Monthly Archives: June 2014

Halesowen Board Games #19 (25/06/14)

Kickstarter Interesting Projects:
I just wanted to nab an opportunity to draw your attention to a few kickstarter projects running at the moment which may be of interest to you ^^.

Treasure Chest: Realistic Resources
The latest Stonemaier Games project is for a ‘treasure chest’, i.e. box, of nice looking resource pieces to upgrade the quality of your games. For the amount of resources being included in the box the $33 asking price is fantastic, so definitely worth a look if you like premium game pieces.

As a side thing, because the chest doesn’t tie to a specific game, it can’t be put onto boardgamegeek. Someone in the comments suggested a micro-game that uses the resources such that there would be a specific game to link it to. For the hell of it I’m trying to create such a game, which if anyone’s interested in trying out is an 18-card vaguelly cosmic-encounter related game where each player is a kingdom that needs a variety of resources to complete some objective, but only produce one type, hence must trade/fight for the rest. Based on a trial game with a work-mate the idea’s sound, but needs more work/a trial with more players to be sure ^^.

Tiny Epic Defenders
A thematic sequel to another project (Tiny Epic Kingdoms), this game has players cooperatively defending the joint kingdom that was left after TEK. The game is driven by an interesting escalation mechanic, whereby the ‘hoard deck’ drives the enemies (And player turns), with an enemy card added each time it runs out, thinning the frequency of player turns and introducing new foes over the course of the game. The players advantage of this is they can ‘learn’ the hoard deck in a game, and prepare accordingly (I.e. if half the monsters in the deck attack the forest, someone can sit at the forest to defend it for when those monsters are drawn).

The game has variation in the form of dire enemies (Bad guys with special abilities), epic foes (The super-bad-guy you must beat to win the game), locations (2 versions of each of the 6 locations, if a certain stretch goal is reached) and characters (Each with unique abilities). This means that the game, while simple in nature, should be plenty replyable time and time again.

In any case, I just love the escalation mechanic, and that it will be a very small-package making it easily transportable despite the interesting looking gameplay. The fast games should be perfect for travelling as an added bonus ^^.

New Dawn
A thematic sequel (Some might say there’s a theme to projects I’m interested in) to the game ‘Among the Stars’. Among the Stars has players building vast space stations to promote commerce & defense capabilities among an alliance following a great war. In New Dawn, players seek to reclaim parts of the galaxy lost in the war, preparing for a new, unseen threat (Perhaps a 3rd thematic sequel game? ^^).

I’m not 100% on the mechanics here, particularly as they’ve apparently been updated/changed significantly since rahdo did a preview at Essen last year. The gist is that you’re placing stations (colonies?) onto the board to gain their effects, with those effects depending on the facing of the card (Each of the 4 directions has an added effect, variable from game-to-game) and what cards are adjacent. Each player has a number of station miniatures they place out on the cards, so I imagine there’s a considerable area-control aspect to consider as well as the card’s individual vp awards.

In any case, I’m very excited about this campaign, as Artipia Games make very interesting products and I love it’s predecessor game. While this is totally different in mechanics, it retains the nice square-cards and adjacency/placement aspect that I most love about AtS, taking it in a whole new direction and expanding on the story. Also, they dropped the price in response to backer comments which was a nice touch, although why they didn’t start it lower when they knew they could I don’t know (I still trust them to deliver a great product of course, seeing as they have put out a number of other successful releases already). Best of luck to them ^^.

Zombicide Season 3 (Rue Morgue & Angry Neighbours)
A new standalone game and an expansion for the Zombicide series. I sadly can’t afford to back this, but the standalone adds a hospital setting and Zombies that become crawlers when hit, and the expansion adds a beat-up neighbourhood setting with ‘seeker’ zombies that get more bursts of speed than other types. I think anyone interested in Zombicide should back at least 1 campaign (It’s fine to get the rest at retail, but you get considerably more survivor variety by backing one ^^), so here’s an opportunity right now ^^>

Halesowen 25/06/14

we went for a big game this time around, choosing the fantastic worker-placement mining, adventuring and farming game ‘Caverna: The Cave Farmers’.

Caverna: The Cave Farmers

Seeing as I think I’ve talked about it before, I’ll keep explanation short. In Caverna, players take turns to place workers over a fixed number of rounds (12, I think). Placing workers allows you to expand your personal board (Place tunnels/cavern tiles in your cave, and cut down swatches of forest to place fields/meadow tiles to make your farm). On most rounds there is a harvest phase, so you’ll have to work out some method of creating food through cultivating crops, breeding animals or going on adventures (Which you’ll need to arm your dwarves with weapons to do). You’ll also want to ‘furnish caverns’, which is taking various special ability tiles (Paying a cost to construct them) to either boost your resource production or capitalize on what you have for points.

In any case, by the end of a game of Caverna you’ll have a beautiful array of..stuff, on your personal board and a feeling of achievement, while wishing you had just a bit more time to make everything perfect ^^>

Our game consisted of myself, Stan, Ian & Mark R. Initial aims of the game were that Mark R wanted to go for all his workers (Due knowing that it’s important in Agricola), I planned on Adventuring, Stan Adventuring/Mining & I think Ian took a more ‘whatever goes’ approach due not being overly experienced with either Agricola or Caverna (Which is quite a fun way to play actually, you lose a bit of enjoyment when you let yourself fix to a strategy in games ^^).

In the early game, I managed to be first out of the game to get an adventurer, using it to pick up vegetables/wheat to work on having crops to feed my workers. Stan made good work on digging out his cave, getting the second adventurer (Higher level than mine due his ore mines letting him craft better initial weapons), Mark R seemed to tilt towards his Caves also, making little early headway into farming, and I was sort of not paying much attention to what Ian was building up, but I think it was a good balance of both sides. (Sorrrry!!! You were furthest away from me on the table ^^).

As we moved into the mid game, Mark R’s strategy shifted as he seemed to decide the ‘3 Points per armed dwarf’ furnishing was a good plan (Plus having all your dwarves armed gives you more freedom on which adventure spaces you get). I pretty much stopped bothering with the adventuring route, opting to focus on my farm ¬†– This in response to Ian also getting his dwarves armed, and it not being overly-wise to all go for the same thing. Stan stuck with weapons and mines, getting a lot of them over the course of things, 2 times right ahead of when I was planning to build them!

Towards the later game, Mark R’s armed dwarf strategy seemed to be paying off, with him getting plenty of everything, 4 dwarves & having all of them with weapons, while also getting his farm built up a bit and space for a 5th dwarf (Never filled). Stan did pretty well getting to 3 or 4 ore mines with a couple of Ruby mines (Which I mostly found odd as I don’t remember him going to either of the ruby spaces despite them being extremely valuable when you have 2 mines), his farm was a bit behind but he managed to catch up with getting each animal type by the endgame. Due my change to a farm focus, I’d gone for a ton of workers, getting all 5 out before the end of the game. I was using my crops for food (With the 1 Veg/1Wheat = 5 Food furnishing) so picked up the ‘1 Point/3 Animals’ furnishing for points, as well as a couple of others that were less powerful but all I could afford without wasting turns. I managed to fill in every space on my farm & cave (The last 2 spaces in the cave through the power of rubies, as I needed extra caverns for furnishings). Again, I don’t remember too much of Ians, but he still seemed to have a good balance and sustainable setup, but had minimal furnishings (i.e. less points-farming than the rest of us, but I could have just not noticed what he had – Ian if you read this please comment as I’m curious what you built ^^).

