UoB TT (Start of Games Weekend)
So, the last couple of times that I’ve been to the Uni Tabletop Society, there’s been a group playing Resistance with playing cards. I decided to bring along my proper copy of the resistance, as while there’s no mechanical different, it takes you that little closer to the theme ^^. (Also, I’d rather hoped to play with plot cards…though that didn’t happen).
I was a Spy in both games, and took a different tactic to usual. Most games I try to act good, and people think I’m a spy all the time, so this time I just acted like a Spy, and commented frequently that I was making trips to Moscow to report. Remarkably, that worked, and I was able to get onto missions for a change and make them fail ^^..
The second game, the first mission was failed by a spy across the table. The next mission had 2 spies on it, and we both put in a success. The 3rd mission we both put success again. At this point the group was feeling very confident, with the double-fail mission up next. I was leader and added in the player that was new to the game (Sam?), as his reactions to certain things made it easy to argue that he was good and hence should be brought on the mission ^^. Naturally, me and the other spy both put in a fail, and caused a fair bit of mayhem as people tried to figure out the last mission where they needed to find all 5 good guys. The first couple of teams made were voted down (Rightly so), but the third passed, and the spies won ^^. Yay us!
After we moved to the learning centre, to avoid more Resistance (I’m not a fan of playing one game over and over in a night, and particularly not with social deduction games!). We played with Reformation which works great with high player counts (Think we had 8?). There was a couple of insta-deaths when people called assassins liars, and Charon went full dick mode and eliminated someone in the first turn (They’d already lost one influence from another player) in the first game (Which is generally poor planning, as the people with 2 influence left are in a stronger position and should be targetted first, at least until near the end when depending on the game state you can justify it – Also, I’d explictly asked everyone not to rush eliminate people for at least the first game -_-). It’s a shame to have that happen, but we all had fun in general anyway! I forget who won the games mind.
As it was getting later into the evening, a couple of players took their leave and we ended up with 5. Sadly, there was no chance of Myth fitting, so I suggested Forbidden Desert or Bohnanza instead (We ended up doing both ^^). In general I don’t enjoy FD too much as it can be quite rng on the win chance (Random-Number-Generator), but its’ a nice one to introduce people to cooperative games (Or to just generally show off once or twice).
In this game, players all start on one of 24 spaces in a 5×5 grid (With one gap), with a pawn to represent their character, which each have a special ability. Trapped in the desert, your only hope is to uncover and repair an ancient airship that you were travelling here to find, and use it to get to safety. Players need to find the ships hull, and 4 scattered components, then get to the ship, oh…and not die of thirst throughout all of that, which can be a rather difficult thing to achieve!
We spread out fairly quick in my game, aiming to uncover tiles as fast as possible. A couple of early sun cards (Makes all players not in a tunnel or under a solar shield lose one water, with each players max being 3-5 depending on the character). Things looked to be going rather successful, and we even managed to get all 4 components and reveal the ship! I was low on water, but had a convenient tunnel, but had left it to pick up the last component…I died trying to make my way back, and the game was lost. So close! We made a few mistakes during the game to be fair, such as not using abilities too well (I could clear 2 sand instead of 1/action, but never really took myself near the large sand piles). Will have to try again with the same people sometimes if possible ^^.
To finish up, I got out Bohnanza. I have a custom set of this, which I found on boardgamegeek and got printed by the awesome site printerstudio.com. I don’t generally like to be not supporting the designer of the game itself, but I like the art of this version more ^^ (Also, I’m sure I’ll get plenty other Uwe Rosenburg games in time).
If anyone doesn’t know, this is a bean trading game. Players have a hand of cards in fixed order, and must play from the front of their hand. However, if neither of their fields matches on type, they have to rip one up for the new bean. You can avoid such problems however by trading, as you can trade cards from anywhere in your hand (Although receiving a trade makes you plant it immediately, no switching back and forth to rearrange hands!). Sometimes you even want to give away a card for free, just so you aren’t forced to plant it on your turn ^^.
In any case, I got very lucky early on in our game, getting a set of 3 green beans (3 points) and 4/4 Cocoa beans (4 points, btw 15 wins ^^). It slowed down from there as people got more reluctant to trade with me, but I eventually managed to get myself set up to win! Unfortunatey for me, everyone else saw this, and all contributed to getting fire beans to the player on my right, letting him slip in a win one turn ahead of me. God damn! Had fun though ^^.
