Hello, Chaz Marler from Pair Of Dice Paradise, and we’re counting down my Official Top (And Bottom) Three Games of 2014. These are the standouts that I played this year for the first time. Today is (reading from notes)... hoo-boy… my biggest disappointment of 2014.
First off, my disappoint doesn’t mean this is a “bad” game. I think this is a well produced game, rightfully enjoyed by many, with great components, and it even won awards. Real awards. Not like those awards that I keep making up for myself.
So, you’d think all these factors combined would have made the game Istanbul a slam-dunk for me, right? Well, sure, "on paper" it sounds like a game I should love. But, unfortunately, I found the opposite to be true. Here's why:
While the game is comprised of 16 location tiles that you can send your workers to, in multiple games, the winner only had to use about 6 of them. This gave the impression that the abilities of the locations were unbalanced.
A big part of the game is "dropping off" and “picking up” your workers in these locations. Since I am lazy, I found this to be tedious. I can understand that it’s to prevent spreading yourself too thin, but I never found myself in danger of this. In fact, I’ve rarely ever needed to use the Fountain location to regroup all my workers. In the end, dropping off and picking up workers just seemed like busy work.
Then there’s the payment mechanism, where, in order to purchase something, you need a certain number of what you’re going to pay with in your inventory, but then you spend just one of them. This was not only confusing to some players. But it also completely broke out of the theme for me. “Want to buy an upgrade to your workers? Sure, give me one pineapple, but only if you have three pineapples total in your possession.” If this was a game about financing a used Honda, then this sort of pre-qualified payment requirement may make sense. I dunno, maybe they’re planning an expansion that will add a certified pre-owned vehicle dealership.
Some of my favorite games are the ones where you constantly feel like you have several difficult decisions; that there's always "one more thing" you want to do each turn. But, for me, Istanbul was the opposite of that. I felt like everyone always had one obvious choice to make next, and we all just had to slowly work our ways towards it, in slow motion. The game was twenty minutes of action, cram packed into ninety minutes.
Ugh, I feel so dirty. Next up, I’ll try to redeem myself with my favorite game that I played for the first time this year!