When it came down to endgame scores, it was tight, but ultimately had me taking victory with my focus on farming. I think that this was partly due the high competition for adventuring between players, weakening the strategy for all (And the fact I denied the most powerful adventuring space from the players with better weapons by using rubies to place out-of-order). It also hurt things a little as I forgot to put the level-4 adventurer into the placement-spaces deck as the last few times I played were 2 player (Where you remove it), sorry about that!. Mark R came in second, so having lots of armed dwarves seems to be a good idea, Stan in 3rd (I think he could have come first had I not done certain things that interfered with his setup, such as taking ruby spaces before they built up to be worth too much to him) and Ian in 4th but not far behind.

Fantastic game, many thanks for Mark for suggesting we play, as while I totally love Caverna I won’t generally pick it out due the length ^^. It makes me want to play once with every player count though, as the change in spaces when going to a 4-player game from 2-player the last few times was a particularly fun difference…7 would be excessively long though (I’m still up for it, but I have to find 6 other people who’re insane to try it…^^).

Good Night, thanks for reading =-)

Advertisements

Halesowen Board Games #18 (18/06/14)

As promised in my last post, here’s my typically badly written account of the rather intergalactic halesowen board gamers night on the 18th June ;)

Cosmic Encounter

I arrived a little late on Wednesday, although it didn’t appear anyone was sorted out for what to play yet. That wasn’t to last long, with some grouping for a game of…something (18xx but not as long as most I think was Mike’s one-liner description, no idea what that means though =P) and another group going for Tzolk’in, leaving myself, Ian, Kevin & Steve for sorting out what to play amongst ourselves.

Kevin suggested Cosmic Arguments, and after a brief not so cosmic argument where we didn’t actually have any other options that anyone particularly wanted to play, went with Cosmic Encounter, where we might find a better argument (After all, argument clinics are effective and this method was going for free!). I’ve not played before but have been wanting to for a while, as while ‘screw each other over’ tends to put me off, its’ popularity and apparent variety according to reviewers intrigued me ^^.

The principles of this game are simple. Each turn, the ‘main’/’active’ player draws a card from a randomized deck, which determines who they are ‘encountering’ this turn. Some provide choices, but mostly it’s something like ‘Encounter Blue’. The main player then places a number of ships (1-4 I believe) in towards the encounter, which is usually pretty minimal in actual effect, but goes some way to display intentions (4 Ships, attacking and confident, 2-3 ships, attacking but unsure – don’t want to lose too much, 1 Ship – Likely to negotiate). Both players may then invite others around the table to send ships to help out, who can either place them into the attack force or around the planet in defense.

With preparation done, the 2 players choose an encounter card from their hand, with both players then revealing them simultaneously. If both negotiate, they have 1 minute to decide on an exchange (Or none at all, if both agree that’s ok). If one negotiates & one attacks, the attack is an auto-success (Defenders ships are lost ‘to the warp’ and attacker(s) ships occupy the planet), but the loser takes as many cards from the attacker as ships lost. If both attack, then players work out their strengths and may play additional cards if they have any, with allies able to reinforce if they have the cards to do so – Success they occupy the planet and defenders ships go to the warp, fail and the attackers ships go to the warp with the defender keeping their planet.

If the first encounter on a players turn is successful, they get a second one immediately. When they have performed their encounter (or encounters) their turn ends and the next players turn begins. Play continues like this until a player (or players!) manage occupy a total of 5 enemy planets, at which point they win (Or not…maybe).

The big twist to the game, is that at the start, each player gets an alien race (Chosen from 3 they get dealt in secret, with the chosen one going face-up on the table). There are an absolutely huge amount of these to choose from, with wildly varying effects, from just increasing attack strength over the game (My power) to changing that players win condition to just having 20 cards in hand (One of my other possible options from the game start). These are what make the game interesting, as they push each player to think differently depending on who they fight and who they are, and with the huge amount available will eb different each game (Hence, I’d love to play again sometime ^^).

So anyway, enough about that (Particularly as the game is nearly 40 years old and many probably already know it). In our game, I played the warrior (If I win an encounter I gain a token, if I lose I gain 2, when I attack I get +power equal to the number of tokens I have). Kevin was a Sorceror (Swap encounter cards with opponent), James (Who turned up just after we’d decided to play, fortunately before beginning ^^) was opposite me and I was too lazy to try and read a long-distance upside-down card, Ian could swap the digits of attacks (So a 09 becomes a 90) with the caveat it effects both sides and Steve was a Ghoul, which probably had an effect but well..I don’t know if he ever used it.

The very first thing which happened, was that Kevin, being an evil wizard, attacked my beautiful summer-resort planet, aiming to claim its’ beauty as his own. Steve, being gruesome and presumely recently dead, being a ghoul and all, opted to join in on the relentless and cruel assault. Ian jumped in to help me out, but alas, we lost and a fantastic picnic location went to the bad guys.

Sorry but I’m not going to go that in-depth for the other encounters, but needless to say something I loved throughout was the ridiculous banter and the crossover of both wanting to win but also wanting to do odd things just for the hell of it ^^. After the first planet went to Steve/Kevin, myself, Ian & James teamed up for the next one bringing it to 1 planet for everyone. From there, all of us but Steve regularly increased our count in planets (Kevin was a step behind for a while too, as he, naturally, wasn’t part of the ‘Not Steve or Kevin’ alliance). By the end of the game everyone but Steve had 4 planets (He had 3) and ultimately victory went to James after an attack that he could not (And didn’t really try to, opting not to invite anyone to aid him) defend against.

It was a ton of fun and I don’t know how to convey that here. The random ‘who you’re encountering’ system works great, as it forces you to think about how you want to deal with different people – Do you attack the person that helped defend your planet just one turn back, or try to negotiate a deal, hoping they think the same. The ways that different powers worked was great (Although a shame that James/Steve didn’t seem to have much of an obvious impact with theirs) and I think will make replays a hugely interesting experience ^^

Among the Stars

Sticking with the Space theme, we next went with one of my games (From a number of suggestions ^^) – Among the Stars. I’ve talked about it before so I’ll try to keep it short! Over 4 years, players build space stations by drafting ‘location’ cards – each turn they pick one card, pay its’ cost and place it in their station, gaining points as per the value of the card and any text on it, then passing their hand to their left or right (Alternates each year), when the last card of a round is built, new hands are dealt and the next year begins. At the end of the game, objectives (Face-up from the start) are awarded and any final scoring happens (Some locations have ‘delayed’ abilities that’re counted now).

I don’t have a huge amount to say about how our game went, as when using just the base-game stuff there’s fairly little interaction (Asides from with your neighbours, although in this case there wasn’t much denial for me to do).

I can say though that for most of the game myself & Ian had lowish points, while the others shot ahead (I think they got to 20-30 points ahead at one point), although this was largely because we both went for more of a delayed-ability route (The location abilities that are counted at the games end rather than as you go) – It wasn’t deliberate, I was just using certain colours to go for the ‘Be the first to build 2 locations of each type’ objective ^^. I also tried to get ‘Be the first to build 4 different military locations’, but couldn’t get enough in hand that I could afford (The first ones I saw required 3 power, and my race, while I started with 5 power, couldn’t build additional power reactors, so it seemed too much of a risk), as a result James was able to nab that one away from me.

As we came into the last round, I noticed that interestingly, almost every players station was a fairly tight build (Often some will spread out, or be ‘spikey’ or have holes, etc to go for certain location bonuses, but the particularly ones we had this game led to the tight layout. Kevins power gave him extra money which I think he used well enough, James’ gave him an extra objective which he completed, but at the cost of missing out on one of the faceup ones (He had to build 12 different basic locations, which led to him missing on 12 different special locations ^^). Ian got to cancel one turn for each player over the game, which I think had varying effect, although successfully annoyed me as it cancelled a turret (Which are pretty good, but only if you can get a few of them). Steve had better power reactors than others (3/reactor) and I had a super-reactor (5 power) with infinite range (Normally 2) but couldn’t build extras.