Saturday – Telford Games Day
Castles of Mad King Ludwig
I arrived a little late, so the few people I know/recognized were in game when I got there. This worked ok as I had stuff to pick up/pay for (Mice & Mystics, CoMKL & Some Smash Up Stuff). Rachael/Lee who I know from Halesowen were there, and when they finished their game we decided to play Castles of Mad King Ludwig (Using their copy, as mine was a just-punched with no organization mess ^^).
The idea behind Castles of Mad King Ludwig, is that you are, as I’m sure you can guess, building castles. Players do this by buying rooms that they then place into their castle, building off from the foyer by matching doors. When a room is placed, points are scored for it based on adjacent rooms (And adjacent rooms score base on the one placed). When a room is completed (All doors match other doors), a bonus effect is received, depending on what type it is (Such as activity room – gain 5 points, or food room – take another turn).
Each turn, one player is the ‘master builder’, if the buy area has spaces, they draw cards and fill up the area with the listed room types (The card will just show one of the 8 room types, and a tile from that room types pile is placed in the buy area). Then, they can rearrange the buy area, so rooms are as expensive as they want them to be. The aim here is to try and price rooms you want as cheaply as possible without anyone else taking them!
Once the arrangement of rooms to prices is complete, each other player can buy a room, paying the master builder as required. When it comes back around to the master builder, they can pay the bank for their room. If the master builder has placed things smartly, the other players will have paid as much as they were capable for the rooms they need, and will have plenty of money to get the room he/she wants ^^. The game ends when the whole deck of room cards has expired, bonuses are added up (Players get personal bonus cards, and there’s also 3 ‘most of something’ tokens on the main board which provide further points to players).
Our game of it was very interesting! I got a bonus card (The cards are secret) for downstairs rooms, in turn 2 or 3, so aimed for as many of those as I could get (Only 2 as it turned out, unfortunately). Rach/Lee were first off the line for sleeping rooms, and it was a long time till I even got one for third on the bonus points (They give 8/4/2/1 points). Rachael took a lot of the 100sq ft. square rooms, which unknowingly denied me from doing much for one of my bonus cards (Which was a weak one to be fair, 1 point/square room). A public objective of ‘large rooms’ also messed with one of my cards as each 450sqft room was worth 3VP to me, but everyone else wanted them too ^^.
At the end I actually felt like I was in a very strong position. I had a ton of bonus cards, and my last turn had scored rather well (Although it could have been even better had I got a food room, as I had a card that was 7vp if I’d got all 8 room types). Unfortunately for me, while I think I came in second, Rachaels tight array of small 100sqft rooms payed off well, and she finished above me. Had a fantastic time though, absolutely looking forward to more plays of Castles of Mad King Ludwig, great purchase!
Viticulture (+ Tuscany)
Next up, we opted to play Viticulture (Though I totally forget what sparked it coming up ^^). We gained a couple of players, Camille & Peter, who saw us setting up and came over looking interested, and set up with a couple of the Tuscany bits thrown in that I like to include – The Extended Board, Advanced Visitors and Mamas & Papa’s. (I believe Camille, who’s name I’m probably spelling wrong, is a backer of Tuscany, so was cool to teach someone that’s getting the game ^^). Quinn (Who was in Castles too, although he had far more garden than castle), dropped out in a round or two as the game wasn’t a good fit for him.
I’m not sure what to bring up about our game. Early on, all looked even and it was a while before points started to tick along, which was from windmills mainly when it did. I bought a red/white grape through trade in the 2nd year, funded if I remember correctly through dropping a couple of victory points. I got my vines planted a bit late (Had about 5 in my hand before I got to planting), but along with the slowly building ones I was able to slip a couple of low-requirement orders in the 3rd or 4th year at a point that only one other player had completed one (Rachael). I had a cottage from early, and after a couple of years of taking summer visitors to build up, I stuck with winter to try and make sure I had plenty of order-completion possibilities for late game.
