are tied to a grid-based battlefield. Its strength lies in the ingenious system of balancing the player's resources, cards, and troops. Cards must be discarded to obtain more resources, and the player's deck is not reshuffled when it runs out, so every choice matters for the outcome.
Recently, however, my choice has fallen on a relatively unknown game called Write the Future. Unfortunately, it has had limited distribution, but it is absolutely brilliant in its own class and has also found its way into the selection of Poromagia, serving as the main inspiration for this post. It represents the Roll & Write game mechanics in the colorful dystopia of the Dicetopia world. It has just the right amount of components, the rules fit on a few pages like the aforementioned games, and the game mechanics are easily understood. There's also an extremely functional solo version for single players.
Write the Future seems easy and too simplistic at first, but it increases the stakes as the game progresses and its ingenious, dice-based game mechanics tickle the brain cells more and more with each round. The player must choose two dice for each of the three action cards. The color of the die determines which resource it represents, and the number on the die determines which row or column in the game's city grid the resource is placed in. Thus, the further you play the game, the less choice the player has. How to complete tasks and maximize your own points when the game board representing the city constantly gets tighter? Write the Future is a masterpiece from a small Swedish one-man game studio, and it holds up surprisingly well when compared to the works of more well-known game designers.
You can find all of the mentioned games, of course, in Poromagia's selection.
This text is dedicated above all to all of us who live through the busiest years, constantly balancing between everyday life and the best hobby in the world. I hope you found comfort and new options from this for those moments when time is short, but the desire to get a game on the table is simply unbearable. Either way, thank you for your time.
Tapio Laudan Takaa
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