When we came to the games end, I was sitting in 4th place until I added my objectives (I got 2, one for the first to 2 of each type as I mentioned, and the other was ‘least power reactors’, amusingly easy when I literally couldn’t build more), after which I shot up to first. The others weren’t far behind though! I think I could have eked out a few more points but I was stingy on power usage because I worried about having only 5 ^^…awkward considering I still had 2 left at the end =P. A fun time was had, and hopefully will lead to being able to play next week with the ambassadors module added (Or any of the other gazillion modules that I haven’t touched as I keep introducing new players rather than doing repeat plays with the same people ^^).

Great evening, as always. Again, super happy that I got to play Cosmic Encounter for the first time, as well as Among the Stars which is one of my favourite games.

Games Day (13/06/14)

So just an ahead note for anyone interested in my thoughts on the Halesowen night for the 18th June (I wasn’t in attendance on the 11th), it’ll be up in a few days as its’ written but feel I shouldn’t clump posts together or they’ll be ignored (Although seeing as I generally don’t expect them to be read anyway that’s a weird idea =P)

On Friday Evening, myself and some friends – Grace, Chris (Harrison) and Arthur – met up for a games night. There wasn’t any particular plans, but Grace has been trying to meet up with friends one last time as she’ll be going on a trip around Europe and after a brief period back here, to China for a year.

Smash Up

The first game of the evening was Smash Up, which marked our first time playing with the official factions (In this case all from Sci-Fi Double-Feature) and the custom-factions I made for Grace (A whole year ago as a birthday present!) together. I played Shapeshifting Bat-Men, Grace played Adventure Time Spies, Arthur as David Lister (Cyborg Apes + Red Dwarf) and Chris played the hugely appropriate pair of Time Travellers and Doctor Who!

It’s hard to talk about how the game went, asides from that I couldn’t keep up at all throughout the game, Arthur wasn’t able to get much ahead of me (He arrived late, although we did give him some catchup VP at the start, 4 to my 3, Chris’s 5 & Grace’s 6 at the time). This left the main battle between Chris & Grace, which actually had them tying on 15 at one point, before the tie-breaking base fell for Grace’s victory (Although it lasted a while, with Chris delaying the defeat with the time-travellers score-locking – Amusingly not long after Grace removed her own adventure-time base-break prevention card).

The most interesting thing for me over the game was seeing how the extra factions I’d created came together with official ones. For starters, there was a bit of overlap in abilities (Not my fault! I created them before SFDF was released!) which felt odd, and some cards have rather ambiguous text (Hard to notice considering I knew how they work anyway). I’ve got some tweaks planned to the cards and will be reprinting them sometime, such as bringing the number of minions/action in line for adventure time (They were a very minion heavy 14/6 whereas official decks are 10/10 on minions/actions), as well as some card numbers and card text to make it clearer or to make it different to official cards (Cybermen were almost identical to shapeshifter copycats, so now they copy ongoing abilities instead of immediate ones).

Space Cadets: Dice Duel

Aaanyway, I’ll save that chatter for the Smash Up variants forum on BGG! I think our next game was Space Cadets: Dice Duel (I honestly have no idea what order we played things in, ^^). This is the first time I’ve gotten this hectic game to the table and it was well…interesting.

In Dice Duel, players split into 2 teams, with each team controlling a space ship flying around a fixed area on the table. There’s a number of different roles with unique dice, which are split between players such that noone has the time to do everything they need to when they need to. Each role/station works slightly differently too – Helm has 3 dice which when all 3 lock immediately move the ship, weapons has 6 dice, to make into 2 3-dice torpedo’s by matching symbols, loading them into either the front of back tubes depending which way they want to fire. Engineering (Split between both players in 2v2) has dice to roll which provide energy to the other stations, hugely important when you realise that you can’t roll any dice at a station unless you get energy!

In any case, being our first game things were a little bit of a shambles, as when you have to control 2/3 stations, in real time, and actually get into decent positions to attack the other ship, well…it’s difficult. I was in control of Helm, Shields & Tractor Beams, with Grace being our Weapons and Sensors, while the other team had Arthur doing Helm/Shields & Tractors and Chris on their Weapons/Sensors. The first half the game was heavily haphazard, as I didn’t do particularly great at avoiding nebula’s and ruining the sensor locks that Grace was trying so hard to build up. Our first couple of missiles missed (I think first randomly into space and the other lost by the dice roll), such that we took a damage or two before we got into our stride. After this I put lots of time into shields to avoid further damage, while also tractor-beaming up some crystals (Taking damage reduces your energy dice pool, crystals get the dice back although you still have the damage taken).

We fought back, and hard, with some silky maneuvring/shields on my behalf (Although constantly moving our ship round led to a few missed shots for Grace, sorry!!). We managed to get the enemy ship to 3 damage (4 to win) before getting into a bit of a stalemate situation for some time with both teams having max shields on the sides we kept towards our opponents. The final blow was dealt (By us, huzzah!) when we looped around the back of their ship and shot ’em from behind where they had no shields, right after taking a hit that removed our own shields (I left us vulnerable such that I could move quicker and get where they had no shields up). Boom! ^^.

Boss Monster

With our valiant victory over, we moved away from teams (Temporarily, I think…I really don’t know if I’m getting the order right) to a competitive game of Boss Monster. This 8-bit styled card game has each player building up a dungeon to attract and defeat heroes to harvest their souls, while trying to avoid attracting too much attention such that they don’t take wounds (Take 5 and you lose, whereas 10 souls and you win).

In the early game, I think all 3 of the other players took a few wounds from attracting heroes before they were well enough prepared (I think Arthur had the Mages, Grace the thieves, Chris the Clerics and I just kept tying or getting nothing, aside from ‘the fool’ that I forced to my dungeon with a spell or room ability or something..). Over the course of the game, this mostly continued, with the main source of mirth being that we tied for number of fighters almost the entire game (A tie for most attractive has the adventure stay in town for another round so they build up). With the huge pile of those sitting around doing nothing, the hero deck expired and the epic heroes starting to roll out. I think the penultimate round had a tie for one of the other hero types, followed by a final round where everyone pulled a huge amount (I got all the fighters finally, well needed as I had but 1 soul still while others had ~3-6).

A round of mayhem and destruction later and I think 3 (or all 4, not sure if Arthur got to 10 souls) of us reached the win condition. Unfortuantely for the rest of us, Chris had an extra soul or two and took the victory…I give up being evil, I’m going to just become a teacher or something, humph!

Ticket To Ride: Asia

The final game of the night had us returning to the ‘team vs team’ philosophy, as I not long ago got the ‘team asia’ map expansion for Ticket to Ride. This expansion introduces the concept of team-play to the game, with players splitting into groups of 2 and working with a partner to cover Asia in trains. The main difference from the standard game is that each team has a card-rack which is shared, so one person can put cards there for the other (Although players aren’t allowed to state explicitly…they can hint so heavily that they might as well say it outright what they need..its weird).

All 4 of us, with it being our first game, used our first turns to share what our tickets were with teammates (By standard, only 1 route each gets placed where your teammate can see it, but you can use a turn to place 1 or 2 more of your routes on the rack to make things easier to work out). This meant both teams had 6 tickets visible to go with (Although Chris, who was now on my team, again Grace & Arthur, had another 2 that he kept hidden).

