First up was Havana, which had been bought along by Rachael & Lee, I believe because Steve wanted to try it out ahead of possibly picking it up in the works.
Havana is a fairly simple game, where the objective is to get 15 Victory Points based on tiles bought from the middle of the table, which all have a set of required resources and a VP value.
Each turn players play one of ~12 cards in hand, which have a number from 0-9 and a special ability (Well, the first turn you play two). This goes with another card, which will have been used in a previous round, with the numbers concatenated with the lowest first to get player order (i.e. if you use a 2 and a 5, you get 25). Lower numberered cards have weaker abilities, so there’s a tradeoff between whether you want a strong ability or earlier play.
Using these abilities players will gather up resources to pay for tiles bought from the ends of 2 rows on the table (Ends only!), which happens after the abilities phase (i.e. doesn’t require a card, just the right ‘stuff’). This lets you see ahead to certain tiles that will become available (They don’t run out, when 2 tiles remain in a row, 4 more are inserted between them taking it back to 6).
In our game of it I played in a very ‘Lets see how this goes’ manner, with Lee/Rachael seeming to know what they were doing from previous plays and Steve taking his time and planning carefully. All 3 of them got some points before me, and in fact, Steve managed to win so quickly that I barely have anything to write about for the play…I had 0 points at the end, although iirc I could have got ~11 points in my next turn, which demonstrates how swingy it can be.
It was pretty fun to play, and the card abilities tradeoff with play-order seemed quite unique among games I’ve played, but it was all over a bit too quick for the effort it seemed to take to work out what you’re doing. I’d probably play again, but well…I just struggle to be attracted to game where new players can score 0 when I frequently teach new players ^^.
Our next game was shorter still, and one I’d only just picked up – Lost Legacy. This is a tiny 16 card bluffing/deception game by Seiji Kanai (Same guy as Love Letter).
So far, it probably sounds about the same, but there’s a few differences here. Primarily is that you’re trying to explicitly find the Lost Legacy card, rather than end with a big number. In fact, you want a small number, because when the round ends, anyone who’s not eliminated gets to choose, in order of lowest number first, where they believe the Lost Legacy can be found – their own hand, an opponents hand, or in ‘the ruins’.
Similar to Love Letter, cards have abilities on them. Unlike Love Letter, they don’t all activate when played, with some having interactive effects such as ‘If another player looks at your hand, you are out of the game’ (Which seems awful, but thats’ on the ‘1’ card so it has an advantage at the end of a round). Some cards manipulate ‘the ruins’, which is an area of face-down cards (With 1 there from the start of the game), letting you potentially hide away the Lost Legacy where only you can find it.
We played as a campaign, which is to say multiple rounds to get a final winner, which is the first person to 3 wins. This was ridiculously tight, with us all getting to 2 wins before the end (One of mine being from the glory of spinning a pen to guess where the lost legacy was, too perfect ^^). Apologies again for poor description of the session, but well..short games (And I kinda left a week before writing this)
I really like the play of this game, and I think for 3/4 players this is far cooler than Love Letter (Although a smidgeon more complex, and the lack of guide-cards to tell players what things do will hurt for teaching non-gamers). Trying to work out when to keep certain cards defensively, or whether to slip the lost legacy from hand to ruins, or whether to shuffle the ruins when given the opportunity, are difficult decisions indeed! (It’s pretty poor with 2 though as I discovered playing with a colleague at work, as its’ near impossible to get to the investigation phase, which is the core of lost legacy’s fun).
Among the Stars
The final game of the evening was Among the Stars, a game I’ve talked about plenty on here because its’ a game I really enjoy. As a super-short summary, it’s a card-drafting tile-placement game where players vie for the most victory points over 4 years.
In our game, we were playing with mostly the base game, but had one additional module included that I’ve been wanting to try out for some time – Alliance Inspection. This is a very small module, consisting of just 6 cards. At the start of each year, these are shuffled and one is given to each player in secret. At the end of each year, players score 3 points if they have more of whats’ listed (One of the 5 location types, or ‘delayed locations’) than anyone else, -2 if they’re last, and no change if somewhere in the middle.
The game went by without too much issue. The first year I failed my alliance inspection, having failed to build any military, while Steve (I think) picked up 3 points for his. I dropped back on points considerably as my race, Wiss, can’t get additional power and I kept seeming to come on cards that would decimate my supply of 5 or just weren’t very effective (Leading me to discard for money a lot).
The 2nd/3rd years weren’t too bad, with the other players being fairly in line with points and alliance inspections being passed ok (I think…a week is too long I think before writing these), although I did catch up a little bit I stayed in last place, and still had a ton more money than I needed.
In the final year, I got an ideal inspection card, which was to have the most delayed locations (I had a lot, as I quite like going for them as they often play off the positioning aspects of the game), I also managed to spent a lot of my money, and built 3 factories (Cost is 5, but -1 for each other factory built, so they got cheaper on each one) which was a good chunk of points.
In adding the scores, I managed to leap ahead of everyone’s points…temporarily, as I did so before Steve added his end-game points, which let him jump back into a lead he’d held most of the game. Unfortunately my passed inspection was just not enough, and he sat a good 5-10 points ahead of me (With Rachael/Lee in fairly even spacing behind that, though I forget which order they were in).
Fantastic Evening, had a lot of fun with trying out the two new games and the module for AtS which I hadn’t tried before. At some point I’m going to have to try out the conflict modules for the game, which I’ve shied away from as they just don’t seem they’d be very new-player friendly. We’ll see what happens