More fun and games courtesy of our regular Wednesday night gaming slot. We kicked off tonight with Torres (Ravensburger/Rio Grande Games) which was the Spiel Des Jahres Winner in 2000 (Spiel Des Jahres is the German Game of the Year Award which is the gaming equivalent of the Oscars and can easily push your sales figures into the 250,000+ category). I somehow managed to acquire a copy years ago but had never played it until this evening (ok I lie - I ran through the rules and a sample game by myself on Monday night so I could teach the others this evening...but solo play doesn't count :p). Torres is a game about building the most spacious and tallest towers and accomodating them with your 'Knights'. Each game is comprised of three phases which in turn are broken down into 3-4 rounds per phase. At the end of each phase you score points depending on where your knights are located and possibly get bonus points if you're in a castle which the King is currently visiting. You get 5 action points in which you can build new towers, move your knights, bring new knights onto the board, buy an action card or gain a victory point for unused actions. You can also play an action card free of charge which may give you additional actions or allow you to build/move addtional tower pieces on the board. It's a strategic game but is very easy to pick up and I would imagine has a lot of repeat value in it. All of us loved it and rated it 9/10. I can certainly see why it won Game of the Year and whilst I don't think it's as good as Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride or Settlers of Catan it's still a very, very good game and one I'll definetly be reccomending to people.
Next up was a new game. Mall of Horror was originally published in French earlier this year but the publishers (Asmodee) released an English-language version a few weeks ago. The idea of the game is that you are a band of survivors after a zombie holocaust and have taken refuge in a Mall. The Mall comprises of six locations (The Restroom, Supermarket, Security HQ, Megatoys, Cachou Fashions and the Parking Lot) and each player controls a group of survivors (in the three player game you have a gorgeous Pin-Up (7 points), a Tough Guy (5 pts), a Gunman (3 pts) and a Little Girl (1 pt)). The object of the game is to have the most character points surviving at the end of the game when the army helicopters come in to rescue the remaining survivors. The game itself is one partially of co-operation and partially of betrayal. There is an easy voting mechanism to choose things such as who will Security Chief for the round or who is sacrificed to the zombie hordes when they finally break through the barriers. The Parking Lot is both an essential place to try and be (you get Equipment Cards from the trucks parked there) and a death-trap (you have no protection against the zombies). Some characters have advantages and others disadvantages. The Gunman gets +1 Vote because he has a gun, the Tough Guy gets +1 for the defence of a location whilst the location with the most Pin-Ups (who is worth a lot of points) get an additional zombie added to it because they are attracted to the screaming going on! Again, we all enjoyed this (ok, we are all suckers for zombie-themed stuff) and will almost certainly play it again in the future. Ratings ranged from 6.5 to 7.5/10.
Last up was another 'darker' themed game. Let's Kill (Atlas Games) is a little card game where you play a psychotic killer determined to kill as many people as possible in a myriad of bizarre ways. You have two decks of cards - Let's Kill and Victims. The Let's Kill Deck supplies you with Weapon cards (everything from A Pair of Tweezers to an AK-47 via a Toaster and a Bathtub!), Surprises which you can play on Victims which are only revealed once they are killed and Event Cards which can be played at any time. The Victims deck is a combination of your soon to become trophies (such as Timmo the Clown, Buffy the Sorority Sister and Eileen the Goth Chick) and Locations (such as The Seedy Motel, Dark Alley or 'Right Here' which is where you're playing the game!). Each victim has a points score which may be modified through surprises and events. You need 20 points or more to win the game. Game play is pretty fast (it took us under 30 minutes to play) and can certainly be comical at times. The art work is very original - in that everything is depicted with stick people :p We enjoyed playing this and as a quick filler it's a good fun game. I wouldn't play it with anyone though as the subject matter wouldn't be to everyone's tastes. In fact Jade (one of my non-gaming housemates) was in the kitchen cooking up some food when I was reading the rules to the others and we were a bit worried what she'd think but luckily she was off day-dreaming in a world of her own and didn't blink an eyelid to our plans for a variety of mass murder sprees! :p Rating 7-7.5/10.