Monthly Archives: February 2014

Weekly Gaming 26/02/2014 (+ Halesowen #5)

I usually try and write up Halesowen within a couple of days, but I seem to have been busy a lot of the week and it’s taken me some time to do it. As a result I rolled it into my ‘weekly gaming’ post instead ^^. Apologies about the incoming colossal walls of text but lots of gaming happened this week!

Wednesday – Halesowen Board Gamers

At Halesowen last week I got to introduce 3 new players to Viticulture. I’ve talked about the game in previous posts so I’ll save you the introduction to what it’s about, but suffice to say I really love this game and think the mechanisms are highly thematic and hugely enjoyable. In fact the expansion is being kickstarted on the 12th march which I’m looking forward to, it will be interesting to see how this one goes as Jamey (The designer) is looking to stop using exclusives in his campaigns, something which is often believed to draw a lot of backers in.

Our game started off with players looking a bit too far ahead and trying to think about how they’d get their orders filled, while I appreciate the reasoning it’s interesting seeing what people go for to try and make it happen before realising that it’s going to take a few years to get their vineyards up and running. Mike Started with a cottage, which was set to give him a lot of options throughout the game, although perhaps too many for a first time round (There was a lot of time spent trying to work out what he could manage with the huge number of options ^^). I also got a cottage, as I feel it’s extremely powerful, with a tasting room and Irrigation being other early buildings I saw (Don’t remember who had them, it was a week ago sorry! ^^).

As we got through the game all players managed to get a reasonably well running system, with 2 of the new players being ahead of me for a while in the game. I spent a lot of time building up and let a lot of grapes/wines sit and age throughout the game for a rush later on (A bit cheeky really as new players don’t really know to do so) of orders. The game actually ended very close between me and Mike, with me being able to hit all the way up to 25 in the final year (I think) and Mike hitting 22 that same year by managing his cards effectively. John came third with 17 and Ian with 10, not quite being given enough time to capitalize his vineyard. It was a good game, although this is a very poor report as I’ve been too busy to get it done earlier!

We finished up with a game of Carcassonne with Me, Ian & Mike as John had to head off. The game went by fairly friendly, although in an absolutely haphazard layout as I was doing some silly placements to try and nab features and take points off the others (Mainly off Mike). In the end as it turns out that was probably pretty stupid, as I left myself trailing in 3rd place with ian 2nd & Mike taking the lead with his French-city building experience proving superior ^^.

Thursday – Games with Mum

On Thursday I went to my parents house for the evening, and took along Caverna to introduce it to my Mum, who bought it for me as a late Christmas present. While an intimidating looking game with a crazy amount of components she was up for it nonetheless so I got it set up after dinner and dived into teaching her how it all works. I’ve got to compliment my Mum here as she’s absolutely amazing at listening to and picking up the rules to games, and while it clearly had her a bit confused managed to work everything out in no time at all (Better than many people who play board games all the time and not just when their son pesters them to ^^).

I usually go for weapons and adventuring for my dwarves, but decided on this occasion to go for a farming route. Mum opted to go for weapons and push for adventurers, spending the first couple of turns excitedly wanting to know how to get her dwarves geared up while getting tiles out into her fields/cave a little bit. While I got myself some wheat planted nice and early, Mum got herself a level 3 adventurer as soon as able and got to work leveling him up. I must have not emphasized feeding enough as at the first harvest she struggled with food and had to take a beggar token to keep her dwarves alive, but this helped her get the gist of the challenges in managing what you should plan for in this game.

Once I’d got my farm in a good state (grain, vegetables and all animal types) I focused for a little while filling in my Cave and having some Dwarven newborn. Mum got her adventurer high enough to furnish caverns and got herself a slaughtering cave before deciding to go for a 3rd dwarf, at this point she asked an…er…interesting question “Why can’t I keep my newborn dwarf in the slaughtering cave”, while perhaps not in those exact words I found it pretty hilarious and explained that she needed a dwelling ^^. She also managed by this point to get her fields well planted with grain and vegetables making her troubles with feeding absolutely no more.

At the end of the game I’d gotten a well built farm and cave (Although it was lacking in mines) with many animals that net me a lot of points. I’d also capitalized on a heavily built up ore spot and taken the ore-storage to net 9 points from that. My Mum had a well balanced finish with an ore mine in her Cave and 2-4 of each animal, as well as plenty of grain & vegetables on the side, but lacking in VP furnishings (I didn’t buy any at all my first game so the slaughtering cave itself was a cool thing to see ^^). The score was 60-34 in the end, and I look forward to playing again. I suspect a couple of games down the line and she could trounce me, so maybe just one more before I introduce her to something else ;).

Friday – UoB Tabletop Society

On Friday at UoB tabletop we played Space Cadets for the first time. I got the game recently at a great price through the UK Math trade, and was excited to get the opportunity to try it out with 4 of us. I don’t know if we did a single rule correct, but this was an absolute blast and I look forward to my next opportunity to play, which will be after much watching of video’s and trying to figure out everything to be able to teach people in less than an hour+ ^^. In Space Cadets, players take the part of different members of the crew of a spaceship, performing their individual & unique tasks to try and come together and complete missions. The actual tasks that have to be done are fairly simple, but you get a very limited amount of time to do them! A timer is used throughout the game giving 30 second blocks for players to simultaneous work on their stuff, hopefully to the benefit of everyone.

