Monday, June 21, 2021

I forgot that Times Square was more than just a place

 First of all, I forgot that Times Square existed. Then, when I did remember that it was a real thing, I forgot that it was designed by Reiner Knizia.

The game is apparently based on a famous 1954 German film that I have never seen and I haven’t been able to find anything but the most vague summaries of. From what I can tell, it made a much bigger splash in Germany than the United States. I do get the impression that if you know the movie, all the elements click.

At any rate, it’s a card-driven tug of war with five distinct different types of pieces. (There are six pieces with two identical gray pieces) They all have their own set of rules and restrictions. Your goal is to drag either the green girl or green champagne bottle to your edge of the board.

Champagne Charlie is what I really remember from the game. You can move him as a basically a bonus move if you have more pieces on your side of the board, which is really just a track. He is a threat that keeps the game interesting.

But the game has been out of our collection for years. Times Square isn’t a bad game but I’d say that its sin is that its level of being interesting is greater than being good. With every piece having its own distinct set of rules, it’s literally a game of the exception being the rule. 

What ultimately made it leave the game closet, though, is that it’s a casual two-player game and, even after a number of purges, we still have a lot of them. Times Square just never got played.

It does feel like an unusual Knizia design. One of his hallmarks is simple systems that unfold into complex decisions. Times Square feels like it has cluttered rule book resulting in a simple game.

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