Across the Spectrum: From Haba to Splotter
October 2, 2007
We all know about the great publishers like Rio Grande Games, Mayfair Games, Fantasy Flight Games, Z-Man Games, Hans im Gluck, Kosmos, Amigo, Ravensburger, Alea, Queen, Uberplay, etc. and their many wonderful light, medium-weight, and heavy games, ranging all the way from Fjords and Coloretto to Caylus and Puerto Rico. However, Iíve recently had the pleasure of playing games that actually fall outside that spectrum, despite its incredible breadth. Haba and Splotter Spellen are the two publishers Iím speaking of, and while the former publishes ultra-light games (ostensibly designed for children), the latter publishes ultra-heavy games with countless chits and hour upon hour of brain-burning gameplay. Whatís incredible is that both publishers and their games are fabulous! I definitely believe that the Haba games that fall outside the traditional eurogame spectrum as being even lighter than the traditional fillers (i.e., For Sale, Coloretto, No Thanks, Hey! Thatís My Fish!), and the Splotter games that fall outside the traditional eurogame spectrum as being even heavier than the traditional meaty games (i.e., Caylus, Puerto Rico, Tigris & Euphrates, Goa) complement each other quite well, and would actually do very well paired together for a game night.
I recently had the pleasure of enjoying the game Schnapp published by Haba and the game Antiquity published by Splotter, and despite the games being as different as could be, they go together like peanut butter and jelly. Schnapp is a dexterity game (as many Haba games are, such as Tier auf Tier and Maus nach Haus) that pits players against each other in a raucous shoving match. If you play with eight players then you divide everyone into four teams of two, assigning each team a color. You place a bunch of thick wooden discs face down in the center of the table (with each team color depicted on the underside of a few discs). Then players take turns launching a random disc into the air using a see-saw-esque implement, and players lunge to grab the disc mid-air if it is their teamís color. The first team to successfully grab a predetermined number of discs of their color wins the game. As you can probably imagine, this can devolve into quite a wild affair, but in a good way! Itís the perfect game to play after an exhausting and draining game of Antiquity to liven up the evening.
Now Iím certainly not ambitious enough to try to supply a similarly concise explanation of Antiquity in this space because that would be utterly impossible, but suffice it to say that Antiquity has well over 500 small bits, representing various buildings and resources, and over 50 rules clarification questions posed on BoardGameGeek. Itís an intensely complex game of resource management with a number of possible winning conditions and countless paths to victory. Antiquity costs over $100 and is certainly not for the faint of heart, especially because your flourishing civilization in the game wonít be flourishing for long as the pollution your cities produce quickly begins to overwhelm you and fill your cities with countless pesky graves. Where Schnapp provides 15 minutes of silly fun, Antiquity provides 4 hours of challenging fun.
This is a pair of fabulous games and a pair of excellent publishers, but an unlikely pair that you wouldnít generally compare in any way, except in the enjoyment they provide.