The roles in the game consist of the Captain, who does little but flip the timer; Engineering, which involves laying tiles carc-style to generate and distribute energy; Tractor Beams, which means flipping tiles to try and grab nearby objects; Weapons, who has to load missiles with tetris-pieces and grids, then fire them by disc-flicking; Shields, which involves making poker hands to get energy to the various sides of the ship; Jump, to ready the ship and get it prepped to jump out of the system when the mission is complete; Helm, who has to navigate the ship across a map using limited movement cards, and try not to hit too many asteroids and leave the ship overy exposed, and Damage Control, which is for tracking damage to the ship and trying to repair it with a set of rather dubious success-rate cards.

Everything comes together in the game in a hugely hectic mashup where people try so hard and still struggle to complete their deceptively simple bits and pieces. We spent a long while fumbling our way through space achieving little but to take damage before we finally managed to tighten the reigns a little to take out some enemies, but it was oh so satisfactory when we did! We had to leave before finishing the mission, but had grabbed 2/3 crystals and killed half the enemies by that time, so I’m calling that we could have done it despite our half destroyed ship. Huge amount of fun and I look forward to playing this gem some more on games days to come, and perhaps it’s sequel dice-duel that sounds even more fun ^^.

Sunday – Zombicide Games Day

Sunday this week me, Grace & Handy got together to play some games at my house. A couple others were interested but couldn’t make it so we went ahead and three muskateered it. The first game played, which I picked up from the UK Math Trade was Carcassonne, a tile-laying game where players manage their small supply of meeples to try and gather as many points as possible before every tile is used up. There are 4 places you can put meeples (Done when you place a tile) – Fields, which get 3 points/completed city at end game, Cities, that are worth 2-4 points per tile when completed, or half at end of game, Roads, which are just worth 1 point per tile, and cloisters, which are worth one point + 1 for each surrounding tile. The latter 3 of those give you back the meeple (You have 7) when finished off, so you get them back available for other tasks.

Our game went by in a relatively friendly fashion, with minimal nabbing of each others stuff. We got some pretty large cities as we went by but ultimately everything seemed to come down to fields that are worth a ridiculous amount of points. I think I may have won but I don’t really remember, it was a cool looking board after though!

We followed up with Zombicide, which was the main aim of the evening as it rarely comes out (due to length) but everyone loves to play it. We went for a mission in the Prison Outbreak book, #6 I think, where we started with a split party in a prison, with one group trying to open security doors to reunite the party, before the other group get swamped by the spawn zones which are all in their half of the prison. We achieved the first task fairly quickly and all was seeming well, so we added an extra objective that we had to take the extra objectives in order to escape (We could have ignored them). As it turned out it was a real challenge fighting our way down there, as the 2 spawns surrounding that location were a real pain to deal with. Half our party started with dogs however, and these proved to be invaluable in dealing with threats early on, as well as improving Handy’s melee attacks to a silly level when he found a chainsaw. Grace managed to get a sniper rifle together which she made good use of to clear the way of toxics so my dog could melee and our other characters could move a little more freely.

During the game, we had a good number of Abominations come out (4-5 maybe) which I was able to deal with in short order with Brad as I had a 3 damage revolver to one shot them all. We were playing with a custom abominiation rule I made where they get extra abilities as you advance through danger levels (Starting off easier, ending harder) which worked out exactly as I’d hoped, in that it removed the feeling of ‘Guess we’d better search for the next 20-turns’ that they used to come with (Though ironically we got an early molotov anyway). Handy almost opened up the far side of the prison before we were probably ready to deal with it, but came into line as we needed a hand getting to the objective to open the exit door before he released the horde (To get out, you have to open a security door that also opens a ton of cells). By this point we were strong enough to tear through these enemies, and I think every character got up to red level to play with ultra-red weapons we’d had wasting inventory space until this moment. Grace & Handy opted to stick around in the prison a little to play with their new-found guns while I started clearing up ^^. This game is an absolute ton of fun and it’s a shame we don’t get to play it more often (On the other hand it would be a shame to never play other things if we did try to force it every game night). Till next time Zombicide!

We were a little lighter afterwards, breaking out Smash Up, a game that I think all 3 of us enjoy a’plenty. In our first game of this I was Elder Things + Aliens, Handy was Carnivorous Plants + Dinosaurs & Grace was Pirate + Ninjas. I never got the Shoggoths throughout the game which I think helped, as I usually get myself hung up trying to place the damn things, instead I managed to chain my cards well to throw a ton of madness at my opponents. Handy made good use of drawing a lot but ended up using most actions removing madness, & Grace made do quite well but had a very hostile pair of factions that didn’t get enough opportunities to grab points. I think I took victory by the end although it was close and decided by the madness in Handy’s deck.