By the middle of the game, most of us were up to sort of 8-12 points or so, although Lee was struggling a bit with the amount of options to work with. I wasn’t in the front at this point, and was feeling a bit unsure about my chances of a win. I opted to go last for a year to get first, on a gamble of when the game would end, which I almost thought was a poor choice as Rachael got to ~20vp and seemed to have plenty of grapes/wine to fill an order for a win. Fortunately for me, she was not quite able to get there and I got the extra year I needed (Not that I was far behind, but I had to spend that entire year preparing for the next one!).
In the final year I managed to pull off a lot of things. Going first I was quick to take the cube moments action to try and secure my position on the area map (I knew I’d miss out on at least one bonus, but taking the double move/place meant I could hold a better position on it). I had contemplated trading in spring, but chose to pass in case I needed longer in the winter to complete my final orders. In the end, I think 3 or 4 of us passes the 25 mark and triggered a game end, but I was able to leap to 30 something points, and even get another couple from the area map, while others weren’t much past 25. I had a lot of fun not having played in a while, and I hope the other players did too, despite being against someone who’s played a ton ^^.
At some point, possibly in the chronological order in this article, I played a 5 player game of Lost Legacy, playing as a super-size game with the Starship & Flying Garden decks crossed over. This of course makes the game a tad longer, and makes early elimination more of a slap to the face, but does work fairly well as a way of increasing the player count. We played twice I believe, and I didn’t won either of them, well darn ^^. I really like the flying garden deck though, I can see it being interesting to play it alone, and with card switches between the 2 decks ^^.
Tash-Kalar: Arena of Legends
Next up I played a game with Debbie & Peter (Both were in the Lost Legacy game), Tash Kalar: Arena of Legends. This is one I’ve been interested in for a long while, but the original print run for English copies was a joke, costing £40 for small amount of cardboard and with ‘ok’ art. The new edition straight from CGE (instead of via Z-Man) is half the price with a well-deserved upgrade to the art to boot.
We played with a copy that had been put in the communal games area (Or whatever it was called ^^), which had both the new and old pieces, which was a tad confusing as none of us had played before to notice that immediately, but it was nice to see the difference! Peter was kind enough to read the rules through (Well, the quick-start booklet, while I scanned the full rules sheet), and we got into a 3P newbie deathmatch (Which the manual doesn’t recommend, but we wanted to play with 3!).
In Tash Kalar, players are wizards competing in a grand tournament of some kind. Players take turns to bring summoning stones into the arena and use them to summon ‘beings’, which is a pattern based affair, matching stones on the board to a pattern on a card in a players hand to summon, causing various effects to happen. In the deathmatch mode we played, players score points by eliminating enemy pieces, scoring 1 point per pair of commons, 1 point per heroic, and 2 points per legendary piece destroyed.
Our game ended up being a little one sided. The first few turns were fine, but once I managed to get a couple of beings summoned, it was a bit of a chain reaction. Most turns I was able to use both by actions for summoning based on my cards, while Debbie/Peter often needed to get common pieces down as actions to be ready for summons. I ended up being far ahead to the point that even with Peter using a flare every turn (Debbie didn’t use them for a while, busy thinking about how to match patterns I assume ^^), neither of them came close, and I won 12 points to ~2 from each of them.
Despite being a bit discouraged that the game can snowball as it did, I put it down to ‘first game’ woes, and immediately bought it from gameslore with the expansion =P Pattern matching like this is absolutely something I enjoy, and I can’t wait to get this played more, and hopefully to look forward to many expansion decks ^^.
Pandemic: The Cure
The final game I got played in the day was Pandemic: The Cure. This, as I’m sure many know, is the upcoming dice-version of pandemic, which was available to play as someone had picked up a copy at Essen Spiel. The goal of the game is still to cure the 4 diseases, but it abstracts out a little, and is more random/gamey rather than puzzly like pandemic.
The first thing that happens at the start of a game is a mass infection. 12 Disease dice are drawn at random from the bag of death (Not the official name afaik), and places in regions matching on colour. The different colours of disease have different numeric values (So the black might only have ‘2’, ‘3’, or ‘5’ as sides) so will only directly move to certain continents (There’s 6 ‘discs’ placed out, which are the locations we move between to deal with the diseases). Outbreaks are ignored at this step, and any dice with a ‘(+)’ side are rerolled.
