I don't know much about the art world to be honest. I took a modern art elective course in college which mystified me. Also, the art scene pretentiousness has always been a turn off. Picasso chopping off his ear, or was it Van Gogh?.. the fin-de-siecle impressionists with their hipster goatee beards and berets painting the French countryside...the modern art performance artists traipsing around in leotards or half-naked like these guys....
Salvador Dali and his melting clocks walking his pet anteater, etc.. none of that interests me.
And yet, when I saw The Gallerist by Eagle-Gryphon Games on Kickstarter, I decided to participate.
It looked different. Speculations in art paintings.. Hmm... okay..
The Gallerist is a game of up to 4 players where each player owns an art gallery trying to make money buying and selling digital art, painting, photographs and sculptures of unknown artists.
The box is beautiful, the board looks good, the tiles look nice (based on real art works I believe).. nothing to complain about in the kickstarter. Even the insert inside had plentiful space and smartly arranged to fit all.
It took me an hour to set up the board last night in anticipation of today's game with my friends Jim, Pixie and CB.
The game takes up a lot of space on my 6 foot table, but that seems to be getting normal nowadays.
As I read the rules, I started to realize it was a Euro...
Uh-oh.. my gaming buddies are not generally big fans of Euros. We call them "cube-pushers." Euros are generally abstract games, with little luck involved, at least compared to Ameritrash.
Still, I thought, there was lots of art on the tiles, and you got thematic easels for the "masterworks."
The rules though.. God.. lots of "moving parts" (little side rules to remember), a bit fiddly, lots of symbols..
God, there were lots of symbols to keep looking up.
And the game ends with a series of calculations to determine the winner.
It didn't help either that board also looked "busy."
All right, I thought. We'll do 2 games of The Gallerist.. one to learn the game, and the second, to really play it hardcore.
Uh-huh.. did not happen. Instead, it was a goddamn disaster.
I was already in a bad mood today even before playing, but when we got started, I felt my exasperation deeply as I saw the game enjoyment slip through my fingers.
For hours, my blood pressure kept rising.. I felt it as I heard a hundred times the same questions over and over, cries of "this is confusing", "I don't get it," "what does this mean" etc. You know everyone hates the game when they couldn't bother to look at the player aid card right in front of them, even when you tell them a hundred times to look at it. My fellow players were fidgeting in their chairs, looking at their cell phones, making endless loud sighs, having a vacant stare.....They were getting exasperated too and were getting into neither the theme nor the mechanics.
It was such a damn train wreck, that I wanted to end the game in the middle and put everyone out of their misery, which is a first for me in recent memory.
I secretly swore never to buy another Euro again..
However, at the same time though, I saw why this game was an 8+ on BGG, as there is definite strategy to this.. this game is a gem, I can feel it, but the high learning curve and the lack of appreciation of the art scene theme in us all just destroyed today's gaming experience.
Jim says he wants to try it again, as do I, but I can't tell if he's just humouring me or not.
The game was a disaster, no doubt about it.
I haven't yet decided to try it again, perhaps with Jim and Jeff, or to sell it for whatever cash I can get.
The second game of the night was also on speculation, but this time it was the light-hearted card game Vault Wars, by Floodgate Games.
The premise is that hustlers pick up the lost chests and equipment of lost (i.e.dead) fantasy heroes and auction them off partially blind to other hustlers.
It's basically a parody of Storage Wars, a reality TV show that I have enjoyed over the years. In case you're not familiar, the premise of Storage Wars is that 4 groups of real-life hustlers buy storage lockers where the original owners stopped paying the rent and may have skipped town. After a certain period, the storage area company tries to recoup their losses by putting up for auction the abandoned property left inside the default locker while at the same time, have the winner pay out of his own pocket costs to move that stuff out. I think there is someone in my office who did just that... leave Vegas with all his furniture in a storage locker and not pay the rent.
In most cases, the bidders can't see fully into the locker and you are not allowed to touch anything, so bidders often bid blindly. They sometimes often backstab each other by bidding on a locker they have no intention of buying just to drain the cash of the guy who wants it.
I was the only fan of Storage Wars, and used the YUUUUUUUUUP that Hester always did on the show while playing Vault Wars, but no one else got it..
But I digress.
In Vault Wars, there are 16 lockers in a four player game to bid on; four per each player.
There is a variety of options in the cards (bidders see only some or none of the items in the "locker") and sometimes bid blindly, just like in Storage Wars.
Typical fantasy items had jewels, sword, elven chestplates, dragon eggs, etc..
Oh, and lots of lots of junk.
You try and fool the other players by having them bid high on unseen junk and bid low on unseen treasure that you will grab to yourself.
There is some bluffing going on.. If you know your storage locker/fantasy vault has nothing but junk, you could try to bid high hoping you'd fool some other shmuck to bid even higher and give you the gold while they get the crap.
A loan shark is there to give you some coin, but it costs you victory points to do so.
You're not alone, as you get helpers to along the way.. heroes and workers.
I was going to slap this bouncer on everyone for instance, but someone played another worker on me, slapping that card against me, negating my plan to sucker money out of the high bidder much to everyone's amusement.
The rules of the game are pretty simple, even for a card game, but you know what.. our gaming night was starting to revive after the 1000 moving parts drudgery of The Gallerist thanks to Vault Wars..
The jokes were coming back while were were playing.. the first of the night.. laughter at suckering someone, the little commentary when you thought someone was bluffing.. our group was getting back it's mojo from this simple card game that got drained playing the Gallerist.
It's scoring 7.26 as of today on BGG, and deservedly so.. In it's compact box, and relatively cheap price.
Pixie won game 1 and posted a selfie of herself holding up the winners card on her Facebook page.
Jim won the second game.
I give Vault Wars a YUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUP and would like to try it again sometime.