First looks at three new games

Last month a friend brought over a copy of Flamecraft, which I recognized from our Origins A-list but it was sold out before we could register. The game is set in a town with a collection of shops, each of which natively has one good type that you can acquire there. You can play cards to expand a shop. If you gather the right combinations of goods, you can enchant shops to make them even better (and earn points). Shops have capacity limits, and as they fill up new shops come out so there's always stuff to do. It's a cute game with (mostly) good production values, and I'm glad we got to play it. One thing that I found suboptimal is that the layout is long and skinny, so no matter where you sit, you can't see everything without getting up and looming over the table. Maybe some people don't have that problem, but several of us did.

At Pennsic our camp has a gameroom (look, have you met us?), and somebody brought a copy of Equinox. This is a card game with betting and attempting to manipulate the outcome. There are eight magical creatures, one of which will be eliminated each round. You can place betting tokens on creatures; earlier bets pay off more, but if a creature you bet on gets eliminated before the end, you get nothing for that bet. For each creature there are cards numbered 0 through 9, plus there are chameleon cards (also 0 through 9) that can be played anywhere. On your turn you play a card from your hand into the corresponding "slot" for the current round. You can play over existing cards -- so if someone played an 8 on that creature you want to eliminate, you can play a "0" there. Turns continue until every creature has something for that round (so at least eight turns but it could be a lot more), and then the lowest-valued creature is eliminated and you go to the next round. Each creature also has a special power, which you can use if you play on it and you're the majority better. I played this a few times throughout the week and enjoyed it. I expect we'll buy a copy.

Yesterday two friends joined us for games and food and we played Point City, which they had just gotten from Kickstarter. (General release is next month.) This is from the same folks who made Point Salad and the style is similar, though Point City has more strategy. Two-sided cards are dealt out into a market; one side shows one of five resources (or a wildcard) and the other side shows a building. Buildings require specified resources and produce some value -- usually they give you permanent resources, but they might also give you victory points or "civics" points, which are variable scoring rewards. In a manner similar to Splendor, you're trying to build up permanent resources so that you can build other cards without first needing to get and spend the one-shot resource cards. On your turn you take two adjacent cards from the market, and if you take a building you must be able to build it immediately (you do not have a hand of cards). If you don't have a valid play, you draw two resources from the deck.

We played this a few times and liked it -- it's a nice, tight game that doesn't take a long time to play (though I disbelieve the claimed lower bound of 15 minutes, even for experienced players). We plan to buy this when it's available.