Players then take turns to try and deal with the disease. Each player has a role card and a matching set of dice, which they roll at the start of their turn. The different roles have dice with special abilities (Such as ‘return 3 dice from the infection centre to the bag’), so to be most effective players should work together. The player then takes actions, determined by their dice rolls, to treat (Move from a continent to the treatment centre, or treatment centre to the bag), move (fly anywhere, sail adjacent), or cure (place a cube from treatment centre on character card with the dice used atop it – of course this reduces players dice pools, which they should be careful of!). You can also trade cures in progress to other players when sharing a location, so one person could potentially have one of everyone’s dice sitting on disease cubes that’re waiting to be cured.
Next, the player can attempt a cure. To do so, they take all the disease cubes of one type that they have on their character card and roll – If they get 13+, that disease type is cured!
Then the infection step occurs. Dice are drawn from the bag of death equal to the infection rate (Oh! I should mention, if you ever roll biohazards on dice, they are immediately locked and the infection tracker moves up, causing an epidemic every 4 spaces it moves, which means all treatment centre dice are rerolled and strewn across the world, which is..bad). If you ever have to add a 4th dice of a disease type to a continent, it outbreaks, moving clockwise to the next continent and moving the outbreak marker up (At 8, Game Over, also if the infection marker goes up enough its’ game-over too).
Presuming the world has not yet ended or all 4 diseases are cured, the next players turn begins and the fight continues. (Another asides…One side of each disease dice is a (+), these are moved to the CDC when rolled, and can be spent to buy one of three abilities determined by the event cards. This might let you reroll a dice when curing, or move a pawn outside their turn, helpful when in a tight moment!)
In our game, I was the containment specialist, having a special die side that could return 3 cubes to the bag from the treatment centre (Good because epidemics would make them all be rerolled and placed out). Also, any time I moved someone, any disease type with 2 or more dice would have one automatically go to the treatment centre. Basically, my job was to run around the board and then move the cubes to the bag. The dispatcher also moved me a few times, and we even once used an event card to do it – What can I say, I was an excessively well travelled man.
In the end, our medic & guy-with-lots-of-dice (Most have 5, but his special ability was to have 7) got the first 3 diseases cured, and I ended up with the last set. I cured it with us on 7 outbreaks, so close to a loss!
But…it felt anticlimactic for me. I didn’t get that feeling of ‘oh-crap-things-are-going-bad’ that pandemic did, thanks in part to outbreaks only pushing one dice along (If it went both ways, like it splits into multiple parts in the board-game, that would be thematically scary ^^). The infection rate in our game only got halfway along too, so there wasn’t even a worry of different things, just outbreaks to worry about.
Still, it was good fun, and I like that each player has unique things about their dice (Although it does shoe-horn you into certain things a fair bit!). I’m a bit less excited for it that I was, but would still like to play again or pick it up sometime ^^.
It was an absolutely fantastic day! Well worth going 50 miles for. The venue was great, being well lit and with plenty of room, and there was a load of people in attendance. Everyone I spoke to was friendly, so getting into a game was nice and easy (Albeit I did play with Rachael/Lee mostly who I know from halesowen ^^). Looking to next years similar event, and hopefully will go to the one they apparently hold in ~April too =)
Sunday – Afternoon Play
On Sunday I was so burned out from an entire day of games, that I went to Afternoon Play to spend the day playing games. In fact, I was accidentaly eager as I rushed out the house only to realise that the reason both cafe’s had no gamers in when I arrived, was that I was an hour early. Oops ^^.
Adam was first to turn up, and as we had a while I suggested Tiny Epic Kingdoms as a quick one to play, partly as it would be a learning game (First time with it) so cutting out halfway through would be no big deal. Simon turned up before we begun, and consequently joined in as a third player.
Tiny Epic Kingdoms
TEK is a 4X game (Well, 3X without expansion I suppose) in just about as small and short a format as you can get. Players compete to end with the most victory points, trying to control territories to gather resources, build a grand tower to show how awesome your kingdom is, and unlock magic levels to gain faction-specific resources, giving each player unique abilities.
In the game, players take turns to choose actions. To do so, one of the 5 shields must be placed on the action board – if all 5 shields are on the board, you retrieve them and have full choice for the next placement (In a 5-player game, the person that clears the shields misses a turn, to rotate 1st player). There are 6 actions to choose from (So one goes un-taken each turn) – Patrol, Quest, Build, Research, Expand & Trade. Everyone takes an action when it is chosen, but players other than the active player can choose to pass, generating 1 resource/region they control (The active player gets nothing if he passes).
