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First Take Friday – Overbooking, Trio (nana), Four Gardens, Similo: Harry Potter, My First Carcassonne

In First Take Fridays we offer hot takes on games that are new to us. This week we have Overbooking, Trio (nana), Four Gardens, Similo: Harry Potter, and My First Carcassonne.

Overbooking – Justin Bell

Here’s when you know a game is in trouble: when you win, and you aren’t that excited about the experience.

Such was the case after my first play of Overbooking (2022, HUCH!), a four-round card game featuring special powers, limited public knowledge, and set-collection scoring with a hotel guest theme. Players can earn points by playing cards into one of the (usually) four slots to get into a hotel with a set limit of rooms, as long as the hotel has enough space and that no one messes with the rules for a set of spaces.

There’s a little more to it than this, but not enough to remain interesting. After having some of my guests bumped out of the hotel in the early rounds of the game, I just took turns placing all of my cards into all of the front-of-hotel locations in the hopes that I would score enough of these to win. It was never interesting, and it badly overstays its welcome (by at least a full round). Not heading back for this one any time soon!

Ease of entry?:
★★★★☆ – The odd bump or two
Would I play it again?:
☆☆☆☆☆ – No chance

Read more articles from Justin Bell.

Trio (nana) – Tom Franklin

A game that, as of this writing, is only available in Japan as nana, friend and BoardGameGeek.com contributor W. Eric Martin came back from Essen Spiel with a copy of the rebranded edition, Trio, which should be available worldwide in 2023.

Played with three sets of cards numbered 1-12, cards are dealt out to all players with a small pool of face-down cards in the center of the table. On a turn, you’re only able to ask people to show you their highest or lowest cards. If you can correctly identify three of a kind, you’ll claim the cards. Collect five sets of cards, or the gold foil 7 cards, and you’ll win.

A quick game that was more fun than I expected.

Ease of entry?:
★★★★☆ – The odd bump or two
Would I play it again?:
★★★★☆ – Would like to play it again

Read more articles by Tom Franklin.

Four Gardens – Bob Pazehoski, Jr.

If an exaggerated-but-strangely-satisfying gimmick is what you’re after, look no further than the 3D, four-story Pagoda standing at the center of Four Gardens from Arcane Wonders. With each side of each story bearing a different number of a given resource, the tension of the game rests in spinning and manipulating the Pagoda so that needed resources point your way. Since the resources always release from top to bottom, the game moves from tension to outright struggle over acquiring those lowest level resources before very limited storage space fills up.

Four Gardens is also a race to the finish as players attempt to place the aforementioned resources onto cards that form varied panoramic images. The race to ten is tight, and as the images are revealed, players move with a hint of aggression along four tracks dedicated to the gods, collecting bonuses of decreasing value. The Pagoda looks far more playful than the level of strife on the scoreboard. Our first run was two players and it was a back-and-forth until the finish. A well-planned final round can swing the score radically, but there’s a bevy of interesting decisions inside.

Ease of entry?:
★★★★★ – No sweat
Would I play it again?:
★★★★★ – Will definitely play it again

Read more articles from Bob Pazehoski, Jr.

Similo: Harry Potter – Andy Matthews

Similo is a cooperative deduction game with a deck of 30 cards, each with an overarching theme. In my case it was Similo: Harry Potter, but there are decks for Halloween, animals, myths, and loads more. Since my whole family loves all things Harry Potter it was an easy thing to convince my two youngest sons to play. In Similo, one person is the clue-giver, trying to get the others to guess a single card from a 12 card tableau. They use the remaining cards to provide clues based on physical appearance, colors, gender, character personality, and more. A clue card laid sideways indicates that card matches the character in some way, while a horizontal card indicates it doesn’t match. The game teaches in about 30 seconds and you can play an entire round in just a few minutes. Best of all it fits in a pocket or purse. This one’s a definite keeper!

Ease of entry?:
★★★★★ – No sweat
Would I play it again?:
★★★★★ – Will definitely play it again

Read more articles from Andy Matthews.

My First Carcassonne – David McMillan

Designed by Marco Teubner (whose game Safranito was an official recommendation for the Spiel des Jahres in 2011), My First Carcassonne takes its namesake and distills it down into a very child-friendly format. Gone are the abbeys, cities, and fields. Gone are the opportunities to block your opponents from finishing their structures. In fact, gone is the aspect of playing out workers and retrieving them after scoring features. My First Carcassonne is not a victory point competition. It’s a race to the finish to see who can place out all of their workers first. And these can only be placed out whenever a road is completed.

At first, I thought that, being such a massive Carcassonne nerd, I was going to truly dislike this game, but I was pleasantly surprised at just how much strategic depth Teubner was able to achieve with such a simple concept. Not that my four year old picked up on those subtleties just yet. While he quickly grasped the concept of closing roads, he didn’t savvy the concept of only trying to close roads that benefited him. But that’s just all the more reason to play some more!

Ease of entry?:
★★★★★ – No sweat
Would I play it again?:
★★★★☆ – Would like to play it again

Read more articles from David McMillan.

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About the author

Justin Bell

Gamer / husband / dad / DEI champion / foodie / hoop head / cinephile / travel enthusiast. If you're in Chicago, let's meet up and roll some dice! @justinbellsays

About the author

Tom Franklin

By day, I'm a mild-mannered IT Manager with a slight attitude. By night I play guitar & celtic bouzouki, board games, and watch British TV. I love abstracts, co-ops, worker placement and tile-laying games. Basically, any deep game with lots of interesting choices. 

You can find my middle grade book, The Pterrible Pteranodon, at your favorite online bookstore.

And despite being a DM, I have an inherent dislike of six-sided dice.

About the author

Bob Pazehoski, Jr.

On any given day, I am a husband and father of five. I read obsessively and, occasionally, I write stories of varying length, quality, and metrical structure. As often as possible, I enjoy sitting down to the table for a game with friends and family. I'm happy to trumpet Everdell, in all its charm and glory, as the insurmountable favorite of my collection.

About the author

Andy Matthews

Founder of Meeple Mountain, editor in chief of MeepleMountain.com, and software engineer. Father of 4, husband to 1, lover of games, books, and movies, and all around nice guy. I run Nashville Game Night, and Nashville Tabletop Day.

About the author

David McMillan

IT support specialist by day, Minecrafter by night; I always find time for board gaming. When it comes to games, I prefer the heavier euro-game fare. Uwe Rosenberg is my personal hero with Stefan Feld coming in as a close second.

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