UoB Tabletop and Halesowen Board Games (19/11/2014)

So at last weeks Tabletop Society, while I had a few games with me, I pushed for playing Caverna: The Cave Farmers, and easily ended up with plenty of people (I was a bit surprised to be honest). In fact, we could have had 7, but I didn’t think we had enough time left, and there seemed to be at least 3 people milling about outside games, so I turned them away and we went with 5. I was a bit disapointed to realise that those 3+ people left soon after, and feel a bit guilty that I didn’t include them or change game so that we could easier split into 2 groups (As I’d happily teach 2 games and try to include everyone, but not when one of them is as big as Caverna). Oh well…:S

Caverna

As I recall, all 4 other players were in for their first time, although a couple of them (Liam & Jay. Luke & Rob I think were totally fresh to it) had played Agricola, the games predecessor. Explanation was fairly easy with everyone being attentive, although one guy who was in the 5 swapped out about halfway through for Rob (I forget the swap-out guys name :S), so Rob got a bit of a partial-explanation (He was listening a bit for the first half though I think).

Right from the start, one player focused on his caves (Luke), while I pushed for my farm half (Getting a wheat that I planted straight after, then a couple of vegetables in the next round), Liam & Jay seemed to go fairly balanced at this point. Rob tried to go a very direct route at gaining a worker, although (Yay for missing some explanation ^^) didn’t realise he needed to build a dwelling first – It didn’t matter much, he had the resources to build it instead as an action, but still ^^). It was only the next round he got it, and I think Jay/Liam weren’t far behind that. I got my third a bit later (Round ~6/7 I guess, and a fourth at ~9), while Jay also got a 4th (Think everyone else stayed on 2 or 3).

For much of the rest of the game, I stayed leaning heavily on the farm side, as there was high competition for cave parts with people building a huge amount of mines (I’m not sure there was any space spare on his board by the time Luke finished up). I did get to work on it before the end, but went pretty exclusively for double-caverns to get furnishings that would turn my animals into copious amounts of points (And food, which was a bit of a mistake as it meant my best food was also my points =P). Jay seemed to generally do ridiculously well throughout, keeping a good balance, and Rob/Liam struggled a bit while being tilted towards their cave sides (Which is probably why they struggled, as it meant over half the table was scralling for those spaces while me/Jay had it easy – Though Jay got in my way a hell of a lot, being to my right!

Coming towards the end of the game, Rob had mostly cave but a fair bit of a farm built up, and points coming in from a stone supplier. Luke had his ridiculously busy cave, a ton of ore and rubies and furnishings to give him points for those, Liam um…He messed up a bit but at least wasn’t totally starving (He had lots of vegetables!), Jay was well balanced, and while his farm wasn’t as over the top as mine, he’d somehow found the time to round out his cavern on the side, heavily thanks to having a decent level adventurer (I had one at level 6, but I’d only really taken it to block the weapons space in an early round).

The final scores were quite spread, although mine & jays were close, sadly for me with him in the lead (~89 I think to my lower 80-something, 82 or so). Liam was fairly low down, but I think he had a good experience in learning how he’d update his strategy for a next play. Luke did ok (50 or so I think) but had basically all the negative points ever (He had 2 tiles towards his farm I think, and no animals), getting all his points from his ~30 ore and 10 rubies ^^.

Liam asked that I bring it again next (Well, this) week, but I’m hosting a games weekend with various friends so won’t be going along to the universities society for a week. Maybe next time ;-)

Saturday

On Saturday this week, the plan was to be running Pathfinder with the usual group (Sans Handy as he’s often unavailable). Dave/Ken were running a bit late, so myself and Chris sat down for a game of Coin Age, then started to give Myth a try when Dave turned up and included him too. Ken for whatever reason turned out to not be turning up at all, so most of the day went to playing Myth ^^.

Coin Age

First up though, with just the 2 of us and not knowing how long till others turned up, I got out Coin Age. This is a micro-size game where you compete over a map drawn out on a single card, and needs just a handful of coins to play (Or Cardboard punchout ones as I have from kickstarting it).

Each player takes four 1’s, 3 2’s, 2 3’s and 1 4 value coin. Then they take turns to shuffle them up and slap them down onto the table. Depending on the number of coins matching that players colour (Or matching them for heads/tails with coins), they get to perform actions to try and control the map. ‘Place’ just lets you put a coin from the matches on an empty space, or on top of a higher numbered coin; ‘Move’ lets you shift all the coins on one space to an adjacent empty space; ‘Capture’ lets you take an opponents coin from the top of a pile and add to your supply.

The game ends when all regions are full, or one player runs out of coins. Players score points equal to the value of visible coins (i.e. the top of each stack), which are doubled in any region where the player has majority control. As you can only place coins on higher numbers, low numbers give more powerful control and more potential for doubling, while high numbers give good flat points (So you might control 3/5 area’s in coindor, but they’re all 1’s and its’ worth 6, while an opponent has a 4 and a 3 in the same area for 7).

