Monthly Archives: May 2014

Halesowen Board Gamers #15 (07/05/14)

Random News-y Things:
UK Games Expo No-Ship Math Trade

I mentioned this before, but the trade wasn’t actually up then. Anyway the geeklist for the no-ship math trade has been posted so if you’re thinking of joining in here’s a link ^^. Again, if anyone wants to make a trade and can’t get there themselves I don’t mind sorting it if you pass things through me at halesowen the week leading up to/week after the expo ^^.


 

Our meetup this week was pretty shoddy for me, as I wasn’t exactly in the best state of mind when I arrived. Not sure if I was just tired or something else, but I failed to say yes to any game offer and went to get a drink to avoid making a decision. Thankfully when I came back, Ian, Scott, Mike & Stan had kept a spot open at the table for a 5th player to Kingsburg for me =).

Kingsburg

Kingsburg is a dice-worker-placement game where players are building up kingdoms and fending off the evil that would attack them. Players use their workers to gather resources, fortify defences and prepare for the attack that comes at the end of each of the 5 rounds.

Each round has 8 segments to it.
1 – The player with the least buildings gets an extra dice for the next segment.
2 (Spring) – Placement Phase
3 – The player with the most buildings gets a victory point.
4 (Summer) – Placement Phase
5 – The player with the least buildings gets the ‘ambassador’ token.
6 (Autumn) – Placement Phase
7 – Each player can pay 2 resources (Wood, Gold or Stone) to gain 1 defence.
8 (Winter) – The top attack card is revealed and rewards/punishments dealt out based on players defensive strength.

In each of the 3 placement phases, players roll their dice (Each player has 3 to start with), set up player order (Lowest total first), then take turns placing them. Each space has a number from 1 to 18, to use a space you must be able to make the value of that space with your dice (E.g. a ‘4’ and a ‘5’ to take the 9 space), with ways to modify such becoming available over the game (There are ‘+2’ tokens to increase 1 dice/season, and the market building lets you modify up or down by 1). The higher the value of the space, the more resources provided, but of course you need to use more of your dice (So while a 9 might give you 2 resources, you could potentially do 2 separate placements at 3/6 to gain 2 anyway, but there’s only 1 of each space so you may get blocked).

The reason players want these resources is because at the end of each placement phase, there’s an opportunity to construct 1 building. Each player has a personal board with a 5×4 grid of buildings that can be made. There are 5 ‘categories’ of building (Y axis), and you must build from left to right, hence the more powerful buildings are on the right hand side. To construct a building, you just pay the resource cost shown to the supply, and place one of your building tokens on it to signify its’ completion. You then get the VP value for it immediately, and some ongoing effect (Such as ‘+1 to battle’ or ‘-1 to battle, but +1 dice in placement seasons).

After the 1-7 steps have occured, the attack occurs. The attacks, which steadily get harder throughout the game, just come with a number for success/failure/draw, a ‘success’ resolution and a ‘fail’ resolution. All players with a higher defence value than the monster(s) get the success, less get the failure, and draws get nothing. The player (or players) with the highest defence then get 1 bonus point and the next year begins (resetting defenses to 0), cycling until the 5th years attack has occured when the game ends, and the player with the most victory points wins. Also, when the attack occurs a D6 is rolled, with that value being added to the good sides values, so a high roll there can mitigate a poor defensive stat.

I’m not really sure what to say about our game, as I failed to catch every rule so just went with a ‘poke and prod and see what happens’ route (Which isn’t to say it was a bad explanation, I was just being bad at paying attention, and I quite like learning through trying things ^^). Because I’m just a valant, lovely person, I tried to avoid going anywhere near the defensive buildings in the early game (Although really I just wanted to see if it was valid to ignore it and focus on points/resources/etc). As a result I went for the top 2 tracks (Religious/Commerce) first. These proved slightly counter-intuitive as the religious track has nice mitigations for poor rolls, but the 3rd part of the commerce track makes it unlikely for poor rolls to happen (As it provides +1 dice). In the meantime, everyone else seemed to go heavy on the defence/battle track (Though I think Mike was going commerce quite heavily too).

