Monthly Archives: October 2014

UoB Tabletop Society, Pathfinder & Halesowen Board Gamers (22/10/14)

UoB Tabletop Society

Friday of last week (17/10) had me along to the UoB Tabletop Society (Which seems to be a regular thing again, yay for people staying late ^^). I’d brought along Galaxy Trucker and it got suggested, so I was plenty happy to get it out as its’ been a good while since I last played!

Galaxy Trucker is a real-time tile-laying game where players rush to throw together a valid starship. The games ship pieces are placed in the middle of the table, face down, before each round, and each player takes a ship and centre module (Identical ship boards, the centre module is so each player has a unique colour). Ships start small, but over the course of a game you get large and more complex ships to build.

The first part of a round is the building phase. In real-time, players grab tiles, one at a time, from the centre of the table. They then decide to either place it in their ship matching the edges single-single, double-double, single-universal, double-universal or universal-universal, or return it to the centre face-up. Hence over the course of the phase, you get easier access to a variety of components, but generally lose out on the better pieces (ones with 4 sides for a close-knit ship for example!). Once a player is finished, they can start flipping the hourglass any time they wish, until it works its’ way from the round number to the 0 mark, at which point all players finish building no matter what.

The latter half of each round is the race phase. This is a fairly ‘automatic’ phase, as its’ little more than drawing cards from a shuffled deck and following the instructions. It’s also one of the best bits, as here you get meteors slamming into your ship, pirates attacking, invaders eating the cargo you just spend 3 days picking up, and so on. This drives a story of the adventures of your mighty galaxy trucking.

At the end of 3, or however many you fancy (There’s ships for I-IV and plenty alternative layouts with expansions), rounds, the game ends. The player with the most credits wins! Congratulations on having slightly less terrible ships than the rest of the players =P

The first round of our game went by fairly slowly, with players new to the game needing time to work out how to build up their ships. 2 of the 3 players new to the game seemed to do fine, but Dwayne had a bit of difficulty and took a little longer, with me giving a hint or two once everyone else had finished. There was actually remarkably little damage to players ships, but a combat zone hit hard on other things, and an open space took the close knit group of ships to being massively apart, and stardust made that even worse (Stardust = -1 flight day per exposed connector, I think 9 was the highest someone had, ouch).

At the end of the round everyone ships were intact (Kind of disapointing in Galaxy Trucker really =P), and I leapt into the lead from having an untouched pretty ship & a touch of cargo. For the second round, I grabbed a rough roads card for me and the other player who knew what he was doing…but the building round didnt’ even get finished. At about 7:20 (When we had the room till 8), we got asked to pack up to go because people wanted to play Magic: The Gathering. Disapointingly, rather than spend 5-10 minutes to finish the round, 3/5 players got up and left, leaving it to the other 2 of us (And I think John helped out) to tidy it away… I usually find people playing 24/7 MTG annoying, but got to be honest…felt pretty pissed off about that, kind of like having a friend around for a dinner you’ve cooked and having them leave halfway through for a McDonalds…

After moving to the learning centre, I suggested Xia: Legends of a Drift System. We set the fame-point target to 10 and I got explanation to the 4 new players out of the way before we got to playing. We randomised the starting ships, with me getting the Puddle Jumper (Started with it every game…including the 2 where we randomised the starting ships -_-).

Pretty sure it’s not too long ago that I wrote up how the game plays, so I’ll skip talking about that. Problem is I forget what our game went like! I know I won, getting the last ~4 fame points in one turn (Conveniently right as we were being asked to pack up to leave), but asides from ‘it was a combination of missions & trading’ I’m not sure what to say. One interesting moment was when a player who’d stacked up on weapons needed to repair, I paid him the 1K to do so with an agreement he wouldn’t attack me (I was on the opposite side of the map). This worked nicely for me, as my next turn I flew all the way over there for both a mission and to sell goods I’d picked up ^^.

Hopefully can play again with the same people so that I can concentrate more on the game than the teaching and making sure everyone gets it next time ^^.

Saturday

Pathfinder – Progress:
– Thistletop
– Clearing out well, druid almost insta-gibbed before getting a turn.
– Continue to go in on a group of 10 goblin refugee’s
– Promptly get asses handed to them, On 0 health, Ken just about manages to drag Chris to safety, but, Dave being too large, tries to hide him away.
– Next day, Chris recovered a little, stealths into the hideout and finds Dave gone.
– Returning to town, they discover hemlock has returned with additional guards.
– Offers his aid, and brings along Paul and Barry to round two. Dave takes control of Hemlock
– More successful this time, and break their way into the fort.
– Stealthier than before, and with a tank, light work of upper floor
– Paul & Barry die, missing their chance to earn surnames.
– Almost die to Orik, but get him low and accept his offer of his services.
– Now with 2 tanks, things going better and clearing things out well.
– Floor cleared, including the bugbear.
– End of evening, until next time!

Halesowen

I arrived upstairs fairly late this week, and found everyone to have worked out groups and picked games already (Although at least 2 people knew I was having dinner and would be up soon, who said nothing apparently!). None of the games out were particularly endearing to me, so I went with the ‘whoevers happiest to add a person’ approach, and ended up in a game of Power Grid with Mike, Steve, James &…Woman who’s name I don’t know/remember :P

This game is one that throws a few mechanics together – Area Control, Auction, Turn-Order Management and Resource Management. The aim of the game is to power the most cities, which you do by activating power plants (A maximum of 3 of them, because reasons) with fuel, and ‘owning’ those cities on the map. The game ends at the end of the turn where a player first ‘owns’ 15 cities, with 3 phases where choices available to the players escalate.

At the start of each of an undefined number of rounds, a series of auctions occurs to gain power plants. The ‘best’ player (Most cities owned) goes first, choosing a plant from the bottom row ahead of players taking turns to bid until all pass, at which point the winner pays and takes the plant (Replacing an existing one if they have 3 already). The auction area is refreshed immediately, so it sometimes pays to avoid taking anything until later in the auction phase.