The core of our routes was that we needed to get from the top left to top right of the board. Fortunately we’d got routes that worked well enough together to try and aim to do this as a continuous route, and we planned to go over the top where there’s some long, high-scoring areas. Grace/Arthur seemed to need to get from top left to bottom right (Roughly, I don’t know their destinations of course), and they aimed to go across the middle to achieve it.

Early game, we focused on the left side of the map, getting our small-ish routes over there completed without much issue, then moving to the focus on the right side (Without joining up yet). Grace/Arthur did their bottom right routes as priority, although they got a few trains down in the top left near us too. As Grace/Arthur started moving their right-hand-side routes towards the top left, we used the conveniently opportunity of our heavy density of trains up there (I think more than half our routes were in the area) to block them from being able to join. This didn’t seem to deter them however, and they seemed to start rushing to run out of trains to deny us that way (No idea if that was actually the plan). Fortunately for us, we did have time to link up, just about, although it was across the lower-middle of the map which scored less/train but was easier for us to do at the time. In fact we got all of our routes completed a turn ahead of the Grace/Arthur team ending the game through running out of trains.

Me/Chris had the final pair of goes, and Chris opted (I did egg him on tbf) to try for an extra route, in the hope we’d have one already completed. Nothing quite matched, but one was close and despite my appalling efforts to hint against it (I couldn’t actually see the cards and you aren’t supposed/allowed to be direct), gambled on a high-point option hoping I had a pair of white cards I didn’t have. Adding up points at the end, we had a nice lead until we took away the massive 15 points for the card he chose – Well played Grace/Arthur for not doing random gambles ^^ (We were fine to take routes, but Chris should have taken the 2/3 point one that we definteily couldn’t do instead, as we’d have still won despite the loss of that many points, ack!

It was a fantastic evening, and I’m so happy to have had people around for games right into the early hours of the Morning (I think it was 4am or so when we finished!). I got to try out my newest game and newest expansion, while Grace got to play her personal-Smash Up expansion with the main game. Thanks to all 3 of them for the great time!

Random Games Day (07/06/14)

So this last Saturday myself and a few friends were set to meet for our “monthly” (In quotes because we’re literally terrible at arranging consistent dates) RP event. As one of the 5 of us was unable to attend, due ‘has-a-new-ish-girlfriend’ continuity rifts, we opted to meet anyway and play some board games.

Voluspa

First to arrive (Well, asides from Ken, who lives in the same house :P) was Chris A, and with us expecting Dave to be a while we went for a fairly quick game – Voluspa. This tile-laying game has players take turns to place tiles (From hands of 5), trying to play the highest in the row/column its’ part of to score them (e.g. adding a 7 to a 5-6-2-2 to make 7-5-6-2-2 would score 5 points). So far, so simple. Each tile (Except the 7/8 which just rely on being high numbers) has a special ability, such as ‘swap with a tile in play’ or ‘all adjacent tiles are worth 0’, and the way these interact are what make the game interesting and enjoyable.

As this was the first play for Chris A & Ken, I gave them the choice of whether we play with any expansion tiles (They aren’t complicated, but it does mean more stuff) which they opted not to, so we set things up to be the basic tiles and got into the game.

Things took a very interesting route on this occasion, as almost the entire outer edge of the layout got surrounded by Loki’s/Troll’s (Loki 0’s adjacent, and you can’t place adjacent to trolls), making it so there was extremely few places for valid placements around the middle of the game. Eventually things started to speed up again near the end, but it certainly leads to a tense few turns when you know that someone is going to have to take a bit of a sacrifice in playing a low-scoring tile that opens up stronger placements ^^.

While I was leading for most of the game, I got myself stuck with an awkward hand and had a couple of turns in a row where I had nothing that I could do other than block a 7 point opportunity from others or score 2 point rows, giving Ken & Chris A the opportunity to slip ahead. We finished close on scores, but Ken was the overall Winner!

Eldritch Horror

The next game we went for is one with a particularly similar theme to the Roleplaying game we might have been playing instead (Laundry Files btw, a sort of modern-day cthulhu setting) – Eldritch Horror. This fantastically epic game has players travelling across the planet in search of clues, as they fight off monsters, wrestle to close mystical gates and try not to die or go insane in the process. To win, players must solve 3 mysteries before the various lose conditions occur.

I recently picked up Forsaken Lore, the first expansion, which I’ve mixed into the game already (It’s basically a ton of extra cards for variety, rather than any deeper changes), so things looked to be interesting from the start. As the expansion triples the size of all the old-one decks, we eschewed the opportunity to fight the new addition of Yig in favour of going up against Azathoth, which I understand to be the ‘easist’ of the them to beat (Easiest to prevent from awakening I should say, as it’s instant loss if he does).

As Dave had arrived by this point, we now had 4 of us to play the game with. Chris A went the supportive route, with Charlie Kane as his investigator (Who excels at obtaining gear for all players), Ken went er…someone with spells, Dave was the character who can spawn clues when she doesn’t have any, and I was the ‘the expedition leader’ (I forget the actual name, but that’s the subtitle), who gets bonuses on wilderness spaces. The plan from the start was pretty much that Chris A gives us all awesome standard gear, Ken gets as many spells as possible, I get artifacts from expeditions and Dave gathers clues.

I don’t remember details, but I know we didn’t have too much trouble getting the first mystery completed, with most encounters causing minimal issues. As the game progressed however, Dave’s character seemed to become an omen of bad luck, becoming poisoned, cursed, nearly dying and just before the end going insane (I don’t blame the character after the life he’d been living, ^^).

I was able to get a rather ridiculous amount of ally assets and artifacts, such that beating monsters would give me clues, and not beating them would barely hurt me (But I was unable to really get anywhere this was useful, as there wasn’t any conveniently huge stack of monsters for me to slaughter with my lightning gun, magic sword, requiem per shuggay, flute of the outer gods…etc (The latter which auto-kills, although that wouldn’t give me the combat rewards such as clues).

Ken’s character did indeed pick up a good number of spells, and Chris A did do a great job of dealing out equipment to the group. Unfortunately many of the spells which can provide ongoing bonuses (Such as buffing stats) were found later in the game when there wasn’t time to use them effectively, and an unfortunate series of events that had 3 eldritch tokens on the green comet of the omen track (Making it advance doom, i.e. the main ‘advancement towards death’ track, by 4 times as much as normal) left us in a dire situation.

We battled on, and right as the doom track hit 0 (Well, -4, as it went down by 5 in one go) solved the second Mystery. That might not seem close at a glance, until you realize the 3rd, and final to win mystery, just required one character to give up 4 clues and the requiem per shuggay to solve – At that time my character had 3 clues and the requiem, making it almost certain that one more turn would have won us the game, ack! Anyway, glory to Azathoth, may he let me live another day… (Not likely seeing as he’s not the kind of elder-god thing to actually care about humans…not that any of the others do either ^^).

Space Cadets

For the final game before everyone would likely have to leave, I suggested Space Cadets: Dice Duel, which I recently picked up at the UK Games Expo. Ken seemed rather vehemently against the team-competitive idea, so I also suggested the original Space Cadets which I’ve only placed once before also. I think we had a third option suggested but whatever it was I know I didn’t fancy it, and we eventually settled on the original Space Cadets plan.

Space Cadets is a real-time rounded space game where players trying to complete missions by flying the ship and shooting down enemies. Each ‘station’ has various mini-games to make them happen (Such as tetris-style matching of tiles to load missies, or choosing from a limited set of movement cards for helm), which with the short 30-second timer of rounds lead to hectic attempts to do well and many amusing mistakes.

Setup and learning how to play took a while, as while I’ve played the game before, and while all the individual roles are relatively simple, bringing it all together is a heavy task. We chose roles and all read up on what we needed to do, set up one of the tutorial/training missions and went in with partial-blindless as to what to expect ^^.

