We started off this week with the Rio Grande game, Vikings, designed by Michael Kiesling. I had played this before as a two player but it plays quite differently with a full complement of four.
The game is played over six rounds. In each, there are twelve sets of tile/viking avaialable for purchase. On a player's turn, you choose which set to purchase and then place the tile in your own map area and either place the viking on that tile, if it fits, or place it on your homeland, waiting for a boatman to ferry it across to an island. As sets are purchased, the price of the remaining tiles gets progressively cheaper and once all the sets of tile/viking have been purchased, the round ends and there is either a minor scoring (rounds 1,3 and 5 where your goldsmiths generate additional coins for use in later purchases) or a big scoring (rounds 2,4 and 6 when all your placed vikings bring either victory points or more coins). After the sixth round there is a final scoring, when bonuses are scored for things like having discovered the most or the largest islands and how many of your vikings can be fed by your fishermen. Highest number of VPs wins.
There is quite a bit to weigh up in choosing which tile/viking set to purchase. Do I buy a cheap set to conserve my cash or spend more to guarantee getting the set I really need before someone else picks it. And you need to think about the endgame position and where to concentrate your placement. In our game, the bonuses were critical. I had lagged behind in points scoring for most of the game but I managed to place more fishermen than I needed to feed my vikings and secured 10 bonus points and this was enough to push me beyond the others' VP totals. I really like this one. It's quick, there are lots of ways to explore scoring points while being fairly simple to explain and play. Good stuff.