For the rest of the round, the ‘worst’ begins (least cities owned), because…because. Players take turns next to take control of cities, paying 10/city (or 15/20 in later phases if you share with others) plus a variable amount based on the links between cities (So could be 3+10 or 21+10, depending if its’ a short and easy or long link crossing swathes of land). This has a large influence on player order next turn, which tends to be more important than how many you actually get control of.

Next, players take resources, again with the ‘worst’ first. Resources are bought from a track on the board which makes it so that the more that are available of a particular type, the cheaper it is. The result being that the players with the most cities pay the most resources to get fuel to actually power them, potentially to the point, although it didn’t happen in our game, that the required resource could run out or become too expensive for them, leaving them unable to provide as required. You can however only store fuel in power plants and only up to double their usual capacity.

The final part just has players paying fuel to activate plants and power cities. Its’ totally optional whether you do this, so if you want random blackouts to occur that’s absolutely fine, you just don’t get paid as much. Payment works by diminishing returns, so at first each city increases pay by 11, but by the 100 mark its’ only going up by 7 to power more places. (Although you’ll also have better power plants, so 1 plutonium might power 1 city at first, but 4 cities later on).

As far as our particular game I’m not sure what to talk about. As far as area control, Steve got left totally uncontested on one side of the map, I took a corner to try and do the same to some extent, with James, Mike & Female in the middle (James closer to me, Female closer to Steve). I’m not sure this was the best of idea’s for me, as James pushed in on where I was quite closely (Not that I wasn’t pushing back, plus he had Mike in his way the other side). Until phase 2 (Oh yeah…phases, when someone first controls 7 cities, phase 2 activates and we can start sharing cities 2 people/city, when the power plants deck runs out, phase 3 activates and you get 3 people/city) started I was certainly feeling pretty stuck where I was, but did manage to push out eventually.

On power plants, well, no idea what everyone else did, but I started with an oil/coal combination plant to give me options and extended to have a green plant & nuclear plant letting me power things cheaply for much of the game. I did however struggle to get any high providing options, only getting one to power 7 cities in the last round at a slightly inflated price (Although I almost might have had to pay 90-something as I pushed Steve up very high on bidding for a 7 before that). James had nuclear power a lot of the time, and I believe Mike had a couple of 3 coal > 5 power plants (Or oil, not sure). I forget what Steve had unfortunatey.

By the last round, things were in a position where Mike owned 15 cities, Steve 14 (I think), Me/James 13 and Female 10. Female would have been able to power the most if I remember correctly, but needed another round to actually have them owned to be powered. Me/James powered all of our cities, but were limited to 13, not sure what Steve managed, and Mike did 15 with his 3 5 power-providing plants. (I have a 7, 4 & 2, would have had to get that 2 replaced to achieve much more, perhaps leading to ~16 power for another turn had there been one (Although it’s likely Mike/Steve could have powered much more than that then too).

I found Power Grid to be a rather interesting game, but one with lots of little things that claw at me about it. One thing that doesn’t bother me too much is that the game seems to rely heavily on the satisfaction payoff of solving simple math problems (Whats’ the cheapest way for me to spread out), with that making the area control here a lot more interesting than most such games – I liked this in Milestones not long ago too (Calculating the best cost of routes), so should probably try and look into more games doing it in future!

So…things that bothered me. ‘Owning Cities’ seems a good start, now I figure this probably is more of a ‘contract to power those cities’, but it bothers me greatly that you could control 13 cities and just decide you don’t feel like powering them, with no reparations – I think I’d have liked a caverna-style ‘feed or lose points’ take on this, perhaps losing a city each turn you don’t power all those you control. It also seems odd that we can’t share them at first, but…then we suddenly can. For less than 6 players, areas of the map get cut off, which is what ended up letting Steve have a 1/3rd of the map to himself as there was expensive links between where he was and everyone else, he didn’t win so it’s not like that caused major imbalance, but I find it…frustrating. Finally, while for the most part people kept their money in view, I don’t like that you get to keep it hidden if you want to…hidden trackable information is boring & annoying :(

All in all though its’ a good game, and I can see why a lot of people like it. Would definitely be interesting in trying with the robots sometime though, think I’ll enjoy it more with automated opponents ^^.

Advertisements

Halesowen Board Gamers #27 (10/19/14)

Ok, so I’m going to start with an apology, I was really tired/grouchy on Wednesday evening so probably a bit of a dick…sorry if that was so.

Last Will

First up, as I got this recently in a trade and wanted to get it played, was Last Will. In this game, your rich Uncle, who’s spent his entire life being Lord Business, wants to give his fortune to the relative who can enjoy it the most. His Will leaves each person an small but generous chunk of the money, and the player to spend it the fastest will be the winner and sole inheritor of the rest of the estate.

The game is a light worker-placement game where you want to manage your cards (Ways to burn money) and allotment of actions each turn to try and lose money more effectively than the other players. This is achieved through depreciating property, elaborate nights out (Being sure to bring your horse along to enjoy the fun), and just generally (and deliberately) foolish spending of money.

To start each turn, each player in turn (From the player with the ‘start player’ marker) chooses one of 7 similar spaces. Each has a number of cards to draw (0-7), a number of errand boys (1 or 2) and a number of actions (1-4). Rather than scale directly that placing later in order (For the 2nd part of a round) that they get worse, the actions vary – You get 5 cards and 2 errand boys for going in the first spot for example, but only 1 action, while the 2nd spot is 2 cards, 2 errand boys and 2 actions.

Once everyone has chosen, they draw their cards from the 4 ‘regular’ decks (Events, Assistants, Properties, Companions), taking from any deck, but without seeing what they’ve drawn until all their cards are picked up. With that worked out, players going into the second ‘placement’ stage – errand boys.

