Halesowen Games Day #2

I’ve just finished writing up last wednesdays games night too…but seeing as this post is crazy long already I’ll post it separately ^^.

On the 20th September, the halesowen board gamers group I attend held an all (Well, most of the) day event in the usual venue. Which of course I was more than happy to head along to!

That wasn’t the first games-related thing I did with the day though. The 4th edition of Space Hulk, for which pre-orders ran dry in all of half a day, was released to stores on that day. Unfortunately it was out of my ‘available money’ range, but a friend wanted it who’d missed on the pre-order, and I offerred to pick it up (It just gets so much ‘omg that’s my grail game’ on bgg I really want to try it!).

I was able to snag the only available copy (Well, they had 8 but 7 were tied to pre-orders!), so headed to Chris’ for a bit to open it up ahead of going to halesowen. I have to say, the components for that thing are absolutely beautiful, with super thick tiles/tokens and embossed artwork, very cool! As the models had to be put together and I was late already for halesowen, I headed on my way, but I am so looking forward to giving it a shot sometime ^^.

On arrival, everyone was unsurprisingly already in games. To accomodate people like myself turning up off-schedule there was some short games happening, and I soon got in on a table where we broke out Hanabi, which I’d brought along.

Hanabi

If you don’t know Hanabi, then tough, as its’ really hard to explain in text! To give a general idea, its’ a cooperative deduction card game where players are trying to pull off a successful firework display by playing 5 colours of cards in successive values to try and hit 17 or more. Oh, and you hold your hand facing away, so you have no idea what you have unless someone gives you information, which is rather limited!

Considering we had a new player (Or 2, I forget), it went really smoothly, and after a slow start on playing the 1’s we got a pretty good score of 20 points. We were playing with the ‘bonus round’ variant I tend to teach (You carry on playing when the deck runs out, but may no longer give clues), and that went better than the last couple times too. (It can be a bit slow and painful if people struggle with the deduction aspect (You can work out your exact hand at the end as all cards except yours are visible).

To follow up, Mike suggested Bohnanza, sticking to the ‘short games so that latecomers can easily jump in’ theme.

Bohnanza

Bohnanza is another game with odd ‘your hand of cards’ rules. In Bohnanza, you are not permitted to rearrange your hand of cards. You always play from one end, and draw into the other. The objective is to gain coins, which you do by planting lots of the same crop in one of your two fields. There’s a catch though. At the start of each turn you must plant the first card in your hand, and if you ever try to plant a type of bean not already in a field, you must rip up one of your fields to make space (Which might score it, but might not, or might get you less points than if you could keep it one more round).

Well, that all sounds very random and not much fun, but wait! The thing that makes this game fun is that on a players turn, all other players can trade with them. 2 cards go face-up on the table to choose from, and other players can either trade for those or cards in your hand (Anywhere in your hand!) so you can remove the nasty things that will ruin a big combo by giving it to someone else…but potentially helping them too much in the process. This is fantastic, as it forces cooperation if you want to win, but makes it really hard to make trades as you don’t want to give someone too many nice things!

This was my, I think, 3rd time playing the game, and having only had my standard 2 fields and getting screwed a bit by it before went straight for a third. (You can buy a 3rd field for 2 coins, but as coins are points, its’ a risk). This turned out to pay off as I got a hold of a cocoa bean, which are the smallest in quantity but best scoring (With 2 fields they’re a poor gamble, as you’re likely to get forced into ripping them up before they achieve anything, but I got to just sit on it half the game).

I’m not sure what else to say. Scores fluctuated a lot over the game, and while everyone seemed to think I was winning, the scores were actually extremely close. When it came to it, Myself and Mike had a tie situation, but unfortunately the tiebreak being most cards in hand gave it to Mike. 2 Players were at 14 (Mark/Player-4) and Player-5 at an unfortunate 12.

This Town Aint Big Enough

This is a tiny little game I picked up via kickstarter, which cost me a sum total of £ 2 ($3) (Well, £ 16 ($24), I got 8 copies ^^). It’s a tile laying game, with 25 tiles, and the simple objective of ‘most victory points’ to win. When a ‘corral’ is completed by being fenced in, it locks in place and in order of which players colour has most corrals to least, players score points equal to the next lowest number of corrals (E.g. Blue has 3, Red has 2 & Green has 2, so Blue scores 2, red/green score 0!)

