Bausack: Sac Noir
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I've played Bausack which is essentially the same game as Bausack: Sac Noir, but the Sac Noir edition has extra pieces. I really enjoy this game for a few reasons:
I've played Villa Paletti and Jenga. This game takes the cake for build/stacking type games. I'm anxious to try out more like this.
In this game, there are several different methods to play, but the crux of the game involves each player building a tower out of various shapes and sizes of wooden blocks. Each player has one tower built upon a single small wooden block, and each addition to the tower increases the chance it will topple. Pieces are either purchased (to stablize your structure) or forced upon other people (to require them to play space-occupying or unwieldy blocks), until only one tower remains, and that person is winner. Strategy arises in determining whether to pass on a piece by paying the appropriate cost, or playing the piece for free onto your own tower and dealing with its potential consequences.
I purchased this game on the recommendation in designer Klaus Teuber's (Settlers, Starfarers, etc.) interview, albeit somewhat hesitantly, because I am an extremely shaky person and while I enjoyed the concept of another popular dexterity game, Villa Paletti, I hated ruining that game for everyone else every time I made an uncoordinated move and crashed the structure. Additionally, I never felt like the winner in that game (the last person to successfully make a move), really felt satisfied by a win. The game focused on who was the LOSER. I felt that in Villa Paletti the most pleasure derived from seeing how high the structure could get and still stand.
In my opinion, Bausack overcomes this problem by its last-man-standing win condition, and yet retains the pleasure of seeing a complex structure, because a game between skilled players will sometimes result in some amazingly elaborate buildings.
So, I love this game because when you mess up, you only trash your own building. Everyone has their own tower to build, which means that by the end of the game, everyone has these interesting, always-unique buildings.
A final word about this game is that almost everyone who has played this game with me has enjoyed it. While I would be very hesitant to introduce Settlers or El Grande to a large subset of people, Bausack is easy to explain and introduce to anybody, and you can play with almost any number of people, although the bag says 2-8, we've played more than that. And, its universal appeal does not fault its strategy or complexity as other popular games might. There are some very interesting strategies that arise, and the game does NOT rely on who has the steadiest hand. (As I win this game MUCH more often than my shakiness should dictate)
I've noticed a price increase in this game recently, and I almost docked a star from the game because of that. The blocks, while interestingly diverse and painted, aren't extremely unique and admittedly look like a children's $15 playset, while this game goes for double that of many high quality wooden and painted boardgames. Nevertheless, we can't get enough of this game in both my hardcore gaming groups and when I bring it home for a game with my family, so I will keep it rated at 5 stars.