In this stage, players take turns in the order decided in the first stage to place either 1 or 2 errand boys (Represented by awesome wooden top-hat pieces!) in various spaces around the board, to gain cards (face-up so you know what you’re getting), get player-board extensions (Have more permanent cards in play), go to the opera (Spend 2 coins) or get 1 extra regular card at random.

With this completed, the 3rd and final stage of the round takes place with each player spending actions as per their order mentioned earlier (They do all their actions on their turn). It takes an action to place a card into your permanent area, and often to use either a white card from your hand or one of your previously placed permanents.

At the end of the round, players discard down to 2 cards, and the offering board (The face up cards) are cleared and replaced for next round. Any building that wasn’t maintained depreciates (So it’ll sell for less than you brought it for) and cards are reset (As the permanents are once/round). Play continues until someone announces bankrupcy (At which point the round plays to the end before it finishes), or the game gets to the end of the 7th round. The winner is whoever has the least money, or most negative money!

Our game started off with farms being rather expensive, leading to us all grabbing one in the first round. I also picked up a training ground (Costs money for each farm you have, and more per animal on those farms), a move duplicated by Stan the next turn. I also grabbed a steward that would make farm activations free, determining that farms would stay my main strategy for the game ^^. Stan picked up a mansion before long, and Mark did I have no idea what but seemed to get 2 really expensive farms (16 & 25 base cost, mine were 12/15).

It wasn’t too long before Mark switched around the market to make his farms sell for less (As he ran out of money, but you can’t declare bankrupcy while you have property) and chucked away his 25 cost farm that had cost him 28, for a still high 22 coins. In the meantime I managed to get myself a couple of horses and a dog onto my farms, building up a little engine but also realising I had a lot of money to lose to catch up (Never happened). Stan managed to depreciate his mansion a couple of times, and got a nice carriage to be driven aroudn in for a healthy cost of 5 coins per turn.

As it came into the last round, I was way behind (10 coins to Marks’ 6 & Stans’ 5, which also meant I’d got rid of my farms which were the only way I really had to lose money fast). I worked out a way to get to 0, and a bit of luck on card draws meant I got to -1 instead, but that was soon showed up as Stan dropped to -8 through his plays. Mark happened to have a particularly powerful card that basically let him funnel almost all his last turn actions into a huge spend of 14, taking him to -9 for victory.

I had fun, but…I don’t think I like starting with 70 (The recommended first game amount, which is also the lowest possible when you do it randomly), as the game was too quick for any engine-building to work. Rather than trying to burn my money through farming, I would have been better to just spam instant cards…but that just didn’t seem like a fun idea asides from the mad rush at the end. Looking forward to playing with a bigger chunk (100 at least!) and to picking up the expansion which has some really ideal features for what I want from the game (You have a job at the start, so you have to be countering the fact you’re earning as well as spending ^^).

Definitely one to get played again, and definitely staying in my collection. I have been thinking I needed more light/short options ^^.

Coup * 4

Speaking of light/short. Our next game was Coup, in large part because I really wasn’t feeling like playing anything too long, and wasn’t at all in the mood to try eminent domain or even bother with pandemic (Which there’s really not much point playing if you’re not really up for it, as you’ll just let everyone else take your turns). So as an artifact of my being a miserable sod, we went with the shortest game I had with me.

As I think I’ve mentioned before, its’ really difficult to talk about coup, as the interesting and intriguing bit of the game is in whether you believe other players and whether they believe you, which is a very ‘in the moment’ feeling.

The first of our games I won after Mark called a lie on my assassin and lost both his lives as I was telling the truth, and I managed to maneuvre myself into enough money to coup Stans last character (The power of lying!). The second game I won also, during which I think I told the truth once and got called on it, then used about 3 different roles despite having a pair of dukes to win ^^. Mark won the next, apparently by telling the truth (Yawn), and he also won the fourth, mainly as I just decided to call everything people did against me and lost in the whole of a turn or two – Unfortunately if you get the right cards in a small game its’ possible to win through truth, so I wish we could have had more (Where it becomes harder, as the slight increase in number of turns that tends to happen means people work out what you have an can capitalise on it).

We finished there as Stan wanted to head off for an early night, and I was more than happy to agree on the idea, feeling utterly shattered at the time. it was a good night, but I don’t think I was particularly pleasant for everyone else to put up with…oh well :(

Halesowen Board Gamers & UoB Tabletop Society, & The Weekend! (08/10 to 12/10 2014)

Wednesday – Halesowen, 8th

On Wednesday this week I went along with a few games, although most were destined not to get played (A shame, as I was hoping to try Last Will!). In fact, none of them got played first, with Stan suggesting Palaces of Carrera which he’d brought along. I was somewhat dubious, as the last time I played a game with a ‘rondel’ mechanism (Santiago de Cuba)…Well, I didn’t like it too much. On the other hand, Stan advertised it as an hour playtime, and this looked to use the rondel in a totally different way.

Palaces of Carrera

In palaces, players are competing to construct buildings in 6 different coloured cities. The colour denotes rank, going in order white > yellow > red > green > blue > black (I think) with white accepting buildings of only the finest material. I say that because the buildings requirements are generic ‘Requires 4 bricks’, but the type of bricks you use must be equal or better than the city you build in (So you can use any bricks for a black city building, anything but black for blue, etc).

Players in the game take turns to perform 1 ‘action’, which is either ‘buy bricks’, ‘build a thing’ or ‘score a thing’. Buying bricks is where the rondel comes in, with a turning wheel which has the bricks on in 6 segments. Around the edge of the wheel (Stationary) are prices for those bricks, and as you look clockwise around the track, they reduce in price by 1 at each step (To 0, so if you ‘buy’ when bricks have been pushed a few around, you can potentially get free bricks). You may only buy from 1 segment, so sometimes you have to leave a nice selection to push around because you need something else more.