The valiant crew of our starship consisted of Dave S on Shields and Sensors, Chris A on Weapons and Damage Control, Myself on Helm and Jump and finally our glorious Captain Ken, who also ran the engineering department. Our mission, to boldly go barely outside our own star system and take out a pitiful number of enemy ships, hopefully not dying horrifically in the process…I mean…yeah.

First up we had an easy ship to deal with. Brimming with confidence as we started, I went for rull ramming speed (There’s not actual ramming in the game, sadly) at the first foe, while shields put up a weak defense and we successfully locked on, loading torpedoes and….missed at near melee range, twice. Fortunatey the enemy ship was equally useless, with its’ first attack bouncing harmlessly off our shields. We were able to despatch it not much later…taking only a little damage and totally not because I left our ships starboard unshielded side to the enemy..

Moving onto our next target we’d all become a little more comfortable with our roles, although further damage led to another role switch (The starboard damage switch Dave/Chris A) only a short while after the first. This enemy had a fair bit more health and was tougher to take on, with us taking damage to a number of stations in the process, most of which we fixed in short order (Except jump, as we weren’t actually supposed to be using it for the tutorial mission so we figured we’d leave it till later ^^).

As we went to fight the final, hard enemy ship (Or maybe near the end of the 2nd) we took a ton of damage to the front and had our first core-breach. When this happens players gain an additional mini-game of matching shapes which they have to deal with during the other real-time work they have to do. Fortunately both this and a subsequent core breah we took were dealt with relatively easily, and we got a big hit on the enemy ship just before we had another role-switch pushed upon us (This time me & Chris A swapped). Thanks to heroic-level loading of missiles and a maximum damage hit (Oh btw…hitting with missiles required flicking a disc up a track, and it has to stay on to actually hit) on my behalf (Omg I did something competant, something that I had totally not been achieving as helm the last few rounds..ahem).

With the last ship blown up, we set ourselves up for jumping out of the sector (Again, we didn’t need to, but it seemed like a fun thing to do at the end of the mission). 5-5-3-3-1 got rolled, so we flipped the two fives to 2-2-3-3-1, increases the 1 to a 2 and reduced the 2 3’s to a 1 using the jump-cards we’d gained over the game (Essentially you build up the cards over a game, which are things like ‘Roll >23 and you gain a once-use ability to reduce the value of two dice by 1’, such that eventually you can use the gained abilities to make 5 of a kind, which powers up the drive and jumps the ship! Huzzah!

It was a fantastic day, and I’m so glad that we got together for board games after skipping the RP plans. It was a lot of fun playing everything, particularly space cadets which I’ve been worried won’t come to the table much (Real-time games aren’t exactly my core-preference, but the Space-Cadets series caught my attention thanks to Artemis, which is a sort of video-game version of the same thing that we’ve played). Hopefully the others had enough fun to play again sometime, perhaps for an ‘incompetant space-persons’ night where we’d play Galaxy Trucker, Space Cadets & then an extended Artemis session ^^.

Halesowen Board Gamers #17 (04/06/14)

On arrival, a couple of games already seemed to be out on tables indicating what people wanted to play. Neither Power Grid (Although I don’t know that it was actually played in the end) or Legendary really interest me (Tzol’kin…I’d probably enjoy actually playing but it just doesn’t stand out). There just seemed to be myself and Ian having not jumped into a game, so I suggested we play a game of Hive while waiting to see if anyone else turned up.

Hive

I didn’t notice however that James was also not in a game, so he came over to join us. As Hive is 2 player, I suggested Ian/James play against each other instead with myself being a spectator, as it’s quite a short one and I was interested in how others approach the game. In Hive, players have a number of hex tile ‘bugs’ with various movement styles. If they can surround the opposing players queen (With any combination of their opponents/their own tiles), that player wins. Each turn players either place or move (Although they can’t move until their queen is placed, which must be done by the 4th turn), with placement having to be next to their own colour (black/white) tile and not next to their opponents (So you have to start pieces away from the target and use their movement to get them in).

Being their first game, neither James nor Ian seemed to go for any particular strategy, although there was a lot of use of grasshoppers I wasn’t expecting (Grasshoppers jump over a line of pieces), with ants coming out quite late (Ants are one of the more versatile pieces, which can move almost anywhere, though not into tight gaps which beetles/grasshopppers can). Both their beetles (Moves 1 at a time, but can go up on top of the hive, which also allows for ‘disabling’ tiles when its’ on top of them) got placed opposite a gap in a sort of stand-off, as I think if either had moved their beetle the other would have jumped there’s on top (My fault for mentioning you could do that during explaining probably).

It wasn’t too long before players started getting their pieces around their opponents queen. James made use of his queens movement to escape getting trapped before it could happen, while Ian mostly ignored his (queen) bee, leaving almost none of his own pieces surrounding it (Which I think is a fair thing to do, but you probably need to be capturing the enemies quickly or reducing how many pieces the other player has available considerably to get away with it). As Ian left it to be trapped however, he quickly ran out of non-defensive moves he could make, and while he made some pretty cool blocks on movement was unable to stop the last grasshopper jump into the remaining space by his queen, leaving victory to James.

I think it’s a really interesting game (I picked it up at the UK Games Expo btw), which has more strategy than I was mentally giving it credit for whenever I’ve seen it in the past (I mean…it’s just a few tiles, it’s hardly the biggest footprint of game ^^). I’ve only played 4 times but look forward to playing it lots and hopefully inducing some healthy competition with others as I do so!

Boss Monster

Nobody extra turned up, so our next port of call was to jump into Boss Monster, the Dungeon Building Card Game. Boss Monster is a sort of ‘tower defense’ with players building up dungeons leading up to their boss creature, in a bid to kill the various heroes that are attracted to visit their dungeon. The game is played over a few phases – Spawn, Build, Bait & Adventure, and continues until all but one player are eliminated (Take 5+ wounds) or a player reaches 10 Souls (Tiebreak – Least Wounds).

Spawn just has #players heroes come out into town, letting players see what heroes they might attract. Build has each player construct one room in their dungeon (Built to the left to a max of 5, or possibly over another room), hopefully adding enough damage to kill heroes, as well as the right treasure type (Each room has a symbol to denote that it has say, weapons, as treasure) to attract them. The bait phase has heroes in the town move to the dungeon with the most treasure symbols of the type they prefer (So a Fighter goes to a 3 sword dungeon over a 2 sword dungeon), with ties having them stay in town till next turn getting drunk in the bar. Finally, the adventure phase is where the heroes at the entrance to each players dungeon move through – If they aren’t killed they go face up to the side of the players boss as a ‘wound (There’s a symbol on the bottom right so they’re easily stacked and the wounds visible), if they are they are placed face down as a Soul (On the bottom again for neat stacking/splaying).

Players have a number of rooms & spells in their hand, which drives what options they have available to them over the course of the game. One room is drawn at the start of each build phase to hopefully provide options to players.

In our game, everyone got the hang of things very quickly (One of the best things about the game is it’s simplicity to teach). I got a couple of holy relics and a ridiculous amount of spell tomes (Come to me Clerics & Mages), Ian got plenty of Weapons to attract fighters, and James matched my holy relics as well as getting a spread of a bit of everything, but not enough for majority to attract monsters. After a few rounds, James had an unfortunate few rounds where he got no rooms he could place (Only advanced rooms – Advanced rooms must be placed atop a normal room with the same treasure type, replacing it such that there’d be no reason to stack them up or anything). I got a ton of Souls from attacting and taking out Mages, as well as a few of the clerics (Although they mostly just stayed in town as we kept tying with 2 relics each). Ian was doing well and had a powerful dungeon, but just wasn’t attracting quite so many heroes.