We played a few rounds on different maps, with me winning the first 2 (With us getting rules wrong, :P), then Chris winning the last one. It was quite a relief mind when he won that last one as once we had the proper rules nailed the game seemed extremely back-and-forth (As captures take a coin off the map, you can get within a turn of ending then get 3 capture turns in a row where you’re just turning back time…), but maybe that was a rare thing.

Myth

Our next up game to give a try, was Myth. This is a flawed gem, with beautiful components and awesome gameplay, but a poor rulebook and bad descriptions on some cards to explain properly how they work. Fortunately updated versions of the hero cards were posted to the creators website, which I have printed off making things a lot more pleasant – Still, its’ a shame there wasn’t more blind playtesting as when you’re taking part in the gameplay rather than looking up rules, its’ a brilliant game design.

Myth consists of a series of ongoing ‘cycles’. Core of this is the hero cycle, where players can in any order among them play cards to deal with the threats opposing them. Each time someone plays a card, it pushes up the darkness’ AP track, and when it hits 6, it triggers and the darkness cycle interupts the hero cycle, where the monsters fight back. As such, the more the heroes push, the more the darkness pushes back.

Another core mechanic of the game is ‘threat’. When a player damages an enemy, they gain 1 threat per damage dealt. If a players threat is ever at 10 when darkness activates, a ‘threat penalty’ can occur, which are generally hell for the group (Double Damage, Spawn a Mini-Boss, Double-Spawns, etc). Threat is reduces by empty action spaces however (of 4), and the result is that it forces players to work together and manage their threat, as one player trying to take the lime-light will just screw everyone including them.

Aaaanyway, in our game we were playing 3 of the core heroes – the expanded ones don’t have updated versions yet, so are a little janky – the Acolyte (Me), the Soldier (Chris) and the Brigand (Dave). We started on a 12×12 tile, which is nice for starting as it gives lots of room to maneuver. The chapter quest we drew had us approached by a priest, telling us of an alarming number of undead creatures that had risen, and asking us to investigate and deal with the problem. I was originally going to just set up some arachnids, but instead went with an undead lair with a ton of shamblers to suit the quest (Which also had a special rule that the priest blessed our weapons so the undead couldn’t resurect on death…kind of disapointing as one of the cool bits about the acolyte is that exact effect!).

We got off to a bit of a difficult start, more due to being new to the heroes being played than anything else. In fact I think we’d killed a lot of enemies before even taking damage (Helps than skeletons suck a bit). We got a few treasures popped (Last game I played with people I kind of forgot to do that ^^) getting me a ring providing +1 range to my relic attacks, and Dave got a flashy knife with a fate-dice recipie to let him stay in shadows after attacks.

We did however hit a bit of a hitch before we finished the tile! I hit 10 threat (By healing Chris I think) with darkness AP too high, so that I couldn’t lose it before darkness triggered. This spawned a mini-boss just after we finished off the lair, so we suddenly had a way more scary threat than the 5 shamblers remaining. To be thematic, we spawned Yardu, an undead mini-boss who can raise soulless (Undead captains), which asides from being bigger and tougher, can sometimes resurect the shamblers.

This was kind of scary, as…well, first time fighting a mini-boss! It was also very confusing, and it took a long time to figure out how he works (Fairly simple really, roll 4 fate dice, see what happens, but it doesn’t say that on the card as such ^^, plus he can spawn soulless, but we had no idea where we’re supposed to put them, though figured we just treat it as lair spawns with him being the lair). His attack was I think 4 Dice, where every hit (5+ I believe) counted as a damage, and he could hit multiple targets depending what was rolled by the fate dice (Fortunately for us, never multiple targets, so the soldier was able to take the hits easy enough).

A few turns later we managed to despatch of him, Chris grabbing the treasure (He had a ring I’d found that meant you draw 2 tokens and pick one from the treasure bag)…He still drew 2 white treasure tokens (He did that rather consistently actually, despite having twice the tokens drawn he had a worse rate of decent treasure than me or Dave, he only got the ring because me or Dave gave it to him!).

Victorious, we moved to another tile, a 6×6, to work on the next chapter in the same chain. In the first part, we’d found a mysterious skull, and this chapter let us use it to summon shamblers to fight for our side. I refused to have anything to do with it (Unholy evil thing!), and while the soldier was carrying it, he opted not to actually make use of the foul thing. This kind of meant we basically ignored the point of the chapter and just cleared another tile to get a reward for it anyway ^^.