So how do you score, and get money for more pretty bricks? Well, you construct buildings of course. When you construct a building, matching by brick colour as mentioned above, it builds up in a personal area for that city. When you decide to score, you move one of your (5?) markers to either the main board on a city, or to a building type on your personal board, then score everything either in that city or of that building type. What you score depends on the city and how much you’ve built there.

Victory Points
White, Red & Blue cities score victory points. The amount you score is equal to the quantity of bricks used to construct the buildings there, multiplied by 3 (white), 2 (red) or 1 (blue).

Money
Yellow, Green & Black cities provide money. When you score these, you gain money equal to the quantity of bricks used to construct the buildings there, multiplied by 3 (yellow), 2 (green), or 1 (black).

So as you can probably tell, you have to try to balance building in the money-earning cities and the victory point cities, as well as thinking about how much you’re spending to buy bricks (As blacks are always the cheapest, often free, but only get money at 1x rate). I should also mention you’re vying for a few general ‘goals’ with extra vp (Randomized each game), in our case a set of 4/2 of any building types gave 20VP, having 4 buildings on one city gave 3-21VP (depending which city you have the 4 in) and getting to 3 5-brick buildings gave something too. (Also, by getting these 3 things at least once each, you are then allowed to end the game on any turn, rather than waiting for all the buildings to be constructed).

In our game, I tried to focus somewhat on the cheaper buildings, the blue & black, under the assumption that I would go fairly uncontested (And I think I did get the most buildings around there as a result). I also tried to get just a few white bricks so that I could have a high-scoring building or two, lest I screw myself too much in being cheap ^^ (And to make sure the others didn’t get bricks too cheaply).

I also tried to go for 2 building types, hoping to get the ‘4/2’ bonus twice as the 20VP each time was nothing to be sniffed at! All 3 players seemed to go for a different building type from the start, and it was a while before any competitive choices were taken (Against me, curtesy of Stan).

Truth be told, I forget what the others went for in our game, but as it turned out player X (*whistles*) managed to shoot into the lead, having managed the 2 sets of 4/2, while I missed it by 1 building piece (I burned myself out of money a couple turns before the end and couldn’t recover enough to get anything). I know X won, but I totally forget how me/Stan were placed, although I think I was in a lowly last place with Stan in 2nd.

Coup

To make myself feel better about my loss (Although I enjoyed the game – The rondel is much better as a resource value system rather than choice of actions), I suggested Coup next, taking to short games for the rest of the evening, although we could probably have fit Last Will in had I been a tad more confident about the rules (I’ve since watched a video so hopefully playing tomorrow!), but no worry as its’ fun to get short games out sometimes!

Coup, is a game of bluffing and deception. You play with a set of 15 cards, which consists of 3 each of ‘Assassin’, ‘Captain’, ‘Ambassador’, ‘Duke’ and ‘Contessa’ roles. The deck is shuffled at the start of the game, and each player is dealt 2 face-down, along with 2 coins from the treasury. The 2 cards represent your ‘influence’, and if they are both killed (Turned face-up) you are out of the round.

So, gameplay, players take turns to perform actions until they are the last player standing. They can take income (take 1 coin, unblockable), foreign aid (take 2 coins, blocked by dukes), or perform a coup (spend 7 coins, choose a player to lose one influence), without needing any special cards. They can also use the various abilities of the cards:
Assassin – Spend 3, Choose a player to lose influence.
Ambassador – Draw 2 cards, return 2, blocks captain.
Captain – Take 2 coins from another player, blocks captain.
Duke – Take 3 coins
Contessa – Blocks Assassin.

Now, you don’t actually need to have those cards to perform their abilities. You can claim any role on any turn. However, if another player decides to call your bluff, you must either reveal the card to prove yourself (Then shuffle it into the deck and redraw), in which case they lose one influence, or lose one influence of your own.

There’s also blocking of course. If someone tries to steal 2 coins from me with the captain, I can in turn claim I have a captain (Whether I do or don’t) to block the move and waste their turn – But of course they could call my bluff and potentially make me lose an influence for my lie.

This all leads to very fast, interesting gameplay (Although the first game is perhaps a tad confusing, its’ <10 minutes per game and begs repeat play). One game perhaps I get away with calling Duke every turn without a Duke, but next game I get called on it and my facade is ruined, & so on ^^.

We played 7 rounds of the game, after we happened to end up 2-2-2 on the game we were going to finish on and decided we needed a winner. I forget the specifics (One of the curses of playing 7 times is remembering any specific game, not that I ever remember anything well…), but it was Stan that manages to win after I got eliminated very early in the last game. Congratulations to Stan, also curses, I’m supposed to win at my games! ^^.

Biblios

To finish up the evening, we changed to another short game, this time one Stan had recently picked up – Biblios (I’m jealous, Stan, was hoping to pick this up sometime ^^). This is a fast playing draft and auction game where players compete for sets in 5 categories, with the value of those sets being modified throughout the game.

Gameplay, naturally, consists of player turns. Each turn, the current player draws (2+#Players) cards from the deck (One by one! Not all at once), deciding as he does whether to put the drawn card in his own hand, into the auction pile, or face-up for the other players to pick from (You have to do the ‘to self’ or ‘auction’ once only, with the rest going to other players, who take turns clockwise to choose one to go into their hands.

This continues until the deck runs out, at which point the auction phase begins. Now players take turns to reveal the top card from the auction pile (Which is shuffled I think), then in clockwise order bid in increments of 1 until everyone passes – the winner pays up (Money is on some cards, so you should have gotten some via the draft phase) and takes the card into their hand. This continues until the deck runs out (Or, presumably, players run out of money).

