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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Thumbs Up for New England

For some reason, New England has never made it to the game table all that often, either today or when it first came out. Despite this, I find the game consistently enjoyable. While I disagree with Tom that the game is lacking in fun, it's true that it is a bit lacking in excitement. I feel it's a fairly subtle design with several different possible paths to victory. Almost every time I play, I find I'm reconsidering my theories on what it takes to win! I agree with Shannon that the auction mechanic, though innovative, seems to result in a "1, 2, 3, 4" result too often. Actually, I suspect that players may often be too conservative with their bidding, but even given that, I doubt that anything much more dramatic would work until the end of the game. This takes a bit of the lustre off of the auction mechanic (which works far better, IMO, in Santiago). But even though the game might be less dynamic than it seems it could be, it's still a fine design.

It's interesting about the theme. It really isn't any thinner than most games we play, but it really bothers a lot of gamers, particularly, it seems, Europeans. I actually find using Pilgrims and farms as economic units to be rather charming. In any event, the theme doesn't bother me and there's enough of it there to keep me from considering this an abstract.

I think the reason New England's table time has been limited for us is that it fills a rather narrow niche. As mentioned, it isn't very exciting; it only works with four players and there are other, better games that fit that same description; the box is ungainly; and it was quite expensive when it was first released. All of this means that it will probably never be a highly played game. But I still consider it one of the better creations of the great Moon/Weissblum partnership and a game I will happily play and suggest. I rate it an 8, which means it's definitely in my Top 75 games of all time and possibly in my Top 50.