Stefan Feld-ruary Wrap Up

6 Mar

Well, it’s March 6 already, so the month of Feld is over, and I haven’t finished writing about all the games yet. Instead of several long reviews (since I still have 4 games left to go), I’m just going to consolidate them all like I was doing for the weekly theme articles, so I can get back up to date quicker (plus most of the people that read my blog said they liked shorter “hits”). That and I was kind of getting tired of going over all the Feld games in depth because so many of them bled together mechanically…so without further ado…here we go.

Game #9 – Aquasphere

IMG_0824The game that scared me most about this project. This board is gorgeous, but it’s so intimidating. Even when it was about all we had left to play, I still didn’t want to really play it. It’s pretty typical of other Feld games: you have only a couple actions a turn, but you have far more actions that you want to do. There are pesky Octopods you have to deal with, lest you lose points at the end of the round. Once we got into the game, it wasn’t *that* hard to play, but it still was one of the more difficult games to wrap my head around. I enjoyed it, but if I want to play a game like it, there are many other less complicated games that scratch that same itch in the Feld library already.

Game #10 – Notre Dame

cb1-yvfw0aaw8r41Coming into this month, this was my favorite Feld game, and I think it still is (though Castles of Burgandy is a close second). This one limits your actions through a card drafting mechanism. And those stupid rats! I lost so many points during this game because I had no way to stem the rat tide every turn. I feel like it’s harder in this game than others to ignore certain aspects of the game. All of the elements (money, workers, the hospital etc) are tightly woven together. If you let one go, other sectors will inevitably suffer. Great game.

Game #11 – Amerigo

cb1p6luucaa9osfAmerigo is mostly an exploration / set collection game, with action selection being done in a unique way. Amerigo uses a giant cube tower (similar to the one in Wallenstein / Shogun) to limit the number and type of actions players can choose from in turns. In my estimation, however, in our game it didn’t work as well as I would have liked. More times than not, all of the cubes thrown in came tumbling out. This meant that there was only one action you could take, at most 2. I feel like this restricted some of the decision making in the game. The few times when only 3-4 cubes came out, or when cubes of 4-5 colors came out, the decision making really became interesting. Still a very enjoyable game, I just wanted more tower chaos.

Game #12 – Strasbourg

cb2ge75vaaaovd_This is one of those games that those of us that troll the online board game discount threads see all the time on sale for $15-20. I think many people equate those kinds of discounts to games of poor quality. My friend Tim decided to drop the money on it. I’m glad he did. Strasbourg is a gem of a game. It’s mostly an area control game with a Ticket-to-Ride style goal element. The game plays over 5 rounds. It has a similar round breakdown as Rialto where the winner of the current action becomes the start player for the next action in the round. The most interesting part of the game may be that each player starts with their own deck of bid cards that have to last the entire game. At the start of each round, you not only choose how many cards you wish to bid with, you must also set those cards into stacks that you may not change. Those stacks are used to bid on the various actions that come up in a turn. Anything you don’t use gets lost at the end of the turn. So sometimes you bid just to not lose the cards for naught. It’s an interesting balancing act you have to play. Draw too many cards on the 2nd turn, you might only have 1-2 cards for the final turn. I really liked this game, but I do note that the bidding mechanic is rather difficult to explain to newer players. I recommend a dummy round or two. I’m kind of glad I don’t have that many readers. If I were Rahdo, I fear this game would jump in price before I got a chance to buy it cheaply.

Final Thoughts

I’m glad I did this experiment. I’m also glad I get to go back to other games now! Stefan Feld games are very thinky beasts for the most part. You are constantly limited in what you can do, and often times are forced into actions you don’t want to take. In this manner, I feel like his games can be more frustrating than most Designer-style games. Also, the sheer amount of things he tries to pack in can border on overwhelming. Several games have such busy boards that they can lead to intimidation before even starting. I will say that in most cases, that complexity is mitigated by the narrow amount of choices you are given on a turn. You don’t have to care about 6-7 of the choices, because you can’t do them anyway. It can be hard to set an overall strategy in most Feld games. You have to play more tactically, but always keeping an eye open for a move now that can benefit you more later. Probably not for everyone, but if you’re looking for some solid “next step up” games, look to Stefan Feld.

Obligatory Ranking

I feel like I should do a ranking of his games from my favorite to least favorite. I am including his games I have played before, but did not get to play this month. If I get to them in the future, I will try and update this list.

Games I still have not played:

Trajan, The Name of the Rose, The Pillars of the Earth: Builder’s Duel


  1. Notre Dame
  2. Castles of Burgandy
  3. Bruges (especially with the expansion)
  4. Strasbourg
  5. Amerigo
  6. Rialto
  7. Bora Bora
  8. Macao
  9.  Rum & Pirates
  10. The Spiecherstadt
  11. Aquasphere
  12. In the Year of the Dragon
  13. La Isla
  14. Roma
  15. Arena: Roma II
  16. It Happens
  17. Luna (Note, I do need to play this one again, but I REALLY hated it after only one play)

Next time, I look at the AEG “Destination Fun” family of games. So grab your pillows, we’re playing “Planes”, “Trains”, and “Automobiles”! Wait, those aren’t pillows!!



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