In our second game, we cthulhu’d up a little more and had Me as Wizard Cultists, Handy as Local Zombies & Grace as Miskatonic Bear Cavalry. Wizards worked really well with cultists as I didn’t feel as much strain in getting rid of the madness they generate as usual, although I still failed to really achieve anything with them. Handy’s locals managed to get everywhere in crazy stacks, and Grace managed to use her bears to have strong control over the battlefield. In the end Handy won, with me coming dead last (Woohoo for the metagame of screw the last winner) and Grace in second place, good game!

To finish up the evening I got to introduce Grace & Handy to Legacy: Gears of Time. I’ve tried to hint at it a lot recently but for reasons unbeknownst to me most people just aren’t attracted to it, I guess they assume timey-wimey + board games = bad ^^. They gave it a chance though and we got to travelling through time screwing with the normal order of invention to no end to make our Legacy’s superior to our opponents. It’s an interesting game in how it really gets you thinking about how to make bigger, higher scoring technologies come into effect while keeping the lower ones under your control to stop them fizzling into non-existence (Which invalidates the higher ones!). In our game I got a lot of points early, but had Handy manage to leapfrog me and deny me a ton of points in the later rounds. Grace got the unfortunate end of having people steal her technologies and didn’t quite manage to catch up, although I think it could have been even closer! Both enjoyed it so I’m happy to have got it out =)

Tuesday – Gameses

My friend Chris Harrison came around on Tuesday evening for a couple of games. He agreed to Viticulture, as I’ve been wanting to try out some more stuff with it and we made the game a whole lot more complex in the process. I enjoyed it thoroughly and managed to net a lot of points, but I don’t think it was much fun for Chris, which seems to be a recurring theme among my Uni friends with this game (Which is a shame as I love it).

Following that up we got out Legendary by Chris’s suggestion. I’ve not played in a while as I felt pretty burned out on it, but seeing as a good number of my friends have said they really love it I decided it needs to start hitting the table again (Plus seeing as he didn’t enjoy Viticulture it only seemed fair ^^). I’m glad we did so, as with a custom scheme I got from the variant forums the game felt refreshed and challenging. We were fighting Dr. Doom, with the caveat that we weren’t allowed to fight him when more than 2 villains were in the city and every scheme twist increased his strength by 1 (8 twists). In addition the villain deck was just 3 villain groups, making them tough to deal with at all. There was 5 twists out before we could even hit the mastermind! Fortunately I got some lucky draws from Gambit’s ‘Reveal top, if X-men draw it’ despite him being by only x-men in my deck and managed to net a few turns where I could take our Doom as we neared the end. I think we were 3 villain cards from losing when I finally took him down a final time. Harrison’s blade focused deck turned out not to work as well against this scheme as it might on others letting me take the individual victory. We saved the world though, wooh! (Or whatever the schemes name was…may have forgotten, ^^).

So that’s my last week in games, which seems to have been quite intense judging from the amount I’ve written! Apologies to anyone from Halesowen that reads that it took me a whole week to get around to writing it up ^^. Thanks for skimming! (C’mon…like you read all that ;))

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Weekly Gaming 18/02/2014

I’ve had a nice week and I’m glad to be sharing about what games I got into over it once again. Halesowen of course is in a separate post so check that out too if you’re interested!

Friday

Friday was the UoB tabletop society as usual. I got there a bit late as they’ve closed the car park by the guild where it’s held so I had to head home and walk instead (I don’t mind the walk, but arriving later sucks ^^). On arrival there was a seemingly quite intense game of power grid going on, with as many spectators as players, so the first half-hour/hour was spent socializing.

I suggested Euphoria initially, but there wasn’t much interest so we went to another great option – Ticket To Ride: Europe. In TTR you collect sets of cards in 7 colours to be able to place train routes across a map. In this version you also have 3 ‘stations’ which can be used to make use of a blocked train route at the end of the game, but you essentially lose 5 points each time you use one, making them best avoided if possible. As the game was coming to an end I had to make a decision on using a station or drawing cards, as there didn’t look to be enough turns left to complete my biggest route unless I drew a rainbow I went for the station. When we scored up, the top end of the scores were fairly close, with my being exactly as many points behind as I could have gained by taking the gamble and drawing those couple of turns later (Someone else drew and there was indeed a rainbow train!), bummer! My girlfriend Grace took home the victory that I was so close to matching ^^.

Following on from TTR, we played Among the Stars as we had a limited time remaining. We had a full complement of 6 players for this game, a first for that count (I think 5 may be the highest before, but maybe it was 6 then too). I didn’t include any expansion content or player abilities to keep things easier for new players and to stick to the time limit. Most players just managed things as they went along, as it’s pretty difficult to strategize for your first game, and even harder with 6 players as you never know what cards you’ll get passed to you. Greg focused on immediate abilities to rush for both the ‘first to 50’ objective and by extension, the ‘most immediate locations’ objective, along with good use of cards that’re unbalanced by higher player counts (Will have to watch for that in future games), everyone else was fairly spread out as I remember, and the 3rd objective went to waste as me & Grace tied for least power reactors.

