Friday, June 21, 2024

Dipping a toe back into contests

 Sometimes, it feels like every design contest has some easy-entry-point entry. A game that doesn’t have a ton of rules or a ton of construction or components. As a rule, they usually aren’t the ‘best’ games but they let you get your foot in the door, let you participate.

In the 2024 9-Card contest, at least one of those games is Guards & Goblins. It’s a solitaire so I don’t have to find anyone else. All it takes is the nine cards, no other components. Heck, it’s even low ink.

And it’s a tile-laying game, which is a blessing and a curse for it. On the blessing side, that means it was easy to learn. On the curse side, there are a lot of micro tile-laying games out there. And when you’re competing against the Orchard family or the Sprawlopolis family, you are up against some top tier competition.

And, no, Guards & Goblins doesn’t measure up to those games. 

Every card has one guard, one goblin or hobgoblin, and two houses. You get a hand of three cards. You need to connect each enemy with a group of two to four guards.  You can cover or tuck parts of cards but you can’t cover enemies or both houses.

(My first glance at the rules led me to think that you placed a card and then slid a card. A mechanic I do think would be interesting)

What Guards & Goblins really reminds me of is Micro Rome, an ‘older’ tile-laying micro game. Micro Rome is also about the interaction of symbols. However, it has a lot more symbols and twice as many cards not counting an expansion. So, a lot more going on.

All of that said, Guards & Goblins is still a pleasant little nine-card experience. I am pretty sure it can be reliably won by creating a conga line of guards touching all the goblins and hobgoblins and I’ll probably play it off and on until it feels ‘solved’

But it’s real value to me is playing a contest entry that isn’t just printing out a R&W sheet (which I do like doing) I really haven’t done that in over a year and it’s nice to do that again.

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