Around the middle of the game I gave up on my complete ignorance of defenses as the negative effects on the attacks seem rather unnecessarily powerful. That helped me draw once again (I never beat a monster, but the first 3 rounds I did avoid the negatives for failing). In the 4th round, thanks to having tons of dice (3+Farm+Least Buildings) I was able to grab the 17 spot, that asides from resources/vps lets you look at the upcoming attack. Here’s where my not catching everything said during explanation hurt, as I knew there was a building loss in negatives, and bought a cheap building instead of defense (I placed a worker on the 3 space for 1 wood to build it, that I could have easily got onto the 5 space for 1 defence). The bit I’d missed is that the building lost is forced to be the highest ranked one you have (I had assumed it was just the rightmost on a track of your choice, so as I only had 1 in the defenses track I thought I could pick that), oops ^^.

The building I lost was my merchants guild, that I’d pretty much only just build and gave 1 gold at the start of each placement phase. The loss of it had me losing anyway, but I didn’t really try particularly hard to get points after the fact, opting to try and get the resources for church/cathedral (Which was enough points to maybe get me to near the 4th place score), but ended up 1 stone short (That wouldn’t have been a problem if I’d got the 4/5 gold the merchants guild would have provided). Seeing as I couldn’t even get close to matching anyone I didn’t bother building the church either, figuring I may as well lose in style =P.

Over the game, Stan consistently had the most buildings, and I think got the ‘1VP for most’ in at least 4 of the 5 years. Ian had the most defenses, getting the +1VP for most defence after each attack, Mike was on the least points for most of the game, but seemed to get a good engine going from commerce letting him make a good catchup near the end, and Scott definitely did things, and I even looked at his buildings a lot, and seem to have promptly forgot (sorry ^^). Not sure if it was Scott or Ian that won, but I’m sure Dave’s post will fill in that information =).

As far as opinions of the game go, I quite like it, with the placement being a really cool aspect with the choice of going for something big or splitting up your dice for multiple placements (With the latter also presenting interesting opportunities to block other players). The little bonuses every other round which have both catchup mechanisms and rewards for most buildings are a nice touch too.

What I like less is the heavy impact the attacks can have. Some attacks just hit on resources, which can hurt, but if you don’t have the resources results in losing nothing, but the ones that have a building loss is a ridiculous hit. Much as I realise that it can be prevented by building defenses properly, hitting the highest building which in my case above was a cost of 6 resources, as well as making me lose the 4VP and the effect that I needed and had invested to get, took me from having a fair chance to being in a ‘way as well not even try’ situation…all that and it heavily depends on a dice roll (As a 1 could screw half the table and had the other half victory just for having 1 better defense, while a 6 can mean the people who took time to defend get shafted as they get maybe 1 VP as a bonus for doing so). Bit of a sour feeling basically, but not enough to put me off playing again.

Carcassonne: Winter Edition

With 1 hour left, we turned our attention to the shorter game choices. Seeing as Ian has brought the Winter Edition of Carcassonne a ton of times, without it having been played, Mike opted to champion it and suggested we finally play. The game itself is identical to Carcassonne, but with winter themed art (Snow spattered buildings, snowy fields, icy roads, etc). The included expansion that we played with (Because c’mon, might as well play a different game if we’re going with different art right ^^) is called the gingerbread expansion.

For those that may not know, Carcassonne is a tile laying game where you place 1 tile each turn adjacent to another tile in an ever growing map of tiles (Matching feature to feature), then choosing to place, or not, a meeple of your colour onto a feature on that tile (Roads, Cities, Fields or Cloisters). When a feature ‘completes’ you get the meeple back (You have 7 meeples, so will need to complete things eventually). Most points when the game ends is the winner.