It was a good day, followed by a bit of a rest on Saturday, where lots of video games got played and we didn’t really find time to get out and about. Sunday however we…well you’ll have to wait for the next section in 3…2…1…

Sunday

On Sunday I visited my girlfriends family in Leicester where we had something of a games day. Her Uncle really likes Dixit after I introduced it months ago and was interested in playing it more as well as trying some other games, and I was more than happy to oblige! I bought a variety of games along – Dixit, Qwirkle, Ticket To Ride, Forbidden Desert, Steam Noir: Revolution, Belfort & Euphoria along to play, with all but the latter 3 (The most complicated and so only there if people really wanted to) getting played.

First up was Dixit, a bluffing game played with absolutely gorgeous cards in a race to 30 points. Each round has one player as the ‘storyteller’ who picks one of their 6 cards in secret and says something about it. Everyone else picks a card and puts it in too, with them then being shuffled and placed out in front of everyone. Players then vote to try and guess the storytellers card. Players guessing correctly get 3 points, with the storyteller getting 3 if some, but not all, or none, of the players guess correctly. When a players card is voted for (aside from the storytellers) they also get a point. It’s hard to appreciate the charm without playing, but suffice to say it’s a very good party game. I won on this occasion, with some lucky guessing on peoples cards (More elimination than actually picking the right one ^^) and being a little underhanded with references the older generation were unlikely to know. We moved on after as Me & Grace have played this quite a lot and burn out fast on it.

Out next game was a new one to Grace’s family, and one I only picked up within a week thanks to a half-price offer (Presumably because people didn’t want to buy a German version of a game, even though it’s language independant). I put Zug um Zug out on the table and chatter immediately broke out about where people had visited/cycled over the years! In Ticket To Ride/Zug um Zug players build sets of train cards in 7 colours to place trains on the board between cities, with the aim being to complete routes unique to each player to gain victory points (Uncompleted routes are negatives!). We got to it with some players getting trains out quickly and me/Grace’s Dad mostly hoarding cards to try and get longer routes/more choices in placement. By the end, Rick (Grace’s uncle) had managed to shoot into the lead even having got extra routes that he mostly completed, taking him way ahead on points. I spent too long trying to get the right colour for a long route instead of wasting rainbows and didn’t get to use them all in the game. It went down well and I’m sure it’ll get played again some other time, very happy to have played it with them all.

We had a short break next for some food, before going back into games with Qwirkle. This game has players putting down tiles that come in 6 shapes that are in 6 colours, to try and make lines of either colour or shape to score points, tiles in a line have to have one matching attribute (such as ‘blue’) and no repeats (So no having 2 blue circles in one line), which actually makes things harder than people expect! I got a good number of 6-in-a-rows (Which are worth double points, so 12 instead of 6) which net me a victory with 75 points to the nearest next player on 74. This also went down quite well, which is good as I like this one a lot as a game to play with people that aren’t interested in going to more complex games ^^.

To finish up the evening, I decided to suggest the least complex of the games left over – Forbidden Desert. This definitely wins for the most unexpected game, with the idea of a cooperative game being totally new to near everyone present. Forbidden Desert has players has a bunch of explorers stranded in the desert after their helicopter crashed, time is short for the sun is ever beating down, with players vying to find the pieces of an ancient airship in the area to rebuild it and fly to safety. This is managed by players having 4 actions in a turn to move, clear and excavate tiles, tiles that are ever shifting, as at the end of a player turn storm cards are drawn to move things around and take things ever closer to a gloomy ending. In our game we managed to gather all 4 of the pieces to rebuild the ship, and even worked out which tile it was under, but ultimately found ourselves too late, running out of water in the final rush and losing out to our unquenched thirst. Just a few more turns would have clenched it! I think people had fun, and hope they might like to play either Forbidden Desert or a similar game like pandemic sometime to once again try their odds at playing with the table isntead of against them. Good Times!

As always, thanks for reading. Now I should get back to what I was doing and look forward to tomorrow evening for halesowen!

Halesowen Board Gamers #4 (02/15/2014)

Halesowen – Wednesday 12/02/2014

Games Played – Eldritch Horror, Ra: The Dice Game

This week I bought along Eldritch Horror, as Dave D/Ian have both commented at some point that they’d like to play it and I figured it was a good choice for the evening. The game is set in a Lovecraftian world where GOO’s – Great Old Ones (Ancient beings of great power) threaten to rise again unless the investigators (players) can discover the plot at hand and stop it before it’s too late! In our game the blind idiot god, Azathoth, threated to rise and destroy the world in his rage.

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(Not entirely sure why this looked so bland, must have a setting messed up on my phone ^^)

You can find an account of this game from Dave’s perspective here:

http://blog.halesowenboardgamers.org.uk/

The game is played in rounds, with each round consisting of 3 phases – action phase, encounter phase & mythos phase. The game ends when either the Mythos deck runs out, or the doom track reaches 0 (Actually it can continue in the latter, but for Azathoth that’s the end, some GOO’s can still be defeated after that). For the players to win, they must solve 3 mysteries before those conditions can occur, to have discovered enough to prevent the…bad things…from happening. The Mysteries are cards specific to each GOO that you can fight and are themed accordingly, but mostly consist of gaining clues and using them in some way to progress towards solving a given mystery.