At this point, players hands are revealed, and they take the dice for any set they have majority value of cards in (I should totally have mentioned the dice first). The dice, which begin numbered 3 each, change in value over the game when players get ‘+/-‘ cards (Which have to be played immediately) which increase/decrease dice values by 1 when used. It’s a bit of a trade off how you use them in game, between boosting the values of the ones you think you have majority in, and nerf-batting the ones you don’t have.

Again, I’m not sure how to describe our game, but I intended from the start to go for blue (I forget the thematic ‘what it actually was’) cards (Because blue). I also planned to pick up a second (Regardless of dice-value) hoping that even if they got value-reduced I might have enough points for a win. By the end of the draft phase, I’d ended up with tons of ‘brown’ cards and money, but I was clearly losing the blue race to player X. Stan had 1 or 2 more of the ‘skull’ cards than me too, of which I was unfortunately well aware.

Fortunes changed in the auction round. At first, it was feeling a tad dire, and I was just trying to push up prices for others rather than actually win bids. Soon though, some blue cards that had been thrown in came up, and…well I lost the first couple as I wasn’t willing to bid enough. Soon though, player X ran out of money! More blues came up, and I nabbed them at low prices determined only by Stan, who was more interested in other cards, and as it turned out, I managed to slip into the lead for blue by 1 point!

In the end, I won 2 dice, Player X won 1, and Stan won two. Mine were the highest values (I think player X was pushing up the blue expecting to win them), and I got the final win for the evening, making it one each (X in palaces, Stan in coup, and myself in Biblios). Fantastic!

I really enjoyed all the games played, although Biblios/Coup more so than Palaces, and would happily play again. In fact I think despite my usual ‘avoid duplicates’ rule I may have to pick up biblios some-day as it has the rare feature of being auction-heavy but fun anyway. Huzzah =-)

Friday – UoBTT, 10th

Last Friday I went along again to the University of Birmingham TableTop society. Not that I’m even a student…or have officially joined the society this year (Silly guild of students, changing to a digital system making it awkward for external members =P). Besides, I can get away with it, otherwise people get stuck with only the society’s games every week ;P.

So, I took along Last Will, Among the Stars & Legacy: Gears of Time as bigger options, and Coup, Jaipur and Boss Monster as small ones (Not that I particularly want to play the latter, but it would be good fun for the guys that go along and play munchkin I think). It didn’t seem like there’d be much time after I got there for anything long, so I suggested we play a few rounds of Coup then went to get a drink.

On my way back, Grace called on Skype and we had a wonderful conversation, cheering me up a treat and leaving me with a cheesy as all hell smile on my face, er…Ok so that meant I didn’t get coup taught =-) They seemed to be managing ok learning it from the rules when I got back though, and we shortly headed to the Learning Centre (the ‘later’ venue for tabletop, for when the guild has an event on).

Coup + Reformation

On arrival, we had a ton of people outside of games, and again it seemed that I had the only games to be played (Aside from the ‘I won’t play anything but this one game over and over and over’ CCG crowd). Rather than try to split to 2 groups like the week before, I grabbed Coup, which with the expansion I got as part of the kickstarter, reformation, goes up to 10 players.

So what’s different with reformation? Well, 10 identical cards…and that’s about it. Each card has a red (Loyalist) and blue (Reformist) side, indicating allegiance. You are only allowed to attack/steal from players of the other team, which at the start of the game is just alternated between players. There’s also 2 additional actions, ‘switch allegiance’ for 1 coin, and ‘switch another players allegiance’ for 2 coins, both of which are pretty self-explanatory ^^.

This changes the game a remarkable amount! Suddenly on top of trying to bluff roles and work out other players roles, you have an added component of managing the teams to work in your favour. Perhaps an opposing player has 10 coins (10+ coins forces a coup), you might change your team so you’re not a target, or change their team so he has to take out a seconds before teammate. This is really nice in the higher player counts as it gives you a bit of focus (Although it does add to the play-time), although when you’re down to 3 can be a bit frustrating to manage. (2P it doesn’t matter, as when there’s only 1 team, they descend into in-fighting anyway, whereas 3P swapping someone’s team to make someone attack them is…annoying).

We had a ton of fun, playing a couple of games with 8 players, then having Dwayne join making it a 9-player game (Up to 5 of each role! Quite amusing when you’re convinced noone has a card because 4 of that role are already dead…but they do of course ^^). Very awesome, and I’d probably have played more but a couple of people seemed to want to switch to something else, and I wanted to oblige rather than pushing people away.

Among the Stars

We went with Among the Stars at Bens request (Well, requests, must have asked 10 times over the night =P), and I planned to get a game taught to the other half from the coup game. Unfortunateley they opted to leave instead/play yu-gi-oh, so I went back for teaching the last board game of the evening to the 5 other players.

Among the Stars, one of my absolute favourite games, is a card-drafting game where players are building space stations through placement of square cards adjacent and spreading out from their ‘Main Reactor’. The aim is to gain the highest reputation (Alright fine, victory points) by the end of four years.

Each year, players draw 6 cards from the deck (Which is a paaaaain to set up). They then take 6 turns, simultaneously, each turn using 1 card from those in hand and passing the rest clockwise to the next player. They either build the card (location) chosen by paying its’ cost and placing it in their station, or discard it for an action – Build a Reactor for 1 credit (For power cubes which some locations require), or Gain 3 Credits.

The next year, they repeat the same but change direction of passing. After 4 years the game ends and scored are tallied. Some cards throughout are scored immediatey (Those with a ‘white’ background on the text), and some are scored at the end of the game (Those with a ‘yellow’ background). Which is optimal varies from game to game, and even year to year (Its’ a very tactical game, rather than strategic), also depending on what you’re aiming for with the objectives (#players objectives are placed faceup in the middle of the table, and give bonus points to a player that can manage it (Such as ‘most military locations’).