When we got to the Epic Heroes, James had a rather epic round where he was able to attract 4 heroes (4!), wiping them all out and jumping from 1 to 9 souls. I played a ‘Zombie Attack’ spell, which sent one back to the start with extra health to try and slow him down (And I think it made him change his building plans and potentially stopped him nabbing a sudden win, although he killed the now Zombified hero without issue). I found myself unable to attract any heroes in the last round, as I’d covered up some of my spellbook symbols and lost the mages interest (I was a bit unsure when I could use ‘destroy this room’ effects which could have changes how things happened. Ian was able to attract 2 heroes (On 8 souls), and while I feared one neither me nor James had what we needed to stop him, even past a jeopardy spell (Which forces a full hand discard and makes everyone draw 2 rooms and 1 spell, to try and find another useful spell). Win for Ian!

I like this game, and I think the art style is very cool, but I think it has a number of flaws. Most of all, its’ very random as to whether you have the right cards to build – rather than player interaction for who has the most of various symbols, it’s pretty much at the decks whim – in addition, its’ possible to draw exclusively cards you can’t even build, screwing you over for 1 or more rounds of the game. In addition, the ‘normal’ heroes range from 4 to 8 in health, but while that’s easy to deal with by about turn 4/5, they spawn from round 2, so some of the players end up taking really early wounds for well…no good reason. A ‘Novice Heroes’ deck with a round or two’s worth of 2/3 health heroes would be a small but much appreciated addition to the game. I think next time I play I’ll have to try a house-rule such as ‘draw 2 keep 1’ or have a few cards out each round to draft from (As I don’t like players missing turns), or use the in-rulebook variant of ‘If a player gains no souls on a turn, he may draw an additional room card’ which should also counter the issue. I really hope future expansions might improve either or both of these problems I have as I do thing its’ an awesome theme and cool game to play otherwise ^^ (Oh, I have the first expansion which we didn’t use – It puts items out for heroes to carry, which give the heroes a special ability making them more interesting than a pile of hit points, as well as a special ability for the player that kills said hero to provide more options ^^).

San Juan

When it came to suggestions for after Boss Monster, we were a bit unsure what to go for, as we’d already played 2 of my games and neither James or Ian had bought anything along with them. I had Among the Stars with me which would have fit in the time, but James saw a copy of San Juan (Dave D’s copy I think) and suggested we play that which we agreed to.

San Juan is a role-selection game, with each turn consisting of players taking one of 5 available roles, which provide a benefit to everyone (Well…except prospector, which is weak but gives no benefit to the other players) but a more powerful benefit to the player. Over the course of the game, players construct various buildings which produce goods or provide special abilities, with the aim being to get the most points by the end of the game.

In our game, as I haven’t played before, I just went for whatever seemed to work so that I could get a feel for the game. An early card let me keep an extra card when the ‘councillor’ role was taken (Doubling it’s benefit as far as I’m concerned), as well as another one I built that produced a good every time the same role was taken (So I pretty much just spammed¬† Councillor and relied on the other players picks to do everything else). I only built one resource location, which was a silver mine, so every time someone traded I could get a ton of cards despite not really paying attention to that side of the game. James’ strategy seemed to rely on cards where when certain things happened, a card was stacked under the building and was worth 1VP at the games end, and Ian I don’t know so much but he did play an annoying card that made for a 6 card hand limit instead of 7. I also built a crane, which allowed me to build atop other buildings (So I could replace my starting indigo mine) as well as making a Park, which let me built the 7 cost ‘Cathedral’ card…but wasn’t really worth bothering with, as between the other 2 players only 1 ‘6’ cost card got built. I lost, 24-28-32, but I think I’d have got ~27-30 points if I’d not consistently forgotten about my Chapel among other things ^^.

I think it was a very interesting game, and certainly quite different in style to anything else I’ve tried, as well as being quite elegant in style. I don’t quite get the seeming emphasis on goods production/sale, as I’d get 4-5 cards each time even though I’d barely paid it any attention, and with a 6/7 card hand limit any more would be pointless (By emphasis I mean that most things I spent to make buildings were more production things…I feel like the game expected more than just 1 silver mine from me). I did see a ‘tower’ card at the end of the game (Although I never picked one up personally) which allowed a 12 card hand limit, and I could see that being impactful, but only if you had it right from the start. Guess I’ll just have to play again sometime and see how repeated play changes things.

Cheers for reading, was a fun night ^^. Shame I didn’t get to bring out Space Cadets: Dice Duel (I got it via a trade at the Expo), as I think it’d be a great use of 30 minutes, but I don’t know that I convince 4-8 people at halesowen that a real-time dice-rolling game is a good idea ^^ (Particularly as I’ve read it’s better with 6 or 8).

Halesowen Board Gamers #16, Games Days, UK Games Expo, Catchup Post!

Hey, so I went quiet for a little while, sorry about that! I just lacked motivation for a little while to write up on gaming nights. As it is I’m still going to breeze over things somewhat as I just don’t remember some of the games played particularly clearly at the moment.

The good news is that part of the reason I’m hazy on details of games is I’ve just played so many in the past couple of weeks! As I’ll mention below ^^.

 

Halesowen – Wednesday 21st May

On the 21st I attended Halesowen as with most Wednesdays for games, where I played Belfort, with Mike getting a first shot at the game & a (I think) repeat play for Stan. Belfort is a worker-placement game with a couple of ‘majority’ mechanics that give players cause to go different directions or to stock up on resources a few rounds ahead in order to get bonuses or greater points in a round.

In our game, I opted to try and rush for workers, going for the extra-worker spot when I could, and building 2 extra-worker buildings to further the method. This gave me a nice chance at the majorities when getting resources, but meant I was lacking in income compared to the other players, and I got very few points in the earlier half of their game due to minimal amount of buildings. I don’t remember exactly what Mike/Stan went for, but certainly by the end of the game they had enough buildings between them that I was pretty scuppered and couldn’t catch up – Didn’t stop Mike from screwing me with his last building though, mean! Mikes Win!

Following this, Mike left for the evening due to travel plans early the next day, so we merged with a few others for a game of Heckmeck. This game has players competing to get as many worms as possible, through a push-your-luck dice-rolling mechanic where players try to get high numbers in order to take or steal tiles with worms upon them – If you don’t manage to go high enough with your roll, you return a tile to the middle and the highest-value one remaining is flipped and becomes unavailable. The game ends when no tiles remain.

In our first game, Steve, with his unholy high rolling, which was apparently due to the sacrifice of innocents or some-such evil machinations in the game of Cosmic Encounter the others at the table player beforehand, managed to net a tied victory with Mark. This is past an amusing amount of passing of the tile ’23’ between players, which naturally made it the ‘curse’ tile, ^^.

In our second game, things went differently, with Steve’s luck having worn off and no longer giving him crazy rolls. After more silliness and the stepping in of Dave pointing out that we were playing with a significant rule error (Although we carried on the same) where we were taking a failed roll to not immediately end the turn, I took a valiant victory, woohoo!

Apologies that this is a very glossed over account, onto the random days of gaming I’ve been having! ^^

Games Day with Friends – Saturday 24th May

On the 24th, myself, Grace & some of my friends (Emma, Ken, Kimberley, Charlie) met up for something of a games day (Not everyone was in every game but still ^^).

First up we bought out the Resistance. In this game one team play the resistance, fighting against the oppressive evil government of the future, while the other team are government spies, infiltrating the resistance and sabotaging their attempts to fight the system. Players were Myself, Emma, Ken & Kimberley

In the first game, which we played vanilla, myself & Emma were spies, and while I think Emma got copped fairly easily (First game it’s hard to keep it secret!) I lasted only a little longer, with the game falling to the good guys after I voted against a success mission in a way that was probably a bit too obvious.

