Thursday, July 5, 2018

Jorvik was what I wanted all along

I recently got to play Jorvik, a revision of Speicherstadt. I didn’t even know it existed and I’d say it does improve on the original.

I got Speicherstadt when it first came out. It may have one of the nastiest auctions I’ve ever seen. You are bidding on cards and the price of a card is the number of meeples/markers on it. And the option to buy goes in order of who placed first. Passing means the price goes down for the next person. Oh and you get more money scrounging for change in a sofa than in a sofa on display at IKEA that was put on the sales floor five minutes ago. Driving up prices and bankrupting people is the main interaction of the game. 

The cards include firemen to protect against fires, ships that give you cubes, contracts and markets to sell those cubes, etc. On top of being broke and lucky to get a card each round, everyone knows what you need and can target you appropriately.

Jorvik (which I learned from the game is the northern part of England that the Norse settled for a while) adds an extra row of cards. Only one person can claim a card. But it goes in a line and, you guessed it, the number of cards in the line determines the price. There have also got to be a lot more cards in Jorvik. Oh and you get an allowance of two coins instead of one each turn. (Yes, that makes a huge difference)

Oh, wait. There was an expansion for Speicherstadt called Kaispeicher. I’m pretty sure Jorvik is basically Speicherstadt plus the expansion in one box. Huh.

Speicherstadt is a good game but it’s not a great game. I enjoyed playing it but, once I was to the point of purging good games from my collection to make storage and replay manageable, it went without much regret.

First of all, I can think of a least five auction games I’d rather play... no six or seven, without trying hard. I’d rather play Ra or Vegas Showdown or Modern Art or other games.

Second, I have no problems at all when it comes to nasty play but Speicherstadt feels like you are punishing yourself at least as much as the other player when you make a nasty play. The limited number of bid meeples and tiny amount of money creates a punishing environment where it often feels like you’re fighting with rusty razors over scraps. Oh, it’s still fun but it’s not as much fun.

Jorvik giving you another way of getting cards and being a little more generous with money made the environment of the game more forgiving while still letting you punch each other in the throat. I’m not going to run out and get Jorvik. I still like other auction games more but I like Jorvik more than Speicherstadt.

But I am annoyed that it is basically Speicherstadt and it’s expansion in one box and Speicherstadt should have been that in the first place. For me, when an expansion flat out fires the base game, it should have been in the original box in the first place.

So Jorvik was what I wanted all along.

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