The first phase in a round is the action phase. Here players have 2 actions to move around and prepare themselves for the encounter phase, and can travel (move 1 space + 1 per ticket), rest (regain some health/sanity), aquire assets (try to gain useful items), gain a ticket or trade with another investigator on their space. They may also perform ‘component actions’, which may be spells, investigator abilities or various other things denoted by their cards. Each action can only be used once in a round however, so movement and recovery tend to be slow!

The second phase is where things happen and the game (hopefully) moves forward! Each investigator in turn draws an encounter card for his space, and resolves effects based on that encounter. There’s a fair variety of possible encounters, including generic (city/wilderness/sea), named cities (such as London, Tokyo, etc), Gate (portals on the board leading to other dimensions, and lettering horrific fiends into our world, these encounters let you close them), Research (GOO specific encounters for gaining clues to solve mysteries) and expeditions (Variety of effects, I never really pay them much attention, and we did none in this particular game).

The third and final phase of a round is where the game fights back. A mythos card is drawn (The mythos deck, I should mention, is generic cards, but organized in a different way for each GOO) and a number of effects are resolved. The top of each Mythos card has 2-3 symbols, and these make things happen such as the omen track moving (Which can advance doom), monsters spawning (All gates matching the omen track spawn monsters), clues spawning and more. Following this there’s a section of flavour text, then a special effects section which can do many different things, good and bad – sometimes the effect is ongoing, and can give the players another thing to worry about as well as the mysteries!).

The game continue doing those three phases until the players take their victory or the GOO rises and destroys everything. There’s a lot of luck in the game as so much is based on card draws, but it can generally all be mitigated if players are careful and work together.

In our game, against Azathoth, we (Myself, Chris Handy, Dave D & Ian) most certainly worked well together, with a set of investigators that turned out to synergize very nicely. My character – Charlie Kane – is a ‘support’ type character who I chose as it was a Handy’s/Ians first game, to be able to help them out a little throughout. I spent a whole lot of actions in the game acquiring assets, even increasing my influence skill to make it an even stronger ability. My characters ability let my give things I gained through it directly to other players, so I didn’t need to meet up somewhere to trade with them. I also managed to close a couple of gates along the way.

Ians role in the game turned out to be that he was master of clues. His characters ability let him trade clues with anyone anywhere on the board, and he spent a lot of time gathering them to pass them on to people who were moving around the board more. He managed to gain a ton of them throughout (6 at one point) and this greatly helped our chances. Dave D had a bit more variety (I think) than us and moved around dealing with gates and clues as he went. Handy ended up with some very powerful combat items (Sword of Saint Jerome + Lighting Gun) so he put some time into destroying monsters, as well as helping with solving mysteries and closing gates as he went.

The game went by fairly smoothly, with our ease of gaining useful items and sharing clues giving us a huge advantage. We had a couple of times as we went where investigators almost died, but nifty flesh ward casting from Ian kept us on the brink and alive. We got one rule wrong (My bad, seeing as I should have known) that the doom track should have advanced when the green comet was reached not the omen track (Azathoths effect) but at most it would have made a 2-3 doom difference and we had loads to spare. Fun game, and glad to have defeated the bad guy for once ^^.

Following on from Eldritch Horror, we played a ‘filler’ game at Dave’s suggestion – Ra: The Dice Game. In this game, players roll 5 dice yahtzee style (Roll, then reroll anything you don’t like up to twice) to make sets of symbols that you can use to advance various tracks and place cubes to set up point scoring for later in the game. The symbols on the dice are Sun, Ra, Ships, Civilization, Monuments and a wildcard. The wildcard can be used for anything, but not for the colour of that wildcard (Monuments and Civilizations have colour limitations and each dice is in one of 5 colours, so you sometimes need a specific coloured dice to be the side you want).

The various ways to score from these things are as follows. Any sun dice are played on the turn track, and are what pushes the game towards an end. If 3 go there however, it does not advance and you score 3 points. If 4 go there, it also does not advance and you get to cause a ‘disaster’ – this lets you do some damage to all other players on one of the various tracks used in scoring. The Ra symbol lets you advance the ‘ra’ track, the person furthest up this gets 5 points in scoring (And is moved down at that time) and the person with the least gets -2 points in scoring, but gets moved up when that happens. The ships let you move the ship track forward, or if you get 3 ship symbols you can cause a ‘flood’ that stacks a second cube on your ship and means it will score in that phase (If you don’t do this, it just doesn’t score!). Civilization gives you -5 for having none, 0 for 1-2 and 5-15 for 3/4/5 used up, and you can only have one of each colour, you need 3 civilization symbols to place one cube in this area. Finally, monuments are placed on a table on the board to gain points based on number of cubes in rows/columns.

Apologies that it’s not a very good explanation, but the gist is that it’s a simple dice rolling game with the strategy being in where you choose to place cubes and what you reroll. In our game, we each had a slightly different focus. Dave D’s focus was on the monuments table, Handy’s was on screwing other players with disasters, mine was on ships, and Ians was more all-rounder, although we all went for everything as a general thing. We didn’t roll all that many suns in the game in terms of moving the track forward, which meant the game took 2-3 times longer than it was supposed to, but we all had fun and got to completey fill the monuments track on the board, which a few people commented on as it’s not generally something that can happen.

