The realm of dreams does not become the topic of games too frequently. Board games especially with their focus on the tangible and the tactile seem a strange fit to tackle the amorphous fleeting nature of what our subconscious produces while we sleep. Onirim by Z-Man games gives it a shot and aces the aesthetics – not an easy task by any stretch of imagination. The game stumbles in the mechanics though as the gameplay tends towards simplistic abstraction instead of fully exploring the wonderful world the game creates. Shall we dive deeper? Close your eyes and welcome to Onirim.
Every kid growing up in Canada learns about the Seven Years’ War (or as the Yanks call it, the French and Indian War), which took place between 1754 and 1763 and involved the British colonies and New France.Many of us even get to visit the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City where the French under Montcalm and the British under Wolfe waged a bloody battle in 1759; consequences of which reverberate through the Canadian and Quebecois psyche today.
You have seen the situation a countless times in movies and books. A merchant is at the entrance to medieval city with a wagon of wares. A surly bailiff stands in the way. What is it that you are bringing in? Apples you say? These don’t look like apples… Tense negotiations ensue with threats, bribes and flattery all used generously. A nervous glance to the side and the charade is up – bags are emptied and fines (or worse) apply. Sheriff of Nottingham aims to capture this scene and succeeds marvellously, only to forget to reward the players for the most adventurous and fun way to play.
This particular generic fantasy harbour is filled with activity – giants loading huge crates of livestock onto ghost ships, enormous octopus chefs offering their clients delicious sushi, copper automatons whirring into motion to turn oaks into lumber. The air is alive with the calls of seagulls and the salty sea mist. If you pay close attention though – you can sense another smell – a smoky one. That would be brains burning as players strive to predict which goods will be in demand so that they can stockpile and sell it, staking their claim to victory. Want a tight, tense game that makes you think several turns ahead? Welcome to Harbour.
Sometimes an experience just clicks. Every single aspect of it seems to be a drop filling a perfectly clear pond that reflects the sun just right. You are not going to look at what is at the bottom of the pond, think what it is that makes it so beautiful, or ponder (sorry) if you really wanted to be by this particular body of water. It will leave you completely satisfied – nothing extremely memorable or desire to immediately do it again, mind you – just a feeling that the time there was spent in just the right way. Want this experience in board game form? Get in the zen mode and break out the bamboo. You are about to play Takenoko.
The ever-hungry pillaging halflings have just occupied these hills only to be driven out by the berserk dwarves looking to reclaim their lost mines. Are they going to be able to keep control of it or are the flying amazons going to swoop in to steal their territory? Hilarious fantasy race depictions get multiplied by a variety of special powers to create a multitude of conquest scenarios in Smallworld – a light strategy game perfect for your tablet.