For the second game, I introduced every to plot cards. This is an expansion where each round the leader gives one player a ‘plot’ card that might make them vote publicly, or let them steal leadership, etc, either helping a good guy get information or letting a spy deceive the group smartly. Unfortunately for the dastardly spies, Grace was a bit obvious, with a few too many ‘I don’t get its’ (Which is a bit of a meta-gamey way to notice someone’s a spy, but people seem to grasp ‘good guy’ easier than ‘bad guy’ for some reason), and Kimberley just had a downright evil glint to her eyes, win for the good guys again! ^^. I think we’re all just a bit bad at being bad…^^.

Next up we broke out Galaxy Trucker, a hectic real-time spaceship building game where players rush to grab tiles from a shared lot to build a ship that hopefully survives the race/flight phase. I don’t really know what to specifically mention about our game, asides from it was a lot of fun, and really great to see how the new players ships formed after each build (As particularly in the first game or few games, players respond heavily to the last flight and get gradually better at filling the space on their board). I had a really quite unfair advantage as I’ve played the most (I think, Grace has played a lot too and her ships were closer to mine than the rest of the groups) – I should have had a handicap, and we gave me a rough-road in the 3rd round, which actually turned out to have almost no effect by plenty luck on my behalf (On open space, a random component from my ship would fall off, only 1 open space happened, which was my first and only piece lost all game). I won, but more importantly I got to introduce people to this fantastic game and I really hope everyone had a blast – Next time I’ll do rough roads right from the start for me!

Next up we headed to the pub for a while, dropping Kimberley who was going out somewhere (I forget where, oops) and meeting up with Charlie. Emma had pointed out Love Letter as a game she recognized before we left so we’d taken it along, and I introduced the table to the game. Love Letter is a little deduction game, which while it soon feels like an ‘automatic’ playing game, is a fantastic introductory thing to play, and a convenient game to carry to a pub with its’ tiny size. I think there was 4/5 of us up to 2 out of the 3 cubes needed to win before a rather foolish error on my behalf gave the game away to <redacted> (And by redacted, I mean my memory sucks).

After a couple of drinks, we headed back to my house and got out the last game of the day – Ticket to Ride: Europe (Also losing Grace who had other commitments to go and get on with). It was the first time for all 3 I think (Ken, Emma, Charlie) so things went by mostly friendly (Though I’m pretty sure Ken dropped a couple of deliberate blocking-moves in there). Thanks to a block that Ken did against me however, my circuitous route also let me complete a ton of extra short routes which I picked up over the game (I had and completed 10 in total!) which I figured was a fairly easy win – Not so, as Charlie also managed to complain a hefty chunk of extra routes to his starting ones, but still giving me victory, with a mere 2 points difference – I hope we can sort out another game sometime as that was scarily close for someone’s first run at a game. Ken/Emma were a bit further back, but both completed their starting routes which is what I tend to expect new-players to work on ^^.

It was a fantastic day, and I’m very happy to have been able to get friends from Uni involved with some of my games. I hope the opportunity to play with them comes up again!

Games in Bristol – 28th-30th May

I had the last week of May off as holiday, which was thanks to planning to do things on Thursday/Friday (Which I didn’t actually end up doing ^^) and figuring I may as well have the whole week. An old friend of mine, Simon, has his ‘weekend’ on Tuesdays/Wednesdays so by suggestion of my lovely girlfriend I gave him a ring (Well, his girlfriend Nat a ring anyway, seeing as his phone was being lame :P) and sorted out driving down to stay over on the Tuesday night. Last time I visited I threatened to bring some of my board games along, as they both enjoy games but have only the more mainstream/traditional affair, naturally I had to follow through and took a nice selection ^^.

I arrived in Tuesday around 4ish, meeting up with Simon after a brief hiatus of wondering how the hell to find the farm they live on. After a catchup Simon suggested Forbidden Desert sounded like an interesting game to try which I promptly fetched and set up. We did random roles, giving me the navigator & Simon the climber (Yay mobility!), and went with novice as the difficulty. The first few rounds were pretty much learning rounds, and he’d gotten the hang of it before long, with us absolutely kicking the games ass as we went. I think we finished with only 1 oasis having been flipped and enough water to last another couple of rounds – I think that the 2P game may be a bit easy on novice, particularly as it’s hard to get excited to play a coop again when you win it without issue the first time around, still, a victories a victory!

The next game we got out to play (I think) was Ticket To Ride: Europe. I bought this along as it’s just such a fantastic ‘gateway’ game, and seemed like a good choice for playing with Nat now joining us to play, who didn’t want to go for anything too complex. The game went by pretty smoothly, and I was able to get a very healthy amount of extra routes completed over the game with the power of stations, netting me a win, this time.

The final game of the day was Voluspa, which Nat bowed out from leaving it as me vs Simon. I was pretty impressed at how quickly he picked the game up, with the kind of ‘suboptimal’ moves most people fall into a lot in their first few games being few and far between, although I was still able to eke out a victory by the end, just certainly not without having to try ^^. The Jotunn tile was blamed I think, as it is in many games, as people seem to prefer the dragon (Dragon places atop another tile, Jotunn does the same, but pushes that tile to the end of the row/column), presumably as you don’t have to think so hard about placing it ^^.

The next day, with Nat having gone to work, Simon suggested Caverna, one I’d bought along a whim not really expecting any interest. I’m glad that the interest was there though as I think it’s a brilliant game. Simon went for his cave as a priority, using spaces that directly give food in order to feed his dwarves, while I focused on building up my farm – we each also had a single adventurer (I got mine to block him for an extra round, bit mean but meh =P). I came out on 61 points while Simon came out around 20ish give or take a few, but I think most importantly we both had a great time with it and wanted to play again ^^. We were supposed to meet Nat at 1pm as she had a break for a few hours before more work, but we kind of overshot a little with Caverna and didn’t make it to nearly 2pm, where we had lunch in a terrifyingly expensive chip shop/restaurant in Western Super-Mare & had a look in a miniatures/guns/lego/misc shop as Simon & Nat figured I’d enjoy it (Correctly, although tempting the wallet like that is cruel!).

When we came back, Simon suggested a game of Ticket To Ride, but I countered with Smash Up as I knew Nat would probably want to play later (I’m sure he wouldn’t have minded an extra game, but I don’t want to over-play it too much ^^). I think we had Steampunk Bears (His Factions) vs Time Travelling Spies (My factions) – I ultimately won, but I think this was the least enjoyed game we played, possibly due to our factions/player-count but partly as Simon seems to have a vendetta against card games ^^.

With Nat returned later on, we jumped into another game of Ticket To Ride: Europe. This went very differently from last time, as while before I was able to work on some extra short routes, this game I barely had my starting routes done before Nat had run out of trains, ridiculously quickly in fact, such that both me & Simon were stuck with something like 15 train pieces left each. I did get an extra couple of short ones done, but Nat dominated on points thanks to completing all her 3 starting ones and having used the 8-piece long track which gave a ton of points – We could have blocked her fairly easily but just didnt’ realise we needed to! Well played!

The last game of the evening didn’t actually involve me. I decided to get Nat & Simon to face-off over a game of Jaipur, a set-collection game where players are trading goods to try and impress the maharaja. The game plays quick, and as such such is done over 3 rounds in a best of 3. Simon won twice in a row for a swift victory, but they both had fun and I heard murmurings of wanting to buy it from Nat (Buahaha, I’ll get them addicted to ‘designer’ games yet! ^^).