We finished up with some very high scores, with me in the lead somewhere around 85 points, and I think last around 60. Lots of fun and I’m glad to have been introduced to it, though I think I’d want the game to be a little quicker next time ^^ (Then again, I’m not surprised people opted against pushing the turn marker forwards when possible, as it’s essentially 1-2 wasted dice when it happens).

Great Evening, such a great group to meet up with for games! Someone suggested an interest in Viticulture next week and as that’s a game I really enjoy I’ll be more than happy to introduce people to it. If I can resist making people play Space Cadets that is (If I even have it by then, receiving through the UK Feb Math Trade). Looking forward to it!

Weekly Gaming 10/02/2014

I got lots of gaming in this week, it’s been a good week! =)

On Wednesday I attended Halesowen board gamers, where we managed to fill up the time with just the one game – Caverna. The game turns out to be a lot of fun and not nearly as miserable as the Secret Cabal led me to suspect ^^. Check out my previous blog post for a more in-depth account of that!

Friday

It was the University’s tabletop society on Friday, and I arrived with the remaining people there (It starts at 2 and I arrive 6ish) play-testing for an upcoming game designed by a friend of mine – Wizard Academy. Unfortunately Greg had to leave before too long, so I just chatted to the only other person that was free while they finished up and discussed the games current state. I hope I get into a test sometime, as it’s a long while since I first tried this particular game.

There were 4 of us left by this time, so we broke out my Anniversary Edition of Galaxy Trucker for a gloriously hectic game. We started on the 1A ships, where I pulled off a ridiculously perfect ship and made a huge amount of points on the other 3 players. For round 2 we went for the wraparound ship (2B?) where things were a little more confusing to build, and I didn’t quite manage to build perfectly. We all did fairly even here I believe. The last round we stuck with the wraparound theme and went for 3C which I’d not yet played – This ship wraps around on both pairs of edges, and has no built in gaps for lasers/engines so you have to leave spaces for them in your ship. It’s not as easy as leaving a big gap though, as you have to pay exorbitant amounts of money if you leave more than a couple of spaces in one block (So lots of little holes is ideal). I did a pretty good job of building my ship, with a biggest gap of 2 and only one mistake, then proceeded to be out on the first adventure card thanks to evil, horrible, nasty invaders eating all my crew ^^. Over that last round all but Ben got eliminated with varying levels of cost for their decimated ships – The last 6 cards were all planets and nice things, giving Ben a massive amount of points and leaping him ahead of me for the overall victory.

Seeing the time, we opted to not have a round 4 and instead changed game. We went for Belfort, which seemed the most reasonable to fit into the amount of time we had, and which had caught the attention of a couple of people there. 2 of us in the game launched into the lead fairly early on, but my income was steeped in 3 guilds which led to people just refusing to use them. My higher tax from scoring high early dragged me back down and I struggled through a lot of the game. <guy that’s not me, Ben or Liam> built up a crazy income through a pair of banks and ultimately managed to set himself up that he was going to win the game through actually being able to pay his taxes. I found it difficult to build much over the game as there was a couple of ‘steal things’ guilds out so stockpiling resources was hard. We got kicked out by security before the game actually finished as it was getting late, but I think the winner was clear anyway as mentioned above ^^.

Saturday

On Saturday I attended Bread + Games, a board games meetup in town that I’ve not been to in a while, as they had a period where it was held in a pub rather than its typical awesome place in an art studio. It’s a long one, and it runs from 2pm till ~10:30pm so there’s lots of gaming to be had. I arrived a little late and sat out for a while, but was approached by another person out of a game after a while to play something while waiting for the bigger groups to finish. Jaipur was one of the options going, and seeing as I’m looking at buying it sometime it seemed like a good option to fill in the gap. As it turns out, it’s a very fun 2P game of trading goods and camels and one I look forward to picking up sometime soonish, particularly as I managed to eek out a victory (Although we only played 1 round rather than 3).

My opponent chose the next game, and grabbed a copy of guild hall as he was interested in trying it with 2. Fate interfered, and an imposter Chris who had been playing games with his son/daughter left them to it and asked to join us. In this set-collection game players play 2 cards from their hand each turn to build up guild ‘chapters’, which are sets of 5 of one profession, in different colours. When a chapter is completed it gets locked, and can be exchanged for points and possibly extra abilities on a turn. I found it pretty lackluster, but did feel a little excited in the last 5 minutes or so from playing a nice chain of actions to jump from 3 to 17 points (20 wins). I lost 20-19-(Er…can’t remember, but it was close). I think I’d play again if asked, but I certainly wouldn’t buy this game.