It’s pretty fast playing and we slipped it in while we were waiting for food that we’d ordered. I think everyone had fun (More than you might expect for £2 of game), and myself and Mike tied again…and he won the tiebreaker, again. Twice in a row!

Dead of Winter

For the next game, we had a few of us (Myself, Gordon, Mike, Steve) looking to choose a game, and as Gordon made a comment about how he should get out of his euro-comfort zone more often, I suggested Dead of Winter, which is quite ameritrash but with more decisions than most games I’ve played in the genre.

I’m sure I’ve talked about how Dead of Winter works fairly recently, so I’ll save you the explanation ^^. On Saturday we played a scenario (I forget the name) which er…Actually I didn’t like from the moment I read it. The first bit was ok, to win we needed to have no more than 3 zombies across all non-colony locations. The second bit though, was that if we exiled a player, they get removed from the game, instead of just being exiled like usual. Great…player elimination, the most “fun” mechanic ever.

The first few rounds we didn’t achieve too much, mostly just holding on while trying to gather guns and equipment to help us clear the hordes safely, while managing our food and crisis requirements on the side. I got myself a bit stuck by sending myself to the grocery store for food, which didn’t help the objective but at least kept us fed!

A bit further in, I decided to move for my secret objective. I needed a couple of books to attach to a survivor, so I opted to move to the library. So, I moved my character, aaaand then I got bitten, dead character one! Well, I still had 2 survivors and still wanted to complete my secret objective, so I moved another one…and got bitten again. I suspect there was a large group of zombies moving by the library, so my third survivor didn’t repeat the mistake!

Mike was kind enough to pass me an extra survivor to bring me back to 2, and to help the colony I used the opportunity to get a character into the library. A turn after that I picked up another survivor from an outsider card I got myself, and sacrificed Mike’s surviver-gift to gain a morale (Because y’know, noone liked the Mall Santa so removing him gains morale ^^).

In the last couple of rounds we played, we made great strides towards clearing up the town, killing swathes of zombies and barricading the locations back up for safety. We got to the right number of remaining zombies (Aside from needing to roll a couple noise tokens which may/may-not have screwed us anyway) aaand Steve threw all his survivors at a location so that half of them died, dropped morale to 0, ended the game and gave him the win.

So when I said at the start that I didn’t think I’d like this scenario? I was right. Now, admittedly Steve kept himself well hidden, only screwing a crisis near the end and revealing on the very last turn, but also the scenario had made it so I didn’t want to exile even if I could, I just have no desire to eliminate players. Furthermore, although he killed the game in one turn, he had a double-turn to come too and could have really screwed things up even if we were doing far better on morale.

I don’t know, perhaps I’m just bitter about losing, but…what the hell plaid hat, why does that mission exist in the slew of fun ones =-(.

As an aside, I’m thinking of doing a slight houserule next game. 1st player will rotate clockwise, and each round the first player gets an extra turn at the end. It means someone gets 2 turns to potentially betray the group, but they’re spread out, and if they’re obvious at the start of the round then they could be exiled before their second turn. It’ll also make the game easier as we’ll get an extra turn/round, so might reduce the starting morale to compensate. Will have to see how it goes ^^.

Carcassonne

I think everyone’s probably familiar with Carcassonne that’s reading this. If not, its’ a tile-laying game where you draw and place 1 tile each turn, then may place a meeple on one of the 4 features on the tiles, which when they ‘complete’ return the meeple and score points. Whoever gets the most points at the end wins.

I don’t have much to say about our game, except that fairly early on 3 of us cooperatively made a very large city which the 4th player couldn’t block, and that I basically forced a large field with a road-ending cloister early on. As the subject of player counts came up, I mentioned how me/Grace don’t enjoy the game too much as fields always score so much as to pale anything else into insignificane, and decided to go all in for the large field while I was thinking of it.

