In happier news, I spent most of last night pushing little bits of wood and cardboard around on my not-quite-adequately-lit-for-the-job dining table. Three new board games to add to the ‘collection’ (in quotes because it now totals five): Vinci, Princes of Florence, and Sucking Vacuum.

The first looks extremely good – it’s a territorial conquest game akin to Risk, but without the random dice-rolling element of that which annoys me so much (combat is very similar to that in Diplomacy – ie. extremely simple). There’s a delicious twist in that, on any given move, you can put your entire empire into ‘decline,’ and start a new one instead. The result is a surprisingly simple mechanic that has all the makings of being an astonishingly deep game. I’m very much looking forward to playing it.

The Princes of Florence may be less successful. The concept is lovely – each player runs a province, building up an idyllic court within which the artists and scholars they recruit will complete great Works, and through those works the Prince (player) gains prestige. Different scholars prefer different combinations of buildings, recreation facilities, and freedoms, a selection of which must thus be purchased to maximise the prestige generated by the scholars’ works. Competitive philanthropy is a lovely theme, but on my first solo stagger I worry that there’s simply too much arithmetic involved. ‘Too much’ as in ‘too much to be fun, except for Martin.’ we shall see.

Finally, Sucking Vacuum is plain stupid. Tagline: “Six astronauts. One escape pod. Two seats. You get the picture.” Run around the (tile-based) board, gather the bits of a spacesuit, hit each other with anything to hand (spanners, books, the ship’s cat) to steal stuff, and eventually sprint to the escape pod while holding your breath. Very simple, very silly, could be rather amusing.

Unfortunately, all these arrived a day too late for my notional ‘games evening’ on Thursday, so we had to sit around, scoff chilli, and yack instead. Which was pretty much the idea all along, come to think of it.

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