Following on from Guild Hall I hung around a bit until a few people were free, and had a group join me for a game of Euphoria. It was a full complement of 6 players (Not sure if I’ve done 6 before, 5 might have been the max!) all but me of which were new to the game. Explanation took me a while, as while people were attentive I struggled to be sure I was getting the right bits across to so many people at once! The game was fun, as it always is, although downtime got quite painful on some turns as an unfortunate side effect of Tim (Event organiser) needing to do some maintainance at the venue. Everyone was between 1 & 4 stars left when Dave took the victory with a surprise play (It looked likely for Cath to win, who was on 1 star left with her turn coming soonish).

At this time people mixed around a bit, with ‘Masters of Commerce’ being one of the suggestions. I joined to get the group up to 5 players and sat down for a very unexpected game indeed. In this game players play either landlords or traders, and the game takes place in 2 minute rounds of realtime-bidding for the properties of those landlords. I think if I was in the right mood and with close friends that I was super-comfortable with I’d enjoy this, but my mindset was really not right for such a game at the time so I didn’t do overy great. The other players seemed to have fun though which is great, and I’d love to see an 11 player game of it sometime, although I don’t think I’d really want to be a participant ^^.

To finish up we played Belfort, which I suggested as I figured it should fit in the time we had left with the 3 players we now had. This plus a certain important rule I found out about the day before about majorities on resource spaces getting a bonus had me excited to play. In the game I aimed to try and get as much incoem as possible to make the tax step easier (After it screwed me on Friday ^^). I grabbed a guild as my first building (Gain 2 steel one) as I figured people would often want that over wasting workers by the other method. I also focused on master elf/dwarf upgrade properties to try and get a lot done with minimal workers early in the game to avoid hitting too high on tax brackets. In the end I came in second place, although I still got a good amount over 50 with a score I’m happy with. I really really want to pick up the expansion expansion for Belfort, as the extra options sound like they could make this a brilliant game from a good game for me.

Sunday

Not so much of games today, although I did seem to just do so much stuff in general (Swimming, Town, Board Games, Video Games, Painting, Watched a Film and I’m sure more I forget right now). While in town we went to Forbidden Planet where we discovered Ticket to Ride (Or Zug Um Zum in this case) sitting there reduced from £35 to just £20. It’s too good a game to turn down a good offer like that, and seeing as the game is language independant it’s no problem for the rules and such to be in German (Would love to learn to understand it anyway though). We had a game upon getting back, where I managed to hit well, a lot of points and take the victory (Mostly long journeys, completed 3 long routes and 1 short). Definitely worth picking up ^^.

Halesowen Board Gamers #3 (06/02/2014)

Another week, another gaming session In Halesowen. Wait, but it’s 2 weeks since I last posted about one…I’m afraid it was my Mum’s Birthday, so I was at my Grandma’s for the evening =)

I just want to apologize for my lack of names again. I really should know them by now, but will have to suffice with waiting for Dave D’s post again and editing my post accordingly ^^.

I only had time for one game this week, as it was a big one, with roughly a million components, which is to say it was Caverna: The Cave Farmers. When me & my friend Chris (Handy) arrived, there was already a group setting up to play, but as there was a few of us interested we set up a separate game with my copy. While the other group were going for the advanced game (Lots more furnishing tiles) we went with the beginner version with a few less for teaching purposes (I’m in no rush for over-stressing myself with extra things to teach until I’ve played a lot with the reduced options ^^).

So what’s the game about? Well, if you’ve played Agricola, then apparently it’s quite similar (I never have, but 2 people at the table have and had many ‘ah yeah that’s the same’ moments). In Caverna you’re using a small family of dwarves (workers) to manage a small farm, alongside a mining setup digging a starting cave into a mountain as their home. Throughout the game players can gather animals and crops on the farm side, and dig tunnels, furnish useful rooms and create mines in the cavern side of their personal board.

To play, each player puts down their workers in turn on a variety of action spaces that let them gather resources, clear land, dig tunnels or go adventuring. Each round new actions become available, drawn from a semi-randomized deck, making new possibilities come available for their dwarves. After 12 rounds, the game ends and players count up how many victory points they’ve accumulated to work out who the ultimate winner is of the game.

In our game, we all took fairly different paths throughout the game. Handy went for a fairly early focus on building up his farmland and getting a lot of crops, Gordon seemed to focus on building up everything as a whole and filling space (You get -ve points at the end of the game for not using all of the available space) and player-3 grabbed a couple of early resource-generating furnishings and spent a lot of the game trying to work out how to use his massive stockpile.

Through to the middle of the game, I felt convinced Handy’s strategy would come out best, as we could all see his huge amount of fields and stacks of grain & vegetables. Early-Middle I got a weapon for one of my dwarves and struggled to find much use for it, but stuck with it and got a weapon for my second dwarf too, partly to block Steve from getting his own (I wanted as few of the others having a good weapon as possible or it would have become a bad route to take). Gordon made good use of a furnishing (or 2?) he had that reduced the cost of things he built, so he got a lot of fields/furnishings placed to make best use of it. Steve had only caves at this point, having ignored his farm side, but started going for extra workers (Gordon did too) so went to work on getting it into a useful state.