Patrol & Quest is where you move your meeples out across the land to control regions, for better resource generation. If you move into a region controlled by another player, war breaks out so only one meeple remains (Unless both surrender, in which case an alliance is formed, though I’m yet to see it happen). Build costs ore and advances your tower level, Research costs magic and advance your magic level (Providing faction specific powers, each player takes a faction card at the start of the game), Expand gets you an extra meeple in a region where you only have 1, costing 1 food/meeple you have in play, and trade lets you swap as much as you like of one resource, for as much as you like of another resource.
The actual scoring of points, is that each meeple in play is worth 1VP, each level of magic reached is worth 1VP, the tower scales and is listed on the towers card, and any other bonuses (e.g. magic level 5 has vp scoring powers for all factions, and if you play with city regions or the exploration expansion, controlling certain places gives bonus points).
I was Elves in our game, which it turns out is a gloriously lazy faction to play. Elves revolve around turning all their resources into magic, but then being able to use magic as any resource (From your level 3 magic onwards). This means rather than having to think ‘Will I have enough ore when someone takes build’, its just ‘Do I have enough magic to do everything’. I forget what Adam/Simon were playing as, but if I remember correctly, I was able to eke out the win. Had a lot of fun and was very pleasantly surprised how well it plays!
Next up, I sheepishly asked around if anyone would like to play Myth, with the full awareness that while I’ve read the rulebook, an unofficial rewrite of it, and various other bits in the rules forums, that I was still unsure of how it plays and it could be a bit messy to get started. Awesomely I had 3 people join to play, Neil, Neil & um…Brigand, ok so Brigand was the character she played, but…names are hard alright =P.
We chose characters, myself as Apprentice, Neil1 as Soldier, Neil2 as Acolyte & Brigand as Brigand, and I went through the gist of how I thought it all works. We started off on a 12×12 tile, with an Arachnid Lair and with a chapter quest where a hopeful adventurer-to-be had asked to come along and see us performing some awesome heroics, i.e. someone needed to kill 4 foes with a single blow. Succeeding wouldn’t reward us immediately, but we’d get to add the next quest in the chain to the deck (Or as I realised later, we should have done it on the next tile, as we were doing freeform rather than a structured ongoing game).
We stuttered a bit at first to work out how to play, but thanks to a couple of rules I got wrong we had an easy time of it (When I read monsters attack as one, it just means roll all their dice at once, not roll once for them all, oops). Our Soldier completed the quest with a ‘Harvest of Bones’ where he took out 5 arachnids in an arc by spending a couple of rage, with the Acolyte keeping him going, me clearing up (Fingers of Ia is fun, burn my going bonuses to chain lightning a bunch of targets) and Brigand er, well struggling a bit actually – Unfortunately I wasn’t really sure how to help, so might have to play a solo game with the Brigand to learn it to teach it next time ^^.
At one point we had a captain come out, which ran the long way around to us as we had a large tile. Normally, the Stalkers (arachnid captains) can try to ‘burrow’ to the heroes, swapping with normal minions to get close, but the tile was so large there was space for it to come around so I don’t think it would have used the ability (But should check…as I’m doubing myself as I write this). Before it got to us I was able to boost the heck out of a lifesteal arcane spell and one shot the thing (They only have 3 health, but lots of attacks only do 1 damage and are more aimed at the normal minions that are 1 health each).
We made fairly short work of the lair, with the Acolyte igniting it with holy fire and the soldier pummeling it a little to take it down in one round. It was about there we realised we should have been putting treasure out on the tile, and quickly grabbed some things that we never used just to see the treasure system ^^ (You draw a token blindly from a bag, and draw from the deck matching the token, then return the token. Some quests can modify the contents of the bag so as you play longer games the chance of better loot improves).
Following on from that, we went for another tile, this time a 6×6 with a trap. The trap in question triggered at the start of each hero cycle, and targetted a randomly selected hero. That hero had to roll to disarm the trap, or take damage/be knocked prone. We kind of forgot for a while, but when we remembered it targetted me, and I was able to disable it and step aside to avoid damage. As far as what else was on the tile, 2 hunting packs! I put out a group of arachnids and a group of grubbers (Its’ harder to play with 2 enemy types so I figured it should be a challenge). We despatched them fairly easily though, as again, I was making a mess of the enemy rolls. We did pull some cool combos’ on them though (Like the soldier taunting to make them surround him ahead of area spells to rip the enemies apart.
