27th Apr 2023 - Mombasaby Robin. Fri, 28 Apr (Updated at Fri, 28 Apr)
The time has come for me to write about Mombasa, which my group played in the tournament this week. If we focus purely on the mechanics, this is a nice game, with some interesting bits like the resting decks; and the mix of ways to get points including things exclusive to you like the diamonds and books, and things that others can influence - namely the share prices.
So far so good, but I felt it was let down - just like Alexander Pfister's other high-flyer (Great Western Trail) - by not being that well balanced. There are some ways to get points that are consistently better than others. In GWT, the best way to win is with the cows; in Mombasa, the best way to win is by [Ed's strategy]*. The rest of us knew this beforehand, I think, but failed to stop Ed doing it, so he won. These not-perfectly-balanced games are fine to play once in isolation, but they don't hold up so well when subjected to the practice they get for the tournament.
My two games of Mombasa have established it alongside Vinhos as a game that I always finish second at. But unlike Vinhos, which I can happily play over and over regardless of the outcome, two goes at Mombasa is enough for me. That's partly because Mombasa is on the theme of European merchants exploiting Africa, which is not a role that I've ever fancied having a go at. But maybe in due course I'd try its sister game, Skymines, which uses similar mechanics in the (hopefully) less controversial setting of the Moon.
Elsewhere, it was good to see the founding fathers at the next table, playing A Brief History Of The World; while around them the club was going from strength to strength, with its own tables and gaming mats, a refurbished upstairs room, the tournament in full swing, new members joining, and 7 full tables in play. When they first set up the club, way back when Brass was just a twinkle in Martin Wallace's eye, I guess they would have been happy with this outcome.
With all the other tables I'm not sure I can give a full run-down, but other games I'm aware of were Darwin's Journey, Amerigo, Impression and Through The Desert - plus side-orders of Tsuro and Perudo.
And there was a second game of Mombasa, which may or may not have been a tournament game, according to whether or not Karen knew it was happening. Ian is hoping it was the tournament game, having won. So Karen if you're around any time between now and August I'm sure the others will be glad to reschedule 🙂
* Top-secret till the other tournament games are finished.