In the end we had a tie on the field between myself and, I think, Gordon. I was ahead oh him however as I’d been in that large city at the start and he wasn’t ^^. I leaped into 1st place on points, for a, to be honest, quite surprising win considering I’ve not played a huge amount and I was going ridiculously heavy on trying to take the field ^^.

Snowdonia

Our next game of the evening was ‘Snowdonia’, suggested by & taught by Dave [] to myself and Steve. This is a worker placement game, with the twist that while competing for points, you are thematically building a railroad together, along with the game itself, an ‘ai’ of sorts.

Players take turns placing workers on various spaces in the game, to gather resources (Ore, Stone, Coal), clear rubble, convert resources (ore > steel, rubble > stone), obtain contracts/a train, and advance their surveyor. Actions vary a little in strength, as the ‘weather’ changes over a game, with more getting done when sunny, less in rain, and none in fog (A card is drawn at the end of each turn determining the upcoming weather 2 turns down the line). Weather also drives how fast the game runs itself, so good weather = faster game.

I’m not sure what to say about our game, as for me it lacked that feeling of players driving what happens thanks to the automated-events mechanic. In general, Dave seemed to try and get his surveyor round (Often using 1 of the only 2 initial workers each to do so), Steve got a lot of ore/iron (For a train, which asides from a special ability is how you can get a 3rd worker), and I tried to clear rubble and build stations around the track.

One of the biggest negative things that hit me in the game was early on, I picked up a train, then immediately lost it by random-draw events happening to hit a once off that requires you pay 1 iron or lose your train. I trudged on but…why did that need to be possible in the games design? Unimpressed.

In the event, the game finished in less time than what I’m told is usual, thanks to unnaturally sunny weather for Wales (Almost 100% Sun building an entire railroad), which had the games auto-completion in overdrive. Steve won with 30-something points to my/dave’s 20-something scores. It was kind of anti-climactic, and to be honest, I don’t want to play again even if it does go longer. Cool idea…but falls flat for me this time =(

Lost Legacy

The final game played of the day was a couple of rounds of Lost Legacy. This is a fairly simple deduction card game with players taking turns to ‘draw 1/play 1’ with 1 card hands (So 2 to choose from each turn), aiming to survive the round and find the ‘lost legacy card. Round survivors get an ‘investigation’ round, where in order of lowest remaining card to highest, players get to guess where they believe the lost legacy is, if right, they win.

Anyway, we played a couple of games to finish off the night. If I remember correctly I won the first as I got the legacy in hand but noone had a lower numbered card to beat me in the investigation phase. I lost the second, but forget who won out of Mark/Dave.

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2 thoughts on “Halesowen Games Day #2

  1. Gordon Robinson

    In our game of Carcassonne when I was the only player to miss out on the scoring of the one big city I really only had one winning play left to me and that was to win the farmer bonus all to myself. I might have done so but you wormed your way in sharing the bonus which gave you the overall victory. Well played.

    We spoke a bit about Carcassonne after the game. As you know I’m a fan and I was quick to spring to the game’s defence when you commented that your 2 player games always come down to a fight over a single major field. I suspect you have built up a bit of “group think” which has affected the way your games play. I am generally only into playing games face to face but in the case of Carcassonne I love the app to the extent that I’ve played hundreds of games. By playing with a mix of player counts and by chosing different AI’s I have experience a real mix of play styles. I know you will never put in the time I have with this game so you’ll just have to take my word for it when I tell you there is no one dominant strategy.

    Reply
  2. Smoothsmith Post author

    Yeah I can actually see in some of the games how building up differently would influence the strength of different things and prevent fields being so dominant. The problem is that like you say, there’s a bit of a ‘group think’ situation, and that just tends to lead to fields being the deciding factor in most games I’ve played.

    That’s not to say its’ dominant however, as certainly if you tried to straight ignore doing roads, cities and cloisters then the other player is going to laugh in the face of your field, not only because they could just make big cities instead of small ones to reduce the points you get. I think its’ a very cool design in that way ^^.

    It doesn’t really matter too much, as its’ a short enough game to fill gaps and I’m happy with it in that role, just don’t expect to see me trying to take over the night with bouts of carcassonne ^^ (Unless we could try all the expansions as I’ve never played with anything but base/rivers and would love to try them ^^).

    Reply

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