We set up the tile with a Rat lair and a group of grubbers (My first time vs Rats, as Dave suggested I pick a minion type I’ve not tried yet). They’re a bit different, as they target the hero with the least threat first (Proximity/Most Threat being the norm till this point). Thanks to a darkness card, we ended up with a ‘Rath’ on the tile too, which is a rat captain with a repeating crossbow and full tile range, letting him sit safe and pepper targets with death. My death that is, as I didn’t last too long on the tile before getting murdered!

The Soldier and Brigand seemed to have things under control though, and a suicide run here and riding the edge there cleared things up, demonstrating how much I was needed (*sheds a tear*). Having completed a 6×6, they got to spawn a merchant, which they used to stock up on health potions (They even got me one for future occasions – you don’t ‘die’ as such, in that you respawn for the next tile..unless everyone dies when you’d have to restart the act/chapter/story you’re doing). I think they were a bit disapointed when they realised you don’t get to keep items between sessions though (Not without titles from completing stories anyway, though I may house-rule that you can keep a potion or two).

Had lots of fun and look forward to playing again! Hell, I even felt motivated enough to get started on painting (I’ve got the base-coats done on the crawlers) ^^. Absolutely looking forward to more plays, and well, to have all the stuff painted too ^^ (I feel a lot happier doing these than the Zombicide zombies that I got bored with – The most minions of one type is ~20, much more pleasant that looking at a pile of 100 of the same thing!).

Among the Stars

As we couldn’t be sure how long another tile in Myth would be, and wanted food, we went for something a bit shorter. I’d bought a few games down and briefly touted them each, and Among the Stars got chosen. This is a tile-laying drafting game, which I have played an absolute ton. I recently received my stuff from the latest kickstarter for the game, which was just for a few stretch goal things, plus glorious glorious metal coins.

We had a good time of it, with Dave building the worlds longest space station (There was an objective to have the most locations of a single type in a continuous line..He could have won twice over in the end as I gave up at 4 in a row ^^). Me and Chris picked up early race tracks, so ours were more square, though the contents were a bit different with Chris’ bigger military, and my better international relations (First time I’ve ever really built many green locations ^^). I also had lots of recreational locations, as I took 2 early restaurants and put montzeerian tokens on them (Turns an immediate into delayed, so I was able to easily get the max 5 points from them each). Still, Dave’s commercial powerhouse (The 10 or so in-a-line locations he had were all yellow =P) was the coolest looking ^^.

As far as points, I looked to be behind almost all the way through, despite having more immediate locations that I normally aim for (I like delayed, more to think about as you build ^^). What I was forgetting though was my 3 montzeerian tokens had turned immediates into delayed and meant I had loads more points coming than I realised. As a result, I leaped into the lead on end-game scoring for the win. I don’t think Chris/Dave were too far behind though ^^.

Halesowen

At Halesowen this week, I got into a couple of games with Mike, Suzy and Stan. I was tempted when I saw that Dave had and was punching out Panamax to join for that, but I find doing heavy euro’s with someone’s who’s just that moment taken it out the shrink to be an intimidating prospect (Though I’m sure he probably had looked up how to play beforehand). Instead, at Stans suggestion of Murano that he’d brought along I jumped into that.

Murano

Murano is a sort of rondel/tile-placement game. Players compete for the most points, which they do by gathering objective-based VP cards, then placing gondolia’s at the various islands to score in conjunction with said cards (The cards specify something to do with an island, so that island has to meet the requirements listed on the card).

Around the board are roughly 20 action spaces, with there being ~8 ‘ships’ placed around those spaces. On each players turn, they move a ship and take the action of the space moved to. Moving one space is free, but after that it’s 1 coin/space. You can move multiple ships (Its’ one free move overall, not one per ship btw!), but only the last movement gives you a usable action.

Actions are there to obtain the 4 different building types, build them (And paths), place gondolia’s, gain money (Various spaces with different requirements) or gain vp cards. Money gaining spaces have requirements and are quite few in number (One for +2 Coins, one for Money from Shops, one for money from glassworks, one for trading in gondolia’s), making money a fairly tight resource.

There are I think 6 different islands in the game, but this isn’t an area control game. The ‘gain vp cards’ space, lets you spend money to buy vp cards which give you some objective to attain, for which you need at least one gondola at the island where you manage that objective. It costs 1 coin for your first card, 2 for your second, and each time you pay, you get to draw 3, keeping 0 or 1 of the drawn cards. These can be things like ‘Gain 12 VP if the number of shields and shops on an island are the same’, or ‘If you have a gondolia at island X, you may trade red gems for vp at 1 gem = 7vp (max 3 times)’.