Anyway, we stopped after that as we weren’t sure if we’d have time for another tile before moving on to the pub for evening play. I had a ton of fun and got lots of useful information about what rules to look up for next time (Which I’ve done, so looking forward to playing again!). I can certainly see why the forums for this game were ablaze with ‘oh-god-the-rulebook-is-terrible’ when the game was first available, but I think when you pass that hurdle its’ an awesome design, and the kickstarter came with such a ridiculous amount of great looking miniatures that just..I love it.
We played a game one of the Neils had brought along next, ahead of moving to the pub, called ‘Elevenses’. This is a little card game with nice art, where you’re trying to get cards played out in front of you. The player with the most spoons in the top right of their face-up cards at the end of a round takes 2 sugar, next takes 1, then 0. After X rounds the person with the most sugar wins.
Got to be honest though, the mechanics just seemed too much in this for me. Lots of different face-down cards (8) to try and investigate and remember, and also then trying to figure out what everyone else has, it all just seemed a hell of a lot of effort to reduce the inherent randomness of it. I gave up after a round and left the others to it, though they seemed to have fun and I think the game isn’t to blame ^^.
We headed over to the pub after that, as sadly cafe’s don’t stay open late. The first game I got involved with was Concept, with [redacted], [redacted], Adam, [redacted] and James (I totally remember their names, but you haven’t got the right security clearance to know them, citizen).
The concept of concept is fairly simple, and is to conceptually define concepts given by concept cards. Each turn, the current player draws a card and, between them and the player to their left, chooses one of the 9 possibilities. Then, they work together to place the various markers (4 plastic exclamation marks in black, blue, red & yellow, a green question mark, and a ton of cubes in the aforementioned colours) onto the game board to describe their chosen thing in an abstract way. (For example a main marker on ‘boats/marine/navy’, a cube on fire and a cube on water, for ‘steamboat’).
The other players at the table yell out what they think is being described, and when someone gets it correct they receive 2 points, the clue givers receive 1 points each (It can go to more than the 2, as you may invite additional players to help describe something), and the next pair play start their turn. If noone gets the answer, noone gets any points.
We had lots of fun with this, and for possible the first time I actually guessed one of the answers, though I forget what it was -_-. [Redacted] (Who’s name I should really remember) absolutely dominated the game, so congratulations to her ^^.
Tiny Epic Kingdoms
With [Redacted] and [Redacted] gone, we changed game. keeping it simple, I got out Tiny Epic Kingdoms again for another play. Not a clue how it went though, asides from that I don’t think I won…Guess I was getting tired to forget so completely =P
I went for a drink and everyone seemed to leave or get into another game in those couple of minutes, except for Chris, whom I’ve met before at Bread & Games (He taught me Jaipur which I subsequently purchased a copy of ^^). Sitting around watching others play is boring, so I suggested Smash Up (’cause well, new factions =P). I played Gigantic Time Travelling Ants, and Chris Lycan Mad Scientists. He got the upper hand fairly early on, and I really struggled again how powerful the werewolves can be (Particularly when on mad scientist steroids). My pairing was pretty awful, as ants rely on power tokens on them, so using the ‘retrieve and place elsewhere’ ability of time travellers was hard, as it would lose the extra power.
In the end, despite my whinging a lot that I was going to lose, we finished on a close 15-14 (I mean, I did lose, but it was very close to be fair ^^). I’d love to play the ants with a faction with some big minions like the cyborg apes, as their power-token shifting could make for some awesomely strong plays.
Lost Legacy * 3
As a final game of the evening we played a few rounds of lost legacy. This was with the starship and flying gardens decks (With the starship card removed). I lost the first two, but on the last I got an opportunity to look at another players hand and swap if I wanted to. I exchanged with Nick, giving him a nice high number while I took the lost legacy and got my win ^^. Still looking forward to playing with just the flying gardens deck (Or a cross-over rather than ‘everything’ deck ^^).
Fantastic Day at Afternoon Play, as always. Very happy that I got to try Myth, just need to try and get some friends willing to play this a few times now, as it totally begs repeat play with one group. We’ll see!