Each player also has a unique race, giving them a special ability of some kind. Some of these are plain-right annoying to deal with so I avoid using them (Such as getting to look through a pile of cards outside of the turns, so everyone has to wait while someone sits their with analysis paralysis, ‘fun’), but are otherwise great fun and a nice differentiator to the game leading to differing tactics (For example in our game, Dwayne made good use of his hythian ability of having stronger power reactors to spam powerful military locations).

Not much for me to say about our actual game. I tried to aim for end-game scoring cards (Such as ‘1 point per 3 locations’, ‘1 point for the least number owned of red or blue locations’, etc), one player went all out for immediate abilities despite their being an objective for most delayed (His racial power was to have another hidden objective, and he’d chosen most immediate knowing he’d easily net it). In the end, at the bequest of Jay, we finished early on the 3rd round, totally screwing me out of catching up (A slew of cards that power up from having more cards in your station is awkward when you finish with 25% less cards than you should have!), aaand…I forget who won, though I think both Dwayne/Immediate-Location Spamming Guy did well.

Everyone seemed to have fun though, and that was the important thing (Although really, we could so have played on the 4th round…we didn’t actually get kicked out of the room and the group of ’em that kept pestering us to finish because of time stayed another 20+ minutes, the cheek!). Looking forward to going along this week, its’ awesome having another games evening to go to, so I hope they continue staying late! (Towards the end of the uni-year I go less because well..it sucks to go 30 minutes out of my way to realise noone’s actually left to play games ^^).

Weekend

I didn’t do a whole lot this weekend, aside from spend a chunk of money for no apparent reason, and mostly fail at organizing things. Saturday got used up partly by helping my Dad a bit with some heavy jobs he had to do that are too much to do safely alone. Alongside that I had to get my car to the garage, as on Friday, my engine warning light turned on. The trip to the garage cost £50 to have them plug in a cable and go ‘yeah, the sensor turned it on’ and surmise that nothing was actually wrong, with them also adding a £15 charge to put some ‘fuel cleaning’ stuff in which does nothing, and reset the sensor. (Which tripped again on Monday morning…yay, probably got to spend ~£100 now to replace the sensor, fun times).

I tried to organise a games evening after that, as a friend had suggested we meet to do RP but not everyone could make it. Neither Chris turned out to be available, Dave decided he had other things to do (I.e. doesn’t like board games), and by the time I got replies from Ian/Stan which were along the lines of ‘Can do it at Ians’ (Partly my houses fault for murdering phone signal) it was a bit late to bother, and ended up playing League of Legends online most of the eve with Ken (And watching Doctor Who, cool episode, although why isn’t Clara dead yet damnit).

Sunday went by with me doing even less, which is cool by me because well…Sunday. I did message a couple of friends and Emma replied that she was up for doing something, but had to be done in time for Sunday Dinner. I had offered to head over to harborne, but she came to Solihull instead where I possess paraffin, fire staves & fire poi to have fun with! It wasn’t really dark enough, but great fun to play with my fire stuff again (Albeit slightly terrifying, massive balls of flame are scary when you’ve not done it in a while ^^).

After near an hour of that, we went inside to talk about board games a bit. Emma mentioned that her boyfriend has Relic which they’ve played a bit, and was interested in getting some games to change things up a little. I find it really fun to talk about the games I have (I mean c’mon, when you spent a ton of money on a hobby you get attached ^^), and gave a brief overview of some games I have, and we grabbed a few to take downstairs and play. There wasn’t time before Emma shot off for her nice dinner, but we did get a partial game of concept and half game of Forbidden Island in which was a great deal of fun

It was really nice having a friend I don’t see often over on Sunday, and reminds me I should make more effort to try and make meetups with friends happen more often, even if I have to drive to their house to do so ^^. The only problem with not actually leaving the house is my phone got no signal all day until I moved it near the windowsill to charge, when I found out Lee was in Birmingham and I could have got him over too! Dang ^^.

TLDR: Started off sketchy, but turned out to be an awesome Weekend =-)

Halesowen Board Gamers & UoB Tabletop Society…& Pathfinder…& Afternoon Play (01/10 – 05/10)

I hope you’re ready for a super-lazy post…I just haven’t found time to flesh out some stuff so there’s a mix of ‘written up’ and ‘drafted’ stuff here…But its’ got to get posted sometime and this is getting on 2-3 weeks old of a post…

Wednesday – Halesowen

On Wednesday 1st, I took a recently received game along to Halesowen, Xia: Legends of a Drift System. I kickstarted this sandbox space game a while back, interested in having an epic-scale ‘Heres a space-ship, go have fun’ style game, particularly one that’s not just ‘There’s a space-war, ’cause reasons’. The games designer Cody was so enthusiastic throughout the campaign, and so dedicated, that I had absolute trust in his delivery of something great.

Its’ a tad over a week since the game and I can’t remember it properly, but we played with 4 of us. Ian stormed off to an early lead, but made a fatal mistake when he pushed into a corner of the map away from the planets trying to do missions/exploring, and lost the energy he needed to get back. Myself/mark followed similar trade/mission strategies & I kind of forget what the last player was up to (I think it was Steve, sorry I should really remember!). I was struggling early on, but after I managed to get a few upgrades on my ship I started following the merchants trade route and trying to pick up any mission that I could do without going too far off course. This turned out to work wel, with my taking the win!

Aaand laziness time, in the rest of the game, Ian managed to screw himself by going way too far away from the planets and de-energizing himself in a nebula, and I managed to catch up then jump into the lead for a win by a mix of trading/missions. Hoorah =p

Friday – UoB TT

On Friday, seeing as the new year at Uni has started, I figured that the tabletop society  would be continuing late into the evening, and decided to make my way over after work. I miss going along, but its’ a gamble as to whether people stay late enough and it often isn’t worth the wasted journey, but sometimes its’ nice to try ^^.