My aim in our game was to go for glassworks to try and get a boatload of money to use in taking vp cards. I got a bit scupperred early on as Mike also took a liking to glassworks, and kept on taking the space to earn from them ^^. While he was doing that however, I managed to get 3 placed on the board, which meant when I finally got to visit the ‘capitalising on it’ spot I got 3 gems (Which also means -6VP, -2 per gem you take), which I then sold for 17 gold (A huge amount considering I’d been mostly on 1-3 for the rest of the game, and passed about 3 times more than anyone else – passing being to take no action but gain 1 gold). Stan and Suzy went for shops, both getting in with red shops on an island that had 4 (Later 5) red customers, meaning 4 gold from the shops money-gaining space, Stan also getting a black shop on the island making it even more valuable to him (There was only 1 or 2 black customers there, but you get money per island, rather than per type).

About halfway through the game (Though I thought we were nearer the end), I bought gondolia’s on the 3 busiest islands, then took the vp-card gaining space (You can take as many as you want in a turn, but it costs lots of money, but that’s what the glassworks silliness is for right ^^). I was able to get 4 cards which neatly matched to the islands I’d got with gondolia’s (Though I then had to get another 5 coins and build one more gondolia at one of them, as you can only score one card/gondolia). One of them was points for red gems, and on my next visit to the glassworks space I lucked out and drew 3 of them – which conveniently made up for the different between my points and everyone elses, as I was on -4 points to everyone elses 10-20 by then ^^.

I forget if it was Mike or Suzy that finished the game (Mike I think, as he’d done his goals and either needed to finish it up or extend the game a fair bit longer to do more), and sadly for me I couldn’t quite afford an action that might have got me another card completed (I should mention, I had 5 cards, I think noone else had more than 3, yay glassworks, being 20 points behind is fiiiiine ^^). I was able to get all the way around the board from my end-game scoring to 53 points, while Mike/Suzy got to 47 and Stan to 42. Had Stan been able to complete his last VP card it would have been another 12 points to hit 54, but luckily for me he did not ^^. (I missed one of mine too, but well…yeah ^^).

It was a really interesting game, and has that neat ticket-to-ride element where you can either take objectives early to know what to plan for, or just build up as you like then take objectives late on a gamble for points. I won the gamble on this occasion, but I’m not sure it would always be wise ^^. I do think some of the games objective cards should have a tough more scaling though, as there could be some crazy point swings from very small things happening (E.g. one of mine was ’12vp if the number of crests (Which’re on yellow buildings) and shops is the same on the scored island’, it would have only taken one shop or yellow building dropped there on the last turn to drop me into last place! (Though I guess that’s an incentive to fill islands so they can’t be messed up, which means taking objectives late would be stronger as you don’t know the state of and island till that point…) Still fun though =-)

Among the Stars

With about an hour left, I suggested Among the Stars, because y’know, metal coins ^^. The table agreed and we got it set up fairly quickly (I never really appreciated how nice it is to keep a couple of standard-decks in the box).

Race tracks came early in this game, with both myself and Mike picking them up early. Also early was much punishment from interactive cards, which are usually rare to come out, causing much theft of money between players. (From Stan in particular, who was playing the ‘feronsy’ race, which can 4 times in a game take coins from other players instead of from supply as a discard action). Suzy got a ton of money from her ‘4 coins from discard instead of 3’ race plus an early build of the ‘mint’ special location, one of the 5 large locations that can come up. Stan got a couple of early turrets, giving himself nice potential for scaling points.

In the 2nd (I think, maybe 3rd) year I got a couple of dual-locations for red/purple and red/green. I always like gettig these as they’re unlimited on scale so have a lot of potential for only 2 credits each. More shocking, was that in the 3rd year I got 2 more which were both yellow/green, and dedicated the rest of the game to getting yellow and green locations, as so long as they were balanced in quantity they were worth an extra point each. I also managed to get a couple of transportation platforms (Another fantastic points/cost location, 1 credit each and they give you 1vp +1/transportation platform, double vp from credits spent is good even with just one ^^.

Going into the 4th year I saw a race track in my section hand, and had a convenient gap in my station, so built a power reactor in range. I also discarded a turret so that it wouldn’t get to Stan (Suzy had built one at some point denying it too, possibly a bit overly harsh actually but oh well =P). A third transporation platform got passed to me in the year too, which was about perfect as I had 5 coins and had to keep 4 for the race track, which thanks to it not fitting in for anyone else, actually made it round to me for an extra 8 points.

I won the game, with I think Mike in second, Suzy in third and Stan in last place – I thought he’d been doing much better, having no seen that his delayed locations were low on point gains. I got very lucky in the game though and had everyone played before to know to deny me certain things (The 3rd transporation platform and that race track stand out) I think I’d have come in 2nd or 3rd place (As lots of my points were in that last round just because of those).

Awesome evening, can’t complain about winning both games played ^^. Bit of a shame it was first time for players on Among the Stars though, really want to include some of the extras I haven’t tried yet (Events and Experimental Reactors sound like great fun to me). Maybe next time!

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