The gingerbread expansion we used adds 6 new tiles to the game, which are all tiles with 3/4 city tiles, but with those cities being split up (So one tile may be in 4 different cities, with a field in the middle). Each of these has a gingerbread man in the corner of the tile, letting you know that you can move the gingerbread man. The way he works is that when a city is scored with him in, or when he’s removed from a city, that city scores 1 point per tile in the city. The person that completed that city chooses an incomplete city to move him to, (Or when a gingerbread man tile is placed he’s moved). This is just a small change that makes trying to jointly occupy cities more attractive.

With our game, Scott/Ian raced out into the lead, completing many cities/roads throughout the game. Myself & Mike hung back, being on 4 points each until 1/3rd-1/2 of the tiles had already been placed! Stan occupied a middle ground, though generally closer to the frontrunners. Both me and Mike chipped into a field that was going to score a fair number of points, competing over the game for control of it before Scott slipped in a few turns before the end to match him. A tile that Ian placed managed to get an extra 1 of my meeples into the field too for a 3 way tie. The final scores had Scott way out in the lead, myself in second, Ian 3rd, Mike 4th & Stan in an unfortunate last place. Fun game, I like the gingerbread man addition, with it being the first expansion I’ve played the game with ^^ (Asides from rivers on the windows-phone version, but that doesn’t really change the gameplay, just the starting conditions). Also, 2nd place! ^^.

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Halesowen Board Gamers #14 (30/04/14)

News Bulletin!

Yeah, that’s right, I’m going to bring up random bits of information that I think people might be interested in and make them out as being ‘news’. Deal with it ;)

UK Games Expo Math Trade
– The Math Trade discussion thread has been opened up early, so if you’re interested in some no-ship trading when at the expo you might want to hit subscribe on it to be notified when the trade goes up.
– If anyone wants to trade and can’t get there in person, I’m happy to proxy – we can pass the games at halesowen the week before/after.
– Link: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1165072/uk-games-expo-2014-no-ship-maths-trade-discussion

Kickstarter
– Among the Stars latest kickstarter is almost finished, so if you’re interested in this space-station building drafting game that in my opinion kicks 7-wonders ass, take a look!
– Heavy Steam is another interesting looking (EU Friendly) project running at the moment. It’s a strategic resource-management combat game with some awesome looking pieces. Too expensive for me right now though at $95 =( Run by the same people as Zpocalypse.

Halesowen

Anyway you probably don’t actually care about me trying to not-so-subtly convince you to spend your money, so here’s my session report =)

Lords of Waterdeep

Lords of Waterdeep is a worker-placement game loosely themed on the Dungeons & Dragons universe. Players are trying to get the most points over 8(?) rounds, by sending adventurers off on quests to do whatever adventurer’s do. By managing their workers, constructing buildings and playing intrigue cards players compete to be the best upper-management in the D&D world.

As is standard with worker-placement games, players take turns placing workers on the various available spots. The standard spaces include gaining adventurers (1 space for each of the 4 types – Wizards, Clerics, Fighters & Rogues), gaining money, gaining intrigue cards, playing intrigue cards, constructing a building and gaining quests. Most spaces are limited to 1 worker/round, which generally means it’ll take multiple rounds to achieve much. In additional to the standard spaces, when a player constructs a building it becomes a new space on the board for everyone to visit – ownership of that building provides an additional effect when someone goes there (As well as a few points – each round 1VP is added to each unbought building, of the 3 available, such that even a less-attractive building becomes worth it eventually).

After players have placed their worker for a turn, they may complete a quest. Each player starts with 2 quests face up in front of them, and if at this point they meet the requirements, they can pay those resources back to the supply to gain the reward for the quest. This is the primary source of points in the game, so completing lots of quests is important to have a chance at victory. Also, each player has an individual character card that provides additional points for certain tasks, which for the most part are along the lines of ‘gain 4 points per X or Y quest completed’, X/Y being a quest type, of which there are 4 in a presumably even distribution.