In any case, I took along a load of games (Xia, DoW, Belfort, AtS, Voluspa, Hanabi, etc..) to make sure I had something to interest a variety of people, parked way too far away (~20 minute walk, ok so not that bad…but heavy bags!) and went in to find a pretty darn full room of gaming taking place, hooray! Can’t say I did much for the first hour or so asides from food & conversation, but it was nice to be around fun people I don’t see often as well as meeting some of the new first years. I did have a quick game of Hanabi with Ben, which we won getting to 18 points, but (curse you fab) we had to vacate the building at 8, and headed to the learning centre to get into an actual game.

So, upon seeing I had Dead of Winter a couple of people (Ben, Ellis) had expressed interest in playing, so we got that out immediately at our new venue. Noone else had games with them (Aside from some playing tcg’s on the other side of the room) so I also got Hanabi out for the 5 people not in DoW.

Of course, noone knew how to play, except for Ben as I’d played a little while before, but he was in the Dead of Winter game… ^^. I ended up giving about a 1 minute very rushed hanabi explanation before moving back to teach Dead of Winter which was going to take much longer. Perhaps surprisingly, the hanabi table ‘seemed’ to know what they were doing from there on (I forgot to mention..the rulebook is in german =P), so hooray ^^.

Oh jeez…I would have stopped there when writing this one… I remember we had a lot of fun with the game, one of the more energetic experiences I’ve had with it even! We turned out to have no traitor, and were able to succeed at the main objective of the game. I have absolultely no idea what my secret objective or anyone elses were…left it too long to write this up!

Saturday – Pathfinder

Group headed to glassworks, Handy the priest introduced and comes along. Seen by public, but left to it after they saw the horrors inside and fetched the town guard. Few of them left so left to adventurer’s to look within. Party breaks in around the beach side and goes straight to the death-room. Easily despatch goblins, and tsuto albeit slower.

Then they head town into the tunnels and find the catacombs. Handy nearly dies so they reset and go in again. More success this time, then they turn immediately toward the end-dungeon room. Get there ok and win easily against elysium, partly as they 2 shot the sinspawn and partly as I forgot to make her invisible.

They win and clear out the rest of the place, getting a couple nice things from the levitation room. Other things are handled quickly, including handy channelling energy to mass-kill the zombies. All a success and the scenario ends. (Yeah that’s right…this was a half-arsed one too, deal with it =P)

Coup

So um…then we played Coup 6 times. What? You want me to tell you how it went…no =P I won about half of them, the last game being the most fun as I lied through the entire game about my characters ^^. Really glad my friends enjoyed it!

Sunday – Afternoon Play

– Before you die, mr bond…
I guess if I was in the right mood it could be fun, but this is a bland game with some push your luck and a vague attempt at humour.

– Love Letter
First time played in a while, played a ton of rounds as were playing to 4 points with 4 players, which is a tad long for my preference (As that means up to 13 rounds which it wasn’t far off, good or not, the same thing 13 times over is lame)
– Pandemic
Also first time in a while. Had a blast jumping around the research stations. We lost being 1 action short of curing the last disease (Last player had the 5 cards required and had the last turn, but…aaah so close).
– Android: Infiltration

Pretty cool sounding in principal, but not a huge fan of the synchronous play in this one as it can mean one person doing something and the other not. I ran ahead just so I wasn’t sharing a location with everyone, never even managed to get many tokens from doing so, and got trapped in the building having achieved nothing. Meh.

– Dead of Winter
Finally, by request, DoW. We ran the ‘We need more samples’ scenario, and did it easily, though I had no chance doing my objective as others just spammed survivors and well..screwed myself helping out (Such as making noise to find a tool to fix a crisis rather than keeping the outsider I had drawn). Fun game, but ack..I so rarely win.

Halesowen Board Gamers #24 (24/09/14)

At the start of the evening, I set up Village with full intent of playing it, as I’ve had it since the UK Games Expo and am yet to get it to the table. My plans got ruined and village got shoved back again however, as Stan turned up with Gluck Auf (Coal Baron) which I’ve been wanting to play for a while!

Coal Baron

Coal Baron is a fairly light worker placement game about, unsurprisingly, mining and selling coal. The game takes place over three rounds with an accelerated scoring mechanism, after which the player with the most victory points wins. After the first round, scores are based on goods in completed orders, then after the second its’ goods on completed orders + goods/completed transport, and in the 3rd round its’ both of those, and scoring for emptied mine sections of each type of coal. You also get some Victory Points immediatey on completing orders, and a few modifications at the end (£5>1VP, 3 unused coal >1VP, -1VP/Uncomplete order, -2VP/imbalance).

In each round, players take turns to place workers, from a pool of 13 for each player, represent chunks of time. (Or more in smaller player count games, we were running 4P). Using a space uses one worker, or, if another players workers are there, then the number of workers they’ve used +1 (Kicking them to the canteen, where they’re unavailable till next round, although they’ve already done their job so no worry!).

Each player has an individual player board, consisting of a 4 level mine shaft, and two sides, lit and unlit. This has an elevator in the middle which slides up and down to move coal around, which occurs by taking a main-board action giving you X action points to do so (Spent like ‘1 to move up or down any number of spaces, 1 to transfer coal to or from the cart to anywhere on that level). Players add to this board over time by buying mine tiles from the main board, and placing them on their respective lit/unlit side at their level (The deeper the coal, the more expensive it is).

Other things players can do:
– Take orders (1 at a time)
– Fullfill Orders (All of 1 transport type, of 4)
– Gain Money

Anyway, I think that was an awful explanation but hopefully you get the gist! The worker mechanism is particular is very clever, as it has you checking how many workers you have left, and whether you can afford to get the coal for one more order, as you’ll run out of workers to fill if someone else takes the space…

Early game I went for a bit of a rush on yellow coal (Forgot to mention, it goes yellow, brown, grey, black in ascending value), hoping to get an easy hold on it for ongoing points while then shifting to focus other things. I also planned to go for trucks as transport (For scoring in the second round), but Stan beat me to it and slipped easily ahead. Maté went for trains and black coal, getting a neat monopoly on both, looking very good with them being the highest scoring things in their categories (Best scoring coal, best scoring transport). I forget what transport type Mike went for (Carts maybe?) in the early game, but he certainly got lots of carts later.