The game progressed with Handy sticking to 2 workers to keep feeding cheap while keeping his farm going, while getting some cave tiles just to fill up the space, but having very few furnishings (Other than to make wheat/veg more effective and worth more points). Gordon & Steve put a lot of work into getting more workers, with Steve also getting a lot of rubies along the way. Steve was my strongest competition for adventures, but as a result of his having more workers, I could easily take the better adventure spots on the board and that became my primary route to getting things. Myself and Gordon built up very animal-heavy farms, with his having a lot of sheep and mine being quite varied. Gordon used a lot of time trying to get food for his huge work force (5 in the end).

I’m not sure how everyone compared in individual scoring points, but we somehow managed to finish with a 3 way tie for first place! Me, Gordon & Steve had 76 points to Handy’s respectable 61. I think Handy hurt his chances a bit by not getting an extra worker or two – He had the best setup to feed them for a long time and pretty much just stockpiled them rather than make use of them. My strategy managed to pay off in the end, as I netted the level 4 adventure space every round since it came out and managed to built pretty much everything up from them. Gordon finished with a very all-rounder farm with his 5 workers, and Steve ended up quite spread too, with perhaps a weaker farm than everyone else, but a complete cave and a nice number of straight gold points he’d gathered.

All in all the game was a huge amount of fun. I’m glad that I was able to take a route that didn’t require a ton of workers, while being equal to someone with a heavy cave focus and someone going all round. I think the tie really speaks to this games balance in that we did very different things to come out so similar on points. Absolutely brilliant, I’m happy I brought Caverna along with me and had 3 great people to play with for my first multiplayer game (Done a couple solo to learn the rules). Thanks guys!

Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out my last post about some awesome kickstarter projects running at the moment, they’re all pretty damn cheap ($3 minimum on one of them!) and look great. Till next time! =)

Kickstarter Interesting Projects #2 (4th Feb ’14) – oddball Aeronauts, Tiny Epic Kingdoms & This Town Aint Big Enough for the 2-4 of us!

It’s been a while since I decided to post about kickstarter projects I’ve backed, but this month there seems to be lots of low-cost ones that are very interesting, and I just happen to feel like saying something about them!

Tiny Epic Kingdoms

This is the biggest of the 3, (amusingly, as they’re all ‘micro’ sized), and wraps up 4 days from now. Tiny Epic Kingdoms has you playing of one of a variety of races to prove your dominance in the smallest 4X game I’ve seen.

Players compete to try and be the best at a variety of key areas in order to ultimately prove themselves the best. They can try to expand their population across the map, discover powerful magic, build colossal towers or battle their way forward in the name of victory. These are tiny kingdoms nonetheless, and there’s simply not enough room which should make for some interesting interactions between players as they vie for resources.

The guys making this game have done an amazing job of advertising it and getting information on it out there, and managed to get my attention a good while before the project even started. The shipping isn’t great, and there’s a risk of customs charges, but the components look lovely and there’s a huge amount of factions gained from being a backer to provide lots of variety in a game that will be lovely to take anywhere. Take a look for yourself! ^^.
oddball Aeronauts: Pirates vs the Pendragon

Next along in size is a card game that if you don’t look close enough could be dismissed as a top-trumps derivative. That would be a mistake however, as this game looks to be remarkably deep and a very interesting game for 2 players to enjoy just about anywhere. I’ll try to explain a little, but I’d urge you to watch Richard Hams (rahdo) Runthrough of the game on youtube to really get a good idea of it. The campaign ends on the 3rd March so plenty time for you to decide ^^.

Each turn players go at each other by comparing 3 statistics on their cards (Sailing, Boarding and Cannons), the interesting bit being that you can use up to the top 3 cards of your deck for the comparison, and that number is  done simultaneously, with all the cards used being lost as ‘damage’. Cards also have abilities that can be manipulated to try and make your way to victory. There are also event cards in each players deck that can change things up, and introduce yet more strategy to the game in trying to set yourself up to win those events.

Looks great, and I’m looking forward to receiving it later this year. £15 shipped to anywhere is pretty nice too.
This Town Aint Big Enough for the 2-4 of us!

Finally, the latest micro-game from TMG, in their pay what you want with $3 minimum format, is this carcassonne-in-appearance tile placement game, Players put town tiles with various ‘brands’ on them which represent each player in the game, and when an area is completely fenced in, it gets scored. The cool bit is that each player in that area scores based on the next lowest number in that area, so if you have 4 brands and another player has 2, you get 2 points and they get 0 (As below them is no-one).

The game comes with 24 tiles, and maybe more when stretch goals are hit, which looks to provide a lot of fun in a small package. It’s also possible that multiple sets might work combined, as backers suggested, to which the games designer is play-testing now in response to peoples inquiries. I hope it works well as I’d happily pick up a few with them being so cheap for each copy ^^. The project has another 9 days in it, and is already nearly double it’s goal with only 1 day on the site so far, definitely worth a look as it costs barely more than lunch! ^^.

Thanks for your time and such, I hope you’ve found something interesting to back here! I think oddball Aeronauts looks the most interesting, as it should lead to some great 2-player gaming opportunities when I’m with my girlfriend Grace. The others look amazing too though, else they wouldn’t be nicking a cut of my budget for games this year, so I recommend you go for them all ^^>