Asides from the intrigue cards which throw various spanners into the works (Such as ‘all other players return a wizard to the supply, gain 2 coins for each that cannot, or ‘discard a building and replace it with one from the builders space at no cost’), that’s about it!

In our game, I played an ugly character called ‘miirt the moneylender’ (Which is hidden till the end, so I didn’t see the others long enough to remember them), which meant I’d get 4 points per piety or commerce quest completed. That was fine as I started with a commerce plot quest (Plot quests give less points, but provide ongoing abilities) to have something to go for for my first game. I rushed this as quick as I could, as well as taking first player to try and get a building down (Which got ruined by the cursed ambassador…as everyone in the game will attest to, I disprove of that). The plot quest meant for the last 5/6 rounds I got 1 of any adventurer at the start of each round. Ian also completed a fairly early plot quest, letting him place a worker somewhere even if it was blocked (Once/round I think). Despite sitting next to Steve I barely know what he was up to, but he seemed to get nice early lead on points.

As we got a bit further into the game, I finally got a couple of buildings down, one to gain 1 coin/building out and one that let someone use an occupied action as if they’d placed there. Steve had a pretty nice one to pay 2 coins and gain 4 fighters/rogues in any combination. Ians included the cursed ambassador one aaaand I don’t remember what else anyone had. I was able to pick up/complete a second plot quest that let me gain a rogue every time I used an action to gain money, as well as mildly annoy Steve by replacing the ‘use an occupied spot’ building with a VP-generating one, which was generally because I think it was giving everyone else way more points than it was to me. I also did a nice quest that cost lots of stuff but gave me 25VP in one go, catching me up to Ian/Steve who were steaming ahead.

As we came into the endgame, despite being quite spread during play, the 3 of us on higher points ended fairly close, while Stan unfortunately dropped back a fair amount (Which is odd, because there didn’t seem to be anything particularly wrong with what he was doing, with him finishing just as many quests as the rest of us). Ian won, with Steve in second and myself in third.

I think it’s a pretty well designed game, but I really struggle to appreciate the theme and that’s a bit of a problem for me. Rather than feeling like I’m going around hiring adventurer’s to go on grand quests, it’s just a bit ‘I get some purple and white cubes, then turn them into VP (What happens to them…I send them to do stuff and they just disapear, with an arbitrary ‘points’ value in return). I still had fun, and I think the game is well made, but without more thematic mechanics or at least wizard-meeples it’s just ‘ok’ for me ^^. Glad to have had the opportunity to play though!

Voluspa

Afterwards, we looked to play something shorter, and someone pointed out Voluspa that I’d bought along so we went with that. I talked about it a bit more last week so I won’t repeat, but suffice to say it’s a tile-placement/hand-management game where you’re trying to score the most victory points.

After I got explanation out of the way we jumped into playing with little issue. It’s not really a game I can explain what happened in, but I did make quite a mistake with a valkyrie I placed when I could have done better things, and saw a couple of good moves after placements at other points in the game. We were playing with 1 of the expansion tiles (The included expansion, saga of edda. I’m adding 1 tile/game to see how they change things) – hermod. This tile gives you a second-turn after placing, but can be difficult to score as it’s a value of only 3. I quite like the effect they’ve had, although I only got one near the end of the game by using a skadi, just because I wanted to try it out and was losing anyway ^^.

Final tally had Steve winning, with Stan 2nd, Ian 3rd & myself trailing in last place again. I’m not 100% sure of Steve/Stans thoughts of their first game of this, but Ian commented (I think, maybe I’m imagining it) that a second play does indeed improve on your feel for how things are going – although seeing as I was last and he was 3rd, I’m not sure how convinced I am that it helps (I’m still not sure if its’ just a case of 4 being too many to strategise much – I think 3 could be a sweet spot as with many games. Would still happily play with 5 though).

Anyway that’s all for this week, I hope I wasn’t too vague (Although I was pretty airy-fairy with talking about Voluspa again ^^). Till next week! =)