I'm staying at the in-laws this weekend, and they're games people so we got a few games in yesterday. I finally got around to playing Mission: Red Planet a Steam-punk area control game by Bruno Faidutti and Bruno Cathala. It has a similar character-selection mechanic to Citadels also by Bruno Faidutti, but this time everyone has their own set of characters so that multiple players can be the same character. In a similar way to the paddle cards cards in Niagara you cannot re-use a character until you play the Recruiter character. I really enjoyed the game, it lives up to the hype in my mind. It helps that I like Steam-punk stuff generally, and the production quality is great, with really nice artwork.
As I'd somehow managed to leave the house without any games but my prototypes (and the stuff to make more prototypes), we got a few games of those in too. In the morning I finished off the Codename: Artist prototype, and started a prototype for Codename: Sennon. With the Sennon prototype half-finished that obviously didn't come out, but I played two games of Artist (one with Suzy, one with Matt) and three of Jorvik (two with Matt and one with Suzy). I was really pleased with Artist, it seemed to work straight off the bat, I'd not even played it against myself yet. The scoring is totally broken, and will need some loving attention, but the gameplay is already working surprisingly well. It's definitely a bit of a brain-burner and the wealth of options at every turn make it nicely strategic. I suppose it's a bit of a cross between a Euro and an abstract as it has some hidden information, rather than everything being out in the open, and the winner is not necessarily clear until the scores are tallied. I'm pleased with it so far, and it might start moving up the release schedule...
I played the new prototype of Jorvik with Matt and the old one with both Suzy and Matt. I've still not made a choice between the two, and speaking to Matt, who played both, I can see why. He liked aspects of the two versions, which sadly I think are mutually exclusive :-( Jorvik is already a working game, although I think it still needs something to become a great game, so I'm still tinkering in the hope of improving it. Encouragingly I got this feedback from Matt:
"I think Artist is the better game, but it makes my brain ache - so I prefer Jorvik."
A vote for both games in a single sentence! He must be a politician.