Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gosu- the Wife Likes It!

I try and avoid getting caught up in the buzz that precedes some games. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail (as witnessed by the unplayed copy of Dungeon Lords in the hallway). When Gosu was released I struggled to be good and failed miserably. Fortunately Gosu has turned out to be a fun little game that probably deserves the hype.

Gosu stands for "goblin supremacy". The backstory is that several clans of goblins are battling and only one army will be supreme. More on the theme later. In a game of Gosu you lay out cards in rows. Each card has an illustration of some sort of goblin on it and each card has some effect- maybe an immediate effect, maybe something that can be triggered later. Each goblin card has a points value and the winner of a battle is the person with the most points of goblins in front of them at the end of a round. If you win a battle you get a victory chip and the first person with three chips wins the game.

Gosu turns out to be very exciting and challenging in play, even as it sounds deadly dull in text. Each goblin card has some effect on the game. One challenge is to play a card when it is most useful and to save it when it's not. Card abilities can be activated but you have limited activations in each round so you have to be careful to not waste them. Finally, some cards are useful right away and then waste space. You can exchange a goblin in a row with one from your hand at a price. Thus, a final challenge is modifying your rows of goblins to suit how the game is developing.

Gosu is a very lively game. Players can destroy or exchange goblin cards. Some goblin powers benefit a player with fewer victory chips thus keeping every player within reach of victory. I imagined my rows of goblins as being fairly static once placed but in play you're constantly adjusting or remodeling to suit circumstances. Goblin powers can also create sequences of effects and triggering off some elaborate chain of events is pretty satisfying.

If there's one criticism to Gosu it's that it has little to do with goblins. The cards could just as easily have illustrations of French nobility, factories, or DNA components. I enjoyed Race for the Galaxy because it seemed less abstract (to me, others feel otherwise). It would be a mistake to see Gosu as a fighting or war game, it's really a management game with goblin illustrations.

I was very happy with Gosu and so was my poor, tolerant wife! She enjoys systematic, logical games and liked the idea of managing a big hoard of goblins. I'm sure that's no commentary on our children but it does suggest that this game has decent crossover potential for teens and younger players. I think it certainly has good replay value and I believe there are a flood of expansions planned. I would recommend it and advise beginners that a real sense of the game play may only come after a test game.

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