Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Chaotic Connections

I don't think of this as a particularly important or influential blog. I never have. This is where I set down my thoughts on things, nothing more. I know that some important and influential bloggers read this from time-to-time, because I do get linked to by them. I try to maintain a degree of professionalism, in large part because I never know who is reading what I'm saying.

But it always catches me off-guard when a publisher offers me review copies of their games.

It's happened several times in the last year. Most of the time, they're offering games I already own. Occasionally, however, I am caught off-guard.

In early January, I received an e-mail from the publisher of Chaotic Connections, wondering if I'd like a demo copy of the game. I immediately did what I always do when presented with a game I have never heard of before: I went to BoardGameGeek, where I found ... very little information.

How could I turn this game down, given how little information appears to exist?

They shipped it very promptly, and I received it a few weeks ago.  On reading the rules, I could tell immediately that I am not the target audience for this game.

I need to emphasize this: It's not a bad game - but it's not a game I, personally, enjoyed.

The target for this game is families. It's an excellent game for parents to play with their seven-year-olds. In fact, kids up through about twelve will probably enjoy this one.

It reminds me of a cross between Ticket To Ride, Transamerica, and Mille Bournes. More of the last two than the first one, however.

The board is an image of a US map done primarily in yellow and orange. This is, by the way, not the best color scheme with which to win me over. There are people who are fans - I just don't happen to be one of them.

During setup, players are dealt a hand of city cards. They then choose three of them, and then use one of their remaining cards as a city for one of their opponents. To win the game, you just need to connect your four cities.

Players will have a small hand of cards. Each turn, you will draw a card and then play a card.  Most of the cards are "Add X Miles of road."  There are also "Detour" and "Road Closed" markers that can be placed. Some cards allow you to remove road belonging to your opponents, and some of the cards allow you to place "intersection" markers (which allow roads to connect through cities). There are also "Curve Cards" which can (among other things) add, remove, or change a player's target cities.

Much like Transamerica, once my roads meet your roads, they become our roads for purposes of connecting to cities.

In our first play, one player drew a batch of Curve Cards early, and reduced himself to one city. He immediately declared himself a winner. The rules give players a maximum number of cities - but they don't seem to have a minimum. "Tell you what," he said, "since we're trying to figure out how to play this, why don't I just discard that and re-draw."

So we continued.  One of the players is an elementary school teacher by trade.  "This would be a good one for the kids," she informed me. And I think she's right. For its target audience, I think this has potential to be an excellent game.

In fact, I suspect that these guys could do really well if they could get their game on the shelf somewhere.

It's just not for me.

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