Kevin, being an uncanny great gift giver, gave me this card game for Christmas along with the awesome Stikfas guy I posted about earlier. Again, like the action figure, I was a bit skeptical when I got it but it turned out to something I really enjoyed. I like finding games that fit situations in my life, and Mamma Mia is a great fit for an informal party game.
Mamma Mia is a pizza-making game by Uwe Rosenberg, the mastermind behind Bohnanza, one of my favorite trading games and an experience that I always walk away from with a smile.
I stink at describing game rules, so here's how BoardGameGeek summarizes Mamma Mia:
Each player is given eight different pizza orders to fill, and on his turn adds ingredient cards (pepperoni, mushroom, pineapple, green pepper, olive) and then an optional pizza order to a common pile. After the draw pile is exhausted, the common pile is flipped over and the cards in it are sorted by ingredient until an order comes up. If there are enough ingredient cards to fill the order, the player scores it. If there aren't enough, the player can either make up the difference with cards from his hand or put the order back into his 'to be filled' pile. After three rounds, the player with the most filled orders wins.
The game is simple to learn and understand, but no serious gamer would ever confuse it with Amun Re or Acquire. This is an advantage in many respects - it is a light party game, appropriate when you're sort of full and not in the mood to carefully calculate your next move. Bohnanza is a superior game but it's initially complicated turn sequence results in a lot of helpless, unhappy thrashing for first time players. Mamma Mia is strategically comparable to Bohnanza but is far easier to pick up and play, making it a great box to bring to the table when your audience may be a bit dubious about board gaming.
Mamma Mia is fun, quick, easy to learn, and dirt cheap as well.
Mark and I played about 70 matches of Bushido Blade tonight and I remembered how much fun I had with this game playing against Todd.
Bushido Blade is a samuari combat simulator. You choose from around 8 different characters and eight different weapons in one on one battles to the death. One clean hit will kill your opponent in a quick plume of blood. No health bars, no power-ups, and combo attacks usually involve hitting the same button twice quickly. When you land a blow that isn't fatal, you can injure your opponents arm making their blows less powerful or swipe one of their legs and force them to fight on their knees. The brutality and finality of the game make a memorable experience.
Fights often end in less than 10 seconds, often in an initial vicious exchange. Death comes quickly and most easily dealt when you block or avoid an opponents blow. This allows feints to be a central element of the game and makes for a more mental engagement than the secret handshake competition known as modern fighting games. When a conflict does last more than 30 seconds the intensity is almost unbearable - everything is riding on being the one to deliver the decisive, lucky blow.
It seems one of the central design tenants was to reflect the blind, cold injustice of real life; sometimes the healthiest warrior dies to a flailing swing by a opponent with a broken arm crawling on the ground. This so unfair, so wrong, so incorrect, so risky, yet so beautifully intentional.