The last thing we played was on Thursday (I stayed an extra day after we played late enough into Wednesday that I didn’t fancy driving back ^^), which was Qwirkle, as it was the only game I’d bought that hadn’t been tried yet. Not much to say about it but I had a considerably score lead over Simon (Nat was at work since before we woke) taking the win, before he went to work and I headed home. Absolutely fantastic few days, great to see an old friend & his lovely girlfriend, and get to introduce them to some of the games I’ve gotten to try & own over the last couple of years!

UK Games Expo – 31st May to 1st June

So I originally planned to go to the expo on the Friday, but as I’m lazy, and as Starbound is obscenely addictive once you have strong weapons and drills I got slightly distracted until it was too late in the day. Hopefully next year I can get my ass into gear and do the whole 3 days ^^. I spent most of the time there just wandering around & sorting out passing on Archon & getting Space Cadets: Dice Duel (Yay Math Trade), as well as picking up Village which I’d agreed to on boardgamegeek.

On the Saturday I headed in at an ungodly early hour with a friend I met via my girlfriend, Adam. On arrival we also met with one of Adams’ friends Victor that I’ve met once before, although even though it got bought up I forget where, oops :P. In any case, they were eager to jump into some random game and Frankenstein’s Bodies was the first stall we happened upon after that thought.

In this game, each player has a board (Well, 2 laminated sheets, I presume it’s a single board each in the final version, which is being kickstarted now) with 2 operating tables, and a set of cards. Each round has players take turns to take a random card from the deck and 1 card from a set of face-up ones available, then play 2 cards. Cards are either body parts (In 4 Colours & 2 Genders), master-surgeons that block part-stealing and make stealing better for you or ‘take-that’ style action cards which let you steal parts from other players. This carries on until someone has 2 complete bodies in front of them. (Or the deck runs out twice, but there didn’t seem to be enough things resulting in a trashed card for that to happen). It was ok, but ‘take-that’ style gameplay where players screw each other over constantly is really not something I’m a huge fan of. In any case, I had to run off for a pre-arranged meet to buy Village from a bgg’er before the end, with Adam apparently winning the game in my absense (out of 5, 2 were random people that joined us). The gameplay is quite simple though, so maybe cool for a younger generation (Still…it’s also 50-70 minutes for what I was expecting to be 20-30 when I sat down, based on the compenents and style of play).

I met back up with Adam & Victor at Lunch Time, as well as 1 extra guy they’d picked up who they know…who’s name probably begins with a J but which I maybe slightly promptly forgot. I was the only one with any games on me, so we got Euphoria out (The only Stonemaier Game I got played while there sadly, as I was struggling a bit with confidence to go and introduce random people to them despite having bought them along to show off, a shame really but hey…maybe next time). In any case, I took home the win, having managed to maneuvre favourable trades to myself a few times while building markets, as people are suddenly more willing to do that 3:1 trade when they want to avoid the negative consequences ^^ (I should also note, this is the first time I’ve ever had people trade in a game! It was a nice addition so I hope I can convince other groups to do the same). After Lunch we split as I had to go find another BGG’er to give him Archon =)

Later on, when I decided to go find people again, I ran into a significant hitch that my phone went flat. I spent a considerable while wandering trying to find enough people I knew for games (If I’d just gone and stopped somewhere that wasn’t mind-numbingly hot then I’d have realised I could have just gone to the game-hall and set up Viticulture with a flag for players…duh), past which I came across various individual people I know but never finding a few together (And the individuals were generally on their way somewhere or leaving etc :S). After coming across my friend Greg and finding he was headed to the playtest hall to playtest his upcoming game Wizard Academy, I had one last look around then went to try and join, to find him leaving the hall for some reason while I got distracted by coming across Tim, who I know from a Birmingham games group ‘Bread and Games’.

This turned out to be great opportunity, as he mentioned that there was a copy of Dead of Winter in the trade hall *squeels excitedly* which I was definitely up for giving a shot. We got there right as a game finished, and after a while of looking for someone to show us how to actually play, were able to get started on the game. My survivors were both comically silly, being Sparky the (Wonder) Dog & Iforgothisname the Mall Santa. Unfortunately, we only got one round into the game (Albeit that was enough to get a feel for the core mechanics, and my god has that left my excited about this game!), although we did manage to complete the rounds objective and get a 3rd of the way to the main objective with some lucky rolls on picking up Zombie samples (Plus, my personal objective was 2/3rd complete as I needed 3 survivors to be removed by the time the main one was completed…Although sadly Sparky was one of those 2 that perished, after running around town and killing 3 Zombies in different locations in rapid succession. VERY excited, and very happy I pre-ordered! I went home not long after, as I just wasn’t feeling up to continuing to try and find people for games.

The next day I went in with my girlfriend Grace to have another quick look around. We weren’t there as long, only going in for around lunchtime, but had time to go around all the halls, and for me to pick up money from games sold and finish up sorting the math trade by grabbing Space Cadets: Dice Duel (Can’t wait to play, looks like a lot of fun, but eep 4-8 is a hard count to get ^^). Having sorted that, we headed to the halls to see if we could find a demo or something to get into and play, with the first thing that interested both of us being Hive (Although Grace had a demo of a sort of colour-based chess-style game from ‘Burley Games’, I forget the name, started with a K I think). Hive was a lot of fun, and interested me more than most abstracts, so we picked up a copy of our own (The beautiful tiles helped with the decision ^^). We then headed to the Monarch Suite to see if we could sort out a game of something there.

After a while of looking, we found noone with a ‘looking for players’ flag thing, so we sat on our own and found one to put out to see if we could get a game of Dice Duel in (We wanted to play something I didn’t own really, but as there was noone after players…). No such luck, but while I was putting away the components that I’d had out to look at (And for reading the rules) a guy next to us said hi and I played a quick game of Hive against him (Winning, buaha…I’m sure it won’t last but I’ve won all 3 games so far ^^), before he suggested we could play a game of his. Despite the fact I have my own copy sitting at the post office to be picked up, we were for Boss Monster.

In Boss Monster, players are the head-honcho’s of fantasy dungeons, and work to build up a deadly set of dangerous rooms before attracting adventurers to their doom. Each room has treasure symbols, which make theirs more attractive for specific things (So if you have the most weapons treasure, then a warrior/fighter will probably come to your dungeon). If your dungeon kills the adventurer you get their soul, if they get to the boss…to you, then you take a wound. 5 Wounds and you’re eliminated, 10 Souls and you win. The game seemed to be going fairly evenly, albeit I had more wounds than the others from some early beatings, but I was able to nab a whole slew of adventurers one round by destroying a ‘jackpot’ room which doubled the treasure value of my rooms temporarily. This got me to 8/10 souls, and despite the others catching up over the next couple or roudns (The guy having enough damage to take out any contender and Grace having better things to attract the heroes to her dungeon than me, I was able to eke out a win. Hooray…Seriously though…did we move to another universe, I’ve said ‘I Win’ a scary amount in talking about expo games…the one I didn’t win was one I left early in Oo.

In any case, the expo was a lot of fun, and while I’d have loved to have played many more games, and right into the evening on the Saturday, I struggling to find the confidence this time around, next time I’ll take less stuff or buy a back-pack so I don’t feel quite so demoralised from the heat/exhaustion of carrying stuff all day (Plus I’ll actually eat…My first bite of food was subway when I was leaving on the Saturday). I do hope the Bring + Buy is bigger next time though, as it was particularly cramped, but I sold the last couple of games I have that I don’t want so I can be happy about that!

If anyone gets to this paragraph, thanks for reading! Apologies that I went quiet for a while, but this post should catch me up and I’ll hopefully be back to writing about Halesowen each week now!