The first round went by fairly simple, and I dropped into the back on points with my petty yellow coal scoring and cheap orders. Going into the second round Maté was in a good place with the train scoring coming up, and I took a few train orders to deny him (3 orders to his 3, as we didn’t realise it was to do with quantity of cubes shipped/transport rather than number of cards fulfilled), and spent the round trying to fill those. I also picked up my first black coal order, with horses as transport, and got the carts to fulfill that, but ran out of time to finished maneuvring it around my mine as I had to get the train ones shipped.

The rule we misunderstood was in my favour, with my 3 completed train orders I’d shipped 8 cubes to Maté’s ~4, netting me a ton of points for winning on train orders shipped. Noone scored horses as Maté perhaps inadvisably decided to wait until the 3rd round to finish a number of orders he had for them. Stan got trucks scored again and Mike carts, while scoring for filled order cubes went similarly, Maté on black by a mile, myself for yellow, grey/brown…um, stuff. After this second round I’d stepped into the lead if I remember correctly, although not by much.

In the last round, I aimed to get into second place on horse fulfillments (Maté filled 4 orders by horse so I had no chance of 1st, but 2nd place scores a few points too), and then concentrated on mining for yellow/brown coal for the last rounds scoring of ‘For each empty mine space/type’ – I was winning yellow easily, and Brown by a small amount too – Both were the lower scoring, but still higher than any previous rounds scoring criteria.

In the last round I was able to score most yellow filled, most by train, and most empty yellow/brown spaces, and I also denied Maté a few points by matching his empty grey spaces (He was second in it, and tying pushes us both to ‘3rd’ which is 0 points). I forget the exact amounts each person scores, but Mike/Stan were looking very close, and Maté managed to finish in second place about 10 points back (So it was probably reasonable that I made an extra ~4 point difference with the denial move). Through the power of deduction, you can work out that I won, hooray!

I found Coal Baron to be a very fun game, and one that felt ‘complete’ despite its’ short length. I don’t know that I’d want to play it over and over, but I’m very glad Stan brought it along to show us. I would really like to see the placement mechanism used in a heavier game where there might be more promise of variation from game to game.

Santiago

To follow up from Coal Baron, Mike suggested one of his games to fit into the ~hour we had left of the evening, Santiego. I was hoping to try out Taj Mahal or Village, but there wasn’t really enough time left for either so we went with that suggestion ^^.

The game is played around a rondel (I think). A little wooden car is moved around the action spaces track, and where it stops is what actions are available. Movement is free for 1 space in a turn, but you have to pay money to advance it further around the track to obtain the actions you want.

The standard abilities for each space (Which are randomly placed out so each game would have a different order of abilities to access) are fairly simple, ‘take a couple of cubes’, ‘gain 2VP’, etc, but they also have a coloured flower in one of 4 colours. Across the top of the board are 12 locations, 3 for each colour, which provide more unique actions. When you use the normal space you also move your meeple onto a tile of matching flower colour for an extra effect (Although it has to be unoccupied).

The spaces of those extra things range from gaining money, to changing boat dice to their 0 side, to disabling a building for a round. One of the normal actions lets you ‘seize control’ of one of these special spaces, and this makes it such that each time another player uses that space, you gain 1VP.

But wait, I mentioned a boat. Well, the driving force behind this game is that there’s a cargo boat with randomized demands for the goods you’re gathering. 5 dice (6-Sided but numbered 0-3 or 0-4) are rolled each time it empties, one for each different resource in the game, and 4 of these are placed on the boat to display demand (So there’s always one thing in 0 demand). The last space around the rondel (Before it jumps back to the start through, presumably, witchcraft, as its’ over a bay) is to fulfill demand, and has players take turns giving up to 1 type or resource at a time for VP (Which are 2-4 per good, based on a chart that fluctuates over the game based on what people are doing).

That’s about the game. After 7 shipments of the boat, the game ends and players reveal their scores (You keep resources/scores behind a little cardboard screen, so they’re unknown till this point (Although they’re trackable information if anyone can be bothered).

I’ve got to be honest, this didn’t appeal to me. First of all was the theme, as I’m just not remotely interested in gathering and delivering tobacco and cigars, but also the rondel mechanic. The first time I encountered it was with milestones, and as I recall I found that to be a fun game, but it was the spatial element of how you spread the roads that intrigued me and that was what felt like the core thing. Here, the rondel seems to take the stage, and…bleh, I don’t think I like the mechanic of paying to skip past crap all the time.

The game went pretty smoothly though, and the other 3 at the table (Maté, Mike & Stan) seemed to enjoy it. I seemed to end up with lots of resources and never had anything to do with them, Mike hoarded lots (Apparently, I mean I don’t know what he had but he commented he had too much stuff quite frequently ^^), Maté seemed to have a balance, and seemed to leave me with nothing useful to do a lot.

By the end of the game, I was assuming Mike was in the lead as he seemed to take VP’s a lot (But they were always small amounts), but on the last turn Maté got a ship fulfillment of 4 oranges for 3VP each for 12 points (Over half my score) leaping him way out ahead. Scores were along the lines of 30-something for Mr. Orange, late twenties for Mike & Stan, and 21 for myself.

I think its’ a clever game, but not one for me, and I think I’ll steer clear of any game with a ‘rondel’ core mechanism in the future. (Although as a secondary mechanic I’m sure that it’s fine).

Won one, Lost one, good evening =-)