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 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! ^^.